Don’t Be A Grinch

The stores are already playing Christmas music. I’m typically not a huge fan of Christmas in public before Thanksgiving but it’s not a huge deal to me. In fact, at this stage in life, any attempt someone offers to make the world a little happier is fine by me.

Standing in line at TJ Maxx over the weekend, the Christmas music was playing and a young woman behind me in line was softly singing along to Jingle Bell Rock. She seemed perfectly happy. Happy until some other woman came marching up, stomped her foot, huffed and said loudly “Christmas music already?”

The woman who had been so happy two seconds before suddenly stopped and stood very still.

Don’t be that person. If someone finds something that brings ‘em a little joy, let them have it. That music wasn’t hurting anyone and being a jerk about it just ruined someone’s day. I didn’t even care about the music but suddenly felt myself feeling deflated, sad and a little defensive.

No need to be a Grinch, after all.

A Day In Estes Park

Denver weather was windy but otherwise ideal during our visit. So it was quite a shock to leave the mid sixties of the city for the gusty, cold of Estes Park.

This town of less than 6,000 residents was once home to Arapaho Indians. Today it’s home to dozens of small businesses and is a destination for outdoorsy types looking for some R&R or for excitement in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Winter sports are a big deal here as is the Stanley Hotel. This stately old hotel overlooking the town inspired Stephen King to write his bestselling book The Shining.

We visited the Stanley and then headed up the mountain to sightsee. We actually planned to hike some but the wind was so strong it would knock you over. When we arrived in Estes Park the temperature was 36 degrees but felt 19. It was significantly colder when we set foot on a trail and it started to snow.

You can’t tell from this picture but, trust me, it was frigid.

We were layered up but it was simply too windy to be enjoyable. We drove some but the roads started to turn slick so we did the only logical thing to do. We headed back to town, got lunch and shopped! Yes, we are weak of body but strong of shopping spirit.

It was a grand day.

Christmas Fun In Chillicothe

Downtown Chillicothe hosted a holiday open house this weekend. I met a friend for lunch yesterday and we browsed a few shops.

We even met Father Christmas who turned out to be an old friend of mine. His name is Gary and his wife Pam is an artist who has painted a few of the murals I’ve mentioned here.

Chillicothe is experiencing quite the renaissance as there have been several interesting shops and restaurants popping up in the downtown area over the last few years. Friends who live there don’t seem especially impressed but I think it’s exciting to see so many speciality shops that you don’t find just anywhere.

There are a couple of trendy boutiques for women’s clothing and some good antique stores. What’s more impressive to me is that they have a fantastic independent bookstore, a record store and a bike shop. These kinds of specialty stores are becoming hard to find and it’s rare to find them all in one smallish town. There’s even a place that sells stained glass supplies and offers classes. I interviewed the owner once for a work project and was delighted to learn how busy they are.

In the mix you’ll find a store that sells military miniatures, a cute bakery and a candy store. The Majestic Theater, which I have written about a couple of times, is in the neighborhood and is again hosting performances.

Yoctangee Park provides green space and renovations are underway at a few buildings.

We had a good lunch at Fire and Stone Pizzeria. It’s rare for me to be impressed by a restaurant salad but this one was really good and their house ranch was delicious.

I also picked up a couple of books at Wheatberry Bookstore including this nice volume of holiday stories by Truman Capote. I intend to jump into this book momentarily.

Plus I saw my friend who I see approximately once every 12.5 years so that was nice too!

Chillicothe has much history as the city was the first and third Capitol of Ohio and has rich Native American history as well. Plus, they sometimes hold events like this Christmas open house, the ghost walk I have written about here and other fun activities. If you’re looking for a day trip in southern Ohio, this may be a good choice for you.

Found Antique and Vintage Mall

Since it gets dark so early, we spent most of our Denver evenings perusing thrift stores, antique malls and bargain stores like TJ Maxx. We were pretty diligent about our retail therapy especially at Found Antique and Artisan Mall in Wheat Ridge.

They have about 65 vendors in 12,000 square feet of small rooms, nooks and crannies. It’s sort of a maze where every turn presents opportunity to find unexpected treasures like these rosettes made from old ties.

They have tons of handmade items and numerous vintage items that I had never seen before. From a mid century era baby monitor called the Baby Sitter to a sixties era Fred Flinstone/ Dino the Dinosaur toy, there are many interesting things to admire. That Flinstones toy is fabulous but comes with a $465 price tag. That was a bit out of my price range but they also have some eighties era Carebears like some I had as a child. Finding them marked vintage was a bit offputting (because I can’t possibly be old enough to call my toys vintage) but they were far more affordable than Fred.

Anyway, it’s a great store in a fantastic space and I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the Denver area. They also have a location in Wisconsin if that’s closer for you. Get the details here!

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver is a fantastic place to visit in the fall. The weather was in the mid to low sixties the entire visit and the sky was mostly a beautiful light blue. The wind was lively at times, causing leaves to swirl through the air and pile up along the city streets.

In fact, within an hour of our arrival I had learned the true merit of the phrase “hold onto your hat” as I held tightly to my hat and scarf while we scurried down the street. However, the wind calmed and left us with perfect weather for outdoor fun most of the time.

We ended our vacation on a gorgeous day at the Denver Botanic Gardens, stopping here for a few hours before my friend dropped me at the airport and began her drive home. The 23-acre property is located in the Cheesman Park neighborhood and was the perfect ending to our trip.

They have been busy winterizing the grounds and preparing for their Christmas lights event but there was still plenty to see and trails to walk. The property is nicely accessible to all with sidewalks that provide ease of use for strollers, wheelchairs and anyone with balance issues. However, there are also non-paved trails that meander hither and yon through wooded areas and past water features as well.

There are a lot of Asian influences that provide calm and quiet.

An indoor tropical space features a treehouse style observation deck and a large selection of mature plants.

They also have some nice art including this Dale Chihuly piece. It’s similar to others I have seen in the collections at Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus and the Phipps Conservatory and Gardens in Pittsburgh.

We walked several miles here but I know we didn’t see everything. What I wouldn’t give to go back for their Blossoms of Light exhibit this year.

Here’s one last picture. I was obsessed with this scene and envious of the people who live in this apartment building. What a view they must have from up there!

Want to visit Denver Botanic Gardens or learn more? Click here to visit their website!

Denver Mural

Denver has a vibrant arts scene and is teeming with murals. Some are elaborate, amazing works of art that are easily viewed from afar while others are tucked away in alleys and other right spaces. I mostly just enjoyed them from the car window but snapped a few pictures.

Here’s one I especially liked.

The colors really popped against the glass and steel buildings and the grey morning sky.

Public art, especially the well done kind, is one of my favorite things to look for when I travel.