Feb. 24: The Star Drive-In Theatre, Montrose CO

It’s Day 55 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. In the middle of a week of long drives over mountain highways, I was grateful for a pretty short, flat half-hour trip from Delta CO to Montrose, home of The Star Drive-In Theatre.

The Star opened around 1950 and has been Montrose’s only drive-in theater ever since. In 2013, there was a little concern a digital projection fundraiser fell short, but the owners got a loan to buy the equipment. The drive-in hosts an annual “Back to the 60’s Nite” in June.

When I think of the Star, I think of owner Pamela Friend, who has always been one of the most positive, friendly people I’ve met. The Denver Post profiled her in a 2010 article. “I’m told I put on the best picture in Colorado,” she said. “It’s a clean, clear picture. I pride myself on what we do. I’ve put on every show for 15 years without missing a night.”

Of course, the Star was closed for the season; it’s scheduled to reopen in April. I think we might be done with snow for a while, but the temperature stayed close to freezing all day. I think I’m glad the Star was dark tonight.

Miles Today / Total:  24 / 7073 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 37

Nearby Restaurant: The price for my lodging was so reasonable (see below) that I walked across the street to invest my windfall at Ted Nelson’s Steakhouse. I enjoyed a huge, perfectly cooked rib eye steak with a baked potato, veggies, and a salad. Add a glass of wine, and I was ready to face the elements again.

Where I Virtually Stayed: When the best hotel in town is a Super 8, that’s either a small town or a really good Super 8. Montrose is not that small any more, so it really was an excellent Super 8. I appreciate 24-hour in the lobby as well as the coffee maker in the room, and I was also happy to have a mini fridge. And with the usual bargain price, if every Super 8 was like this one, I might not ever stay anywhere else.

Only in Montrose: Just east of town, in the early 20th century, workers from the Bureau of Reclamation built the 5.8 mile Gunnison Tunnel to take water from the Gunnison River to the Uncompahgre Valley. At the time of its completion, it was the longest irrigation tunnel in the world. Memorial arches soared more than two stories high on Main Street in Montrose, and for the dedication on September 23, 1909, President William Taft pressed a button, laborers opened a makeshift gate, and water flowed into the valley.

Next Stop: Star Drive In Theatre, Monte Vista CO.

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