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Part 2 of the Baker Family Vacation takes place in Twin Lakes Colorado, a town that, at the time, only had 20 full time residents. So to say it’s a small town would be to put it mildly. The altitude is high, the air is thin, and the townsfolk like their peace and quiet.
Before we begin our second part, a little background: Bob was Brian’s “boss” when he worked at Dollar Rent a Car in Los Angeles. I was the SVP at a bank, heading up the savings department, plus a few other jobs within the organization, head of personnel, security officer, marketing manager, well, if it wasn’t a loan or accounting, it was me. When Dollar decided to move their headquarters from Los Angeles to Tulsa OK, Bob, who is from Tulsa opted out of the move. Brian and Linda, with baby Trevor from Los Angeles, decided to go to Tulsa. After recent riots and earthquakes, a change of venue seemed like a fine idea. So after 14 months 10 days 7 hours, a tornado or two we jumped at the chance to get back to California, San Francisco to be exact, where Brian became the VP of Marketing at the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. I remained an at home mom. This trip to Colorado for Bob’s wedding became a grand reunion of the old gang…
Trevor and his Dad can still quote, word for word scenes from “The Men in Black”…
So now, on to A Baker Family Vacation – Part 2 of 3
Since we rescued the extra day, it’s going to be another short day for travel. We all like the shorter travel days and decide to make every effort in the future to not try to go so many miles between stops. Brian and I finally have an efficient way to pack up the room and car…he takes Tessa for a walk while I hunt and gather, packing the suitcases, then he loads them into the car while I got cleaned up. Tessa, always diligent in her watch, is always the first one in the car, on her bed, waiting patiently for us to show up. Trevor, either really or pretending to be asleep, stays snuggled in bed until Dad picks him up, pillow, blanket and all, and deposits him in his back seat fort. Brian always begins the days drive.
Compared to Northern Nevada, Colorado looks pretty barren. The roads are long, and straight with a lot of summits and valleys. Up and down. Up and down. We are making good time and decide to have lunch in Leadville, the home of the unsinkable Molly Brown. After changing drivers in Avon, Brian starts scanning the scenery, taking some video. Almost immediately we begin the drive up a very very curvy mountain road. I laugh and tell him he doesn’t really need to move the camera, just sit still and in a few seconds we will be driving that direction, let the scenery come to you! It is like being on a roller coaster that only goes uphill. But we have finally arrived at the beautiful part of Colorado.
Not long after, we arrive at the Continental Divide and Memorial to the 10th Infantry Mountain Men WWII Veteran’s Memorial. Stopping to take pictures we discover the air is just a wee bit cooler at a 9200 foot elevation then it is down on the valley floor. Shorts and Hawaiian print shirts just aren’t going to cut it. A quick change into warmer clothes, and then on to Leadville.
Leadville is a quaint town sitting at an elevation of 10,185 feet. A historical mining town with many mines still in operation, it is also the highest incorporated city in the country. Readying ourselves for high prices since we are so far away from everything, we stop at the Golden Burro Cafe for lunch. Brian orders a big bowl of green chili and a beer, I get a BBQ Ham sandwich along with an iced tea, and Trevor has a piece of chocolate cream pie (don’t judge, at least he is eating). Total bill? $10.00. Yep, that’s right. TEN whole dollars. Quite the bargain.
Our plan to walk around are quickly squelched, it’s damn cold up here! Back to our warm car and off to Twin Lakes.
Twin Lakes sits at 9200 feet. We arrive in the rain. As with all small towns we’ve come to, the speed limit quickly changes from 65 to 55 to 45 to 35 or below. Just as we hit the town limits, and as soon as the sign changes to 35 MPH, we see the car with the red lights on top parked off to the side of the road. I quickly slow down.
For the next three days we will stay at the picturesque Nordic Lodge Inn. Finding our new home is not difficult, with only 20 full time residents and 4 buildings, the Nordic Lodge Inn stands out. We introduce ourselves to John, the innkeeper, a young man who does not seem at all happy to have so many people staying at one time, when we hear a familiar voice booming out a hello. Fred Flechenier greets us with a beer in hand, the party has begun.
After sitting a while at the bar catching up on the latest Dollar Rent a Car gossip, I convince Brian we need to check out our room and get settled in. And that’s exactly what it is. A room. At first glance, it appears to be occupied. The mattresses are covered with a feather mattress cover and all the feathers have been fluffed to the middle. It looks as if someone is sleeping in our beds. OK…it’s not a someone, but how are we going to sleep with that huge mound in the middle of the bed? By nightfall we find out just how snugly is it.
Besides comfy feather beds, the room has little to offer. We are in the “Annex” of the building which consists of 6 rooms and 2 bathrooms which are “down the hall”. While fairly clean, it is not going to win the Good Housekeeping seal of approval and it smells. A musty order prevails throughout. Well, let’s just go next door to the handy dandy combo Gas Station/Grocery/Liquor/Fishing store and get some air freshener. Nope. They don’t have any. A scented candle will have to do. So we purchase a scented candle, a couple of fishing poles, and one day fishing licenses for Brian and me. We plan to have a fish fry for Saturday night dinner!
Trevor is beside himself. There is no television in the room, no pool, no other kids and Mom and Dad are busy yakking with all the other adults. “What can I do” he complains. “Go play the piano” we respond. And so he does. Over and over he plays “The Old Grey Mare” just like Granddaddy Austin taught him. Finally the bartender, Jim, shows him the TV room where they store lots and lots of videos to watch. Trevor sits down and puts on “The Men in Black”. Finally he’s happy. Finally we have a little peace. Thank you Jim, finally.
Dinner is in the dining room of the Inn. A great German dinner, Sauerbraten (was delish), Rouladen, Knockwurst and Trevor’s Chicken Salad. The chicken noodle soups were the best Brian or Fred had ever had so they claimed. I opted for the salad and was glad I did when I saw the amount of mushrooms in that wonderful soup. During the day other people arrived, some with children, so Trevor finally had some kids to hang with. He got them all to the TV/Video room, and set up the 3rd showing of “The Men in Black”.
Too many drinks (at altitude, they can hit harder then at sea level I find); we go to our room to prepare for sleep. After making our many journeys “down the hall, and taking Tessa for her walk, we turn off the lights. Much to our surprise, the ceiling turns into the Milky Way. Glow-in-the-dark stars are accurately placed, as if we are sleeping outside. That’s a nice touch. With Mozart playing in the background, while staring at the stars, we drift off to sleep. Fishing at 6:30 a.m. would come too soon.
The day of the big wedding. But first, fishing we will go. Twin Lakes is rumored to have great fishing, especially since it had been recently stocked with 17,000 trout. We grab our poles, Tessa, Trevor and head off to find the fishing spot recommended by Sandy, the clerk at the combo market. Hmmmm, can’t find it. But we do find the picnic grounds, so we set up the coffee and throw our lines into the water. We only have a one-day license so we better make this count.
The coffee was good.
The fish weren’t biting.
After a couple of hours we decide we better head back to the Inn, Bob’s wedding is pretty soon and we can’t go smelling like bait. The Inn is a madhouse of activity. While the annex has 2 bathrooms for 6 rooms, the Inn only has 3 bathrooms for 18 rooms. Guess we got the better deal.
Brian is dressed and ready. I am dressed and ready. Trevor is dressed and, oh oh, his stomach doesn’t feel good. I understand the wedding was beautiful, set up on Bob’s land overlooking the lakes. Brian claims he got really good pictures. I sat in the room, with a sick little boy, who fell asleep almost immediately, and slept soundly for the next two hours. Over-tired or over-excited? Maybe a bit of both.
Trevor and I did make it to the kick-ass reception featuring a Mexican food buffet and a band that included John Martin Sommers, the song-writer of “Thank God Ima Country Boy”. Trevor get an autographed picture from John, they love his enthusiasm. He is up, dancing to the music; singing with the band. When the boy recovers, he recovers well. Eventually he gets bored with the whole party thing and goes back to the video room, “The Men in Black” round 6.
The Mexican food is, um, filling.
After many false starts and delays, Bob and his new wife Dana finally get on the road to their “undisclosed” honeymoon site. Brian and I decide to sit down and look at the map and Triple A book to decide where we should stop and what sites to see on our return trip home. First problem, the second campground, Green River, in Dinosaur National Monument, is 178 sites on 10 acres. Been there, done that. New plan, let’s get a motel and just go a little farther west to make the journey into Elko not so long. That was going to be a long day, almost 450 miles. Great idea. But Brian doesn’t want to “play it by ear”. He wants to look at the Triple A book, find a motel, and make a reservation. OK, I agree. We can do that. The Danish Viking Lodge in Heber City looks good. Reservation made.
Seventeen of us decide to journey into Leadville that evening for dinner. Trevor chooses to ride with his new best friends, Alexander, his mother Terri, and Big Bill. Brian and I hitch a ride with Fred and John 2. As we are leaving Twin Lakes, there is that damn cop again, just sitting there. He always seems to be right there a the 35MPH sign, just waiting for someone to speed on by. “Let’s moon him” says John 2. “Let’s flip him off” says Fred as he guns the accelerator. “No, No” I scream as they come to a halt in front of the Police car, jumping out, middle finger up and in your face. “Gotcha” they all cry in unison as I discover the “Police Car” is just that. A police car, with a stuffed dummy, wooden head, unlit cigarette between his fingers and a box of donuts on his lap. Well DUH Lindy, how is a town with only 20 full time residents going to afford full time police protection? I mean seriously.
Seventeen people deciding on a place to eat is, definitely, a difficult task. Eventually, after much discussion, we decide on Quincy’s. Quincy’s boasts steak and prime rib, “The Best in the State”. We all troop in, moving tables together and get settled; the waitress brings the menus and, well, on Monday through Thursday they have steaks, small, medium and large. On Friday and Saturday they have prime rib, small, medium and large. All come with a salad and baked potato. The waitress comes to take our drink orders which we happily give while we decide on our particular size of Prime. But wait. There is dissension in the troops. When the waitress gets to John 1 (there were seven Johns on this trip); he wants to discuss the main course, like, “can I just get a salad and baked potato?”
“We make only enough to go with the meat entrees” replies the waitress, “you would have to pay the full price.”
“That’s OK” says John, “what kinds of dressings do you have?”
“Sir, I am taking drink orders, not salad orders” responds the not so happy to see you waitress.
“Then my dear, you are taking no orders” replies the less than pleased John. As he gets up, so do the other sixteen of us. We walk out in mass, right next door, to a very accommodating Chinese Restaurant. Moo Goo Pork. Yummy.
Back to the Inn for another round of drinks and gab. As I drink vodka/club soda no fruit (NFL) I have become known to the bartender as “vodka, no flavor”. It has been a very busy day and I’m tired. As I make my way to our room, I stop to get Trevor who is into “The Men in Black” round 10. He doesn’t want to go to bed right now, he wants to finish the movie, as if he doesn’t know what is going to happen. Fine. I ask Dad to pick him up on the way to the room. I snuggle into the warm bed, look at the stars on my ceiling and fall quickly to sleep. Brian remembered to get Trevor.
Hail, Hail, the gangs all here. The mutual feeling of us guests is, we are rather a bother to the fine people of Twin Lakes. They really don’t seem too happy at all having us here. And to add to their displeasure, the antique car club has stopped on their way back from Aspen. The residents are getting more and more irritated with us foreigners.
Bob and Dana have limped their way back from their honeymoon spot, having suffered a broken clutch on their car. The plan is to go to Aspen have a picnic/excursion for everyone. Brian and I decide to opt out of the wedding party plans, choosing to return to Leadville to take a 2 1/2 hour train ride through old mining territory. Once we convince Trevor “this will be fun, funner than hanging with your new best friends”, we head out. We are so happy we take this train ride, it is a very interesting journey into the mining history, viewing old mine sites, various debris from rebuilding the railways year after year, avalanche after avalanche. As the family is fond of say “It was pretty country”.
After our train trip we go to visit the town of Buena Vista for lunch. What a difference 2000 feet makes. The clothes that were just warm enough for Leadville are a bit too warm for Buena Vista. Brian wants some good Mexican food and is convinced there has to be some in Colorado. I am not convinced. After agreeing to make tacos in our next camp, we decide to get some take-out lunch from Subway and eating it in one of the many parks. Buena Vista is a really pretty town, on a river, with parks all over. Trevor is, as usual, more interested in playing then eating, but that’s fine, he can always road trip his sandwich. After his fill of play, and our fill of being hot, we wander into an antique store. There are so many treasures here to see, and for Trevor, so many treasures here he wants to buy.
“Can I have these, please, please, please, please?” Yeah, right Trev, we’ll get right on that $40.00 deck of playing cards. Best be leaving this place of temptation. We return to Twin Lakes via the Malt shop. We’ve heard a lot about the Malt shop. A small trailer, set off the side of the road, run by a rather shapely woman who wears, well, next to nothing. And they were right. Trevor had a malt. Dad had an eyeful. I had enough.
Bob has invited everyone to his property, to watch a spectacular sunset and plant saplings he has purchased. He has one for Trevor, a small pine, and since I missed the wedding I am anxious to see his property. He lets us know there are still some sandwiches left from the days trip to Aspen, but Brian and I decide that rather than eat the “guess what’s inside-wiches” we will eat at the Inn. At 5:30 we arrive and ask John, the innkeeper, for a table. “Sorry” he says “I can’t back the cook up again, you will have to wait for a couple of hours.”
Brian says he understands.
I am not so understanding.
As we walk out, I remark (rather quietly I think, but maybe not no much) that we are spending a lot of money here and I see a lot of empty tables and I think that is a rather poor way to treat ones paying guests (Pre-YELP). We are sitting out front, contemplating what our options are, when John comes out and tells us he can seat us. Hmmm…change of heart? While on the way to our table John nonchalantly asks “are you are part of the gang that walked out of Quincy’s?”. “Yeah, we were there” we reply. “Oh” says John, “everyone in town is talking about that”. Our legacy is set, we are now a member of the gang known from Leadville to Twin Lakes as “The Quincy Gang”.
As we sit for dinner, I am determined to taste the soup that everyone is talking about, mushrooms or not. I can eat around those little funguses. Tonight it is Beef, Rice, Tomato soup and it IS delicious (and no mushrooms either). We have another wonderful dinner, Trevor and I split a trout dinner, caught not by us, but non-the-less fresh and delicious, Brian has Braised Pork. We eat then set out to Bob’s property and the sunset.
Bob’s land is 22 acres off Reva Ridge Road, overlooking the mountains and twin lakes. The view is spectacular. It’s not easy to get too, the road is narrow and dirt, but totally worth it once you arrive. We hike away from where the foundation for the house and parking is, to the backyard on the hillside. All of us are out of breath, it is quite a climb, especially carrying chairs, cooler, Tessa gear (she does need her blanket) and the CD player. I put on Kenny G’s – Breathless and settle into my chair to watch the sunset. Trevor is busy planting his special tree, with the initials TWAB; Bob comments there has never been music on the property before, he kind of likes it. The sunset is beautiful; kids are climbing rocks, Tessa is exploring all the smells a dog could want to smell, I could be here forever. But, time to get out of here, before it gets too late, or too dark.
Most of the crowds have left Twin Lakes by the time we return. So Brian and I sit at the bar with the locals, who don’t pay us much mind at all. Their conversation quickly turns to how many platinum credit cards they have seen this weekend, how busy and how hard they all worked this weekend, and compliments to Tom, the chef, for his outstanding soup that evening. I can’t resist, I also have to tell Tom how great all the food was, especially the soups. “I’d give you the recipe” he says “but I don’t know exactly what I put into it.” I totally understand.
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