What You Can’t Plan

I would not have planned a trip back to Colorado just a week after arriving in New Mexico, but going to pick up my car has turned out to be a lot of fun and my rehabbed front end is slick and shiny.

After tomorrow I’ll have hit three hot springs in four days while also spending two nights in Denver with some of my oldest and dearest and getting myself a little “city fix.” But tonight I am definitely not in the city.

I went to Cottonwood Hot Springs, which for folks-in-the-know (Missoulians) rivals The Symes in funkiness. When I got there the sun had already set behind the 14,000 foot mountains to the west, but I witnessed the sky deepen and the stars pop. I stretched in the hotter pools, swam in the cooler pools and planned to return sooner than later.

As I mentioned earlier, the Mountain View Motel in Buena Vista has a view of mountains as well as a Family Dollar.



I would not say the motel is particularly cute, quaint, or clean, but the manager is a sweetheart, they allow pets at no extra charge and the price is more than reasonable. There are no window coverings in the bathroom (I won’t be showering and will pee in the dark), Lucky cased the carpet for crumbs, and there is at least one cigarette burn in the bedspread.

I’m not a fan of the coffee pot on top of the microwave on top of the mini-fridge on top of the dresser that contained some of the last guest’s marshmallow Santas, but….there’s something about Buena Vista that I really like.


I went to a brewpub known for its wood-fired pizzas and local, grass-fed beef and I drank an InnerGlow Red Chile Porter. I’d never had a beer like that before and it was both delicious and familiar.

I wrote for a bit, then ordered myself a bacon blue cheese burger with a side of zucchini, which was barely grilled. Just the way I like it.

With every sip of that beer, every bite of that burger, every moment I sat in the center of that brewpub I tried to figure out what it was about that beer. Then it occurred to me: this beer tastes like Hood River.

Not literally, of course, but there’s something about being here in B.V. that reminds me of the girl I was and how I felt in 1995 when I left the east coast for my first solo adventure. I was out of my depths in Hood River, as I was when I first arrived in Missoula, years later on Roatan, and again recently in San Cristobal. 

This is good. This is what I was looking for. This is exactly what I needed.

It’s curious that it took a sip of unfamiliar beer to bring me back to those emotions, and a few sips in I was finally able to put a finger on it: InnerGlow Red Chile Porter reminds me of Pyramid Apricot Ale, the first beer I really liked, the beer I drank that first summer in Oregon.

Despite the fact that those beers couldn’t be more different, they’re both unusual combinations of flavors, and my taste buds are as shocked these days by porter with chili as they were seventeen years ago by wheat with apricot.

What hasn’t changed is me. I’m still smitten with the unconventional and turned on by the peculiar, the anomalous, and the surprising.

Unexpected aromas and flavors hit my senses and I’m reminded, again, that the more things change the more they stay the same. I make better choices now as an experienced traveler than I did as a floundering newbie, but the sensation of thrill and joy when I make myself vulnerable to the unfamiliar is exactly the same. 


After dinner I leashed up my extraordinary travel companion, slapped on a hat and scarf and took an evening walk around downtown Buena Vista.


I stumbled upon a packed Asian bistro with a rocking band playing in the front window. What the hell do you think I did? i went in!


I’m at the second location now, enjoying this place, these people, this electric-folk music. I’m going to turn my attention away from the computer and just enjoy for a minute, then it’s off to bed so I can experience this beautiful town in the morning before I head off to the next hot spring…and then home (home?) to the cabin in San Cristobal. 


  1. Michele Seminara says:

    Sound fabulous…

  2. jaimestathis says:

    Thanks, Michele! It’s not always easy, but it sure is fun…!

    I posted a Part 2 to my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/jaimestathis), and when I get part 3 written tomorrow I’ll post those here complete with photos.

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