August 5th, 2019

carolsabotjelly

Another Busy Weekend

For the longest time Kitty had been asking me if we could take the Cumbres & Toltec steam train up in Chama. It seemed that something always got in the way. It's also a bit awkward in planning since it's about a 3 1/2 hour drive up there, so it's not really an easy day trip. We could stay in either Chama, Alamosa, or Pagosa Springs, but I was always afraid of the hassle (and cost) of booking a room for a summer weekend. Finally I just said, "screw it!" and got on Hotels.com and found a nice place up in Pagosa for 2 nights. We would make it a nice relaxing weekend and I would continue in my quest to be non-Jewish and "splurge" for some memorable experiences.

We left ABQ on Friday night as soon as Kitty got home from work. Thunderstorms were threatening, but we threaded the needle and had a relatively dry drive. One plan was to stop in Cuba for dinner, but by the time we got there, neither of us were hungry. We pressed on. I chose a less-popular route up through the Jicarilla Apache Rez. It's a much less hectic route than going up through Espanola. My only worry was it was getting dusk, and I warned Kitty to be on the lookout for deer since that's when they get active and wander out onto the road. A few minutes later a spotted a young buck grazing off the side of the road. Several miles later I spotted a doe. Just outside of Dulce I spotted another doe crossing the highway. I stopped right by her, rolled down the window, and shouted at her, "Get the fuck off of the highway!!!" It scrambled away. Kitty was upset with me that I cursed out a deer.

Our motel was a funky little place. It was an old skool affair that was now run by hippies. There was no TV or air conditioning, but we really didn't need either. They closed the lobby at 9PM but we were due in at 9:30. They called us and told us that our room would be open for us with the key inside. No worries, man. There was breakfast in the morning, but we would be gone before then to catch our train.

Chama was about an hour drive from Pagosa, so we were out the door by 6. We hadn't eaten the night before, so a nice hearty breakfast in Chama was in order. It was then off to the station to hop on a bus to Antonito, CO. They have trains starting from both ends of the line with a bus link either at the beginning or the end. We chose the bus at the beginning since the other way was sold out. The only difference is that the engine really has to work going eastbound since the uphill grade is extremely steep. Like I mentioned, I splurged for the premium class where everyone has there own window seat and the windows can be opened almost entirely. You also have access to the platform at the back of the train. Plus there was some swag and refreshments. Lunch was included at a stop about 3/4 of the way between the 2 stations. The mountain scenery was gorgeous. The streams were all still flowing from our excellent winter snowpack. Everything was nice and green. Well, except for all of the dead pines. The forest has been completely decimated by pine bark beetles. It was even worse on the drive home the next day over Wolf Creek Pass. I told Kitty that when the forest eventually does catch fire, and I know it will, it's going to be an inferno. So I better mark this post for future reference when the next drought hits and southern Colorado becomes a mass of flames.

We got back to Chama in the late afternoon and we drove back to Pagosa. Our motel had a bar, so we popped in for a drink. It was just as quirky as the rest of the motel with a mixture of locals and guests. Kitty had a mojito and I had a microbrew before getting a whiskey on the rocks. One of the locals sprang for a round of shots, so I had more whiskey. Another local recommended a brewpub in town for nachos, so that's where we headed out for dinner. It was a nice little place with a 2-piece band playing tunes. I had another brew and we just chilled out. Of course Kitty had to pull out her phone and check Facebook. It was then we heard about the latest mass shooting. I yelled at her to put the damned thing away and just live in the moment of happiness. Those problems were a long ways away and had nothing to do with us. Right now it was all about beer, nachos, music, a wonderful setting, and love. I'm starting to like this type of vacationing. In a tradition I started when I visited whitetail several years ago, whenever there is live music in a bar/restaurant and they are pretty good, I always slip a 20 into the tip jar. I appreciate the effort.

On Sunday we slept in a bit and were able to partake in the motel's breakfast. It was just coffee, bread, and fruit, but it was some mighty fine gourmet coffee. We then took a leisurely drive home using the long way through Taos. Traffic through Taos is always a shitshow, but we were in no hurry. It just made us to not want to stop since parking is also a zoo. We had wanted to stop for lunch, but we pushed on to Espanola where things were much more chill. We had a nice New Mexican lunch. Kitty read that it was hard to get bad Mexican/New Mexican food in Espanola because if it was bad food, it wouldn't be in business for very long. They take their chile very seriously!

We got home at a very reasonable time. There was plenty of time to get things ready for the week ahead. Of course we had very needy kitties. The neighbor had let them out and back in as well as fed them while we were gone. Obviously the cats thought we had abandoned them and they would have to fend for themselves. I found a headless squirrel on the patio.