Durango Adventure

By Luke Holm (North Carolina)

Saturday, September Thirteenth: A crying pain in the ear slowly growing, an unnerving voice and then nothing, peace, and quiet once again. Unfortunately, that beautiful silence never lasts.

Within minutes another alarm goes off, this time my very own warning me I have five minutes to shower and dress for breakfast before being late. Like many other students here at Summit Ministries’ Semester Program, the night before involved little sleep as the community nightlife offers spontaneous kitchen parties, group games, star gazing, late night talks, and a great variety of other things.

So, for me, the daunting, steady buzz of my alarm clock marked two hours of sleep achieved. Nevertheless, following a rushed group effort to pack, eat, and load the vans, thirty-two students and a handful of staff and visiting friends were off for our week’s adventure.

Our destination: Durango

A town an hour and a half outside of our current residence of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. But first, and much to my liking, our little caravan rolled into the parking lot of a Goodwill. As a thrift store-shopping and Goodwill fanatic, I experienced a taste of home as we freely ranged the rows of eccentric clothing and hidden treasures. After a quick lunch in the parking lot, we were off. The next time we stepped out of the van into the cool, crisp Colorado air was in Durango. Splitting into groups, we cruised down the streets paved in gold with fall leaves. Knowing we would have the opportunity to dine as we pleased in town, my group chose to skip the packed lunches and indulge in a long-missed and much-desired burger. Fries, burgers, milkshakes, root beer floats, sunshine, and good conversation; everything about Grass Burger Restaurant elevated our happiness and flooded us with a certain warmth, joy, and readiness to explore and walk.

Leaving lunch, like lost sheep, wandering, we looked one direction on the downtown Durango street, then the other, randomly picked one without proper cause, and headed off with a spring in our step and smiles lighting up our content faces. With no particular desire concerning what to find or do, we entered every store that caught our eyes and invoked a calling of curiosity and wonder. The first of these was a small unique shop solely containing rugs, all hand sowed and of massive size, most of which cost thousands of dollars. After a time of meandering around in admiration taking pictures, we withdrew and started off again.

The next hour consisted of visiting shop after shop, seeing something awesome and desiring to buy it, only to be reminded by a friend you probably shouldn’t get it as we all share in the broke college student status. Somewhere in the mix of our touristic shopping, a rather simple and peculiar thing occurred which, looking back on it now, is my day’s highlight. Without any kind of legitimate reason, our group of four sat in a circle parked in the middle of the downtown sidewalk.

Taking up the central half of the sidewalk, we received occasional looks of confusion and disapproval, but also numerous smiles laughs, and intrigued looks from strangers. All but one of us, who was a little weirded out and confused as to why we were doing this in the first place, completely ignored the awkward truth about our place of rest and held a normal and rather meaningful conversation. It was almost a social experiment, without the intention of being so of course, on how we would act putting ourselves in such a situation, and to see the responses of random people. We, of course, were eventually rebuked for our slightly inconsiderate behavior and relocated without hesitation and with an apology.

With our time running short and almost every shop worth our presence already having been explored, a decision arose to visit the train station and free museum. Walking the tracks, admiring and adventuring through the old locomotives and carts, learning communication of past generations and practicing how to do our names and other things in Morse Code, and viewing the 70+ foot turntable which is still in operation present day, each of which, interesting in its own way, made the entire experience well worth our time.

On the way back to the vehicles, a quick pit stop at a souvenir shop required our time in order to purchase a Durango sticker to add to the collection of places visited which find their home on my water bottle.  Our time in Durango ended as my fellow friends and their groups congregated and the caravan began once again. The ride home was almost as remarkable as the trip itself because it consisted of recounting of stories, memories, and highlights of the day’s adventures as a van full of fourteen people recollected on our time in Durango.

Spending a day together in both the vans and in town invoked a feeling of family and wholesome community even more than the usual. Sharing in adventure, laughter, and conversation brings a love and belonging among a group of outstanding individuals. This is my biggest takeaway from this week’s trip, and it has forever changed my perspective on my new family which I will never take for granted.