One can only play so much golf at 7:00 AM in the summer in the Verdes. The heat starts in May, and will end in October. The ideal strategy is to break up the summer heat stretch with a trip to a cooler climate in July or August. My favorite spot is Colorado. So I told everyone I was taking my dog on vacation, we loaded the car and headed to South Fork, Colorado.
South Fork is one of those “where the heck is that” small towns in the south central part of Colorado along the Rio Grande River. For those who are a little Colorado savvy, I tell everyone South Fork is over Wolf Creek Pass from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, or if that doesn’t ring a bell, about two hours from Durango, Colorado. All of these locations are a one day drive from the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. At 8000+ foot elevation, cool clear air, and crisp sleep-under-the-covers nights are awaiting the chronically overheated denizen of the desert. And her little dog Jay-Jay.
What activities await? I tell everyone I am going to visit my Chinese friends: Shop-Eng, Dine-Eng, Hike-Eng, and Fish-Eng. I am also blessed to have my good friends from Rio Verde here in the summer, so I have a sweet place to stay. If however, you need to take care of Sleep-Eng and Dine-Eng, let me make some recommendations:
To start off right here in South Fork The Arbor House Inn bed and breakfast is located on the banks of the South Fork of the Rio Grande River, and has 5 beautifully themed guest rooms. The rooms, the guest house and the location cannot be beat. Rates are very fair, and you are right in the middle of all the seasonal mountain activities. A fun shopping spot is the Mountain Lighthouse, owned by Rio Verde residents. Featuring art work, jewelry, home furnishings with a rustic touch, and a women’s boutique with unique western wear, some designed by local artists.
If you set off to the east of South Fork into Del Norte, Colorado, the Windsor Hotel is a 100 year old hotel that has been recently renovated. Just 20 minutes east of South Fork on US highway 160, the rooms are wonderful, and the restaurant located in the hotel is excellent. The hotel is Trip Advisor 5 star rated, and Google rated 4.7 out of 5 stars. Nice digs for a small unknown town. If you are driving on to the Denver or Colorado Springs area and decide to swing down this way to take the non-interstate highway scenic route, this is a great place to stay overnight and enjoy a fine meal. Sit at the bar, and the menu changes along with the seasons and what is fresh and available. If you have a hankering for Mexican Food, Calvillos is across the street and features a $10 buffet, silver tequila margaritas, and you must finish off with the fresh sopaipillas with the caramel dipping sauce.
If you head west of South Fork on SR 149, you are half an hour to the mining town (now tourist town) of Creede, Colorado. Creede Colorado was an active silver mining town back in the day, and the underground mining museum is located in Creede. If you were one of the few to see the movie The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp, it was filmed in Creede and some scenes were shot in the mine. It is now an artist and hippie hangout. One of my must-do shopping stops is the Creede Olive Oil Company. Featuring flavored olive oils and balsamics, it is a must for the foodie cook. Their number one seller is the Traditional 18 year Balsamic, and I always re-stock when I get up here. To add a little culture to our lives, the Creede Repertory Theater has plays in the summer, and they are quite good. We went to the showing of “Guys and Dolls” after a nice lunch at Arp’s just a few doors down from the theater. The theater drives a great part of the economy here in the summer, with many visitors coming into town to catch a show, wander the streets, and eat in restaurants with up and coming actors as servers.
My favorite eatery in Creede is the taqueria Kip’s Grille. They also have a restaurant in Pagosa Springs, and feature tacos with mozzarella stuffed green chilies, and Buffalo Burgers. The homemade salsa is a must.
Just 5 miles past Creede to the west is the Antlers Lodge. This seasonal resort is located on the Rio Grande River, and has rooms, cabins and RV parking available. The food at the Antlers Riverside Restaurant is sublime. The Beet Salad is a great starter, and they feature game selections such as Polenta with Fried Quail, Trout Piccata, along with my favorite the Rack of Lamb and Balsamic Salmon.