A Cool Mountain Retreat
Editor's note: Well, this is not good. Apparently, there was a huge mine-waste spill in the Animas River. According to Time magazine: "Residents in Durango, Colo. were bracing for the contaminated spillage to reach their area on Thursday afternoon [yesterday]." You might want to put that dreamy trip on hold. Sigh...
In the dead heat of Houston summer, it was time to make an escape. An escape to somewhere cooler and quieter. For me, that place is the sleepy mountain town of Durango, Colorado, in the mountains of the state's Four Corners region.
During my recent weeklong trip, the temperature never reached 90 degrees. During the evenings, the temperature dipped into the 60s. The fresh mountain air was peaceful and invigorating.
While it's far from an urban center, Durango has plenty of creature comforts. The Gaslight Theater is a longtime popular movie spot. While it only has two screens, this town staple shows all the summer blockbusters, with rotating titles each night. (I still miss the old drive-in called the Comet, where I saw Mean Girls for the first time.)
When it comes to activities, then the sky is literally the only limit. Summer activities includes the hiking trails, lakeside camping grounds, horseback-riding trips, fishing, rafting, zip lining and just about any other outdoorsy jaunts you can think of. When I was milling around Main St., I saw a gathering of bikers on a park green with balls and mallets. They had taken it upon themselves to create a little bike-polo tournament to celebrate the end of July.
In the winter, the town becomes a snowy wonderland, with skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tubing, snow-shoeing and even dog sledding. Just outside of the town limits is Durango Mountain Resort, and having spent a large portion of my childhood spring breaks visiting it, I can vouch for how refreshing its newly fallen powder is.
Let’s face it, Houstonians want good food. Popular spots include The Mahogany Grill, Ken & Sue’s, and my personal favorite, Seasonings, whose local owners serve up an ever-evolving menu of fresh and season produce and game. With good service, trendy cocktails and great duck, Seasonings redefines rustic fare. (It's just down the street from the Historic Strater Hotel, by the way. If you've ever wanted to sleep in a Wild West–style saloon hotel, look no further.)