Heritage Travel
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Great Little Towns; Wonderful Drives

After our visit at Mesa Verde, we took off on the short drive to Durango on Saturday morning.  But along the way, we passed the historic little town of Mancos and saw a sign for the Absolute Bakery & Cafe.  Since we love small Main Street communities AND we were ready for breakfast, we pulled over. 

Mancos has a small historic downtown, and the Bakery & Cafe was in one of those older buildings.  We found a wonderful menu, a soundtrack of late sixties and early seventies songs on the stereo, and an eclectic mix of patrons.  More than once, one of us said, “This place would fit right in at Takoma Park” (the DC/Maryland neighborhood which has a great counter-culture 4th of July parade and is the area’s only nuclear-free zone – as approved by their City Council).  It has been a while since I’ve heard so much Steppenwolf, Neil Young, and Jefferson Airplane that early in the morning!

After breakfast, we visited a nice local arts cooperative and then took off for Durango, a 2007 Dozen Distinctive Destination of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.   We checked in to a great room at the Stater Hotel, a Historic Hotel of America (see the photo at the top of the post), and then spent the afternoon exploring the town.  As we were walking down the street, Claire said, “Now this is a town where I could live.”  (I don’t know if that was before or after our stop in the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store, where all but Candice decided to sample the wares.)  The downtown has nice stores, although the number of T-Shirt shops was troubling for such an historic destination.  Just off Main Avenue is a very walkable residential historic district.  The surrounding mountains and river add to the overall feel of a great place to live.  We had an excellent dinner at the Mahogany Room at the Stater before calling it a night.

On Sunday, we had our last long drive of the trip, as we drove from Durango to Taos.  Simply stated, this is just a wonderful drive through the beautiful scenery of the San Juan Mountains and National Forest.  There was very little traffic, and we just sat back and enjoyed the view.  I’ve posted a photo and another panorama (click on the X if it doesn’t show in your view) so you can get a sense of what we enjoyed.

Traveling with teenagers has been great, and we couldn’t have better companions on the road than Andrew and Claire.  But lunch today was one of those times when the “fun” of traveling two weeks with your parents may have been too much.  We stopped in the little town of Chama, NM for lunch, where our prospects beyond a hamburger/biker bar joint didn’t look too promising.  But we drove and found another section of town that had a sandwich cafe.  Claire immediately voted for the cafe, but upon inspecting the menu Andrew pushed for a hamburger.  When we opted with Andrew, we ended up in a very busy joint with a very harried waitress who would come racing to the table and say, “What do you want? You? You? You?”  Claire was incredulous and when the food was as mediocre as we expected, she kept saying, “If we get food poisoning it will be ALL your fault.”  The scene became more and more surreal, and we spent the last half of the lunch laughing – and we even got Andrew and Claire to laugh.  Suffice it to say that we survived and will always remember Chama…as well as “Blondie’s Pub & Grub” in Cortez, CO as our biker bar experiences of this trip.

We arrived in Taos amid torrential rains, so our touring was limited to the plaza, and we had a light dinner in the Adobe Bar of the Taos Inn.  (Don’t worry…we haven’t been taking Andrew & Claire out drinking on this trip through the west!)  Tomorrow morning we hope the weather cooperates for our whitewater rafting on the Rio Grande.

More to come…


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