Lee and a curious calico crisscross the country in a RV, living simply and sustainably.

This was my second trip to Salida, CO to visit soul friends, Marla & Grover. Marla headed west 10 years ago, ate lunch at Laughing Ladies Restaurant, and fell in love with this mining town with 14ers in the background. She and Grover built a home outside of town, and invited me to park Gypsy there for a couple of days. What a view! I told Marla the only thing missing from my RV was a bathtub, but I would love a repeat visit to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs that would be my “one bath of the year”. The next day, the three of us hiked part of the Colorado Trail, starting near the Angel of Shavano Campground.

It was fairly steep for a mile, and the altitude got to me for the first time in Colorado. After many rest stops, the trail turned fairly level within an aspen forest complete with cattle to one side and cow plops along the trail. It was a beautiful hike, and I could have stayed in the wooded section all day. Grover pointed out the area we had hiked from his back deck. “We could have hiked home!” I exclaimed. Maybe next time…

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Today, Marla and I met up at the Farmer’s Market on F Street. I bought an onion, tomato, kale, and one gorgeous peach. This was the first time I’d seen a chile roaster at a market. The gentleman tossed in a large bag of green chile’s then sold them in sizes from a large Ziploc bag to a 40# box. “What can you do with so many chile’s I asked?” “Chile Rellenos” answered a woman beside me. “Or freeze them and add to eggs, soup, whatever” added Marla. Yum! I passed this time, as I’ll be traveling again soon and my fridge doesn’t work well offline.

salida chiles.jpg

It was a much “crunchier” farmer’s market than normal (“crunchy” describes folks who prefer to eat homemade crunchy granola rather than processed cereal, it’s a lifestyle thing). This was my kind of crowd! There were several artisan bread bakers, a tamale stand, gorgeous fresh produce, and several artists. I especially admired this woman’s latest quilt.

salida quilt.jpg

As Marla and I prepared to go our separate ways, I was shocked to see a doe and two spotted fawns cross the street and approach us. “Look at the deer!” Marla seemed nonplussed “They rule the roads here. No one even blinks.” I watched, astonished, as the doe leapt the fence into the yard a few yards from us. The fawns hesitated and walked towards the end of the fence, until mama joined them and they sauntered down the street again.

salida deer.jpg

alking around town, I was heartened to see these young boys using a skateboard park to do tricks on their bicycles and scooters. None of them had an actual skateboard, and they seemed fearless as they dropped over the edge and flew through the air. It reminded me of the days when my son would come in from skateboarding, bloody faced, then laugh when I reacted. It was just ketchup. Until the day when I didn’t believe he’d hurt himself when he actually had. The boy who cried wolf…

salida bikes.jpg

Salida is one of those old/new towns. Full of Victorian architecture from mining days that have been refurbished in past years. The streets are lined with craft brewery’s, bead stores, upscale consignment shops, and pottery galleries. It’s a pretty progressive town…but this is Colorado.

salida street.jpg

One of many ornate houses in the streets surrounding the park. The population was last listed as 5,200, and it is growing. Real estate prices have jumped in recent years, and with the river, mountains, and sunny clime, Salida has become a destination. Last weekend, Mumford and Sons performed 2 concerts and 25,000 people showed up to sing along. Good thing I had a place to boondock!

salida house.jpg

Last week, the three of us enjoyed lunch at Little Cambodia, a Thai and Vietnamese Restaurant. The daily special had already sold out, so Marla & I ordered Pho soup made with rice noodles. The thinly sliced beef was incredibly tender. It was fantastic and very filling. Grover enjoyed fried dumplings.

Today for lunch, I was tempted to go back for more Pho, but stopped at Ploughboy, a grocery and outdoor café that carry only local fare (local being meaning a 100 mile radius). I ordered two tamales, dolloped chipotle salsa on my plate, and tossed down a lime cream soda. Dessert was a chocolate bar with toffee. Heaven.

salida ploughboy.jpg

After lunch, I ambled a few blocks to Riverside Park, another spacious park that ran alongside the Arkansas River. Folks were body surfing at a small dam, picnicking, and enjoying shady benches on this (what else?) sunny day. Colorado seems so “chill” to me, and Salida seems to be the “chillest”. There’s a sense of days gone by and slower pace of life, combined with lots of healthy options and outdoor recreational opportunities. There was a green John Deere tractor parked on a main street. And dozens of folks of all ages out on their bikes.

salida river.jpg

“If I ever settle down again” I daydream…but there are many more miles to explore before that time comes.




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