View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Friday, January 02, 2004

Hooray for Ouray

In anticipation of life starting up again, I've retreated with the dog to a little town called Ouray, hidden in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Take a look at the picture on their site, and you'll see what I mean by hidden. Surrounded by mountains. The only way into town is, well, the only way into town. It's not hidden well enough, since all the hotels are booked.

Ouray started out as a mining town. Like most mountain mining towns, there's a stream running through the middle of it, carrying gold flakes. Once the mining dried up, the town became a tourist spot, taking advantage of its remaining resource - ice. That the town wasn't flattened by an avalanche 6 months after it was founded is a testament to the steep, rocky faces that the mountains turn towards it. But the water does melt, and forms these:

That's right, icicles bigger than your house. Icicles so big that Joe Nacchio wanted to put cell repeaters on them for Qwest, until somebody pointed out that they melt. They not only melt, they break - take a look at the remains over top that lady's head. People climb this stuff competitively. One of the restaurants in town has pay-binoculars so you want watch your favorite climbers slow ascent, and hopefully not-too-rapid descent.

The town itself is small, cute, and likely to stay that way. There's no place for the town to grow, sort of a natural smart-growth plan, so the housing prices actually rival those of Denver. It's been snowing the whole time, which is probably par for the course, but hides the mountains behind the ones you can see.

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