Chapter I (Yes, this one has chapters.)
We’re home! In the words of Chief Joseph, “I will leave no more, forever.” Chief Joseph didn’t really say that, but he would have if he had been with our family on this trip to the Salida Arts Fair.
When Elaine told me she had been accepted in the Salida Arts Fair, I was, well, I was delighted and sad at the same time. I was delighted for Elaine. Elaine loves to be included in art shows.
I was sad because if Elaine is accepted in an art show, I’m accepted into an art show. Elaine is happy. Me, not so much.
When you don’t want to attend an art show anyway, and it starts off like this one, a person is totally justified disliking art shows.
Let’s get started. You might want to get something to drink. This could take a while.
The day (Friday) started out great. The twins helped with the packing . They were expecting an unplanned mini-vacation. They were excited and getting along. Boy Twin had actually asked Girl Twin to “come along”. That was highly unusual for him. Girl Twin was home from her car ride from Vermont for only eight hours and was given the option to stay home.
We left for Salida fifteen minutes earlier than planned. It was going to be a great trip. Leaving early for a four to four and a half hour trip is a good thing.
About an hour into our trip someone in the truck announced, “I’m hungry.” (It is time to mention behind our truck we were pulling our “toy hauler trailer”. A toy hauler is a trailer with sleeping, bathroom and eating areas and a large storage area in back for all of Elaine’s garment and display stuff.) The hunger thing was discussed. It was decided that we were all hungry. I/we decide to stop at the Wally World on the Interstate with the yellow and green sandwich shop.
At Wally World I picked up a shirt, a bag of socks and a flatbread sandwich. This is totally unnecessary information. I thought you might be curious. I need to stop writing unnecessary things like this or this story will be quite long.
About thirty miles down the road, from Wally World the trip turned bad. Lights on the truck dashboard started flashing. Bells started ringing. The interior of the truck looked and sounded like a Las Vegas slot machine. The dashboard computer was flashing “Reduced Power”. The truck slowed to about thirty miles an hour. The truck just wouldn’t go any faster. I was wondering if I shouldn’t have chosen wheat bread. Sorry! Wheat bread wouldn’t have helped.
Stranded on the side of an Interstate highway way no place I wanted to be. I didn’t want to turn the truck off, at least I was still moving. Ten miles up the road, I knew there was a truck mechanic I hoped could help. I drove the ten miles, at thirty miles per hour. I’m sure I upset a few other drivers, driving so slow on the highway. You, perhaps?
We made it to the mechanic’s shop. I heard the dreaded words, “I can’t get to you today. If you can leave it, I could get to it in a month. There is another shop over there, they are busy too.”
I’m now panicked, Elaine needs to be in Salida by sundown. (Hey, that sounds like I’m writing a western novel.) I had to call a brother. “Hey Brother, My truck is broke down, I need to be in Salida by sundown.” (Western). Without thinking, he said, “I’ll send your nephew in my extra truck.” You have to love that! I haven’t seen or talked to this nephew in quite a while. We have a love/hate (mostly love, OK, maybe 50/50) going back years. When my nephew arrived with my brother’s extra truck, he jumped out of the tuck and threw a bear hug on Elaine. He said, “You’ve always been my second mother.” I didn’t get a hug, but I was sweaty and I really didn’t mind.
We hooked the “Toy Hauler” to my brother’s truck and said good-bye. Driving towards Salida (and now an hour behind schedule) I noticed the temperature gauge headed up. When we arrived at the state capital. bells were ringing in this truck. We were overheating. I needed to pull over, again on the Interstate. This time I called my nephew. My nephew said, “I can bring my dad’s non-extra truck. I will see you as soon as I can.”
Naturally, while waiting the truck cooled. I started driving again. I found if I stayed roughly twenty miles per hour under the speed limit, I could control the temperature. Once in the mountains, I needed to slow even more. We were slow but we were moving. We need to be in Salida by sundown.
I called my nephew with an update. I told him we were moving. He said that’s great but his intent was to follow us to Salida. The word "follow" is a relative term. He was at least 2-1/2 hours behind.
South of Fairplay, Colorado, (Where my father mined gold in the ‘60’s. Useless information.) our family “adventure” took us within a mile of a newly started forest fire. Flames were clearly visible from the highway. More about this later.
Cellular service was sporadic. The internet was non-existent. GPS, ha! Who carries maps?
We arrived in Salida before sundown. We were able to set up Elaine’s display (in the city park) with daylight to spare. We made it.
If you need to refresh your drink, now would be a good time.
With the displays in place, we were ready for Elaine’s show. It was time to find the RV park and park the “toy hauler”. If you have noticed, I usually change the names of certain places and people. I’m not going to do that here. We stayed at Big Horn RV Park, Coaldale, Colorado. Elaine found Big Horn RV on the internet months before our trip.
Elaine registered after we arrived. The owners introduced themselves. Nice people. I asked the male owner how to get to my parking spot. His reply was, “I will need to show you where it is and we can help you park. I need the experience, I just bought this place today.” I said, “Seriously, today?” “Yep, today!”
He jumped in a golf cart and I follow him to my spot. He jumped out of the golf cart and said, “Back in there. I’ll help you!” I started backing. He stood behind me, “Come on back, keep coming, on back, keep coming!” BOOM! The guy says, “I’ll bet you heard that!” He had backed me into a huge tree branch denting our “toy hauler”. WE were devastated, him more than me. He said, “I’m paying for that.” This guy is the most honest, great person I have met. (And I once shook hands with John Denver. I like this guy more than John.) If ever in Coaldale, Colorado please stay at Big Horn RV Park. They deserve a chance to make it.
Salida is a beautiful historic town. Sadly, Salida had a problem this past weekend. Salida didn’t have cellular service. It seems some fool tried to burn a cell tower and then cut a fiber optic line. It shut the town down. Credit card machines didn’t work. Not to get political, BUT, If you think bad people can’t mess things for an entire town or even something bigger, you should have been in Salida.
Elaine had an old “knuckle buster” credit card machine. The kind you stick the carbon receipts in and slide the handle across. I’m sure some of you have no idea what I’m talking about. Ask your parents.
Elaine decided we needed some cash for change at the show. Across the street from the art show happened to be a bank. I walked across the street to ask if the bank would give me $100 in cash charged to my debit card. In no uncertain terms the bank refused. I drove down the street to a True-Value Hardware to purchase less than five dollars’ worth of stuff. I asked to overcharge my debit card and give me one hundred dollars in change. They politely declined, however, they said I could write a check for one hundred dollars over and I could get change for that. Go figure!
I took Elaine, the twins and my nephew to a local Mexican food restaurant after the first night of the show. Imagine my surprise when the waitress said, “We only take cash.” Who carries cash? Ah, people from towns with no credit card machines. Between Elaine, my nephew and I we were able to pay for the meal without the twins becoming dishwashers.
Everyone at the table raved about their meal, except me. I ordered a chorizo burrito. I forgot to order it without the sharp piece of metal that stabbed into the inside of my cheek. I’m sure it was a piece of a can that accidentally got mixed up in the burrito. I checked the menu, it said nothing about metal in any burrito. You guys can decide if you want to chance eating there. Be aware, metal in your cheek not comfortable.
This trip was not without some good stuff. I took the kids to the Colorado State Prison museum in Canon City. Hey, Girl Twin wants to be in law enforcement. I will admit it was a little weird, but where else can you see Colorado’s gas chamber? There was plenty of history, some good, some bad, but all interesting. I purchased a couple “supposed” inmate made coffee cups.
The second day I took the twins to St. Elmo. St. Elmo is a ghost town near Mount Princeton, (one of Colorado’s tallest mountains). St. Elmo has significance to Elaine’s family. Elaine’s father’s best friend was a miner working a mine near Mt. Princeton. He is buried in the historic cemetery just outside of St. Elmo.
St. Elmo (the town) is currently being restored. Self-guided tours are not only educational they are fun. Plus, they have a gift store with ice cream. I bought Elaine a coffee cup. Is there a theme here? Yep, Elaine mentioned last week that I am breaking all the good coffee cups. I fixed that.
This adventure almost didn’t happen for me at all. We (our family) got home from town Thursday night to find our well had gone dry. We had no water from any of our faucets. No water in our toilets. Yes, I realize living in the country is a choice, but having water is awfully nice.
I called Wayne’s Pump Service. (Another name I recommend.) He could come out Tuesday. That worked for the twins, it was summer, and they weren’t going to shower anyway, especially Boy Twin. But wait! We are going to Salida. We can use the water Salida provides. Oh yeah, the dogs and other animals need water. I needed to stay home and get something fixed. I could run the store and make sure everything was watered. Except that meant I would run the store. NO ONE was going to let that happen.
Ivy stayed home to run the store. She was able to wash her hair using the one gallon of water our well would produce daily. She rinsed her hair with Wally Worlds’ finest water in one-liter bottles. She carried water home to the animals by filling five-gallon containers at the store. Ivy doesn’t necessarily agree, but I think it is important people experience the lives of their forefathers. For one weekend, Ivy lived life like Abe Lincoln. I think it made her stronger. I could have done that carry water thing, but she didn’t want me in the store. It’s all her fault!
I told Elaine I am NEVER going to a show again. She agreed. As we were packing for home I overheard the show organizers talking to Elaine. I heard Elaine say, “Maybe, it sounds like fun. I’ll talk to my husband.”
Elaine asked, “Hey Monner, did you know there is another show here in Salida in September?” “(CONSTRUCTION LANGUAGE!)”
Our crazy lives!