Riding a steam train through the Rocky Mountains

I wake up two minutes before the alarm clock, at 4:58am. I love it when that happens. After a quick shower and putting my stuff in the car and say goodbye to my friend Ana. I hope it won’t be another five years before we meet again. The last two days were a lot of fun and it’s always a bit challenging for me to leave friends behind and continue traveling alone.
It’s starting to get light and I drive slowly through the mountains. It’s one of the rare times that I actually go slower than the speed limit. It’s a drive of about two hours and I’m feeling a bit melancholic this morning. I’ve been in America now for a week and somehow this morning feels a bit like the end of a good movie. I know there is a lot ahead of me, but this is just the feeling of this moment. The scenes of the past days fly by on my minds eye while I drive in the direction of Durango. As I enter the town I already see the steam from the steam train I’ll be riding today and sadness makes place for excitement again. I park my car near the train station, have breakfast, get coffee and walk to the station. I’m will in time, they’re about to connect the steam locomotive in front of the cars. I find my car and a few minutes later it’s time to board the train. The train cars are very old and made of wood. I’ve been wanting to ride on this train for quite a long time and I’m excited to finally travel with it.
The train goes quit slow through beautiful nature. It follows a big river through the mountains. The first part of the ride I take a lot of pictures and then I switch to reading a book. I enjoy the ride though 3,5 hours is quite a long time. It’s a good way to force yourself to relax. There is no phone service in the mountains here, so basically what you can do is look out window or do something like reading.
Just after noon we arrive in the town of Silverton. It’s a small, touristy place which looks like one of those towns in a western movie. I walk around for a while and then hear some piano music. It’s coming from an old-fashioned saloon, dating 1882. In the corner is one of those old saloon piano’s and an old man is non-stop playing songs on it.
I get myself a burger, fries and a soda, which makes a descent lunch. The bartender tells me that the piano player is 89 years old and plays for a couple of hours straight. Very impressive and he plays a lot of cheerful songs. I hang around in the saloon for a bit until it’s time to board the train again. The train is already turned around and ready for another 3,5 hours back to Durango.
Because the train turned around and we have the same seats, I’m now sitting on the other side. It’s nice to get the other view now and to sit in the shade again. Because the train rides next to the river it’s nice and cool even though it’s a hot summer day. The train is rocking a lot more on the way back, because it’s downhill for a big part and I actually fall asleep for a moment. Then I enjoy more of the scenery and some reading time again. Just after six in the evening we ride back into the station where we departed in the morning.
My first idea is to camp out at the local Walmart, but after checking in the store I find out that it’s not allowed in this city. Fortunately I already had a backup plan and drive to the town of Ouray. It’s on the other side of the mountains via a high and windy road called Million Dollar Highway. It’s a pretty drive and I arrive near Ouray just before sunset. I find a sideway in the national forest and park my car next to the road. There are deer walking around here and I like the feeling of camping out in nature. There is another car parked and I ask the guy if it’s okay to camp here. He says it is okay and I get in my car to eat dinner and watch a movie. Not much later though a police car stops next to his car and the officer talks with him for a while. When the police is gone, I go outside and ask him what the officer said. Apparently is not allowed to camp here. The guy drives off, but since the police didn’t tell me anything I try my luck.
Fast-forward, I can tell you that I wake up at 5am without being disturbed by anyone. Once again, things work out just fine for me.

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