Salida means "Exit" in Spanish, and that’s what we did this July. My daughter and I exited our life temporarily, left Dad and the dogs at home and went on a little adventure. About a three-hour drive from our home, driving south and then west as the landscape changed we realized we were in the San Juan Mountains, or the Heart of the Rockies. No matter where you look, no matter where you were on the road, the view was spectacular. Why had I not been to this part of Colorado before?
For a good part of the trip we drove alongside the Arkansas River, and my 7-year-old counted the rafts coming down the river. “36 to be exact,” she said. My GPS wasn’t working but I only had a few roads to remember and took photos of the directions before it conked out.
Downtown Salida is a beautiful, cozy, quiet town, at least on a Monday. We went in search of food. I had remembered seeing Moonlight Pizza and Brewery mentioned in another Blue Coyote Ranch blog post. The GPS kicked back in and we drove around a few blocks and found it. A cool patio, divided in half to accommodate the four-legged customers on one side, and a dining room inside was exactly the environment we were after. We settled next to the beer fridge so I could take my time deciding which six-pack of IPA I’d bring home to Gavin. By the way, the house-made root beer that the kid and I enjoyed was delicious so I had to get some of that for home, too. The pizza hit the spot. One with prosciutto, one with sausage. Once full, we decided to go shopping and check out the local businesses.
Brown Dog Coffee was earmarked for the next morning, and we found a toy store to escape the heat and negotiate souvenirs for a while. The used bookstore was my favorite. I chose an old U2 cd, Pop from 1987 that I’d never heard, which became the soundtrack to the rest of the trip. I also found a book about Abraham Lincoln that I had to have, and Sophie found a kids’ book signed by a local author. No bag was offered, but since I’m doing my best to honor plastic-free July, I didn’t mind carrying it all around. A bit further down was a sweet shop with soft-serve ice cream, and passed some time there while we people-watched through the window. Next, we went to Riverside Park playground until we were sure our cabin was ready for check-in.
It took all of 5 minutes to get there, and I was instantly charmed by the site of the Tudor-style inn and community fire pit out front. A bit further down the driveway were the cabins, and ours was the last on the right. The layout was perfect with an open plan - living room, dining area, full kitchen and then a bedroom and bathroom down the hall. The upstairs loft has two more queen beds and another full bath. Every window holds a timeless view of the mountains.
We passed some time playing games that were on hand in the living room and then took a short hike down the road to the homestead cabins on the property. I imagined what life might have been like there 100 years ago, and my daughter thought about what animals might live in there now. Back at our cabin, we made a picnic and I enjoyed a glass of wine and watched the moon come up over the mountains.