I always thought it would be neat to have an town named “Exit.” I could just see the sign off of the interstate read “Exit Exit.” Hmmm… As it turns out, Salida, Colorado actually uses the secondary meaning of the Spanish word salida, outlet. (The true history of the name is here.) It has been named one of the best small art towns in America by John Villani and one of “America’s Top Dream Towns” by Outside Magazine in 2004. And Teresa and I finally took a day off and headed into Salida to enjoy the town, instead of our usually errand running. And suffice it to say, we have fallen in love with this town all over again. But not for any reason indicated by Outside Magazine or John Villiani. It was the people that made our day.
Teresa and I simply showed up for a workshop, “What Everyone Should Know About Conservation Easements,” hosted by Land Trust of the Upper Arkansas. We discovered our measly little 7.3 acres hardly qualified for any kind of conservation easement that made sense financially or otherwise, but it was interesting to know that such tools were in place to help conserve the Colorado viewscapes. We met some nice folks at the meeting and gathered some interesting information about the area. We got out of our meeting at 1pm or so, but we also wanted to see a local musician perform at 8pm, so we decided to meander around the town for a long while. Our first stop was Arlie Dales Jug Liquors where we checked out some of the local micro brews to try later and chatted with the clerk, who was as much of a beer snob as we are. Moving on, we stopped at the Salida Steam Plant, which is really the heart of the cultural center of Salida. This is where they host international talent. We discovered there is a group of dedicated folks that work to bring in world class acts right into the tiny town of Salida. One such group is Roots of the Rockies music association. We ended up meeting folks that work for both groups as they were busy preparing to host Eliza Gilkyson for the evening. We had other plans however, and after a run in with monsters in the Bungled Jungle, we had bite to eat and a beer at the local microbrew, Amicas Pizza. Next, we headed over to see Bruce Hayes perform at Bongo Billys. Bruce is a pretty amazing musician, reminding me a bit of Michael Hedges, but rocked up a notch. While enjoying the show, we ended up sharing our table with Bongo Billy himself, who franchised out the restaurant, but still roasts his own coffee in Buena Vista up the road a ways.
The type of people we met throughout the day and their roles in city of Salida just seemed incredibly serendipitous. We got to know people who made the town what it is today. Everyone was incredibly relaxed, friendly and helpful. The food, art and entertainment weren’t bad. Put simply, the “energy” of Salida just feels good. I could get used to this place.