The Bluebird Flies in Bluebird Skies

 

Bluebird Skies in Park City, Utah

I like to drive, a lot.  My car, which I nicknamed “Bluebird” is more than my travel companion, she’s often my vehicle to happiness, if not my source of it.  John Steinbeck traveled with his poodle, Charley, so I guess my “Charley” is Bluebird.

In mid-December, while on one of my little Bluebird road trips, I found myself in Evanston, Wyoming because a winter storm with icy conditions had the Interstate shut down.  That evening I was talking on the phone to a friend about my unplanned stop, and he mentioned that I was so close to Park City, Utah.  He felt that it only made sense to go check it out.  At least since August I’ve had many people suggest that I take a drive there for photography, writing, or even a winter job.  Park City is a place that the “new” ski bums migrate to, as well as artists.  Of course, Park City is also famous for hosting the Sundance Film Festival (www.sundance.org ) in late January.

After a hot shower and a good night’s rest, I woke up to below zero temperatures, no hot water because the pipes froze, and a very gracious front desk host with repeated apologies.  No worries.  I just let my car warm up for about an hour, and was off to the mountain ski town of Park City.

Java Cow Cafe & Bakery in Park City, Utah.

The Interstate had been reopened, the road was mostly ice-free, and the sky was clear.  It was a bitter cold morning that reminded me a little of my childhood winters in Wisconsin.  When I got to Park City at about 8 am, I headed to the historic downtown area.  I found it to be quiet and easy to find free parking.  The first block I walked on Main Street I found Java Cow Café & Bakery.  Another Wisconsin connection – cows.

When I went into the café, I found only two customers, both reading newspapers while drinking their morning coffee.  To the left was another room which was both an ice cream parlor and gift shop.  It was cute and probably a great place to bring kids.  The coffee shop itself had a wonderful bakery display which Luciana, the assistant manager, told me was filled with homemade items.  It reminded of Blue Spoon Creamery Café in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin with the selection of coffee, baked goods, sandwiches, and ice cream.  Well, at Blue Spoon its frozen custard, something I did not find in Park City.

Cafe & Bakery in Park City, Utah.

I decided to have what I call a “German Breakfast” which simply means a sweet and coffee.  The pecan bars were large, the pastry looked buttery, and the price was surprisingly reasonable.  Privately I toasted my breakfast “to Gregory” – my German father who really did eat cake for breakfast and his coffee would really be a “Java Cow” with more milk than coffee in his cup.  I ate most of the pecan bar which was delicious, but I couldn’t finish it – it was just too big and rich.

Java Cow Bakery & Cafe

Before leaving, I stepped up to the counter and asked the women working there about Park City.  They both lived there year-round and loved it.  They gave me recommendations for skiing, dining, shopping, and other things to do.  When I told them a childhood friend would be visiting with his family in February, they suggested Deer Valley as the place to ski.  They both agreed that one of the four Marriott hotels would be perfect for a family to stay.

The Main Street was filled with shops and restaurants and would’ve been more enjoyable to walk if it was later, when the shops were open, and about 20 degrees warmer.  From there I headed to Deer Valley and found it quaint and very beautiful.   It was one of Park City’s famous bluebird sky mornings – clear and bright.  Resort shuttles were just beginning to pull up at the mountain and dropping off skiers.

My visit to Park City on a Bluebird Sky morning was a great way to start the day.

Advertisements

Johnstown Java Jams or…Jesus’ Juke Joint?

101_0323101_0322101_0325101_0326101_0328

Last night I decided that I would start my Saturday morning with a back roads drive, a cup of coffee, my camera, and eventually a small town coffee shop. 

It was one of the few nights I slept past 3 am, and woke up shortly after 5.  I took my time getting ready, but was out the door within an hour.  My first destination was to be a quaint little coffee shop off Taft and Highway 402 in Loveland, but I was unable to find it.  What I did “wanderabout” upon was Schmidt’s Bakery where I found coffee and an apple pastry.  I believe that I was divinely guided to start my day there. 

The sun would be my next destination, so I headed east, finding a road that must’ve been muddy yesterday with the melting snow, which was now frozen.  This took me on a slight incline where I found myself between two fields – one on the east where the sun was just beginning to rise, the other as the foreground to a view of the Rocky Mountains.  Morning heaven.  Coffee, apple pastry, Nickelback in the background, and the sunrise.  Yes, I’m living heaven on earth this morning.

After taking a few moments to enjoy the break of dawn, I hopped back in The Bluebird (my car), and headed toward Johnstown.  I was able to find an eclectic little coffee shop right away – Johnstown Java Jams.  The sandwich board outside caught my eye, so I turned my car around, parked, and headed in for a cuppa.  A non-profit coffee shop that features live music on the weekends.

Dana, the “coffee shop curator” greeted me and gave me a brief overview, but Larry and Bob, a couple of locals, filled me with information about the coffee house.  They referred to it as 3 J’s, and pointed out that it could also be known as Jesus’ Juke Joint and told me about Mississippi Blues roots in that nickname.  Music, coffee, and community seem to be what flows freely and easily here.

This is a non-profit business that benefits everyone, not just the youth in the area.  A retired group meets here on Friday mornings, a young woman who’s working on her undergrad in international business sets up her laptop every Saturday morning, and there’s a group of about eight locals who have gathered around the coffee bar area.  Discussions range from family reunions to economics to the coffee itself.  What’s so wonderful about the conversations I hear is the lack of pity party about the economy and more about how people are looking at making changes to overcome hardships. 

What a beautiful, friendly place to sit and enjoy a cuppa for a few hours, just outside the Land of Love.  I must say, the people here and around the Loveland area are some of the most friendliest I’ve met in Colorado. 

www.3jscoffeehouse.org – Johnstown’s Java Jams!