The other half of the San Juan Skyway connects Mancos with Telluride. We’ve been wanting to drive that half of the route, but decided to wait and go during the Balloonfest this weekend.
The first wedding of the season was on Saturday evening, though, and the boys were scheduled to work, so they were not able to go with us.
They didn’t mind too much, though – they’d rather stay back and make some money!
Our anniversary was last week, so we decided to drive up to Telluride in the late afternoon, have some dinner, and then stay for the Balloonfest GLO in the evening.
The majority of the drive to Telluride is pretty easy, with a gradual increase in grade. We followed the Dolores River, up into the mountains, and only had one mountain pass to go over.
There were several state forest campgrounds along the way, and a couple of RV Parks, too, that looked pretty nice.
We crossed Lizard Head Pass, and could see the mountains of Telluride at the end of the canyon.
We had almost reached Mountain Village, when suddenly a mule deer decided to jump out in front of us!
Luckily, we saw it coming through the woods, and were able to stop and wait for it to casually cross the road in front of us!
We turned into Mountain Village,
drove past some beautiful homes and condos,
and arrived at the Station village parking area for the free gondola into Telluride. We had been told that this was the best way to get to Telluride – avoiding the drive down into the valley, and the search for a parking spot in town.
We walked into the station, and waited our turn to get into the gondola.
I’ve never been a fan of chair lifts or cable car rides . . . so I was a little anxious getting on the ride . . .
but the first part of the ride was pretty much a level ride over the top of the Mountain Village Resort, so it wasn’t too bad.
We had to get off the gondola at Mountain Village, and get back on at another station that would take us up and over the mountain, and down into Telluride.
As we climbed the mountain, we could see the ski runs in the distance. I was happy that there was no wind, so we weren’t swaying too much . . . although we did come to a stop for a minute just before we reached the top of the mountain!
At the top, we stayed in our car, and began the very steep descent into town.
I felt like I was on a roller coaster going over the top of the first big hill, only at a slower speed . . .
finally as we got closer to the base of the mountain, the grade leveled off some and I was a little less nervous!
We reached the Telluride Station . . . safely . . . and asked the gondola operator if he could recommend a place for dinner. His response was classic – “I live here; I can’t afford to eat out here!”
Tom never skied here, but had to check out the map of ski runs . . .
and take a break on a ski bench!
We made our way to the main street where the Balloonfest GLO was going to be, and looked for a restaurant for dinner. As we walked, we admired the architecture of the old buildings.
We were surprised that the streets weren’t more crowded for the Balloonfest – most of the restaurants were pretty empty. They weren’t offering any specials, though . . . many of them were pretty pricy, and the ones that weren’t were basically bars offering sandwiches – not exactly what we were looking for as our anniversary dinner!
After walking the entire length of the main street and back again, we finally settled on a restaurant that had a decent menu at somewhat reasonable prices. We got a table in the front window, overlooking the street, and ordered drinks and dinner.
Our waitress was nice enough, but we had to wait over half an hour to get our salads! She kept saying that they should be out any minute . . . and we kept waiting! Finally they arrived, and minutes later our dinners did, too . . . of course! I must say, we were pretty disappointed in the state of our dinners . . . my ribeye was about 1/4” thick, and I didn’t get my rice. Tom’s dinner was complete, but his 1/4 chicken looked more like a 1/4 cornish hen . . . and it was horribly overcooked! I finally got my rice after I was done with my meal, but didn’t want it then.
We let our waitress know that we were disappointed, and she quickly offered to bring us each a complimentary dessert . . . the best part of our dinner!
We finished our dinner just as the balloon operators started unpacking their balloons and getting ready to inflate them.
There were 8 balloons lined up on the street, and we found a spot in the middle, where we could see in both directions.
We watched as each operator got their balloon inflated and then used the propane gas to make the inflate balloon rise.
As the sun sank below the mountains, the GLO began!
We stayed for quite a while, but wanted to get back to the gondola before it got completely dark out, so we walked back to the station. There was a line to get back to Mountain Village, so we didn’t get our own car on this ride . . . we rode with a couple from New Mexico celebrating their 1st anniversary . . . so we shared congratulations with each other as we rode up the mountainside, and watched the balloons GLOing below us!
It was a really nice evening and we enjoyed it, even though the boys couldn’t be there with us . . .