“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” -Anonymous
Being working fulltimers, we never really know where we will end up for important events such as our anniversary. This year we lucked out! We are staying an hour away from the incredible Colorado town of Durango. On Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, for our 27th wedding anniversary we chose to dine at the Mahogany Grille which is part of the historic Strater Hotel. The dinner was a relaxed pace and the atmosphere is of the old west with large rod iron glass ceiling lights. Chef Ward Martin, who worked under Chef Thomas Keller, creates amazing dishes. Mike had the elk and I had the Colorado ruby red trout. When we arrived back at our home on wheels, we sat outside to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower. Dinner and a show, What a treat! That was just the beginning of our anniversary weekend adventure.
On Saturday, Aug. 13th, we were determined to reach “The Notch” near Snowstorm Peak in the La Plata Mountains near Durango, CO. This was our 3rd attempt. Lyra was eager to go. As we made our way through the mountains on the La Plata Canyon trail, we stop to take in the wonderful waterfalls the dot the landscape. Lyra loves to explore. Unfortunately, I am not cat size so I often end up in some compromising situations. I let her tell of her mountain adventures. In the Jeep we always carry a survival bag which was created after we survived the 6.0 Napa, CA earthquake. Mike pulls one of our Lifestraws out and drinks the waterfall water. Brave Man! See video. He is so funny.
The trail splits near Fall Gulch to Kennebec pass trail and Colmbus basin trail. This point in the trail we had to go into 4-wheel drive. We decided to go right onto Colmbus Basin trail. At 11,500 feet we see the Colmbus Mine steam boiler (from 1917). Coal was shipped in by rail to Mayday then hauled up the mountain by pack mules. Check out Olga Little and her pack mules. Established circa 1896 the mine produced gold and silver. It reaches 350 feet into the Earth. The mine has a grate over it which if you are brave you can walk to the center and look straight down into the mine. It is an amazing site.
It was mid-afternoon so we decided to try to reach “The Notch” on Kennebec Pass Trail. The trail is moderate at times so 4-low drive is a must, especially, in our stock Jeep Wrangler. The trail is one vehicle wide so on a busy Summer weekend we had to maneuver to make room for opposite traffic. Right before we made the turn to the summit there is a couple of steam drum boilers and a parking area. The famous Colorado Trail head is located there. The final ascension to The Notch is steep and narrow. We MADE it! Woot! Woot! Lyra made of few fans while we were up there but she was not a fan of the wind at 12,000 feet. She tolerated being held by strangers and getting her photo taken. What a trooper! It was a sunny day so we could see the city of Durango and endless view of the La Plata Mountain range.
Every year we open a special bottle of wine. This year was our 2009 Georges De Latour Cabernet Sauvignon. We found a hiking trail to a secluded spot on a ridge that overlooked Kennebec pass. The perfect place to toast our 27 years together. A deer decided to join us to Lyra’s surprise. It was difficult to leave our little slice of heaven but the light on the mountain was fading and the descent was long.
On Sunday, Aug. 14th, we loaded the kayak and Lyra for another adventure on the Navajo Lake in New Mexico. Another beautiful sunny day in the mid 80’s was perfect for kayaking. Lyra relented to putting on her PFD. Safety first! She struggled to escape as we launched onto the lake. She did relax her death grip on my PFD after a while so I could also paddle. We stayed close to shore and away from other boats to minimize noise and wake waves. Neither Lyra liked. From the shore and water, people were shouting in excitement at seeing a cat in a kayak. She didn’t seem to appreciate her fans either. Then the unavoidable happened, a large boat going fast came close by us. Water spilled over the bow and Lyra climbed on my shoulder. Our trip ended at that point. Next time, we will take her on calmer water. She scrambled to the shore and found a spot of beach to call her own.
After our short kayaking trip, we drove to the nearby winery, Wines of San Juan in Turley, NM. It is, also, a Harvest Hosts member. The winery is open during the Summer months and has outdoor seating under large cottonwood trees. The winery is nestled near the San Juan river and the sandstone canyons rim. Plenty of patio seating and on Sundays they offer live music. New Mexican wine can be hit or miss. This wine is a hit! Tastings are free and not rushed. The Arnold family began as farmers but in 1999 they made the risky choice of becoming vintners. It paid off with award winning wine some of which made its way into our wine cabinet.
We hope that our experiences help you create your own experiences. We do not get compensated for any products or places in this blog.
Mike & Kat
Kat left teaching after 18 years to travel throughout the USA with her husband, Mike, who is an engineer for a Power generation company.