Manitou Springs Moments

I’m writing from Manitou Springs, Colorado, where the women are accomplished, the men are entertaining, and the children win prizes for excellent short stories.

We’re came here for AuthorFest, but decided to tack on some vacation and stay at the 1892 Victoria’s Keep B&B, a block or two from the main street. We walk down Ruxton to Manitou Avenue, stopping to fill up a bottle at Twin Springs, which happens to be the tastiest of the spring waters in Manitou. Someone who lives here told us that. We’ve been sampling and agree. You drink it and say, “Ooh, that’s good!” Then you find a bathroom, because the magnesium, in addition to being good for digestion and arthritis, is also a little diuretic. But I definitely feel healthier.

I’m taking lots of pictures of our trip. Unfortunately, I left the camera-to-computer cable at home, so pix will have to wait until Wednesday. But here’s a shot of our B&B, linked from their website. See the round turret? That’s above a little circular room that’s at one corner of our parlor. It has three big windows with lace curtains in it, and a lamp featuring three bronze cherubs holding rose-shaped glass shades hangs from the ceiling. I’m sitting under it with my laptop on a little antique table. I’ll post a video tour of our whole suite later.

Breakfasts are outstanding, and they’ve done an incredible job of working around my wheat and cow’s-milk allergies. Today they fed us sliced apple with caramelized sugar on top, followed by french toast with peaches in syrup. My french toast was gluten/wheat free. I was mightily impressed.

We got here on Friday evening, and walked to the Ancient Mariner Tavern for dinner (Painted on the wall: “Where the customer is never right!”). Afterward, we went a few doors down to Kinfolks Beer and Gear, which is a place that sells outdoor gear but also serves wine, beer, and bottled drinks like Odwalla. Plus, it has a small stage.

Karen Sucharski was in charge of an open mic night for writers at Kinfolks. This was after she’d spent the day teaching about 120 kids, from kindergarten to high school, in six classes or something insane. She also does poetry slams. I enjoyed the one she ended the readings with so much that I bought her CD at the AuthorFest signing. It suddenly occurs to me that I didn’t have her sign the liner notes. Well, pooh.

Anyway, the readings were incredibly diverse, and the audience equally supportive. We got there after it had started, so I didn’t hear everyone. In addition to Karen’s great slam-style poem (“Can I get an ‘Amen’?”), we listened to a classically styled sonnet, the story of a child-abuse death told in a very affecting southern accent, and two livestock tales: one about baby ducks, a rattlesnake, and a guy with a fear of snakes, and one about a smug, escaping donkey, purchased when the author meant to buy a goat. One man wrote an ode to his wife for supporting him in coming out. I believe they’re still married, and that’s a true love story. Another related some lovely messages he reported receiving from dolphins and also from Mother Maria of Guadalupe. And then there was me, and can I just say that I have never felt the label “commercial” fiction more acutely? There was a lot of emotional truth going down, and here I was with my elven romance. However, I ignored my shaky hands and put on my BIG voice so everyone could hear me (thank you, choral training). The crowd, after getting over its momentary shock at being read to by a chick with a booming voice, laughed in all the right places and asked for bookmarks afterward. Oh, to be a writer in Manitou Springs.

We stayed at Kinfolks to hear the musician for that night — Craig Haller. He was excellent, with a good voice and outstanding vocal interpretation. He also had some good original songs. I asked him to boost his vocals relative to his guitar, and he sweetly obliged. So Angel Joe and I listened to great live music, drank beer, and scratched the occasional dog that wandered through the tables, thinking, “These Manitou Springs people know how to live.”

More later.

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