Road Trip to Salida, Colorado
(31st August to 2nd September 2012)

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Salida, Colorado

This road trip came about as I had to retrieve my unsold art from the Cañon City exhibit, so I decided to go and see Salida while I was in the area.  Salida is about an hour away from Cañon City on Hwy 50, which runs alongside the Arkansas River.  A quite beautiful trip through twists and turns.  It was rather frustrating as there weren't many places to pull off to take some photos, and you know how I love taking photos!

The first stop I made was at Cotopaxi as I could get out of the car and take pics of the river rushing by.  A tiny place with lots of character.  I often wonder what people do for work in these isolated places.  I would imagine tourism helps as Hwy 50 is en route to skiing areas and there's river rafting, ziplining, camping and endless people fish in the river.

I knew Salida was also an artsy community so I was looking forward to seeing what was on offer.  I arrived around 4pm on Friday, unpacked at the Mountain Motel, and was directed towards Downtown.  The turnoff (Hwy 291) was diagonally across the street from the motel and just as you enter Salida from the east.  The drive to Downtown takes you through a little suburb-type area with some pretty homes to enjoy.  Before long I was slap bang in the middle of things, and was it exciting!  I spotted lots of restaurants, bars, gift shops, and of course, art galleries.  By the ton!  I parked the car and headed towards the river.  Downtown is made up of a few streets; I hovered around 1st and 4th Streets and between E and G Streets.  In this small area I found some wonderful art galleries complete with resident artists to answer questions.  I stopped by Stephen Smalzel's gallery and also the Brooks Gallery, both worth checking out.

I also stopped in at any number of shops to have a quick look around.  Mainly geared for the tourists but some had the most fun items on sale that it's very worthwhile stopping wherever anything takes your fancy.  I looked in at the Dragonfly Gifts store, the Fabulous Finds Emporium (stuffed with goodies), and the Bead Song (if you can't find anything beady here, forget about it!) among others.

I was fascinated by the ornately (and clean) decorated buildings.  Also, take note of the many, many murals scattered around not only Downtown, but also along Hwy 50 (or Rainbow Blvd as it's called as it passes through Salida).

Salida is an active city with cyclists all over Downtown.  There are quite a few bike shops where you can rent a bike (and fix a bike), so if you're in the mood to cycle along the river, do so.  Work up an appetite for any one of the many restaurants here.  You could also pack a light supper to enjoy in Riverside Park with the river just below.  I came down again in the morning to see what a Saturday morning was like.  It was buzzing with people and activity.  There was also a wine tasting going on in the park.

I was up early on Saturday morning and I went in search of breakfast as last night's supper consisted of a frozen meal (Indian) which I picked up at Safeway and just warmed up in the microwave in my room.  I was once again looking for a good huevos rancheros breakfast, and a couple staying at the motel recommended The Eatery, just a couple of blocks away.  Mmmm, their omelets looked very tasty but my huevos rancheros wasn't much to write home about.  It was a "tortilla topped with refried beans, two eggs, green chili sauce (not a piece of "green" anywhere to be seen or taste), onions and cheese".  However, the "onions" consisted of eight tiny pieces of chopped fresh onion and a sprinkling of finely grated cheese.  Served on a melamine/plastic plate which I didn't like as I could see scratches from past users which didn't look too hygienic to me.  There was also a little salad of greens and tomato, but I don't like salad for breakfast.  My meal was lukewarm and any "heat" from the chili was non-existent.  If I didn't douse my meal in green Tabasco, it would have been beyond bland.  The refried beans dominated the dish but my eggs were perfect.  At $7 I thought it over-priced.  Also, $2 a cup of coffee or tea (with free refills) was outrageously expensive I thought.  Perhaps I should have chosen something else from the menu like a Hearty Breakfast (flat iron steak, pork chop, chicken fried steak and gravy, or even corned beef and hash!) or pancakes.

This trip was doubly exciting for me as I found a gallery interested in selling my original art greeting cards!  Linda at the Four Winds Gallery took some, so do visit and see not only my work, but some of the other really wonderful art she has for sale.  The Art Matters Gallery will be closing down but still operating via their website, so if you miss this gorgeous gallery (which is for sale), keep up with Gloria online. If you're not planning on staying in Salida, do make the detour to Downtown just to have a look.  The buildings alone are worth it.  The visitors' center was closed by the time I arrived in town late Friday afternoon, and wasn't open on Saturday morning, strangely enough!

Don't just stick to the main road, take a little detour here and there.  By heading down an unknown street, I came across this deer (one of two) in someone's yard, having a nice little munch in the garden!

Around 3pm I headed back towards Cañon City but took a right to Iron Mountain to spend the night at a friend's house in the mountains.  There were a few of us so it was lovely to visit with friends again.  Along the way I passed by little places like Wellsville, Howard, and Texas Creek.  The weather was warm, food wonderful, company great, and an endless amount of investigating around my friend's property.  I loved the hummingbirds who worked those feeders like I've never seen before.

On Sunday, after a superb early breakfast and a quick drive in a 4-wheel drive up the rugged mountain to see the views, I headed home via Florence.  I stopped to say hi to the lovely people from the Florence Rose B&B and also to see Svetlana at her Raindrops Gallery in town.  We had coffee and chatted as I watched her work a commissioned piece for a customer's wedding anniversay present. 

Around 1.30pm I thought I'd try Jess' Best BBQ for a burger so that I wouldn't be hungry during the afternoon drive home.  Mistake.  I ordered the pulled pork burger with a side of coleslaw.  Both were unappetizing and completely devoid of taste.  The pork was a pale and insipid color and not very hot.  The bun had no texture to it and disintegrated under the meat.  Thankfully I had a choice of about five different sauces, which I tried, in an attempt to inject some flavor into what I was eating.  The coleslaw looked as though the sauce was milk it was so runny.  Once again, no flavor whatsoever.  If I was blindfolded, I honestly couldn't tell you what I was eating.  I waited about 20 minutes for my meal despite there being only three other tables that were occupied.  Also, there were only knives and spoons and I don't like eating coleslaw with a spoon or my fingers!  The decor was okay and they had a bar.


Mountain Motel

This gorgeous motel is right on the edge of town and you can't miss it if you're travelling west on Hwy 50.  Beautifully laid out, these wooden cottages and rooms are just what any traveller would love.  I enjoyed a night's stay in cottage number 9.  There were two double beds, a kitchenette, all sorts of kitchen utensils (loved the blue glasses), and a two-plate gas stove as well as a microwave oven.  A coffee machine, pots and pans, crockery and cutlery as well as a little sink, and enough style to last you for your stay!  There is a fold-out table at which you can work or eat a meal, and also a flat-screen television.  I loved the spaciousness even though it was just me in the room.  This motel is spotlessly clean and the beds are super comfortable.  I had the air conditioning on for a short while to cool things down, and the room stayed nice and cool throughout the night.  A visit to the reception/office is a must as you'll discover an array of various styles of decor items which beg to be looked at.  Owner Irene Allen has a keen eye for the electic, and she showed me around and told me about where she got some of her items both in the office and for the rooms.  Her intention is to make her motel as cozy and homey as possible, with a throwback to the 50s and 60s, and thus buys repurposed items.  My room had a great selection of things like a dream catcher, the cutest telephone I've ever seen, and I loved the kitchen utensil holder.  The shower is a little tiny but I managed.  The wooden walls and floors are very comforting and her blue curtains pulled the whole area together.  The Mountain Motel is the perfect place to make your base as you discover the Salida area and surrounds.  Pets are welcome too!  Contact details.

Here's my TripAdvisor review.

As usual I began my journey at the Colorado Springs airport as that's where I rented my car.  I made my way west to CO-115 and then headed south to US Hwy 50.  I passed through Cañon City, which took about 45 minutes to reach, and continued along the spectacular Hwy 50 along the Arkansas River all the way to Salida, about an hour.  I returned the same way but made stops in Iron Mountain and Florence, to see Svetlana at her Raindrops Gallery.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car
(Colorado Springs Airport Terminal, CO):  This time I had a Toyota Corolla which was every bit as nice to drive as the Nissan Sentra I had last time.  This rental was for two days @ $7.59 (I swear!) p/day with unlimited mileage = $38.90 (including taxes) plus your choice of insurance and gas.  Like I usually do, I checked and rechecked rates prior to departure and really came up with this low rate.  I got approximately 34 mpg and the Corolla was very easy to drive.  I also loved the huge trunk.  I drove a total of 336 miles.
As usual, Enterprise offered me a great service (they don't offer the "we'll pick you up" service from the airport) and I highly recommend you try them.
Web:  Tel: (719) 591-6644   Toll-free (Reservations): 1-800-261-7331   Toll-free (Customer Service): 1-800-264-6350

Accommodation Contact
Mountain Motel - 1425 E. Hwy 50, Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (719) 539-4420   Toll-free: 1-866-542-3094
Twitter /mountainmotelco
Free wi-fi.
Rates: from $79.99 - $113.50 per cottage.  Check the website for family suites and rooms.
Visit their website for up-to-date information and rates.  Check ahead of time regarding pets.

Sights and Contacts and Links
To make the most of your trip, do investigate online or request brochures.  It really helps to get to know the lay of the land for walking about, or where else you'd like to visit.  You never know, you might just discover something you didn't know about!
Stephen Smalzel - P.O. Box 651, Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (303) 917-9666
Stop by this interesting gallery for a chat with Stephen and to appreciate his talents.

Brooks Gallery - 119 North F Street, Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (719) 539-9511
A lovely gallery to spend some time in, so do visit.

Dragonfly Gifts - 221 F Street, Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (719) 539-4448

Fabulous Finds Emporium - 243 F Street, Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (719) 530-0544

Bead Song - 107 F Street, Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (719) 530-0110

The Subculture Cyclery - 129 North G Street Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (719) 539-5329

The Eatery - 1110 East Hwy 50, Salida, CO 81201 (open 7am - 2pm daily)
Tel: (719) 530-9525

Four Winds Gallery - 118 F Street, Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (719) 539-6075
This is where my original art greeting cards are for sale!

Art Matters Gallery - 119A East First Street, Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (719) 539-2383
E-mail: NOTE:This gallery is closing on September 30, 2012 and you can follow them on their website from October 1st, 2012.

Salida Chamber of Commerce - 406 West Hwy 50, Salida, CO 81201
Tel: (719) 539-2068

Jess' Best BBQ - 121 West Main Street, Florence, CO 81226
Tel: (719) 783-9037

Raindrops Art Gallery - 119 West Main Street, Florence, CO 81226
Tel: (719) 214-1493

Prices quoted were correct at the time, August/September 2012.


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