Day 39 – February 18 – Gallup, NM to Durango, CO
Driving north from Gallup today reminded us very much of driving to Butte, Montana during the years our son went to university there: You drive and drive and drive and even though you are covering many miles it feels like you aren’t going anywhere. And it isn’t that the countryside never changes because it does with huge rocks bluffs bursting out of the ground all over the place. I guess it is just an impression brought on by the immensity of the sky and the land and the distance.There is a lot of road work going on north of Gallup. Highway 491 is being four-laned. It was quite chilly and windy when we left the hotel and all through the construction area the dust was blowing steadily across the road. Dust storms and snow storms must be common because there were actually signs warning about zero visibilty areas.
I do love the big wide sky though and there were lots of changing cloud formations. When I looked at my maps there did not appear to be anything particular between Gallup and Durango to stop and see other than Ship Rock, and a good view point for it was only a couple of miles down a side road.
It is a sacred place to the Navajo nation so no one is allowed to climb it. (We are driving through the huge Navajo Nation Reservation that spans the Four Corners – the only spot in the USA where four states meet – Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.) It is called Ship Rock because in the evening light at dusk it appears to hover above the ground as if it was sailing. At the community of Shiprock we turned east to Farmington and then northeast through Aztec to make our way into Colorado and the old west town of Durango.
We were about 35 miles from Durango when I looked down at my maps again and noticed the Aztec Ruins National Monument just north of Aztec, Well, obviously, we need to stop there. Another good choice. This kiva, or ceremonial house is a re-construction.There were several doorways built into right-angle corners. This would have taken a fair bit of good engineering to do and maintain the structural integrity of the walls.Low doorways, mind your head.
It was only 30 miles from the Aztec Ruins (which have nothing to do with the Aztec people. Like Montezuma’s Castle and Montezuma’s Well the ruins were mis-named by the original discoverers. Since no official name of the site is known the name Aztec Ruins remained. The Animas River
We arrived in Durango in time to check in to our hotel (John booked the Best Western right down town, only a block from the train station and main street) and take a walk to see the town. I had wanted to ride the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway but had read in the brochure and on their web page that it didn’t run in the winter. When we got into town we learned that they do a daily five-hour return winter run up to a canyon. Boo. Next visit for sure. (And we both liked Durango so there will be a next visit I think.) We got back to the end of town just in time to go the Palace Restaurant for Prime Rib Night. Yum. Yum.