Our hearts still beating faster than normal (from our off-road excursion), we got back onto US 550 to go the remaining 20 miles to Ouray. For the first few miles the curves weren't particularly spectacular, but the nearer we came to our destination, the curvier the road and the steeper the canyons. There were places where there was no shoulder at all, and no guardrails either. We took it very slowly, as did everyone else. Passing was prohibited on most of the road, so we were usually in a small line of cars, each of us winding our way to what felt like the top of the world.
We passed by a pretty stream, through a cool tunnel, by the old Yankee Girl Mine, and beneath an avalanche shelter (all shown below) before we arrived. (The Yankee Girl Mine was one of the richest concentrations of high grade silver ore in the U.S. The shaft went nearly straight down, 1200 vertical feet. Twelve levels were developed below ground.)
Dan, who did all of the driving, was really spent by the time we arrived in Ouray. Here was our first welcoming sight of that beautiful historic town.
We ate a a nice little restaurant/bar. They had outside seating, but we ate indoors for lack of space outside. As you can see from this photo, the setting of the town makes for amazing mountain views.
As we left the restaurant, I was attracted to this gate, leading into a private yard. But when I viewed the photo, later, I realized that the gate seemed insignificant compared to the background scenery that I captured.
The little town of Ouray reminded me a lot of Skagway, Alaska. Those of you from Alaska can probably see the resemblance.
After lunch we got back in the car for the return trip, which only differed from the morning's drive in that we did NOT try any off-roading. When we were getting close to Durango, we stopped at Honeyville ("The Land of Elk and Honey," as their sign says). Honeyville sells their own wildflower honey, made by the bees they keep. They also sell other Colorado products, including chokecherry jelly. I remember my good friend, Louise, talking about the homemade chokecherry jelly that her family, in North Dakota, used to make. (Louise, you can order it from Honeyville. Click HERE.) We bought a jar of raw honey, some honey coated cashews and some peanut brittle.
We were back at our hotel, in Durango, by mid-afternoon, in time to take a short nap before we went to dinner. We found a nice little Chinese restaurant that overlooked the Animas River and the river walk. Our young waiter was a student at Fort Lewis College (Durango), and, in conversation, we learned that he was Athabaskan and grew up in Anchorage, Alaska.
Our waiter was one of several people we enjoyed meeting on this trip. On Friday evening, as we were walking along the river, we met a local couple (about our age) with whom we talked for 15 minutes or so. Later that evening we went to eat dinner at a place called Serious Texas Barbecue, and were invited to share a table with a couple we met in line, from Georgia. And on Sunday morning we worshipped with the Durango Church of Christ, where we met the preacher's wife (the preacher was out of town, holding a meeting), and through conversation figured out that all four of us had gone to college together, and that she and I had both lived in the same dorm at the same time. Small world!