Friday, June 5, 2009

slow moving trains

there is something to be said for slow moving trains.
once you are settled in one and the train departs the station, you are no longer in control. which is, at times, an absolutely grand and perfect place to be.

we boarded the train at ten minutes til 2, then departed the train somewhere around 5:30, and experienced an almost fairytale timelessness during those magical hours between. part of this was due to my body's excitement to no longer be pushing its muscles past their limits while breathing oxygen-thin air, and the rest was due to the pure visual enchantment that resulted from the tableau slowly streaming past our windows.
very slowly.

I was thrilled by the fact that the train wound it's way down to durango through a path nowhere near the road we had ridden, so the landscape we saw from the train windows was markedly different from that I had already seen. the train took us through the Animas river valley for a preponderance of the ride, a deep and gorgeous, mostly uninhabited land. we saw a handful of kayakers, all on the side of the river, watching it crash through it's winding and rocky bed.

the train passed so close to rock walls that we could touch their solid faces, while branches of trees would occasionally slap the sides of the car. we crossed the river on a high and narrow bridge that was invisible to us while in the car, while we looked down a hundred feet to the sparkling, dancing water far below.

the walls of the valleys were lush and green, and water coursed down steep rock walls and through narrow crevices in the shrubs and trees. no road, no cars, not much of any kind of civilization: just our lazy train spitting soot and steam and throwing out the occasional whistle into the waiting air.

time ticked on, but so very slowly. rocky slopes morphed into tree-covered slopes opening up into a wider canyon which would soon narrow and draw back in upon itself. the river gushed, the skies eventually opened and sent down a light rain, and the train continued its focused and determined movement toward the south.

within the confines of the car people chatted, laughed, told stories, and moved to and from the concession car, and a sense of contentment settled over us all. there was no other place to go or be at the moment, and the train lulled us into a peaceful state.

210 minutes on a slow moving train, winding one's way through a magical, hidden river valley, is a pretty darn good way to spend a saturday afternoon, especially after a hard-fought battle of muscle and will to reach the departure point.

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