Episode 5: T-bar Tea House

I have the afternoon off so I decided today was a great day to post up and get some more blogging done. I drove to Crested Butte and arrived at T-bar around 4pm – is this considered tea time?

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I ordered a peach apricot iced tea and sat along the wall, my back to an old french door that no longer opens and just adds aesthetic to the shop.

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The only people here are a set of two kids to my right, sitting by the window, and a middle aged man two tables to the left of me drinking a smoothie. Soft music with no words is playing and I am quickly enamored with this small storefront – a quiet and quaint place to get work done.

A few moments pass and the barista – is that what you call someone brewing tea? is it the same as coffee? – brings out my drink. Shortly after both kids and man leave and I am alone with my tea, the soft music, and the spin of the ceiling fan above me.

Well, I guess I won’t be writing much about conversation today…

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A man walks in and has no clue what to order. If you’re not familiar with tea, it can be a little daunting looking at this menu. The young man behind the counter helps him settle on something of interest and hooks him up with his drink.

A group of four walk in the door and each of the girls orders a mint kombucha to go. The boy doesn’t order anything and instead sits down and stares at his phone. I think I want to grab a kombucha to go before I leave; that sounds so good!

I ask them what they think of it, and they unanimously respond that I need to order one. My mind is made up.

They leave, and I am alone again.

I hang out for a bit but no one else enters the store while I am there. I pack up and go to Third Bowl for ice cream before heading back to Gunnison.

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Sometimes a quick trip out of town and a pit-stop for tea is all you need to recharge.

This is episode five of The Flannelogues.

-JD

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Episode 4: Crested Butte Coffee Tour

This was my second day off this summer and I needed to get away for a while, to escape from work and life for a bit. Crested Butte is the perfect place to escape. I have fallen madly in love with this cute little mountain town. For being so incredibly tiny, it is packed with things to do. I can’t believe how many places I can grab a cup of coffee – I thought about starting my coffee shop here, but unfortunately, the market seems to be saturated, so maybe not.

I headed up from Gunnison around 11am and arrived right around 11:30. The first thing I did was stop at The Guild Cafe, a shop I have been dying to try out and haven’t yet visited, that is home to First Ascent Coffee Roasters and Mountain Oven.

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I walked up to the counter, ordered a trail mix muffin, and a coffee – It was called something strange, I believe it was steampunk? – and sat at the four-top by the window. I spread my stuff out in front of me and did some work…now you may be thinking It’s your day off and you’re absolutely right. It wasn’t work-work but work, nonetheless. I will probably explain at a later date what it is that I am working on.

I was the only person in the coffee shop – this is becoming a trend – other than employees and the bean grinder is too loud to overhear much of what they’re saying. Too bad, but probably a good thing since I need to focus on the work that I am doing.

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After an hour and a half at The Guild, I decided to move to the library, so I packed up and walked across town. I thought the Beulah library was small, but the Crested Butte library is tiny. I sat in this fun little nook in the wall, but I am too big for it so I had to move after a few moments.

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I think I like libraries and bookstores almost as much as I like coffee shops. When I left the library I grabbed lunch at Camp 4 Coffee.

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I ordered a peach smoothie and a veggie & cheese burrito and chatted with the baristas about the Alt-J song on the radio, then headed outside to the patio. I chose a red wooden chair under a red umbrella. Two guys slightly older than me walked in in front of me and chose the seats across from me outside. They sat for maybe five minutes and left. The only other people on the patio was a group of three older women who were gossiping about the Tony’s and dream vacation destinations. I finished my lunch, and decided it was time to post up and do some reading.

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I walk down the street to Rumors Coffee & Tea and Townie Books. This place is the definition of cute, local, independent bookstore and coffee shop.

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I walked in and sat down at the table closest to the counter. This is the busiest of the coffee shops I’ve been in today. There is a guy about my age sitting at the table directly in front of me, headphones in, work sprawled in front of him. Across from him sits a couple who are poring over a local magazine and discussing vegan restaurants and cuisine. At the table closest to the window by the front door is a few young girls who stare at phone screens and chat quietly to one another. A middle-aged couple walk in with a dog and then the husband walks back out with the dog as he tells his wife his coffee order.

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After they leave, I order a raspberry cream soda and sit back down with my book.

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Three coffee shops down and I still feel like there is so much of Crested Butte to see. My next stops will have to be the few cafes and galleries that serve coffee, the chocolate shop for some ice cream or fudge, and obviously restaurants. Again, I can’t believe the local foodie scene! There’s so many options!

On my way back to my car, I notice that it’s happy hour at the Eldo Brewery so I walk in, order the IPA and go to the patio. There are two others on the patio, a couple just finishing their drinks. They leave and I am alone with my beer, the sunshine, and the mountain view. Ahhhhh! Life is too good.

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The thing that I love about spending the summer in a new place, is that it allows me to experience things that I may not get to do again for a long long time. I don’t care that I spend money at three coffee shops and a brewery on my day off, because I am buying a positive experience, one that I will carry with me for a long time. I value these experiences and I can’t wait to keep trying the local favorites.

Today is also my one month Gunniversary – yes, I made that up – so why not celebrate? I can’t believe I’ve been living in Gunnison for a month already! Colorado already feels like home.

Cheers to a great summer filled with coffee, beer, sunshine, mountains, water, and adventure!

This is episode four of #TheFlannelogues.

-JD

Episode 3: Mochas! Coffeehouse & Bakery

Ezequiel and I arrived at Mochas! around 12:30 p.m. I ordered a Green Goddess smoothie, a coconut macaroon, and sat at the first booth by the window. Every time that I’ve been to Mochas! it’s been busy – like no seating available busy – and that was the case again today. According to my administrative assistant, Brenda, Mochas! is the place to be. Her granddaughter swears by this place – and you can always trust a 17 year old girl when it comes to cute coffee shops, right?

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Ezequiel got to work right away reading a book about Asian American college students for his position as Assistant Hall Director at the University of Portland. I waited for my smoothie before settling in and observing the happenings around me.

There are three pairs and three solos at Mochas! this afternoon. For the pairs, we have two girls at the table in the center of the shop eating lunch and chatting quietly to one another, a couple two booths back from us that arrived at the same time we did with backpacks and books, and work sprawled across the table, and the last pair is a cute young couple. I assume they’re in high school or are in their early college years. They share drinks and conversation, but have no work in front of them.

The three solos are all working on something. A young blonde sits on the couch along the wall with her coffee on the end table next to her and a computer on her lap. An older man sits at a two-top along the back wall with his computer open, books open, and headphones in. The third is a young man, I assume to be in his late twenties. He sits at the two-top to the left of the booth that Ezequiel and I occupy. He sips his coffee slowly and barely looks up from his phone. He is either really into social media, is reading a great article, or is busy responding to emails. I don’t think it’s the latter.

One of the baristas shouts a drink order “Shot in the Dark!” and then proceeds to sing the lyrics “and you’re too late” and I can’t help but laugh to myself.

Three more people walk in and join the couple two booths back. There’s now five in that small booth and I think about how uncomfortable they must be as I have my legs sprawled out on the bench I’m in and my back against the window – ahhh! This is the life!

The five in the booth are talking loudly now but I can’t make out anything that they’re saying.

A barista brings a bagel out to the girl sitting on the couch but it wasn’t hers, and she realizes it belongs to one of the girls from the five in the booth group. The girl who the bagel belongs to is now sharing her experience taking Spanish classes loudly enough for the whole cafe to hear.

The baristas are talking about spring weddings and a slow love song plays on the radio.

A man in a hat and a flannel walks in carrying the cutest baby I’ve ever seen. He walks back out with a car seat and no baby, and I’m really confused. Do I get up and search for this child? Is there a daycare here? Does he own the place? What’s happening? I turn to look out the window after him in time to see he and a woman putting the child in the car seat. There must be a back door or something. I’m still confused. They get in a car and drive away leaving me with so many questions.

A young woman walking a dog catches my eye now. I see way more dogs here than I do in Vermillion…weird.

American Pie now plays on the radio and I sing along and Ezequiel laughs at me a little.

The hippiest camper van that I have ever seen rolls up to the drive-through window and I am ecstatic. I just love camper vans…and hippies.

A man who looks like he just strolled off the golf course walks up and orders an ice cream cone, and I am reminded of my summers in Northern Michigan. Tourist towns don’t change whether you’re in Michigan or Colorado. You still see the same demographic of people.

A young man in a beanie, ripped jeans, and a wire wrapped stone necklace walks in and joins the five in a booth group forcing them to pull up a two-top from the center of the room. They’re talking about religion so I’m not sure if they’re meeting for class or church or if they’re just a deeply philosophical bunch of people.

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The cute couple in the back leaves and they’re replaced by an old man with a white beard who orders a cup of chocolate ice cream and takes the booth directly behind me.

A guy with camo shorts and a checkered button up shirt rides his skateboard outside. He ties his dog to the bench by the door, comes in for a drip coffee, and leaves.

I decide to order a veggie sandwich for lunch and am told that Joel is a nice name by the cashier!

OK, I lied earlier. I am now looking at the cutest little boy ever. He is wearing a fleece hoodie with bears on it and he is climbing on chairs at the empty table next to me while his parents order at the counter. He keeps coming up to me and pointing at his wrist and saying “hurt”, so I ask him what happened and he repeats “hurt” over and over to me. His father comes over and tells me that he was poked by a cactus a month ago and has been whining about it since. I laugh and tell the little boy that it will feel better soon. The dad scoops up the little boy and take him with him so that he doesn’t have to keep coming over and bothering us…little does he know that they’re not a bother at all. They leave and I wave at my new pal through the window.

The old man behind me is now listening to something about Donald Trump on his tablet…without headphones…I do not want to hear this. Byyyyyyeeee!

Come Together by The Beatles plays and I think about my annoyance toward the man behind me. I try to let it go. No harm Joel, come together!

I start reading my new book – it’s one of the inspirations for writing this blog actually – and let myself sink into it.

Sweet Home Alabama is now playing and it feels like summer in this quiet coffee shop.

I continue reading allowing myself to stop only to listen to the songs playing on the radio and the sound of beans being ground or smoothies being blended. Brown Eyed Girl plays followed by Running Down a Dream.

I finish chapter one of my book and decide it’s time to move. Ezequiel and I leave Mochas! and head back to the apartment. This is episode three of The Flannelogues.

-JD

Episode 2: ICE Lab Cafe

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It’s Hump Day – and it sure does feel like it.

Today was my second day of student staff training and I couldn’t be more proud of my team. We are still working out some kinks, and putting the finishing – more like ongoing – touches on our conference preparation items so it’s been a little slow going.

Good thing there is a new cafe on campus – it’s also a bar, so that’s a huge plus!

I was in dire need of some coffee after today’s work day was done so I thought I would go check out the ICE Lab Cafe and see what it was all about. I invited some of my student staff to join me in hopes that some good conversation would arise so that I could write this post. It was a good thing that they came with, because there were only two other people in the cafe who were tucked in the corner, and that would not have made for a great story.

We arrived around 4:15pm and grabbed seats at the bar. It was a warm one today, so we all ordered iced coffees.

I used this opportunity to get to know my student staff on a more personal level – seeing each other outside of training means we can be a bit more relaxed. We chatted about sports, working out (two of them were headed to the gym after), travel, coffee preferences, and local drinks. We struck up conversation with the people behind the bar and asked them about their menu, what their favorite drinks were, and an assortment of other random questions.

We found out that all of the ingredients used in the small menu at the ICE Lab are locally grown. The drinks are from local breweries and distilleries, and the cafe as a whole is built and designed by local artists, entrepreneurs, and campus partners. The bar stools were hand crafted by a local artisan. The wall above the bar is apparently made out of wood taken from a climbing wall or some sort of gym floor or other recreational equipment. The ICE stands for Innovation, Creation, and Entrepreneurship. How freaking cool?!

After a short stay at the cafe and all of our drinks had been finished we split ways for the evening. I still had work to do and I didn’t want to take up all of my students’ night, but I did enjoy the company, and it was nice to end our day in such a positive and relaxing manner.

I am looking forward to stopping by again in hopes that more people will be there and I can get some good content for another post. I am also dying to try something from their food menu too!

More to come from the ICE Lab Cafe. This is episode two of The Flannelogues.

-JD

Episode 1: The Bean Coffeehouse & Eatery

I am excited to be embarking on a fun new creative journey – especially one that involves both conversation and coffee, storytelling and sipping.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from my first visit to a coffee shop with the purpose of listening – read eavesdropping – to the sounds, seeing the sights, and engaging in the environment that is coffee shop so that I could turn around and write about this experience. But I was pleasantly surprised with this inaugural outing.

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It’s a Sunday afternoon and I am still unfamiliar with what the lunch crowd looks like here in Gunnison, so I waited it out and arrived at The Bean Coffeehouse & Eatery – I chose this as the location of my first post since it has the same name as my favorite coffee shop in Vermillion – around 3:30. I am immediately greeted by two cute baristas behind the counter. They both say hello cheerfully as if on cue. I quickly realize that I am the only person in the building. No wonder they both greeted me the second I walked in the door. I ask them if they’re still open, suddenly less confident and excited about the first run at this project. They respond back to me in unison once again “yes, just slow”.

I choose the long table by the window, drop my bag, and go up to the counter to order my dark roast and white chocolate macadamia cookie. As I sign for my purchase, I notice Banana Pancakes by Jack Johnson is playing on the radio and I regain excitement as this is one of my favorite songs and it’s the perfect way to start The Flannelogues.

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A man, about sixty, walks in and orders a small cappuccino. He takes his cup to go and sits on the bench outside, on the opposite side of the window from me. He takes one sip and walks across the street.

A few minutes go by with no activity and I look around the building, taking it all in.

A large, long-haired, college-aged man who seems to know the baristas walks up to the counter and instantly engages them in conversation. Yes, give me something good! I think to myself. He chats them up about the hangover he’s nursing and how he has the shakes as a souvenir from his escapades the night before. They talk about breweries and distilleries in the area as The Sound of Sunshine plays and I can’t help but think that this is an accurate portrait of summer in a tourist town.

A middle aged woman enters, and asks for a blonde latte and the baristas don’t know exactly what she is ordering. Upon further questioning, they decipher her drink order and she enjoys it at the counter while flipping through a magazine.

The Sound of Sunshine ends and I smile as Stubborn Love by the Lumineers is the song that follows. The Lumineers are my favorite group and I sing along in my head.

Hangover man finally leaves – apparently he didn’t know the baristas because they both asked each other how they knew him – and in walks a cute young couple. The woman walks straight back to the restroom while the gentleman orders a drink with an extra shot claiming that it’s been a long day. The girlfriend returns, orders her drink, and walks to the shelving unit behind me to peruse the local handmade goods on display.

I peer outside the window just as a man on a bike rides past. He has a leashed dog in each hand and is not holding onto the handlebars. What a sight to see!

The couple leave after perusing the shop for a few minutes and after he realizes his drink isn’t iced. He whined about it a little, but proceeded to walk out the door reassuring the baristas that it was OK as they offered to make him a new drink AKA pour his over ice.

After just an hour at The Bean, I’m alone again aside from the baristas. I decide to pack up and go since this project is based on conversation and stories, and in an empty coffee shop there is an obvious lack of both. As I pack up a man who looks slightly older than me walks in and grabs a table along the wall. He is new to town too. I can tell because he asked for the WiFi password just like me. Only newbies ask for the WiFi passwords in towns this small, regulars just know.

I grab my bag, hand my mug to one of the baristas and say goodbye. This is episode one of The Flannelogues.

-JD