Diamond Belle Tough

29 12 2009

We spent two nights in Durango. The General Palmer Hotel was located between the train station and the Diamond Belle Saloon — Jim had it all planned perfectly.

The Diamond Herself

The saloon was quite a treat. Bartenders dressed like something out of ‘Deadwood’ with garter belts wrapped around their arms. We were treated very good.

“Like Kings!,” Gabe chimed in.

I had spoken to Gabe last week about the trip. It was our first conversation since Jim and I returned.

We talked briefly at the Fiesta Room Downtown, ‘comparing notes’ as they say.

The Fiesta Room is no Diamond Belle — two starkly contrasting settings.

At the Diamond Belle on a Saturday night, patrons could hear bluegrass sounds from a local band and swap traveling stories with others who are “just passing through.”

In this intimate setting, you’d get a blast of cold weather when the doors flung open. On Friday night the college kids packed in and because of the train ride the next morning, we didn’t stay around very long after they arrived.

But on Saturday night, with the fiddle striking just the right chords, Jim didn’t want to leave.

Truth be told, I wasn’t in the best of moods. Tech had lost that night — to Georgia of all teams. I don’t know why I had become such a big Tech fan, maybe it was out of kinship for my fellow nerds.

Tech had a damn good football team in the fall of 2009, but its defense in the Georgia game was piss poor. When we first saddled up to the bar at the Diamond Belle, I had overheard some of the regulars talking numbers and it reminded me of my college days.

Gambling is still very popular among the young males, especially in the West, where Vegas remains an outpost for those who seek to engage in games of risk and chance.

The fellas at the bar chiefly talked pro ball, but the Tech-Georgia game was on their radar.

Jim remarked about how he had been accepted at Tech, but opted to stay in Arkansas for his formal schooling. He said he couldn’t envision himself studying much in Atlanta.

I didn’t study much at Troy, but somehow came away with a degree.

“You’re going to get a Master’s in Social Studies on this trip,” Jim chimed in.

Jim hit the bottle hard on our last night in Durango, but he still made it up the stairs at the General Palmer on his own power. Considering how steep those stairs were, this was no small feat.

That night, before we called it lights out, Jim gave me a nickname.

“Well, Tough,” he said. “We’re headed for the Canyon tomorrow.”

Tough was much better than Ruined and I was pleased.

Back at the Fiesta, the subject of Durango wasn’t broached with Gabe. Instead, we talked about the Canyon and its dry season.

The Canyon was were I would be set free to become one with nature and the park people.

Time to venture out on my own. It would be a challenge, like those summer streets in Queens, only colder and without as many means. It was a challenge that I needed to prove to myself.

Was I really ‘tough’ enough?