Monday, May 14, 2012

Hats off to Sunbonnet Farm

May 11-14, Ft. Collins, Colorado
Our trek from Rapid City, South Dakota to Fort Collins, Colorado took about seven hours almost straight south. I am happy to report that we were finally successful in setting up a Harvest Host stay about 15 miles north of Ft. Collins at a small place called Sunbonnet Farm. The owner, Pam Parham, is a retired schoolteacher who takes in rescue animals, primarily donkeys. This seventeen acre farm looks out to the foothills of the Rockies and the peaks of the Medicine Bow Mountains.
When we arrived about 4 p.m.,  Pam and her farmhand, Dave, warmly greeted us in the driveway and gave us a few choices about which view we would like for parking our rig. I felt an instant affinity and admiration for her both as a teacher and as someone living close to the land. Her farm consists of two horses, both Paints, four donkeys rescued from the killing lot, two geese, one rooster, and six hens, one standard Poodle named Maugan, and two cats. Before I realized what she was doing, I had a bowl of freshly laid eggs in my hand for our breakfast. Now, what you may not know is that I have always wanted a mini-farm so staying here is my idea of heaven. The only downside was the weather had turned unseasonably cold and overcast, hindering our stellar view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Pam and Maugan going to the henhouse
Check out the decor in the henhouse; it even had rooster valances on the windows.

Rio the horse
When making arrangements with Pam for our overnight stay, she extended an invitation for us to stay longer to have time to enjoy the area when the weather cleared. We were happy to oblige, but had to keep in mind that we were boondocking so we would have to conserve water and electricity. The spot we parked our motorhome looked onto the horse and donkey corral with pastures, a lake, and mountains for a backdrop.

Our primary focus for coming to Ft. Collins was to see our friends, Jeff and Debbie, who had moved here last summer from our hometown of Corvallis. They were free on Saturday so good weather or not, we were looking forward to reconnecting, seeing their new home, and exploring old town in Fort Collins together. They had also never seen our “new home” so they drove out to the farm for lunch and for a pleasant walk around the farm before we all headed back into town.

Debbie with the horses and donkeys
We had a terrific tour of their temporary condo, their newly purchased 1960s ranch style home in a wonderful neighborhood just blocks from campus, and several highlights of various neighborhoods in Ft. Collins including the vibrant and hip area called Old Town. We learned from Jeff that one of Walt Disney's friends used to live in Fort Collins and ended up using the town as a model for the buildings along Disneyland's Main Street. Jeff and Debbie gave us a walking tour of old town. We were impressed with the town’s obvious commitment to the arts—decorated alleyways, unique sculptures, and beautiful landscaping adorns the streets. They even have small covered stages on several corners with painted pianos available for both spontaneous and scheduled musical performances. The town is also extremely bike friendly—you can "check out" one from the bike library if you don’t have your own—and dog friendly with fancy water dishes available on every block. The restaurants and bars were packed with families celebrating CSU graduation and early mother’s day dinners. We were lucky to have reservations at Enzio's an upscale Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown. We were also lucky to have time to stop at JAX, a lively fish house and oyster bar for happy hour before dinner. What a fun town, but the highlight was just being with friends with whom we will always have a special bond as part of our Corvallis memories. (And as I write this I am overtaken with a wave of sadness with the reality that half of our group of six couples, including us, no longer live in the same town. I remember seeing this happen with my mother and her friends as they retired and sought new horizons; now it is our turn to experience these changes in our own lives.) On the brighter side, our mobile lifestyle allows us to visit with family and friends across the country.

The bike library in Ft. Collins
Old firehouse circa 1881 converted into bookstore and coffeeshop

On our second full day here, Mother’s Day, we decided to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, about an hour away. The weather forecast was variable but it looked like the morning and early afternoon would be the time to go. Unfortunately, this prediction did not turn out to be true as we had 40 degree overcast skies with occasional rain and sleet when we arrived—not the best conditions for appreciating the beautiful vistas of this park, but we enjoyed going to the museum in the Fall River Visitor Center, seeing the stunning topography, and stopping to view the wildlife, mostly elk.
Twin Sister's peaks in Rocky Mt. National Park
A pitstop near the Twin Peaks
Chapel on the Rock in Allensport, Colorado.  Pope John Paul II prayed here in 1992.
Saint Malo Retreat Center, now closed due to a fire.
One of my favorite views--a bubbling river (Fish River)
By the time we returned to our little farm, the sun had spread across the valley and you could see fresh snow on the peaks where we had been.  Pam greeted us with fresh goose and chicken eggs (which I am saving for a dinner of huevos rancheros). On our final evening here we took a peaceful walk out in the pastures, saying adieu to this little patch of paradise.  Our travels tomorrow take us to Breckenridge.
Three fresh goose eggs with two chicken eggs


1 comment:

  1. Great post! It was nice to "ride along" with you and the mini farm was super cool!


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