Life is easy in Southern California. Good friends and community, gorgeous (mostly) weather, fun animals and not too much moving around is giving me the opportunity to really mull over how to engineer my future!
Where in the world is Ault?
If you blink as you drive north on Hwy 85, from Eaton, Colorado, you might miss this dot on the map, billed as "A Unique Little Town," covering a total area of 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2). Incorporated in 1904, it is also known as “Gateway to the Pawnee Grasslands.”
Ault sits directly on a railway line, (a rail runs through it) with vast farm lands stretching for miles around it. The main landmark is the tall grain elevator that appears to be out of use.
Although the town is tiny, it's well worth a stop to explore the antique stores that line the main street. On the day I visited, it was the middle of the week and the streets were quiet. We had the run of the place, and wandered through acres of antiques, marveling at the finds! One of the stores specializes in china and glassware, so the other granny Susan queried about some china she has stashed in a box somewhere. Next visit, we'll take the stashed china with us.
My favorite so far, is Jen's Antique Mall, (we didn't have time to visit all the stores). Located in an old (the whole street is old!) building, there are nooks and crannies to explore and an enormous assortment of stuff. I saw lots of old kitchenware and utensils, old toys, masses of salt and pepper shakers and other goodies that I didn't know were considered antiques as I used them when I was a kid! Hmmm.... makes you think!
Although we were too late to partake of the goodies at Gray's Cafe, (they close at 2pm) the cinnamon rolls are famous in this neck of the woods. Apparently they are huge! So next time we make the jaunt north to Ault, we'll plan on being there before they close, preferably for the also famous breakfast.
Jen's Antique Mall
220 1st St Ault, CO 80610 (970) 834-2877
JR's Antiques Etc.
(China and glassware) 213 1st St, Ault, CO 80610 (970) 834-2291
Antiques Whistle Stop LLC
213 1st St Ault, CO 80610 (970) 834-2198
200 1st St Ault, CO 80610 (970) 834-0741
As those of you who read this blog know, I believe in exploring and adventuring wherever I happen to be. Recently, I've been moving around a lot, which gives me great opportunities to get out and discover what's happening.
Arriving in Eaton, Colorado ahead of the snow that hit the Rockies the day after I wound my way through them, I quickly got settled at Susan and Dan's, which is right in Eaton, a small, farming community. That doesn't mean bucolic, pastoral fields of cows grazing, corn growing and vegetable gardens in every yard. This is industrial farming. Miles and miles of flat, cultivated and irrigated land that is just now being turned and will soon be fertilized with heaven knows what! And with the oil and gas boom, just about every field is dotted with fracked wells. Not a pretty sight, but the locals are happy - megabucks pouring into the area and MacMansions popping up in place of corn.
Nothing is going to stop the exploring, so Susan and my first little adventure was into Greeley, a college town about 10 miles from here. Sunday morning and we got a recommendation for a good coffee shop (NOT Starbucks, or Charbucks, as I call it) and made out way into the University District to The Blue Mug @margies, a charming place that reminded us of Port Townsend. Funky furniture, high ceilings with wonderful old tinned tiles and most importantly...good coffee. It wasn't too crowded, being Sunday and the college students were probably still sleeping off heavy Saturday night parties. It wasn't really warm enough to b out on the delightful patio, though. Once it warms up a bit, that will be the place to enjoy sit out under the big umbrellas and enjoy the surroundings.
As I mentioned, Eaton is a tiny dot on the map, but one of Susan's favorite places is The French Corner, an antique-y store with some lovely stuff. It smelled so good, too as there are bowls of potpourri strategically places, as well as scented candles to brighten the dark corners. It's in an old building that lends itself to the decor. The prices, for the most part, were reasonable and there is a huge variety of goods. We spent a sensory-filled hour or so wandering, touching, smelling and just enjoying.
Eaton actually has two French Corners and we visited both, the second one appearing to have more of a "sale" appearance, although I don't think that is the intention. Either way, both locations are fun places to go.
Yesterday, we planned to go to Fort Collins, which is half an hour or so away as there is supposedly a Farmers Market right in Old Town. Well, we didn't find it, but Old Town is a place I plan on going back to explore. We found out later that the market was indoors! So no wonder we didn't see it.
We made a circular route back to Eaton, but as I had found a Groupon for a tea place in Greeley, we decided to do that instead.
What fun that was!
For Susan, who lived in the area 30 years ago, it was an eye-opener, as the area has grown up so much, getting gentrified and moving beyond being an agricultural town known for its meatpacking plant (which is still here to handle the animals from the local stockyards). There are lovely old building, many brick ones that are starting to house a lot of restaurants, specialty stores and places like Cranford Cove Tea Tavern.
What a delightful place that turned out to be! The Groupon worked getting us in there and I know we will go back. It's in a storefront location and has a surprising twist to the tea theme. Of course, you can get a cuppa but the specialties are alcoholic drinks made with various teas and spirits! My libation was a hot spiced rum drink made with the special chai blend (I always go for rum) and Susan's was a Lemon Drop made with green tea and ...hmm I forget but it was delicious!
Making the Tea Tavern even more special is that it is not-only-for-profit enterprise, that benefits Love Made Claim, a non-profit with "a mission to reach those in the sex industry with the truth that they are loved and valued." I do like to support social entrepreneurs as I believe this is the way of the future.
I am so glad I decided to forgo Route 66 along the southern route through Arizona and New Mexico to Colorado. The scenery on my chosen route, US70, was unbelievably spectacular. Every twist and turn displayed new views and awe-inspiring rocky vistas. My overnight was in Richfield, Utah and from there, I had a choice to either drive north through Wyoming and miss some of the mountain passes, or go up and over. I chose the latter as I didn't think I wanted to see all the fracking wells that Susan said she had seen in Wyoming, coming from Washington.
Crossing the state border into Colorado and heading up into the mountains, I remembered how I had felt when I first came to Colorado back in the very-early 70s, when Aspen was a very small village and Snowmass only had a couple of ski runs. I actually learned to ski on the bunny slope in Snowmass! It was in John Denver's day, and I so wanted to move to the Rocky Mountain High he sang about. I loved the mountains and the smells, the clean air. We (my ex Randy) and I spent quite a bit of time there as his brother lived in Snowmass. We were there in all the seasons, my favorite being spring, when the mountains and meadows bloomed. We never did make the move...I had discovered a tiny town called Ouray that seemed, at the time, to be perfect. Driving through Grand Junction this time, I almost made the the right turn on Highway 550 to go check it out. Maybe on the way back? On Highway 70, I cruised through Vail and Breckenridge where it was snowing! During my weather check that morning there was no indication that it would do that, and I was fortunate that it was very light, although the white stuff was piled high alongside the highway and there were signs saying "icy road" so I was very careful. My little car does not have all weather tires! And I didn't carry any chains, which in hindsight was probably not a good idea! I made it up and over the mountains without mishap, enjoying the change in scenery - gone were the golds, browns, reds and tans of the high desert. Emerald forests and blinding white snow blanketed the mountain sides and the road winds up and down, through valleys and alongside rivers and through some very l-0-n-g tunnels, which I don't like!
Late in the afternoon, I popped out on the eastern side of the Rockies - and stretching as far as I could see, it was FLAT! No wonder people thought the earth was flat - it sure looked like it from my perch! The Flat Earth Society is probably in Denver! From there, it was literally, downhill! Traffic and trucks and people!
Thank goodness for Lucy (my and Betsy's name for Waze) who directed me around rush hour traffic to Eaton, Colorado where I got a big welcome from Susan and Dan and the animals!
p.s These are all iPhone 5 pix and I shot and edited them in Camera+, a really cool app that has lots of editing options.
I managed to blast out of Los Angeles traffic around 11 this morning, missing any congestion . As soon as I got on the 210 freeway, I turned on an audiobook and cruised. Harry Bosch kept me amused most of the day.
I did manage to drive a short section of Route 66 in Victorville, which was very uninspiring. In fact, most of the scenery, until I reach northern Nevada was desert, desert, and more desert with a lot of cactus breaking up the monotoned scenery.
When I reached Las Vegas, I decided not to stop - I think I want to pick a "special" and go for a weekend and see a show and take in the sights. It needs more than a quick drive by - especially if I want pix.
There was a huge solar plant, I think it's called Searchlight and I wasn't the only one slowing down to check it out. And by slowing down, we slowed to 70 instead of 80!
Then I got to the good part! Amazing rock formations and cliffs, striated layers of various hues and colors formed on both sides of the highway and it was the perfect time of day - late afternoon and it just glowed. The tops of some of the bluffs were frosted with a light snow glaze which shimmered in the golden light.
I know I was driving erratically; it was hard to keep my eyes on the road, surrounded by such spectacular beauty. I actually hadn't realized how close the highway is to Zion National Park and that what I was seeing on my right, was the western border of the park.
As darkness fell, it became apparent I wasn't going to get to Richfield for the night, but figured 500 miles was a good day and pulled in to Beaver, Utah for a good night's rest.
Barring anything untoward, I should be in Eaton tomorrow evening.