The Manitou Springs Adventure

Greetings, Salutations and Hi There to all of my dear fans, friends, fiends, foes and relatives,

Well, we had a nice time celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary. Some years we have gone up to Cripple Creek and stayed at a B&B up there, The Hospitality House, but the last few years the change in altitude and lower oxygen has bothered Margaret so much we had to do something different. The people in Cripple Creek were always swell and we had no other problems. Even though we don’t gamble and don’t believe in it, the plethora (glut, perhaps being the correct word) of casinos up there make dining out cheap, for the most part, including a tasty little breakfast at Bronco Billy’s, The 49¢ breakfast specials with eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy.

This year we wanted to do something different, so we decided to go to Manitou Springs. Manitou is a small town with a very distinct flavor and feel. Founded because of 9 natural mineral water springs there which still flow and you can still get a drink from or fill your water bottle with, if you like that sort of thing. It’s okay once in a while for me, but I’m not crazy about it. The most interesting thing about the town is not the water or the history, however. Both of those are very interesting, but, no, the most interesting thing in Manitou is definitely the people. The best word to describe their population is eclectic. In Manitou Springs in a manner of minutes you can meet a genuine Hippie Love-Child from the Sixties, a serious business person, a street musician with a banjo, a pagan, a vegan, and a poet. The characteristic that, it seems to me, anyway, that the majority of inhabitants of Manitou Springs share is an independent spirit.  This is demonstrated in a lot of different ways, one being the resounding defeat of a measure that would have restricted sales of recreational marijuana.

The place we stayed at was The Pikes Peak Inn, The Jacuzzi Suite. It has a built-in hot tub and one of those electric fireplaces in it and a king-size bed.  This room also has the best view in the whole place, overlooking Fountain Creek.  Normally Margaret needs a fan or something to generate some white noise to go to sleep but we were able to open the windows (yes, the windows actually opened) and hear the sound of the creek rushing by.  The staff was splendid, although since we were only staying one night we didn’t have much interaction with them so it’s hard to judge, but they were very nice and very accommodating.  The hotel is located at the beginning of the downtown area.  We drove up and down the main streets, Manitou and Ruxton Avenues to see what places there might be for lunch and scout where we wanted to go shopping later.  Everything is within walking distance of this hotel and easy to get to, otherwise you have to deal with the town’s somewhat peculiar parking requirements.  The town being so small and so popular I suppose they have to have some system to deal with parking or nobody would want to go there.

We decided to go to the Heart of Jerusalem Café for lunch. It was an easy walk from the hotel and at the very beginning of our trek around town. What is the opposite of “mistakenly?”  Serendipitously, maybe?  Well, it was in this case. We serendipitously went to this restaurant and it was a treat.  Margaret had the beef and lamb platter and I had the same in a gyro and it was incredibly delicious.  The falafel was the tastiest thing I can remember having in a long time. The service was very nice as well.  If you want a good, tasty plateful of food for your money, this is absolutely the place to go.  We will probably drive up to Manitou and suffer their parking just so we can eat there again.

The shops are as heterogeneous as the people and it is difficult to describe all of the places and what they have and what they do, but pretty much anything, whether you want organically grown recreational marijuana or authentic western clothes.  The ones that caught our eye and where we will be going back to were Ruxton’s Trading Post which had antiques and other stuff and two very nice old dogs (not the owners, who were also very nice), The Leprechaun shoppe, which has anything Irish or Scottish that you could possibly want with a staff that is pleasant and friendly and willing to help, and the Cotton Club, which had many styles that Margaret fell in love with.  She is not a big shopping person but this store really got her interest and she is planning to go back there as soon as we get a chance. If you know her then you know that this is some kind of special store to get her that interested.

So now that’s two things that we are definitely going to go back and suffer with the parking for.  Well, three, because we will want to go back to Ruxton’s Trading Post and the dogs.  Well, four, because I want to go back to the Leprechaun Shoppe, too.

In the evening we went to the Iron Springs Chateau for dinner and melodrama.  In my experience when places try to do two things at once it turns out they are really good at one or the other, but not so with these guys.  They were good at both.  You have to call ahead and get a reservation and this turned out to be a conversation with a real human being.  Good start.  You have two choices for food, Yankee Pot Roast style roast beef or herb roasted chicken (not to be confused with Herb roasted chicken which would be a disaster).  We both chose the beef.  I was pleasantly surprised at not only the size of the portion but the taste of the food as well.  Everything is pretty much homemade and is served what they call “family style.”  You get the main course on your plate, but the sides come to your table in bowls, so you dish up how much mashed potatoes and gravy, rice pilaf and green beans you want.  Dessert was a cherry cobbler.  The wait-staff, who are also actors in the play, are friendly and attentive and kept our coffee and water topped off the whole time.  As some of you may or may not know about me, I judge places by how they take care of my coffee cup and these guys were top-notch.

We were done eating, and very satisfied, too, well before the play began so we went outside and sat on a bench and talked while listening to the rushing of Ruxton Creek.  We were relaxing and waiting for the theater to open at 7:30.  You go in and are seated by some of the characters, our seats being in the very center of the very front row.  This made Margaret a bit claustrophobic but we came to have fun.  If you have never been to a melodrama, you really should treat yourself because it is a lot of fun.  The “rules” are simple enough, when the villain comes onstage, you boo and hiss loudly.  When the hero comes on, you cheer.  When the heroine comes on you say, “oooooh-aaaah” and when the softhearted vamp comes out you say, “hubba-hubba.”  You also interject “aw” at appropriate moments and other things that might fit.  Since we both were Cub Scout leaders for a long time we understood the importance of putting the participation part into audience participation, so we kind of tried to lead the way.  Especially since we were in the front row. It was especially easy for me to enjoy with my love of puns and characters with names like “Bing Crosley” and “Bachman Turner.”  I really lost it at one point when the villain, Bachman, who plans to take over all the radio stations in the world starting with KOZY, says he will create an empire called “Turner Broadcasting.”  If I had been drinking anything it would have shot out my nose at that point.  Another one was when he tells the vamp, “I’m still fonda you kid.”  There were a lot of other moments, too, of course, but those stuck with me.  These were talented people who could sing and dance as well as act and most importantly, have fun with it.

The melodrama is only the first half of the show, however. During the intermission we were treated to singing by a lounge-style singer who also led a sing-along of some old ragtime melodies, such as Shine On Harvest Moon and Let Me Call You Sweetheart along with others, including Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary. Not only were we celebrating our 35th but another couple were celebrating their 10th. This all segued nicely into a 1980’s style olio.  Not to be confused with 1980’s oleo.  They didn’t serve us 35 year old fake butter, but rather entertained us with a selection of songs from the eighties and timeless old jokes. It was a rather jarring fact to realize that, yes, music from the eighties is qualified as Oldies. Other than the stark realization that I could, in fact, be an oldie myself, I really enjoyed this part a lot.  The cast had been watching me all evening, it being obvious that I am a big ham and a good sport, and so at one point the girls in the cast brought me onstage, sat me in a chair, put Mickey Mouse ears on my head and sang “Oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind…” etc, to me.  I was laughing and enjoying myself.  I mean, what’s not to enjoy with three beautiful girls singing to you, right?  Margaret was a good sport about it all which made it that much more fun of course.

The next day we ate some of the hotel’s continental breakfast and started slowly back down the mountain, visiting some Goodwills and ARC Thrift Stores on the way, stopping for lunch at the King Soopers/Starbucks and then back home. One of the things that was kind of my present to her was that I made a “mix” CD of some of our theme songs over the years.  Here is the list of songs:

  • 01 Babe – Styx
  • 02 Happy Together – The Turtles
  • 03 Hitchin` A Ride – Vanity Fare
  • 04 I Got You Babe – Sonny & Cher
  • 05 Make It With You – Bread
  • 06 I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder
  • 07 I Love – Tom T Hall
  • 08 I Only Want to Be with You – Dusty Springfield
  • 09 I Think We`re Alone Now – Tommy James & The Shondells
  • 10 If – Bread
  • 11 When Your Old Wedding Ring Was New – Jimmy Roselli
  • 12 When I’m Sixty Four – Beatles
  • 13 That’s Amore – Dean Martin
  • 14 Something – Beatles
  • 15 It’s So Nice To Be With You – Gallery
  • 16 Still The One – Orleans
  • 17 Longer – Dan Fogelberg

Sorry I didn’t take time to make links to each one, but you can look them up yourself if you’re interested in any of them.

And remember, the Good Book says, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

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