July 2010


Hot Dog!

Coney Island Exterior

The giant hot dog along US285 west of Bailey rates almost iconic status in Colorado. At 42 feet, Coney Island claims the title of longest hot dog in Colorado; nestled in a 35-foot long bun and topped with mustard and pickle relish.

The unique roadside eatery was constructed on Denver’s Colfax Avenue in 1966. Four years latter the structure was moved to Aspen Park in the Denver foothills. Travelers headed to or from the mountains frequently stopped for hot dogs, burgers or ice cream – a tradition for many families.

Coney Island was slated for demolition in 1999 to make way for a bank. On closing day the line stretched for miles – customers waiting for one last Coney Dog. Fortunately a buyer and new location was found on the banks of the South Platte River. The 18-ton hot dog made a 17-mile trip west to Bailey.

DSCN0464 The menu offers All American hot dogs with all the usual condiments toppings of cheese, chili, kraut or slaw. Specialty dogs include corn dogs, brats, hot Polish, smoked buffalo and smoked elk jalapeno cheddar. For those who don’t do “dogs” burgers are also available.

We recently joined the noon-time line to place our order for chili cheese dogs and fries. Inside seating is limited to two small tables and a few counter stools. We choose a umbrella shaded table on the deck  while others selected picnic tables on the riverbank.

Coney Island with Boys I wouldn’t claim this is the best hot dog I’ve never eaten but worth the stop in a fun atmosphere; after all, it’s a Colorado tradition. Don’t forget to take pictures of the kids and the giant hot dog.

When You Go: Coney Island Broadwalk is located at 10 Old Stagecoach Road, Bailey, Colorado – phone 303-838-4210.m Open 9am – 9pm on weekends, 10am – 9pm weekdays.

Ice Cream Worth the Wait

K's Dairy Delite Sign A July mid-afternoon in Buena Vista, Colorado practically requires a stop at K’s Dairy Delight. The menu says, “One location serving the nation!” I count license plates from ten states when we pull into the parking lot. The line is long but no one’s complaining.  

Many customers order burgers but it seems everyone wants ice cream in the form of cones, shakes, malts, floats, sundaes, parfaits or banana boats. The soft serve ice cream is legendary. Choose a regular, waffle, dipped, twinkle cone or a doubleheader.

K's Dairy Delite Exterior The Urban Spoon website ranks K’s as the best ice cream in Colorado, I mumble, “yum” several times as I finish my vanilla cone and wish for a doubleheader. Definitely worth the wait.

We couldn’t resist stopping again on our return trip. This time Bob and I order caramel shakes – WOW! Michael gave his black raspberry shake great reviews.

Columbine Park across the street provides picnic tables and plenty of shade for relaxinBuena Vista Playgroundg while consuming K’s Dairy Delite treats. A large playground will wear off youthful energy before getting back in the car for the next leg of the journey.

When You Go: K’s Dairy Delite is located at 223 Highway 24 South, Buena Vista, Colorado; 719-395-8695.

Windows and Reflections of Bannack

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While visiting Montana’s Bannack State Park I started noticing the characteristics of windows in the deserted 19th-century buildings. They varied from artistic to simplistic. Some of the panes were the original wavy glass while others were 21st-century replacements.

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Whether peeking into a cabin at a potpourri of tools and paraphernalia deserted decades ago or gazing out while seated at an aged treadle sewing machine the windows seemed to frame Bannack’s past and present.

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Then I became intrigued with how the windows reflected the scenes before them – swaying tree branches, the crowd gathered in front of Hotel Meade or the upstanding Masonic Lodge / Schoolhouse.

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Observing and photographing the windows of Bannack added depth and perspective to out visit to Montana’s past.

When You Go:  Bannack State Park is located 26 miles southwest of Dillon, Montana. From I-15 exit #59 head west on Highway 278 for 20 miles. Turn south on the paved Bannack Road, follow for four miles. Turn left onto the graveled park entrance road. Well placed signs point the way.

How Small Can They Get?

I admit this is a personal rant; but, here’s my beef. Many communities that depend solely or in large portion on tourism can’t get their act together to present a comprehensive website for activities, dining, events and lodging information. Each special interest presents a small slice of tCB Mountains with Wildflowershe picture. The potential visitor either has to be a world-class sleuth or already be familiar with the area to find all the meaningful information. I suspect in many cases the visitor gives up – either missing important parts of a visit or skipping the destination entirely because that small slice isn’t the right match.

What set me off? My pending weekend in Crested Butte, Colorado. We have family living in “The Butte” and have visited dozens and dozen of times in all seasons. Well, maybe not the spring mud season. I’m a travel writer, I’m on PR email lists, I know the area and I’m frustrated. Can you imagine how the first time visitor from Oklahoma might feel?

Google “Visit Crested Butte”, among the top choices will be www.visitcrestedbutte.com – a commercial site, www.gunnisoncrestedbutte.com – from the Gunnison – Crested Butte Tourism Association, and www.skicb.com – the site of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Each site is totally self-serving. In an area of this size the likelihood of a visitor coming to CB and confining their lodging, dining and recreation to one provider is slim to none. Remember folks – Club Med failed here.

CB Downtown Going to Crested Butte and want to know what’s scheduled? Good luck! It’s actually the biggest weekend of the summer but you have to dig deep for a even a semi-complete picture.

The Community Calendar at www.visitcrestedbutte.com lists Active Isolated Stretching Class on Friday, July 30th. That’s it! Their last Mountain Bike Report update was July 5th; and, this is truly a mountain biking haven. Does this information make anyone believe anything else on the site is relevant or timely?

Over at www.gunnisoncrestedbutte.com the Crested Butte Art Festival is listed as a Featured Event. Clicking the name provides basic details and a link to the event website. Not bad. However, clicking on the 2010 Event Calendar takes me to a cumbersome listing of events with no links. The list is organized by the date of the first event; for example the Crested Butte Music Festival is listed under July 3 – Aug. 5 – Various locations. That’s all the information provided. They’ve put the money into lovely pictures and cute animation on this website but they only promote members.

The Events Calendar at www.skicb.com notes the Arts Festival and Crested Butte Open Gala Dinner and Golf Tournament on Sunday at The Club at Crested Butte – a resort owned property.

Because I had a head’s up from a local I know there’s a Mountain Man RendezvousCB Mountains up Washington Gulch. By checking the Crested Butte Music Festival website I know when and where the free and ticketed events are this weekend. From the local paper, chamber of commerce, town and county web pages additional bits and pieces of information can be obtained.

Why not combine resources and offer a comprehensive site that visitors will truly find helpful. Quit being small town provincial and work together.

Our weekend will include lodging at CBMR, music, the arts festival, mountain man rendezvous, outdoor recreation, shopping and dining. We’ll have a wonderful time in spite of the tourism agencies.

 

Bannack Days

Return to the Old West

 

Morning Coffee The click of spurs on boardwalk accompanies two men down the deserted street, enameled tin cups filled with their morning coffee. Shaded by an old tree in the front yard of Montana’s first governor’s mansion, a spinner adjusts the tension of lanolin rich wool as she draws it into fine strands of yarn. Resting against the front of the combined post office/barbershop the barber and a friend shoot the breeze before the first shave and haircut of the day.

For one weekend each July Bannack, Montana comes to life recalling the 19th-century boom days of gold, growth and government. Frontier live is recreated by hundreds of volunteers for two days theLady with Wool third weekend of July. The wooden boardwalks once again are filled with people, many in period clothing. Bannack Days celebrates the town’s fabled history.

Demonstrations, hands-on activities, music and entertainment fill Bannack Days plus the opportunity to enter dozens of buildings. Start the day with breakfast at Hotel Meade before panning for gold, touring the mill or taking a horseback ride. Simulated shootouts and stagecoach robberies recall the days of highwaymen and a sheriff who ended up swinging from the gallows. Visitors can even rent costumes and become part of the scene. A horse-drawn wagon and Model A Ford truck shuttles tired tourists from one end of town to the other. Food concessions satisfy the hungry and thirsty. Note from Nancy – the hot donuts were the best!

Quilts Today, with designation as a state park, Bannack is preserved as a genuine ghost town not a tourist attraction. During a regular visit tales of the past and a stiff Montana wind may be your only companions.

When You Go: Bannack Days is always scheduled on the third weekend of July. A modest per person entrance fee is charged for the event. Bannack is located 26 miles southwest of Dillon, Montana. From I-15 exit #59 head west on Highway 278 for 20 miles. Turn south on the paved Bannack Road, follow for four miles. Turn left onto the graveled park entrance road. Well placed signs point the way.

Naughty Moose Munching

The name made we smile, the recommendation was glowing, location and timing were perfect for Friday dinner at the Naughty Moose in Conner, Montana. Located in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana, Conner is located 76 miles south of Missoula and 21 miles north of Lost Trail Pass – the Continental Divide crossing between Idaho and Montana.

Our B&B host exalted high praise when suggesting the Naughty Moose. From the exterior the log building appears more bar oriented than cuisine centered. Happily we found that not to be the case. Locally-made log furniture and an array of antlers, horns, skins and mounted trophy heads decorated the two dining rooms.

Naughy Moose Salad A very good margarita eased the day’s road pain as we ordered and awaited our salads and “Naughty” buns. The salads were fresh and attractively presented with spring greens, cherry tomato, mandarin orange slices and dried cranberries topped with shredded carrots and cheddar. The house dressing, Naughty Bun a creamy garlic parmesan proved an excellent choice. “Naughty” buns are lightly glazed cinnamon buns. Since they aren’t excessively sweet they made a tasty accompaniment with the salad.

Main courses arrived hot from the kitchen – the Friday night special, all-you-can beer battered cod, for Bob and the 10oz. cowgirl cut prime for Nancy. A very generous 10 ounces presented au jus. The 16oz. cowboy cut is served on the bone. We both had a generous portion of southern style green beans and doctored up large Idaho baked potatoes. The initial four large pieces of cod more than satisfied Bob’s hunger pangs so he turned down the offer of additional pieces. Almost fork tender, my prime rib was served what I consider a degree below medium doneness as ordered. I didn’t send it back and did find it delicious; however, next time I would probably ask for medium well. I heard a waitress tell another table, “The beef tends to be cooked on the rare side.”

The panfried chicken dinners were extremely tempting, longing to once again savor fried chicken like my Aunt Ellen’s. Because the chicken is panfried the old-fashioned way, orders take at least 45 minutes. We were too hungry and still had too many miles to drive to wait.

Totally satisfied after our entrees we passed on the dessert offerings. Or, to stop in the bar and listen to the live music. A trio, Code of the West, was playing and I believe we would have enjoyed hearing a set. By the time we left the dining rooms were nearly full, many of the tables taken by three generations of families starting their holiday weekend.

Hopefully our return trip through Montana will include another tasty meal  at the Naughty Moose – perhaps the panfried chicken.

When You Go: Naughty Moose, Mile Marker 21, Highway 93 South, Conner, Montana, 406-821-9955.Open Daily 2-9pm, Breakfast Sat. & Sun. 9-noon. Full bar, beer and wine. Prime rib served nightly.

 

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