July 23, 2011 Antonito, CO

Needless to say, our “boutique” hotel in Antonito does not provide breakfast. Not even coffee. Nor any place in the room where we might set up our well-supplied mobile kitchen. So it’s across the street again to the Dutch Mill, which is open breakfast.

Mary orders wheat toast with jam, no butter. Out comes buttered white toast. Sent back for another try. I order a short stack of pancakes. Inedible. Sent back, I try a cup of chile verde instead. OK. At least the side of bacon was good.

Time for our adventure on the the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad. We head out to the train depot. Our little buddies Clark and Lewis are very excited. We take their pictures at various places on the train. It has an authentic coal-burning steam locomotive and restored cars. We have opted for the parlor car in the back in the hopes that the seats will be comfortable and that we will be away from the engine’s smokestack, which we expect will emit authentic sooty stuff in large quantities.

Cumbres and Toltec engine 488

John at the Antonito station

We set off at 10am sharp.

Clark and Lewis wave goodbye

The train proceeds mostly westward (towards Chama NM) and upwards. Antonito is at 7800 feet; the highest point on the route at Osier is at over 10,000 feet. The line was originally part of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, hauling silver, supplies and passengers through the San Juan mountains into New Mexico. The segment of the line that we are on crosses the Colorado-New Mexico border 10 times in each direction.

Rounding a bend

The engine letting off some steam

We see some very beautiful scenery (it is after all a scenic railroad) especially Toltec Gorge, and learn a lot about the topography (significantly volcanic in origin).

The Toltec Gorge

We have lunch at Osier. “Grub” seems a suitable description. We change trains and return to Antonito, arriving just before 5pm. We get some little presents for Nathan and Sam, hop in the car, and leave Antonito for Alamosa, 30 miles north and infinitely closer to the creature comforts we call civilization. Looking for some familiarity and consistency, we have dinner at Chili’s and reflect on the memorable experience we have had on today’s train journey.

Clark and Lewis approve of our new digs

Tomorrow, north to Denver!

PS (Mary, here. John has done a yeoman’s job by writing today’s and yesterday’s post for me. All I have to do is stick in the pictures. Thank you so much, John!)

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