The Great Colorado-Utah Vacation 2011, Day Eight.

DURANGO, COLORADO – We just won a case of beer, yo!

Okay, first things first. We left Ouray this morning for the 1.5-hour drive to Durango.

As an aside, I just want to point out (at our own risk) that the weather has been soooooo cooperative. For those of you who follow our camping adventures, you know that is not typically the case, at least not with local Missouri camping. So I’d like to take this moment to thank Mother Nature for that. And the Academy. But mostly Mother Nature.

We got to Durango, got unhooked, and sat around for an hour or so debating how to rent another Jeep for Moab.

Yeah, you read that right. We want to do more Jeeping in and around Canyonlands National Park. We had such a good time around Ouray that we thought we should take the opportunity to do more. Greg, especially, loved it, and if Mr. Cold-and-Blackened Heart can find enjoyment in something, I am all about it.


The first order of business after resting up was to ride the free trolley into Durango proper.

01 - Durango transit02 - trolley

It was early for dinner so we walked around a little, and discovered the train depot and museum.

watching the model train at the museum

Well, it just so happened we stumbled upon one of those “Thomas Day Out” thingies. And yes, Thomas himself was there. We were total party crashers and didn’t pay a damn dime but hey, nobody asked us for tickets or ID or anything else and that is how we roll, so Ethan jumped in a bouncy house and the kids petted some animals which were WAY better than the other ones at Royal Gorge. Seriously, the Durango FFA knows how to put on a show. They had show-quality hogs (complete with Purina’s Show Chow – Mom, I know you’ll get a kick out of that), as well as the biggest Holstein I’ve ever seen, which made me nostalgic for the cows of yore. I absolutely fell in love with her. If I could wrap her up and take her home with me I would. I heard the FFA girls daring each other to get on the poor Holstein’s back just to see what she’d do. One of them predicted she would stand up. I concur. I inched over as quietly and innocuously as I could, hoping to enjoy the show before we left, but alas, the FFA girls chickened out. Or maybe they didn’t but we just left before I could see the performance. Sigh.

They also had a mule, some goats, and a horse. Yes, all the typical animals, but HIGH QUALITY creatures. I can appreciate that.

Oh yeah, and Thomas:

03 - Thomas surprise

Next we visited Steamworks Brewing Company for dinner. First of all, yum. We had the Cajun Boil, which is that typical fat mess of crab, shrimp, ‘taters, and corn all dumped out on butcher paper in front of you, but they did a good job with the crab which as any self-described sorta-kinda-foodie knows is a Very Big Deal. But wait! The highlight was that we were buying 20 oz. glasses of quality craft beer for TWO BUCKS. Yes. You read that correctly. Even better was that with each order the waiter brought us raffle tickets to win a prize, with the drawing to be at six p.m. I had a good feeling about this, so we sent Laurel up front with our tickets to listen for our number, with stern orders to run back to us immediately if our number was called because they were likely to be reluctant to give a prize to an eleven-year-old.

And we won two pitchers of beer! See?

04 - winner of two pitchers!

Of course, by this time we’d imbibed enough beer so that two pitchers was really pushing it, and we are from out of town so we schemed together and decided to ask our super-awesome waiter Brian if there were any way we could trade and they could fill our two growlers instead? Well, he thought so and went to ask the manager.

The manager said no, because “the law” required them to have a growler under the Steamworks name.

Well, we call bullshit on that, because Ouray Brewery filled two growlers from other breweries and Ouray is also in Colorado and that kind of law tends to be state law, but we didn’t raise a big stink because get this – in lieu of the 2 pitchers or 2 growlers, the manager offered a full case of beer.

For those of you unfamiliar with liquid measure, let me spell that out:

2 pitchers: 120 oz.

2 growlers: 128 oz.

1 case: 288 oz.

See why we didn’t bitch?

05 - third eye pa

So we squirreled away 12 cans in each of our backpacks and we slinked out, silently and qu
ickly before the manager could figure out he’d made a gross mathematical error. Our waiter, however, was on top of it all, as he referred to us multiple times as “The Family of Bootleggers.” We surreptitiously rode the trolley back without mentioning the beer so as to avoid a mugging. I’m sure you can picture it; one needn’t be painted for you. Let’s just say we’d be damn good smugglers.

Speaking of the trolley, holy cow, there are some whackjob townies in Durango. Just my kind of people. And guess what? We got the whackjobbiest of the whackjob townies on both our inbound and outbound trips. She knew every one of the other townies and had the following conversation on the inbound trip:

Whackjob Townie: “Hey, does your brother have ‘Lazarro’ tattooed on his neck?”

Other Townie: “Yeah.”

Whackjob Townie: (stage whispering) “Is he the one who got in trouble?”

Other Townie: “What?”

Whackjob Townie: (louder stage whisper) “Is. He. The. One. Who. Got. In. Trouble?!”

Other Townie: “Oh, yeah.”

Whackjob Townie: “Is he still in (stage whisper) trouble?”

Other Townie: “Yeah.”

I love me some ‘Merica.

Oh, I wanted so badly to give Greg a knowing look about her but I refrained, waiting until we were off the trolley to do so. Don’t you admire my restraint?

And that, folks, is what makes awesome memories.

By the way, guess who just sweet-talked the Moab Jeep people into bending their rental hours for us? Greg did! So look for more Jeeping adventures in the near future.

By the way, here is the Whackjob Townie:

06 - whackjob townie

And here is our campsite: