Tuesday, July 13, 2010
With the 3-day weekend, J and I headed out West. With 99,500+ miles on the Soobie, we wondered where we'd end up when we hit the magic number...
Silverton was our destination for the 4th, and was an awesome place to make camp for a couple days. We've driven past before, but never had a chance to check it out properly. We love Leadville already, but we like Silverton even more. It's somewhat less touristy, more laid-back, weird, rough, and extreme. Most of the roads in town are wide dirt roads.
I sold J on the fact that there was a rhubarb festival on Sunday, in addition to a 5k/10k race, fireworks, and parade. With solid hiking days on Saturday and Monday, Sunday was a laid-back day to enjoy the town. Even better, while looking for camping, I learned that Kendall Mountain is open that weekend for public camping. Yes, it costs money, which usually bugs me about camping -- $10pp/night -- but this spot had the advantage of letting us park the car, walk to town at will, and see the fireworks from our campsite. Well worth it!
We were told to avoid "The Depot" when looking for a more secluded campsite, so once we paid our fees, we headed up a dirt road to the left. There, we found a great pull-in spot with a view of the mountain. We had some friendly but quiet neighbors, but no other tents were visible.
Also, per NFS rules, we needed a fire container for our fire. I had a ghetto solution for this in the desert on Memorial Day -- using the lid from a portable grill -- but I wanted something better. It is hard to find an off-the-shelf solution, as it turns out. I was unable to obtain a garbage can lid, but instead found a $15 steel box at Lowe's, a garage storage box. I was leery of how it would work without much ventilation, but it does have some gaps on the side, and convenient handles. (You can tell I'm excited about this, I need to dig up a picture).
Verdict: Awesome. The steel all-around reflected so much heat that I was worried it was getting too hot, but it held up beautifully. The rest of the year, it can sit in the garage with firewood or camping junk in it.
Anyway, after the race, we had an hour or so before the parade began. Courtesy of the race, I won breakfast for two at The Bent Elbow:
The Bent, like most places in town, was offering a breakfast buffet. Good stuff, with pancakes, eggs, hash browns, cinammon buns, and fruit. I got things started early with a good Bloody Mary as well. Friendly folk there, check 'em out!
Next was the parade, which had all the classic elements of music, local groups and floats, candy, fire trucks and military apparati, and local politicians.
The parade ended with a "water fight": first, the fire trucks sprayed water into the crowd, followed by a full-blast battle between the Silverton and Durango fire departments.
Next, it was back to Memorial Park, for the rhubarb festival, which had all possible configurations of pie with rhubarb as one ingredient.
We had a slice of strawberry/rhubarb, blueberry/peach/rhubarb, and a rhubarb cobbler. And ice cream. Mmmm!
The rest of the day, we checked out the Montaya Rum Distillery. It was always busy when we went past, so I didn't get a chance to learn more about the rum itself nor try it straight, but the mixed drinks were awesome!
We also hit up the Silverton Brewery a couple of times.
The Brewery/brewpub doesn't have much selection for food, so we didn't eat there (unless you count Red White and Blue Jello shots), and the staff seemed somewhat disorganized, that at times you wondered how they pulled it all together. Understand, though, this is meant as a compliment, and seems to fit in with Silverton -- nobody was in a hurry, and it was about the beer and good times, not profits and competition.
So the staff and locals were friendly and laid-back, and the beer was awesome! I particularly enjoyed the Red Mountain Ale, one of my favourite beers of all time, and the Bear Ass Brown, a solid drinkable summer brown ale. I got cans of these (and they are quite tasty in the can) for camping.
After all that fun, we headed back to camp for a siesta.
Remember, the plan was to park the car all day and hang out at camp, but that was thwarted in the middle of the afternoon, when one of our neighbors, from Durango, asked for a jumpstart on his truck, as the battery had died. Did I mention we camped with 99999 on the odometer? So we drove 40 yards or so down the road, and got him going. I showed him the odometer -- thanks, Soobie! (Yes, that means we crossed 100k on the way out the next morning. We owed it to the car to be in a cool place when it happened).
At night, we sat back and enjoyed the fireworks, as the echoed off the canyon walls. Camping there for the weekend ended up being a blast, hopefully we'll do it again some other year!
On the way out, we stopped in Ouray, which was also a cool town, our in-laws really enjoyed it there. A little bit touristy, but a gorgeous location and not as tacky as Estes Park. They have a cool independent bookstore, wish I had gone there earlier, as I forgot reading material. They had shelves/sections for local writing; trails (including smaller self-published books); nature/outdoor and Western writing; Ed Abbey, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ayn Rand (for balance?); and an intriguing section called "Mormon Interest," which included the likes of "Under the Banner of Heaven," Mountain Meadow Massacre histories, and a few female autobiographical FLDS accounts. We also enjoyed lunch outside at O'Brien's pub, which had great fish and chips, chicken pesto sandwich, London Pride on tap, and a view of climbers on the rock wall above town; and we got some good fudge and coffee from a confectionary (bringing your own mug lets you roll a die for a 'random discount'). Good times!