Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend and Rio Grande Scenic Railroad Ride

I hope all of you had a good Memorial Day and celebrated our freedom for which many gave their lives. Thank you to all our veterans and active military.

The Memorial Day weekend started out Saturday with a Yard Sale at I Love Lucy’s and about 30 other places in town. It’s an annual event that was started at Lucy’s and has grown. We didn’t participate in the selling but we probably should have :) I checked out all the goods for sale in the park but did not venture any further. I was afraid I might find something I didn’t know I needed :)

Later in the day on Saturday, all the galleries in town hosted an open house with wine and cheese.  A person could just wander from one to the next. We did walk to town and stopped by one gallery but our major destination was the train station for information about the scenic train rides leaving from La Veta every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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What a wealth of information we received from the lady working there! Not only did she set us up with a train ticket, she turned us on to a couple other attractions we wouldn’t have even known about. More on them in another post :)

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This Colorado train ride gave us options of outdoor seating, coach, dome (supposedly really good views) and club car (the most expensive but they wine you and dine you) We chose coach tickets. Pretty basic but more expensive than the outdoor seating because, if it was cold, at least you were inside! This time of year, in the higher elevations, that’s a very good thing :) As it turned out, we probably should have bought the less expensive open-air seating. No one checked tickets to see where you were supposed to be seated and the outbound train didn’t even have an outdoor car. People just went where they wanted. Seemed a bit disorganized but this was the first weekend run of the season, so I’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt :)

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We left the La Veta train station at 10:00 Sunday morning bound for Fir, CO. This route took us over La Veta Pass, which, you may remember, we had driven over coming in. On this train ride, Rick was even able to enjoy the scenery and not have to keep his eyes on the road. Spectacular!

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We were told that there were plenty of wildlife to be seen, particularly elk and bear. I had the camera ready…but I didn’t even see a squirrel :(

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When we reached Fir (elevation 9400’) , which is just a train stop in the middle of nowhere, we got off to wait for the train coming from the opposite direction (Alamosa). The wind was whipping and it was cold!

Fir is the concert spot of the area and starting mid-June, the trains take concert goers out to Fir and bring them back when it’s all over. Fir is all “green”. They have their own wind turbine and several solar panels. The concerts, mostly country western, are held every weekend until labor Day.

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We could have continued on to Alamosa and made it a full day excursion for the same price, but chose the half day trip specifically so we could come back on a steam locomotive :)

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Here’s old #18 which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011. That’s quite some service! We found out that they no longer use wood or coal to power the steam engine. Today its power comes from used motor oil. I always wondered what they did with all that oil. Now I know what they do with some of it :)

Old #18 did not have all the creature comforts of the diesel (like padded seats and heat!) but it was an experience and we can cross that off our list. The scenery was beautiful but I doubt we’d do it again. Once was enough.

Today, Memorial Day, we took the Jeep south on CO 12 otherwise known as Highway of Legends. This drive left little doubt that we can see scenery as gorgeous on our own as we can from the train :) We were scouting out lakes to take the kayak later in the week. We checked out 3, but they were “brrrrr” chilly up there! I’m not so sure this is a good idea :)

People were fishing at all the lakes. It’s a popular sport in Colorado. This is Blue Lake and the water was crystal clear. Notice all the jackets…I was in short sleeves…I didn’t stay any longer than to snap a couple pictures either!

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It was a beautiful drive and a nice way to spend the afternoon.                 (We didn’t see any wild life today either!)

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We finished off the day with homemade ice cream courtesy of Lucy’s…Yum!

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle

9 comments:

  1. Wow wow wow - would have loved that train ride! You guys are getting to see some awesome places!

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  2. I agree about the steam train ride being fun but once is enough. Although going up and back for a concert would be a good time I'll bet. Better keep a jacket handy out there is what I found when we were in Colorado, SD and Montana.

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  3. Sure looks like fun and beats driving a car up there any day.

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  4. I've found a few things so far:
    Yes, getting off the main highways you can see scenery as gorgeous as from the trains, and you can take your time.
    Always have a sweatshirt or jacket with you!
    There are "wildlife area" signs everywhere, and I have, in 5 weeks, just for the first time last week, seen some Bighorn Sheep. It's to the point where I see the sign and say "yeah, right, wildlife" LOL.
    Continue to have a great time here, we love it!

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  5. A scenic train ride is on my short bucket list. Colorado sounds like a good place to be. It's been in the mid 90's and humid in Tampa.
    Syl

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  6. Those rides on steam engine trains may be missing some creature comforts, but they have a charm of their own -- especially when the scenery is lovely to look at. What do you want to bet that if they hadn't said you could see wildlife, you would have seen plenty! That's always been my experience :-)

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  7. That all sounds like so much fun. We love train rides, and it's a great way to relax and enjoy the scenery without having to keep your eyes on the road.

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  8. Great ride. Old trains are a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing:)

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  9. We've riden several trains across the country and this one sounds like it's just our ticket. Along with a steam train and Colorado scenery, what's not to love?

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