Old West Haunts Tour 1998
The occasion was the 40th anniversary of my parents' wedding, and my brother and sister and I and our respective sweethearts had planned a party and lesser festivities back in Fort Collins. David and I padded a little on each end -- not enough, perhaps, on the front end -- for touring on our own, making a driving loop out of Salt Lake. I was thinking maybe north this time, up to Jackson, down through Idaho, but David does like Moab. Our one new stop was Aspen; the closest we'd come before was camping nearby.
Notes on Aspen:
- On our long walk the first afternoon, the city and the people reminded me of West Los Angeles dropped into the middle of the mountains. Some young, sporty, good-looking people, and even more who were middle-aged, sporty and good-looking but in a taut and rigorously maintained way. A lot of emphasis on toys, gear, roof racks and things to put thereon. I saw a woman tending her flower garden wearing a Camelbak hydration pack. And there were no squirrels. What kind of place has no squirrels? The next morning I went running on the river trail, and got a gentler view of the people. They like their dogs. They have a whimsical community spirit that shows up in the names of the streets (Puppy Smith Street) and the legends on the trailside benches. Some of them even get their exercise for free, wearing nondescript clothes. And the town wins points for having no Starbucks. Still didn't see any squirrels.
Notes on Moab:
- It was quieter this year than any time we've been in the last four or five years -- much more so than when we were there at the same time last year. Nobody had a good explanation why. We even found a lull on the Delicate Arch trail, and we had the place to ourselves for at least 10 minutes. Eye of the Whale, of course, is always deserted.
New recipients of the Roadies (formerly the Sammies):
- Charco Broiler, Fort Collins. A dark, rock-walled warren of a steakhouse, with excellent meat and (surprise) a really decent wine list. Laugh, if you want, at the Chex on the salads, but this is true comfort.
- Fat City Smokehouse, Moab. A little Texas, a little Tennessee and a little bit of a Far West twist. A killer hot-sauce bar, including Dave's Insanity -- the waitress said it's one of their most popular.
- Gamekeeper's Grille, Park City. As much as we like Riverhorse, I'd walk on past it for this place. Great food, excellent service and decor that you really have to see to believe.
Animals we saw.
- Pronghorn antelope.
- Buffalo. (Domesticated, but I had to complete the Home on the Range bestiary).
- Wild desert goats.
- Prairie dogs.
- Jojos, of course. Didn't smush a one.
- White-tailed ptarmigan.
Words of wisdom:
- "Don't be an arch hog." -- Sign at Arches National Park.