Sunday, 19 September 2010

Durango and its People

Before I left Pagosa Springs there was something I needed to do. The previous evening I had gone to a restaurant / bar called Kips on the recommendation of the receptionist at the hotel I was staying at. I sat at the bar and within a few minutes a guy came and sat next to me with a familiar accent. He was from Wales (just to the west of England) and his name was Bob. With a friend called Doug, who arrived slightly later, the two of them had rented bikes in Tuscon and had been riding around the area.

Now, when I say they had rented bikes, these were a little different from most rentals you see. Bob was on a 1981 Honda Gold Wing and Doug was riding a 1981 Honda CB900. When they picked these up “through somebody they knew”, they had to spend a week fixing them up the bikes so they could ride them!

We had a fun time at the bar comparing notes and they had been to some of the areas I was about to ride to myself. I hadn’t taken my camera with me to the bar, so I had arranged to meet them the next morning for a photo. Here are the two of them on their ancient bikes....

Doug on his rented CB900....


















Bob on the Gold Wing of the same year....


















Here are the two of them as they rode off.....



















































It was good to meet them and engaged in some friendly banter!

My destination for today was not very far – just about 70 miles west to Durango. On the way I passed by Chimney Rock....




















As it was only a short ride today, I was going to arrive early and just on the outskirts of the town I saw a Harley-Davidson dealership, so I went and had a look. They had a back-rest for my bike, so I decided to go ahead and get one. They were able to fit this using my existing seat so it didn’t cost as much as I thought it would. Due to the limited tools I am carrying, I had then fit it and so I had to hang around for an hour or so while they did that....




















The staff in this dealership were very friendly and after helping myself to a cup of their coffee and looking at what they had for sale, I got chatting to the staff about hotels in Durango. They suggested the Strater Hotel was very good and even telephoned the hotel for me and negotiated a price for the only available room and got me their special H-D corporate discount, which was quite a saving considering I was going to be there for 3 nights! So, I would like to thank Danette, Christine and Kirstyne (I hope I have got their names right) for being so friendly and helping me with their unique hotel finding service!

The hotel was only a few miles away so I will on how I got on with the backrest in a few days time.

It was easy to find the hotel and I can see why they call it the “Historic” Strater Hotel. It was built in 1887 after becoming the dream of 20 year old Henry H. Strater who wanted to build the best and biggest hotel in the west. Since 1926 the hotel has been run by the Barker family and although updated and modernised over the years, it maintains a style all of its own. It is very charming and I can see why the place is so popular and often full.

This is the outside of the hotel.....


















Part of the lobby....


















Some shots of the room I am staying in.... it’s fabulous.....






























































The Diamond Belle bar where great food is served and music is played in a ragtime style very evening....







































It is great fun and having eaten in there for two nights, Johnny Maddox, the piano player now recognised me and played a fine melody of English songs in his own style for me....


























The waitresses dress up in an 1800’s style....


























.... and each evening, there is a mock gunfight in the bar and on the street. It is a silly stuff, but it was great fun for the tourists. Oh, I am one of them!

Whilst I was in Durango, I went on the train to Silverton and back. I have never been on a train pulled by a steam locomotive before and so I was looking forward to this a great deal. This will be the subject of a seperate post, probably tomorrow.

On Saturday morning I went for a walk in the town which was very quiet, got a haircut and drank coffee while I talked to Al, who was originally from New Hampshire but decided to go for a ride on his Honda motorbike in 2008 and rode for 15,000miles before arriving in Durango where he has mainly stayed since. It was good to chat with Al and of course, we compared road stories and talked about what we had seen on our rides, Sturgis, bikes, bison.......


























As I walked around Durango, I spotted this very old sign, painted on a brick wall....


























My regular readers may remember that I met John and Diana in Gunnison. They live in Durango where I am at the moment and this evening the three of us went to dinner at one of their favourite places which is located in a converted boathouse on an island in a reservoir. It was a very unusual place to say the least and the food was very good and the company excellent. Thank you to you both for choosing such a unique place to take me to.

Here are John and Diana just before dinner....




















And here I am in my smartest shirt that I have with me!....




















The boathouse, now a restaurant....




















I am beginning to like Durango and its people!

8 comments:

biker baby said...

There is/was a place called Hornies...if I remember right. It was a country bar and dance hall. They had a live long horn steer in a pen out front. Did you happen to hear about the place? If so, is it still there and is horny still alive?

Charlie6 said...

One heck of a hotel room there Gary!

Redleg's Rides

SonjaM said...

What a great place to stay, historic clothing, mock-up gun fights and all.

Danette said...

Horney's is not here any more. It closed and is now a store called Boot Barn. Not sure where Horney the bull ended up.
Great to be able to help with your stay Gary!! We so enjoyed chatting with you. Beautiful photos of your visit here!

motoroz said...

Glad you like Durango. It is a neat place. Love the hotel pictures.

Gary France said...

BB – I didn’t see Hornies and it seems from what Danette has said that they moved on.

Charlie6 – It was quite something. I am really pleased the H-D dealership advised me to go there!

Sonja – It was terrific place and I would recommend it to anyone.

Danette – Thanks again for your help!

Oz – I really liked Durango, plus it is in a great area.

Eve said...

I used to eat at a Boathouse restaurant in Alexandria Bay, NY (you've been there!) as good as it was you always had a tippy feeling and I don't think it was from the drinks! So glad you got back with John and Diana. I think Al made a great life decision! Great meets, great Harley Dealer, what fun!!

Gary France said...

Eve - This wasn't a house made from a boat, but a house they used to keep boats in! It was very unusual. I was very lucky to meet such nice people in Durango and yes, Al did make a great decision!