Days 16, 17 and 18, WLBT

Fort Collins, CO

The enthusiastic management at Old Fire House Books – Logan, Renee and Megan – hosted the WLBT reading on Day 17.  The book store shares Fort Collins’ former main fire station with a tea shop.

The small group attending included a 20-year veteran innkeeper who sold her inn several years ago.  Sherry always wanted to write a book about the experiences she had over the years running the three-room inn, but concluded she was not a writer.  She is happy to see that someone else with writing skills has produced a book.  Her regular customers included parents of Colorado State students, and those attending seminars at the university.  Unfortunately, all three bed and breakfast inns in Fort Collins have closed, perhaps another sign of the rapid changes in hospitality industry brought about, in large part, by the internet.

Another attender was a graduate of Penn State, who had met her husband at Penn State and the Colorado license on her SUV is PN ST8.  Not many around her get it, she said, and fewer care.  Adding to the small degree of separation – Becky’s mother-in-law graduated from Radnor High School and the Radnor-Lower Merion rivalry as described in Chapter 5 (Small Worlds – Three Percent for Six Percent) of Scone by Scone is a familiar story.  Becky’s from Baldwin in Allegheny County and her husband is from Delaware County.

The reading followed three days of great reunion time with the author’s cousin, Betsy Beeson Towle and her husband, Bill.  They moved to Colorado two years ago from rural northern New Jersey to be close to their son, Will, his wife Meredith and now two grandsons, Russell, 2, and Porter, 2 months. 

The tour arrived Saturday after driving through heavy rain and sometimes hail in Wyoming, with the temperatures dropping from the 90s to the 40s.  We stopped for lunch at the Virginian Hotel in Medicine Bow, a place made famous by Owen Wister in his classic western novel, The Virginian.  It’s where, “When you call me that, smile!” comes from.  Medicine Bow is a small town with dirt streets, and The Virginian Hotel could be the set for any number of Western movies. 

The formal dining room was set for 40 to 50, with starched linen napkins elegantly folded, candelabra with candles and butter in the butter dishes. Maybe it was to be the location for a wedding dinner.  The tour suggests this only because the driver of a car with Texas license plates that had followed us for a while, then passed us, then pulled over the side of the road and then followed us into the Virginian’s parking lot asked, “Are you looking for the wedding that is somewhere below Laramie?”

Reluctantly we didn’t wait to see, tempted as the author was to spend the rest of the day dusting the Virginian’s incredible array of Western relics.

Much of Sunday afternoon was spent at The Mishawaka with Betsy and Bill watching the many rafters and kayakers on the Poudre River, a swift moving mountain stream. Our cousin Molly and her fiancé Sean will be married there October 27th. Like the location, the bride and groom are “no frills,” so it suits their nuptial needs well

Being with close relatives is much like the roots you see sticking out of the country – you see the life that once was recognize it as part of your own. A picture of my Aunt Deedie (whose name I officially borrowed when I was 21 or so) standing next to a three-year-old who was my father. A picture of the road to Lake Pochuck, where Betsy’s parents retired, and where we visited every summer. A picture of our grandmother whom everyone knew as “Moo,” and who I am supposedly a dead ringer.

These few exalted days prepared the tour for its move south to Denver and Colorado Springs for the 4th of July, and then on to Kansas.