St. Elmo & Salida, Colorado

tripLast week we decided that we wanted to get away for a couple of days and Jack and I both had yesterday and today off, so it was the perfect time to take a little mini-trip. We knew we were going to end up staying last night in Salida, but weren’t sure about where we wanted to go before landing at our hotel.

We had considered going to an auction in Coaldale. There was a farm that had been in existence since the late 1800’s and they had a lot of farm equipment listed. Honestly, it appeared that the people must not have ever gotten rid of their equipment, ever! They also were supposed to have furniture, crocks, and a variety of other items. It sounded like it would have been interesting, but we didn’t need anything and decided to go somewhere that wouldn’t have as many people. Finally, we decided that we would head west, toward Buena Vista.

Jack likes breakfast and, rather than make something at home, we thought we would stop at a local restaurant on our way. Lake George Pizza is in Lake George (who would have guessed?) on Highway 24. It’s open all day long, normally, but when we got there it happened to be closed. Our next option was to go to Hartsel to another small, local restaurant, so we continued on our way.

IMG_5696The Highline Cafe & Saloon has good food, large portions and their prices are about normal. Service is fine. I have to warn you, though, that it’s not the cleanest place we’ve ever eaten at. Or maybe I should just say that it’s seen better days. Thinking with an optimistic view you could also say that that’s part of the charm! The cafe is a little run down, but it’s very interesting and is frequented by both locals and travelers. We always get more than enough to eat and come away satisfied, plus get a little bit of “people watching” done.

IMG_5704 (2)With full bellies we were back on the road again! We continued west on Hwy 24 while driving leisurely. When we go places we like to take our time. That’s part of the fun of it for us and it makes our trips more relaxing. Just before we started our downhill descent toward Buena Vista we saw some of the Collegiate Peaks in the distance. We have been getting snow off and on for a couple of weeks now and the peaks were beautiful! They were totally topped with snow and it was amazing to see! It’s something we just don’t seem to ever get tired of.

We ventured around Buena Vista for a little while and then decided to try a road we’d never been on. We had no idea of where it would take us, but that’s part of the fun! After driving for a bit we discovered that the road led us almost to where we had wanted to go next anyway, which was a definite bonus.

IMG_5718 (2)St. Elmo is a ghost town that we really love. Or maybe I should say that it’s a ghost town in the winter, but not so much in the summer. At this time of year, there’s not much happening up there and that’s the way we like it best. One advantage in the summer is that there are a lot of golden mantel squirrels and chipmunks and they’re so tame that they’ll eat sunflower seeds out of your hands. They’ll also crawl all over IMG_5731 (2)you and into your purse if you don’t watch them. They’re pretty entertaining! However, at this time of year, you won’t see many, if any, people or animals, except for a random deer or two.

The buildings in St. Elmo are pretty well preserved and there’s something about them that draws us back over and over. We especially like it in the fall and winter, IMG_5742 (3)and with all of the snow we’ve gotten recently it was really pretty. If you want to visit in the winter but are hesitant to go there because of the roads, rest assured that although the roads are dirt, they are well maintained and are plowed, so you shouldn’t have a problem. We’ve taken both our car and our truck at all different times of the year and haven’t ever been concerned about getting stuck or making it back down to civilization.

We made our way down to Salida, where we were going to stay for the night. Once we got there we decided to spend a little time in the downtown area. There are some nice shops there and we enjoy browsing.

IMG_5753 (3)IMG_5756 (2)Jack and I both love a shop called the Bungled Jungle. If you like things that are a little bit different, you’ll love the Bungled Jungle. It’s full of things that come straight from the imagination and all of the creations are colorful and unique. They’re something you won’t find anywhere else no matter how long you look. Seriously, they’re all one of a kind and you can’t help but smile when you see them.

As if the creatures weren’t interesting enough, there are also a lot of steampunk”ish” machines at the Bungled Jungle. One of the inventors/creators, Pat, was there working on a time machine to s-l-o-w   t-i-m-e   d-o-w-n. Pat has a theory about how he’s going to make this work, so we’re looking forward his invention working. We agree with him that time is moving too quickly and we’ll certainly purchase his invention as soon as he gets it finished.

IMG_5760 (2)One of my other favorite stores in Salida is the quilt shop, Fringe. Fringe has great selection of yarn and everything to do with quilting. They have a wonderful selection of fabrics and I can always find “that special piece of fabric” I need for whatever project I’m working on. If I don’t have a current project, Fringe has a very nice selection of patterns and enough ideas that I always end up leaving with something new. They also have gift items that are fun and unique.

IMG_5761 (2)The employees at Fringe are always nice and Agnes was wonderful yesterday. She was helpful and pleasant and it was nice visiting with her. I got what I need to make something for one of my grandson’s birthday and also purchased a pattern and fabric for a new purse. One note…Jack likes to wait outside for me when I shop at Fringe because he knows I’m going to be awhile. Not just a little while, but a LONG while because there’s so much to see, and that’s a good thing for me. 🙂

We checked in to our hotel and were a little disappointed. The hotel we normally stay at in Salida was closed, so we had made reservations at The Salida Inn & Monarch Suites. We had made reservations ahead of time, but if we had waited until we got there and seen the hotel we would have stayed elsewhere.

We knew that the hotel was having some renovations done and we were O.K. with that, but we weren’t prepared for dirty walkways to the rooms, dried silly string all over the ground and around the doors, and all of the signs warning about extra charges, such as “towels are $…, if you take one we’ll assume you want the charge added to your credit card” and “if you use our towels or washcloths to remove make-up or clean your shoes, you’ll ruin them and we’ll assume you want the charge added to your credit card”. Now, on the flip side, we know that Salida is a busy little town with people coming/going to go skiing, rafting, off roading, and a multitude of other outdoor activities, and we’re sure that the hotels/motels there have more than their fair share of people who trash things. Does that make the hotel right for the warnings or not? Maybe…

The Salida Inn was reasonably priced and the room was basically clean. The bed was really hard, but the pillows were nice. The love seat was stained, which was a little off-putting. In general, the room was pretty quiet. Still, even without the other negatives, it just made us feel like we were being watched carefully to make sure we didn’t break the rules.

IMG_5768 (2)We left the hotel and were off to Quincy’s for dinner (that’s the only time they’re open). If you don’t know about Quincy’s, you’ll have to check it out when you get a chance. The original Quincy’s is in Leadville, with others in Buena Vista, Salida, and Florence. The deal at Quincy’s is that Sunday-Thursday they have filet mignon (four different sizes), baked potato, salad with ranch dressing, and bread. Friday and Saturday is prime rib (four sizes) or sirloin steak (two sizes). You can also get mac and cheese for your kids or vegetarian lasagne. No substitutions. That’s it! That’s the menu! Super simple and very reasonable. Good food, good service, and consistent. We like the ones in Leadville and Salida best.

This morning we went to the Patio Pancake Place for breakfast. I know I’ve written about it before, but I have to say again that it’s one of our favorite breakfast places to go. They’ve got a great menu and good service. The food is always good and you can get anything on the menu any time they’re open.

IMG_5787 (3)On our drive home we couldn’t help but admire the scenery on the drive east on Hwy 50. It’s really pretty along the Arkansas river with mountains surrounding you. As we meandered along, we could see people fly fishing in the river (we see them all winter, too, regardless of the temperatures) and big horn sheep on the rocks. One of the sheep was sprawled out on a flat rock sunning itself, which we don’t see very often. In about a month or so we’ll start to see a lot of rafters on the river and they’re always fun to watch, too! It’s a nice drive without too much traffic and it’s relaxing.

IMG_5798 (3)Closer to home, we could see Pike’s Peak and Mt. Pisgah in front of us. Both were snow capped and amazing. A small herd of elk were grazing in the field as we turned onto our dirt road. They turned to watch us, but as long as you don’t stop your vehicle, they don’t get spooked, so we drove slowly past them.

Just a short trip, but quality time together and more memories made. Just the kind of little getaway that we like!

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