Monday, July 11, 2011

Wow! What a day

Sunday we rode the San Luis and Rio Grande Scenic Railroad from La Veta to Fir, near the top of La Veta Pass, where we attended a great concert. Fir is the location of a abandoned town that once served mining activity in the area. The SLRG has created a concert venue there.
The first wow was our travel in the dome car. This car gave us a better view of the surrounding scenery, as well as uncrowded seating and great food options.

I started the morning with a crepe topped with berries and cream. It was very good.

We were entertained by Jim Garling, a country western singer from Oklahoma. He wasn't one of the headliners at the concert, but he was a passenger on the train, knew some of the performers, and had an evening concert scheduled in La Veta.

The scenery as we headed out of La Veta is great--and we were able to see it better than ever from our dome car. This is called Glimers (I think) Butte, really it is a volcanic plug.

And this is Mount Maestas.

Fred Hargrove, who lives in the San Luis Valley, was MC for the concert. He is a country western singer.

Not only is the scenery at the concert site great, it is a wonderful place to take children. They can explore the country-side while their watching parents can hear the music.

Folk singer Ann Hills was the opening act for the concert. We really enjoyed her and her music. Doesn't she have a great smile?

John McCutcheon was the main act. He is a singer and storyteller who plays the hammer dulcimer, banjo, guitar, piano and probably many other instruments as well.

He was great. Every song he sang and story he told touched me and made me either laugh or cry. We would definitely go to see him again.

The concert ended with Fred Hargrove, John McCutcheon, Ann Hills and folk singer Ed Ellis singing together. Ellis happens to be president of the San Luis and Rio Grande Scenic Railroad and responsible for creating this great concert series.

John and I aren't the only people having 50th high school reunions this summer. This is Sylvia J. Lobato, editor of Valley Publishing in Alamosa. She was part of the 1961 Alamosa High School graduating class that attended the concert, as well.

This young lady--maybe six or seven years old, caught the attention of many of the concert growers. She did gymnastics and danced to most of the music. She is really good!

John even took a video of her dancing to John McCutcheon on the hammer dulcimer.

About half of the people attending the concert rode our train from La Veta. The other half came up from Alamosa on a stream train. That train continued on to La Veta with other passengers, then returned about 3:30 to pick up the concert goers who were returning to La Veta. We could hear the steam train chug-chug-chugging up the track for nearly 30 minutes before it arrived. Here you see it arriving and our train on the back track.

At Fir, the Whistle Stop Cafe was serving BBQ and sides to concert goers. The food was very good. We both had pulled pork.

We were eating at tables set up along the train tracks, looking down on the concert area. Here you can see the stage to the left, with hay bales and benches for people to sit on, a shaded seating area to the right, and a restroom building.

All power for the concert area is provided by solar panels

and a wind turbine.

See the bulldozer on the hill? The story goes that a couple living in the area were going through a nasty divorce. They fought over every single bit of property. One of them wanted this bulldozer. The other finally said, "OK, if you want it, come and get it." They drove it up this road on the mountain side. Apparently, the spouse decided it wasn't worth going there to get it.

One big highlight of the trip was sighting bears along the track. Several years ago, a freight train dumped a load of barley here. After a winter of rain and snow, the barley began to ferment--that means beer. The local bears found this very attractive and they still come here to eat. Both directions we saw bears--one black bear and one large cinnamon-colored bear. In fact, on the way down the hill, the train passed the bears, stopped, backed up to the site so we could see them again, then continued to La Veta. Since the only way to reach the concert location is by train, we guessed Ed Ellis, the president of the railroad, told the engineer to give us a better look. The photo of the black bear is blurry, sorry. The brown bear came out better.


  1. Loved the train pictures keep em coming,I got to fire a steam engine on our trip to Wisconsin last month, what a time, it took a week to wipe the smile off my face. Be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

  2. That does sound like a perfect day - train ride, country western music, good food, bear sightings. What more oould you want?