We boarded an 1882 steam train at the depot in Durango and took it three and a half hours to Silverton, once a profitable silver mining town at 9,308 elevation. The train appeals to tourists and the mountain views are spectacular in places.

We paid extra to sit in the enclosed car that features a docent with historical narrative to share. Close to the engine, the cinders and ash were heavy if you opened a window. Hot with them closed.

The train makes several stops, this one to take on water…

…and make a routine inspection before moving on.

The train follows the riverbed for much of the way. Pristine, roiling waters and marshmallow clouds all day for us.

This is what the inside of the enclosed cars looks like.  Three and one-half hours is  tough for a two-year old. The scenery, though beautiful,  gets repetitive for much of the way. It was a welcome and speedy trip for people in the 1800′s. If you go with children, one way is probably enough. You have a choice to train up, and bus back.

These new, young friends, passed some of the time playing scissors, paper and rock, which helped pass some of the time.  The docent explained that we can expect to see deer, beaver, goats, sheep, bear and cougar among the larger animals.  I saw two dahl sheep quite close to the road on the way up and one on the way down. You come upon them so unexpectedly, a picture was not possible.

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The train stops at designated places for backpackers and hikers who get off or back on the train. They can be out for days, or just hours. They find room for them to ride in the gondola cars.  Three older guys picked up on our way back were out for four days and hiked 40 miles. They  reported being followed all the way up the mountain by wild goats that would walk right through their camp. He snarked, “And people hunt them?  It’s like hunting a Buick in a parking lot.”

There are two walking  bridges for hikers  to cross the river that I saw.  In many places fording is possible as well.

Other canyon adventures are riding a  zip-line, kayaking, and river rafting.  This tree is the bottom part of the zip-line apparatus.

Snow melt makes its way to the river and cascades beautifully for us down the rocks. in small and tall waterfalls.

Water tumbling over rocks is always a refreshing and beautiful scene.

As we rose in elevation, we passed through an aspen forest with some of the biggest aspen I’ve ever seen.  Downed trees from beaver chews were visible on the side of the water, but no beaver dam in site.

We got off the train at Silverton and we were greeted by a young boy hawking “rocks for sale.”

People took this opportunity to have their picture taken with the train.  I liked the train parked with the green path up the mountain behind it.

Silverton has one paved street, Main St.  It was very class conscious in its day and the well-to-do lived on this side of town. People from the other side town were discouraged from mingling with the upper class.

The “low rent” district was more interesting.

And, of course, the jail was built on the “wrong” side of town where all the miners lived.

Besides unpaved streets, there is still boardwalks in some places.

Haven’t a clue?  It was definitely closed. It is said that when mining went bust, the town was so broke they couldn’t prosper, so the town is much like it looked in the 1900′s.

And, if you’re short on money, and need a four-way stop sign, you can make do with one post, one hole, and less labor.

Blair Street was part of the notorious “other” side of town now marked for the benefit of tourists as is this phony but fun grave marker.

Lola Fent Kicked Up Her Heels,  & Away She Went .

I spotted this delightful truck sitting in front of its own brewery. Had to try it. I ordered a porter, which was way overly carbonated, almost chemical tasting and way over priced. Everyone seemed to be eating good food, but, the beer was just drinkable. We ate at Romeros and got back on the train.

We asked to get off the history car for two reasons. First, we couldn’t hear well enough over the noise of the train. And, secondly, picture-taking was difficult through the small window openings.   The conductor found us a seat and we had a much more enjoyable ride in the open gondola.  You could see better and it was easier to take pictures. You still get puffs of ash, and grime, though.  The kids get more diversion, though the five-year old above had a hard time concentrating and wanted to be done with the ride.

The Rio de Los Animus Por Dios river runs through this magnificent canyon. It means the river of lost souls.  I expect there were numerous deaths for those early explorers trying to navigate the river and canyon.  Even today, there have been lightening fires, mud and rock slides and periodic floods in low places and drownings.

The trip back seemed shorter. Everyone has there preference and  I think if we were to do it again, we’d take the half trip.  The Concession Car, by the way, has much in the way of snacks, water and refreshments.  There are restrooms aboard the train, as in the 1800′s.

The kids love it when the engineer lets go with a blast of steam to lower pressure in the boiler when he needs to slow going down hill.

In some places, the train passes so close to the rocks and trees you can reach out and touch them. I chuckled when I saw a father warn the kids to keep their hands inside the rails, only to wait until they weren’t looking and he reached out and touched the rocks and grabbed a leaf.  Busted!

I’ve long envied people who can create beauty with their hands. A skill I do not possess. I’m the only guy I know that cannot cut a straight line with a Skil Saw. Heck, I can’t even pick my nose good. It’s a good thing I never had to use my hands in a creative manner to earn a living.

Last Wednesday, before Mary boarded the Amtrak train in Deming, New Mexico, we found that we had a little extra time to kill before it arrived. So we dropped into the local Deming Luna Mimbres Museum. It’s quite large, very clean and interesting. Since we only had about 45 minutes before they closed, we headed off in different directions. I ended up in the Western historical section.

Here are some of the things I saw…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view...

This first image was in a New Mexico Centennial quilt…

But, here’s what really caught my attention since I still draw/paint like a fifth-grader. I hope you appreciate these beautiful Southwest paintings as much as I did…

Absolutely great paintings! My 45 minutes were well spent.

In other news…

I’m entering my second day of a four-day forecast of high velocity winds. According to my Accuweather.com forecast, winds gusts will exceed 50 miles per hour. Since the motorhome is broadside to the oncoming winds, I’m really rocking and rolling. It made for a difficult night’s sleep. Kind of like trying to sleep on the bottom of a rowboat in the middle of a tumultuous ocean storm. Unlike last week’s 75 mile per hour wind gusts in Columbus, New Mexico, because of my higher location, there’s no sand or dust  reaching the motorhome. It’s all suppose to end by Tuesday and I’m expecting to hit the road once again on Wednesday.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

The bad news is…Mary has left me once again.

It is all part of our original agreement from when we met back in 2008. That…about three times a year…she would have to go back home for various reasons. This time it’s to tend to her taxes and other miscellaneous business.

She’s grown tired of the hassle of flying…so this time she decided to take the Amtrak train. From Deming, New Mexico to Los Angeles, CA…then the Amtrak bus to Bakersfield, CA…then back on to the train to Stockton, CA…where her youngest son will meet her with her car. The entire train experience will be just under 24 hours. Then she’ll drive from Stockton up the hill about an hour to her home.

The train was scheduled to arrive at 6:11 PM. But since Amtrak doesn’t have to compete with other trains…promptness is not a key issue. The train arrived at 7:05 PM. It’s a big train and only passes west-bound through Deming once a day…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view...

By time others got off and she got on…it was 7:11 PM by time she departed…

Into the golden Western sunset..

And then she was gone…

It was about a 30 minute drive back to Rockhound State Park where the night lights of Deming can be seen through the windshield of our motorhome…

It’s always very noticeable when Mary first departs. It’s very quiet and there’s no laughter. I’ve mentioned many times about how much laughter we share in our relationship. it’s not all bad because absence makes the heart grow fonder….etc…..

I’m hoping to get her back within about six weeks…the end of April at the latest. In the mean while I’ll continue traveling solo until she returns.

The good news is she always returns.

In other news…

Originally I had planned to move along today. However the long-range weather forecast for the area for the next week has very strong winds slated for this coming Saturday through Tuesday…not a good time to be on the road with a high-profile motorhome. So I’ve decided…since I’m very comfortable in this very scenic location…plus I have some friends nearby…to wait out the very windy conditions. If all goes as forecasted…I’ll likely start moving on once again next Wednesday. One week from today. .

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

We are still parked at Rockhound State Park, about 10 miles from downtown Deming, New Mexico.

Yesterday Mary and I went for a walk around the park. She went in search of rocks and I went in search of photographs. She found some rocks, I found some photographs.

Here are some photos that I took…

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view...

First…the view from our dining room window…

Then the rest of the photos…

And a few just before sunset photos…

And finally some just after sunset photos…

This sure is a great photographic location. The sunset ranks among the very best I seen in my entire life.

In other news…

Mary is leaving me once again. She’ll board the 6:11 PM Amtrak Train this evening headed for home to take care of taxes and other business. I’ll continue on traveling alone. I hope to get her back within about six weeks.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

I’m currently parked at Slab City, an old deserted military base deep in the deserts of Southeastern California. I’ve been here numerous times and have written many Blog entries about Slab City. If you want to see some of them…look in the past years archives in December. For a general understanding of Slab City…just enter those two words in your Internet Search Box and you’ll find several sites describing this most unusual place. I’m here to upgrade our solar system on the motorhome, for which I have an 8:30 AM appointment this morning.

While here I’m parked directly in front of my friend Leo’s motorhome. I thought you might enjoy to see some of the photos during our about 45 minute walk yesterday morning. As always, you may click on the photos to see them in an enlarged view and then click on them once again to see an even larger view.

About one-half hour before sunrise I stuck my head out of the driver’s side motorhome window and took this photo of Leo’s front yard under a full moon…

We left right at sunrise  and shortly thereafter cast long early morning shadows upon the desert floor…

Two of the motorhomes in the distance are ours…

Leo’s is center left and mine is center right in this zoom shot…

A graded road makes for easier walking…

Leo’s Doberman Deja’ can be seen in this photo of a gaily painted deserted military base water tank…

The Slabs has quite a nice pet cemetery…

A close-up of one of the graves…

Oh, I almost forgot to show you last night’s sunset…

And a few minutes later…

It’s really peaceful and quiet here miles away from any city. During the night one can only occasionally hear the long mournful sound of a diesel train passing about three miles away…and the beautiful sounds of the coyotes howling at the Moon!

And speaking of the Moon…how about a full Moon rising photo…

Now…that’s something to howl about!!!

It’s a lousy job…but someone’s got to do it!  :)

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2012
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

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