Off to Alamosa

Jack and I like to go on a lot of small trips.  Typically, we like three days and two overnights, but that doesn’t always work out.  This week we only had two days, so just one overnight.  Fortunately for us, there are a lot of places we can go within a few hours from our house.

Alamosa is a small town about three hours from us.  It’s a nice trip and there are a lot of things to see along the way.  We got up yesterday, packed the car with a few things, and set off for our adventure.  We left early in the morning (it was still dark out) and decided to stop in Salida (two hours from us and right on our way) for breakfast.  There are quite a few restaurants in Salida, but we have a favorite “morning” one.

The Patio Pancake Place is on Hwy 50 in the middle of town.  That’s the main road through Salida, so it’s easy to find.  It’s a really good place to eat breakfast or lunch any time they’re open (they close in the  afternoon and aren’t open for dinner).  The Pancake Place has a pretty extensive menu that should offer something for everyone.  Yesterday Jack had an omelet and hash browns while I had a patty melt and french fries.  We both enjoyed our meals and were full when we left.  If you’re looking for fancy, this isn’t the restaurant for you, but if you want good food, fast service, and reasonable prices, you should give this a try.

Shortly after we left Salida we headed south.  There were mountain ranges on both sides of us and a lot of flat land in between.  Most of our days are sunny and solar is a good power source, so it’s not surprising that SunEdison has a presence here.  They have a huge, I mean really, really huge solar farm part way down to Alamosa.  Jack and I have seen it before, but we’re always amazed at the number of solar panels they have out there.  Rows and rows and more rows of panels set at various angles, with their faces aimed toward the sun, fill a field in what seems to be the middle of nowhere.  It appears that the number of panels has grown over the past few years, but I’m not positive about that.  It could just be that the sun was simply hitting them at a different angle, making it appear that there are more.

Alamosa has an old train depot that they’ve turned into a welcome center.  They also have a lot of old trains there, so it’s fun to look around and see the trains up close.  You can see inside of the cars and find remnants of their old glory.  Imagine all of the people who rode in those cars, all of the destinations that they went to, and how much time it took.  Wow!

There are a lot of churches in town that are very old.  While driving around we saw quite a few, but this one, St. Thomas Episcopal, really stood out.  It’s so well taken care of and “loved”, if you can say that about a building.  The church and the yard that surround it are in pristine condition and it felt very welcoming.  I love the old iron lights on the front and the stucco/adobe finish.

We went to dinner at an Italian restaurant that we had been to last year.  The Bistro Rialto is in an old building on the main street and is probably one of the nicest restaurants in town.  Jack and I enjoyed a bottle of wine with our dinner and had a nice time relaxing while eating and talking about our day.

The portions at the Bistro are very large, so we each ordered the “1/2 portion” along with a salad.  Jack had spaghetti and meatballs and I had lasagne.  Both of our meals were excellent and it was more than enough food for us.  We had to decline when our waiter asked if we would like dessert, but I would certainly consider skipping the salad to have room for dessert the next time we go!  🙂  I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you are visiting Alamosa.

We got back to our room at our hotel, the Super 8, and kicked off our shoes.  There was a chair in the room that I had been sitting in and I thought that I might have dropped something under it.  I tried to look under the chair and noticed that it was in two pieces.  It appeared to be a normal chair, but there was a footstool sort of built in under the chair.  It just pulled out if you wanted to use it, so it wasn’t really obvious.  Sami liked the chair because she could stick her head under the curtains and look out, but when we discovered the footstool she was a little confused.

All in all, the Super 8 was a good hotel for us.  When Jack and I go somewhere, we basically want a hotel that’s in a safe location, a room that’s clean and quiet, and we want a bed that’s comfortable.  If we’re taking Sami with us, then we also need a pet friendly hotel, which this is.

The hotel had been renovated some time in the past year and it was pretty nice.  The area that it was located in was safe and well lit and our room was spacious and clean.  The bed was definitely firm (I would prefer a bit softer), but I loved the pillows.  This morning we had a continental breakfast that included your choice of cereal, sausages, potato cakes, bagels, toast, juice, and coffee.  Unbelievably, the room was only $67 with taxes and with the additional charge for having a pet.  It was good value for the money, but again, if you want something fancier then this wouldn’t be the hotel for you.

After breakfast this morning, there were a couple of stops in Alamosa that we wanted to make before leaving.  We always have to check out the Ace Hardware stores if we see one we haven’t been to before.  Jack loves looking at them to see what new ideas he can bring to the one he works at!  I also wanted to go to the Big R store.  It’s a farm store of sorts, with a lot of other interesting things to see.

On the way back home, we stopped at the UFO viewing tower on the Cosmic Highway.  It’s really on Hwy 17.  Well….what can I say?  It wasn’t quite what we thought it was going to be.  The round building is a gift shop/memorabilia area and the viewing platform is a metal structure that basically just elevates you off of the ground.  Hmmm……………… I’m sure it would be more a lot more impressive at night with UFO’s flying over!

We continued north and connected with Hwy 285 and then took a side trip to Bonanza.  No, not Bonanza like on the Ponderosa with pa, Hoss and Little Joe!  Am I showing my age?  We had been to Bonanza several years ago on our ATV.  At that time we had come in from a different direction and had ridden on steep, narrow mountain trails to get there, so we thought we’d try a real road and see what it was like.  The road was paved for about 7 miles and then dirt for another 7 miles and both roads were well maintained.  The town was deserted, as we expected it to be in the winter.  It’s a cute little town and is actually considered a ghost town.  In the summer there are residents, but not at this time of year.

While backtracking to Hwy 285 we noticed an old, dilapidated house and stopped to get a closer look.  It was interesting to know that someone had lived in it at one time and that this was all that remained.  I can’t imagine how the settlers and miners managed to survive the winters in the cold, drafty buildings that they called home.  No furnaces, no insulation, freezing (often below zero) winter temperatures, and miles and miles from town.  I doubt they could have grown a whole lot of vegetables during the summers at the high altitudes and with such short growing seasons and winter’s would have been even worse, with whatever meat they could find as their main source of nourishment.  I sure wouldn’t have wanted to be them!

We managed to squeeze a lot into our two days, but it was all fun and relaxing.  We’ve found that we enjoy our short trips, one or two nights, sometimes more than longer trips.  Having time to get away from the normal, everyday responsibilities that we all have, even if it’s only for a day, is just enough to put a little more pep in our steps. Remember to take time to smell the roses, play in the snow, or look for UFO’s in the night sky.  It’ll keep you younger, healthier, and happier.

Happy travels!

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