Our daughters termed it “Mansion Camping”, a five bedroom house with huge dining and community spaces, including a theater, and also surrounded by the San Juan National Forest.
This was a huge family event and gives a glimpse into another “Modern Family”.
Pat, my lovely wife of 26 years, and I. Our 25 year old twin daughters, Logan and Brenna, along with Brenna’s boyfriend, David . Pat’s adult children from her first marriage, Sarah and Max. Along with Sarah came husband Erich and 1 year old Owen. Max was accompanied by Heather, his now common-law spouse, and her 8 year old daughter, Penny. Finally, Donna, my 86 year old mother, was boldly going to face the projected mayhem.
This could very well be my Mom’s last big vacation. She remains an ebullient, active woman, but is just getting older. She gets frustrated with herself if she forgets someone’s name (five kids, 12 grandkids, 2 great grandkids, and various spouses and significant others, and her sisters and brother and their offspring) or can’t come up with a word. She complains about getting old and her declining abilities. “You are doing fine for someone your age. You’re 86, most people your age are dead.” She appreciates the joke.
Having everyone together for a week was a meaningful event. People just starting their journey and people closer to the end.
I had severe asthma as a child where I had to remain bedridden for days at a time because I could not breathe deeply enough. I was forced to confront my mortality at an early age. I remember asking my Mom, “When I die, will I be just like I am, but in heaven?” She answered “Yes” and that was a comforting thought, somehow some part of me would go on. Eventually, science replaced religion in my belief system. All of the molecules in my body will travel elsewhere. Having originated in stardust, they will return there. I find this cyclical nature most comforting. And I find it everywhere, in people, in food, and in beer. For 5000 years, people have been using harvested plants to make beer. By drinking a beer, you become a participant in this cycle.
Back to the mansion…
When we arrived in Pagosa Springs, the cleaners had not finished, so we traveled into town to Riff Raff Brewing Company. Pat and I had seen the place as we had traveled to see friends in Durango the previous month. The name would have been enough to draw me in as I felt I have a particular affinity to riff raff. Ah, the lovely coincidences of life. I would get to visit one of the three Pagosa Springs brewpubs, even before officially checking in.
Excellent place. Beers tasted-El Duende, Plebian Porter, Stepchild American Red, Skallywag English Pale. All were excellent, but the American Red was our favorite. We would return here for lunch a couple of times and to fill up our growlers. Shaded area outside, friendly staff.
Pat and I had to do some grocery shopping on the
western edge of town. While pulling out of the parking lot we saw the Pagosa Brewing Company across the street. It seemed fortuitous and even Pat thought the sign was a sign. We entered through the huge beer garden and perched ourselves at the bar. I was stunned at the number of beers on tap. We shared the taster tray of 13 beers. At this point, I was a bit skeptical about the large number of beers on tap (for a smallish place). When I remarked on this to Pat, a regular sitting next to us stated, “Yes, they do 60 brews a year.” Yikes! Quantity does not necessarily equal quality in my mind and suspicions were confirmed when neither Pat or I liked the first three tasters which were mediocre to unenjoyable. I was visibly nervous now. Three down and ten to go. Fortunately, there were several fine brews in that remainder with our favorite being their Peachy Peach saison. We did not eat here, so I don’t know about the food. Beers tasted- Ancestral Ale, Peanut Butter Stout, Raging Raspberry, Grog, Rodeo Rider Red, Wolf Creek Wheat, Chili Verde Cerveza, Pagosa Pale Ale, Peachy Peach, Poor Richard’s Ale, Kayaker Cream Ale, Soaker’s Stout, Powder Day IPA.
I tend to order clothes online or Pat buys them for me. I don’t like shopping (unless it’s a liquor store or an army-navy surplus store), but Pat (that knowing and bewitching woman) promised we would end up at Wolfe Brewing Company. As our house was a ten minute drive outside the eastern edge of town and the grocery store was on the western side, we had passed Wolfe Brewing several times, so I was happily anticipating an eventual visit. Another large beer garden with tents. Good beer, excellent food, and friendly staff. Beers tasted-Boegarden Jack Wit, Snuffy’s Hollow Stout, Yippee-ki-yay, Putt Hill Smoked Porter, Pagoslow Palezner, Taxi Dog Amber. My only objection to this place is their awful wolf graphic.
So raise a glass to your ancestors and descendants in Pagosa Springs, local brewpub, or in the comfy confines of your home. Cheers!
God made yeast, as well as dough, and loves fermentation just as dearly as he loves vegetation.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Photo Credits- All mine except for the exterior of Riff Raff Brewing, http://pagosadailypost.com/restaurant-reviews/riff-raff-brewing-company/, Jimmie, http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=105×4836605, and Wolfe Brewing Company logo, http://www.wolfebrewingco.com/