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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Magic or Regular?

~Monday, May 16, 2022~

Day 701

What I love most about this campground, right on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, is the peace and quiet. And because we are where we are, people are respectful of the wildlife that frequent our neck of the woods, which is actually their woods, isn’t it?!! No loud music, no yapping dogs; just the sound of the wind through the trees, the chirps of the birds and an occasional conversation between fellow campers. Oh and by the way, I haven’t yet switched over my timeclock to getting up early. But I’m slowly building up to it with an average wake up day of 8:00 a.m., depending if I’m all consumed the night before, with my cross-stitching. I’ve got a little Christmas pressure and I still have to sew the thing when we arrive back in California for the Holidays.

The fires from 2020 in the western region of Rocky Mountain NP (where we currently are), were far more devastating than the eastern side (Estes Park area) and with that comes a lot of dangerous trail conditions with unstable ground, loose boulders, and trees that can fall over in the slightest wind. Since hiking is our favorite recreational activity, especially in Colorado where the scenery is so breathtaking, we wanted to go to the source and who better than the staff at the national park’s visitor center. The Kawuneeche Visitor Center, one of seven in Rocky Mountain NP, is only a 5-minute drive from our campground. We could tell immediately that something wasn’t quite right by the few vehicles in the parking lot. Another one closed for the day. What the heck? We’ve definitely had poor visitor center mojo lately. So we’ll try again tomorrow.

That just meant touring downtown earlier. About a 10-minute drive (if that), we landed in the cool town of Grand Lake, population 521 (full-timers). 65% of the homes here are second homes, reminding us of good ol’ Blue Lake Springs in Arnold, CA, where Jeff’s parents owned their second home for years. The lake itself is the largest natural body of water (in volume) in Colorado. Nearby Granby Lake has more surface area but half the depth. And Grand Lake has been dubbed the “snowmobile capital of Colorado”.

We walked the historic wood planked sidewalks lining the main street where more than 60 stores, restaurants, saloons and galleries occupy the town’s historic buildings. And as we witnessed in Telluride, Grand Lake is getting ready for those summer crowds, with plenty of tidying up and fixing going on, especially before Memorial Day weekend.

There wasn’t one shop still. It totally makes sense since their window of opportunity to spruce things up is tiny. The town has a quaint,

villagy feel, surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains (at least this time of year). And of course the lake is stunning and entertains many a summer water enthusiast or winter recreational kind of person. We were told that during the winter, people are seen ice skating and snowmobiling right on the frozen lake. 😳Actually that would be fun, wouldn’t it? I guess it’s the California girl in me, that makes me hesitant.

One of the first shops that attracted us with its interesting mushroom capped deer antlered, storefront, was none other than a mushroom shop called “Mush Love in the Mountains”, owned by Christy Smith. Christy was running the store that day, and we were so lucky to have met her. Loved her energy! Walking in, I immediately thought of my best friend, Michele, with the essential oil fragrances, the candles, and the abundance of imported smudges that are thought to give spiritual protection and blessings as well as improve spiritual health. That is all right up her alley. Apparently, by burning these sacred herbs, it’s a way of purifying the body and soul and clarity to the mind. They’re even thought to clear negative energy in home environments (sort of like a blessing of a home but in a different way). The smudges she sells are imported from Africa, made by a mother/daughter team and come in a multitude of fragrances. But with supply chain backups as of late, it’s taken months to replenish her supply.

We couldn’t help asking how the devastating fires affected her. Like her and so many, the sad emotions linger, as they were so close to losing homes, and even their town to the most devastating fire in Colorado’s history. They weren’t even able to come back to their residences for 3 weeks, until fire crews knew that things were completely under control. Thankfully, her home and business were spared. And then there was COVID which wreaked havoc on so many things, especially small towns where owning a tiny business was near impossible to maintain. Christy said that without government assistance, her dream of continuing to be an independent business owner would have withered away. I told her how we too, are not strangers to fire dangers living in California, though it wasn’t quite as bad as what they experienced.

Now back to the mushroom shop itself. Are we talking about “magic mushrooms” or the kind that offer healing properties? If you’re a business owner, I don’t think you’d be selling hallucinogenic mushrooms without an act of criminal offense? Not sure what Colorado’s laws are since things seem to be changing all the time. But Christy assured me her products are for medicinal purposes only and boy is she passionate about what she sells. She’s taken it upon herself to look at the scientific benefits that mushrooms provide…..reducing inflammation, and healing the body from diseases with their high level of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Whew!! I guess I’m benefitting since it’s one of my favorite foods. But what food scientists are finding is that when it’s put in other things we ingest, like coffees, teas, flours, etc. the body absorbs the vitamins and minerals way better. After our short store visit, I will never look at a mushroom quite the same way again. If you’re ever in the Grand Lake area, make sure to check out her shop specializing in all things mushroom……, coffee, teas, grow kits, books, incense, t-shirts and classes on the subject. To help support her business, I purchased a really cool tie- dye swirl,

glass charmed bracelet. I’m such a sucker for unique bracelets and I love to support local artists.

The more we visit quaint small towns, the more we realize that’s the environment we’d prefer living in for our next home (though somewhat close to a big city)….the small town close-knit feel, where it seems everyone is willing to lend a helping hand, less traffic, slower pace of life, and that hospitality. We also think it would make getting to know people and becoming part of a community that much easier.

By late afternoon, the weather was turning as predicted…..cloudy and drizzly, yet not too cold. We found a lively local’s place, The Sagebrush BBQ and Grill, to have an early dinner out on their outdoor sidewalk area, where we were warned that if it rained, we might have trouble switching to the inside. There was a bit of lightning and thunder and a few sprinkles, but nothing to make us run inside. Jeff had a BLT and an IPA and I had a vegetarian tostada with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc…all delicious. So nice to finally eat early and no dish duty!

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