Unlikely Shopping, Redux

I always tell people I grew up in a small town in Nebraska. The truth is (and I actually checked the figures on the internet, so you know it’s right) that when I was born in 1953, there were probably close to 10,000 people living in the Midwestern town of Columbus. When I left for college in 1972, there were over 15,000 happy Columbus residents. Well, I don’t know if all 15,000 were happy. I’m overthinking….

Size is relative, my friends. I continue to maintain I lived in a small town. Still, that town had a J.C. Penney store, a Montgomery Wards, a couple of dime stores, a great drug store, and, of course, a fabulous bakery. My point is that if I needed to buy underwear, I knew exactly where to go.

Last weekend, I spent a few days in Estes Park, Colorado, with my two sisters. Estes Park, for those who might not know, is a small resort town of just over 6,000 located near Rocky Mountain National Park. There are lots of restaurants, two – count ‘em – two taffy stores, and shops selling all manner of chatzkies.  We have wonderful memories of Estes, and its proximity to the beautiful national park makes it one of our favorite places to visit.

Bec arrived first, driving in from Fort Collins, and I met her there. I had packed my bag quite hastily, and had included a picnic bag full of items for a cook-out that evening. At some point later in the afternoon, it occurred to me that, while I had remembered the steaks,  I had forgotten to pack pajamas.

No worries, Bec said. I have a spare pair.

Great news, except by that time I realized I had also forgotten to pack a toothbrush and, worse, underwear. (I did, however, have three corkscrews.)

Bec and I put our heads together to try to come up with a place that sold underwear. Had I been looking for a t-shirt that said My Mom and Dad Went to Estes Park and All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt, or a coffee cup with a cross-eyed bear saying I Can BEARly Think Before Coffee or a lifetime supply of petrified wood, I would have been set. But we simply couldn’t imagine where one would find ladies’ underwear in this tourist spot. No Walmart. No Target. Amazon can’t make one-hour deliveries.

So I set off to the motel office, hoping against hope that the proprietor – Fred – wouldn’t be attending the desk, and that instead a woman would be sitting there. No such luck. There was Fred, looking cheerful.

Can I help you? he asked happily.

In a voice that was truly sotto voce, I said Hello Fred. This is really embarrassing, but can you tell me where I can buy women’s underwear in this town?

Fred gives it a moment’s thought, turns towards the back room, and hollars – HOLLARS – Hey Joe! Where can this lady buy women’s underwear?

Help me Lord.

Joe comes out, and you can see he’s giving it a lot of thought. After a moment or two, Joe says, Try True Value Hardware. It’s in the Safeway Shopping Center.

True Value Hardware. Men are from Mars.  If only I had three pairs of underwear and no corkscrews. But I knew that there was a pharmacy in that same shopping center, and I had high hopes that perhaps they sold women’s underwear.

I walk into the pharmacy, and there is, of course, only a man working there. I take a deep breath and ask him if they by any chance sell ladies’ underwear.

No Ma’am, we sure don’t, he said. Try True Value. It’s just across the parking lot.

Again with the hardware store. I was successful, however, at finding a toothbrush at the pharmacy.

As I left the store, I saw the True Value Hardware Store. What do I have to lose, I thought.

I walk into the hardware store, and there is, of course, a man at the front counter. Big man. Three-day growth of beard. Chewing on a toothpick. Do you by any chance sell women’s underwear? I ask him.

You’ve probably guessed his answer by now.

Yes, Ma’am. They’re on Aisle 16, just across from the ammo.

Well, I made up the part about the ammo, but I’m not making up the part about True Value Hardware selling ladies’ underwear.  I also found a Size 2XL t-shirt that with a picture of an elk and ESTES PARK, COLORADO in big letters. AKA, a nightgown….

Ace might be the place with the helpful hardware man, but True Value has the best selection of women’s cotton briefs in Estes Park. Well, the only selection, it seems.

Can You Justify?

I’m not a big fan of horses. While from afar, I find them powerful and beautiful animals, that’s just about where I want them – afar. They’re just a little too snorty and unpredictable for my taste.

Hidden deeply in a box in the back of someone’s closet, there is photographic documentation of a rather unfortunate decision made by my father regarding a vacation activity. My dad loved vacations, and he would do just about anything to create more fun times for Mom and their four children when it came to vacation fun. However, one year when we were vacationing in our favorite spot – Estes Park, Colorado – he decided it would be great fun to sign up the family for an early morning horseback trail ride. I don’t know how he talked Mom into this idea. Despite the fact that she grew up on a farm, Mom was not a farm girl. She thought, for example, that chickens were the stupidest animals on earth. If ever any of her children appeared to be lacking enthusiasm or energy, we were put in our place with her stern words: you look like a chicken with coccidiosis. For years I thought she invented that term. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that chickens were, in fact, susceptible to an intestinal disease called coccidiosis with symptoms that included listlessness.

Anyhoo, Dad arranged this morning breakfast ride, which turned out to be a dismal failure. While Mom thought chickens were stupid, she thought horses were terrifying. And guess what? So did her children. Well, that’s not exactly true. For whatever reason, Bec is the member of our family who is (as Mary Poppins might say) practically fearless in every way. She likes horses and enjoys riding them. Go figure. But the rest of us were miserable, as the aforementioned photo documented. I was maybe 10 years old, which would have made Bec 15, Jen 6, and Dave 4. As you could predict, we did not get the perkiest horses in the stable. In fact, I believe they might have been sent off to the glue factory shortly after our ride. But that was fine with us. If the horse hadn’t moved an inch, we all (except Bec) would have been very happy. The other people who were on our trail ride, however, were eagerly anticipating breakfast. So the cowboy with the unfortunate job of handling the Gloors handed Mom a switch from a tree. “Here you go, Ma’am,” he said cheerfully. “If the horse doesn’t want to walk, give him a wack on his haunches and he will start to move.”

Needless to say, there was no wacking on the haunches of any of our horses. However, we somehow made it to the end of the trail and to breakfast. Dave, being so young, rode with Dad, sitting in front of him. He cried the entire way. Not sniffled, mind you – cried, with tears rolling down his cheek. It wasn’t until we arrived at breakfast that Dad figured out that Dave was riding on the saddle horn the entire way, thereby enduring a painful journey. I feel no need to explain.

I also feel no need to explain why Dave, Jen, and Mom rode back to the stable in a wagon following breakfast.

Having said all of the above, I will tell you that there is a month-and-a-half out of the year when I love horses, and that is during the Triple Crown races. Every first Saturday of May, I get a text from my brother asking for my Kentucky Derby prediction. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that my brother was not totally scarred for life by his disturbing horseback-riding experience, and actually likes horse racing. Unlike me, he does not select his horse by whether or not it’s pretty or the colors worn by the jockey are striking. He actually studies the horses, the stables, the trainers, the jockeys. The one exception to what I just said is 2012, the year that I’ll Have Another raced. He picked the horse 100 percent because of his name. Too bad he didn’t bet the ranch, however, because I’ll Have Another went on to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. He might have gone on to win Belmont Stakes, but he had an ouchie and couldn’t race. He, in fact, never raced again.

When Bill and I were first married, he was the proud owner of a gorgeous palomino horse named Champion Chip, called simply Chip. Even I had to admit to his sheer beauty. He was some 16 hands high, and spirited as all get-out. Bill had to break him, and did such a good job that he was able to ride Chip in parades along with other horses as part of a horseback riding group to which he belonged. To give you an idea of how large 16 hands is, the magnificent 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat – known for his size and power – was 16-and-1/2 hands high when he won those races.

While they didn’t win the Kentucky Derby, Bill and Chip looked amazing with the Sangre di Cristo mountains in the background…..

Suffice it to say that I never – not even once – got on Chip’s back. I’m pretty sure I never even touched him. One horseback ride was enough. It’s only a matter of time before one gets stomped by a horse…..

Unlikely Shopping

I always tell people I grew up in a small town in Nebraska. The truth is (and I actually checked the figures on the internet, so you know it’s right) that when I was born in 1953, there were probably close to 10,000 people living in the Midwestern town of Columbus. When I left for college in 1972, there were over 15,000 happy Columbus residents. Well, I don’t know if all 15,000 were happy. I’m overthinking….

Size is relative, my friends. I continue to maintain I lived in a small town. Still, that town had a J.C. Penney store, a Montgomery Wards, a couple of dime stores, a great drug store, and, of course, a fabulous bakery. My point is that if I needed to buy underwear, I knew exactly where to go.

Last weekend, I spent a few days in Estes Park, Colorado, with my two sisters. Estes Park, for those who might not know, is a small resort town of just over 6,000 located near Rocky Mountain National Park. There are lots of restaurants, two – count ‘em – two taffy stores, and shops selling all manner of chatzkies.  We have wonderful memories of Estes, and its proximity to the beautiful national park makes it one of our favorite places to visit.

Bec arrived first, driving in from Fort Collins, and I met her there. I had packed my bag quite hastily, and had included a picnic bag full of items for a cook-out that evening. At some point later in the afternoon, it occurred to me that, while I had remembered the steaks,  I had forgotten to pack pajamas.

No worries, Bec said. I have a spare pair.

Great news, except by that time I realized I had also forgotten to pack a toothbrush and, worse, underwear. (I did, however, have three corkscrews.)

Bec and I put our heads together to try to come up with a place that sold underwear. Had I been looking for a t-shirt that said My Mom and Dad Went to Estes Park and All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt, or a coffee cup with a cross-eyed bear saying I Can BEARly Think Before Coffee or a lifetime supply of petrified wood, I would have been set. But we simply couldn’t imagine where one would find ladies’ underwear in this tourist spot. No Walmart. No Target. Amazon can’t make one-hour deliveries.

So I set off to the motel office, hoping against hope that the proprietor – Fred – wouldn’t be attending the desk, and that instead a woman would be sitting there. No such luck. There was Fred, looking cheerful.

Can I help you? he asked happily.

In a voice that was truly sotto voce, I said Hello Fred. This is really embarrassing, but can you tell me where I can buy women’s underwear in this town?

Fred gives it a moment’s thought, turns towards the back room, and hollars – HOLLARS – Hey Joe! Where can this lady buy women’s underwear?

Help me Lord.

Joe comes out, and you can see he’s giving it a lot of thought. After a moment or two, Joe says, Try True Value Hardware. It’s in the Safeway Shopping Center.

True Value Hardware. Men are from Mars.  If only I had three pairs of underwear and no corkscrews. But I knew that there was a pharmacy in that same shopping center, and I had high hopes that perhaps they sold women’s underwear.

I walk into the pharmacy, and there is, of course, only a man working there. I take a deep breath and ask him if they by any chance sell ladies’ underwear.

No Ma’am, we sure don’t, he said. Try True Value. It’s just across the parking lot.

Again with the hardware store. I was successful, however, at finding a toothbrush at the pharmacy.

As I left the store, I saw the True Value Hardware Store. What do I have to lose, I thought.

I walk into the hardware store, and there is, of course, a man at the front counter. Big man. Three-day growth of beard. Chewing on a toothpick. Do you by any chance sell women’s underwear? I ask him.

You’ve probably guessed his answer by now.

Yes, Ma’am. They’re on Aisle 16, just across from the ammo.

Well, I made up the part about the ammo, but I’m not making up the part about True Value Hardware selling ladies’ underwear.  I also found a Size 2XL t-shirt that with a picture of an elk and ESTES PARK, COLORADO in big letters. AKA, a nightgown….

 

Ace might be the place with the helpful hardware man, but True Value has the best selection of women’s cotton briefs in Estes Park. Well, the only selection, it seems.

Falling for Fall in the Mountains

Sisters

Sisters

My sister Jen says it’s one of her favorite sounds in the world. I must admit, it’s right up there – somewhere between a really good choir singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and the sounds of my grandkids’ voices.

What am I talking about? The sound of elk bugling in Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall.

That’s why Jen and I make it a point every year to trek up to Estes Park to spend at least one evening with the bull elk as they woo their girlfriends in their fascinating mating ritual. This year Bec joined us, and I think our annual tradition will become hers as well.

As dusk approaches and it begins to get darker, you start hearing the eerie sound of the bulls – a sound that begins low and increases in pitch until it echoes against the mountains. It is beautiful, and apparently the female elk agree. They can’t resist. Who could? We read that in preparation for the evening’s activities, the bulls urinate and then roll in the wet mud. What female could turn their noses up at such sex appeal?

Each year it seems we get a better show, and this year was no exception. We saw two Elk bugling 2015 (2)big bulls fighting for their territory. They lowered their heads and charged each other. They stomped their feet and charged again. Suddenly (or at least it seemed sudden to us), the fight was over. We couldn’t tell who won. The two just turned around and walked off in opposite directions. We never figured out the rules, though we tried.

We watched an interesting display that included three bull elks – one of which was injured and walked with a decided limp. He must have lost a fight. The other two played some sort of elk waiting game. Suddenly, one of the bulls walked over to the other bull’s herd and lured one of the cows to come with him. She seemed undecided, but the big bull elk helped her make the decision as he began to chase her over to his herd. We couldn’t quite figure out whether she was happy or not. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter because it’s the males that make the decision.

It was a glorious weekend. The first night we cooked steaks on the grill and ate them atsteaks estes park a table on our balcony at the Deer Crest Resort. It was a lovely warm fall night, and the grounds of this resort are beautiful. I promise I’m not being paid by the hotel to recommend this accommodation. The resort and the owners are both delightful. I can’t recommend it enough. The owner joined us that evening at the fire pit, shortly after the three of us drank our Fireball whiskey shots. Now that’s a sentence I never thought I would write. But, well, yum.

We spent much time sitting by the Fall River, listening to the sounds of nature.

We spent much time sitting by the Fall River, listening to the sounds of nature.

The second night, after the amazing elk show, we ate dinner at the Dunraven Inn, which provided us another grand experience. Jen ate mussels, and Bec and I each had cioppino. If I wasn’t such a lady, I would have licked my bowl. Yum again……

cioppino dunraven

We had a wonderful weekend, which unfortunately concluded with the car incident about which I wrote yesterday. But what the heck! Even that provided us with a great story to tell.

Bill will be home today, and it is my sincerest hope that he will NOT have rolled in mud.

 

 

This Time It Wasn’t the Yellow Bug

Fall River

Beautiful Fall River in Estes Park, Colorado.

When my sister Bec was visiting back in July, we had plans for a sisters’s weekend in one of our favorite places — Estes Park. I have mentioned before that we have pleasant memories of family vacations in that pretty little town just outside Rocky Mountain National Park and Bec, Jen, and I try to spend a weekend there once a year. Unfortunately, as they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” (Those Scots. They’re so optimistic.)

Well, awry the plans indeed went as I ended up in the hospital last July. However, since resiliency is our middle name, we immediately made new plans for Bec to come back early in the fall so that we could not only hear the elk bugle, but see some fall color as well.

So, we spent this past weekend in Estes Park, and had an amazing time. I will tell you about it tomorrow. Because I have to tell you about some more best laid plans that went where? Yes, you guessed it. Awry.

We decided to conclude our wonderful weekend with a walk around Bear Lake before we would leave for home. The walk is not only breathtakingly beautiful; it was one of our mother’s favorite activities. We walk it partly in memory of Mom.

After morning coffee and some relaxing time sitting by Fall River, which flows merrily past our hotel, we packed up the cars — Jen’s and mine. I had elected to drive the Hyundai to Estes Park because Bill is in Chicago and it is so much nicer to drive in the mountains than my yellow bug. I agreed to drive into the park to Bear Lake. We all got in, put on our seat belts, and I started the car. Smooth sailing. Until I try to put the car into reverse and it won’t happen. A no-go. A deal breaker. It won’t move out of park and my dashboard is black. That seemed troublesome.

I won’t go into detail about how calm, cool, and collected I WASN’T. Thanks be to God my sisters kept me centered. Jen worked with Bill via Face Time and regular telephone in an attempt to figure out what was wrong. We finally narrowed it down to it being a problem with one of the fuses. Bless Bill’s heart. He really tried to talk us (and when I say us, I mean Jen) through a number of attempts to diagnose and perhaps even fix it, but at the end of the day, I called my old friends at AAA. God bless AAA.

“Hello Kris. How have you been? What’s the yellow bug up to now?”

hyundai tow truck

Bec and I end up driving back to Denver in a tow truck, pulling the Hyundai behind us. Bec sat on the hump. She’s a good sister. As you would imagine, there are not a plethora of towing companies in Estes Park. Bob’s Towing is about the only game in town. So Mrs. Bob’s Towing towed us while Mr. Bob’s Towing stayed in Estes Park awaiting the next call. Apparently they get many calls every day.

We enjoyed our conversation with Mrs. Bob’s Towing (whose name is actually Diane) as we drove down the mountain into Denver. The car is awaiting repair, and I’m back to driving the yellow bug, which is feeling smug that for once, it wasn’t the cause of the AAA call.

And Bec is wondering if she will ever visit us without drama ensuing.