Home At Last: Denver, Trinidad, and Great Grandmas

[This is the last of a four-post road trip series that began here. I’ve actually been home for like, four months, but jumped right into a wood-fire (opening tomorrow, yay!) when we got home and didn’t have time to finish until now. Sorry to all of you who presumed us dead or otherwise incapacitated.]

We spent a good two-and-a-half days with Jessie and her friends at the assisted living.  On Friday, Isabella sang with a “jam band” that appeared in the afternoon and consisted of three violins, a recorder, a banjo, and a bass cello. In the audience and occasionally contributing a note or two was the shining Lucretia:  99, white hair, fuchsia lipstick. Jessie told us that Lucretia had never married, had no family of her own, and had lived there for many years. Lucretia had been a singer and sometimes still played and sang at the piano, but not for Friday’s jam.

The other tenants, mostly women, were also full of stories about careers, roles, families, friends. The residence itself was an enormous haven of stories, lives that had been lived to varying degrees of fullness now gathered under one roof, shrinking in on themselves. Lives now shaped more by winking memories than ambition, the limitations of which were governed by deteriorating and painful bodies.

Pie making lessons two years ago

Jessie once owned a cafe where she arrived at 5am every day to bake all the bread and pies.

My Italian Nana described old age as humiliating. But then again, her ambitions included shooting cats on New Years Eve when the gunshots would sound like fireworks, and winning the thermostat wars with my Nono. She was awesome.

I wish I had a better picture of her but she didn't like having her picture taken

Meeting Isabella. I wish I had a better photo but she didn’t like having her picture taken.

We left on Monday after breakfast with Jessie. She said she still thinks about flying down to see us but could make no promises; she will probably not be making pies with us anytime soon; and she won’t knit unless she feels like it. But she did offer, having grown up on a farm, to wring my chickens’ necks when the time came. So that was comforting.

From Scottsbluff we headed straight to Denver, where we stopped for lunch using our special technique of letting the gas light determine random highway exiting. And boy, did we get lucky! Thanks to Exit 206, we found Washington Park, a gas station, and The Best Middle Eastern Restaurant 2012, all on the same street (South Downing)!

mecca grill

Images swiped off Yelp

At Mecca Grill, “Lebanese food made from scratch every day”, we had an amazing fava bean appetizer and vegetarian special. Mecca Grill is relatively new and it wasn’t crowded that day, but the food was completely delicious, the service great, and the chef personally thanked us for coming in. Highly recommend.

After lunch, we headed over to Washington Park for a walk/goose chase around the lake before getting back on the road.

Isabella Denver


Gangs of geese stalk the neighborhood tagging buildings and knocking over trash cans. And they have teeth.

This area of Denver, with its historic architecture and yuppie waft, reminded me of Lincoln Park in Chicago. The park, restaurant and gas station were only 10 minutes from the highway, so it makes a great stopping place.

The remaining eight hours home were fairly uneventful except for a stop in the old mining town of Trinidad, Colorado, where I was drawn like a Walking Dead to those magical letters, c-a-f-e.

Trinidad cafe2

Trinidad cafe

All lit up and nowhere to go. Such a cruel joke.

Only to find it closed. Boo!

Just when I thought my desperate coffee hunt would end at the Starbucks in Albertson’s, someone pointed us in this direction.

trinidad coffee

A former miners’ bathhouse, now Gourmet Healthy Coffee. The coffee was infused with something healthy (available through a pyramid scheme direct marketing opportunity) called… well I don’t remember because I entered a brief fugue state when the owner said that not only was the coffee infused and not fresh brewed, but there was no dairy on hand (talk about cruel jokes). This offended my purist latte senses to the point of running away, but that would’ve been awkward, so I got peppermint green tea instead. Also infused. And actually delicious.

tea menu

We left healthier and more robust than when we’d arrived, finished our four-hour drive home, and were happy to be back in the land of enchantment, sunshine, and intact chickens by 8pm. Thanks for coming along!

[Start this road trip all over again here.]

18 thoughts on “Home At Last: Denver, Trinidad, and Great Grandmas

    • Guap, Trinidad is an awesome, tiny town. We were there on President’s Day so it was sleepy. The guy in the coffee place told me they’re trying to promote more tourism because at the moment, there’s not many attractions. But it was great just being there and looking at the architecture. Thanks for your visit! Now, onto Oz for me…. 😉

  1. Hi Laura, glad you made it home safely. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us, as well as the photos. That photo of the empty Trinidad cafe reminds me little of Van Gogh’s two paintings of night cafe’s.

    • Oh, my pleasure, Tina! Thank you for stopping by for a cup of imaginary coffee in the closed cafe. And I hadn’t thought about the Van Goghs 🙂

  2. You have to write a book about chickens or art or grandma’s or Comanche Nation or anything. All of your stories are rich and funny. The grandmother’s lives show in their faces and in their hands.
    Maybe we can get some watch geese with teeth to guard the perimeter of whatever we think is important.
    Thanks. I want to buy one of your wood fire cups
    . Jerry and I would love to be at the kiln opening tomorrow although Jerry is in basketball heaven here at the Mountain West Basketball tournament.

    • Thanks for the all-inclusive comment, wow, and the kind words about my writing! Glad you had fun in Vegas (I know better than to ask for details) and see you soon!

  3. Fun –
    Reminds of several things…. my grandmother and her banty chickens. I adored my grandmother – she was known as ‘Gramma Rose’ by everyone in the neighborhood. Her home on the edge of town was always a safe haven for me. Chickens, rhubarb, sugar bread, lots of fire flies and being called ‘girly’, her nickname for most women. I remember the last time I visited her at the nursing home. I helped her wash her face and apply moisture and a bit of makeup. Yup, you guessed, it was fuchsia 🙂
    I’m also reminded of Lincoln Park. I used to run every morning when I lived in Chicago and would run through the zoo waking the animals early am. Fond memories – thank you, Laura. It looks and sounds like the trip was wonderful. Good luck with the opening! Lynne

    • Lynne, you have drawn such a beautiful, visual picture of your Gramma Rose… maybe you should write about her more? I love hearing her! That’s one of the great things about blogging — connecting with readers (and friends 😉 in unexpected ways. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your memories of Chicago and family. xx

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