“QuentinTarantino spent the past winter in Telluride filming his latest project, “The Hateful Eight.” He was joined by a crew of about 150 and actors …


I still liked the feel of the town surrounded by the green slopes, mountain peaks and red-rock canyon walls – in Summer. But, what about …?


So here was our plan.

Get picked up by Enterprise at 8 am, hit the road shortly thereafter on the scenic route to Telluride.


Our hosts live on a country road.

The Enterprise shuttle driver couldn’t find the house.

No one in their office knew what was up.

Finally, our host dropped us off at the rental office, as he had offered the night before, instead of waiting for some rookie who …

  • doesn’t know the Durango roads or
  • can’t read a map or
  • can’t make the GPS work correctly.

There I said it.

Part two of our plan worked out fine.

Drop off the rental at our Summit County destination in Silverthorne – but for an additional fee.

No problem.

On the backend of our vacation, my brother-in-law volunteered to drive us two hours to the Denver airport, so he could pick up some bulk items at a Costco and see a friend.

2 Hour Commute to Denver Airport

That’s the problem for flying in for a visit to Frisco, Dillon, Breckenridge, Silverthorne, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and even Vail.

Arranging for that two hour drive from the Denver Airport.

The third local agreed.

Scenic Route to Telluride

The baggage-handler-cyclist, the enterprise cowboy-guy sitting in their lobby, and the Durango Chamber women who had to put up with amateur philosopher, life coach in search of a local flock.

The best route follows 160 west, then you take the 184 shortcut at Mancos and pick up the 145 at Dolores.

So we did.

And, the fluffy white clouds floating in the deep sky-blue wilderness canvas mesmerized us.

Even though we almost touched the border of Utah off in the distance, it was the frequent signs to “National Forests” with green meadows and tree groves that caught our attention.

We passed on side trips to the San Juan National Forest, Anasazi Heritage Center and Rico.

It proved hard to skip places with names like Lizard Head Pass and Ophir.

But we snapped a lot of pictures hoping the windshield glare and passenger-side window wouldn’t throw an unwanted reflection in our moving masterpieces.

We passed lakes reflecting mesmerizing-clouds, small granite peaks, idyllic meadows and dark, dark green fir trees.

Too Many Scenic Opportunities

If you’re like me your mind wanders as you drive between destinations on long trips.

I was day dreaming about our  last vacation trip to this region

We simply ran out of time and skipped Telluride.

This year we skipped a stop in Silverton, because as empty nesters both of us felt the community was just too small and remote for us.

We passed ranches and old mines dotted with buildings in various states of disrepair.

And then a strange incident popped into my head.

One that just seemed odd at the time and remained just that until much later after Donald Trump’s election victory.

Only then did it connect two things political.

Our Durango friends reintroduced us to their life long friends.

And, took us to visit their friends divorced son.

Dennis greeted us at his home which was undergoing a major remodel.

Two things.

We hadn’t seen such gigantic log beams supporting his new roof.

And, we hadn’t seen someone proudly displaying a huge Confederate flag on the top of the roof.

This in contrast to the flowing American flag at the entrance of our friends best friends.

We just hadn’t encountered that before.

On our short vacation it just seemed odd.

We didn’t attach any importance to it

We were totally clueless.

Naively we asked our friends about it.

They glossed it over with a back story that Gen-X Dennis had always been rebellious growing up and in school.

Now, I wonder if they guessed we knew the significance of it.

But at the time we didn’t.

It just seemed odd flowing so magnificently there clearly thousands and thousands of miles from the deep South.

We might have figured it out.

Especially when Dennis’ mother told him to take it down, in that scolding tone all young boys feel in their bones.

But didn’t, although now it reminds me of the headline about the previous election.

Swastika On Campaign Sign Sparks Outrage

On Tuesday, Jeff Widen, a volunteer with the La Plata County Democrats, looks at a Barack Obama campaign sign he put up the previous day near U.S. Highway 160 and County Road 222 east of Durango.

Back then as a memory fragment it just floated disconnected from anything at all.

It disappeared from my dream-memory state as my attention snapped back to the task at hand.

Winding Country Roads

Back to the, well, navigating back country roads.

We drove winding high country mountain roads.

Sometimes meandering.

Sometimes death-defying like those twisting sharp turns along Pacific Coast Highway leading to Big Sur in California.

We climbed and climbed.

Must be getting close to Telluride we agreed.

Then we dropped and dropped.

Must have missed the Telluride turnout we agreed.

On the Big Sur-like twisty downward slope nearing the valley floor we flew past the turn-off to Mountain Village.

Oh well, we shrugged.

Meandering Country Roads

We weren’t here to spend three hours eyeballing golfers nearby.

Where’s Telluride we asked ourselves nearing the wide meadow just like most of the other ones we passed on the way.

Up there?

The sign to the airport pointed the way up on the opposite side of the red rock canyon wall.

On the mountain top?

Like at Catalina Island lying off of California’s Pacific Coast?

Maybe that’s were we’ll find planes and the Telluride Ski Resort?

We found ourselves at the mouth of the canyon.

Maybe the town and resort was at the, well, throat?

We negotiated the roundabout noting signs to Placerville on the 145 for later in the afternoon.

We followed the flow of traffic slightly uphill towards more deep blue skies, fluffy white clouds, low mountain peaks in cloud-shadows and dark green vegetation.

Repairs closed the road to downtown Telluride.

So we parked and walked.

In the middle of the street stood giant flower boxes with brightly colored blooms.

Flowers to Clouds

Reds, pinks, purples, yellows, you name it and it grew there.


We photographed similar looking specimens in Durango at Coal Bank.

Wait, what’s that leaf?

Did somebody slip in a marijuana plant?

Up the boutique-lined street off in the distance we felt we spied a ski run with a sliver of snow shining from the lower level, part way down from the peak.


Turns out it was a water fall.

Slowly the clues built up to a surprising revelation.

Red Rock Construction

A sign to the gondola off a side street.

Crossing the street and looking back above the rust-colored stone buildings revealed wide trails among the darker green trees.

So, yup.

We missed the base of Telluride Resort when we skipped turning into the Mountain Village entrance.

If our relatives weren’t expecting us hours away, sure, we would have taken the Gondola  over and back, but we chose instead to shop and continue on our own photo tour.

Oh, and find some locally recommended place to grab a bite to eat.

We needed to avoid the long lunch waits.

Side Street Gondola

We butted up against a short deadline to hit the road again.

So, we asked the clerk who rang my hat and t-shirt up at the Paradise Resortwear.

With lunch out of the way we had windows to shop and more iPhone photos to snap.

Telluride spoke to me in much the same way that Balboa Island had those many years ago.

When I first viewed it from the crest of MacArthur Blvd in Newport Beach near Fashion Island.

Sure, Telluride showed off the same Victorian architecture we enjoyed earlier in the morning, but in Durango.

But, the New Sheridan Hotel (the old faded “Sheridan” sign looked down on the newer building next to it) wasn’t as ornate in red brick as Durango’s Strater Hotel.

New Sheridan

It just felt less touristy to me.

More authentic, I guess.

Maybe in the same way that San Francisco’s footprint always felt more manageable compared to New York City or even Los Angeles.

I know what you’re thinking, how can that be?

When in the summer the whole town is geared up for the onslaught of high profile festival visitors.

Over 40 festivals listed in “The Official Guide of Telluride” at last count between May (Telluride Library Arts Festival and Mountainfilm) and October (Telluride Photography Festival).

Telluride Festivals

World famous music festivals — Telluride Jazz Festival, Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

And, of course, the Telluride Film Festival in September.

We missed it.

The celebrities.

Even the lead story in one of the Telluride magazines described how

QuentinTarantino spent the past winter in Telluride filming his latest project, “The Hateful Eight.” He was joined by a crew of about 150 and actors including Channing Tatum, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walter Goggins and Tim Roth …

You can’t get more touristy than that, right?

Up, Up and Away Above the Canyon Floor

Flaunt it if you’ve got it, right?

I still liked the feel of the town surrounded by the green slopes, mountain peaks and red-rock canyon walls.

But, three hours only left a taste of Telluride.

We need three days, or three weeks.

Next time we’d hook up with local guides to explore the region —

Mountain Biking

maybe not for mountaineering,

but for rafting,

jeep tours,

horseback riding,

glider piloting, and

a spot of fly fishing.

We’d probably spend some time at a spa in Mountain Village.

Even relaxing on a Wednesday evening for The Sunset Concert Series.

Bluegrass Music Festival

And of course we’d enjoy picking the …

Perfect spot to sit, relax and taste the best of our fabulous restaurants have to offer… Whether it’s on main street or a side street, there are restaurants offering a tempting array of cuisines, ambiance and affordability.  It may be the mountain air, the sunshine or epic views, but whatever it is, having a meal in Telluride and Mountain Village is an experience in itself.

An excerpt from Book Four in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you find the place of your dreams in the Rocky Mountain State.