Out in the desert, the weather pattern had, for the most part, been: overcast, comfortably cool morning, bright hot afternoon, rumbly-rainy evening/night.
In Durango, it was just rainy. And cold.
Fortunately, we did pack jackets, because our planned excursion was for the Durango-Silverton line, and they warn of cooler temps at the higher elevations. So we were not wholly unprepared. In fact, I actually had my trusty plastic poncho (courtesy of CIE Tours when I went to Ireland and which also served me well in Wellington). This would prove eminently useful in Silverton proper, because the sky opened about midway up the mountain.
A little research had told us that the best seats for the Durango-to-Silverton route were on the right side (though I have to say it was pretty scenic on both sides) and I had booked us on the 1st class Silver Vista car, which is the only car that’s fully open AND has the glass dome top. Eminently cool, because we got the full visual effect of traveling through the mountain passes. Also literally cool, because open car.
Ellie, the attendant & tour guide for our rail car provided coffees and hot chocolates, ponchos and flannel blankets as needed. In her previous career she had been a geologist in Alaska and so could tell us a lot about the layers of rock and geological forces at work in the formation of this particular set of mountains.
All in all, it was a pretty great trip, though I worried a bit about my parent’s comfort. (And I was uber thankful that at the last minute Dad had decided to go back into the gift shop, and had picked me up a set of protective glasses. Soot and cinders, y’all.)
Silverton is a picturesque little tourist trap of a town in the summer, but we had lunch and browsed about while the skies started to clear a little. And then we took the bus route back to Durango (a good 2 hours savings in transit, and a different scenic route although I nodded off anyway) so that we could hit the car and start trekking back to Moab, Utah for a few nights.
As we came out of the mountains we passed in and out of some pretty incredible rainstorms and one hail storm, eventually all giving way once again to the Utah desert.