Sunday, January 27, 2013

Celebrating a Zero Birthday in Southwest Colorado

I believe that milestones like birthdays that end in zero, especially after the age of 50, need to be celebrated in grand style. Once you get to the age of 60, you begin to wonder just how many more zero birthdays you may see in the future.  The vigor of youthfulness with it's dreams and expectations and sense of endless tomorrows has begun to fade, if not completely stunted by what life has dealt to you in the previous half century or so.  So it was that I decided to throw a big party for myself and friends when I turned 60 in 2010.  My friend and neighbor, Cathy, was looking forward to her 60th birthday last week.  She dreamed of something special and, as things turned out, it was looking like it wouldn't happen.  I invited her to accompany me on a vacation to southwest Colorado to ski and soak.  She did and we had a wonderful time celebrating her Zero Birthday in Pagosa Springs last week.

Wyndham Pagosa Springs Resort

Our Condo
On January 18th, we arrived at our timeshare condo and my daughter, Amanda, and her friend, Terry, from Albuquerque showed up a couple of hours later. Everyone went to Wolf Creek Ski Resort the next morning.The weather was terrific and the base had 55 inches of snow. 

Cathy on the shuttle bus from the parking area

My daughter, Amanda, and I
Cathy, who is a life-long skier and a member of the Ski Patrol at our local New Mexico ski resort, was ready to help me (a novice) become a better skier.  She patiently accompanied me on the beginners slope for two trial runs, then off we went  up the Raven Chair Lift so I could take a longer (but still an easy) run down the mountain. 

Cathy did get to ski some Black Diamond runs that I could never do, when she joined Terry later in the day.  She was a happy skier in her Angry Birds hat.

On Cathy's birthday, January 20th, we enjoyed a massage and a soak in the tubs at the Overlook Hot Springs Spa in Pagosa Springs. The hot springs baths were wonderful and it was cheaper than the Pagosa Springs Spa. Cathy received a wonderful massgae from Lynis, a retired school teacher turned massage therapist. Cathy gave her tips on building a straw bale vegetable garden.  You can make friends easily in this small town.
Lynis was Cathy's massage therapist
I took Cathy for dinner at the Alley House.  It was a great place to enjoy a wonderful meal.  We had the fried calamari as an appetizer and then ordered mesquite grilled pork chops and brined lamb chops and wine, followed by a delicious Creme Brulee for dessert. Definitely do dinner at the Alley House if you go to Pagosa Springs.  They are open for dinner only (5PM-9PM)  and require reservations.

We went home to the condo to enjoy a bottle of New Mexican Gruet Demi Sec sparkling wine and watched a DVD movie while we waited for Cathy's friend, Emmett, and his friends to arrive from Albuquerque. Finally, they arrived after midnight and off to bed we went.

Gruet Demi Sec from Albuquerque, New Mexico
(New Mexico has some great wineries)

"Here's to my Zero Birthday"

The next day, being a holiday (Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday), we declined to go to crowded ski slopes although Emmett and friends did. Instead of skiing, we headed for the hot springs in downtown Pagosa Springs next to the San Juan River.

We did more skiing on Tuesday and Thursday.  I loved it.  The weather was sunny and in the 30's and 40's. 

As far as dining out, we enjoyed a really nice seafood restaurant in Pagosa Springs called A Chivalrous Shark. Charlie and Cathy Berry are the owners and they came to Pagosa Springs via places like South Dakota, Maine, and Florida. It's tough economically in towns like this for a small business and business was slow. Their food was delicious and quite diverse from Red Curry Mussels to Mexican and Cajun-styled dishes. They have a full bar and I had a martini with a thirsty friend.
 I highly recommend A Chivalrous Shark to anyone passing through Pagosa Springs. 
We also did a tour of the brewing company at the Pagosa Brewing and Grill and enjoyed several meals there along with a good sampling of their current beers on tap. I recommend the Wild-caught Salmon Fish and Chips and their Salmon Ceasar Salad and Kathy liked the Cheddar Cheese Beer Soup and Whitefish and Chips.  The service is excellent and it's a casual place where you can meet other friendly visitors and locals alike.

We enjoyed a stop at Kip's Grill and Cantina, a tiny but friendly place for local color, music and good food.  A friendly bar and grill with spicy dishes of pub food including tacos, burgers, soups, sandwiches and salads. Try their home-made salsas and pepper-based sauces.

We headed down to Durango Wednesday for a little shopping and dinner with my son-in-law, Matt.  He lives only 40 minutes away and he had a service call in Durango while we were there. Unfortunately, his wife (my daughter, Mary) was still in Grand Junction, Colorado (5 hours away)doing her last week of training to be a Starbuck's Coffee manager.  She came home Thursday night so we missed her.  We had dinner at Ken and Sue's Restaurant in downtown historic Durango.  We drove back to Pagosa Springs via US Hwy 160,  keeping a sharp eye out for elk and deer crossing the road.  There were hundreds of wildlife tracks everywhere in the snow, but we only saw one elk grazing by the highway and many, many wild turkeys.  We headed back to New Mexico on Friday, January 25th, stopping in Chama at a blacksmith's craft store, cruising through beautiful Tierra Amarilla and Abiquiu (Georgia O'Keeffe Country) and stopping for lunch at one of our favorite places to eat just west of Santa Fe - Tesuque Village Market Cafe.

 Life is good, not just on Zero Birthdays, but everyday. Keep active, open up your heart and all your senses. Experience the joy of friendship.  No friend closeby?  Make a new friend today.



  1. What a fun way to celebrate. I like the idea of a big bash on the zero birthday. Unfortunately I'll have to wait nine years now for my next....:(

  2. It looks like good fun!! And Mama, you got your video of you skiing!!!!