|The Castle Cafe in Castle Rock, Colorado|
Today began my birthday week. My birthday isn't until next Sunday, but typically I get to celebrate with family and friends for weeks, sometimes all month!
|an antelope in The Castle Cafe|
Denise took me to lunch at one of our favorite places in town. It's a cafe on the main street with a colorful history. In the 1890's, quarry workers, ranchers and travelers would gather there and raucous times were not unusual. Shootouts and brawls were so common that on paydays, an extra deputy was hired to keep the peace. This same deputy was expected to stop drunk cowboys from riding their horses through the saloon.
Nowadays the police station is just a couple of blocks away and the standard of expected behavior is clearly spelled out on the menu.
|a deer in The Castle Cafe|
Wildlife (via the taxidermist) hangs from the walls. I snapped pictures of only two of them, but there are several more. (True confession: I had to ask my husband to verify the names of these animals.)
|Denise and me|
I guess I could come up with a joke about we girls being wildlife, too, but as you can see, we look pretty tame these days.
|booths along the outside wall|
The dark wood, green leather upholstery, and white cotton curtains on old windows looking out onto Wilcox Street make up a comfortable charm that helps the diners relax.
The Cafe is well-known for their fried chicken, but I happen to know the burgers and salads are wonderful, too.
I have ordered this Shephard's salad several times. It's made up of house greens, sun-dried cranberries, candied walnuts and goat cheese tossed with Lemongrass Vinaigrette.
We had a most enjoyable lunch and then left for the next segment of this memorable day.
|map for the East Plum Creek Trail|
Opportunities for beautiful outdoor hikes are all over my hometown. Denise and I have enjoyed many hikes through the years of our friendship and we have yet to repeat a trail.
This particular trail parallels Plum Creek, which is located west of Interstate 25 and tracks between two railroad tracks that run north-south through town.
There are no fish in this creek because it is pretty shallow. My resident fly fisherman (Beloved) tells me there might be some minnows, but a waterway this shallow probably freezes all the way down.
But without fish, there is still wildlife in the area. Birds, beavers, and dogs on leashes with their people in running shoes or bicycles, with an occasional baby stroller.
|the hiking "trail"|
In the distance we could see the rock for which our town is named. Denise and hiked to the base of that rock last summer and could see the Rocky Mountains, including some of the "fourteeners" Pikes Peak, Mount Evans, and others.
|a foot print of a German Shepherd, perhaps?|
We kept seeing animal prints like this one along the way. They looked like muddy dog prints to me and were very random as we walked. Finally I stopped to bend down and run my finger over this one, trying to determine if the mud was fresh.
A man came by on his bicycle and without stopping answered the question on our minds with these words, "Mountain Lion."
|Here the creek looks more like a|
Suddenly the peaceful landscape around us took on a new feeling. We realized that a mountain lion must have left these tracks when the concrete sidewalk was fresh. Just to be sure, both of us looked up pictures of mountain lion foot prints on the Internet when we got home. Yes. That bicyclist was right!
|trees along the trail|
We continued our walk and discussed among ourselves the possibility of encountering dangerous animals but decided they probably didn't want to tangle with us any more than we did. Also, walking in broad daylight with other people around was an assurance that we would be okay. But I did make a mental note to myself that we should all use common sense and not traverse these trails alone -- at any time of day or night.
You can't see it in this picture, but just to the right is a gas station. We made that a rest stop, bought some bottled water, and then made the decision to retrace our steps back to the car. We didn't know how far we had come, but Denise looked up the map later and determined our round-trip was 5 miles! That explains why I am really tired this evening!
|Turtle Cup at Freddy's|
Denise insisted that no birthday celebration is complete without dessert, so we picked up some on our way back to my house. It was a day well-spent with friendship, food, and the beautiful outdoors.
Although we had shirt-sleeve weather today, tomorrow we expect several inches of snow. Our weather people call a day like this "the warm before the storm."
I call this A Scrapbook Kind of Day.