Million Dollar (Highway) Anniversary

Although tin is the traditional tenth wedding anniversary gift, we decided that it would be perfect for our sixth. Despite the last days of the winery rapidly approaching and us as busy as ever getting the final details handled, we were able to sneak away to Durango for a “test” weekend in the Airstream a few weeks ago. To get to Durango from most anywhere in Colorado, you head south on the Million Dollar Highway / US Hwy 550, and the views are in a word- magnificent. Every time you crest a hill or come around a corner, you think that it can’t possibly get any better, yet somehow, it does. Once you are south of Montrose, the drive really starts to get interesting as you come to the “Gateway of the San Juans” town of Ridgway (for a great lunch- check out the food truck in an Airstream, Eatery 66), which sits at the junction of two highways that lead to (in our opinion) the two most beautiful places in Colorado. If you continue south (as we did), you’ll pass through Ouray before heading over Red Mountain Pass into Silverton, then over Molas and Coal Bank Passes and down into Durango. Should you opt to head west, you’ll end up in Telluride. Yes, that Telluride. Regardless of your direction, you’ll choose wisely. And although we’ve done this drive dozens (maybe hundreds?) of times, we couldn’t resist a stop near the summit of Red Mountain Pass to enjoy the views and get some great shots of Stan. 

After pulling Stan over three mountain passes- Red Mountain, Molas, and Coal Bank, we finally rolled into the Alpen Rose RV Park, just north of Durango. We are new to the RV park/campground lifestyle and have no doubt that there is a learning curve for determining the best places to stay. The park itself was nice and the staff very friendly and accommodating, and they had a spacious, fenced dog park; but we do have to comment that the pictures on the website are slightly deceptive, what looked like relatively spacious sites, was actually very tightly packed rows of RVs, travel trailers, and trucks. We have nothing unpleasant to say about our stay, just that it was a bit more cramped than we’d anticipated. 

While in Durango, we spent the weekend eating (something we are quite fond of), playing frisbee golf at the beautiful Fort Lewis College course, and enjoying one of our favorite places in the state. If you travel with your pets, you know that finding dog-friendly restaurants and activities can be challenging; but like so many mountain towns, we found Durango to be welcoming and easy to enjoy with Finley. Our first night, we enjoyed the airy and boisterous patio at Homeslice Pizza, enjoying the handmade pizzas prepared by the attached food truck and a selection of local beers. 

After dinner, we headed back to the Airstream and surprisingly all slept soundly. Surprising because Finley “allows” us to share a king-sized bed with him at home, whereas we only have a queen size in the Airstream. We fully expect there to be a fight for space on some nights, but at least we know it’s possible for us all to actually sleep. Refreshed from our good night of sleep, we spent the morning relaxing – something that we are going to have to practice lots in the upcoming months – and Finley found his second favorite spot, on the couch. 

We spent Saturday enjoying a beautiful view of the San Juans from the elevated campus of Fort Lewis while playing frisbee golf, strolling along the Animas River Trail, and eating a fabulous lunch, complete with dog-friendly, shaded patio at the Cyprus Cafe– even if you aren’t traveling with a dog, this is a must for a tasty, relaxing lunch!

After a second night in the books, we got up Sunday morning and ran into town for donuts* at the always tasty Durango Doughworks– the perfect way to start our 6th anniversary. After donuts and coffee, we packed up, unhitched, and hit the road back to Grand Junction much sooner than we would have liked. Our “test” weekend was wildly successful; in fact, so successful that it made coming back home and to work that much harder. The whole way back, we just kept reminding ourselves that it was just two-and-a-half more months; and seeing as we are posting this a month after our anniversary, time is flying by. But just in case you’re keeping count with us- we’re at 49 days and counting…

*We might as well tell you now that Jen is donut-obsessed. Not casually interested or an eager enthusiast, but full-blown obsessed. Like if you could pick one food in the world to eat forever and you threw nutrition out the window, donut obsessed. Expect more about donuts in future posts. And please feel free to make suggestions for where we should try donuts. Please.