Parade, Food, & Fireworks in Telluride
Trip Start Feb 28, 2009
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We were on the river by about 10:30 and it started out as a nice calm float, but at the first rapids we could tell that there was some serious water in this river! (of course there is- it's the Colorado!) The rapids themselves weren't bad- there was so much water that there really weren't any rocks to have to manuver around (that's what I don't like) but the waves were HUGE!! The distance between the crests of the waves (What's that called? Wave length?) was huge! I don't think we'd ever been on water quite like that- it was really fun!
I think we were on the water until about 4 or so, and then we all headed back to Silas' coworker's house for a BBQ.
On Saturday we were heading to Telluride for their 4th of July festivities- I thought I had seen somewhere in my research that the parade started at 10am, so we left here at about 6:30 with hopes of getting a campsite in town before the parade started. We made really good time over there and were at the Town Park campground before 9. After a quick drive through it, we saw that it was packed. I stopped by the office anyway just to check if anyone might be leaving that day- the man working there told me that there was one of the primitive sites (the only real difference at these sites was that you can't drive your car right to them, but there was a place for people camping at those sites to park that was really close by) that was supposed to be opening up, but that he couldn't give it to me until the people were actually gone. Check-out time was at 11:00 and even though they normally don't take 'reservations' he told me that if I came back at about 11:10 and the people were gone he would save it for me. Anyway, instead of going on and on about this, I'll just say that the people decided to stay for another night so we didn't get the spot. Boo!
But we tried not to worry about it and set out to enjoy our day in Telluride. Our first stop was Baked in Telluride- Silas had been saying for at least a week that he wanted that to be our first stop once we got to town. It seems that lots of people had the same idea because it was also packed. We both got breakfast bagel sandwiches to go and went to the main street to find a place to watch the parade from. The whole main street was lined with chairs, but they were mostly empty- I guess people set them up early and then went back home or out to eat or something. As it got closer and closer to 10 we noticed that most of the chairs were still empty, so we decided to ask some people what time the parade started. Turns out it wasn't until 11. Oops, I don't know where I got 10:00 from.
Anyway, the parade started and at first it was really slow- I was starting to think that maybe it wasn't going to be that great, but then it picked up and it ended up being a really fun parade, especially for a town of that size.
When it was over everyone seemed to head to the park at the end of town- that's where the volunteer firemen had their BBQ set up. We didn't go there right away- instead we thought that it might be a good time to go to some of the shops. After we did a little bit of shopping we made our way down to the park and immediately saw a HUGE line for food. We really didn't want to wait in line and Silas had been wanting to go to one of his old favorite restaurants in town anyway- Shanghai Palace- so we decided to go there.
After lunch we went for a little hike up to a waterfall near town. (I don't know the name of it- maybe Silas does) On the way there Silas wanted to show me the spot that he was thinking we could watch the fireworks from. We knew that most people watched from the baseball field at the park, so we just wanted to make sure we could see just above there where they were setting them off from, and we could, so we decided that we'd come back later to watch the show. One funny thing that we saw when we were hiking up to the waterfall- a guy that we passed on the trail that was hiking with a cat draped around his neck! I thought it was really funny, but then we passed him again on the way down and the cat was now walking along with him on a leash! So funny!
After our hike we wanted to try to get our camping situation taken care of so that we'd be back in town with time to ride the gondola and get dinner before the fireworks. When we went through Telluride at the beginning of our road trip in 2007 Getting Lost in the American West in a '78 Volkswagen Kombi! we had stayed in a campground just outside of town, so we decided to go there to see if we might be able to get a spot. Well, we didn't end up finding it... maybe it was further out of town than we remembered. We found a day use area near town and considered staying there anyway, but we finally decided that it might be easier to just park in the parking lot that Silas had 'lived' in in his bus while he was working at the mountain, and just sleep in the car. I think this turned out to be a good idea because when the fireworks got over traffic in town was COMPLETELY backed up.
After we found a parking place (NOT as easy as you might think) we rode the gondola up to Mountain Village. Last time we were in Telluride it was cloudy and rainy so you really couldn't see too much from the gondola, but it was a clear day and the view was beautiful.
After we rode the gondola we decided to get dinner at another of Silas' favorite restaurants- the burrito bus! (I guess, technically, it's not a restaurant) After dinner we decided that it was probably about time to head up to our spot that we were going to watch the fireworks from. We made it up there and noticed some threatening clouds moving towards us. Then it started sprinkling...then it started pouring! We really had no choice but to sit there and wait. Luckily, since we had been checking the weather forcast for a week leading up to our trip, we knew that there was a 40-50% chance of rain while we were there so at least we had our rain jackets with us. We just sat there and watched the clouds move and were very happy to see that it seemed to be passing. We were way up on the side of a mountain on one end of town, and the park where most everyone watches from was on the other end, but we could hear cheers when the rain finally stopped. And then the fireworks started. I had read that it was one of the largest firework displays in the western part of the US and was a little bit skeptical. Ever since I first saw fireworks in Japan I've kind of felt like I'm ruined for any fireworks I might see in the US. Fireworks in Japan are AMAZING! Before I watch fireworks in the US I always try to remind myself that THIS IS NOT JAPAN! and that they probably won't be as good. But from the very beginning of the show in Telluride I had a feeling that it was going to be awesome, and it was! Not only were the fireworks themselves amazing, but there was a nearly full moon right above the mountains behind the fireworks, and the echos of the explsions off the mountains was SO loud! It really was amazing.
After the fireworks it started raining again! We went back to the car and tried to get in as fast as possible without being spotted. It was pretty miserable at first- we were all wet and cold and trying to lay out our sleeping bags in the back of the car. I felt bad for Silas- I'm fine in the back- I can lay out straight, but he can't. I guess it's not made for people that tall. Neither of us slept very good that night, but I think poor Silas had it much worse than me. In the morning we drove to the picnic area of the campground in town and made our oatmeal and coffee and got on the road as early as we could.
Oh- I almost forgot- I think we wrote about this in our other travel blog- there's a 'Free Box' in Telluride where people can leave stuff that they want to get rid of, and anyone can take whatever they want from it. I think we went to it about 3-4 times while we were there. (okay, I guess I should say that I DRUG Silas there 3-4 times while we were in town) So we made one last stop there on our way out of town. Silas kept saying, 'Do you really think that there's anything new in there from the last time you looked?' And I kept saying, 'YES!' and there really was! I got a swimsuit top on one visit, and then a shirt on another visit. It was pretty slim pickings, but I love the idea of a free box!!
On our way out of town I was driving along and then all of a sudden I saw that there was a police car coming towards me and he turned on his lights and started making gestures at me, but I wasn't sure if I was being pulled over or not. Something similar to this happened to me when I first got my license when I was living in Yakutat- a little town in SE Alaska. Now, I have to explain for anyone who isn't familiar with it- EVRYONE WAVES IN YAKUTAT!! So I was driving down the road and I passed one of the few police in town. I waved and he did something which I figured was a wave and I kept on driving. And then just a few seconds later I noticed that he was right behind me with his lights on, so I pulled over. When he got up to my window he said, 'Didn't you see that I was signaling you to pull over?' and I said, 'Oh, I thought you were waving.' True story.
Anyway, when I saw the signaling (he definitely WASN'T waving!) I just pulled over right away and sat there waiting for him to turn around and come back. I waited...and waited...and Silas kept saying that he thought the police was just trying to get me to slow down and that he didn't think he was coming back. I have such bad luck with police, I'm really careful about my speed and stuff, but during the 7 years I lived in Missoula I think I got 2 or 3 tickets for having a headlight out. Everyone else who I know who has been stopped for that always says that they got off with just a warning, but not me. So I just knew that the police was going to turn around and come back and give me a ticket. But he didn't and I was shocked. And happy!
On the way to Ouray a marmot ran out in the road in front of me and I slammed on the breaks. It just froze right there in the middle of my lane. We got so close to it that we couldn't see it anymore by the time we came to a stop and I was just cringing waiting to see if it was okay. Then all of a sudden it ran out from in front of us and off the road. Whew! Doesn't get much closer than that!
We got to Ouray and walked around town a little before hiking up to Box Canyon Falls. You have to pay to hike up to the falls and to a little bridge above the falls, but it was worth it! The falls and the view were really amazing. The bridge up above the falls was really cool, but kind of scary if you looked down since you were standing directly above the falls.
The road to Silverton was SCARY! It winded up the side of the mountain with almost no guard rails anywhere and sometimes I swear there was not more than an inch from the egde of the white line to a complete drop off! Poor Silas was on driving duty at this point...I felt bad for him.
Right away when we pulled into Silverton I felt like we were back in the old wild west. It was definitely a tourist town- the buildings and stores were all really old looking and there were people walking all over the place. As we were pulling into town we saw that the train (the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad) from Durango was coming, so we went over to see it. Tons of people were getting off and it really felt like you were back in the wild west!
We walked around and looked at all the shops and restaurants. We saw that there was a BLM/Forest Service office right there in town right next to a Bigfoot Museum! We really had to use our willpower to resist trying one of the restaurants in town. There were several that looked good, but we had made sandwiches and were trying to be good since we wanted to stop at Serious Texas BBQ in Durango on the way home. So we ate our sandwiches and then got some ice cream, and then we walked around a little more before leaving for Durango.
The drive to Durango was similar to the drive between Ouray and Silverton- beautiful, but no guard rails! No marmots this time though. In Durango we got pulled pork, Texas sausage, and cheesy potatoes to go from Serious Texas BBQ and took it home to eat and relax after a weekend of adventure!
Kayaking on the Colorado River was great! The 13 mile stretch we did is called the "Moab Daily". I must admit, I was a little nervous before we went. One of the river rangers I work with was telling me about a huge boat-swallowing hole in White's Rapid. We learned we could just stay way left in the rapid and miss it. We ended up going so far left we got stuck on some rocks. Better than the boat-swallowing hole, I say! Next time we know we can go straight down the middle and be fine. I've never floated down a river with so much water. The waves were huge... but in a fun, non-threatening kind of way. They were so smooth we just rolled right over them. No drops, holes, or rocks to dodge... Well, except for the rock we got stuck on.
Telluride was a lot of fun too! If there is one place that feels like home to me outside of Montana, it's Telluride. It was good to be back. It felt like old times... being sneaky... sleeping in a car in the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain... brushing my teeth at the unlocked bathroom near the grocery store... cooking breakfast in the park. It was nice to share the experience with Allison this time around. It was also nice that it wasn't freezing and snowing this time around, either. The fireworks show was really cool. The silhouette of the surrounding mountains and the nearly-full moon created a nice backdrop. Some of the fireworks were so loud they were setting off car alarms. The only disappointing part about the weekend is that we didn't run into my good friends Thomas and Katherine (you know, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes). I was hoping to introduce Allison and tell them the big news.