Thursday, 20 September 2018

Enjoying a little southern Colorado

A morning in Ft. Garland, CO
We have successfully identified all thirty something species of mushrooms exploding around the property from all of the rain and humidity and despite their beefy, leggy, sometimes beautiful composure, have decided all of them, are inedible. Darn, the fun we might have had. In fact, I do my very best not to even run over them with the lawn mower fearing spores-a-plenty waft into the air and rain down to engulf my lungs like some sort of alien narcotic.  After noticing they have an interesting living and breeding behavior, then some type of imminent death within a day or so, as well as the animals not even feigning interest, I have decided mostly to ignore them and like all things ignored, they will eventually go away...right?...If it ever stops raining in south Texas and the poor drenched coastline.
hard workin' Abby...a typical day.

It is easier to focus on other projects, or like last week just leave.  After Abby’s exhaustion over the finishing of the outdoor kitchen and the ever present oppressive humidity, we decided it was a good time to check in to the Colorado property for a couple of days.  Literally, two days.  Two days to get there, two days to get home and a barely timewise affordable two days there.  But, we made the best of it.  We loaded up the truck, sans the Eggcellence this trip and headed north to the cooler, drier air we so enjoyed in Alaska.  With a quick stop at our new favorite midway point, Caprock Canyonhttps://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/caprock-canyons, where the colors reflecting on the canyon wall are indescribable and the buffalo, truly roam.
Caprock Canyon SP buffalo


We try to check the Colorado property once a year, hoping to up that number in the future (it’s only accessible about six months out of the year).  This summer, like so much of North America, the area was struck by fire.  This fire, started by a non-resident to the area, actually the country it turns out, who had absolutely no right to be there.  He left a fire unattended overnight, swearing he had done his best to put it out, before and after it became an out of control blaze destroying more than 100,000 acres of the beautiful Sangre De Cristo Mountains https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangre_de_Cristo_Mountains.  He is now facing over 100 counts of arson for the homes destroyed.  Ironically, the day we got there last week, was the day area wide county announced the fire was officially 100 percent contained, almost three months after it ignited. Despite the devastating drive through La Veta pass, we arrived at our property and saw it unscathed, thankfully, but one ridge over, less than a mile as the crow flies, is where it began.

A busy schedule for the two days in Colorado along with absolutely beautiful weather, kept me focused!  I highly suggest anyone who hasn’t given southern Colorado a chance, to take some time out and visit some of the beautiful natural wonders that exist there.  While Ft. Garland is not much of a town with its population a little over two hundred and advertising four restaurants, two convenience stores, a liquor store, cannabis dispensary and a museum, it is still a place I am proud to call home away from home.  It has an RV park and a kitchy motel, both alive and well and available if needed.  We stay on the property, rustic style.  Each time we go, we try to play a little, investigating some new area and work a little, making the property somewhat ours, if even in the most simple way.

Our play this trip, consisted of a trip to Pagosa Springs via the Rio Grande National Forest, a very pretty drive through the South Fork recreation area where future hikes will definitely take place.  It is a little over a two hour drive from the property through the pass which even includes a tunnel!  We visited a couple of breweries on our day trip, one I favored over the other, Riff Raff Brewing Company http://riffraffbrewing.com/.  They hosts two different locations, we opted for the kitchy spot on the main drag, Pagosa street vs. “downtown”.  One of the highlights of the day happened there in the form of a very good lamb burger which we split to go with our flavorful brews.  There are at least two other breweries to visit in the area, along with hot springs to float around in available at three different locations.  We really didn’t have time to frolic, so we kept moving with a visit to just one of the other breweries before making our way back to Alamosa, by way of Chama, NM and Antonito, CO., two historic towns with lots of interesting vibes.  Alamosa is a town worth visiting and also has three breweries, two next door to each other and complete opposites in all respects.  Of the two I prefer, called Square Peg Brewerks  ttps://www.squarepegbrewerks.com, a place where it is obvious that they care about their product and put the focus on that, relying on those who appreciate the true nuances and quality based brews to keep the doors open. Meanwhile, Alamosa, about 20 minutes away from the property is a good go-to for shopping, meals and a refreshing drink, passing by the Great Sand Dunes and several animal preserves and a fishing hole or two.  Though we didn't make it this time, below is my favorite near by brewery in Colorado, by far....Three Barrel Brewing http://www.threebarrelbrew.com/



We also cruised out on one of my favorite drives in the area, towards Cuchara on the Highway of Legends from the La Veta end. Sadly, not only was the normally gorgeous green cliffed drive that makes me think I am visiting Ireland, scorched from fire damage, but the place we enjoy going in Cuchara, the Dog Bar and Grill https://www.dogbarandgrill.com/, where Macy is even invited, was closed when we got there despite their website saying they were open.  In fact, much of Cuchara was closed.  We won’t give up, and will check in on them again in the future. It is still a beautiful and very interesting drive to continue the Highway of Legends drive back out to Trinidad.  Be sure and take a camera and allow enough time for stops.

Our “work” this time was sponsored of course by Abby and her constant sense of creativity, insisting that we start a path up the ridge of the property.  There are plenty of stones there, unlike at home and it isn’t hard collecting for a path, beyond the 9,000ft elevation, that is.  We didn’t finish the path, but almost made it about halfway up the 5 acre lot, Abby leading the way and constructing, me collecting and Macy doing sniff tests on everything.  Now we have to look forward to the completion of this rock pathway for our next trip, hopefully not a full year away.
Abby and Macy in deep discussion

Abby treated me on the road trip home to something I had seen many a sign for, but never had the occasion to stop and now I am sorry.  The Big Texan Steak Ranch and Brewery in Amarillo, Texas https://www.bigtexan.com/.  Yes, that’s right y’all, the home of the 72 ounce steak challenge meal.  A stop by the winners wall will blow your mind.  Current first place is held by a very svelte woman, who seems to have accepted the challenge and crushed it!!  We had lunch at the bar and tried a couple of their in house brews that I was quite surprised and pleased with.  The IPA went perfectly with my lunch prime rib plate and Abby had her porter and chose a lunch brisket and rib plate.  It was all very good, reasonable and a different kind of fun.  The people who worked there were all engaged and seemed to appreciate their surroundings.  I will be back to this macabre environment with surprisingly good beer and food.
beer list at Big Texan

Speaking of food, we are back home now of course and back to work.  We have big plans for the future and there is not a dull moment around here.  I am back to creating in the kitchen, getting work established and Abby is filling in the calendar for the rest of the year.  I will leave you with this week's fish entre.  Baked halibut with homemade chipotle bbq sauce and the most incredible mac-n’-cheese I have ever had that Abby whipped up with some jalapenos I roasted and plenty of good cilantro.  YUM!!  My favorite meal this entire year...right here at home...
Yummy halibut & Mac-n'-cheese

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