Monday, August 15, 2005

Chama Valley services

sort of a comment following up on Carol Anne's about service and hotels and such....


Roger & Barbara at the Shamrock Hotel / Chama Choo Choo. Roger can also tell you all about trains and they have a gift shop / art / t-shirt / coin-sculpture / fine/train art sort of gallery that's just plain fun to wander through. Of course, if you want to get into the hotel business and want to live right next to where the coal-burning steam locomotives start and end their day, they'll make you a deal on a hotel of your own... it's officially for sale, though things happen slowly in the Chama Valley. Oh, and there's an ice cream and fudge shop right next door.

The danish rolls for breakfast take-out are also good at the Stone House Lodge. And then there's the chocolate cake they baked yesterday morning ... with a little bit of a soft-serve ice cream accent. Mariln and her family are very much a local institution. The cabins overlook El Vado Lake. The Stone House is a place to have a campfire, take a break from fishing or hunting, rent a boat, duck into the store & restaurant for a bit of ice cream or some essential item, or just vegetate.

Carol Anne learned that she enjoyed cooking a lot more when she was on vacation and free of big-city and job stresses when we rented cabins at the Stone House Lodge. The ability to cook there led Carol Anne to insist that we get a decent kitchen when we shopped for our cabin.
Which segues somehow into next Saturday's dessert potluck following the New Mexico Sailing Club dinner at the Heron Lake Marina (Sat. Aug. 20th, 2005).

Other places we've enjoyed in the Chama Valley include

The Guest Cottages at Tierra Wools in Los Ojos -- nicely furnished and sited in a very old-timey northern New Mexico village.

High Country restaurant, lounge, package store -- some of the best food in Chama and a meeting room and patio in back; also a nice Sunday brunch with a chef on hand for custom omelettes. Probably the best place around for music and Jerry (Muddled Ramblings) was able to give the bar a good recommendation.

Elkhorn Cafe -- south edge of Chama, good sandwiches and such as reasonable prices. Small staff, so we do sometimes avoid it if it looks too overrun with turistas. The Law eats there and some of the dishes are named after various branches of the Law.

Cooks and Books -- next to the Chama Valley Mart. Order sandwiches or ribs or whatever they have that's special. Shelves of books to browse and friendly staff.

Osier Cafeteria (just over the Colorado line, and driving there isn't easy). Where the train stops. Steve knows how to run a cafeteria and we could probably devote a whole posting to the desserts there. The meal is included with a ticket on the train (the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad).

A sadder, different example -- Viva Vera's Mexican restaurant died when its owner, a longtime Chama institution passed away. My impression was that Vera Alcon's descendents who were involved with the restaurant didn't have nearly the commitment to service or friendliness to customers that she'd had. I remember encountering a son or nephew or some such who seemed to be a little annoyed by the nuisance of having to bother with customers, even semi-regulars.

A different kind of example -- The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad ( www.cumbrestoltec.com, www.cumbrestoltec.org ). Very much one of a kind, even among scenic railroads. It, along with the Durango and Silverton in Colorado, are remnants of the old Denver & Rio Grande narrow-gauge line into the mountains and mining country. The railroad reached Chama by Christmas of 1880 and has been a vital part of the local economy and history ever since. The ancient engines give new meaning to "takes a licking and keeps on ticking" though an enormous amount of work, including volunteer work, is needed to keep the line open and the trains running. The C&TSRR bills itself as the longest and highest, with more than 60 miles to ride and reaching an elevation of just over 10,000 feet above sea level. Also spectacular is the scenery, with its seasonal changes and variations. Particularly special to use are the friendly train crews and volunteer docents. Gerald also once has a lot of fun getting to make some comments on Colorado's "Rail Journeys" program, which showed on their public television station.

Obviously, we're going to have to start posting some pictures of trains and local scenery.

2 Comments:

At 12:19 AM, August 16, 2005, Blogger Carol Anne said...

A couple of corrections: The D&RG reached Chama on New Year's Eve 1880, not Christmas. I'm not sure the train crews and docents really like being used. The television show on which Gerald appeared is called Spirit of Colorado.

As for train pictures, last night I finally got around to downloading the software that lets me edit Photoworks photos and convert them to JPEG, so there are now a whole lot available on my computer here at Five O'Clock Somewhere. Related to that, while Blogger doesn't do gravatars (yet), it's putting in a picture with my posts on Blogger.

 
At 5:46 PM, August 16, 2005, Anonymous Keith said...

Shameless plug for my company's (Intuit's) latest product: Zipingo.com.

Pat, go put your excellent reviews of Chama Valley Services into Zipingo and 1) reach a wider audience and 2) help the new web service reach critical mass.

 

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