The Road Lead Us To Durango and Colorado Mountains

My friend gave Marilyn and I a ride to the main road, leaving Grand Rapids, Michigan and back to our path towards Southern California. Any which route would do, we still had two weeks until my brother's wedding north of San Diego.

Our first ride came from a cage fighter excited about his first pro fight. He was conveniently passing by Munster, Indiana, home of Three Floyds Brewery where Marilyn and I happily popped into to sample some of their delicious brews.

The walk back to the freeway would have been a long one if not for a couple who saw us walking and offered us a ride up to save us the many footsteps. From there we caught a ride in a van as far as a rest area above the freeway. A parked trucker offered us a place to sleep in his truck and a ride come the next morning, but we were happy to instead get another ride from someone else who got us past many of the twisting junctions south of Chicago.

We waited on another onramp, thumb out, a woman came rolling alongside us just to say she thought we looked cute. This was funny enough, but an actual ride came along from someone who went a bit out of their way to get us up to Joliet, then another short five mile ride got us past another junction and left us walking along the interstate as the sun went down.

Our last ride of the day got us just up to the next exit, that came from a guy who seemed more upset than anything else, unsure why we were walking on the highway. We paused at a truck stop for a bit contemplating our options, finally we set out walking along some nearby train tracks until we got into some thick trees and bushes, perhaps too thick, but we managed to find something like a clearing to setup out tent in the hot and sweaty night to get ourselves some hidden sleep for the night.

The next day we broke away and made some real distance. First came a ride from some hungover guys for a little while, but then a guy driving a Prius feeling generous, he was a nurse and instantly had good rapport with Marilyn. He kept saying he got great gas mileage and would drive us a little further, next thing we knew we were all the way in Des Moines, Iowa, well over a hundred miles further than where he'd originally been heading.

We thanked him up and down when he finally dropped us off and decided to turn back towards his day, then we walked ourselves back to the freeway shoulder to keep things moving. We got a short ride from some tricked out black car with no door handles, but next came the long ride.

The guy's name was Ted, a Navajo guy who worked for the railroad. He'd been up in Chicago and was now heading home to Farmington, New Mexico. He was about as happy as us since we could help him drive and get there faster. He drove and drove as we cruised on, eventually dark came and Marilyn got behind the wheel, cruising and cruising while he slept up front and I nodded in and out in the backseat.

Somewhere in the middle of the night we gassed up and I took the wheel, blasting us through Kansas, Oklahoma, a piece of Texas and finally into New Mexico before Ted woke up and took over again. We paused in Albuquerque for breakfast with the sun shining down once again, then up by Farmington where we finally hopped out and parted ways.

Being close to Durango we decided we'd head there, it took just one quick ride from a guy to get us up and into Colorado where he dropped us off right by downtown. We wasted no time finding the first brewery, Steamworks, planting ourselves at the bar with some samples while contemplating our next move.

A forest ranger happened to be sitting next to us, he provided us with some tips and finger points at our map with viable places to camp and explore. Another brewery, a foot race with a trolley and a third brewery and snack and finally walking down the road with finding a campsite on our minds.

We were spotted by a guy named Dan just before we made a turn off the main road towards a trail we had in mind. He not only offered us a ride, but knew the area well and exactly where some great campsites were. He hopped out with us by the trailhead and walked us in, pausing for a smoke by the river, then hiked with us a mile or so up until we got to a great little secluded spot right next to the river, the perfect place to call home for the night.

We talked a bit more and thanked him as he turned back down the trail for his car, leaving Marilyn and I to get a campfire going, heat up some munchies, hot chocolate and enjoy the night together in the wilderness.

A stoked fire in the morning lead to some coffee and oatmeal before hiking out back to the road, tubing the river now our main objective. As it was we got picked up by a girl also tubing the river that day, she took us right to the rental spot where Marilyn got us set up with a couple tubes, the girl working the place also let us stash our big packs in the corner for the day.

We hiked up the river a ways and plopped ourselves in, sipping refreshments we'd picked up and gently floating down through the day. Marilyn lost her shirt somewhere along the way, we made a quick run back to our packs to get aired up and for her to grab another shirt, then plopped right back into the river.

By the end of the run we got back on shore and up to the road. Rather than heading straight back to the shop we hitched a ride with tubes and all from a girl to Ska Brewing for some after-river brews, then hitched another tube-toting ride back to the shop finally to turn them in and collect our packs.

We'd been turned on to a free hot spring in Rico, so we walked ourselves to the road heading west to a spot where we could hitch a ride. A guy heading to Dolores scooped us up, a good ride through beautiful scenery. While there we got some camping food quickly before getting back to the road, there wasn't a whole lot of sunlight left.

We manged to get a ride quickly from a couple heading to Grand Junction, it worked out great since they'd not only be passing through Rico, but they'd also heard of this particular hot spring before and were curious to see where it was. We got to the general spot we'd been pointed to and poked around for a while looking for it until we realized it was actually just down the cliffside easily accessible.

The sun was down by this point, the couple drove off, happy to have a new spot to come back to, Marilyn and I found a clearing in the woods just near the actual hot spring and set up our tent for the night.

In the morning we woke up and headed straight for it, happy to soak in the beautiful spot. Eventually a naked cowboy emerged from the river, coming from somewhere or another, hopping in and chatting for a while. Before long we were heading back for our campsite and getting packed up, then back to the road to keep moving.

An older Mormon man scooped us up, he talked a great length about all the beautiful mountains we were going through, then he went out of his way to take us down the road right into Telluride which we wanted to explore a bit.

We walked through the downtown strip, heavy on the wealthy tourist vibe, but dwarfed by the beautiful nestled-in-the-mountains feeling. It didn't take long for us to sniff out the brewery, taking a load off for a moment.

Afterwards we decided to head on out of town, but on the walk out we walked by the gondola with a "free" sign, there was no way we were going to pass up a free ride to the top of the mountain, so up we went. The view above was amazing, we even debated hiking a bit around and perhaps camping somewhere. Instead we took another more horizontal gondola across the mountains to a little community, a free shuttle got us back to the road, then a hitched ride in a pickup truck got us to the more obscure little brewery just outside of town, Telluride Brewing.

We had samples there, including one of the more amazing brown ales I've ever had. Marilyn had Alabama in common with the guy pouring us samples which added some extra good times, by the time we left we had a a six pack of brown ale cans happily weighing my pack down a bit more.

Back to the road we went, Moab, Arches, Salt Lake City and more were just over the horizon.

June 21, 2013 to June 25, 2013