In the Okanogan Valley in northcentral Washington state, I’ve found a wonderful coffee shop in Okanogan – The Salmon Creek Coffee Company. Melanie Mills, the owner has been dreaming about having her own coffee shop for many years and pulled it off in 2011. It’s on a corner right down town and offers locals, visitors, and tourists a great place to hang out and enjoy a cuppa, wine or beer, dine, listen to live music, and sit in a place surrounded by local art and artists. I love it!

My Road to Zion

On my path in life I find myself on back and country roads, highways and byways, traveling through big cities and often landing, if only for a moment, in small towns across the United States.  The diversity, arts, music, and culture of the big cities lure me in while my heart pines for the sense of community that can sometimes be easily found in small towns.

Recently I stumbled upon a coffee shop in a small town in north-central Washington, called Salmon Creek Coffee Company.  This coffee shop occupies a prime retail space in Okanogan – a corner building on the main street with outdoor seating space, many windows that are large, and across from Rawson’s, a very large and well-established outdoor and Western clothing store.

My first visit to Salmon Creek (SCCC) provided exactly what I needed – a warm and colorful space, wi-fi, excellent music in the background…

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Coming Down from the Mountain for a Cuppa

Coffee Shop Cruising

It’s been too long since I’ve written on my coffee shop blog.  Since the last post, I did take a trip to Los Angeles and wandered my way along the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), coffee shop cruising and couch surfing along the way.  Although I did take photos and notes about the places between Las Vegas and Los Angeles that I stopped to sip, gulp, and savor my cups of coffee at, there was a bigger purpose to my trip, one that would change my life and lifestyle significantly – meeting people who were happy, living in the moment, and loving life.

After I packed my bags to leave my friend’s home in Aliso Viejo, she suggested I drive out through San Juan Capistrano to stop near the Train Depot and mission.

It turned out to be a wonderful stop.  The mission was adorable and I found a historical little coffee shop, Hidden House Cafe where I enjoyed my first cuppa.  On my way out of San Juan Capistrano, I noticed the Hummingbird House Cafe.  The door to the cafe was open and the garden was so inviting that I wandered in and around.  I walked through the cafe to the back where I found people having coffee and an older gentleman laying brick on the ground.  The owner came out and told me that they were changing the back to make it easier for people in wheelchairs and women who wear high-heeled shoes.  I knew I was meant to be there.

The owner greeted me and offered to make an espresso.  He then introduced me to one of his regulars – Julianna, a woman with the beauty of a Greek goddess.  I took a couple of photos of her in the cafe, before sitting down with my espresso.  We shared our stories over the delicious hummus the owner offered to us.  Much of what we talked about was our mutual belief that what we need to do, especially women with women, is to love and support each other.

After a couple of hours it was time for me to head back to Las Vegas.  Before leaving, I got a message from work regarding a meeting that would need to happen.  I knew then that I did not want to return to that job, and that I was done with the unorganized chaos, competition, and drama there.  Although things could change, I had stronger sense that it was time to move on from there.  I made a decision to “come down from the mountain” and search for god, beauty, and wisdom outside the resort property.

Now, months later, my life has changed significantly.  I’m ready to write about the coffee shops in southern California and southern Utah, as a cruiser and from my perspective after working at one in the Zion National Park area.  A new lifestyle with a new perspective, that life is like a cup of coffee.

Cuppy’s Cuppa Holiday Cheer

Yeah….I already wrote about Cuppy’s awhile ago, but they had such an awesome holiday open house, I had to write a little more and share some photos.  After all, it was Joe and Krista that helped me to open up and receive the love northern Colorado had to offer me. 

I’ve done a lot of coffee shop cruising over the years, and I think this year was the first time I was invited to a holiday party at a coffee shop.  Beer, wine, and snacks for customers and friends – it sounded like so much fun.  As usual, hesitating to make a commitment to anything, I sent my RSVP as a maybe. 

The morning of the party, after I was asked to return to my job in January (woo-hoo!), so I knew I needed to go to the open house and reconnect with the people who were part of “Kristy finding Kristy” in northern Colorado.  Not only did I spend many mornings hanging out talking to Joe and Krista before work, but I spent a lot of time laughing with them, often at myself, and often about my Facebook and other social media blunders.  For me, it’s all about laughter at Cuppy’s, whether about me, Joe, Krista, Jim, or Krista’s postings on Facebook.  Just the thought of Cuppy’s makes me smile and often laugh out loud.

The party.  They had an impressive spread of snacks, platters, trays of food, chocolate, cookies, and cheesecake.  I joined my little social group and snacked away.  I spent over an hour eating, talking, and of course, laughing.  Although I didn’t know everyone, there were many faces I recognized, and not one without a smile.  What a great gift they’ve given all of us.

Holiday Cheers to Cuppy’s!

The Wild Boar Coffee Shop

Fort Collins, Colorado has no shortage of coffee shops, each unique in its own way.  The name itself makes this one a little unusual and what caught my eye.

What I discovered about The Wild Boar Coffee Shop was the feeling of home.  The building is a 1924 bungalow – and I have  a love for the Arts and Crafts style homes.  The lines, woodwork, and design flow to integrate with nature are all things I love.  The porch is enclosed and makes for a fun sitting area, along with all the little rooms.  Windows are in abundance, yet the lighting is just right – neither too bright nor too dark.  The furniture complements the bungalow with Stickley-style tables, leather couches, and even some of the lamps.  My two favorite places to sit are in the parlor on the leather chair with the ottoman and outside in one of the many patio tables. 

Their burritos are delicious, especially the potato and egg one smothered with green pork chili sauce.  The menu includes delicious soups with artisan breads, sandwiches, and some baked goods that look sinful.  The beverage selection includes coffee drinks, teas, sodas, wines, and microbrews.

During the summer it became a habit to stop by after my night biking, to enjoy a lemonade, check my email, and do some people watching.  They attract a wide variety of people, including a lot of students – both high school and college.  So many “kids” seemed to hang out there to meet and socialize over a mocha latte, Bhakti Chai, or other drinks that resemble dessert.  It was enjoyable to sit back and watch the gatherings between friends, families, and students.

I’ve been to the Wild Boar many times and have never been disappointed with the staff.  In fact, what initially kept me returning last fall was a young barista who worked what seemed to be every morning.  He was always friendly, quick, and seemed to remember what people liked to drink.  Often the night closing staff, much like bartenders at last call, would have to budge people out the door, but did it with much grace.  I’m not sure I would’ve had the patience that they did.

Across the side street from the Wild Boar is the CSU gardens.  During the spring, summer, and early fall, it was not unusual to see friends and families wander over there with their artisan drinks in hand, appreciating the glory of the gardens.  A beautiful thing to see on the weekends, and sometimes quite crowded. 

Wild Boar…it’s a beautiful place to sit and enjoy a cuppa!

The Catalyst….brewing relationships one cup at a time!


coffee shop cruising at Catalyst Coffee

The Tap Room and Catalyst Coffee in Fort Collins has become one of my secret hideaways.  It’s only hidden for me because I haven’t spent a whole lot of time here, but enough time that a couple of the baristas know that I like to have decaf.  As much as I’d like to think I’m special and they warm my cup up just for me, I’m not.  For those enjoying their coffee here, it’s part of standard operating procedures.  I love it!

On my 2008 wanderabouts in the Fort Collins area, I read about Catalyst coffee and the struggles they were going through.  I was impressed by reading about how the neighborhood and clients pulled together to ensure they wouldn’t close their doors.  Although I didn’t make it here last fall, my bike brought me here quite a few times late this summer. 

I planted myself at the same corner table every morning and watched the flow of customers come in through the door, order coffee drinks and bakery items, and listened to the “sass” Catalyst is famous for.  Some mornings it reminded me of Ed Debevic’s in Chicago…sass.  There are even table tents explaining this – “Each order comes with a free side of sass ’cause we love you and want you to feel at home!”  I have yet to experience the sass first-hand, but I’m enjoying watching it from my little corner of this world without corners.

The coffee.  It’s delicious, organic, and free trade.  The decaf is even better – they use a swiss water process, so no formaldehyde enters my body.  Excellent!  The regular is just as yummy and on this beautiful Monday morning, that’s my pick for the day, the regular brew. 

This is a coffee shop by day and a wine bar with music by night.  The community has really stepped up to support this great little hideaway by hosting meetings and events here, picking up a bag of coffee for home brew, and hanging out to listen to the live music. 

The only regret I have in my visit here is that I didn’t make it last fall when I read about them.  I would’ve spent many mornings here enjoying the sass!

The Merchant Voyage…words are flowing out across the universe.

“words are flowing out across the universe” & “the long and winding road”

The shop owner, Mary, told me that she found some old flashcards and decided to make her own and use phrases from Beatles’ songs. An entire tree was decorated with these phrases and elegantly draped ribbons. I would love to have a room decorated like this, where I could retreat to when I need inspiration, affirmations, or just a dose of whimsy.

Merchant Voyage is a little gift store located on Fourth Street in downtown Loveland, Colorado. Taking up two storefront spaces, you can find books, cards, jewelry, embroidered ribbons, candles, ornaments – whatever you imagine or don’t imagine! It’s a great place to find unique gifts for yourself or others.

Located in downtown Loveland, this is a great place to spend time wandering through coffee shops, restaurants, theatre, galleries, boutiques, and gift shops. During the summer there are many weekend activities from art walks to BBQ events in the streets. It’s a hoppin’ little town just north of Denver and east of the Rocky Mountains.

I feel like I am on my own little voyage, on the long and winding road through life.

Inside the Bungalow

Inside the Bungalow courtyard

Inside the Bungalow courtyard

Inside the Bungalow Coffee Shop and Yoga Studio was one of my favorite early morning jaunts in Mesa, Arizona. Actually, it was my favorite place to sip coffee, write, and read.

The very large courtyard has orchid trees planted around it for beauty and shade. On the raised area, there’s running fountain that just completed the feeling of a secret garden.

Located just off the main street area of Mesa, this little hideaway has a lot going on. As the name suggests, it’s a coffee shop and a yoga studio. Carrie and her mother have successfully joined the two concepts to become a great meeting place for the java sippers yoga enthusiasts.

The service is friendly and unobtrussive, with a lot of attention put on what customers want, from soy milk to the selection of delectables.

I miss the courtyard and Carrie!