Welcome back to Slide Night, where we look at our favourite travel snaps and the adventures behind them.
The Wild West of Colorado wasn’t exactly what I expected. Sure, there were tons of crappy souvenir shops selling cowboy boot keyrings and massive belt buckles but it was mostly the tourists donning these crappy momentos, while the locals were a mix of hipsters, hippies and no-hopes.
I arrived in Durango, Colorado to visit a boy. As you do. It was January and I was not prepared for a Rocky Mountains winter. Most of my visit was spent inside: going to the movies, laughing in Wal-Mart, playing chess in local coffee houses. I was too lazy and poor to ski, although it snowed regularly.
The BIG ATTRACTION in Durango is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. Lots of people in the town of Durango either work on the train, for the train, or their business is helped by the train. And therefore, most people maintain a love-hate relationship with the train that runs through the middle of their town.
This was a town that had become massively gentrified in recent years. The trailer park had been torn down to build three-storey townhouses (where I stayed) and the main street (called Main Street) was packed with tourist-style restaurants or shops. You couldn’t buy a freshly baked loaf of bread but you could buy a variety of Native American turquoise jewellery or a meal from one of the 50+ restarurants. It was packed in summer and dead in winter. And all these tourists came to visit the train.
On this visit I stayed for nearly four weeks. And the second question that everyone asked — after “where are you from?” — was “have you been on the train yet?”. I couldn’t convince anyone to ride it with me — since they all claimed to have been thousands of times — so one cold but sunny morning, I went on it by myself.
And suddenly I understood why everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Ma and Pa Texas came for the train. It was like going back in time. The inspector wears an old-style uniform, ringing a bell and letting the train whistle. The cabins are old and wooden and creaky. The Colorado Rockies are stunning beautiful, as we zoom past icy running rivers, flocks of mountain ducks and old wooden bridges perched precariously over frozen streams.
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But modern America also got a peek in. As we rode past massive McMansions on one side of the tracks, old rusty trailers with crappy old cars out the front stood just metres away. It’s odd watching a town transition, seeing it go forwards by looking backwards.
A small Casio Elixim digital
Have you got an amazing travel snap (jpeg format, s’il vous plait) and story you’d like to share on ‘Slide Night’? You don’t have to be a professional and it doesn’t have to be “exotic”. Just send it through to [email protected]