Ouray, Colorado in September.

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Ouray, famous, beautiful, deep in the mountains of Colorado left me cold. I just didn’t get it, that magical feeling that everyone talks about. It’s incredibly dramatic with the small old mining town tucked in a steep valley with the mountains to the south towering above us. I had planned to stay a few nights at the campground on the south-side in a natural amphitheater but that didn’t happen.

We drove in from the north through Ridgeway and in hindsight, I wish we’d pulled into town and found a campsite there. Oh well, now I know. September in Ouray is a time of road construction. The pass ahead to Durango was closed during the day and only open after five pm with one lane at a time for drivers to pause, wait for the flag and slowly make their way through one of the most intensely steep and narrow highways that I have ever experienced. The news must have been spread as the main and only road through Ouray was empty. I could only imagine what it was like on a normal busy work day or in tourist season. I had good timing for once.

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I settled us in for the night, worrying about the roads through the mountains but then I had a beer and relaxed. The campground hangs onto the edge of the mountain, narrow one lane switchbacks and small pull-ins. Not for the weak hearted or big vehicles. I was happy to be in just the 4Runner.

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I took the dogs down into town. Since I didn’t want to go four wheelin along dirt roads nor soak in the hotsprings, I was kinda bored. We walked the ten blocks, holding on tight to the leashes as deer wandered through yards and streets driving Rosie crazy.

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I had an early dinner at the Ouray brewery. They had a patio bar on the second floor with a great view of the town and mountains. The food wasn’t anything special but I had planned on treating myself so I did.

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Back at camp, I secured the box with the camp kitchen and food. The park ranger had warned of very active bears in the hills. The tent stayed in the bag. We set up a bed in the truck. I made a great fire, grabbing dead and down branches to add to my firewood stock and drank more beer as I checked my maps.

I had a plan, I’d take a HUGE detour west of Ouray and avoid that damn 12000 foot mountain pass. Yep, I think I’d found a way with only some 50 miles on a paved road and the rest on dirt. Perfect. I watched the sun drop and smiled in relief.

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