Boston? Chicago? Kansas? No, not where to go on this fine spring morning, but what record to listen to. I pondered this question while digging through the boxes of vinyl down at The Love Mug in Rocky Ford – the coffee shop I own with my wife Shay. I finally narrowed it down between Eagles Greatest Hits and Queen’s The Game. Both great albums, but The Game won out, and I hummed Freddie Mercury’s lyrics into my steaming Carmel Pecan Latte.
“So! Let’s go on an adventure! What are we going to do today, honey?”
“Breakfast in Fowler? We could meet our friend Ruthie there.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Once our coffees were polished off, we waved goodbye to Kiele who was working the shop for us, and started the drive to Fowler. We passed a train chugging back the way we had come and rumbling tractors, while a crop duster buzzed over our heads and dipped down into a field. “Pretty scenic stuff,” I thought, but typical for a drive around The Valley.
Once we arrived in town, we parked on Main Street and walked up and down the storefronts. We saw the unusually named shop, “A Purple Cow,” and decided that this was where we would pass some time. As we wandered the colorful isles of odd and ends, tools and doo-hickeys, Ruthie texted us back and told us, “Tamarack Grill is the place to go.” So we drove back to the east side of town and went inside.
Ranchers nursed cups of black mid-morning coffee, and we grabbed a window seat and ordered our own cups of joe. I decided to fuel up with a big old breakfast burrito smothered in green chile. Shay had bacon and eggs with hash browns.
“Have you ever been out to Vogel Canyon, Ruthie?” I asked.
“I have. Are you guys going out there today?”
“Yeah, we’re going to grab our dog and go there right now,” Shay said.
“Awesome! Have fun and don’t fall off any cliffs!”
With those words of sound advice echoing in our heads we leashed up our terrier-mix, Boston, rolled down the windows, and set out for scenic Vogel Canyonturning past the friendly brown Vogel Canyon entrance sign and onto the dirt road that took us to the parking lot and trail head.
Much wildlife was there to greet us as a hawk took off in the direction of the canyon over exposed rock and pine trees, and free-range cattle grazed in the distance. We hopped out of the car and selected our route, while Boston tried eagerly to use his head to pull us faster down the trail, to no avail. We ambled over wooden walkways and under branches, and after a half mile of hiking, reached the rim of the canyon.
Shay brought her camera and was eager to get some shots of the dog and me climbing around, so we all picked our way over the boulders and down the slope to a more picturesque location.
Kiele had to get her kids from school, so we had to go back to the Love Mug and work for a while. We ate a moist delicious muffin, split a decadent fruit smoothie and checked our e-mail on the totally free Wi-Fi. (Shameless plug!) After we closed the shop (open 8am-5pm Monday through Friday, and 10am-3pm on Saturday, if you were wondering), we decided to end our day with a trip to Mission Deli, one of our many local Mexican food restaurants. There’s nothing quite like a smothered foot long burrito and chicken azteca to cure those aching bones!
Reflecting on our adventure, Shay and I had a ton of fun, and it was a great reminder to me what a beautiful and mysterious part of the country I live in. So if you want to have some affordable fun and eat some great food, or relax and drink some great coffee one of these days,, just bring your family, your dog or yourself down to The Valley and hang out. There’s more to do than you might think!
by Henry Grossen