15th August. Mexican hat to Durango Co . Through more empty desert like country, just nothing for miles and miles, sand with that usual stuff trying it’s best to survive. We pass the odd homestead no neighbors even close, miles from any where, what in heavens name do these people do to survive? Eat sand? For some reason and there must be one , pylons yomp across all this nothing, going somewhere carrying white mans magic!
We eventually arrived at a place called Mexican Water. There is no water and I didn’t see any Mexicans either. Aha! I get it now , it’s irony, you find what there isn’t and call it that! They do like funny names these Americans, Crazy Woman Creek or Kickapoo, for example, what about Punshzumfeka or Thwakatableeda? Actually I made the last 2 up, but I bet they exist somewhere.
You cannot believe that this terrain is on the same planet as Iowa or South Dakota, never mind the same land mass.
We stopped at a place called “the 4 corners” it’s a national monument a point in the USA where 4 states touch borders. A bit of a big deal is made of this and with good reason, it’s unique. It is also in Navajo reservation land, as a result the Indians administer it. 3 bucks each, the sign says, no discounts, no park passes, no concessions, children under 6 free, no dogs! I was under the impression that Indians liked a bit of dog. I suspect the information came from a fellow racing driver, a complete lunatic whom I must say, I liked allot. He did however make me cringe one day. In a balkan restaurant. This was a few years before the Yugoslavs all fell out and butchered each other. There were about a dozen of us at the table, mostly blokes, riders , mechanics, and some of the film crew, with whom we were working on “American Built”. Mike Baldwin was with his English wife, they had been food shopping earlier in the town and Mikes wife swore she had seen a carcass of a dog hanging in a butchers window! We were all struggling with the menu so when the waiter came for our order, Mike, in that somewhat embarrassing American way, shouted “bring anything you think we would like but NOT dog, we don’t want any Red Indian food, NO dog! Got it”? I should have realized no one from california would know remotely anything about Navajo culinary art.
When you get into the “4 Corners” there isn’t much there, a paved square divided with a big x, corner to corner using contrasting tiles, each triangle formed is that particular state. Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah, so. Technically you could be in 4 different states inside a couple of seconds.
Bordering the paved square are a bunch of little stalls about 10 feet wide, numbering 15 units along each side. With a Navajo in each, flogging T shirts, jewelry, art or food, the general tat that we the hoi ploi like so much. We tried a bit of the food, it was real nice, even the beans and they are never palatable. Encouraged , we ordered some genuine Navajo fry bread, we had it with apricot jam real good it was. I would describe it as a stiffish thick pancake, I’ll have it again given 1/2 a chance. The American Indian I notice, does tend to carry excess fat, like so many Americans I suppose but it seems almost universal in these people, even the youthful carry the heavy cheeks normally only seen on cartoon pigs! I can’t help wondering why? It is utterly impossible to imagine these folk even riding horses, never mind galloping after a stage coach or round a larger’d wagon train in a whooping frenzy. I realize I’m being stereotypical here, but this image and the western stories didn’t come from thin air. In the Fry bread stall was a switched on , obliging kid helping her mum in the school holidays, looking like any normally proportioned 8 year old, We couldn’t help thinking will she still be the owner of approved BMI stats in another 10 or 20 years or a heart braking lard arse?
Sue quite liked the 4 corners . She described it as calming. Is she turnin injun on me?
Back on the road we passed through a town called Cortez, it had the appearance of your regular American town with a Rite Aid and other ubiquitous stores, we were back in the land of the living. The land beginning to look habitable at last, green bits and hills instead of mesas, trees instead of buttes, we were liking Colorado already.
A raise in altitude to 6000 feet over 30 miles or so and we were in Durango, originally a silver mining town, now a vacation destination, and a skiing one in the winter. After getting fixed up in the Econo lodge, we went driving again! For a change! We did a 50 mile trip, deeper into the mountains to a town called Silverton, I’m so glad we did, it was a picture from the approach road 1000 feet above, another alpine road route that ran over 9000 feet of altitude. When we got into the town it was still a picture, if different to what we thought, we both loved it. It was almost a proper 19th century western town, not quite Clint Eastwood but certainly cowboyville, there was even board walks under verandas, a saloon called ‘The Shady Lady” and lots of shops selling cowboy stuff, the oddest thing we saw was a bloke, wearing a cowboy hat, boots, shirt, holster and a 6 gun, dusting the counters in his shop, he was even wearing a Sheriffs badge.
I suppose he could simply have been an inbred , the village idiot, anyone can have a gun here, mostly stupid people have them, some are called cops. Sue thinks there are lots of inbreds in these small town America places, I tend to agree and it does make me laugh.
One could have taken a narrow gauge steam railway from Durango to Silverton, there are 4 classes of ticket, standard (the lowest) is over 80 bucks! For 1st class I imagine they handcuff you to the railway lines pull your pants down and really give you what for. So thats why we went by car!
I was hoping to do a zip line tour in Durango and the gunfight that was advertised on the internet. The gunfight has disappeared from the expected advertising and Sue isn’t keen on the zip line. Consequently we decided to bugger off south in the morning to New Mexico.