View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Wednesday, September 01, 2004


I thought I had left CDOT behind. Wrong. The inescapable CDOT is engaged in a major reconstruction of US-160. They managed to turn the road leading up to Wolf Creek Pass into an off-roading adventure, and turn a quick little 90-minute jaunt to Pagosa Springs into an all-morning traffic jam. I know the work needs to be done or it's back to conestoga wagons, but still.

When I got to Pagosa Springs, there had been an accident which backed traffic up for another 10 minutes. By the time I got to the rapidly-growing west side of town, I just wanted to keep driving, so I didn't even stop to look for this place. Sorry, Hugh, you'll just have to wait.

Instead of staying on the pavement-challenged US 160, I took a southern detour into the Ute Indian reservation. It leads to a small town called Ignacio, which is where the retiring Senator Campbell is from. It's a poor town, loaded town with mobile homes and a few adobe businesses. There's no "new Ignacio," with a Home Depot and Wal-Mart. It's also overrun with motorcycles this weekend.

Coming into Durango from the south, you pass the Home Depot and the Wal-Mart. For Denverites, and much of the country, urban sprawl means one or both of these every couple of miles, and the submerging of individual suburbs into one glutinous mass. For small towns, like Pagosa Spgs. and Durango, it means that the old town is submerged in that mass, without a large city around to redeem it. Ninety percent of the town is just like Aurora, but the old town is better-preserved. It had better be, because by now, most of these towns' economic reason for being is tourism. I have no interest in driving 800 miles to Aurora.

The end-of-day drive was on something called the Million Dollar Highway, from Durango to Montrose. I stopped off at a little spot called Andrews Lake, where Sage got to swim and futilely chase ducks. The ducks were pretty serene about having Goliath chase them; they'd let him get to within about 3 feet, and then kick it up. Some kind of retriever he is.

At an earlier picnic stop, I had managed to spill fish-smelling water into the trunk from the cooler. So now, the snap-on Tropical Mist was fighting a two-front war against Wet Dog and Fish Water. No excuses for not getting the car cleaned, now.

The drive takes you through Silverton and Ouray, where I spent last New Year's Weekend. No words work. When I get the film(!) developed, we'll see.

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