I sipped the last of my coffee. Sitting in the shade in front of Orvis Hot Springs. I waited for a tow truck. A weathered Dean Koontz paperback kept me company. My van was not starting. I had the battery check two days ago, so I suspect the starter needs to be replaced. I’d called Triple- A. It has been almost two hours of waiting. I wondered what I would do in Montrose for the night. Maybe I can sleep in the back of my van at the mechanics?
Yesterday, I’d put out cat food and water. My plan was simple. I’d drive two or so hours into the mountains to camp overnight at Orvis Hot Springs. I also hoped to stop in Telluride on the way back home. I wanted to blog on Tesla’s part in providing early power for the area. Somewhat of a mystery and definitely history.
The ride was gorgeous! Snow peaks, cool air and sunshine gave me a “Rocky Mountain High”. Really, my kind of drive. I stopped along the way for a couple of scenic shots. The traffic was light.
I parked at the Second Chance Thrift Store in Ridgeway. It seems thrift stores are every teacher’s second home. I found nothing I needed.
The Ouray County Ranch History Museum sits behind the store. I wondered if they might have anything on Tesla. An elderly gentleman worked on a puzzle at the front desk.
“Hi. I’m The History Mystery Guy. Do any historic mysteries come to mind?”
He looked up for a moment cradling a puzzle piece between his thumb and forefinger. “I’ve finished sixty puzzles since the beginning of the year.”
Feeling I’d interrupted his attempt at a world record, I stepped back.
“You’ll want to talk to Joan. She should be up here in a minute,” he explained and continued focusing on his puzzle.
A sprit and cheerful woman rushed around the corner. “Hi. I’m Joan. Did I hear you right? You’re looking for a mystery related to history?”
“Yeah. Actually, I am hoping to stop in Telluride tomorrow and do some blogging on Tesla.”
“Oh, the power plant. Yes, that would be interesting!”
“I thought so. He has a kind of mysterious almost paranormal-like following. Anyhow, that’s my plan for tomorrow. Today, I just thought I’d see if you could point me towards any historic mysteries from the area. Do you know of any? Actually, I thought I might go for a hike too.”
“For a hike, I’d recommend the Perimeter Trail around Ouray. There is a place along it where there are dinosaur tracks. Maybe that would be a good mystery?” She suggested.
“I was thinking more along the lines of a murder or robbery. Something like that.” I paused.
Joan laughed. “Let me show you some interesting exhibits we have.”
“Can I take pictures?”
So, it went. Joan showed me some very interesting artifacts from the ranch history of the area. There was a coat made from a horse hide and a photo of a woman with lush and incredibly long hair. “She was offered the chance to be a model for ads,” Joan explained. She also showed me a chandelier once owed by Debbie Reynold’s. “It was from the set for Tara. You know, Gone with the Wind. There’s one other from the set and Dolly Parton owns it.”
She explained the building was once a train terminal. “This fireplace was made from local rock. There’s gold in some of them. I don’t know which ones. If you touch the rocks, you can tell the ones with metal in them. They’re colder.” We both touched the rocks.
I enjoyed my short visit at the Ouray County Ranch History Museum. After leaving, I stopped at Orvis Hot Springs to sign in, then I drove ten miles further to Ouray. I decided to take the hike Joan recommended. I started along the Perimeter Trail accessing it across the road from the visitors’ center. The entire trail takes approximately five- and one-half hours. It was already mid-afternoon, so I decided to hike to Cascade Falls and then follow the downhill trail into town. I was able to do the loop back to my van in under two hours.
On Ouray’s Main Street, I stopped at an interesting “Van Life” shop. While the gift store didn’t have much related to van’s the woman working there mentioned a setting which sounded cool. “It is up on Miller Mesa. There are aspen carvings dated back to the 1500s.” Wow!
The hike was challenging and enjoyable. I hurried back to the van. It was time to have a soak at the hot springs! Orvis Hot Springs are clothing optional, so no electronics are allowed near the springs (and a mystery for my readers is- Did Joe wear a swim suit or not? The waters cannot speak.). In other words, no photos.
I enjoyed my soaking. It was close to midnight when I finally finished soaking and dropped into a deep sleep in the back of my van.
I woke with one thought on my mind. Coffee. I found my towel frozen solid to the barbed wire fence behind my van. I worked it off and shuffled towards the springs. A magical cup of coffee in hand, I soaked. The mermaids were plenty and also enjoyed the morning sun. It was good medicine!
After packing, I planned to top off my gas, find a burrito for breakfast and get to Telluride before noon. But my plans changed. My van would not start. I turned the key over and over. After a half hour of trying, I called Triple- A and requested a tow.
So, there I was. Sitting. Dean Koontz and I. Frustrated at the long wait, I decided- why not try to start it once more? And it worked! As the engine purred, I called and cancelled the tow truck. I had over half a tank of gas. I decided I would see if I could make it back to Cortez without stopping.
I took some photos along the way. Kinda dumb. Mountain roads demand your full attention. I was fast. My pictures were few. Still, I do not recommend taking pictures while you drive along a winding mountainous road!
I made it! The van is now in the shop. A new starter will not arrive until Monday. I am okay with all of it. Of course, I couldn’t stop to do the Tesla piece. I think he’d understand.