4th of July in Durango, Colorado

Bailey here again –

I had the best 4th of July with Jasmine! In the morning, we went on a gorgeous hike in the mountains. We took Bear Scat Trail and encountered three bear scat piles that were left right on the trail. A bit unnerving, but we didn’t see any bears – but I wondered how many bears saw us. Anyway, the trail sure lived up to its name. We hiked at least 500 feet vertical and ended up right beside one of our red rock mesas. It was way cool. If you look close in the picture, you can actually see the lake way down through the trees

Then we went to the lake for a swim. Two cute little girls were playing on the kayaks so I had to take their picture. The water was cold – really cold – but Jazz and I braved it and dove in. Once I got over the initial shock, it felt great after our long hike. Later a thunderstorm threatened to shorten our lake time, but it ended up going the other way. Which was good because we didn’t want it to rain out the parade or the fireworks.

After we showered and got our red, white and blue on, we headed to Main Avenue for the annual 4th of July Parade. Durango is very festive on the 4th of July with almost eveyone in patriotic clothes. Everyone lines the street to watch the hometown parade. Some of the entrants throw out candy, sending the little kids scurrying around in the street. Others spray the crowd with water, sending some spectators running away, while others raise their hands in the air and to encourage a good drenching. As you can see in the picture, someone drove a beautiful orange Mustang Fastback in the parade. Of course I screamed and gave him a thumbs up. I asked how much he wanted to sell it for, but he said he wasn’t selling. Darn.

Then we went over to The Palace for an awesome pasta dinner. The Palace is one of my favorite places to eat. They’re famous for their chicken and dumplings, but the pasta with tomatoes, olive oil and parmesan cheese is my absolute favorite. Yum!


We rounded out the night by sprinting over to the Albertsons parking lot before the fireworks started. They shoot the fireworks from the mesa just up the way, so its a perfect place for viewing. Everyone brings snacks and lawn chairs to enjoy the show. It was a perfect day!

Southern Ute Bear Dance, Sun Dance and Pow Wows

Bailey here again – 

I promised to write about the Southern Ute festivals, and I always honor my promises. 

The Bear Dance 

The Bear Dance, held in the spring, is the oldest and most historic of the Southern Ute dances. Legend has it that two brothers were hunting when one of them noticed a bear doing a dance while scratching a tree. The bear taught the hunter the dance, along with songs, to take back to his people. The songs showed respect to the bear spirit, and respect to the bear spirit makes one strong. 

The Bear Dance is still celebrated today with a dance corral, drums and singing, festive costumes and good food. The women wear colorful broom skirts and shawls, many of which are homemade especially for the dance. It’s women’s choice, so the women ask the men to dance by flicking their shawls toward the men they wish to dance with. It’s a no risk proposition, since it’s against the rules for a man in the dance corral to refuse an invitation. 

Another tradition is to wear plumes during the dance. The plumes represent troubles or hardships endured over the last year. The plumes are left at the entrance of the dance corral when the dance ends to signify leaving old troubles behind and starting life anew. 

The Sun Dance

The Sun Dance, held in the middle of the summer, is the most important and sacred spiritual ceremony in the Ute tradition. The Sun Dance has two major aspects to it, the personal and the communal.

Each dancer, traditionally male, receives a command through a dream that compels him to participate in the dance. At the visible level, he goes through a rigorous fast and dances inside the Sun Dance lodge. At the spiritual level, the dancer goes through purification and attempts communion with the Great Spirit. The dancer goes through the pains and rigors of the spiritual quest alone, but he is also part of a family. And his family is there, outside of the Sun Dance lodge, to support him by singing, drumming or praying for him. 

The Sun Dance brings spiritual rejuvenation to the entire Ute community and reinforces the common spiritual power which has traditionally bound them together.

The Pow Wow

The Southern Ute Pow Wows are gatherings held throughout the year where both Native and non-Native people gather to meet, dance, sing and honor Native American culture. They are a time for Southern Ute Tribal members, and members of other Tribes throughout the country, to get together and showcase their many talents.

The Pow Wows feature dance and drum contests, often with thousands of dollars in prize money.

Here is a list of the Durango Area Pow Wows:

  • March  – Hozhoni Days Pow Wow
  • June – Sky Ute Casino Pow wow
  • September – Southern Ute Fair Pow Wow

Next time I’ll you about the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum, the Sky Ute Casino, and the Southern Ute Drum.

Southern Ute Tribe


The Gorgeous Colorado Trail

Bailey here –

One of my favorite trails is the Colorado Trail.  I love to hike it or ride my horse, Dakota, on it.  The trail runs 500 miles from Durango to Denver through some of the most gorgeous country I’ve ever seen.  I haven’t hiked the entire trail – not by a long shot.  But the part around Durango is amazing and changes with the seasons.  Some of these pictures were taken in the Spring and some in November, after the leaves had fallen off the trees and before there was much snow. 

The Colorado Trail meanders through the San Juan Mountains, which are part of the Rocky Mountain Range.  There’s lots of wildlife out there.  I’m always careful when I’m hiking or riding because you never know when you’re going to run into a black bear, a cougar, deer, or elk.  Most people worry about the bears and cougars.  But deer aren’t really like Bambi in the real world.  Those hooves can kill a person in nothing flat.  So, lots of respect for the big animals.  There’s also a ton of smaller animals, too, like rabbits, badgers, marmots, porcupine, squirrels, birds of all kinds, and big horn sheep in the higher elevations.  We even have turkeys.  They run around in big groups. 

A really cool place along the trail is Temple Rock.  It’s a big boulder with a flat surface that sits on the side of the creek.  Hundreds of small rocks sit on top of the boulder in neat little stacks.  These are temples built by hikers who pass by.  The rule is, when you build your temple you’re not allowed to knock down anyone else’s.  I don’t know how it all got started, but it’s pretty cool.  I know couples who build a special temple to celebrate their ‘togetherness.’   Hmmm, I wonder how many have been knocked down after the break ups.  Anyway, Temple Rock isn’t very far from the Durango trailhead parking lot, so it’s easy to get to.  You might want to check it out sometime.

I guess I’ll probably never leave Durango.  I love it too much.  With all the lakes, rivers and creeks, along with the gorgeous mountains and trails that run through them – like the Colorado Trail – where else could I go that would be so inspiring?  I can’t think of any place.  But let me know if you have any ideas.

For more info on the Colorado Trail, check out http://www.coloradotrail.org/

Magpies Newsstand Cafe

Bailey here again –

I promised to tell you about my favorite coffee house – Magpies Newsstand Cafe.  It’s on Main Ave across 7th Street from the historic Strater Hotel in the middle of downtown Durango.  In fact, the Downtown Durango Cam is on Magpies’ roof, so check out what Main Avenue looks like right now at http://downtowndurangocam.com/

Anyway, I love Magpies because it’s just a cool place.  Everyone hangs out there, especially on the front patio on the warm summer evenings.  The people-watching is great – you never know who you’re going to see, like maybe some beefy river guides or hot, long-haired Natives!  Then there are all the cool cars cruising down Main Ave.  I’m a Mustang lush, with an obsession for 60’s series ‘Stangs.  There’s a black ’65 Mustang Fastback that cruises through town every now and then.  I’d love to meet who drives that.  And maybe even get to ride in it!

But I make Jazz sit inside on the cold days.  I hate being cold and it’s nice and cozy inside, and you can still see out the big windows.  Oh, and the magazine and newspaper section is HUGE!  I’ve seen magazines at Magpies that I haven’t seen anywhere else.  I swear there’s a magazine for every subject, hobby, and interest. 

So my favorite drink to get at Magpies is the chai – hmmm, tastes like spicy liquid pumpkin pie.  Even though they have a million different drink options, I always get the chai.  I get it hot in the winter and iced in the summer.  And their giant cinnamon rolls and homemade pies are delicious, but I try not to eat too many.  Got to stay in shape for my sports – basketball, track, river rafting and skiing.

So anyway, the next time you’re in Durango, I highly recommend a stop at Magpies.  And you just might see me there.

Durango, Colorado – Why I Love It

Bailey here –

I mentioned before that I live in Durango, Colorado – and I love it here.  I believe the Creator granted extra blessings on this beautiful place. 

Durango is located in the southwest corner of Colorado – close to the four corners of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.  It’s a gorgeous mountain river valley (at about 6500ft) surrounded by pine trees, red rock mesas, lakes and rivers.  It’s close to the Southern Ute Indian Reservation (me likey!).  And it’s lush, green and fun year-round.

The fast-running Animas River – that weaves through town – is perfect for river rafting, which is one of my favorite things to do.  I love the rush of the water, the challenge of keeping the raft upright with just a paddle in my hands, and the thrill of the rapids.  There are also the cute rafting guides – and I mean every single one of them.  Who wouldn’t want to raft with a bunch of athletically-built river guys?

Then there are the trails all through the San Juan Mountains (which are part of the Rocky Mountain Range).  They’re perfect for running and hiking – which Jazz and I love to do to keep ourselves in shape for basketball and track.  We also ride our horses, Dakota and Cheyenne, along the trails and rivers, and let them cut loose in the beautiful meadows.  There’s nothing like feeling the wind whip through your hair while you’re on the back of your galloping horse.  And there’s magic in those mountains, at the holy places of the ancient peoples.  I’ve felt it.  I know.  Of course Jazz thinks it’s all bologna, but that’s just her.

There are so many other things to do in Durango that make it so cool – kayaking, canoeing, backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, hunting, fishing and off-roading, to name a few.  The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – an historic steam-powered train with a haunting whistle – meanders through the mountains to Silverton, Colorado.  We have Fort Lewis College (where I’m going to go), Purgatory – or Durango Mountain Park – where I like to ski (and tried to kill myself boarding), and Mesa Verde National Park where the ancient Pueblo people built their cliff dwellings – way cool.  And last but not least – and where I like to hang out – is our old west-style Main Avenue.

Speaking of Main Ave, I have several totally favorite places there.  I’ll tell you about my beloved Magpies – the best coffee house – next time.