Oct 30, 2013

Scenes from the Dodge House Hotel and Restaurant

If I had to choose one aspect of my summer road trip to Colorado with my friend, Ken, and fake wife, Christine, that most exceeded our expectations, I would have to choose our side trip to Dodge City, Kan.  I had booked a night’s stay at the Dodge House Hotel for the return trip from Colorado on a lark (frankly, Dodge City was one of the only spots on the Kansas map I had ever had any remote interest in visiting), and Ken and Christine were kind enough to indulge me. 

Granted, the trip there from central Colorado left a lot to be desired.  Once you get past the Rockies, there’s just a whole lot of nothing (e.g, plains, prairie, corn and cattle) in eastern Colorado and western Kansas.  Even the historical significance of following parts of the original Santa Fe Trail along the Arkansas River wasn't exactly awe-inspiring.  So, by the time we outran a Kansas thunderstorm and drove past the stench of a gazillion stockyards around Garden City, we were ready to settle in for the night.      

Looks like we found the place ... 

Oct 23, 2013

Curiosities of Kansas

Even if you've never been to Kansas, you’re probably familiar with its reputation.  To the outsider, Kansas is generally regarded as dull at worst and quirky at best.

Maybe it has to do with the state’s largely rural reputation (actually, 75% of the population lives in urban areas).  Maybe it goes back to the state’s role in the whole temperance movement (the state didn't re-legalize alcohol after Prohibition until 1948, and there are still 29 dry counties).  Or maybe people outside of Kansas struggle with relating to a group of people who regard Bob Dole as exciting.      

If you are here, you are probably bored and tired of driving, already.

Oct 17, 2013

All along the UFO Watchtower

This blog entry is dedicated to the fake wife, who absolutely insisted I slam on the brakes and stop here on our way out of Colorado. 

And, after a week-long blogging hiatus, the National Security Agency (NSA) may be sending me on a longer hiatus if they’re monitoring my blogging activity.  That’s because I’m about to reveal one of the biggest alien invasion conspiracies you've probably never heard of.  It must be true – the lady running the UFO Watchtower told me about it.  You don’t get sources much more reliable than that. 

The UFO Watchtower is positioned just north of Hooper, Colo., on state Hwy. 17, about 30 minutes south of Crestone, smack in the middle of the San Luis Valley.  The high desert plain just seems like the most appropriate place to spot aliens, doesn't it? 

The Watchtower is the kind of tourist attraction you have to either completely stumble upon or really be looking for.  It rests on private ranch property, the signs for it are small, and the most noticeable signs it exists are the scattered debris you might see from the road or the Flintstones house with a cage and deck over it (that’s the Watchtower directly over the gift shop). 

Oct 9, 2013

A night in a yurt

This sounds like the title to either an obscure Murray Head song or a lost Marx Brothers movie …

Our story begins with a text conversation between me and the fake wife in July.  Christine was booking places to stay near Crestone, Colo., and had discovered Joyful Journey Hot Springs Spa.  She asked me to take a look at the website. 

It seemed like a good fit considering the hippie vibe I was already getting from the area, and the idea of spending a couple of hours relaxing in a mountain-fed hot spring pool sure didn't suck.  Still, I was concerned a little about the room rates and availability of the on-site hotel due to the Crestone Music Festival taking place and the short time frame before our trip and the limited number of rooms.  Then, I saw they offered lodging in yurts (I quickly ruled out the tepees).  I was amused.  And intrigued.  Half joking, I contacted Christine and suggested we book a night in a yurt.

Oct 8, 2013

Salida, Colo. – Amica’s and the Arkansas River

Wood-fired pizzas?  Microbrewery?  And an historic downtown location?  I’m there. 

Those were my initial thoughts when Amica’s was the suggested lunch spot by Christine’s daughter when Ken, Christine and I spent the day with her and her boyfriend exploring Salida, Colo. 

Salida is about 40 minutes north of Crestone.  It’s in the heart of Colorado, where U.S. Hwy. 50 meets U.S. Hwy. 285.  Tourism is the big money-maker in town, thanks to the abundance of opportunities for rafting, hiking, camping, hunting, skiing, etc., nearby.  Case in point:  On our way to Crestone, we had already enjoyed a breathtaking ride along U.S. 50 as it meandered alongside the Arkansas River and past one whitewater rafting excursion after another.

With the surrounding beauty of the Arkansas River and the Rockies, I was very much looking forward to seeing more than the outskirts of town.  And, in fact, the historic downtown, did not disappoint with its Victorian Era buildings and dozens of shops, galleries, restaurants and bars reminiscent of Old West times – all catering to tourists and expatriates who have migrated to this beautifully placed town.

Oct 2, 2013

A Silver Star in the lining

In my last blog entry, I discussed our road trip destination of Crestone, Colo., and its surroundings.  I did not say much about accommodations in Crestone, however. 

Truthfully, if you plan on staying in or near Crestone, you don’t have many options.  Christine, the fake wife, certainly found this out when booking lodging for our first night in the area.  There is a small hotel in town, a youth hostel, and the White Eagle Lodge outside of town which I briefly mentioned in relation to the site of the Crestone Music Festival.  And then there are the bed and breakfasts in the “New Age” neighborhood.  That’s where Christine discovered the Silver Star Bed and Breakfast … and Retreat Center.

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...