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We thought we'd all brought enough to read but first I finished my books then our son finished his so when we got to Durango we were thrilled to find Maria's. What a heaven! I found books that I had heard about but had not been able to find, I found books I did not know existed and was able to discuss them with the staff-most of whom (and there were 5 people there) had read them. I bought 4 books based solely on the fact that they were recommended by the staff member who had recommended 2 books that I had read and loved. I have finished them all and all I can say is I WISH I lived in Durango or that Maria's was where we live. We all bought books based on recommendations, we all loved them and we all wished that more people went to independent booksellers so they would not have to struggle to provide us with the best the literary world has to offer. (And even though my son was thrilled to have a TV again when we got to Breckenridge, he spent time each day doing some reading because, as he put it, "I am so glad we found these books!")
If you are camping, or want a Kamping Kabin as they call them here,you cannot go wrong with this KOA. On the left of Rte 160 jas you head west just before you get to Durango, it is convenient to everything. It is quiet (a bit of highway noise from Rte 160 if you are on that side,) CLEAN, the staff is friendly and extremely helpful. The laundry rooms and bathrooms (thee are 2 places with these facilities so they ae convenient to every site) are open 24 hrs and you can get supplies until 9pm from the office and the store. The pool is small but the kids love it, they have a movie every night (family movies and relatively new) with ice cream, and various other recreational things to do on site. I felt very safe letting our 10 year old go on his own to the TV room or bathrooms. Oh yeah, they also have free WiFi-just be sure to ask for the code from the desk.
They seat you according to when you pick up your ticket so you should plan to get there as close to 5:30 as you can. But, then you have to wait. There are things to do. But, the ride on the little train is short and nothing spectacular, the gift shops have mostly touristy stuff so you may find yourself sitting around just waiting to be seated. But OH BOY is the show good and the food, surprisingly so as well. Cy, the guy who started this place in 1969, is a great guy and he and the Bar D Wranglers are not only nice but talented as well. They'll start out helping with dinner and then, when that is done, they'll put on the show. Their stories, songs and good natured bantering leave you with a smile on your face and the food-beef or chicken with beans, apple spice cake, homemade applesauce when we went- gives you a nice, full stomach. Don't miss this place. And pick up a CD if you want to remember the songs.
Whether you have rafted before or not this estalishment is great. Our guide, James, was born and raised in Durango and was able to tell us not only what we needed to do to have the successful experience we did, but all about the town as we passed through it on the Animas River. We (my husband, 10 year old son and I) shared the trip with a couple and their 8 year old daughter and all of us had a great time. I was the only one with prior experience (and with a brother who is a raft guide I was sensitive to whether our guide was safety conscious-he was) but everyone felt safe while thrilling to the incomparable feeling of paddling through a rapids. When we were in the calm waters the kids were allowed to paddle for awhile and he even let them take us through a tiny rapids-they were thrilled and he had complete control. We did the 2 hour trip but wished we'd done the half day trip instead. Since we did the trip in late July the hardest rapids were a weak Class II but a longer trip or earlier in the season would have allowed us to see Class III and IV. Incidentally, even if you don't swim you can do this. You wear a life jacket and get detailed safety instructions before leaving.
Get thee to this theater! What a thrill. This theater is ranked #3 in the nation by Time Magazine and it's easy to see why. The only thing I would improve is some of the fare that is available to eat. It starts at 7:30pm and goes until 10pm so have dinner first-(next door at the Hotel Stadler I was told is good but we ate at home) They alternate each night between one play or another and then follow that with some vaudeville. The acting was good, the audience gets to participate, the jokes were rolling on the floor laughing funny and the pianist gets everyone singing along to old songs. Make sure to make your reservations early for a good seat. The kids got a kick out of seeing the actors, in costume and make up, doubling as serving people before the show and during intermission.
This was the place my husband really wanted to visit and it was well worth every minute. Caution-the drives between the various sites are long and you cannot see Mesa Verde in a day, although you can spend only one day and see a lot. If you really want to see all the various aspects this place would take 2-3 days. (If camping I'd recommend the McPhee campground if not, a good friend recommends the hotel at Mesa Verde-he says the starry skies at night are reason enough to spend the money. We started with the guided tour of the Long House which was very good. The rangers were able to answer every question put to them and although the hike was 1 1/2 hours it was not exhausting. However, take your water and your time and make sure you have acclimated to the heights as you will not be able to simply stop without hiking back UP. We did a self tour after Long House at Badger House and then did not go on the tour of Balcony House as we had planned. They will tell you before you buy your tickets that you must be able to crawl through a small tunnel that is only 18" wide-that was not a problem for us, but it is not until the ranger introduces the walk that you hear that there is a long walk along a steep cliff with no guard rails and a climb up a 35 ft. ladder. If you have a fear of heights then this is not the tour for you. There are, however, many other places to see at Mesa Verde. On the way in, take the time to stop and look at the views from Park Point which is on the way from the entrance booth to the visitor's center and the highest point in the park.
This is not the type of thing you would expect to find on a Go List, nor is it a place you would normally visit on vacation. However, if you need a hospital, as I did, do not be worried that you are far from home. The hospital is new (June 2006) the staff is EXCELLENT (and I am a nurse so I am very particular) and you will not have to worry.
This is a great small town that looks like it is getting more popular. I first visited Salida in 1990 and though it has grown a bit it still is a "funky" town with great spirit. Take a walk around town and have an ice cream at one of the places that sells it, stroll down to the F Street bridge in the summer and watch (or join) the people practicing kayaking or swimming in the Arkansas River that runs through town, stop in one of te art galleries or antique stores or visit one of the jewelry shops that display local gems like topaz or aquamarine from nearby Mt. Antero. You're right at the base of the Presidential range of the San Juan mountains so the scenery is gorgeous. You're at the headwaters of the Arkansas River here and, as well as in nearby Buena Vista, whitewater rafting companies abound. We chanced to see a mountain biking race but we had the feeling that there are activities all year long that are fun.
When you first see the sculptures on the sidewalk you double take and then a wide grin comes on to your face and you cannot resist being drawn into this store. The owners, Pat and Suzanne, met in a laundromat some yeas back and since then seem to have been having fun and working hard to bring joy and whimsy to the rest of us as they exercise their creative selves. This place is not to be believed, each of the sculptures-you have to go to the website to get a feel for them-come with free dental coverage.
We had started our trip camping but then we all got a stomach bug and decided it was time for a hotel. We had not planned to go to Salida and we had no idea that there was a bike race there that weekend. So, when we arrived in town we stopped at the Holiday Inn only to find "no vacancy" The next hotel was Super 8. Luck was with us! We had a clean, quiet room with comfortable beds, a coffeemaker and TV and a bathroom that was spotless with lots of fluffy clean towels. The only problem was with the shower head and as soon as we reported it, they fixed it. They have a free breakfast each morning (hot coffee, juice, cereas, donuts, etc.) free WiFi and friendly people. From the cleaning staff to the manager, everyone was helpful and efficient. And there is a pool.
Well, we had just stayed at a great Super 8 in Salida so we made reservationsfor the night before my husband had to fly back east at the Super 8 near the airport. How can 2 places be so different? The first clue was the warning sign on the ground floor back door to the parking lot that any guest "propping" the door open would be asked to leave. Our room was clean enough but the towels were threadbare-my husband needed 2 to get dry. We had WiFi but several sites I tried to access were blocked due to their security. They have the free breakfast but the ice machine was broken (well, you could reach inside and pull the cubes out.) I was glad to get out of there the next morning and would not recommend that place to anyone. We did not feel safe or comfortable.
We stayed at these condos which are available through VRBO or Hotels.com and were thrilled. After a tent and hotel rooms which, whether clean or not don't offer much of a feeling of home, this place was heaven. You have a full kitchen completely stocked with every utensil and appliance you could want even if you're within walking distance of Breckenridge restaurants. The one we stayed in (B-5) had 2 bedrooms-one with a king sized bed and one with a queen and a single (all were comfortable according to my son who tried them all before choosing the queen sized one near the TV.) There are plenty of linens in the closets ad lots of notes to let you know where things are and how to use stuff. There was a TV in each bedroom as well as the living room which also has a fold out couch. There are 2 bathrooms. This was way more space than we needed but for a group-especially during the winter- it would have been very comfortable. There is a pool and 2 hot tubs at the complex both of which got lots of use. There is a laundry room in the basement of the building next door. It takes 5 minutes to walk to the center of town and there is a bus that takes you everywhere-including City Market if you decide to do your own meals and don't have a car. There is also a free trolley that goes around town. The condo we stayed in wa beautifully decorated-comfortable and it felt like home-but not someplace I was afraid a kid could damage anything. There is a fireplace for winter. They don't have WiFi here yet but there is an Internet Cafe about 5 minutes walk that is reasonable and has plenty of machines if you need them.
We opted for the full day ticket since there were so many things we wanted to do and were glad we did. Twice(!) we had to leave because of the thunderstorms but we still got to do kost of wha was offered. This is a great place to spend the day with a family with kids of all ages. I rode the Alpine slide for the first time in 1979 when all there was was one lonely slide (but was hooked on the feeling of hurtling down the slope in what is like a small toboggan with a brake)...now there are 3, for beginners to advanced. The Zip line lets you make like Tarzan or jump against gravity. There is a rock climbing wall, a trampoline bounce with bungee cords, a maze that times you and gives prizes for the best times, a mini golf course and did I mention the Alpine Slide? At the end of the day, when the skies were finally really clear, there was hardly anyone left and we were able to get in 3 runs each in half an hour. Yahoo! It's a thrill! Go, and if you get tired, hang out in town or at the restaurant for a while and then go backfor the last runs of the day.
Having a choice of several different mine tours around CO we took this one. It was easy (no riding in elevators) interesting though cold (take the raincoat that is offered) and you learn loads about what mining for gold was like. After the tour you pan for gold, pet the burros and ride the slide ...and of course there is a gift shop. IN the winter this operation is now doing sleigh rides and if they do them like their mine tours they are bound to be fun.
Forget Amazon.com, Branes and Nobel and all those huge book store chains, this place, like Maria's in Durango offers first rate books with staff recommendations, first class service and if the don't have it? They'll get it for you and send it-and if it's by a local author they wll even have it signed before they send it. Small book stores are a dying breed but if you love to read books other than the usual stuff (well you can find that to) and enjoy having someone who has actually READ the book be able to tell you about it, please go here-or your local independent bookseller. You can always donate the book to your local library-they need help too.
OK, in Part 1 I said Buckskin Joe (near Canon City) was fun...and it is. But, if what interests you is mining or frontier town history, this is the place to go. It is a fully recreated mining town with houses, shops, a school , a carpenter/coffin builder, etc. as well as train cars,mining structures and machines that have all been rebuilt from authentic structures. You can visit the dentist's and see 19th century dental tools and chair. You can see where kids in a town like this in the 1800's and what the classroom was like. You can go to the local bank, post office, drug store or general merchandise store and see what they used or sold. You can see the cabins of a miner, or a business owner or even a family. Don't miss the Diorama Room that has dioramas of every aspect of the mining life and work. It's fascinating, with thousands of donated items from that period! If you're in Breckenridge, Dillon, etc, take either Hoosier or Boreas Pass (those drives are spectacular in themselves) or you can drive out from Denver-it's 85 miles away. It's worth it. Have lunch at the Fairplay Hotel for the experience even if the wait staff is not all good and the food is so-so.
Pearl Street Mall, the Go club at the libray on Sundays (Go is an ancient Japanese game) the Mediterranean Restaurant are all good reasons to go to Boulder but the best reason is because it is a great town. We stayed wth friends so I can't recommend a place to stay but even if it's a day trip-do it.