Summer Getaway Honors CPW’s 80th Anniversary
Colorado Press Women will host an 80th anniversary celebratory getaway in Cañon City and Alamosa, historical cities with deep roots in newspapering, Friday and Saturday, July 30 and 31 this year when we will honor two newspapers whose female owners and staff helped found CPW 80 years ago.
The first stop is Friday morning in Cañon City for a self-guided tour of the Colorado Prison Museum located adjacent to the east wall of the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, an active prison since 1871. The museum is in the historical cell house that was the original Women’s Correctional Facility. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The address is 201 North 1st Street. Allow at least 60 minutes to explore all the museum’s facilities. Admission is $10 adults, $9 seniors.
Lunch will be at noon Friday at the Happy Endings Caboose Café, 403 Water Street, just steps from downtown, the Royal Gorge Route Railroad and the Arkansas River Walk. Serves crepes, burgers, sandwiches, coffees and cold drinks, with prices ranging from $10 to $14. There is outdoor seating at the caboose.
At 1:30 p.m., CPW members meet with the publisher of the Cañon City Daily Record to recognize two former employees, Lucille Norton, news editor, and Myrtle Sterling, columnist, who were among 58 charter members of CPW. The paper is in the Sunflower Bank Building, 831 Royal Gorge, Ste 325.
From Cañon City, attendees drive two and a half hours to Alamosa to stay overnight Friday and Saturday, July 30-31. The most expeditious route is to take Hwy 50 west along the Arkansas River toward Salida, and at Poncha Springs heading south on US 285 over Poncha Pass, then turning onto Hwy 17 to Alamosa. You’ll pass the UFO Watchtower on the way, one of the San Luis Valley’s quirkiest attractions.
The rates for our block of rooms at Comfort Inn and Suites, 6301 W. U.S. Hwy 160, are $160 per night for two beds, until June 30. Call 719-587-9000, ext. 0. After June 30 the group rate for CPW goes up. Reservations don’t require payment until check-in and may be cancelled. The hotel has Wi-Fi, free breakfast and an indoor pool and hot tub, open 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. Other options for hotel accommodations are available but may require payment upfront and not allow cancellations.
Friday night supper is at the San Luis Valley Brewing Company in Alamosa, known for local beer and hearty comfort food, offering indoor and outdoor seating. We’ll gather at 6:30 p.m. and order at 7 p.m. Address: 631 Main St.
July 31, 2021
Take advantage of the free hot breakfast at the Comfort Inn — eggs, meat, yogurt, fruit, waffles, etc. Other options in Alamosa are: Blessed Brews Coffee Shop, Milagros Coffee House, Starbucks.
At 10 a.m. Saturday morning we’ll gather at the Alamosa Valley Courier to honor three charter members: Ellen Kate Dier, co-publisher and editor, Margery Dier, co-publisher, and Genevieve E. McDermith, society editor and reporter. The Courier is at 2205 State Ave., about a 10-minute drive from the Comfort Inn and Suites.
Between the Courier visit and lunch, attendees can visit the vibrant weekly Farmer’s Market on Main Street. The market’s focus is local produce, animal products, foods and goods. The Narrow Gauge Books Co-op bookstore, 602 Main Street, is another option for a quick visit; the store features books about the history of the San Luis Valley and local authors.
Another option is the San Luis Valley History Museum at 4th and Hunt with displays of the diversified cultures and arts of the area, including costumes worn in the 1860’s by frontiersman, Tom Tobin, Indian artifacts, clothing of the late 19th Century and a traditional trading post. Admission fee is $5 per adult.
At noon, lunch will be at Juanito’s Mexican Kitchen with a greeting from Alamosa Mayor Ty Colman and a talk by Dr. Cheryl Lovell, president of Adams State University, followed by a tour of the campus. Dr. Lovell will give an overview of the university and explain the programs available to students in communications. Juanito’s is at 2069 1st Street. Prices are $9.95 to $14.
After the tour, CPW travels 40 minutes northwest to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, 11999 CO 150, Mosca, to see the tallest dunes in North America. To access the main park area and visitor center, take Highway 160 east of Alamosa and then Highway 150 north. The long springtime delays at entry should be gone when we get there because Medano Creek at the base of the dunes is dry at the area next to the parking lot. July high temperatures average mid-80s. Plan dunes walks in evening to avoid burned feet, heat exhaustion. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in July. Visitor Center is open 9-4:30 p.m. No reservations required to visit and no limit on number of visitors in park, but a limit of 10 visitors at the time in the visitor center due to COVID restrictions.
Box meals will be provided for attendees for a picnic dinner. Use this registration form to indicate your choice of chicken, turkey, ham or veggie wrap. Meals come with chips, cookie and bottled water. We’ll gather to eat at 5 p.m. at the S. Ramada picnic site at the Dunes Parking Lot. The picnic area is reserved for CPW and has trees and tables.
After the repast, attendees can remain to attend the Sand Dunes at Night program. The Great Sand Dunes was certified as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association. The distance from urban areas, dry air, and a high elevation makes for excellent night viewing. Pack bug repellant and warm fleece jacket as the heat of the day will subside and cooler temps will set in.
Optional side trips: Fort Garland Museum and Cultural Center has exhibits on the Buffalo Soldiers stationed there and indigenous slavery in southern Colorado; this state museum is 30 minutes east of Alamosa on Hwy 160 and 35 minutes south of the Sand Dunes on Hwy150. The Colorado Gators Reptile Park at Mosca is less than 18 miles north of Alamosa on Hwy 17. Travel a half hour east from there to reach the Sand Dunes.
A side trip on the way back to Denver Sunday is the Saguache Museum with eight exhibit rooms including Native Americans, pioneer Saguache, a kitchen, sitting room, school room, minerals of the area and weapons, including a Revolutionary War sword and the derringer the governor’s wife used to foil a stage robbery. Next to the museum’s adobe building, built 1870, is the old jail and sheriff’s office (used 1908-1958), a fully furnished sheep herder’s wagon, a replica of pioneer blacksmith shop and old-time firefighting equipment. Admission $7. Open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saguache is north of Monte Vista on Hwy. 285, on the way to Poncha Pass.
Have books to spare? Saguache’s public library is only open Monday and Tuesday afternoons and would welcome donations of like-new hardcover books. Sarah Koehn Frey, director of the Northern Saguache County Library District, says, “If we don’t add [your donations] to our collection, we’ll sell them to make money for our library” — a good deal for one of the poorest counties in the state. The library is closed on Sunday but has a big orange outdoor book drop in front of the building, which is on the east end of the park on the east side of Hwy 285 two blocks south of the museum.
Ongoing CPW Events
The CPW Writers Group welcomes new members interested in stretching into creative writing, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry or scripts. We meet on the second Saturday of the month. For details, contact Ann Lockhart.