Sunday, October 23, 2011

The 23rd Annual Rocky Mountain Mustang Round-Up Weekend in Steamboat Springs

Imagine closing off the entire main street of a town for an entire Saturday morning and afternoon… well, that’s just what happened Father’s Day weekend in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, this June. Never having visited this oasis in the middle of the Rocky Mountains before, this Western event was just the start to a memorable family weekend (and subsequent Father’s Day gift).
We started our trip to Steamboat Springs at rush hour on Friday afternoon. After surviving sluggish traffic due to an accident near Boulder and creeping through Golden, we were finally moving on Interstate I-70. The pace was fast, considering it was a Friday afternoon, for traffic heading into the mountains to try and escape the summer heat of the Front Range. Upon arriving in Silverthorne we exited at mile marker 205, made a brief stop for snacks and drinks and started the 37.6 miles drive north on Colorado Hwy 9 to Kremmling. This portion of the drive was a gorgeous one with hillsides dotted with vivid blue lupines, lavender water iris and yellow wildflowers. Getting closer to Kremmling, the rain settled in, but the road was in very good condition so we travelled onward. Once in Kremmling we turned west onto US Hwy 40 and completed our trip into Steamboat Springs 51 miles later, surprised at the amount of snow still present around the Rabbit Ears Pass area before descending into the valley where Steamboat Springs resides.
Our hotel, the Hampton Inn and Suites, was easy to find, thanks to the very reliable travel directions on the hotel’s website. After parking next to the Inn I climbed up the full flight of stairs to the lobby registration area. The evening reception manager was patiently waiting our arrival and was very pleasant and understanding about the late arrival. Noticing his surname on the Registration Desk board, I discovered he was a distant cousin to a close family friend. What a serendipitous beginning to the weekend!
After getting directions to our room, we grabbed our travel duffels and headed to the 2 bed family suite that I had booked on the Internet. Upon unlocking the door to our room, we discovered this was, indeed, a rare find. The suite contained 2 king beds, a sitting area with a sofa, table and chair with ottoman. We also had two full bathrooms and a vanity area that included a mini-refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker. There was a small sideroom that could have easily housed a double air mattress for additional people. We, however, used this as a changing/luggage storage area. Since it was getting late we decided to go to a Qdoba Mexican restaurant we had seen on the way into town. Little did we know this Qdoba was the State Patrol’s stop of choice for the evening. After much needed sustenance, we headed back to our hotel room for the remainder of the evening.
Saturday we woke to a sunshine filled blue sky with the promise of some afternoon rain. Downstairs in the common area next to Registration a hot “courtesy” breakfast was waiting – cereals, pastries, muffins, fresh fruits, self-service waffles, several different juices, teas and coffee were only some of the choices for those of us just (mentally) waking up to start the day. After finishing breakfast, I inquired at the front desk about sidewalk availability to walk into the main part of town. The desk manager informed me about a paved bike path just a block away from the back parking lot of the hotel that would lead us conveniently to the Main Street festivities which were only a quarter of a mile away! The bike path was a pleasant winding walk along the fast-flowing Yampa River, complete with meeting a new canine friend (or two). It was also an easy way to erase some of the morning’s breakfast calories as well.
Once on Lincoln Avenue, the main street of Steamboat Springs, we were impressed by the sheer number of Mustangs lining both sides as well as the middle of the street – there were well over 300 cars total at the official show as well as many other Mustangs just cruising town. One of the first cars we viewed was the same year and model as our son’s – a 1993 Mustang LX. It was in superb condition for its age. The owner was a very personable female from Lakewood, Colorado, who obviously appreciated her car. After walking the length of downtown Lincoln Avenue and talking with numerous owners of cars at the show, we decided to eat lunch at the Old Town Pub and Restaurant at the corner of 6th and Lincoln Avenue.
The history of this establishment is a very colorful and varied one. Built in 1904 as the Albany Hotel, this structure subsequently was used as the town’s first hospital, then a post office, general store and finally a movie theater. The second floor of this two story Victorian building was even used, at one time, as a dance hall. In 1983 the Old Town Pub & Restaurant took up residency and still remains there today. Proprietors Matt and Lizzie Larock currently operate the business. I am attest to the fact the fried mushrooms are very tasty (and so is the Bailey’s coffee).
After lunch we meandered back via the bike path to the Hampton Inn and Suites and decided to enjoy one of the three outdoor hot tubs on-site to soak and re-energize ourselves. To our amazement, we were the only ones using this facility and were enjoying both the soothing warm waters and the conversation, until it was time to leave the pool area due to an impending afternoon storm.
After some quiet downtime we decided to go exploring and find somewhere to eat for dinner. Luckily, I had found a restaurant that fit all our criteria for the evening and was relatively easy to find. Saketumi is a self-proclaimed “sushi/asian fusion” restaurant that, according to their website, flies in the freshest fish daily. I was somewhat dubious about the freshness claim since we were in a landlocked area right in the middle of the USA, but we were all game to try the food anyway. The food at Saketumi was one of the highlights of this trip – the miso soup was very flavorful and the plum wine very potent. Everything we ate was extremely fresh and well-prepared, especially the Bula roll, Saketumi’s best selling roll. A delectable roll of panko fried shrimp, crab, avocado and tuna, served with a sweet soy and spicy aioli sauce, the Bula roll was just heavenly. My husband and son agreed that the sashimi assortment they ordered was not only very fresh, but a high quality selection of fish as well. Given the popularity of this restaurant, the fact that Saketumi is housed in a small “intimate” space and does not take reservations, it is strongly recommended to arrive at its opening time of 5:30 pm in order to get a seat (before starvation sets in). Just bring a healthy credit card limit or plenty of cash because prices are not inexpensive (did I mention that the fish is flown in daily to landlocked Steamboat Springs?!?), but even waiting an hour or so would be well worth it; the food is just that good.
After a restful night’s sleep, we decided to forego the Hampton’s ample “courtesy” breakfast and try a recommended breakfast eatery, Freshies, which was less than a block to the north of the hotel. We walked over and were seated just before the main breakfast crowd arrived. There was a large selection of both breakfast, brunch, smoothie and beverage choices to meet just about any dietary need. My ham, egg and cheese croissant was incredibly fresh and the coffee was delightful (must have been the local area water they used to brew the coffee). I could have drank the entire pot but, since we were going to be on the road to home soon, good reason kicked in and I elected not to do so. Soon after we reluctantly checked out of our weekend hideaway, bid “adieu” to Steamboat Springs and headed on down US Highway 40 to home, going by way of Granby and Winter Park (but that’s a story best told another day…).
Rocky Mountain Mustang Round-Up
PO Box 21706
Denver, CO 80221
Old Town Pub & Restaurant
600 Lincoln Avenue
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80487
Phone: 970-879-2101
1875 Ski Time Square Drive
Torian Plum Plaza, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487
Phone: 970-870-1019
595 S Lincoln Avenue
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80487
Phone: 970-879-8099

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