What’s in store for us today?

I’ve joked about the T-shirt-iness of the downtown stretch of Estes Park. Surely, the shop owners have set up racks of Rocky Mountain-loving wear daring you to plunk down your 20 bucks and call it your own.

What tourist town doesn’t?

Stop for pedestrains, of course.

Stop for pedestrains, of course.

Truth be known, on the grand scale of Where I’ve Been, this destination for my dear wife Karen’s first Family Reunion tries somewhat harder than most.

And oh, the natural setting surrounding this town — permanent population of just short of 6,000 according to the 2010 census — at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park.

So, as I begin to wind down The Thin Air Series, a short tour of interesting-looking joints.

Click on any gallery photo for a description. Click and hold on any gallery bottom right photo for an enlarged slide show.

The restaurants all tried hard to lure customers by proclaiming what made them special. The Wild Rose trumpeted the game on its menu. Grubsteak stuck two eating words together and had small tables up front. Penelope’s promised world-famous burgers.

We four picked one of these places for lunch one stroll.

And the winner was …

At Wild Rose’s, George Three ordered the Buffalo Burger, and declared it tasted pretty much like the beef we get at home around Syracuse. The rest of us were more tame: Salmon for Karen, chicken for Elisabeth, and French onion soup with the salad bar for me.

Karen, Elisabeth and George Three lead the way.

Karen, Elisabeth and George Three lead the way.

The street that held our blue cottages spilled down onto the main drag. To the west lay the public library lot, where those of us who were staying further from town found it most convenient to park, and then the Safeway complex lot. The other way was called East Elkhorn Avenue. We walked it all every day. Sometimes twice.

Movies were available.

Movies were available.

Early on, my thought was that I’d invite everybody to come to a movie with me and take an early morning to write my weekly review. I wanted to see Paper Towns, and thought it the YA story from the novel by John Green would make a proper show for the siblings and cousins. Alas, the cool-looking old theater above was fixated toward Pixels and the modern complex by Safeway was pushing the latest in the Jurassic line. My online search showed the closest showing of my choice was in Fort Collins, more than 30 miles away. I decided that would take up too much of our precious time together. My review would be late, waiting until our return to Syracuse.

Drink it, spread it, gift it.

Drink it, spread it, gift it.

I did a lot of window shopping, letting my eyes and mind wander. My girls ducked into a lot more shops than George and I. If we heard their call from where we’d migrated, we knew there was something particular inside we were supposed to see. It was a good routine.

Colorado squads represented.

Colorado squads represented.

I’m glad the local teams had their own store to sell souvenirs. I saw plenty of people wearing Broncos and University of Colorado Buffaloes gear. I imagined that the NFL squad from the big city drew a fan base from the whole state, and college town was only 45 minutes or so away. We drove through the quasi-highway-with-traffic-lights in Boulder for a quick look-see, in fact, on our way back from the Zoo/Rockies game visit to Denver.

Interestingly, there also was a Big Red store selling gear for Nebraska fans. And a sock store sold emblazoned pairs for all the teams in the Big Ten except the Newbies — Rutgers and my Maryland Terrapins. Nevertheless, Karen found a pair perfect for me anyway. More of that in Monday’s installment.

Art work within.

Art work within.

The Elk and Buffalo put a neat little representation of its work on the walk, but I couldn’t quite decide of the owners offered Glasswork or Classwork from its etching. Either way, no thank you.

They call it a bazaar.

They call it a bazaar.

The big water wheel at the very end of the avenue caught my eye. How lucky to have the natural creek to spin it. The colorful bazaar above was slightly jarring, though. The sign did not lie.

I must circle back to one T-shirt tale. When purchasing a hoodie picked out by Elisabeth and a short-sleeve selected by George because I wanted to, the cashier told me total was $50.32. I peeled off three twenties and plucked out 32 cents and handed it over. She counted, then tried to hand it back.

“No. You have to give me $50.32,” she said.

“No. You have to give me $10 change,” I answered, a bit surprised and exasperated. Elisabeth and George chuckled, and my dear daughter once again, at her wise age of 25, told me I’d been sort of knee-jerk.

Tomorrow: Eatin’ and Drinkin’

Sunday: Travelin’ Show

When you visit a tourist town, what type of establishments draw you, and why? Which of the above would you duck in, and why? What’s yo

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57 thoughts on “What’s in store for us today?

  1. Oh dear, did the clerk not have the latest in machines bro Mark? I’m horrible with math, but even I know how to make that change. Your photos remind me so much of shopping in Gatlinberg and Pigeon Forge. I think there is another small tourist attraction in with them also, but it is several miles of traffic stand still while tourists stroll across the streets, in the streets or just stand there and talk while the gas evaporates, the engine dies, and you run out of a “suitable” vocabulary (words I learned from my ex navy hubs). I wonder if the Nave has a dictionary all their own? I loved the photo shops where they posed you for bar pictures. Great one with a friend, both of us on a bar, skirts kinda short, pistol in one hand and bottle in the other. Smokey Mountain State Park was gorgeous too, but in late June (my son’s wedding) not as colorful as it would have been in October.

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    • Yes, sis Angie, they sure did have one of those old-timey photo storefronts here, too. We did not go in. I was too busy taking new-timey photos with my iPhone 6. Is that suitable vocabulary?

      I bet Smoky Mountain State Park was something special for your son’s wedding in late June, you know!

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      • It was beautiful. A mountain top with 5 settings to choose from, each one better than the other, sunset, cool breeze, pine trees as well as the rest of the mid south variety, stars overhead. It was so nice. The photographer didn’t show up, so I was the “official” photographer for the wedding, and the friend who went with me and I took about a dozen rolls of film — before the digital camera era was in full swing and if you wanted color, it had to be film. And they were the professional rolls at that. About 58 pics per roll. I had to make 4 copies of each photo, one for them, one for Pam, one for me, and one to share with family members, because I was the only family member who showed up. There were so many stacks of pictures around the house I almost had to move out until they were all sorted into folders.

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  2. I love places like that, with the little shops, because they often have unique items. I’m intrigued by the satchel bags hanging there, and the lil art shop. I’d rather have a hoodie than a tee shirt, but I’d really rather have something I’ll use or hang and see every day.
    Why can no one make change now? It’s very strange. Now and again I encounter people who truly do not know how to handle cash, when their job is handling cash. Lost skill?

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    • There was cool merch for sure, Joey. As my series truly winds down … I promise … I’ll have a post on what we brought home. ๐Ÿ™‚

      And you are right about check-out folks making change. It might be because so many people just use their debit/credit cards. I don’t think we can even call the register people ‘cashiers’ anymore. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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  3. Love small shops like the ones you showed Mark. So personal and unique – a lot of crafted stuff that is available no where else. I always get a “giggle” when I see “world famous” used someplace where most of the world is not even aware it exists. Ha! Same as I once saw some tin pot dictator who had come across an American Air Force plane that had crashed due to a mechanical failure and he declared that he had shot it down and beaten the American Air Force. Bwahahaha! I’ve seen Air Force Air Fields bigger than his whole country and single aircraft carriers that carried enough weaponry to make his country disappear in a puff of smoke before breakfast.

    Anyway, great photos Mark. Thanks so much for the tour.

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  4. Love the change bit! In Florida we do it all the time, I personally hate a bunch of loose coins and rid them every chance I can! Was that an amount tendered button not working for said cashier? Ah duh? Dumb and Dumber…If you have ever been to Disney Marketplace in Orlando its a got to see/do/buy kind of place. Huge and fun. On a smaller scale anytime we traveled I found shoppes, today it is my least favorite thing to do! Go figure? Have a good one Terp! The Gatorette.

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  5. This is all very pretty. When I travel I really like to find the underbelly of the city, where the food is good but not as expensive and there’s less touristy shopping and maybe some good deals and thrift stores. It isn’t always easy to do though, especially when you have limited time.

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    • Yes, we ate one dinner at Smokin’ Daves, King Dave. I had the Carolina Pulled Pork plate with sweet potato fries and cole slaw, and give it a very good grade! My favorite sauce was the original. The only thing I found lacking in comparison to our Dinosaur Bar-B-Que here in Syracuse was that it was served with a rather lackluster single slice of thick cut white bread instead of on a housemade roll. But, yes, in the most important areas, Smokin’ Dave’s was worth the 45-minute wait for our party on nine. ๐Ÿ™‚ Our waitress was really good, too.

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  6. So you weren’t game for trying the game, Mark ?? French onion soup..great alternative. Not much of a shopper here, but these look fresh and unique. I don’t know what to say about the loss of basic arithmetic skills…it seems to have disappeared a bit when kids were allowed calculators in elementary school. โ˜บ

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    • Beef, chicken, pork, tuna, lobster. Simple tastes here. French oinion soup seemed the way to go, Van, and was fine and dandy.

      Yeah, calculators being allowed on tests was the beginning of the slide, wasn’t it?

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  7. I often deal in cash instead of cards and these days I periodically run into cashiers who seem to be flummoxed by the sight of money. Are we headed to a world without currency??? I’d likely have been way snarkier than you were, BTW ๐Ÿ™‚

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  8. You are showing your age, nobody does those fancy kind of financial transactions these days- that’s really old school. I am surprised she didn’t ask what it was you were giving her, probably doesn’t see real money much. As far as the Bison/Buffalo meat – I buy pounds of that a week because it is a denser protein source than beef (according to my kids), they insist I buy it. When we lived in Fort Collins, on our drive up to Cheyenne, we would pass a herd of Buffalo every day, which was really cool.
    I think if I was going to go into any of the shops it would be the ones with the little tea pots and stuff. I like the colors.

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    • Now you’ve done it, S.D., bringing up my age. And I though we are friends. ๐Ÿ™‚ No, you are right. I am among the few carrying cash.

      Denser protein source. OK, if they say so. I like my beef. Grilled up a sirloin for MDW Karen and I last night. Bison look very majestic, I agree. I don’t want to eat them. I don’t think of cows when I’m eating beef, I’m de-sensitized!

      The teapots and stuff were cute. I may have gone in with Karen. I don’t remember. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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      • I won’t go near the Bison – haven’t tried it. I try not to think about the cute cows when I eat beef, and I apologize to the roasting chickens when I put them in the oven. It makes sad – but I can’t get past being a carnivore.

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  9. I generally prefer art galleries to t-shirt shops. Although Colorado is arguably the opposite of Kansas, I consider it ‘my neck of the woods.’ Vermont is my playground these days. Back then, it was Colorado. Hope you are having a blast!

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  10. I would like mountain wild berry jam at that one shop and maybe espresso to take home. I like to get one reasonably priced t-shirt every trip. I wanted to share that my oldest daughter felt that “Paper Towns” was interesting but she was a bit disappointed. If you have reviewed it since coming home, please direct me, Mark.
    I enjoy salads and soup, too. The buffalo meat I would like grilled onions and mushrooms over, no bread. There’s my “take” on a little of everything. Mugs are mice to take home, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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