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How 'bout next weekend? 

Street Smarts

Summer is road-trip time in Colorado. A good choice is the Salida, Buena Vista and Poncha Springs nexus, home to a burgeoning crafts-and-beverage scene.

click to enlarge Mickey Lee
  • Mickey Lee

Mickey Lee of the West Side is in marketing and entertainment.

Have you visited Salida, Buena Vista or Poncha Springs? I have Buena Vista. When I was a kid, my family used to fish at Rainbow Lake, just west of there. Then, by coincidence, the week I moved back to Colorado with my wife from San Diego a few years back, there was a big family reunion held in Buena Vista.

Is there a spot in Colorado you've wanted to visit? The sand dunes. We're going there this weekend. We'll take the train from Alamosa to see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and then camp out in the sand dunes.

What's your favorite off-the-beaten-path mountain town? St. Elmo, 20 miles west of Buena Vista at the top of Mount Princeton. It's one of the best-preserved ghost towns in Colorado.

click to enlarge Anita Schlichting
  • Anita Schlichting

Anita Schlichting of south central Springs is a stay-at-home educator.

What changes have you seen in the Salida/Buena Vista/ Poncha Springs nexus? I have family in Buena Vista; it seems pretty much the same as always. Salida has developed some niche downtown businesses — coffee places, home brews and up-and-coming pizza joints. Poncha Springs now has a traffic light on main street.

Is there a spot in Colorado you found surprising? We got back yesterday from a trip through southeastern Colorado. Lamar has built a beautiful visitor center. A lot has been done to the Bent's Fort Historical Site near La Junta and to Camp Amache, the World War II Japanese-American internment camp just outside Granada.

What's your favorite off-the-beaten-path mountain town? A lot of those places I loved as a little girl, like Telluride, are no longer off the beaten path, but I really like Westcliffe, if that counts. It's not overdeveloped, it's pretty, and enough things are going on to make it interesting.

What Colorado-made food or drink do you particularly like? The homemade Colorado ketchup at Bingo Burger downtown. Also, this fabulous cherry liqueur made by a place in Loveland.

click to enlarge Brian Browning
  • Brian Browning

Brian Browning of the Patty Jewett area is a property manager.

Have you visited Salida, Buena Vista or Poncha Springs? We have a place in the mountains near Buena Vista. We like to go paddle-boarding.

Is there a place in Colorado that pleasantly surprised you? We were just now bicycling on the Midland Trail on the West Side. We were surprised by how pretty it is, and that it now connects up with America the Beautiful Park.

What's your favorite off-the-beaten-path mountain town? Hartsel. It's an undiscovered gem: mountains, hiking trails, National Forest land.

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