Salida. Cruising into town doesn’t seem like much. 2 stoplights (I hear one is new) and a string of chains, real estate offices and liquor stores. Apparently there was a BLM campground on the edge of town. Upon further investigation, I can confirm this rumor is true.
We pulled in, for once with daylight to spare, and unhooked, locked up the gennie and headed the whole mile back to town. We parked the truck, Cate sat on Santa’s lap, and we found Bungled Jungle! Only the coolest store EVER! This store was packed full of Henson-esque creatures and Seuss-ian sculptures. This was a real “welcome to town moment”. As night fell and we walked the snow dusted streets, we looked up and saw the little hill that overlooked town was outlined with christmas lights and decorations. There are many names for this hill, but Christmas Mountain seems to come up frequently among the locals. Within an hour of exploring downtown, Cate and I had already started to bat around the idea that this was “the Place”. Very much an artist town…. It has a yarn store, an alternative goofy store like L.O.F.T. in Asheville, an oddity store, several art galleries, bars, restaurants, etc. The Arkansas river runs through downtown with a vibrant boating community. Essentially we have found an artsy tourist town that is about to blow up and look as hard as you can, you will be hard pressed to find a manbun or lumbersexual. It’s real, not trendy.
We ended up spending six days in and around Salida. We drove 20 miles West to the pass to Monarch Ski area, we went up North to Buena Vista (which is actually pronounced Buhnah, not Bwehna), East over to Howard, and even backtracked 2 hours to check out the isolated town of Creede.
We met with some real estate folks and really connected with Dennis and Laura who are now our designated agents in the area. The feeling of home we got there was distinct, it was palatable. The problems were land rights and water usage. It is so complicated..a lot to learn, and we are learning. We will be back though, right around the first of March.