Traveling West (Part Two)

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Traveling West Part One focused on our time in New Mexico, but after leaving Santa Fe we traveled to Denver which is a book-lovers paradise.

Before arriving in Denver we made a stop that turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. As we drove towards Colorado and marveled at the snow-capped mountains around us, we began to see signs for Fort Union, New Mexico.  Fort Union, we discovered, was the largest 19th century military fort in the region. As we walked around the adobe ruins, I kept picturing what it was like when hundreds of people made this a bustling village where people were married, played in bands, and went to a hospital that was considered the best medical facility on the Santa Fe trail. The Fort Union web site says that in 1868, 44 tons of bacon were brought into Fort Union in 22 wagons – that gives you an idea of how busy it was.

Kind of quiet now….



But this is where we got into “bucket list” territory. The very nice guide told us that there were wagon ruts made from covered wagons right up the street from the Fort. Wagon ruts!  Ever since reading the Little House books, I’ve wanted to see real wagon ruts. Not pictures. Not a reenactment of a wagon train. But a true connection with people who traveled in a covered wagon. My husband knew we would be spending time staring at the ground and was very patient while I tried to channel all of those pioneers who took that bumpy journey. I was very happy.


After I pulled myself away from the wagon ruts, we made our way past Pikes Peak and into Denver. As much as I love Boston, I have to admit that we were kind of shocked to see so many good bookstores in Denver. I know Boston is the Athens of America, but my we kept discovering excellent independent bookstores in Colorado – and were reminded about the bookstores that have closed in the Boston area.

Of course, the mother ship of Denver is the Tattered Cover. They have three locations in the city plus an airport shop. We visited all of them!  At the store on Colfax Avenue, I met Barrie in the children’s department and it was one of the happiest experiences of the trip – along with wagon ruts. We shared favorite books, talked about what we’re reading, and exchanged recommendations for certain types of young readers. Barrie is incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic about middle grade fantasy novels so I came away with some good ideas for Inly’s summer reading list.




At the store on 16th Street, Cory Doctorow was describing the internet as “the nervous system of the 21st century.” At the Union Station store, we saw Tattered Cover chapstick. Of course I bought some – it was dry out there!




One of the unexpected joys of the trip was the afternoon we drove to Boulder and found the Boulder Bookstore. Oh my gosh. If there’s a heaven, it must be like this store. Three floors. Comfy chairs. Awesome setting. Amazing restaurants on the same street.



For the cookbook lovers out there, the largest collection of cookbooks I’ve ever seen is at Peppercorn, a food and kitchen store on the same pedestrian mall as the Boulder Bookstore.



We also visited the Denver Public Library – a Busman’s Holiday!



Our trip to the Library was made more special by the kindness of the children’s room librarian and the others we met on our impromptu tour. For example, without their guidance, we would never have seen this spectacular structure designed by Michael Graves:



Being in Colorado, we also saw books like this:


Although I didn’t purchase these cookbooks, they certainly reminded me that we weren’t in Kansas (or Massachusetts) anymore!




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