A Change in Altitude

September 20th, 2011 at 11:17 am

Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:

A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE

As we approached Pueblo, Colorado, I pictured all of the stress of the past few months as a ball of pink yarn.

One end of that imaginary ball of yarn I left in Emporia, and I could visualize a thin pink line following U.S. Highway 50, over the sagebrush plains of southwestern Kansas, past the cantaloupe fields of eastern Colorado, and rising in altitude with us toward Pueblo.

Dave was at the wheel and he would do most of the driving on this trip. After too many solo trips between Emporia and Great Bend during July and August, my forearms balked at the thought of connecting my body to a steering wheel for longer than an hour.

I was still in a stage of grief; my father’s death in late July had weighed me down. But on the bright side, the loss hadn’t flattened me as I once thought it might. A measure of peace comes with knowing that it was simply his time to go. And, it helped to know that he was ready to step into the mystery.

Sometimes you want a vacation, and sometimes you need one. Both Dave and I were past due for a getaway. Our plan was to go to Boulder just to hang out and relax, to find things to see and do that would feed our artistic souls. For myself, I wanted to spend time writing, reading, and hiking. No schedule, no deadlines.

Like a ball of yarn, I wanted to unwind myself completely, to find my center, my core. Revive, refresh and rejuvenate – that was what I had in mind.

Pueblo’s city limit sign included the town’s elevation: 4,695 feet above sea level. Colorado prides itself on altitude and that all-important number can be seen as you enter every community.

Denver Art Museum

When we reached 5,280 feet, we stopped in Denver and toured the two-building Denver Art Museum. To me, the newest building looks like an angular stainless steel ship run aground in the city. Its slanted walls add an interesting dimension to fabulous art instillations.

When Dave and I arrived in Boulder, 5,430 ft., we headed to Pearl Street. Four blocks of the downtown business district is a brick-covered pedestrian mall full of trees, benches, play areas, flower beds, and sculptures. Unique businesses on Pearl Street extend past the pedestrian mall several blocks, both east and west, and there are dozens of shops and restaurants on side streets.

Pearl Street

On that warm summer’s evening in Boulder, Dave and I settled in for dinner at a sidewalk café, the Lazy Dog Sports Bar. As the streetlights began to illuminate Pearl Street, local residents, college students, and tourists filled the park-like mall. Young children squealed, running through the pop-up sprays of water coming out of the sidewalk. Street musicians and performers entertained the crowd.

At the Lazy Dog, I ordered the grilled salmon salad with mixed greens, goat cheese, toasted pine nuts and roasted golden beets, dressed with lemon herb vinaigrette. That dish immediately went to the top of my best-ever salad list.

Dushanbe Tea House

Boulder is a food-lover’s town. One of our favorite meals was in the gorgeous Dushanbe Tea House, a gift to Boulder from its sister city, Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Dave enjoyed Spanish paella and I had the Indian masala dosa, a crispy fennel and cumin crepe filled with curried potatoes, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes and peas.

For us, much of the fun of traveling is sampling new dishes – and then trying to recreate some of these meals at home. In a larger sense, that’s what we all do with good vacations: we try to bring back a part of the enthusiasm and energy we feel on a trip. That’s why we buy t-shirts and souvenirs, to have a simple object that takes us back to a feeling of exhilaration or contentment.

We spent a day in Rocky Mountain National Park and some time in the mountains near Boulder, but much of our week was unstructured. In the mornings, Dave and I would each follow our own interests. I would leave the bed and breakfast, walk to one of a dozen coffee shops to sit and write in my journal. Then I’d browse in book stores or walk the trail along Boulder Creek.

On this trip, I enjoyed the mountains, the hiking, and the food, but Boulder was also a great place just to relax, disconnect, and let that ball of pink yarn completely unwind.

Copyright 2011 ~ Cheryl Unruh

Art, columns, life on the ground, out of state, traveling, vittles

  1. September 20th, 2011 at 13:37 | #1

    Lovely. So very glad you had time to unwind….! And Colorado is a perfect place to do just that…

  2. September 20th, 2011 at 13:55 | #2

    You are right about the food, did eat my first corn in a kibbutz, artichoke too, …………. never have understood what the fun is about consuming something like this.

  3. Peg Britton
    September 20th, 2011 at 14:56 | #3

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you…

  4. September 20th, 2011 at 17:44 | #4

    Wonderful, so glad you got to enjoy it. Thanks for sharing it with us! Off to look up recipes for masala dosa…:)

  5. Ralph
    September 21st, 2011 at 20:46 | #5

    Nice descriptions. Makes me want to visit Boulder.