Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Small Town in a Small World

Post by Henry

Our current location in the San Luis Valley of Colorado is kind of remote.  That’s not a complaint.  We prefer remote locations.  We’re out in the country at a quiet little campground with views of big mountains in all directions.  It’s absolutely beautiful. 

The View from our Camp Site
Looking West

The View heading North

If there’s a downside, it’s that you have to travel a long way to the grocery store.  And when you DO go, you need to make sure you don’t forget something important (like coffee or beer) or else you have to go without (Gasp!) or make another trip back.  Our choices for grocery stores here are fifty (50) miles south to Alamosa or thirty (30) miles north to Salida.

Part of the fun on our journey has been checking out new places.  Sometimes we discover cool towns that seem like they would be a great place to live.  And some places are……….not.

Salida turned out to be a very cool place in more ways than one.

Looking at Salida from Arkansas River Bridge

It’s a small town with a population of 5,000+ people.  The bustling little downtown historic district is alive with people, eateries, assorted shops, and Loretta’s favorite kind of shop - consignment.  It appears to be a very dog friendly town as we noticed folks walking their pooches everywhere, including in the shops and eateries, too.

The first day we visited, they were getting ready to kick off the 67th Annual Whitewater Festival, known locally as FIBArk - First in Boating the Arkansas.  The headwaters of the Arkansas River flows through town and this year, the water was unusually high due to the spring snow melt and above average rainfall.  

The Raging Arkansas River
Where there is normally a riverside sidewalk under the balconies!

The riverfront park had a stage for live music, and tents set up for various vendors.

So we were wandering around town and while Loretta was in one of the consignment shops, I parked my butt outside on a bench and was looking at something on my phone when I sensed two people come around the corner and stop in front of me.

Then came two questions:

“Are you from the Atlanta area?”

“Yep” I responded, kinda stunned.

“You work for United Distributors?”

“Yep, that’s me” I said, even more stunned.

This is an amazing moment!  Here I am, 1,500 miles away in a small town in Colorado, being recognized by someone who used to work for the same company I worked for!  James retired almost two (2) years before me, and last year he and his wife, Mary, moved to Salida after falling in love with this enchanting, small town and to be closer to their son and daughter, who have been living in Colorado for over ten years.  Another uncanny coincidence - James and Mary are Loretta's parents names!

James and I didn’t know each other at work very well, as we worked in different departments in separate buildings, but here we were in Colorado, James and Mary, Loretta and I, striking up a friendship and acting like we’d known each other for years!

Henry and James Enjoying a Cold One

And it got better from here.

We got together later that same day at the riverfront park to catch some of the live music and support one of the events’ sponsors, Eddyline Brewing.

FIBArk Music at the Park

We went back on Saturday for a full day of festivities in Salida, starting with the local farmers market.

At 10:00 a.m. was the Whitewater Festival Parade, complete with marching bands, clowns, antique cars, fire trucks, and everything you would expect at a small town All American event.

Start the Parade!
Save the Planet
Greedy, Pooping Pink Pig
No More Taxes!
Eat More Fish
Riding High in Colorado, USA

We watched some of the whitewater kayaking competition, with participants from all over the world.

Kayaking Fun
Going for It!

The day culminated with the four of us having dinner at a restaurant overlooking the river, and were joined by their son, Robert, and daughter, Caroline, and her husband, Dan.

Phew!  What a day!

Since then, we’ve spent more time together.

We traveled up to Leadville to attend the BBQ & Brew Festival, which was another full day in a historic Old West town.

Music in Leadville, CO

Recently, we hung out with them for a day in and around Salida, first going to the local Arts Festival. Afterward, we hiked to the top of “S” Mountain, which got our heart rate up and gave us a bird’s eye view of the town and surrounding mountains.

"S" Mountain in Salida

James, Mary, Loretta and Henry
at the top of "S" Mountain

We topped the day off being treated to a delicious cookout at James and Mary’s house, which is located within walking distance of downtown.

And one final outing began with James and Mary coming out to our campsite and then on to the little town of Saguache (pronounced Suh-watch) for a very tasty lunch at a local diner, which included homemade coconut pie (yum)!

Want a bite?  Temptation...

Afterwards we walked through the town.  In the park, they had pictures of the town back in the 1800's, and the town still looks just the same as it did back then!

Mary and Loretta talked briefly with this gentleman, who was working on a 1920's model Linotype machine.  He prepares the local newspaper to this day on this machine which first belonged to his grandfather, then his dad, and he continues the legacy.  

A Bygone Era

We’ve certainly enjoyed spending time with our new friends, James and Mary.

I’ve been told there are no coincidences in life.  Some things were meant to be.

It all started with the closest grocery store being in Salida.  And checking out the cool, little town.  And me sitting on the bench outside of the consignment shop at that exact time on that particular day……..


  1. I like the small town vibe going on! So cool to meet people from home huh?

    1. Bonnie, we like the small towns. After escaping from Atlanta, it is such a relief!

  2. That's amazing that you ran into James and his wife. What a fun little town and absolutely beautiful! Y'all are looking fantastic!

    1. That will probably never happen again! I see why our friends chose Salida as their retirement home. It has so much happening and a fun and beautiful place. And thanks for the complement! :)

  3. You are right - it was such an amazing coincidence! And Salida is a fun and very active town. It's gonna be hard to leave Colorado for the winter.

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  5. That was a really cool coincidence! And it truly is a small world.

  6. This post makes my heart smile! I'm glad y'all are having so much fun & livin' a serendipitous life!

    - Lori