Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cowboy Country

Mesa Verde National Park
The cowboy hat shop, with one-horse Mancos reflected in its window
Back on melting form?

After leaving the desert we pulled into the ultimate one-horse town. Or at least its modern-day equivalent. Mancos, Colorado. Mancos' claim to fame is as the "gateway to Mesa Verde", a fabulous national park that hides amazing ancient Puebloan dwellings deep in its heart - we had to switchback around 20 miles of hairpin bends to find them.

But what made Mancos for me was that at 5pm on a Saturday afternoon, I managed to stumble into the frontier equivalent of Marylebone High Street. Okay, so I'm referring to but one shop - Beehive. But what a shop! I'm telling you - Beehive could hold its own not only in Marylebone but in Manhattan's Meatpacking District. I know, because it stocked the same brand of high scale, organic baby care - erbaviva - that I found in a shop there. (And which my friend sent me for Louis for Christmas.) Imagine the buzz I got after four or so days in the American wilderness! Amazingly it was one of only three shops in the entire town.

Chic shop (note the lack of plural) aside, the town of Mancos - if it merits that tag with a population of barely 1,000 - is the gateway to Cowboy Country. I know that because cowboy memorabilia were sprinkled everywhere. One of its other two shops was even a cowboy hat maker. I'm not talking the pale faces of Injunland, but the ranchers who followed the miners West to ensure they had something to eat. (This is America, after all.)

Arguably, even Beehive wasn't the best thing about this lovely, crunchy Colorado town. (That's "crunchy" in a granola munching, organic loving kind of a way.) That accolade would have to fall to the wonderful Absolute Bakery, a natural cafe that is a natural magnet for all Mancosians come breakfast time. And the town's entire tourist trade, i.e. us. For a brief moment it seemed that Louis might be back on top melting form after his Indian illness - check out him melting a fellow diner above. But his cheery mood was to prove but a mere respite. 

Another top point about Mancos was its history. You might think I'm joking, given the town was founded in 1894, but actually what I love about American history is its very newness. Medieval England and its endless King Henrys were all very well, but it can be tough to empathise with events that happened so long ago. America, on the other hand, especially gems like Mancos, is far more fathomable. Just think: the entire town is newer than our house back home. I wish someone would do the same restoration job on 55 Reverdy Road that they have done on Mancos' now visitor centre. 

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