DAY 5 May 29, 2009

I left Cortez on US160 before day break. I was at Mesa Verde before the fee collection gate even opened. Mesa Verde has the nicest camp- ground I have ever seen in a Federal Park. There is a café, general store, laundry, and coin showers. Tent sites are $22. I drove the Zuni loop first thing in the morning and found several groups of deer there.

The park was very green (except for the very large burn scar) with an amazing assortment of flowers. So many different kinds of flora and fauna to be seen. I saw deer in the campground, a couple of horses just roaming by the road, and a coyote running down the road.

The ruins were diverse, magnificent, well preserved, and nicely documented. I drove the Mesa Loop and walked the short distance to each of the displays-well worth each trip. The museum was interesting, particularly the part about the indigenous people's eating habits and cookware. This was echoed in the visitor center's amazing display of pottery.

Further east was the town I had been looking forward to. Durango, Colorado was quite the touristy disappointment-little, if any, authenticity remains of this beautiful old mining town turned MEGA tourist trap. They have a hostel, but I was not ready to stop for the day. Lunch at Himalayan Cuisine 992 Main Ave (970) 259-0956 was just $8.99 pus tax and tip for a great buffet. Probably the best Indian food I have ever eaten. The college campus was gorgeous.

Bagged Chimney Rock (enough ruins already).

After my second near miss with local drivers turning left in front of my vehicle (traveling at 55+ mph) and immediately hitting their brakes, the sign appeared like a beacon unto the anxious and angered gypsy. An immediate left (with NO unnecessary local style braking) brought me to the oasis of Pagosa Brewing Co. There I found a great bunch of folks, some fantastic dogs in the garden, and respite from the criminally insane drivers. I sat at the bar, closer to the beer, and enjoyed several samples-all outstanding. I tasted the Honey Malt, Poor Richard’s, Coconut Porter, and finally a full glass of Abbey Alpine 10. They serve food, but I was still full from lunch. Definitely a must do for southern Colorado!

The mineral hot springs are right on the river the name of the hotel is The Springs. Access is $20 or $43 with in/out privileges. Across the street you can get a “soak and massage” (mineral?) for $70, but it was too late in the day for that.

Chromo, Colorado on the New Mexico border had all of a post office, but the scenery was gorgeous with meadows and flowers that were beautiful. I have witnessed more wildlife today than I have ever seen in the wild. I saw my first elk in the wild, running up a slope that had to be almost 70 degrees. Then I saw two more herds of elk-wow! A very good reason to slow down and enjoy the trip. This has been a wildlife bonus day. Finally made it to the Arroyo Seco hostel, aka The Abominable Snow Mansion, as the sun set. I really enjoyed the people, but would have appreciated a cleaner location.

ROUTE: US 160 East>US 84 S>US 64 E to Arroyo Seco

Lodging: The Abominable Snow Mansion

Himalayan Cuisine 992 Main Ave Durango, CO (970) 259-0956 (****Buffet)
Pagosa Brewing Co 118 N Pagosa Blvd Pagosa Springs, CO (*****Beers)

Attractions: Mesa Verde NP, Durango, Chimney Rock (next time), The Springs in Pagosa Springs, and Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

$$$: $22 Food $5 Souvenir $20 Hostel = $47

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