Echo Lake Lodge - Mount Evans, CO
Breakfast at the Lodge
I have such fond memories of this sweet, lodge-y place! Don and I ate here over 15 years ago, with our kids and another family, after a visit to nearby Mount Evans. I remember loving the Lincoln Log Look of the octagonal restaurant.
Mostly, I remember the relief of stepping inside with our 4 hungry children who only moments before had been crabby and woozy from altitude! Echo Lodge was as comforting as Grandma's house!
Now and Then
Echo Lake Lodge is no longer a lodge. The sign tells us, it's a restaurant and gift shop and yes, it has film! I can't remember the last time I bought film.
The lodge was built in 1926 to accommodate visitors to Denver Mountain Parks. Although I heard somewhere that it had been a brothel. Not sure about that.
During WWII, the lodge was used as a high altitude training camp for the military.
The lodge is at 10,600 feet. That's high enough to make me feel winded. So it's funny to remember that day, when Echo Lodge felt blissfully low. We all felt like Echo Lake Lodge was at sea level, after coming down from the top of Mount Evans, at 14,271 feet.
Don and I returned to Echo Lake Lodge early last June. I was happy to see the chocolate brown building!
I love shapes, so this wonderful structure appealed to me. This was the original shape of the lodge. A year later they added a wing.
We climbed the stairs and entered the building. Since we are huge fans of historic hotels and lodges, it was killing me to know we could no longer book a room in this wonderful place.
But we could shop! And we could chat. The woman behind the jewelry counter had been working there for 32 years. She said Barb was the current owner, since 1989. "But, she won't be coming in today. She's been ill..."
I spotted 2 openings, one with a sign for the dining room and the other for cocktails.
My new friend Denise, at the jewelry counter, warned me. "There's a 2 drink limit of cocktails!" Luckily I was only in need of a peek. It looked more like a soda fountain to me!
Some curly horned sheep met us at the front of the dining room.
I have fond memories of our visit to Mount Evans years ago and spotting a few real, curly horned sheep, climbing up in the rocks.
Pick of the Place
At 10:30 am, we had a pick of all the tables. Everyone else seemed to be buying tee shirts and postcards. There were lots of windows and many large tables, with old cafe chairs.
There was a sweet set of Old Hickory chairs next to a piano. They seemed to be inviting Don and me to play a duet with Don... but I'm not sure we could even pull off Chopsticks! It looked like an old stone fireplace, at the end of the room. A roaring fire would have been cozier than that funny, vintage heater.
Don and I picked a corner table in the front.
My French toast was perfectly-old-timey-tasty! Don's ham & egg scramble, with hash browns, was gone before I got a picture.
Don had a view of Echo Lake from his seat.
But, I had a view of the humming bird feeder, just outside our window. I saw 8 at once.
On our way out, I looked up one more time.If only someday, I could stay upstairs in one of those rooms. Our very sweet Czech server said she and the rest of the international staff, were all housed at the lodge. So at least the lodge isn't lonely at night.
All I have to do is get a summer job next year! We said good-by to Denise at the counter. She had some good advice for us.
Take a Hike
Denise told us to walk up the road. "Why? Is the view good?" She laughed and said we should go to just enjoy the quiet, free of cars.
The road to Mount Evans was still closed, after their long winter. So we walked around the barricades and walked a quarter mile. Just enough to burn off a quarter piece of my French toast. Maybe when I get a job at the lodge, I'll hike up, the full 14 miles!
W Cafe in Gunnison, CO
Old Cafe, Old Sign
I spotted this yellow sign, as soon as we hit downtown Gunnison. An old cafe with a vintage neon sign. How could we resist?
But, W Cafe wasn't open that day. The door was ajar, but there was a note taped to it, telling us they would be closed for two days of cleaning. Rats! But then we realized our route would be taking us back through town in a couple of days.
It was the beginning of June, the day we returned.
The trees were full of blossoms on Main Street. When the wind blew, it appeared to snow!
We parked around the corner and passed some colorful hanging baskets.
The door was open again, but there was no note this time!
The diner was between rushes, when we arrived.
We had our pick of about 8 booths, all cozied right up to the shiny-rough, pine.
We sat beneath one of the many nostalgia shelves.We even had our own little wall sconce to light up our menu. Yay! Breakfast served entire day!
We were glad we'd arrived before noon, since the cafe was due to close at 2. We placed our orders and got ready to chow.
I look a bit insane in this ready-to-eat pose. Maybe I had too much coffee. I don't usually have coffee with lunch, but Charlton asked if I wanted some and I couldn't say no. He was too sweet and he put my diner mug down on a doily!
Our waitress was a more typical, all business, server. She brought our orders pretty promptly.
My half-order special, was pretty huge for $8.99. Hot open face turkey sandwich, with mashed potatoes, gravy... and a container of cranberry sauce.
Don got the daily breakfast special, of Huevos Rancheros & Hash Browns. Both were nice and hot and flavorful. There was no doily for the china to rest on, but I kind of liked the retro texture of the naugahyde table cover. Or was that oil cloth?
Don did his pose for me. I made sure to include a little peek of the room behind him.
The teenagers at the table in the far corner were having a good time.
I was pretty impressed with the shiny cooler behind Don.
I didn't spot any fingerprints, so I'm guessing that was one of the things that got a big cleaning, during the closure.
Treasures on the Wall
I of course had to wander a bit, to check out all the stuff on the shelves.
When the teen table emptied in the back, I headed over to have a look at the best corner. I love kid related antiques.
Charlton was busing tables and I asked him about the child's western attire, displayed on the wall. "Oh, that was my brother's!" he said, pointing towards the shirt and boots. He said the chaps belonged to his grandfather or great grandfather. He wasn't sure which. He said the elephant marionette was very old.
I'm not sure if any celebrity guests have eaten at the W, but Charlton pointed out the framed stars on another wall. He also directed my attention towards a hand-crank ice crusher. It had once been in his grandparents' house. He seemed so delighted that I seemed interested at all. He said his mom was the owner and had been for about 10 years.
Charlton seemed extra excited when he heard we were from Texas. He had family in Amarillo and Bandera. I thanked him so much for sharing with me and asked if he'd want to be in one of my photos. "Oh, probably not," he smiled. "I'd be too shy." I said I understood and thanked him so much for keeping my coffee nice and hot, because he really had. I wish I had a photo of Charlton. I wonder if he was named for the actor?
What's With the W?
I never found out what the "W" was for, in W Cafe. I should have asked the nice man, dining by himself near the front window. Before heading off, I asked him about the sign on the wall, over his head.
"I've been coming here since 1973, " he said. "That sign's been here forever."
I never found out the age of the cafe, although I did read that they had a full remodeling in the mid-fifties. That's old! Barely older than me. We were a good fit!
The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs
Usually when we're on the road, we search for quirky small town cafes or curious roadside diners. But last June, we gave ourselves a lunch treat at the lovely Broadmoor Hotel.
A man named Doug, popped his head out and welcomed us. He encouraged us more, when he mentioned free valet parking. I asked him if we could pull over before heading to valet parking... to tidy up and change shoes. He thought that was funny.
Quite the Valet Area
There were 8 valets in full uniform when we pulled up. I climbed out and grinned at all the loveliness surrounding us. Just in the carport area (which of course would never be called that) I spotted brass cherubs and God-like faces, two mounted buffalo heads...
...and a lovely green, Broadmoor Rolls-Royce, sitting out by the fountain.
Lunch at La Taverne
There are something like 18 restaurants, in the sprawling resort complex. We were just interested in the original hotel from 1918. We entered the the glamorous, pink stucco building and found our way to La Taverne.
The legendary Tavern steakhouse (originally no "e" after Tavern) was added in 1930, to celebrate the end of prohibition. The decor included lots of wine bottles... in chandeliers and sconces. I failed to get a photo of the original Toulouse Lautrec posters, that decorated the walls. Not sure when they were added.
We passed the curving bar in the main room and then a dining counter, with a chef at work. All looked wonderful, but a little too quiet and empty. Where was everyone?
It seemed that most of the people were dining outside in the atrium, surrounded by lush growth, with a 16-foot chandelier hanging above.
I didn't spot any live flamingos wandering about, but there were some, back in the day.
Mid-Century Modern Lingers
We were seated at a table between the main dining room and Le Jardin. Evidently this area was added in 1939 and called Tavern Lanai. They likely served tiki cocktails, while Hawaiian music played. In 1953, there was a new theme and the space became the Mayan Room.
There was a lot of geometric fun with all the wall angles and squares of light wood. I wonder if these little faces and designs were part of the Mayan theme?
The service was excellent. In fact our server, Matthew was so quick to whip my napkin into my lap, I was jolted. When he wasn't looking I put it back and snapped my pic.
Oh my, the bread was heavenly! I was so happy with warm bread and soft Tavern butter.
The food was fabulous and not overly priced! Don had chicken salad, on retro Tavern china. The salad had a little zip and zing to the flavor, that made the cool melon and zucchini bread, taste extra nice.
Matthew was so pleased when I ordered the chicken pot pie. He said it would be the best I ever tasted... but to not tell my grandmother! It was delicious and it looked like a sweet little boat. The hole in the top let out a blast of yummy steam. The piping hot chicken, pearl onions and peas looked like they were trying to escape!
A trip to the restroom was extra fun. First of all, I loved the door with its title, "Retiring Rooms". On the way to the very elegant Ladies Room, I enjoyed glancing at about 1,000 dusty bottles of wine and liquor.
I heard that Spencer Penrose, who built The Broadmoor in 1918, was not too pleased about prohibition. He hoarded and collected and hid massive amounts of liquor in preparation. He also drank what he'd collected. I read that most of these empty bottles were enjoyed, during prohibition.
I love nothing better than going on a walk, after a huge feast or just a tasty lunch. We did just that, inside the beautiful 101 year old building.
While peering out of a few upper windows, we realized we were really missing the best walk of all. We headed out to enjoy the gorgeous weather and the grounds, that were designed by the same man who created Central Park!
We barely scratched the surface, of experiencing this historic hotel! I took in what I could as we wandered across the bridge for a rear view of the hotel. I pretended I was a hotel guest, not a lunch guest. I don't think I fooled anyone.
They're going to have to drop their hotel prices before we can stay a night and add Broadmoor to my 90-Notable Nights Blog!
First Stop - The Ouray Brewery
In June, Don and I spent one night in the sweet little Alpine town of Ouray.
We were staying right on Main Street, at the Beaumont Hotel. That meant we could pretty much walk to everything. At 5:00, we headed for the Brewery, with its rooftop sitting area.
Beer and Views
We grabbed two stools, ordered beer and took in the sights. Obviously, the mountains were stunning.
The slow parade of traffic on Main Street was equally entertaining. The non-stop flow of dusty trucks and Jeeps was downright comical. Where were these vehicles going, in this town of 1,000? Watching the wandering locals and tourists, was an added plus.
Mr. Grumpy Pants
We made one more beer stop at The Ourayle House... because Don likes beer. I don't love beer, but I like entertaining places, even when they have intimidating signs.
The owner was more quiet and expressionless, than grumpy. He pretended to be annoyed when a young woman asked for a beer sample. He looked like he was suppressing his smile, when he handed it to her in a baby bottle.
I was amused by the sliding chair that Mr. Grumpy used, to whizz down from one end of the bar to the other. I was surprised when he allowed me to take his photo. When I asked what you had to do to earn a ride on that thing, he pointed to the wall. There were photographs of all the people who had paid for a ride, by doing the splits on the bar.
"Any men?" I asked. "Just one." he answered, pointing to a photo of a smiling man, performing the stunt with the help (or without the help) of his prosthetic legs.
Time For Food
The sign also attracted and amused me. I love a little mix of old west saloon and mid-century cocktail lounge. The Outlaw name was given to the restaurant/bar in 1969. That was the same period when John Wayne was in the area, filming "True Grit". He was a visitor to The Outlaw and his hat is on display behind the bar. I failed to get a photo!
I took in the scene as we entered. Right away, I noticed the shake shingles on the upper walls. I couldn't really read the writing, but I learned they had been signed, by local miners and cowboys.
The long wooden bar and hanging wagon wheels made me think saloon. The stools made me think of a soda fountain. The folded cloth napkins made me think of dining, which was just what I wanted.
A friendly man with dark hair greeted us and ushered us to a great table in the back. I had a nice view of the bar and tables, to do a little people watching.
A child sitting on a nearby stool was greeted by lots of staff. One happy table celebrated a birthday. A young man played for tips on a honky tonk piano. A couple had an intense conversation for much of the evening, but stopped after each song to applaud the piano player, like proud parents. I'm guessing everyone was local.
Everyone who served us looked related, with dark hair and friendly dispositions. Could these be members of the original Bonatti family, who immigrated from Italy years ago? I guess not. The Bonatti family sold to the Chaotes in 2009 and there were lots of different folks running the biz, in between.
My huge Greek salad made me smile too. It was packed with all the good stuff.
Out of Outlaw, by 8:30
It was still light when we stepped outside after our meal.
It's fun to imagine John Wayne coming here in 1969. Now I can add The Outlaw to our fairly long list of restaurants, bars and hotels that we AND John Wayne have enjoyed. Hmm? Maybe I need to make a new John Wayne category.
Ending the Evening
All dining adventure's are better enjoyed when they don't involve a car. It was wonderful walking back to our hotel while the skies darkened.
I ran up to the second floor of the Elks Club, to see if the Bingo happenings were still underway. They were indeed going strong, but we figured we weren't excited enough to pay $15. a card. We headed back to our fabulous hotel and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Yippee for enjoying some good food and drink and strolling, in Ouray!
Breakfast in West Texas
Last May, Don and I stopped at Lupita's in Fort Davis. The early morning sun was putting a pretty dramatic spotlight on the sweet stone building and the colorful sign.
We were glad to see the lit up OPEN sign. Everything else seemed to be closed at 7:30, in downtown Fort Davis. We headed for the yellow screened door and headed in.
First to Arrive?
It looked like we were the first to arrive that morning. But probably not. Cafes that sell decent breakfast tacos and burritos can have some pretty early local customers. We probably hit a lucky lull.
Made to Order
Burrito on the Go
We opted to take our foil wrapped burrito with us and off we went to Davis Mountain State Park.
Maybe we missed out on the full Lupita's experience by not dining at the tables, covered in oil cloth coverings. But the sky was blue and the view was spectacular at the park.
The Burrito Travels Again
My photo does not capture an important part of our picnic experience. The wind was impossible! After 2 bites of delicious burrito, we wrapped up our breakfast and headed for the car.
We drove with our breakfast back to our nearby lodge, where we found a table on the porch, that was blocked from the wind. Ahhh! The burrito was still warm and we were even hungrier. Yay for a shared burrito from Lupita's!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.