As an employee working in Downtown Fort Collins, I don’t always come back in on my days off, but I see all of the diversity and entertainment that can be found in old town on a daily basis. We live in a beautiful city that loves to support each other and thrive as a community. I love the flowers that greet me every day and the variety of shops that have everything available from matcha tea to specialty contact lenses to dog grooming. I love the people that we interact with day to day. I have the opportunity talk with people from all walks of life and from all over the world—allowing me to get to know the person who is on the other side of the jewelry counter. Santa Fe Craftsman is a local mom and pop shop in their 28th year of business that caters to the gift-giver who wants to give something unique and special; because we all know how special our loved ones are, and how much they deserve to be recognized for their efforts. Because we are a small business I am able to take time to not only learn more about our customer, but also to help them find the right piece for the right purpose. It is an exciting daily challenge. My perfect day in old town would be with my mom, she and I always have a great time together even when it is simple. It is important to me to find the time, even when crammed in to our busy schedules, to enjoy each other’s company.
Stop #1: Walrus Ice Cream
I meet up with mom at the Walrus Ice Cream to share a banana split (I love chocolate for breakfast, no skimping on sprinkles and definitely not the cherry). We don’t do mother-daughter days often, today is special for us and we can feel The Special in the air here too.
Stepping out the door, I enjoy the bright flowers planted in raised beds and planter boxes. Pink blooms shower down on us in the breeze from the flowering cherries as we cross the street and pass over the median; sounds of the fountain trickle into my ears. Walking further, I hear the veteran harmonica player’s song and a group of giggling girls having a great time out as they pass nearby. I smell the scent of some savory-something wafting through the air: where the scent is coming from, I am not sure, but I am thinking lunch is in our near future—I make a mental note to keep sniffing out our path to today’s right restaurant.
Stop #2: Santa Fe Craftsman
A glint of something shiny catches my eye. I turn and see a display filled with summery sandals and brightly polished jewelry. Santa Fe Craftsman. “Mom, we gotta go in.” I turn, she is already halfway through the door. I follow her in and the world brightens. The jewelry I thought I saw is turquoise. My favorite. In fact, that round drop pendant will match the Navajo ring that Aunt Amy gave me last year for commemorating graduation, an azure gleam with not too much black speckle. The next case is filled with a range of Native American handcrafted curiosities, but no turquoise here. I turn and spy a pair of bear fetishes wrapped with cord and little pieces of red coral, reminding me that Mother’s day is tomorrow. My siblings and I know that Mom is the wise momma bear who protects her cubs. This is exactly her. Covertly, the clerk and I get it wrapped, bow and all, without Mom being any the wiser. Back on the sidewalk, the gorgeous blue sky of our Colorado town, could barely be bluer than my new necklace and the sun is certainly not beaming as brightly as I am. Next time, the fringy-short-boots that I saw will make a perfect gift for my sister’s birthday. And the western artwork looks like something my neighbor will love; maybe a thank-you for the next time I visit grandma and grandpa in Washington?
Pulling me from my reverie, a girl on roller skates, weaves her way by us, flowing hair and hoola-hoops: a rainbow of colors rippling, I have seen her practicing her hoops before, so mesmerizing. You never know who you will see while out enjoying Old Town’s concerts and events, walking paths, or play areas. It is good to keep an eye out, maybe we should find a restaurant with big windows to keep the people watching going.
Stop #3: The Elegant Pear
A little further brings us to The Elegant Pear where a crystal chandelier-lamp throws rainbows into the shop, illuminating the sleek and contemporary style of furniture and home décor. Mom points out a coffee table set, “That’s what I have been looking for! For in the sitting room, with the new rug we put down; it would look great. Be sure to remind Dad for my birthday.” She says chuckling mischievously. Oh, Mom, you could probably get away with something for your birthday and the coffee table, but she really loves an occasion for gifts.
Stop #4: La Luz Mexican Grill
As we continue strolling down College Ave, the warm sun prickling on my back makes me realize how parched my throat is feeling. Putting on a fake rasp to make her laugh, “Mom, I may die without a cold drink.” Alright, maybe it was a little over done, but I still get lunch out of the deal. We head to La Luz: Tacos and Tequila. The pork carnitas street tacos with spicy corn salsa and the freshly brewed iced tea with a squeeze of lemon, is exactly what I was hoping for: the right amount of crunch and juices. MMmm. We start to build our plan for the rest of the day, as we watch through the large windows, we see a group of smiling and singing people riding an eight-man bicycle with a roof heading to Coppermuse Distillery for the next stop on their tour, the fun never gets old.
Stop #5: Butter Cream Cupcakery
After making our way down Walnut Street’s varied shopping opportunities and then into Old Town Squares’ new layout surrounded by each store’s unique window displays, we realize that we actually have things we need to do today. It is currently, 5:30pm, we must have been having a great time to lose track of time like that. Mom perks up a little at the time, she was supposed to make a cake for Jeremy’s birthday dinner tonight. Oops. We backtrack, picking up some cupcakes at the Butter Cream Cupcakery, we can save some effort and stress for Mom and have something beautiful to present to the family. They have so many flavors to choose from, but she was going to make white cake with chocolate frosting. Luckily, that is one of their everyday flavors. A dozen should be good for the group we have getting together. Nailed it!
After a great day out in Fort Collins’ Old Town, and getting another chance to reconnect with mom, I hop back on the MAX and ride the bus to the stop where I left my car. Easy. I can’t wait to see what is new next time around, or to surprise Mom with the bears I found for her. That was the perfect way to spend my day.
Walrus Ice Cream
125 W. Mountain Avenue
Santa Fe Craftsman
118 N. College Ave
The Elegant Pear
150 N College Ave
La Luz Mexican Grill
200 Walnut St.
Butter Cream Cupcakery
172 N. College Ave