day 13: ouray to salida, blue mesa reservoir, nelson down.

When we awoketh in Ouray, Nelson was really not feeling any better. But I guess maybe at breakfast she was feeling a little optimistic, she actually started a conversation with another table. Granted, they were Dutch, which is noteworthy: Ouray, population 297; River's Edge Inn: population 6 to 8. What are the chances.

I was also not feeling superb: in fact, I'd actually purchased a canister of oxygen the day before. Not like an oxygen tank, but $10 worth of pure beautiful O2 that you could suck on if you thought you might be having altitude problems, and I did think I might. No idea if it was placebo or real, but I did seem to feel a mite better afterwards.

Above: cute little Ouray. Below: before we left town, Nelson wanted to go in this shop very badly even though there were indications that it would be really really dismal (you can kind of get an idea by reading the t-shirt hanging in the window), then she saw the Boat of Death. Like the sign says: BAD.

Then we limped over to Roast and Toast for some more better coffee and a sticky bun, because if there is a sticky bun in town with any reputation whatsoever, I'm putting my toothes on that thing. The friendly retired nurse behind the counter heard Nelson's hopelessly clogged nose when she ordered and insisted on giving us one of her own Emergen-C packets and said to "take one every day until you feel better." For some reason we did not heed this advice. .

Appropriately caffeinated, we then got in the car heading east, intending to stop at every scary-looking roadside shack with an "Antiques" sign on the way to Salida. Unfortunately I think we only managed this one, which looked extremely "promising" but in reality was kind of a tourist trap featuring lots of rather awful chainsaw art and some mysterious mother-daughter deer portraits.


At a certain point we came upon a beautiful and giant blue reservoir,, or at least that's what it looked like to me: it was too perfectly clean to be a lake, and it seemed to have no visible current. I don't have any idea what I'm talking about BTW. Anyway, the weird part was: there were no other cars on the road; there were no people or animals in sight, zero signs of life. The enormousness of the thing and the complete (but beautiful) desolation made it all quite unreal-seeming, this went on for at least 20 minutes I think.

Arriving in Salida, I suddenly felt that I may have planned too many charming small towns in a row. I couldn't tell if our relative lack of team spirit was due to repetition, illness, altitude, or just general fatigue. We got in to town just as the lunch hour was ending at The Fritz, so we sat at the bar, I had a rabbit and antelope sausage that put just the right amount of gas in my tank. Nelskie's truffle fries were pretty good too and there may have been a salad as well.

Then I sent her to our ridiculously luxurious hotel room for a nap while I went looking for American cold medicine. The Palace Hotel was lovely by the way, mayyybe showing its age the tiniest bit, but sweetly ambitious for such a small town. Sadly we were really in no shape to enjoy it to the fullest.

So we did what any sane, sick, tired, run-down person would do and took a bunch of vitamins then went out for pizza and margaritas at the Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub. Actually I had a whisky-barrel-aged pumpkin ale that was really delicious. And the service couldn't have been nicer or more helpful than it was. The pizza wasn't bad either. But we were coasting on fumes.

So of course we went to play a couple games of pool at the Victoria, a place I'd been looking forward to for months. We had to try. I've come to realize that if TripAdvisor or Yelp describes a place as "gritty" or "a shithole", it's my kind of place. And this was a pretty good one, but, as I've been ending every paragraph in this post.....something like "early to bed makes a man and/or woman possibly healthier," so we called it a night.

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