The Million Dollar Highway….#227 (the 90’s)

Million Dollar Highway

Gary couldn’t believe the passage on Highway #550 over 12,980 ft. Red Mountain,  its program south from Ouray  designated as the Million Dollar Highway was  a carnage of progress,  the families destination being Durango and points west.   This renown  highway a cornucopia of twist and turns,  the incline of the road finding highway signs disclosing a warning message to slow to a speed of 5 miles per hour thru the curving deviations.   The Buick,  the transmission paling  registered in first gear slowing its decent,   the brakes being applied on numerous occasions to moderate it’s acceleration,  all noticing that many sections of the road unshepard with guard rails.   The view of the gorge,  the depth of the incline below giving reverence to the perplexity of those workers  who fashioned a path on the sheer cliffs of the 13,000 ft.  mountain.   Halting their travel at Silverton,  the family disembarking the Skylark,  Gary noticing an emanation discharging from the Buick,  a familiar odor from his peregrinations with his father during his youthful travels in a ten-wheeler loaded lumber truck,  the smell of calescent brake pads.

Mesa Verde National Park

Archaeologist at work

Continuing the digression on the Million Dollar highway,  but this time being somewhat more cautious in braking the automobiles advancement, the smell emitted by the hot brakes still lingering,   the 70 mile journey from Ouray to Durango a two hours juncture being fulfilled.    A hesitation at Durango,  the Willson’s going west on Highway #160 to the Mesa Verde National Park,  a historic presentations of Colorado heritage, its Indian Cliff Dwellings dating from 550 AD to 1300 AD,  but never acknowledged until the 1870’s by William Henry Jackson and finally recognized as a national park in 1906.   The road trip a 40 mile venture,  the scenery mostly  a desolate of rock ensued proposition, but suddenly concluding with a vestige of tree habitation,  thus the acquiring the name Mesa Veda, “Green Table”.   The Buick reaching its destination,  the Willson family embarking on a winding rock spawn path entering the realm of a civilization that existed for more than 800 years,  their demise still questionable to this day.   The cliff dwellings and their presentation a wondrous vision of the past,  Gary a student of history,  intrigued with the surroundings,  a curiosity about the inhabitants culture, their thoughts about life and the future or was it all about survival.

The tour of the relics of the past completed,  once again in the presence of the Buick reversing course but with a final cessation,  Gary noting a sign for an overlook, “Four Corners“,  a view from one vantage point of Utah,  New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado,  the family according the winding road to acquaint the presentation.  Returning to Durango, ensuing a discussion of acquainting the Durango,  Silverton Narrow Gage Railway Tour,  but because of the late hour decided to forgo the two-hour tour,  Gary desiring to arrive in Ouray before dark,  postponing the event for another time.

Family Gathering

The Willson family Matriarch

The contradistinction visits to Ouray finding Gary’s mother,  Betty Willson,  the dexterous matriarch traveling to the high altitude region,  making an aeronautical entrance to the Montrose Airport to join them in Ouray to celebrate the abundance of the Colorado Mountains.   The Murrow Family playing host to the eldest Willson,  sharing their riverside trailer pavilion for her stay,  Gary happy to see a closer articulation of the two families.  Acknowledging his mother’s presence as an uplifting experience,  her presence giving acquiesce that another family realm existed besides those propagated from the domination and dynasties of Kansas and Oklahoma.  With the new arrival a return to the dominion of Box Canyon and the cavalcade of rushing water, this time including the Terry’s, Gary’s mother experiencing the presentations of Ouray community and the over-powering instigation of the Rocky Mountains.

A real saloon bar

Turn of the century dining

A departure time having ascended,  the Willson’s River Edge Motel provision having expired,  but a desire to remain another day was acquired,  a move up the street,  a block away to the historic Western Hotel,  it’s remnants from an earlier era.   The dining room and bar a depiction of something out of a western movie, the upstairs rooms having old metal spring beds,  the restroom a commune down the hall,  the experience a peregrinations back in time.   The morning before departure finding a buffet breakfast in the western scene,  Gary and Jan visiting with the proprietors,  the conversation revolving about the sale of the property,  its ascension and its despondence,  a peak of interest bridging Gary’s mind,  a move to Colorado brandishing itself,  but being dismissed as only a dream of a beholder.

The morning found a departure,  Shawn,  Gary’s brother-in-law affirming he would see Gary’s mother  Betty to the Montrose airport the following day,  the Willson’s embarking on their Journey east towards Kansas.

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