June 12, 2012
Our trail took us to Durango, Colorado, a known Western Railroad town. Our plan is to take the old steam train from Durango to Silverton, and back , today. When we arrived at the friendly American Legion on 9th St. yesterday afternoon, I was greeted by this lovely planting of hollyhocks. I didn’t realize how my eyes hungered for flowers after weeks in desert wilds. We set out for a walk downtown to find a restaurant, turned a corner and more flowers greeted us.
Flowers bring instant smiles. Jim, too, stopped to take pictures of pansy faces. I think we were both a bit lonesome for familiar sights.
We hooked a left on Main St. and there in a window was this interesting ceramic sculpture of a pile of chairs in a high chair. I had to go in and inquire and look around Sorrel Sky Gallery. Proprietor Amanda Nicols shared the story of this piece done by artist Deborah Rael-Buckley, entitled Cosecha Amarga which means bitter harvest. It is intended as a political statement, representing the empty chairs at the table, discarded and piled up haphazardly like the victims of rape and murder in Juarez, Mexico, where the bodies were discarded a piled up in the desert. Powerful stuff from an artist who usually does warm, fuzzy pieces, explained Amanda.
The piece sits in pools of blood from the victims. Price, $2,900.
This bronze raven, from Jim Eppler, who bought barren land in Texas and became fascinated by the birds.
Coming from the desert, we’ve seen a number of soft jack rabbits cavorting among the prickly pear. The Puebloans first made blankets by twisting rabbit skins pieces around a leather cord, then tying (weaving) them together for a solid blanket. A bronze by Gerald Balciar. Quality work and deep pocket prices in this gallery and I wanted to linger and look at everything, including the restored buildiing with reproduction original wallpaper. Lovely. Amanda gave me a map of the other galleries around town. I’m already drooling.
We found Franciscos for lunch, and had good food, reasonable prices, and a great micro beer from Durango Brewing Company, Pinstripe Ale. Finally fed, we walked for a couple of hours to explore Old Town Durango.
We stepped into the plush lobby of the General Palmer Hotel, Victorian elegance greeted us in carpets so thick we felt like we were walking on sponges. But one signature of the owner is new- teddy bears.
For over 21 years, according to one clerk, the female owner has placed a teddy bear in each room because she felt they add a bit of homey warmth and comfort to people far from home.
Those small pieces of comfort were everywhere in contrast to the old Victorian furnishings in cozy sitting nooks. I loved it.
Visitors are encouraged to look around, and we did.
Then a right turn out the door, seated on a street bench? A giant teddy bear.
I peeked in to the old west style building that now serves as a French restaurant and bolangerie, (bakery).
The street is so appealing. Try a winebar, Thai food, Cowboy Girls, or get information on wild river rafting, and skiing (for winter.)
Pretty sidewalk cafes; they are dog friendly.
The fun stuff; old theatre, an old tymie photo shop to take your picture in Victorian or Western garb.
Even a place to tie up your horse. In fact, I saw an old cowboy with his big truck putting money into a meter and I wanted to talk to him about riding his horse into town, but he got away before I caught up to him. But, then, another contrast, a bevy of beauties walking down the street.
We were told by our friendly host at the American Legion to be sure and stop for a drink at the Strater Hotel.
You can’t miss it. It probably has the most gingerbread of all the old buildings in town.
I took a close-up of one of the fancy corbels.
Inside the lobby, the clerk’s cage has some of that beautiful old wood that no one can afford to buy anymore.
Cozy sitting areas.
It kind of reminds you of the old romantic movies. They’ve preserved the room key slot holder from former days. I’m sure that piece of furniture has a name, but I don’t know what it is.
And, you can still use their old letter box.
The fixture is new, but the reproduction wallpapers and Victorian decoration is true to its former glory. We never did have that drink in the bar. The Strater offers tours if you want one with all of the history. But, just peeking in and wandering around was fun.
We were headed for the train station to pick up our tickets and visit the train museum. I guess I’ll have to blog that tomorrow. We only covered about six blocks. If you visit, plan to stay more than a day. In fact, the prices at the posh hotels were quite reasonable. And, let’s face it, you can’t visit all of those wonderful galleries in one short afternoon.
To look at the rest of my pictures, click on the link: