E14: How Mesa Park Vineyards Evolved into Mesa Park Fruit Company with Laura Black

Laura and Brandon Black were happily settling into life in Denver when they took a trip to Palisade that ended up changing their lives forever. In 2018, after that fateful trip, Laura and Brandon bought a vineyard and winery and moved to Palisade. They had never made wine or grown grapes before, but they were confident they could figure it out. And they did! Very quickly, their Mesa Park Vineyards was producing award winning-wines and attracting a loyal following.

Then, in March 2023, they announced that they were going to shut down the winery to focus on fruit farming. After a collective gasp, followed by an outpouring of support and local panic-buying, Mesa Park Vineyards shut its doors and Mesa Park Fruit Company opened this season. Why did they decide to make this big change and what are they planning to do now? I talked with Laura to find out.

Find out where Mesa Park Fruit Company’s fruit is available at mesaparkfruit.com, instagram.com/mesaparkfruit, and facebook.com/mesaparkfruit.    

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

 

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that brings you a snapshot of the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m Lisa McNamara.

A few years ago, Laura and Brandon Black were happily settling into their lives in Denver when they took a trip to Palisade. On that trip, a seed was planted that grew into a tree that ended up changing the path they had thought their lives would follow. Wait, is that too corny? Yeah, probably.

In 2018, after that fateful trip, Laura and Brandon bought a vineyard and winery and moved to Palisade. They had never made wine or grown grapes before, but they were confident they could figure it out. And they did! Very quickly, their Mesa Park Vineyards was producing award winning wines and attracting a loyal following. Then, in March 2023, they announced that they were going to shut down the winery to focus on fruit farming. After a collective gasp, followed by an outpouring of support and local panic-buying, Mesa Park Vineyards shut its doors and Mesa Park Fruit Company opened this season. Why did they decide to make this big change and what are they planning to do now? I talked with Laura to find out.

LB: but you’re not there’s no video right this is just like audio

LM: no I can’t I can’t do videos

LB: I don’t blame you

LM: I’m like I can’t do it

LB: I think it’s for me like we’ve done we were on KAFM or whatever

LM: yeah I listened to a couple of yours

LB: and then we’ve done we did the happy hours during covid but the video is like a whole nother like layer of like nervousness for me and then you’re like what am I doing with my hands you know

LM: I know, I don’t want to have to worry about how my face looks yeah and like when I’m editing I don’t want to have to try to edit the video smoothly so I’m just like I’m not doing it

LM: Laura and I also talked about working in real estate in the Grand Valley, how her thoughts about short term rentals changed after living in Palisade for a few years, how the farming and wine-making communities come together to support each other when times get tough, and more – on today’s Postcard From Palisade.

LM: but anyway before we get too far can you introduce yourself just your name how you introduce yourself to somebody that you’re meeting for the first time

LB: sure uh I’m Laura Black I am the owner of Mesa Park Fruit Company formerly known as Mesa Park Vineyards

LM: and who else is here with us right now

LB: Daryl our little French Bulldog who is probably uh the most popular winery dog in Palisade yeah he’s here you might hear a snort or a grunt from him in the background

LM: I think he’s sleeping right now at my feet. It’s really cute.

LB: you’ll hear some snores for sure so yeah he’s hanging out

LM: so I definitely want to talk about the winery even though it is no more so I definitely do want to talk about that and then about going forward what you’re doing going forward but before we get into all that can you just talk a little bit about how you came to Palisade and kind of your path here

LB: sure yeah so uh Brandon my husband and I um we came to Palisade like a year into our relationship I had been here several times with girlfriends and I was like hey um there’s this little gem out in western Colorado let’s go spend a weekend out there and so we came out and had a weekend full of wine tasting and we were actually sitting on the patio at Red Fox Cellars having a wine cocktail and um looking at real estate and we did that often I was a real estate agent in Denver and Brandon was a general contractor and so everywhere we traveled we we always did the like how much does it cost to live here this would be a cool place to own a second home and so on and so forth

so we were just like scrolling through listings in Palisade sitting on the patio and we came across Mesa Park Vineyards and um we were like oh well let’s just go up there we’ve never heard of that place we’ve never been there uh and so it was later in the day on Saturday so we’re like we’ll get up Sunday morning and just take a drive up and so we did and even though the hours posted said they should be open they were closed and so we I actually called the listing agent after Brandon just like wouldn’t drop it and I was like as a Realtor myself I was like totally honest with her I’m like we are lookie-loos we are not gonna buy this place but we’re here and we want to take a look and she’s like just go up the driveway they’re home Chuck’s there he’s a cowboy he’ll let you in whatever

and so we’re like okay so we pulled up and met Chuck he like pulled around the barn in a golf cart and he was like come on in and this was in October so harvest was happening and so he took us into the barn and he had all this fermentations going and all this stuff and he was like dropping pH and titratable acidity numbers and all the stuff at us and we’re like it was just flying over our heads we were like this is super cool um so we we did the tour and actually we were here for probably like two to three hours with him and we didn’t even drink any wine we just sort of toured around and then we were like we gotta go because we had to get back to Denver so we hopped in the car and that’s really what started the conversation it’s like three and a half hours four hours in the car and we’re like could we do this should we do this and we actually um had a trip planned in December of that same year so that was October and we were going to South America for six weeks and we’re like we can’t buy this place and then leave for six weeks that doesn’t work so we’re like we’re just gonna table it and if it’s still around when we get back we’ll look into it further

so we went to South America did Wine Country there looked at like should we buy land here the language barrier is real um so we came back and we’re like Palisade it’s still it’s still there let’s try so we wrote up an offer and after many months of back and forth and trying to figure out financing and all that sort of stuff we put it under contract and we closed on it so that was in January of the following year so it was over a year

LM: oh so over a year, not just a few months, a year and a few months

LB: not even the following year like the following following year yeah so it was a long process and so Chuck and Patty who owned the place the sellers that we bought it from they were super patient with us we had because we had no intention of doing this we had a house under construction in Denver that we were about to move into we had we just we were getting married like we had no we weren’t ready for it right

LM: you were on a different track

LB: yeah totally so they just we were like we can’t do this unless you can give us a little bit of time to deal with all this stuff that we’ve got going in Denver and so and they did and they were so great to work with so we um Brandon actually came out here in September of the the year before we closed and helped with the tail end of harvest and just worked with Chuck in the vineyard a little bit just to try to so we could figure out a little bit about what we were doing um and then I had to stay in Denver and finish up working and uh we closed in January and then I moved out here I was kind of back and forth quite a bit and then was here in March um and then we reopened the tasting room and everything after a remodel in April of 2018.

LM: 2018 okay

LB: yes so it’s been a little over five years and it’s been awesome

LM: and so the former owners were they retiring are they still around in the area

LB: yes so they were retiring they had Mesa Park for 10 years um they bought it with their daughter and son-in-law and um their daughter and son-in-law moved back to Denver about halfway through their ownership and so Chuck and Patty were running it and they were ready to retire it’s this place is it’s endless amounts of work um and it was sort of their second career if you will so they retired into it and then they were they were really ready to retire they’re still in uh Grand Junction they’re in the Redlands and we’re still very close to them part of our contract was that Chuck would stick around for the first year and help us oh Daryl

LM: it’s like thunder rumbling

LB: so so we’ve stayed really close with them and yeah as time went on Chuck sort of transitioned you know less and less from like helping us out and more into just coming and hanging out on the customer side of the bar and chit chatting with you know our visitors and he had he had so many friends and and um people who loved him and so whenever he was here he always found somebody to have a glass of wine with and yeah and hang out so that that was a really good transition and a really it just worked out really well for everybody I always say I think as much as we needed him that first year it was like he needed that to sort of let go a little bit too you know yeah if you ask like Chuck loves this place so it’s his baby so

LM: uh that’s such a cool experience though just to have that and not because you hadn’t had experience working at a winery or a vineyard or in a farm or anything like that before

LB: no no experience at all I hadn’t had anything um Brandon is from Montana and he his family had a farm growing up and he would spend summers there so he had worked on farms before and then he actually lived in Australia before we met and he farmed out there different kind of farming broad acre farming like huge tractors and so this fruit farming is is all by hand and you know a lot of like farmers from the Midwest would come into the tasting room and and they’re like how many acres do you have and we’re like eight and they’re like 80 and it’s like no eight because you do everything by hand you know right so just totally different yeah um so that was his experience farming but it was it was super valuable even so because like he could get on the tractor and he knew how to drive it where I was like right I have no idea what to do you know that first year was such a huge learning curve for both of us we had equipment in the winery that we didn’t even know what it did until we got to harvest you know we were like yeah we have that thing and we know we need to use it but we don’t know what it does

LM: oh wow right that’s amazing I mean what a huge project to take on and so of course like everybody probably in Palisade listening to this knows that you recently decided to shut down the winery piece of things are you ready to talk about that like yeah why you decided to do that and kind of the thought that went into that decision

LB: sure yeah we’ve been I at least I think we’ve been like fairly open about our reasoning behind it so we a year and a half ago we had a baby and anyone who’s had a baby knows that that changes your life in a significant way and so it was one of those things that the the conversation started well I mean even back further than that there were things happening that at the time that they were happening we didn’t really know what you know what they were leading us to but looking back it was like sort of these like sequence of events that led us to this decision

the first one being that we had that really hard freeze in October of 2020 and so we did not have a crop in 2021 at all so we didn’t make any wine and a lot of people brought grapes in or brought juice in from elsewhere and and made wine anyway that year but Maya our little one was born in October of 2021 and so that would have been right in the middle of harvest and wine making and so we just decided we’ll figure it out afterwards

so we had the baby didn’t make any wine that year and then we got to this past year harvest so like September October of 22 and we were really low on wine and we’re like okay we are gonna have to make a significant investment and bring some wine in from elsewhere make as much wine as we possibly can or do we shift our focus to one of the I would say the winery has like three businesses there’s the retail side which is you’re selling the wine there’s a manufacturing side you’re making the wine and then there’s the farming right so do we shift our focus to like one or two of those three things instead of trying to do them all raise this little one I do real estate we just had a lot of balls in the air right

and Brandon is our farmer and was our wine maker too and so his season just it never ended because he was like rushing to get the wine done so he could get back into the field and then rushing to get harvested so we could get to the wine making and it just never stopped for him and so that was another thing that led us to this decision it was like you have to pick right and then the other thing is is that we’re sitting here you can see that’s our tasting room right there it’s right across it’s basically in our backyard and so as much as it was tons of fun most of the time to have friends and family and things like that here there were days where we were like we just wish we could have our house or our backyard to ourselves you know

and so um it was just sort of like like all big decisions it wasn’t one thing in particular it was just like a lot of things you know got to a point where we’re like we need to make this decision and we went as far as to say like should we buy a piece of land and build another building and grow our production and then we can afford to hire a full-time wine maker and do and then we’re like do we want to do that we’re trying to get stuff off of our plate instead of add more stuff to our plate and so it was just like I mean it was months and months of conversation and back and forth and it it came as a shock to people when we announced this spring but we had sort of decided at harvest last year right because we didn’t make any wine again so we were like if we sell our grapes that’s it like we’re done and so while it was a shock for a lot of people this spring it was like sort of we had time to process it all so so that’s just sort of like a long answer to your short question

LM: no it’s but it’s really interesting and just I think a lot of people you know are like why you know wouldn’t you think of this what do you think of that but when you think about all those pieces and then the fact that you don’t ever have down time I mean like people would be here in your yard

LB: right now

LM: even when you’re not working right when you’re not working quote unquote you would never have any down time so I can see how it would be a challenge

LB: yeah the summer season is it wears on you when it’s it’s because it’s seven days a week right and it was just like if if we even had that’s why we were like well maybe we could move the tasting room you know and then it wouldn’t be um but it’s just one of those things that we were like we’re really good at adding stuff we are that’s what we do and so we’re like let’s stop that for a second and think about this logically and honestly Brandon needed needed this too like he couldn’t keep going how he was it was just he was gonna totally burn out

LM: oh yeah

LB: so yeah it was but it was a tough decision because it was there were so many parts of it that were so much fun and like creating this product and we could share it with friends and family and we had we had like some of our customers have become really good friends and the amount of support that people showed us it was it made it tough to make the decision like those were the reasons it was hard you know

LM: yeah I’m sure I saw on when you did announce it on social media there was a huge outpouring of support and

LB: yeah

LM: I mean sadness but also understanding and I’m sure people stopping by to say goodbye I mean you had months of that people coming in

LB: yeah

LM: giving you their stories and I’m sure that was really hard but

LB: yeah it was it was a lot but it was it’s funny because I was when we made the decision decision I was like almost worried that we were letting people down or something like that and the amount of support like you just said that we got instead of like oh that sucks they’re up you know yeah it was I was like oh and people were like I understand

LM: right

LB: I’m like huh you know I was like a huge weight off my shoulders yeah

LM: yeah well what are some of the stories that are going to stick with you that people told you or anything stick in your mind

LB: I think it’s more the people right that we met along the way um and then we I mean we have some incredible views of the Grand Mesa out there and we had some wine club pickup parties that were just super special that like we had a couple weddings where we had just amazing sunsets for these these couples just and then like the people that we met along the way a lot of which hopefully will will be friends in the future the support that we were shown from people near and far was unbelievable

so before we started recording we were talking about our covid happy hours and this this woman named Deb Deb the pirate was her Instagram handle and she and her husband Norm lived in Puerto Rico and they would tune in we never had met them and they would tune in every Friday to these covid happy hours that we did and then she came here and so and she’s like I’m Deb the pirate and we’re like oh my God so just like stuff like that is so crazy right um so that was really cool yeah we just we the outpouring of of like support that we received uh was was amazing yeah so that’s yeah that’s like the part that makes me that’s like the the you know you say it’s bittersweet and that’s like the sweet part that you’re like it’s it’s yeah yeah I guess the bitter part right but yeah

LM: both

LB: yeah yeah

LM: and you were able to go out with a bang at sip in the spring and just sell out the rest of the wine and how did it feel when you were done with that event

LB: that was crazy because I really as as odd as it sounds throughout the whole process like when we announced and I I had like crazy amounts of emails and I was trying to respond to everyone and then we went to sip into spring and we brought all the wine that we had left I’m like we’re just gonna bring it all and if we sell it great and if we don’t then we’ll figure out what to do with the rest of it and we got it was in the second session and we got to the last bottle and I like it hit me right I’m like this is it oh my gosh you know and it was like excitement but it was also like I was just like a little bit sad I’m like it’s over you know um

and our good friends who we met um through some other friends at the winery uh Kelly and JT came up and they bought the last bottle of wine and we have like documentation of that so that was cool but it was like it was it was just again it’s just like so bittersweet right like so much excitement but also you’re like that is a chapter in our lives that was like very significant one and one that we will never forget for so many reasons like highs and lows and goods and bads and it’s over you know and there’s clean up stuff to do you know like bookkeeping and record keeping and all that sort of stuff but like that’s it we sold our last bottle of wine so so yeah that was kind of crazy I was like I didn’t I didn’t expect to like have the feeling that I did you know but it was a it was the perfect way to like end it because it was a beautiful day that festival is so amazing and so it was just like a good we got to see so many friends and wine club members and things like that at the festival so it was a good way to call it

LM: but so obviously you both are amazing winemakers because your wine

LB: not me

LM: oh okay Brandon is an amazing winemaker um you know y’all won in the most recent Governor’s Cup 2022 a double gold which is huge I mean one of only seven wines to win that and I think you had seven wines that won different honors that’s huge

LB: yeah yeah we medalled in everything we submitted so that was really exciting

LM: right so clearly are awesome at it do you think you would ever get back into it or is it or do you need time to even entertain that idea

LB: so it’s a question that we’ve we’ve been asked a lot

LM: I’m sure

LB: and Brandon so Brandon is our winemaker I don’t take credit for any of our wine I you know I like dump the grapes in the crusher but when it comes to actually making it taste good and and the like late nights doing pump overs and punch downs and all that I don’t that’s not me so it’s all Brandon and um he as of right now he says no I don’t know if that will change in the future but yeah as of right now he he he’s very he’s shifted his focus to like solely farming he’s very focused on that at this point so maybe once he gets sort of all of that under control in a few years or something maybe he does like a couple batches as hobbies as a hobby wine maker I don’t know

LM: yeah

LB: I would love for him to experiment with sparkling wine just because it would be something fun and different um but he says no right now

LM: yeah that makes sense and that’s a good point to transition and just you know no more looking back looking forward so looking forward what are you focusing on

LB: so we that was so that’s when we made the decision it was to shift our focus to farming solely and then and then like all things you can farm as much fruit as you want but you have to sell it too right so so we shifted gears and um Mesa Park Vineyards is slowly transitioning to Mesa Park Fruit Company and we still have our vineyards so we’ll still grow wine grapes here and then sell them to the other wineries um Maison and Corey Norsworthy the winemaker there they’ve been buying our grapes for a couple years Qutori down in Paonia has bought some of our grapes in the past so we will keep people informed on where they go because people have asked that too like hey where are your grapes gonna go

LM: right still keeping a little piece of connection

LB: yeah so and we’re hoping that we can get some sort of like vineyard designation on the bottle or something like that so we’ll see we’ll see how that goes and then in addition to our vineyard our neighbor above us to the south of us her name is Laurie and she purchased I should know this I think it’s 19 acres total in 2020. and it was a dilapidated vineyard and we at leased it from her with the intent to just sort of rehab it and then we were going to keep the grapes and she had Syrah and Cab Franc and Merlot up there I think or Cab Sauv

anyway that freeze happened in October and her vines were in such bad shape that they did not rebound like most of the vines in the valley and so when that happened we sat down with her had a big conversation and she was like I don’t want to grow grapes I want to grow peaches and cherries and we had a lease on the place so Brandon’s like okay I’m gonna learn how to grow peaches and cherries so like another thing that happened at the time we didn’t think anything of it but it like led us to this decision right so um she put in four acres of cherries and then we just planted six acres of peaches on her property she’s doing her cherries on a trellis system so it looks it almost looks like a hops field with like the big posts and then there’s a wire running across the post and these cherries when you buy them they’re like made for this trellis system so they’re these long spurs and you basically plant them and then you bend the trunk along the wire and then the shoots come up vertical so you’re basically when it’s mature it’ll look like a wall of cherries and so you can plant more trees per acre and the labor per acre is supposed to be lower because you’re not on ladders in each tree picking you can literally just like stand on a flatbed trailer and drive along and pick off the the wall of cherries so we’ll see um this is she’s got four acres of it and it’s one of the larger systems in this valley as far as the trellising cherries goes and so we’ll see how it goes

LM: yeah first year

LB: and then we planted an acre of peaches behind the barn behind our tasting room that was Cab Sauv that also didn’t really come back all that well after that freeze and then a few months ago my dad and stepmom were in town and I thought they were playing lookie-loo and they ended up buying an orchard right next to Palisade Pies

LM: oh wow

LB: and so we have peaches plums and pluots in that orchard and so Brandon’s farming that too yeah so um so there you go so he’s busy

LM: a lot of fruit

LB: yeah a lot of fruit so we had I did the social media post a couple weeks ago we had this semi-truck pull-up with 4,000 trees in it and I’m like here we go oh you know

LM: yeah how does that go what was it like to plant that many trees how long did it take

LB: so it they go they plant them really quickly actually so Kenny Sal he’s a big um peach farmer and he’s across the road from us so him and his guys helped us plant we don’t have the appropriate equipment to plant peach trees like that but it was amazing there were I don’t know 10 or 12 guys out there and they just drive the tractor along and like plop a tree in and then a guy throws water in and then a guy throws dirt on top and then a guy comes and stomps around the tree and then our guys were following with the irrigation systems they were like pulling the hoses and putting the sprinkler heads in and so it’s really like it’s tons of manual labor but it goes pretty quickly like I think they planted the six or seven acres of peaches in a day

LM: wow

LB: yeah

LM: that’s amazing

LB: and then they did the other two acres of cherries that was another day yeah they’re long days

LM: yeah but still that’s wow one day that’s amazing

LB: yeah so um so yeah so now the trees won’t produce for a few years so you’re just growing them and then I think that the cherry trees that we planted last year will flower they’ll they’ll have fruit next year but we’ll pull it all off because we want the energy to grow go towards getting the tree strong versus growing cherries when they’re so young so and even like all the peach trees and you just pull off all the blossoms and let the energy go back to the tree it’s just to establish a good foundation for the tree so that it can withstand these crazy weather events that we have here in Colorado

LM: sometimes yeah so you’re still a couple years out from producing fruit that you’re selling

LB: well my parents orchard is fifth year so we’ll have fruit

LM: okay that’s good yeah

LB: yeah exactly

LM: so so are you planning to sell it at farmers markets or wholesale or

LB: so we are in the process of figuring all of that out right now we will probably we will have peaches and then the plums and pluots that freeze got them pretty good so we won’t have a ton of those but I you know we’re talking to some people around town about just doing like pop-ups and so we’ll obviously post about those and then we are going to Laurie our neighbor so she’s a she’s a partner in Mesa Park Fruit Company and she sort of splits time between her house here and then she’s in Louisville or Superior on the Front Range and so she’s working with um Sweet Cow and Lucky Pie and in Louisville downtown Louisville and we’ll have a tent there with peaches on Friday evenings they have their big like market down there and so we’ll be in their parking lot with Palisade peaches once it’s peach season so

LM: awesome

LB: yeah so that’s what we know so far we uh we’re still working through the detail it feels like we’re in our first year of of the winery ownership again where we’re like we don’t know we you know we’re just sort of figuring it out as we go but without Chuck this time so but we’ll figure it out

LM: yeah

LB: we will be direct to consumer with some of our fruit this summer we just need to figure out where and how that looks

LM: sure yeah so like a pop-up at a winery or something like that

LB: yeah exactly yeah Jeff and Jody don’t know this yet but I’m gonna ask them if we can pop up at the Spoke and Vine

LM: that would be awesome

LB: or over at Restoration

LM: Monday

LB: yeah yeah exactly it would be a great time today so um so yeah you’ll see us around town um and we’ll get once we have details we’ll we’ll get them out there yeah it’ll be fun to to not have to do it seven days a week right and we can just pop up and see some people and it’s cool it’s one of it’s like sharing our wine was where you’re like we worked so hard at this and here it is and we hope you like it it’s like it’s sort of the same thing with the fruit right um so it’s cool

LM: absolutely

LB: it’s fun

LM: you spent a whole season growing this yeah well I can’t wait um

LB: thanks yeah

LM: so on the real estate side of things I think most visibly you are are in the process of selling Debeque Canyon Winery and that is seems like such a great fusion of your skills in both wine you know winery operation and real estate and things like that so that’s a cool opportunity

LB: yeah it’s been it’s been good the real estate so when we when we came from Denver I had been in real estate for I don’t know 12 or 15 years something like that and I was like I’m gonna table real estate I’m just gonna focus on the winery and I did for a couple years but real estate’s just sort of in my blood I love it it’s it’s fun and I’ve been doing it for so long I just I really enjoy it and so I ended up transferring my license over to Fruit and Wine Real Estate in in Palisade and Tammy Craig is the managing broker over there and she was super welcoming and like come on board because I was a little nervous you know I’m like from Denver and and I don’t know it’s it’s just it’s smaller over here and yeah so but she was super welcoming and she’s been she’s been awesome so yeah so it’s been really fun because I had done real estate in Denver for so long and then I came here and it was like learning the the business all over again water rights and just crop

LM: oh my gosh mill tailings reports

LB: mill tailings reports yeah all this stuff right that Denver doesn’t have

LM: uranium

LB: there was a house in downtown Palisade that I sold and during the inspection report the inspector found a 500 gallon oil tank in the front yard buried and like that wouldn’t that doesn’t happen I never had anything like that happen in Denver and so it was just there it’s just this whole different ball game here but it’s been really fun and I think I add a lot of value when it’s farmland or winery type of stuff because I I own operate you know I I just can speak to it because I’ve lived it and so um so selling to back Bennett and Davey who owned Debeque Canyon everybody knows Bennett and Davey if you’ve been around Palisade at all and so it’s it’s definitely kind of sad to see them go but I think it’s time you know

LM: also bittersweet

LB: I think they’re ready yeah yeah and so um when they called me I was like yes you know of course I’d be honored and we have it under contract and it closes at the end of July and I don’t know exactly what’s going to go in there yet but it’s gonna be cool

LM: yes something cool

LB: yeah and it is it’s a great I mean that space is just the house is so cute and then you’ve got the warehouse for production or whatever you want to use it for I’ve heard brewery and then wine bar in the house tossed around which would be super cool anything that brings more food into Palisade would be great

LM: I know that’s what we’re looking forward to

LB: yeah exactly so so that part of it’s been really fun and the real estate yeah it’s just there’s so many different facets to it out here and there I was actually on the phone with an appraiser the other day on another property and we were we were just sort of talking about like pricing and then appraising property in Palisade because it in a subdivision it’s easy like well that house sold for that and that one sold for that so this is worth this and in Palisade you’re like okay well that’s peaches and this is grapes and that one has water and this one has a micro jet sprinkler and this one has a fan and this one has a house and you know this one has an outbuilding that could be migrant house I mean it’s just like it’s all crazy

LM: right what’s comparable it’s unique

LB: yeah yeah so it’s um it’s fun it’s interesting it like has expanded my skill set a lot which I like I said at the beginning we’re good at like piling stuff on but I like to learn and like do new things it keeps life interesting you know and so selling real estate out here has been something that I’ve really enjoyed more so than I thought and I was like like I said I was trying to stay away but here I am so yeah

LM: since you started and kind of looking forward the next few years like how have things changed and how do you see them changing in the future like just in terms of real estate in Palisade

LB: wow well I mean even going back to when we purchased to now it’s gone crazy right Palisade is on the map now there’s no like oh what’s this little hidden gem anymore it is it is out there and people are aware of it which brings good and bad things the town needs the the tourism in order for the businesses to thrive and um and for the town to thrive in general you know and so but along with that comes you know some expensive real estate prices especially when you’re it’s all a matter of perspective when you’re coming to look at Palisade real estate you get people from the west coast and they come in here and they’re like this is cheap or people from the mountain towns you know but people who have been here for a long time they’re like hey these are these prices are out of control you know we’re gonna lose what made Palisade the reason people love it

and so that is a really it’s a balance and it’s a fine line that we’re walking and so the you know I have I can’t I can’t even tell you how many people have called me since I started doing real estate here and they’re like I want to buy a house in downtown Palisade and I want to do a short-term rental and you can’t right there’s a there’s a moratorium or not a moratorium but there’s a wait list for it

LM: there’s a limit a cap

LB: and when I first got there’s a cap and so when I first got here the wait list was like 12 names or something like that I think and it’s over 60 now and so obviously that has become a very popular thing to do and I used to I used to think like oh the town needs to increase the number that they’ll allow and now I am so glad that whoever put that into place did

LM: me too

LB: right and because otherwise if you think about it downtown like the housing stock would be a motel all summer long right and you need motels you need places for people to stay but you also need full-time residents that support the restaurants in the winter and

LM: yeah it would empty out in the winter in that case

LB: it would and so and Palisade gets very quiet in the winter as it is so I’m just I’m so glad that that’s in place and I think a lot of people from the outside myself included when I got here don’t understand it and like why would you do that you know you’re you’re losing revenue and this and that but you’re also like there has to be some sort of way to keep the town a community

LM: right

LB: right and that helps a lot yeah so as far as where I see real estate going I I mean I just it’s going to continue to get more expensive here it just is there’s so much demand and there’s so little inventory it’s supply and demand

LM: absolutely

LB: you know that’s all that it is so um but I do think it’s great up on East Orchard Mesa the agricultural zoning is in place it’s subdividing you know you can take 20 acres and go down to two 10 acre parcels or or whatever um and that’s no issue but I highly doubt you’re going to see a subdivision up here like of homes you know on quarter acre lots it’s just not going to happen and I think that’s great

LM: right

LB: you know there’s only so much of this land that you can grow peaches and cherries and grapes on and it needs to be available for people to do that so yeah I mean I used to say it with the winery all the time because the winery life seems so glamorous and wineries just seem like these like it’s like a dream to own one and and whether that’s true or not at the root of all of it you’re farming grapes right and if you can’t farm grapes you can’t make wine and so I just think it’s important and I think I think there’s a lot of people around here and you know the the Land Conservancy and all that sort of stuff is just so important to keep the root of what makes Palisade so special here

LM: right

LB: so so yeah well I think well I think we’re going to continue to see the influx of people from out of state and from the mountain towns like our their mud season it’s it’s like you couldn’t pick a better time in Palisade right in the spring in the fall yeah people come here and they’re like I want to move here and then it and then it’s August 10th and it’s 105 and it’s a little hot you know um we’re all like longing for late September when it cools down to like 95 and we’re like oh this is so nice but um it’s hard to beat it’s hard to beat it out here you know yeah and so um so yeah I do think that we’ll just continue to see that influx of people but hopefully it drives more businesses to the town and the town can continue to grow and flourish in a responsible way you know it’s it’s really a tough balance because we get such a huge influx of people during tourist season and then in the winter they all go away and these businesses have to pay rent year round

LM: right

LB: you know so it’s um but it’s like all the farms and everything else you you make all your money during tourist season and then you have to sort of like ration it so you can get through the winter so so yeah it’s just an interesting um I’ve never lived in a tourist town until now and I would I would say Palisade is a tourist town you know whether some of the people that have been here for a while want to hear that or not it is so so anyway

LM: yeah no that’s interesting yeah yeah I definitely think that the the Planning Commission and just kind of zoning in general they’ve done a lot of really uh it’s a tough balance to strike but they’ve made a lot of really good forward-looking decisions that not everybody is happy about I don’t think any I mean sometimes nobody’s happy about that but it’s at least thoughtfully done you know

LB: I think so and I think them trying to when they when they put that moratorium in place for new subdivisions to decide you know basically redo the zoning for the town I think the reason that went into place that it was a little like oh hindsight’s 2020 we should have done this a while ago but here we are but hopefully it it like you said it is like a thoughtful process and they’re looking at what Palisade is right now and where it’s going and and I think it probably was an appropriate time to do it right so yeah yeah

LM: makes sense well so just with you and Brandon what’s your favorite part about the Palisade community

LB: the community yeah yeah um you’ve probably heard that a lot right but it’s special it really is

LM: it is special

LB: one of the things that we were I don’t want to say we were surprised but we were it was just sort of like a welcome thing that happened when we got here the wine community just like they were like hey we’re here to help you you know whatever you need we’re here for you and we had so many wineries that were just so supportive and again just like when I was talking about joining Fruit and Wine Real Estate I thought the wine community might be like oh there’s these two young kids from Denver they don’t know what they’re doing and and it was quite the opposite and so by by joining Palisade kind of through the wine community we met a lot of people really quickly and it’s and and it’s just grown and the community here I mean it’s the reason you’re here right

LM: yeah

LB: it’s it’s just um it’s special and there’s like a camaraderie of with the local residents that is it’s just something cool and and I think when you’re farming I read this quote a while ago and it was something to the effect of like like a small town a small farming town like rides these these waves together right the highs and the lows because it’s very rare that like we’ll freeze and our neighbor doesn’t right so like we we’re all in this together to some extent it was actually it was really crazy earlier this year it was April end of April 25th 26 27th something like that when we had those freezes and and we have a wind machine over at my um dad’s property and so Brandon was up like running that and then the sprinklers were going in the cherry orchard and and I promise you C Road right there was busier at 3am and then it is during the day and it was even though no one was happy about being up doing what they were doing it was sort of like Brandon was like it was like this cool thing like we are all in this together we’re all out here like trying to do everything that we can to save our crop this year and that’s like cool I don’t know so I’m like

LM: no it is really special it’s like not competitive and yeah it’s really unique

LB: yeah so that’s that’s what I think our favorite thing about Palisade for sure is the community and we found a great group of friends like that was another thing that I was like oh we’re moving to this town and we’re not going to meet anyone our own age and it’s been totally the opposite so um

LM: yeah people are so friendly and that was something that right like you heard I mean we didn’t even I thought oh it’s a small town like how many people are there even gonna be and then how many of those people can be your friends and it’s like I have more friends here than I’ve ever had in my life

LB: I know it’s crazy and everyone’s so welcoming right

LM: yeah never would have thought that would happen

LB: yeah we just found I thought it would be hard to meet people and we found it to be the complete opposite yeah you know

LM: everyone’s socially starved yeah they just want to hang out

LB: yeah totally so and like yeah they’re Spoke and Vine on Monday night you go on the bike rides right

LM: yeah

LB: we used to before we had the baby but it’s just fun to go down there and I’ve I’ve taken Maya down there like by myself and I have no idea if anyone’s and you always run into somebody and you can sit and chat and so it’s awesome

LM: cool well as soon as she’s big enough to be in a carrier or something you should join again

LB: we have one yeah we should put her out we should just go down and do it yeah

LM: yeah you should

LB: yeah she’s not a fan of the helmet oh gotta wear it yeah

LM: she’ll get used to it awesome well um is there anything else that you wanted to just share with people that I didn’t touch on or maybe like any links to your social or anything like that

LB: um yeah so well I’ll just talk right now you’re probably gonna have to like edit this back into the farming part but I just want to mention that the h2a visa program that we use for our migrant workers that come up from Mexico so we started doing that last year and we go through a process with the Department of Labor Kim Noland over at Noland Orchards actually is our h2a agent and she does a lot of the farms here in the valley um but we we decided that after covid it was like so hard to find labor in the vineyards and people would show up and work for two hours and then say oh this is too hard or it’s too hot or one guy was like I forgot my inhaler at home I’ll be right back and never came back and so we were just like all right we gotta we gotta figure something else out right and so a lot of the larger farmers use these h2a guys that come up um and so we’re like we’re gonna go through the process and so we did that last year and we partnered with Richard and Carol at Z’s Orchard and so we bought a manufactured home and put it on their land and we share our workers with them and these guys we have most of them three of them we had three last year and we have five this year and three of the five our three last year are back this year with two additional guys and these guys I I didn’t know what to expect but these guys come up and they well there is a language barrier for sure but they just want to work they want to work so hard and they will work as many hours as you will let them

and it’s really cool because at the end of the year last year we learned that one of the guys while he was here his wife had a baby and he was able to send money back to her to get her into a hospital that she wanted to have the baby at versus where she had to go I know it’s it’s life-changing for these guys um and then and then he told us when he was leaving that the rest of the money that he made he used to buy a piece of land for his family and he wants to come back this year so he can save up that money and build a house for his family and so it was it was crazy because he had the baby and she was four months old before he even got to meet her because he was here

but these guys when you think about the sacrifice that they make so that they can take care of their family I mean they’re here from March until October so yeah it’s just it’s super cool right and so it’s been a really good experience and it’s great to have for Brandon it’s incredible to have these guys they’re young and they’re full of energy and they are just like ready to get to work so so that’s been a a really cool experience and our hope is that they continue to come back and then they sort of know the program and hopefully the language barrier becomes less and less

we have made a pact that this winter we’re gonna learn some Spanish because we like they know enough and then Google translate

LM: right oh my gosh it’s so useful

LB: you literally like lose stuff in translation but you can get by you know

LM: right you get the basics

LB: exactly um and then we have another a lady that helps us in the vineyard and she is bilingual she um she’s from Mexico and just got her citizenship a few years ago but she’s been working at our vineyard since even the owners before Chuck and Patty she worked for so like 15 years probably 18 years I don’t know but anyway she she translates a lot for us but she helps us with everything she’s great her name is Maria and I don’t know that Brandon would have survived the last five years without Maria so yeah so just a plug for La Plaza because

LM: it’s amazing

LB: yeah yeah we this valley wouldn’t exist without these guys that come up and work so it’s awesome

LM: absolutely and it’s super cool to be able to provide that opportunity for people too to be able to do something that changes their lives

LB: yeah it’s it’s amazing like when you hear what what they’re doing with the money you’re like wow you know so

LM: that’s really cool

LB: so yeah and then back to your questions social media tag so um Instagram is at Mesa park fruit and then on Facebook we’re Mesa park fruit company and we’ll keep those pages up to date like I said with where you can find us this summer once we have fruit to sell and where our grapes are going and just sort of like what’s happening on the farm yeah that’s that’s the gist of it I think yeah

LM: thank you so much for your time

LB: yeah thank you for having me and I appreciate it yeah it’s it’s good to get the story out and hopefully this will answer a lot of people’s questions about like what’s happening next you know I like put that new logo up on social media and everyone’s like cool where can we find your fruit I’m like I don’t know yet we’re gonna figure it out

LM: this is where you can find out

LB: right exactly exactly awesome

LM: well thank you so much

LB: yeah thank you again for having me

LM: If you’re one of those lucky people with a bottle or two of Mesa Park Vineyards wine in storage, savor it! But you know, if Laura and Brandon were that great at growing grapes and making wine – the rest of their fruit is going to be amazing.

If you’d like to be on the podcast or you have an idea for an upcoming episode, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com.

The Postcards from Palisade podcast is available on all major podcast distribution platforms. Find it and subscribe so you never miss an episode. Episodes and links to more information are also posted on the website postcardsfrompalisade.com.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

E13: Poetry and Art on the Western Slope with Wendy Videlock, Western Colorado’s Newest Poet Laureate

What’s it like to be a poet and visual artist in Western Colorado? Wendy Videlock takes us through the rhythms of her life and work in the Grand Valley. Wendy was just named the Western Slope Poet Laureate by the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds program. She’s also a widely published and awarded poet, visual artist, teacher, a longtime Grand Valley resident, and the impish poem supplier for Palisade’s street poetry boxes.

Wendy and I chatted about why she doesn’t like to tell people she’s a poet when she first meets them, her goals for her time as the Western Slope’s top poet, why ranchers and barbers have a lot in common with poets, what in the world ekphrasis is, and why poets don’t just “say what they mean” but why you still shouldn’t be intimidated by poetry. We also chat about how East Coast and Western poets are different in ways you might not expect, the place that drew her back to Palisade, and what her biggest goal is as a poet – and why it’s so related to where we live.

Wendy also brought along a stack of her favorite poems and treated us to a few. Live poems today!

To contact Wendy to arrange a reading, you can email her at coloradawendy@gmail.com. To find some of Wendy’s poems, check out the Poetry Foundation: poetryfoundation.org/poets/wendy-videlock and Wendy’s website: wendy-videlock.constantcontactsites.com

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that brings you a snapshot of the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m Lisa McNamara.

I’m talking today with Wendy Videlock. Wendy is a widely published and awarded poet, visual artist, teacher, a longtime Grand Valley resident, and the impish poem supplier for Palisade’s street poetry boxes.

Wendy was also recently named Western Slope Poet Laureate by the Telluride Institute’s Talking Gourds program. This program honors an outstanding poet or performer who has helped promote the practice of poetry on the Western Slope of Colorado. Its purpose is to support the Laureate in continuing the work of poetry in and of the Western Slope, teaching, reading, writing, and building literary community across the region. She’ll serve in this role for the next two years.

Wendy and I chatted about why she doesn’t like to tell people she’s a poet when she first meets them, her goals for her time as the Western Slope’s top poet, why ranchers and barbers have a lot in common with poets, what in the world ekphrasis is, why poets don’t just “say what they mean” but why you still shouldn’t be intimidated by poetry, how east coast and western poets are different, the place that drew her back to Palisade, and what her biggest goal is as a poet.

And, get this, we have poems for you today too! Wendy brought along a stack of her favorite poems and treated us to a few. I’m not sure why I was surprised, but Wendy treating us to a private poetry reading was a bonus that I was not expecting.

As we chatted, the new sound-absorbing panels that I had just installed on the walls of my little office started to fall down at random intervals. It felt kind of poetic.

All that and more, on today’s Postcard From Palisade.

WV: I’m Wendy Videlock. sometimes when we say hi I’m a poet it kind of turns the conversation downwards spiraling so I tend not to say that right away when I meet somebody I tend to say I’m an artist which I am I’m also a visual artist and people don’t have the same response in the general public when you say that you’re an artist so I show work at the galleries here in town here at the blue Pig and working artist Gallery in downtown Junction, Willow Creek herbs and teas Lithic bookstore and then if if I’m feeling fairly good about the conversation I might mention that I’m a writer

LM: Oh, not even a poet yet

WV: again you’re sort of moving into that area because the poet has a reputation of you know being a naval gazing sort of boring individual and it’s kind of my job to change that reputation a lot of people put their poetry anti-poetry deflector shields up back in high school too much Robert Frost at the age of 14. Robert Frost is great when you’re 45 not great when you’re 14. so I’ve always felt it was sort of part of my responsibility to turn people on to the joy of poetry and you know we’ve got a lot of people who say they don’t like poetry but they turn to poetry when faced with grief great loss also great celebration graduations departings. you know when things really matter we turn to poetry when they don’t matter we hate it

LM: I was thinking the way that a lot of people have probably interacted with you around Palisade is the poetry box which you brought in

WV: because it fell I was walking down the sidewalk and I was gonna fill it up and I saw it was somebody had set it on the bench because they knew that I’d be back to fill her up and it does empty out like nobody’s business I fill it I mean it’s like you know probably 75 to 100 poems each time and a week later it’s empty

LM: wow

WV: and I actually have another one over by the little library

LM: yeah so when did you start that

WV: uh it’s been a couple years um and it empties even when we’re not in our tourist season which is what is really cool uh is that locals are walking by and saying I think I’ll take a poem it’s good medicine

LM: yeah I’ve taken one

WV: what’d you get

LM: um I think I you know what I don’t remember because it was a while ago and I was trying to find it before I came over here and we moved and I’m not sure where I put it so I got it okay put in somewhere but yeah very anticlimactic response but I love the idea and so I think a lot of people you know obviously like you said you fill it up it empties regularly so I think a lot of people have seen you that way but it looks like you don’t just put your poems in there you you also put in other people’s poems

WV: oh no I I don’t I put a few of mine in I um I do and I put a few other regional poets in but what mostly what I do is I put in the kind of poem that if somebody because there’s this little note on the poetry box that says for best results close your eyes while choosing because people think you know you open up a book of poems and you start from page one and you go and that’s just really not how poetry works it’s very much more intuitional and so you open up a book and there might be a poem in the middle of a collection and if you start to read and you don’t like it guess what turn the page and then then you get to try another one so it’s sort of like a box of chocolates you get to you know there’s just something for everybody’s taste

so the kind of poems that I like to put in the poetry box and I’d like to do this in Junction in Fruita too but it turns out it’s very expensive printing poems on paper all the time um but uh I select the kind of poems that will surprise people it won’t it won’t be what they expect to find and it might have a you know some kind of a meaning you’re just kind of like screeing which is you know you take something at random a tarot card or a I ching or something like that and it has meaning simply because you chose it at random

LM: absolutely yeah the one on top I really like that poem

WV: Oh you know that the Mary Oliver

LM: it’s a great one yeah that’s interesting yeah so I was curious if there was any particular type of poem so if it was your type of or your poem or anybody else’s poem if there’s a particular type

WV: sometimes I want to go for something funny because people don’t necessarily you know poetry can be very baudy and raunchy I try not to put two raunchy but a little baudy because I don’t want anybody to get you know upset of course it doesn’t have my name on the box so um but something that’s gonna you know like this Mary Oliver you know you sort of go through this little litany of who made this who who made this I don’t know I don’t know and then she says tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life I mean who’s not going to get goosebumps from that that’s going to have meaning if you uh if you select it and it’s a contemporary she died maybe five or ten years ago but it’s a contemporary piece and then I also put poems that are you know from the classic periods and older periods and then anything that’s going to get your attention

LM: I love it I love it because it’s just this it’s like no pressure to somebody walking by yeah you’re not saying you know if you if if you said come up to me and let me give you a poem it’ll be totally different then you approach this box and you take a poem yeah it’s a little it’s really cool very cool do you ever hear from people who take poems out of the box

WV: yes yeah yeah I do all the time people assume that it’s me because I’m there aren’t a lot of poets in Palisade there are unexplored poets um when we moved here 30 years ago so but then we moved to Junction and Fruitvale and moved all over the valley and came back to Palisade about eight or nine years ago and when we first moved in the barber shop which was right along here next to the blue Pig was closing down he’d been here for a while and I sat on the bench and spoke with him and he was a poet he was a barber he grew peaches but what he said was beautiful so I had to write a sonnet about him the lost poet at the barber shop and he was closing down his barber shop that day so he was feeling philosophical anyway but I find that ranchers and growers their relationship with the land gives them a lot in common with the poet they use idioms they use particular um frames of speech that have to do with the land they tell the story of the land that’s really what the poet does

LM: so you’ve obviously done a lot. Widely published and awarded and but the big thing that just happened was being named The Poet Laureate for the Western Slope which is huge yeah what does that mean to you to have the honor

WV: it’s pretty awesome I mean it’s interesting they do the state Laureate every four years and twice I was the finalist for that and and it was um it was daunting you know because they tell you you’ve been shortlisted so you’ve got weeks where you’re waiting and uh it’s very difficult and I would have really liked to have represented the Western Slope for the whole state but when this thing came along I said you know what even better because I get to work where I live and I get to you know try to make a difference here and also I know so many poets and writers over on the East slope that a lot of the programs that I want to implement here hopefully I can you know kind of deputize some of my friends and uh colleagues over on the east slope and get them to put some of these programs in place too

LM: nice yeah so is it something that you apply to are you nominated for or how does that work

WV: it was a nomination this year and then it was voted uh so it’s done by the Telluride Institute the talking gourds program which has been around for decades and Art Goodtimes  who was the county commissioner of San Miguel County for many many years the grand poobah of the Mushroom Festival he’s kind of well really well known about over in these parts I think he was the first one I think 12 years ago um and it was a nomination process and then up up until that point and then for this one they decided to open it up and let poets vote which was an honor you know that my colleagues voted me in yeah

LM: absolutely that’s cool so sure like a network of poets everywhere just kind of whispering to each other and everybody being like Wendy! Wendy!

WV: yeah or not Wendy anybody but her

WV: well that’s such an awesome honor is it something you’ve always aspired to or

WV: not at all but I’ll tell you as I’ve grown older I’ve begun to realize more and more the importance of my role as the poet within the community because I’ve done so many funerals and memorials people really do turn to the poets I I even had one poet put it in his will that he wanted me at his funeral and he had money set aside to have me travel there that’s how important it is to people to have you know meaningful words spoken I mean because we turn to the poets you know during these times I mean during 9/11 there were there was such a call for poetry and a very famous poem by WH Auden was making the rounds in a way that I’d never seen a poem do and it was written many many years ago but it felt like it really was relevant to that moment and and it really happens with collective crisis and also personal crisis

but also during times of great celebration you know inaugurations and presidential you know and graduations and weddings and you know things like that we turn to poetry then too

LM: right right just think about how much Amanda Gorman’s poem just I mean ever I feel like millions of people read that poem yeah went around and around for weeks

WV: and it’s just been blacklisted in Florida it’s just like really it’s sad

LM: but no just to your point about

WV: about how there’s a hunger and a thirst and so I mean for many years I thought why am I doing this so you know and publishing books and you know publishing journals and you know I got I got published in O magazine that was sort of a big deal and The New York Times and you know

LM: there goes one

WV: that was cool that’s what they did

LM: this is my professional studio

WV: and all of these accomplishments really weren’t all that satisfying

LM: interesting

WV: um they don’t change your life you know none of that comes from you know the real joy is writing the poem that’s the real joy the real joy is painting a painting not selling it is great don’t get me wrong and it’s lovely when people buy my books and actually read the work but it’s the creative process that that is on my mind all the time and it’s the thing that when I teach I’m always saying you know this this is something that saves people’s lives this little thing that we can do which is just called creating artists and poets have known this for thousands of years and uh so we’re always out there going okay here’s how you do it and it’s not that there’s a rule in fact there’s no rules what you do is you kind of just get out of the way and then the creative thing starts to happen it’s like a conversation you just kind of allow it to to happen

LM: right absolutely um when you write do you have a process where you’re you are sitting down for a certain amount of time a day and you force yourself to write or do you just do it when it comes to you or both

WV: yeah it’s interesting so if I’m not writing poetry then yeah I have to sit down and you know just you know shoulder to the grindstone and and get going um with a poem it’s a little different because it’s all driven by sound for me and so I’ll get a rhythm and I’ll get a line and it’s sort of like getting a song stuck in your head you’ve got to start playing with it and then you start to say it and then you start to write it and then you start to sing it and then and then you wonder you know if it’s going to go anywhere and then once you’re in then you’re trying to get out because the ending of a poem is really important too so you know as Billy Collins says all the poet does is trying to get out once they’re in like how are you gonna you know finish this like you had a great start and and so many poems have a great start and then they don’t get there

LM: yeah you know the ending is absolutely

WV: it’s so crucial like yeah yeah

LM: hmm do you have one that you want to read

WV: yeah I might give you a sample

LM: cool

WV: this one’s called just so you know

LM: so what you bring me to writing the poem obviously is important creating it but I think so much poetry is enhanced and made alive by the poet reading it and the distinct delivery style that you develop over time

WV: yeah

LM: and do you feel like that’s something that has always been the same to you for you or do you think you’ve developed more of a different delivery style as as you’ve gone through your career

WV: yeah well you know I taught for many years so we you know when you’re standing in front of kids and high school kids and then university students you learn a lot of tricks like because once you start to lose them you better do something different you’ve got to change the rhythm you’ve got to move your body in a different way and it’s really the same way on stage with delivering a poem so I heard this great line recently which was anybody on stage who isn’t aware that the audience wants to be seen is really missing out on something and it did take me some years to sort of realize that that the audience too is is plugging it like you’re you’ve got nothing unless you’re connecting with the audience and that if if you’re not really looking at the audience and and paying attention to where their attention is then you don’t know when to quit as I always say you know always leave them wanting more if you go on and on you’re just adding to that reputation you know that we’re trying to sort of revamp you know um and also um slowing down because the whole art of poetry is the art of listening and most people don’t listen very well particularly if they have something to say

um which is why I want to institute this program whereby we do these sort of invocations regional poets you know go into like town halls and school board meetings and you know places where decisions are being made that affect people across the boards like policy making situations and and just deliver a brief invocation which just invites everybody to slow down to connect with their humanity instead of going and going whoa I’m going to get what I have to say you know up there and I’m going to fight for it you know nothing gets accomplished if we go in with that if we go in with a little bit of a listening attitude then

LM: this is gonna happen throughout so uh the tiles are falling off the wall to anybody listening to this late um yeah I’m sorry I’m sure it’ll just keep happening

WV: it’s ok we enjoy it’s a kind of an you know it’s an encouraging form it’s something that you you have to let it happen

LM: totally well uh I was really intrigued by that part of your announcement about uh what your goals were for your two year term as a poet laureate um which is a really hard word to say but

WV: I say lariat I’m kidding

LM: oh okay like that right a poet lariat laureate uh yeah but I thought that was really interesting and intriguing that you wanted to bring poetry to more people into different types of settings because in meetings

WV: in small amounts um uh and we’ve already started um I did a uh a house concert the other day where they invited me to do the invocation um Trish Hopkinson who is another poet do you know Trish

LM: I do yeah

WV: she’s going to be doing an event for um awareness about human trafficking on June 12th in Grand Junction so we’re we’re already we’ve already started and you know we’ve got a good collection of you know regional poets and we want to extend beyond just the Grand Valley we want to be in Ouray County and Telluride and Ridgeway and Montrose and Crestone and

LM: right because this is all the Western

WV: all of the Western Slope which is a remarkably something like 27 counties it’s really

LM: yeah yeah huge area yeah so how would somebody get if say they wanted to invite like a local poet or one of one of you or you even into do a reading at the beginning of a meeting yeah how would they go about even requesting that

WV: that’s a really good idea so what I’m going to end up doing is making a website so that people can see what we do but for now before we get there um they can reach me by phone 970-241-2057 or they can email me at Colorada with an a at the end Colorada Wendy w-e-n-d-y at gmail

LM: awesome yeah and I’ll put that I’ll put your email for sure the description of the um

WV: that’d be great because I really want Palisade to be a kind of a forerunner we could do town halls here and we’ve already got some events Caleb has been doing with the paddle board club so things are starting to happen hopefully we’ll break through to the library too

LM: yeah I love that and I love that idea of starting a meeting especially a meeting where you’re going to be talking about contentious things with a poem because normally if people if the public is coming to say like a Board of Trustees meeting or a Planning Commission meeting yeah usually they’re coming because they’re upset about something

WV: right

LM: and yeah you know also it does feel sometimes sort of like you’re just yeah maybe just speaking your piece just to do it you know I like that idea of kind of opening up with a listening attitude and setting the tone

WV: yeah and sometimes the poem can be funny and sometimes just laughing with people brings out your humanity I mean there’s just nothing like a good hearty laugh

LM: yeah it’s a cool idea yeah so I I feel like we touched on this a little bit but um why do you want to make I think we already did but let me I’m going to ask it just in case there’s something else you want to add but why do you want to bring poetry to more people in that sort of a casual format casual being every day going about your everyday life

WV: yeah that’s that’s the question that is the question um so in my own sort of personal development I’ve been working on this thing called integration which is you know there’s a part of me that’s a visual artist there’s a part of me that’s mom there’s a part of me that’s a wife that’s a part of me that’s a poet that’s a teacher and I put on these different hats and I’ve always felt that it I should just it’s all one it’s all the same and why should I feel this way it true in the arts too the visual artists they all know each other they’ve got their own community the poets they have their own community the sculptors have their own community and this has always seemed to me a missed opportunity you know many many campfires one fire so it seems to me that that poetry in particular is sort of off in its own little ghetto so that people who are interested in poetry go to poetry readings they’re pretty well attended too they go to readings and novel readings they go to the library for events and they they’re very into that but why not incorporate why not integrate so that you know at an art opening you’ve got a poet

I talked this morning on CPR about this art form which is called ekphrasis because before photography the only way that people knew about a famous sculpture or monolith or painting was that the poet would write about it because the language could get passed because it was spoken we didn’t have cameras so the average person didn’t get to see the famous artworks that were you know you know being placed in the in the big you know cities

LM: right

WV: so that’s a service you know that the the poet does and we do this today it’s called ekphrasis we go into the galleries we get a few poets to write about some of the works in the galleries and then during the opening the poet you know recites a poem that they’ve worked with and that’s another program I’d like to get going is with the art on the corner you know as we unveil have a poet there who’s been working with that sculptor has gone and visited you know during the process watched the process gotten to put into words because a lot of times they’ll ask the sculptor they’ll shove a microphone in their face and they’re like they don’t you know they just spent five years of their lives building this thing but they they haven’t the language to describe and the poet comes in and swoops in and reads a poem

and it opens up the language for the sculptor because now the sculptor has some grounding you know that something because you know the poet has this concept show don’t tell we don’t say this is a beautiful piece we describe it instead of telling you what to think about it right and that gives the sculptor or the artist something to say about their work that they hadn’t maybe even noticed

LM: that’s awesome that’s such an interesting idea and I don’t think I’ve ever I don’t think I’ve ever experienced an example of that

WV: you will now

LM: which is funny because you know I grew up my dad’s an artist I grew up going to art museums I love art it’s like but I can’t think of an example of something like that that I’ve experienced before

WV: is your dad a local artist

LM: no I grew up in Upstate New York

WV: oh really okay interesting yeah my husband comes from Bethpage Long Island

LM: but oh that’s so interesting is there is have you done any um now how do you even spell that ekphrasis

WV: E-k-p-h-r-a-s-i-s it’s from the Greek yeah if you uh if you look it up you’ll see all kinds of famous examples um there might be poems that you’ve heard of before that you didn’t know were actually ekphrastic poems yeah they were about you know Apollo’s torso by Rilke um I never saw Apollo’s torso but I knew the poem and then I went and did more research on the actual piece of art because it’s never just about the piece of art right it’s more it always gets bigger and one of our more successful literary journals does an ekphrasis every month they put up a painting a contemporary painting and then they do a contest poets you know submit and they feature one that is chosen by the artist and one that is chosen by the editors

LM: oh I like that like that

WV: really interesting

LM: yeah oh I love that I gotta check that out okay let me make a note really quick

WV: so that’s called rattle poetry

LM: rattle

WV: yeah

LM: that’s so cool yeah I really I didn’t check that out just personally I really like that idea because it would be really cool to see how they compare and contrast like the one the artist picked and then the one that the editors pick

WV: yeah well editors tend to pick more um more sort of literary you know and then the the artist tends to pick something that has that takes some aspect of their work and then goes off in some other direction because that’s really what a painting or a poem should do it’s not like a contained thing it’s more like it’s not like you quote capture something I hate when people say oh your poem really captured that it’s like no it’s supposed to set it free not keep it still it should be opened you know I mean I’m a poet so words

LM: that is such a cool distinction

WV: yeah I’ve got one more little poem I’d like to do at this point

LM: awesome I’d love to hear it

WV: this is kind of my um my little anthem about poetry poetry is not a line in the sand but a kind of circulation not a rare exotic bird but a sparrow and a raven not a call to commiserate but a fierce conversation not a star in the dark but the whole constellation

LM: that kind of ties into one of the things I read about you on the on your bio on the Poetry Foundation was that okay so I’m just gonna read their quote but it says known for poems that evoke myth fairy tale and the natural world Videlock has also received praise for her deaf command deft command of meter and um I think that’s a great example of that um how would you describe what meter is to somebody who’s not a poet doesn’t understand poetry who wouldn’t understand that compliment

WV: right well this is how this is the best way to describe what we call meter which just means measure it’s the heartbeat what does the heart do bump bump bump bump it’s the pulse of the sea what does the sea do whoosh whoosh whoosh and then it has variations so it’s not like a metronome there are variations so Shakespeare really is kind of the founder of what we think of as modern meter and he was writing very specifically for actors on a stage and what he did is he he didn’t call it this later on the critics went back and went let’s call this iambic pentameter because but but what Shakespeare was doing was saying after a certain amount of breath the actor needs to take a breath so we’ll stop the line after this certain amount of measurement and the measurement happened to be five what we call beats so my love is like a red red rose my love is like a red red rose goes up and down and up and down but it doesn’t but when you say it you don’t say my love is like because that’s just the mark of someone who doesn’t understand that this is how we speak in normal normal English and when you want to really make a point you’re doing an iambic pentameter you just don’t know that that’s the name of it

LM: ooh interesting

WV: it’s really interesting so it’s true of a lot of things in the arts you’ll say you know look at how that artist used dark and light together and you go well look at nature that’s how nature did it so the the artist is really just imitating what’s already out there whether it’s the heartbeat the pulse of the rhythm the forest you know the drum of the of the sound of the of life you know it’s just that so within meter we have what we call substitutions so that when you getting to a really good line like if you’re thinking a pop song the best singers have a way of playing with the line so that it becomes really emotionally packed that’s what poetry does with meter is it has an expectation and it averts that expectation people think it means keeping in lockstep no it means creating the rhythm and then averting it

LM: right otherwise then everything would sound exactly the same

WV: exactly yeah exactly that’s the great magic of it that’s a great question

LM: yeah yeah well it’s I mean I think a lot of poetry can be really intimidating and I think some of it is because some of the words that are used to describe it or you know even somebody kind of opening a page you might say well this doesn’t look familiar to me I’m not gonna continue yeah so I think making it relatable helps too

WV: that’s the reason we put up the anti-poetry deflector shields it’s it makes people feel stupid and that there’s a clue and that we’re not getting we don’t have the key to that my daughter came home from school in high school and she said I hate poetry why doesn’t the poet just say what they mean and it was adorable you know because uh but the truth is is that when we say what we mean like oh I feel sad nobody’s gonna get moved

LM: oh right

WV: I feel sad oh okay how do we grab on to that and make it our own and so the poet has a metaphor and then it comes sneaking up from behind and that’s when it knocks us down and music is exactly the same way and the visual arts are exactly the same thing once we get surprised in that you know film too film is really poetic you know that a good filmmaker knows how to avert our expectation and make us think we don’t know what’s going on and then suddenly it doesn’t we don’t have to have a key we just feel it right

LM: right everybody remembers those those twists or plot twists

WV: yes

LM: um did you have you always written poetry or did you start at some point in your life like what was the first poem you ever wrote do you remember how old you were

WV: um I remember the first poem I ever learned by heart which was probably more meaningful than the first poem I wrote because that I don’t have a memory of but my mother asked me to learn a poem by heart I say by heart instead of memorized because a lot of people don’t like this word memorize and it was I met a little elf man once down where the lilies blow he asked me why I was so small and why I did not grow I’m just as big for me I said as you are big for you or I missed a couple lines in there but it’s really about individuality and saying you know we don’t have to be like everybody else and it really struck me that this was something that was meaningful to my mother it wasn’t really meaningful to my dad to be honest it was meaningful to my mother and so it had meaning to me

and what I’ve discovered is that people are hungry for meaning they’ve been disappointed by some of the aspects of meaning that we’ve traditionally relied upon and so the arts are where a lot of people are turning and they’re discovering that there’s a whole lot of glory in there and a lot of people say that the arts saved their lives specifically poetry you’re never alone if you’re reading poetry and if you’re writing it then you’ve got an extra boom you know and this doesn’t mean you have to publish like a lot of poets don’t publish but they’re interested in language and they’re interested in you know and then there’s the healing aspect which we use with all kinds of people who’ve been traumatized and have been through wars and childhood difficulties

and that we learned that there’s three steps to healing with the arts so because we think that it’s just you know if you paint a picture or you write a poem boom that’s a healing right there no that’s step one that’s the purge you’re getting it out there step two is crafting it so now you’re creating something beautiful out of something difficult which is what poets do I mean let’s face it life is difficult we’re all going to die like that’s the bottom line you’re going to have a lot of suffering in your life you’re also going to have a lot of joy but the poet won’t let you just get away with one or the other like you’ve got to have it all right and so with the crafting what you’re really doing is teaching yourself how to process difficult things by making it more meaningful more beautiful more powerful and also by sharing it and that’s the third step is actually sharing it by doing that now you’ve now you’ve really done something you’ve shifted the energy you haven’t kept that energy locked inside so that it’s now going to create inflammation and heart disease and all kinds of other things that come from emotions that we’re just not processing which is really what we’re taught to do is don’t just move on ahead stay busy keep consuming and you’ll be fine yeah

LM: right yeah totally and that makes me think about uh two weeks ago I talked to Christine Moore who’s the local yoga and dance teacher

WV: yeah yeah

LM: she was talking a lot about how you know to her processing trauma through dance and like movement was was so important and it’s a similar thing where it’s like even if you don’t just you don’t necessarily perform you’re doing it for yourself or you know you’re teaching somebody and teaching somebody how to you know physically like some people need to let go of their emotions physically some people need to do it you know mentally or a combination of the two or whatever and

WV: physically is absolutely I mean you talk to any polar and they’ll tell you that part of their process is moving like if they’re walking that’s when the best work comes if they’re rowing bicycling driving

LM: oh yeah

WV: these kinds of movements you know are really important and she’s right if you are moving you’re actually processing you know in I mean I I think it’s the answer to all that ails us

LM: totally yeah yeah I definitely have my best idea is when I’m biking or hiking you know you get to that point where your body is doing something but your mind disconnects and then just it’s such a cool feeling

WV: you’re in the zone

LM: yeah

WV: that’s it I mean that’s what we call creative process and that’s the thing it’s all the rest is great don’t get me wrong I’m happy to have it all but it’s that thing of being in the zone that’s what we’re that’s what we’re all about

LM: it’s so cool yeah um do you have a favorite poem of your own that you’ve written or do you like all of them

WV: ooo ooo um I I do have one that I really like um want me to read it

LM: sure

WV: I I originally titled this poem deconstruction um but I think it needs a better title but I’m not going to try to revise it right now I’m just gonna go ahead and give it to you

LM: okay

WV: and one of the reasons I really like it is because uh it’s because it speaks about birds and birds are everywhere and it also speaks to our need to try to put meaning on things and particularly those of us who are interested in the arts but you know if you see if somebody that you love dies and a butterfly lands on your hand you’ve just found meaning and this is what we do with birds and wildlife and nature and to me this is this is the magic of the arts

the other day I I read this at a at that house concert and a gentleman came up to me afterwards and he said he showed me his arm and there was a tattoo of a penguin he said what about the penguin and I said well the penguin because I am a poet of course I have an answer I said well the penguin is about fatherhood that’s the father who rears the baby and takes care of the egg and all of that and he said I did this for my son he and I both love penguins and I said there you go so this is what I mean by meaning and I know that it’s sort of random

LM: absolutely yeah and I like the visual too that you get from that because you take a moment after or on every line to visualize the bird

WV: yes yeah yeah and also it’s sort of like flowers like a red rose means something different from a yellow rose

LM: right right right yeah yeah that’s really cool

WV: they’re actual real things but they also are symbols right they represent something in the human psyche you know the tower represents something you know the river represents something other than obviously the river you know so yeah

LM: oh that’s awesome I really appreciate you sharing poems as well it’s really cool what other plots do you like to read or listen to

WV: oh my goodness well um so I love Lucille Clifton who um I actually have a poem of hers that I would like to share and it’s hilarious and it’s very short okay and it is one that I put in the poetry box because because it’s one that uh if the wrong person gets it it will make me happy just to think that that might be a possibility

LM: we should like sign it or something and then it’ll be something that somebody can find as part of this podcast oh well but then you don’t want to put your name on it maybe

WV: oh come on I hope I have it oh there it is okay so um this is Lucille Clifton she was born in 1936 and she died in 2010. and the title of the poem is wishes for sons s-o-n-s for boys wishes for sons

LM: that’s really good

WV: I mean it’s funny but it’s so true too I mean and I have a boy and you know and you know Camille Paglia always says you know the reason that women are so much more in tune with their own morality is because they bleed every month I mean let’s be honest it’s it’s a very humbling real experience so this is the kind of thing that I put a few of those in my poetry box and wonder secretly I wonder who’s gonna get that

LM: that’s so awesome

WV: so poetry can do this it can just make us laugh and also go you know that’s true that is something that that really is fundamentally you know something that that your your men in the world will never understand no matter how conscientious they are um that it’s just it’s just a part of a lot it’s part of the life of a woman um another poet that I love is Yeats he’s the Irish poet of that every contemporary poet has to deal with I’ve had dreams about him I mean he was the guy um probably the best in the English language of this century Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Edna St. Vincent Millay there’s so many I think those are my major influences and also Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan okay okay because with Joni and Bob they were writing poetry and they were writing poetry that rhymed they just weren’t doing it the way that Shakespeare did it

LM: right

WV: they were playing with the rhyme and allowing it and so it kind of gave me permission to play with language too

LM: absolutely sorry I need to grab a tissue sorry

WV: oh you’re fine uh was it the Clifton did she make you cry

LM: she did but it’s funny because it’s like uh you know it’s like sort of it’s dark humor you know

WV: right

LM: in a lot of ways

WV: and it’s not I mean I mean I have a son and a daughter and there are the difference I as soon as I read that I went that’s the difference that she was 14 and her life changed my daughter something like now you’ve got a different relationship with life it’s just your body now like you’re aware that your body has this red blood flowing through it you can’t forget it because you’re gonna be reminded and then of course we have childbirth but even if you don’t have childbirth you’ve got that and it’s just the constant reminder it’s the it’s what uh Camille Paglia calls the chthonic it keeps us to the Earth

LM: you’ve been here in the Grand Valley for I think you said about 30 years or so so you’ve been living here working here what’s the poetry community like here compared to other places yeah I’ve lived and worked before other places you’ve visited

WV: yeah so different well first let me say one of the first poems I wrote 30 years ago was about the big buffalo in downtown Junction by the bank which is now closing and it was the first question everybody had when they heard that the the big bank Wells Fargo was closing what about you know the Buffalo which is actually a Bison but I’m not going to get pedantic about it um but I sat down and I I couldn’t believe this thing it was probably had been there maybe two or three years before and I was just completely taken by it

of course art on the corner was already in place Dave Davis had been working on that for decades um and I I wrote this little sonnet about that Buffalo and about this new town that I couldn’t understand you know we came I was in Tucson and we were in Europe and then Vegas and then here and it was a culture shock we didn’t have a Barnes Noble we didn’t have a Home Depot this was a huge and I had a one-year-old and a two-year-old

and within about four years I was doing a poetry circle at Barnes Noble because I was working there and a gentleman came walking in who it was Art Goodtimes who actually was the one who nominated me for this position and he he makes an impression let’s say that beard down to here he’s like he makes he’s got the big booming voice and he sat and listened to our very controlled little circle at Barnes Noble and then he walked up to me and he said you need to get on my mailing list this email had just begun it was like a new thing and I got on his mailing list and discovered that there were poetry conferences happening all over the Western Slope and that people were coming from all these tiny little towns and would spend three or four days you know most of us are pretty introverted I mean I may seem like I’m comfortable this is not I mean I’m pretty I’m a writer I’m a painter I’m pretty much you know but when I do get social then I’m like up and that’s true of most artists that you know they want to be in the in nature or working and then when they are social it’s like bzzzz and then they have to go and recover so they would have these amazing events and within and I was going I’m a writer for the page I was publishing under pseudonyms I was doing this very privately uh and uh so Art Goodtimes and and his teacher was uh Dolores LaChapelle https://lachapellelegacy.org/Dolores who who said find a place sink your roots in and make a difference that’s what he’s done and it’s what he teaches all of us so Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Danny Rosen who owns lithic books, Jim Tipton who used to run the events at the library a very different community of writers than you’d find in places where it’s very academic even though we have I mean people think that I’m academic because I use the meters and things like that it’s really that it’s a strange thing but here um the thing that binds us together is our love of the land it’s the landscape whereas if you’re in New York you’re not writing about the birds and if you are it’s just purely a metaphor yeah that’s what makes it different

LM: and how did you end up coming to Palisade after living so many other places

WV: well my husband was in the military and we didn’t want we were done with that we had kids late I was 32 when my first came along and 33 when my second and um we were in Vegas and we I was teaching there and I did not want my kids in that school district it was really scary and um and we said let’s go to a small town and let’s not make money be the thing that matters like let’s just live in a small little house and I can wait tables maybe I’ll teach and you can get it we won’t chase the dollar that’s what we told ourselves and that’s what we did we didn’t know anybody here we came with a few hundred dollars um we came with two babies a dog and a cat not knowing a soul and it took a few years and like I say you know I had this little community starting at Barnes and Noble of people who were kind of readerly and writerly types but it wasn’t until Art came which said you know hey we’re meeting in Salida we meet in Telluride we meet in Crestone we we do these events and and I go to conferences on the East Coast too they’re very different they’re lovely but it’s not the same because these this is a different this is all about really the landscape I mean there’s a lot of social awareness too um here but you know our our number one one issue here in the west is always water and the land um so the the art reflects it and it reflects it in our visual art too yeah whereas you go to New York it’s going to be mostly portraits or you know something that’s kind of like picasso-like whereas you know rural America and you know western America you’re going to see a lot more landscape and um you know what I would call impressionistic and you know playing with the actual land

LM: right right yeah yeah we’re here because it’s beautiful that’s why I’m here

WV: yeah

LM: what’s your favorite thing about the community here in Palisade specifically

WV: yeah Palisade is interesting um so the way I describe Palisade is well obviously we’re ag but we’re also very art which is a really interesting mix um so whatever Palisade does they want to do it well so if they’re going to do a peach they’re going to make the best damn Peach you’ve ever had if they’re going to grow marijuana they’re going to grow the best pot if they’re going to make art they’re going to make good art and so Palisade has an interest in excellence and and this to me is pretty awesome you know and so I was in Junction when I actually started showing work at the blue Pig and my husband and I we both really wanted to come back to Pali but it wasn’t until I started showing at the pig again that I went okay this is an absolute necessity we’ve got you know a real drive now to come back so as soon as the kids were grown and left home we just made a beeline back to Palisade awesome yeah and of course I mean look at what look at these beautiful landscapes I mean Buzzard’s Roost and you know my goal really my biggest goal as a poet would be to rename Garfield this is a president who never came here this is a completely arbitrary name

LM: ooo what would you rename it

WV: and well the Ute didn’t name it a name they named it for a position for instance if you were on a trek and going somewhere or maybe to the four corners for some large event or you know something then you would name a mountain from what I understand you would name a mountain by how you would go around it like go to the left or go to the right or find the water source and do this and it would it would have a practical kind of a name because I’ve asked a lot of Ute elders and and that’s the kind of the basic answer that I’m getting is that you know these they didn’t name that just for the fun of it sure like Western culture came along said let’s put our flag in it you know it was like this is part of the walk and so it was practical to say this is how you get to where you’re headed

LM: it’s a landmark

WV: yeah a landmark yeah yeah and uh and Thunder Mountain means a lot more to me than the Grand Mesa although I don’t I think Grand Mesa is pretty lovely too because it you know pays homage to um Hispanic uh culture it was here before too so that’s that’s fine um but Garfield it is the number one landmark that people think of when they think of the Grand Valley and it’s the most strange and then we’ve got the Lincoln yeah what Lincoln was not here right it makes no it makes no sense

LM: those are the two presidents yeah I know what I love about it is that you can always see it when you get to a certain point and so I know as I’m getting closer and closer to it I’m getting closer closer to home right that is the coolest thing and you’re right Garfield doesn’t give you that feeling of like this is where my home is

WV: I know I call it the mighty gar um and it what I like about Garfield is it changes color with the sky it’s like water it’s going to reflect what’s happening it changes with it’s it’s an amazing dying mountain it’s really what it is it’s an ancient dying mountain and it deserves a better name I just don’t know how to go about that because it’s it’s pretty hard to change names right yeah

LM: right yeah who owns the name right who decides. anything else that I didn’t touch on that you really would love to share with the people of Palisade

WV: um specifically to Palisade what I’m hoping to do is to create a monthly gathering with an open mic where yeah where there’s a featured artist who gets up and tells a story or recites poems or whatever but also but also that open mic which is such a community builder yeah you know and you’ll be amazed what people do when they get up there you know it’s just astonishing I’m always just blown away by the quiet you know talent that you know people aren’t out there going look at me look at me but if you give them a microphone they’re going to get up there and they’re gonna they’re gonna show you something pretty cool

um that’s a large part of what of what my sort of impulses is is that I feel that I’ve had a lot of talk and conversation and interviews over the years but what I want to do is to put a spotlight on all the others you know that that have been part of this community that are doing these things in the privacy of their own homes like Leadville there was a poet living in Leadville he was growing roses nobody knew he was a poet he was a miner and when he died they cleaned out his house and they found all these oh yeah yeah

LM: that’s beautiful

WV: yeah so to sort of you know cultivate that you know that garden of um poets and writers that aren’t necessarily showing in the galleries or publishing books

LM: right and that would be so awesome to have that here in Palisade so that you don’t have to you know I know Friuta does a lot which is awesome yeah and there’s stuff in Junction but like to have something here would be really nice

WV: I know that East end of the valley is I mean the library is a big untapped opportunity uh so and and the blue Pig too yeah that’s those are my focuses for after I get this get the word out program happening then I’m gonna go okay right here in this little area that’s where it’s going to happen

LM: well that’s great yeah I’m excited

WV: thanks so much for having me

LM: yeah thanks so much for coming and for reaching out yeah I really appreciated hearing from you

WV: yeah it was great when I heard about I mean what a great title Postcards from Palisade I just went you know what that’s someone who’s got a poetic sensibility

LM: oh I love alliteration

WV: I know it’s all about the sound of the you know because that’s what got me it could have been podcast from the East Valley or something and I would have gone no thank you but Postcards from Palisade I’m in

LM: awesome oh I love it that’s like the best compliment that I’ve ever gotten

WV: do you write

LM: um yeah

WV: oh my goodness

LM: I’m gonna stop this so it’s not on the record

LM: Oh man, I’m the biggest dork. I was so not prepared to talk to Wendy about my writing. Because even I do this podcast, I talk to you, I really am most comfortable listening.

I really enjoyed my conversation with Wendy and all the ideas it sparked. I have more great episodes coming up, but I am going to be reducing the frequency that I publish them to every other week, because I got a full time job, partly to afford more soundproofing for my little office haha. Catch up on old episodes you’ve missed in the meantime.

If you’d like to be on the podcast or you have an idea for an upcoming episode, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com.

The Postcards from Palisade podcast is available on all major podcast distribution platforms. Find it and subscribe so you never miss an episode. Latest episodes and links to more information are also posted on the website postcardsfrompalisade.com.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

E12: The Business of Cannabis in Colorado with The Happy Camper’s Colleen Scanlon-Maynard

How do a cannabis company’s operations differ from other businesses? Why did the Palisade location of The Happy Camper Cannabis Company relocate across town earlier this year? How are they feeling about new competition in Grand Junction?

Whether you’re a regular or occasional consumer or you’ve never touched the stuff, there’s something for everyone (21+) in this episode. We go behind the scenes of a successful cannabis business with The Happy Camper Cannabis Company’s Partner and Senior VP of Marketing and Sales, Colleen Scanlon-Maynard.

For more info about The Happy Camper, check out their website: thcpalisade.com.

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that brings you a snapshot of the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m Lisa McNamara.

I’m talking today with Colleen Scanlon-Maynard, partner and Senior VP of Marketing and Sales at The Happy Camper Cannabis Company, with locations in Palisade and Bailey, Colorado.

We touch on how Colleen got into the cannabis industry after a career in publishing, marketing and sales, why The Happy Camper couldn’t move as quickly as they wanted when they realized their original Palisade location was too small to support their customers and too big to be a good neighbor, and why their new location is just right.

We also chat about how she keeps customers happy, how important education is for responsible cannabis and CBD consumption, how covid had a huge positive impact on their business, and why they’re not concerned about new competition in GJ. All that and more, on today’s Postcard From Palisade.

Please note, this episode is intended only for listeners who are over 21 or who are listening with a parent or guardian.

LM: this is our first episode recording from the Palisade building so it’s an empty office and it’s definitely echoey but uh would you introduce yourself your name and what you do

CSM: sure my name is Colleen Scanlon-Maynard and currently I’m the senior VP of marketing and sales and then a partner in the happy camper cannabis company

LM: I was going to ask you terminology wise do you refer to it as cannabis industry or marijuana industry

CSM: cannabis

LM: okay cool all right that way I’ll say it right

CSM: I’ll answer to anything either one but we’re the happy camper cannabis company so I typically say cannabis

LM: so what’s the history of the happy camper as a company

CSM: the happy camper started in 2015 it was March and it started in Bailey Colorado and it’s a we have a store and a MIP or a manufacturing plant so it’s a more of a warehouse look than what we have here and the store is on the one end and then the other end is where we receive products it’s more warehouse looking two-story and in the beginning we had the upstairs set up for a grow an indoor grow and then the whole downstairs was just the basic processing and all the different rooms you need for that and then packaging and then the lab

but when my son Dan and my son our partners and have been friends for a long while and so when my son got more involved he decided you know we really don’t need to grow there’s so many grows around let’s just you know purchase trim and so they didn’t they didn’t do the grow and eventually they sold the lights because they had it all set up for a grow they sold all that it’s still set up like a grow upstairs without the lights we sold the lights but um so then we buy trim now we manufacture you know the concentrates and then we have the store okay so that was 2015.

LM: okay and then how did you get to Palisade?

CSM: you want me to go on?

LM: yeah absolutely

CSM: well so I’ve been on for a few years of course and then uh we heard that they were going to be doing a lottery here in Palisade so you know we thought this would be a perfect place for us so we got into the lottery and we won which was nice and uh so then we um it took us a while to get things going here you know we had to get through a lot of things where our location was we had to go and present you know to get it uh just make it doable for us and so we did we built it out beautiful building put a fire pit in made the made it as nice as we could and for as many parking spaces as we could you know planning on what we thought would be the number of customers we would see but we were pleasantly surprised right away and then it just kept growing and growing month after month after month and within just a couple of months

and again this started in 2019 by the time we got open June June of 2019 so we get open and we’re like okay projections we know we’re going to be a little busier than Bailey so maybe again as big you know so if we’re seeing 100 customers we’ll probably see two two twenty well that didn’t happen and so right away we’re seeing more than that then we thought after the grand opening would probably calm down well no we just it kept growing and growing and growing so by I would say end of summer fall we knew we had way out already outgrown where we were you know we were seeing a minimum of 400 customers a day and a high of 550 to six on a day

and so you know they’re parking up and down the road they’re all in our parking lot they’re everywhere you know and so we had already leased property for our employees to park in which was across the road and up in an orchard so we already moved our people we shuttled them back and forth but we what were we going to do with all the customers in the cars and and it ended up the town and the neighbors they didn’t like it and I didn’t blame them and then people weren’t following the speed limit because they had reduced it so we put up signs please follow the speed limit we put the speed limit on there we handed out flyers I put posters in the store but you can’t control when your customer leaves the store what what speed they’re going to do down the freeway or the highway but we did try

so we knew then within months that we this was not going to work so we started then talking about where where we could go in Palisade you know because there’s not there weren’t that many areas where we could actually relocate so we started thinking about it and um over time we knew we had to do it and so we we went ahead and leased a little bit more space um right off the road right in front of the greenhouses so we leased space there and then we leased space off to the other side so we ended up we had like 12 or 13 original spots and then we grew another I don’t know probably got it up to 28 or 30. I don’t even remember now but we did the best we could but it wasn’t going to be good enough so we started really looking for a new location and we knew we couldn’t you know just move we had to ask if we could and then we had to have go in front of the you know the town and trustees and so on

LM: right and that’s because of zoning right there’s only a certain a very very tightly controlled area where you actually could

CSM: well and your license is tied to the location you’re in so you have to get an okay from the you know MED and then after you get that then you have to go to the town and then the town has to look at it and you know figure out where they you know where they’re okay with you going and so yeah it’s a process

LM: extra steps

CSM: it’s a process so it took time and we had to be clear where we wanted to go and it had to work and there had to be enough parking and it we didn’t want it to we knew the number of customers now that we were seeing and it couldn’t be in the middle of you know wine country where people are coming down the road on their bikes and they’re wanting a real relaxed atmosphere and then you run into 50 cars parked all over the sides of the road you know it kind of takes away that ambiance right for the you know the bikers and just you know everybody so we knew we had to do it but we had to be in the right location we’re a retail location we belong where other retail is so that you’re not intruding on a neighborhood or the ambiance of what the town is which is you know peaches and wine

LM: yeah totally makes sense

CSM: so it took time but we we went to work on it and figured out a very good location and then we had to make sure that the town agreed that that would be a good location for us and the good news is they did

LM: how long did that whole process take

CSM: well like I said we started talking about moving probably the fall or early winter of 19 now we just opened in June because we were just unbelievable number of people plus our location was small I had trouble getting room to put my product right because I had to have enough inventory to supply the customers right and our store and our inventory area just wasn’t working so we had to stack product up and we we did it we figured out a way to work it out um but we knew we are just like swelling you know and we’ve outgrown this already

so we started talking about it then I would say after uh probably January February of 2020 we had been in conversation about it then covid which changed everything right and kind of we we slowed down uh really looking at it and we started to figure out how we were going to manage where we were with covid because you know people couldn’t come in we could only have six people at a time we had to space everybody out and so that was our focus which was uh interesting because we had to change the whole way we did business um but it worked and I’ll get into that when you’re ready to talk about that

LM: okay so maybe if not for covid the whole process wouldn’t have taken three and a half years it probably would have been faster

CSM: well it would have taken time because we were in the location we were in for a certain amount of time we had to be there so I think it was a couple of years um I don’t know exactly but the license is tied again to the property and then you’re there for a certain amount of time before you can sell it or you know make any major move so we knew we were there for a couple years but whenever you’re going to move a business you have to plan way ahead of time and then start looking because like I said there there weren’t a lot of areas that were going to be conducive to be better fits right than where we were we were at least on the outskirts of town but the drive in there and the amount of cars and the little bit of parking it just wasn’t working but we didn’t you know we knew we were retail we needed to be where there is retail there wasn’t room for us downtown and there certainly isn’t parking right that would not have worked so you know we really had to just uh you know take our time and look at it but yes it would have probably happened a little quicker

LM: yeah well the location makes so much sense because it’s right off the highway easy to get to people could even walk to it now like before you can walk there there’s no sidewalk there’s no shoulder

CSM: it would be dangerous

LM: right it totally makes sense and what also really cracks me up is your address I think that was that’s really cute it kind of took me a couple of times to get it so it’s 420 Wine Valley Road

CSM: how bout that, huh it just worked out

LM: yeah so now that you’re open there are you seeing a lot more traffic because it’s so much easier to get to

CSM: absolutely absolutely it’s it’s been um really unbelievable because we knew when we moved up there we’d be easier to get to better parking but we just assumed we would maybe get a little more of a bump in in activity but no we’re up probably 30 percent

LM: oh wow yeah so here we go again

CSM: yeah but the good news is we can handle it yeah and and when I get to talking a little bit about covid and how we worked through that which was just uh so interesting yeah it helped prepare us and set us up for what we’re doing today

LM: interesting yeah well why don’t you talk a little bit about that

CSM: well um like I had said we had to do change right change is always difficult you have to go to your employees and you have to start figuring out who’s going to do what because now we can’t have all these point of sales open and everybody on top of each other and our store wasn’t that big to start with so now you have to definitely stay out and wait outside in your cars so I got pagers and I um I had enough pagers for everybody who we we figured would be um online which I’ll tell you about that in a minute um placing orders before they came so they would come to the doors how I envisioned it they’ll come to the door they’ll check in then we’ll give them a pager and then go back to their car or they can sit on the patio in front of the you know in the winter the fireplace or I mean the fire pit or they can in the summer we had misters you know they could just sit out there and wait because they couldn’t I couldn’t have them all in right

so then when the pager went off they’d come back up hand the pager in we check their ID again and and then they would come and I always envisioned at that point the bud tender who would be helping them would meet them at the door greet them and bring them on over and then you know help them well that that’s what I had to put in place but before we got to the point where they did the restrictions to um six people in or you know you had to space them so many feet apart and all that

I already did online ordering I had brought that with me when I came from corporate America so people really weren’t jumping all over it because it was new but we did have probably 20 percent 15 to 20 percent or so of our customers who did it all the time so I sent a text out to all my happy camper fans of which at that time we probably had close to 10,000 of them and I just said if you haven’t tried the online ordering I would try it now because I really think that’s where it’s going to go you know with with covid and all that so um within the text went out one day within just a few days we jumped up I mean people were doing online ordering like crazy it was so good and then within just a few days or maybe it was a week they said um you know put up the restrictions and everything so I was so glad that we got so many more we were probably at that time up to about 60 percent of our customers had at least tried it doesn’t mean they were doing it all the time that we you know but I was getting more doing it so then we sent out a message you know this is how we were going to do it and so we had the pagers already because I’d already ordered them and we started that process

then we had separated everybody out so that when you came in everybody was a good six feet apart so we can only see six people at a time so you look at how many customers we were seeing and you’re going to see six at a time yeah it was really crazy but I broke everybody out into departments in the store this is where I went back to my my team that works with me and I said you know with covid now here’s what we’re going to need to do everybody’s going to order online so now we have to figure out how are we going to pack these orders and we want to make sure when you order if you order in the morning but you’re coming at night we’re packing the order in the morning because my order needs to be there it wouldn’t be fair if I ordered in the morning to come at night and somebody came at two and they ordered and they got my product yeah so we had to figure all that out but we were already doing it so it helped us and I built an inventory department a packing team cashier department customer service department so I could have all the team working together I ordered headsets and this is kind of funny because I said to the team we’re going to be like Chick-fil-A and they’re just like Colleen we do not want to be Chick-fil-A and I said no no I said like them because here’s what amazes me with Chick-fil-A

my grandchildren love to go there so we’ll pull in and you can’t even hardly get in the line and they run two lines you know you’re backed up almost onto the road right but when you get in line it keeps moving it keeps moving it keeps moving and you see specific people taking orders taking the money you go around and you get your product you know your food and you’re out it never stops moving so I was like I wonder how they’re doing that so I started really paying attention and I would go a few times when it wasn’t as busy and you could pull in and there’d be you know maybe four people in line and the one person maybe did two things but then all of a sudden when they start getting busy here they come they have like this team

so I’m like we’ve got to do that we have to have an assembly line like that and everybody has to be accountable for specific things so I did the department breakouts I wrote the job descriptions and SOPs and we all talked about it in preparation for what was coming and then we were doing a little on the fly because it happened then so fast that that four week period I think from the time we had to go online order only and six feet apart we we figured it out and so within a month we had the orders pretty well flowing we had the cashiers doing their thing the customer service people doing the pagers and making sure customers were you know being seen and the order that they checked in um everything was manual then as far as you know who we signed them up and we did it by hand who came into line and all that

well we’ve progressed since then and now it’s all on a tablet and it’s all figured out and now we have a TV screen up that shows you where you are in line you know we’ve we’ve come a long way since we started in 2020 but it was covid and what we had to do to stay in business and be able to serve the customers and serve enough of them because we were able to get them in line and then we saw more and more customers then we moved to the new store our volume is up or we we see more more customers and the system makes it seem like where it’s you know it’s no big deal

LM: that’s so interesting so covid really forced you to really to better kind of structure your operations to handle

CSM: more customers

LM: right more customers or bigger flows of people

CSM: that’s right and we do it now in a way because we can where customers now the store is bigger they can all come back in covid’s over and we have 10 point of sales I open them all every day we have if you want to place an order online you do you get in you get out fast if you want to come in you don’t want to place an order online you want to talk to somebody that’s fine we have four floor tenders bud tenders who work the floor and they’re there to take your order talk you through answer questions show you products

at the older store the original store we really didn’t have a lot of product out on the floor here we do we have our flower displayed we have our gold shelf and our silver shelf flower out so you can smell it it’s in little bud pods and you’re able to you know smell it and look at it and you know make sure you’re getting what you want and then we also have brand of the month and all of that product is there so people can look at it and you know all that and then we have all of our topicals edibles all of those products are along the when you first come in on that right side it’s all there so you it’s all display there’s no product in it but you can pick it up read read what’s in it so you know you actually can have whatever experience you want and then we have a line that’s just for deli flower purchases if you don’t want anything else and you don’t want to order online you can come and get in that line and then you can have somebody weigh the flower right there in front of you you pick what you want so you can have that experience you can get in and out fast if you’re novice we’re going to help you if you just want to come in and get an experience of the whole thing we can do that too

but but the system we put in place originally from covid allowed all this to happen yeah because we saw over uh 420 on 420 the day of 420. we saw 1415 customers in one day and there’s just no way there is no way humanly possible

LM: I can’t even conceive of that

CSM: that I could have ever waited on that many customers in a day without having systems that allowed everybody to have their experience and get the ones who are regular customers who just want to come in and buy their product and move on that’s that experience is there for them and you know we we’re really we try very hard to give a very good service and meet the needs of all the customers and we’re not perfect but we try very hard and we are about making changes and doing what we need to do because the customers are the lifeline of the business and it’s all about customers

LM: absolutely so you mentioned earlier that coming from a corporate background getting into this you brought a lot of your corporate skill set to this position how did you get into the Cannabis industry

CSM: my son Brian is my son and he’s in business he and Dan are in business so he asked me probably about 2017 if I would consult with them a little bit and help put in some infrastructure at the time I was doing I was a vice president of market development for a media company out of Georgia Atlanta and I traveled three weeks a month and then I’d be home a week so I said sure I’ll come out one week a month for a few days and just kind of look at your infrastructure and your marketing and that kind of thing so I started helping out you know and tweaking some things and you know and I really was having fun plus I was working with my son and Dan it was fun

so I did more and more of that you know every month and then after about probably well then the drawing came here and we were gonna they were gonna get this store and I thought you know how could I help with this so I ended up doing a lot of the presentations and things like that and then the fellas just asked if I’d like to you know get involved in the business and become a partner and help them out and at first I thought about it because I hadn’t retired yet you know and then I thought well yeah to work with my son and really get to understand cannabis and um the positives and how it can help people and education which is very important to me because I think there’s a lot of misunderstandings about you know the cannabis industry and the CBD industry so you know I wanted to get involved so I did and it’s been so much fun

LM: what’s it like working with family is it ever challenging

CSM: no I come from family business my mom and dad both own their own companies and and we all as children there’s eight of us in the family sibling I have seven siblings eight kids we worked with my mom and dad and their businesses and um that’s how I got into this corporate job I was working with my dad and his business publishing and they noticed what we were doing and before I knew it you know I was offered a position and I took it you know so no working with family there’s nothing better I love it and working with my son has just been so rewarding and I and I love working with younger you know the younger people so yeah cool and it’s a lot more laid back than I mean there’s a lot of restrictions and there’s a lot of you know things you have to do which are understandable and I get it um but corporate that I was in for so many years is a totally different world and you know it’s more relaxed and I uh at this time in my life it’s nice

LM: this is more relaxed or less so

CSM: oh much more there’s like I said there’s restrictions right but corporate America which I was in and I loved it I did I learned a lot and the mobile technology I brought from there the marketing and sales I learned a lot of that working for my father and my mom but boy I learned a ton traveling I opened businesses in Canada and all over the United States and I learned so much about you know different areas and how to open a business and the infrastructure and I almost like office in a box like I can walk in and I can help you set your business up so that you’re up and running and the good news is you want to be making money so you have to you know look at many different things when you when you start to open a business and um and I got a lot of that knowledge from my family businesses with my parents but really through corporate I learned a lot yeah

LM: right right so I can see how it does apply really well to this industry because marketing is a big component of any business

CSM: it is and in this industry so many of the people that started it in the beginning didn’t have a marketing background or a sales background I’m a sales person that’s where I come from and then you in order to grow sales you have to market so I learned how to do good marketing and I’m constantly if you ever look you will see happy camper is always everywhere yeah I brand it and I market it because it’s a brand and I want people to know who we are then you have to follow through with good service and that’s the sales part you you have to earn the right to have a customer come back you don’t just get it because you have good product you don’t just have it because it’s cannabis and people want it you have the customer come back because you take good care of them and you listen to them and a lot of the changes that we’ve made it’s because I listen to my customers I talk to them actually they um my phone number’s out there they can call me it’s right on our website and any customer who has an issue or concern they can email me and I do respond and I talk to them and I want to know you know if it’s an issue with the way they thought you know the the transaction went or they didn’t like the way they were treated or they want to tell me they loved it whatever it is I want to hear it and then I’m going to make it right

I can’t always change everything but I hear them and I want to make it a good experience for all of them so you have to listen to your customer and then you have to be out there marketing and be in front of them constantly because it’s the best last story they hear is where they’re going to be sure and if you just stay quiet you’re not gonna you’re not gonna you know be in front of the right people

LM: yeah totally makes sense right and the happy camper sponsors so many different things

CSM: yeah we do

LM: so is that like do you are you basically just like I’ll sponsor whatever or do you have criteria

CSM: not really first of all there’s certain things I can’t sponsor if children are involved I can’t okay so I have been asked before to to do some things that just wouldn’t fit um because I’m not going to market this to anybody that’s under the age of 21. it’s a requirement of MED anyway but I wouldn’t do it anyway because it’s just you just don’t do it um so there’s things like the um the Christmas you know when they have the Christmas um

LM: the old time Christmas

CSM: you’re not going to see me with banners and all that no but what I have done in the past has had a basket you know and had people bid on it or whatever with just some CBD in it or something like that gift cards things like that just to support the town or the event but I’m not going to be branding myself everywhere but music festivals absolutely Peach Fest absolutely anything where it’s a draw for a grown-up crowd over the age of 21. I’m going to definitely be there one to support the town because we’re all about the town right that’s why we’re here we love it here and we want to do whatever we can do to help the town and grow and bring more people in and things because when they win we win it’s you know helping each other so we’ll participate in anything that makes sense for our industry and for the people that I’m marketing to

LM: that makes complete sense yeah yeah I saw that there’s a a dinner as part of the peach Fest that looked pretty cool like a CBD Farm to Table dinner

CSM: there is every year I sponsor that this year we’re going to CBD type dinner and what we’re going to be doing is it’s not you don’t have to have CBD but we CBD sponsors the dinner and I have for a couple years but what I’m going to do now is we have a a little um drink you know that we well it’s not a drink it’s like a seltzer water but a sparkling water and we’re gonna be having that up there we’re going to do some mixed drinks with it so we have recipes with different you know options for some drinks so if somebody wanted to try it they could try it there you know now we’re also going to have wine and you don’t have to try that but it would be kind of cool if somebody had never tried it and they wanted to you know there’s no THC you’re not going to get high off of you know drinking a little you know CBD

so anyway we’re going to be doing that and then I’m trying to work it out where maybe there’s an option for a dessert that might have a little CBD you know we’re thinking about that too that’s cool but the main thing is going to be education and fun you know I give away a ton of baskets with all kinds of good things in there it’s all CBD but it’s fun I’ve done it a couple of years and last year it was a blast these two guys won some of the stuff and they were back there you know putting hats on and stuff it was so much fun so this year we should have a really good time with it but I love doing it and just being around you know the people and taking their input listening to them and then answering any questions that we can

LM: yeah it looks like a really fun event um so you mentioned earlier and I don’t know if everybody listening to this would know it but the town of Palisade has a very limited number of licenses there’s two technically two right technically

CSM: technically those two

LM: right and really this was the only place in the Grand Valley where there were retail cannabis businesses and I know you don’t like this question but I ran into Dan the other day at the sneak line and I said what question do I have to ask Colleen um and he said you have to ask her about competition and I was like I know she doesn’t like that question cause when we talked on the phone you were like I really don’t like this question but I also really liked your answer to it too so I have to ask you now that Grand Junction is opening up uh you know they opened up the lottery for the 10 licenses I think this time

CSM: oh yeah yeah it’s done

LM: there yeah yep and so that’s in progress there’s going to be 10 new competitors in in the valley um what’s your plan to to kind of compete with those new businesses

CSM: well the part of the question that I had been given prior to this that I didn’t care for was are you worried that you’re going to go out of business oh because of the competition

LM: that is a distinction that’s different for sure

CSM: absolutely and what I said back was absolutely not competition is healthy everybody needs competitors you stay you’re better and you work harder when you have competition so competition doesn’t I like it it doesn’t bother me at all what I will say about what’s going on on in Grand Junction we wanted a license we went for one we weren’t drawn it’s the luck of the draw there was nothing we could do about that but what I can do is continue to do what I’m doing I believe in marketing staying in front of the customer being the last best story they heard having the best prices carrying the best products and giving the best service and being able to meet the needs of all customers so again my work my flow to be able to have online orders in and out as quick as possible in-store orders take as much time as you’d like flower only orders come in and have it weighed out in front of you you can smell it you can look at it you can pick what you want you do have to wait in line but we have one or two depending you know stations running the bud pods are there and then I have all the displays you’re going to get whatever experience you want and I’m going to make sure our service is exceptional and when we fail I take care of the customer you have to do that

so I think that we’ll take a little bump I mean hit I know we will that’s okay um but I think if the customers you know we have many many VIP members who have been with us I told you we had about 10,000 happy camper fans I call them and they come into the store at least once or twice a quarter some of them weekly but on an average these VIP members are once or twice a quarter that’s a lot of customers that come and go that have learned to really appreciate the happy camper and the brand now is the competition going to draw some of them in to check it out sure it is and that’s okay um they’ll like some of the ways they do their business they’ll love some of the products they have they’ll like some of the sales they have so that’s fine I’m hoping that we continue to have them come back for these special things that we do in the special like we do clones now and we’re doing them on a couple like every other month basis that’s something new nobody in the valley is doing and um you know we’re just going to have a lot of fun things I want to have some outside activities you know maybe during the summer during some big pop-ups or like Fourth of July 7/10 and I’m kind of working with the peach Shack to maybe do a little farmer market out front just some fun stuff you know outdoors and I just think we’re retail we are all about customers and I hope that they’ll they’ll really see that as they embrace some of these new businesses to come in to see you know maybe what the happy camper brings to the table and has no matter you know when we’re doing business it’s going to be the same customer comes first can’t always do everything they want you to do but you listen and you do
the best you can that’s all we can do and marketing I’ll be doing and I am and I will continue to do a lot of that and um I think the service and the products and all and we’ll be fine and I wish them all well I want them to do well

I think a lot of the ease off and on the freeway is is a positive for us um you don’t you know what’s spread out all over town if it’s convenient for the people living there I get it I would go to the corner store too as long as the sales were good and the product’s great why not you know and I and I know that’ll happen I’m not worried about I-70 traffic because we’re so convenient and currently we’re getting so many new customers right off of the freeway that I think that will continue s

o you know the move absolutely yeah it’s going to be very beneficial but no competition is fine with me and I just know who my competition is and they’ll know who we are and we’ll you know we’ll compete but it’ll be a friendly competition you know

LM: I love it no competition definitely drives me too like it keeps you I think it keeps you motivated it keeps you creative yeah yeah thinking always thinking ahead and not getting stale

CSM: always and that’s how I do my business anyway so all this does is just excite me more to be a little more progressive moving the ball forward doing more for the customers and you know just continuing to better the training for the people that work with me so that we are spot on every day what happens in the store now is you know if we’re if it’s a day where I see 900 customers okay on a Friday or a Saturday my team is boom boom boom we are on it everything’s great you know when it slows down and it’s a day like let’s say on a Monday where I saw 550 customers they think my team gets bored they’re like yeah oh Colleen it was really slow today I heard that yesterday and I’m like we saw 550 customers guys but it’s because you have those laws and they’re used to this super fast pace so what I am working with them is to stay as attentive to the customer and engage with them come out from behind the cash register talk to them before you know bringing them to the station to do the warm and fuzzy greeting like we did at the other store where you met them at the door you know so we’re working on that now that’s huge to me and we need to warm it up a little so that’s the thing I’m doing this week working with my team to to be just a little bit when we’re slower a little more engaging with the customer prior to them coming to the cash register not the ones that are being waited on by a floor tender but people that have ordered online or after they’ve ordered with the floor tender bring them up to the counter talk to them about how their day is going or whatever just you know we embrace the customer now let’s talk a little more you know to them during that time that doesn’t when we’re busy boy they’re bringing them up come on up let’s get going now but when it gets like only three people or four people in line they’re not as apt to so we’re always working on getting better always

LM: that’s awesome yeah um so just a broader question about the cannabis industry in general like what what do you think legalization has done for the state of Colorado and towns like Palisade

CSM: well one the um the revenue the tax revenue I just know what we generate and um it’s really I know it’s helped and that’s good that’s a positive um I also think that it’s kind of softened the way people think about cannabis I think cannabis got a bad rap over the years you know and people kind of put it together with heroin and all these very heavy drugs that are super dangerous and now you kind of put it out here on its own and let’s talk about what it really is and education you know do children need to drink alcohol no do children need to smoke cannabis no but what they do need is education as to why they shouldn’t right and if we just say no it’s bad no it’s terrible well they’re going to do it you’re encouraging them to try it something really bad that sounds like fun you know and I think if we did more education on alcohol with young children and I say young children anyone under 21 and cannabis what it is what its benefits are and when your brain has developed enough to not be damaged by the use then you make a decision whether you would want to try it for you know recreational or health benefits or whatever but if we just did you know if we want to just say it’s taboo and we want to just put it over here and rank it up there with a lot of other super heavy drugs you’re gonna you’re gonna lose because kids are going to try it so I’m I’m all about education and I think it’s helped is it where it should be no but we’re going to get it there and it’s going to be by talking about and communicating you know with it

now just like alcohol some people can have a drink some people can’t cannabis is the same way there are people that shouldn’t use cannabis I don’t care how old they are there are some people that shouldn’t drink either no matter how old they are there’s that’s never going to really change but the education of young people making better decisions decisions with good knowledge and not just no is I think going to help them make better decisions as young people and that I think it is it is helping um we got a long way to go

LM: yeah and that’s a challenge too because in your position you can’t necessarily do that because you know it or how how could you do that or how does that

CSM: educate the young people

LM: Yeah

CSM: by educating the parents

LM: okay

CSM: and um and in my world I’m educating my grandchildren and this is one thing my son said to me when I was trying to decide whether I was going to get into the business or not he brought it up and I go oh I don’t know you know I have grandkids so I don’t know that that and they’re young and I don’t know that that would be good and and he just said to me you know Mom do you drink wine in front of the grandkids yeah do you talk about it I go well yeah I tell them when they’re old and I talked to him about it why it’s not something that they can do right now and why I don’t say it’s terrible I just said right now at your age it would not be good for you your brain’s developing and this and that um he goes well wouldn’t you want to do that about cannabis and talk to them so they’ll talk to you about it and I go wow I never thought about it

so guess what that perfect thing happened I was in the car talking to a customer and I was taking my grandson to a futsal practice and he is he was 14 at the time he’s 15 now okay and I’m like happy camper can I help you and I’m answering some questions and this is every week I take him once a week so this goes on because I told you I talked to customers all the time well one day I got off the phone in the car and he goes Nana that’s that’s what they call me he goes uh nana I know what business you’re in and I go you do and he goes I do I go well what business am I in and he said you’re in the cannabis business and I said you’re right how’d you find that out he goes well I heard you on the phone and then I asked Dad you know his dad my youngest son and he told me and he explained to me about it and everything and he goes you know what Nana some of the kids in my class he was an eighth grader at the time yes freshman or eighth grade already tried he called marijuana marijuana and I said really what do you think about that and he goes well I just don’t think it’s good because you know I’m playing soccer and futsal and I have a lot going on and and you know like my dad said my brain is still developing see I mean he was thinking and he and I had a conversation that we would have never had and all the way then to practice we talked about it and it was such a good conversation this is how children will learn from their grandparents and their parents making them understand why if a child understands why they’ll make a better decision but when you just say no it’s bad or it’s this or that that doesn’t do it kids want to know why

LM: yeah absolutely

CSM: so I think those are ways that we’re making it better we got like I said we had a long way to go yeah but it’s getting there

LM: where would you like to see things be in the industry in like five ten years

CSM: I’d like to see it be legalized all across the country I don’t understand why it isn’t

LM: yeah it’s complicated

CSM: it’s complicated um education get it out there talk about what it really is about explain that some people will never be able to use cannabis just like they’re not able to drink but there’s a lot who can and what about I I have an awful lot of customers who call me and thank me and this is just as many in the CBD world that are getting off of opioids and they’re healthier and they’re and they thank me they go this is great thank you so much for helping us that that’s why I’m there that is huge and for more seniors who have you know arthritic pain or different type inflammation or they can’t sleep they just can’t sleep my husband is one of them who is just struggles terribly and when you can help them you get a big I don’t know what I do without it thanks so much and I didn’t have to take a synthetic drug that is not good for my body those are all positive things so these are all the things that I think if we can legalize it across the country and start to speak about it educate people and be real about it it’s going to be helpful you know

LM: absolutely

CSM: any other questions from Dan

LM: no that was the only one I said I said just give me one that was the one he said

CSM: well he knows I love my competition so he’s just wanting to hear me say it again you know

LM: he’s like you gotta get that answer you know I thought it was cute he also said thanks for talking to you well

CSM: yeah thank you

LM: of course is there anything you feel like I missed about the business that you’d want to kind of share with other people or

CSM: what I would say about the business one that surprised me and I hit on this earlier a little was the lack of marketing the um feeling that you didn’t need to do it that if you had it they would come and you’re just wasting your money I was shocked by that because I again I come from that business knowing that it doesn’t matter what your product is there’ll be competition and you have to stay in front of the customer so I never did understand that I didn’t listen to it and I I did it anyway um from the moment I started working with Dan and Brian I was marketing it marketing it and more and more all the time and then the same for um embracing technology like this new mobile technology texting out to your customers getting them to agree to take a text you don’t text them all the time you text them things they want to know about specials and things that matter you don’t just blast all this stuff to them to annoy them but you send them good things that they like and like we run specials if you’re a VIP reward member 4/20 was on Thursday so I sent a text out and said hey VIP members you can come in the day before on 4/19 and get all the specials for 4/20 and that way you don’t have to wait in line and you’ll be so proud yeah well that’s the benefit to them for being a VIP member you get the same specials just come on in and we’ll take the sale price we’ll give it to you this day so we got a lot of people doing that I do it on green Friday my VIP members I send them a message they come in on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving they get all the green Friday or Black Friday specials so they have it already done they don’t have to wait in line they can enjoy their family why not that to me is a thank you to the customer but it’s all marketing and branding and using the technology to benefit the customer your customer these are the ways the way I see winning the loyalty of a customer is when you do special things for them and you care about them

and one other thing too was the um you know a customer comes into the store and they buy a cartridge they spend fifty dollars they go home and it leaks okay so when they’re trying to use it it’s running into their mouth okay that’s not good the product’s got a problem so I take it back I’m not going to have someone spend fifty dollars and then when they tell me it’s got a problem oh I’m sorry that’s that’s a shame yeah yeah no I have an agreement with my vendors if they’re going to do business with us if there’s a problem with their product we have to take it back destroy it because legally you have to destroy it immediately which we do consumer waste we take care of that we have a special bin everything goes in it’s logged the minute it comes in with all the receipts the original and the return receipt

and then we charge them a penny and then we give them the new the same product just a new one hopefully will not be leaking or whatever and then we destroy the one they return and um and that all gets sent over to metric and all that so we take care of that end but we’ve taken care of the customer too and that happens you know especially in the cartridge world they they do have some issues sometimes and I was surprised to hear some people tell their customers no you know

LM: yeah because that’s a kind of an investment

CSM: well that’s a match yeah what do you mean though yeah I just bought this and I can’t even use it right you know so I try very hard to put customer first and do the best I can now do some people sometimes try to take advantage of that yeah and I can’t we can’t do it you know but overall customers customer service taking care of them that’s the key and then following the guidelines to do it properly is what matters and uh and we do all those things so

but those were the two things that you would ever tell a customer no right you know you just spent that and you just left my store an hour ago and I’m going to say you know too bad well I wouldn’t come back to your store if that’s the way I was treated so to me you take care of that customer and then you follow through with the right process to handle it you sell it to them for a penny because you can’t give it to them of course and then they’re happy and everybody’s happy

LM: so you split your time between a few different places

CSM: I do

LM: and so when you are in Palisade what do you like to do here

CSM: oh my goodness well I’m a wine girl so I definitely go to the to the wineries I have a really good friend who owns a vineyard and she’s the winemaker Juliann and I love her and her wine and so

LM: oh I was there for the first time this weekend

CSM: did you like it

LM: it was awesome I loved it they are very good

CSM: and what’d you think about all her the way her place is set up

LM: it’s so cute

CSM: isn’t it adorable and it’s so just Colorado like when you see it you’re like yes this is where we are and I love the little handkerchiefs around her all the little touches that she puts into her location and her you know wine tasting room and yeah

LM: and the wine’s good too so it’s not just oh it’s cute the wine is also really good

CSM: it’s great and what happened I joined her wine club because she can ship or does ship to my state so I get it you know every time she’s doing that I get it and then Colterris I love Colterris and I’m also a member of their wine club and a couple of the others so I’m a wine girl I love I love the you know doing the wine and um to be totally honest um I work while I’m here when I’m here it’s about my team and what I need to do to help them to get us where we need to be and keep us where we need to be right for the customers I go out and talk to the customers on the floor I love what I do and um

LM: that’s awesome yeah it just really shows through too

CSM: I do I get a kick out of it and I love customers and I love chatting with them and and thanking them you know letting them know how much I appreciate their business and it’s so amazing when I had a call the other day there was an upset customer I can’t even remember what what it was about and I called him right away you know and he goes well I can’t believe you called me so quickly and I said well of course and I helped him and he was so just shocked that you know an owner would call him and I said well why wouldn’t they for sure they would I said and you keep my phone number and if you ever have an issue or a concern or you just want to share something with me or you have a product that you’d like to know if we could want to carry text me or call me I’m fine with that so when you enjoy what you’re doing you work a little and the rest is kind of like your hobby you know you do it because you get great pleasure

and and the young people that work with me mentoring them the way people mentored me as a young person I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had so many people take me under their wing and help me so I’m paying it back with these uh great young people that I’m working with to build careers the ones who want it some some don’t want a career but the ones who do I’m doing my best to try to mentor them and help them so that they can build nice careers for themselves

LM: that’s awesome

CSM: so yeah it’s fun

LM: oh that’s so cool well thank you so much for your time I’ve taken up a lot of it but I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and um yeah I think it’s it’s just a it’s an interesting conversation it’s interesting to hear your perspective about um just how you think about the business and what excites you about it

CSM: yeah well it’s a great industry and it’s going to go a long long way we just have to keep being progressive in our thinking and moving it forward because in the end it is a business it’s retail you’re either wholesaling it to your people that are going to retail it out it’s a retail business that we’re in here in Palisade and the goal is to make happy customers so that you continue to you know do business there you go

LM: well thank you so much

CSM: thank you

LM: I was really excited to learn all about the cannabis business from Colleen – it was something that felt like a big mystery to me, going into this conversation. But what I came away with was: it’s just a business, like any other! Granted, a highly regulated business. But for the most part, the tips and ideas that Colleen shared can be applied by any savvy business owner to improve their own operations.

And Colleen has such a passion for business, no matter what that business is. After I hit stop on the recording, she sat with me for another fifteen minutes or so and we talked all about podcasting – my goals, competition, how it all works. I really should have kept the recorder running, but I kept expecting her to have to dash out the door, onto the other twenty things she had to do that day. But with me, like she describes being with her customers and employees and family, she was so generous with her time.

Thank you for spending some time with me.

If you’d like to be on the podcast or you have an idea for an upcoming episode, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com.

The Postcards from Palisade podcast is available on all major podcast distribution platforms. Except soon, we’ll no longer be available on Stitcher, since that app decided to shut itself down as of August. That was actually my favorite podcasting app and I’m going to miss it. Find us and subscribe on the other platforms so you never miss an episode. Latest episodes and links to more information are also posted on the website postcardsfrompalisade.com.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

E11: Colorado Lavender with Olivia Coe and Lee Ann Nielsen of the Colorado Lavender Association

Why does Palisade have a lavender festival? How exactly does one celebrate lavender? Why does lavender grow so well here? Learn everything you ever wanted to know about lavender and the upcoming Colorado Lavender Festival from Festival Director Olivia Coe and Lavender Association of Colorado Treasurer and lavender farmer Lee Ann Nielsen of Nielsen Village.

For more info about the Colorado Lavender Festival and the Lavender Association of Colorado, check out their website. To learn more about volunteering at the event, check here.

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that shares a snapshot of the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m Lisa McNamara.

Today I’m coming to you in a cloud of calming lavender. I’m talking about the Colorado Lavender Festival and lavender in general with Festival Director Olivia Coe and Lavender Association of Colorado Treasurer and lavender farmer Lee Ann Nielsen of Nielsen Village.

Listen on to learn all about lavender, how and why it grows so well in Colorado, why I planted my plants in the perfectly wrong spot, and how lavender is celebrated at the upcoming 12th annual Colorado Lavender Festival, held from June 23rd to 25th, presented by the Lavender Association of Colorado. To buy festival tickets or sign up to volunteer real quick, check out their website coloradolavender.org/annual-lavender-festival.

But then, come right back here, because today’s Postcard From Palisade is an episode for all your senses.

OC: I am Olivia Coe I am the festival director for the Colorado Lavender Festival this is my first year and picked up with the organization I think in end of November of 2022 so I’m very excited to be planning this year’s Festival

LN: I guess we’re excited that she is with us I’m Lee Ann Nielsen I’ve been involved with the association for many years and have been the treasurer on and off for many years so and continue to be on the board work as the treasurer for the lavender Association of Colorado

LM: and Lee Ann how did you get involved with the festival originally?

LN: you know I joined the lavender Association in 2011 and they had only been going for a couple of years and that happened to be their first Festival that they had planned to do so I went as a generic participant I went on the tours I went to the meetings that kind of thing and just learned the value of lavender because initially I didn’t really care for lavender but looked at it as kind of a challenge an easier challenge we started farming with grapevines and that is definitely a lot of work and the I’ll tell you the lavender meetings that I went to were they were so friendly and so passionate and so willing to share that I it just it just caught me up in it and it’s like you know what I can do this there’s people behind me so and then I just continued just learned what I could learn and just develop from there

LM: and Olivia how about you how did you get involved with it

OC: well I moved here to Grand Junction just over a year ago I actually live in Fruita I wanted to move to Palisade so bad but housing fell through like everybody’s story probably

LM: we can still get you here

OC: yeah and fruita is fun too I really enjoy it but Palisade has my heart but so I was just looking for a part-time job I’m actually the store manager for Habitat for Humanity as well and so I was looking for some additional income but it was hard to like find a job at you know like a restaurant or anything like that based on the hours I worked at habitat and I just happened to see this on indeed and I was like oh yes lavender sounds wonderful and I participated in the Lavender Fest working with sprigs and Sprouts about I think was four or five years ago I think it was 2016 so I had enjoyed it and I’ve always loved lavender pretty much that’s one of the only scents I’d buy if I buy scented items so it just all kind of sounded perfect to me and then prior to being here for several years I’ve organized other festivals mainly mushroom festivals but big big events that were like full weekends and so it just kind of was the perfect fit for me so very exciting yeah

LM: whoa it’s good luck that you saw that

OC: I know and lucky that Lee Ann gave me the time of day

LN: yeah well board decision board decision wasn’t just me

LM: the 12th annual Lavender Festival is coming up June 23rd to 25th and did I get those dates right

OC: you did

LM: okay great so what’s the what’s the festival all about what events are part of it what goes on there

OC: yeah so the main the major Festival that we do is June 24th so that’s the big day where everyone comes in shops all day long at all the vendor booths and then we also have live music we have demos seminars we have cooking classes things like that wreath making so that’s only the big to do for the festival that the whole community usually comes out for it’s five dollar tickets not not too bad but really just giving a venue to people who are artisans and craft vendors a lot a lot of them are centered around lavender some are also you know different arts and crafts but so that’s our big main event then we also have Friday night or Friday farm tours so those are private events those including one in North Fork Valley and one in Grand Valley Mesa County so attendees will purchase a ticket and then they’ll visit four to five different farms depending on which tour they choose and then they’ll have a catered lunch delicious and then they’ll get prizes and gifts for each of the locations and be able to shop and each of the farm owners will do a separate in training or or a demo or like teach them how to make some lavender product or things like that it’s really cool and then our Sunday the last day of the festival is more kind of open form so with that one people will do self-guided farm tours so they will be able to visit any of the farms that decided to participate in that and they’ll most farms will usually have some kind of an activity or some specials for the people attending that part of it too so that’s the main part of it Lee Ann what did I miss

LN: dinner

OC: oh dinner dinner hello so we have dinner at Maison la Belle Vie on Saturday night after the festival so that’s a big fancy event they make a delicious lavender inspired meal with each course having lavender infused into the dish so it’s going to be beautiful and lovely you should come if you can

LM: what’s interesting I think too is that it’s you can have a variety of experiences for like different price points like you can have pretty much you know five dollars a ticket it’s not that bad and then it goes all the way up to like quite a bit for the dinner and the farm tours and things but it’s like you can kind of or the self-guided farm tour yes right so I think that’s really cool like there aren’t many festivals where you can have that level or that number of different experiences

OC: yeah, pick your participation level yeah

LN: and I think one of the biggest focuses that’s always been at the heart of the association is the education about lavender and what you can do with it and what because that’s usually one of the first questions people ask well so what’s the big deal with lavender, right and so this gives different businesses and farms a way to really explore and explain how they use lavender from just some basic agritourism to their culinary products to their bath and body and you know how how do you do it you know the essential oils of course are always a big thing there’s many that are big specialists on on that as well so

OC: you know what I forgot the art contest oh yeah I’m going to let you run with that one

LN: oh yes well because it’s kind of

OC: it’s free-form kind of

LN: it is yeah we every year for the festival we promote a an artwork a two-dimensional art piece so for example the artist that we’re featuring this year was chosen last year last year’s festival and so then we purchased her artwork and then are able to use it and all our promotional materials and everything for the for the coming Festival so right now we are promoting the artwork for the 2024 Festival that will be chosen at the end of this Festival it’s kind of confusing on the timing there but we’ll we’ll choose it at the end of this Festival so that when this one is over we’ll have something to work with to start planning our 2024 Festival so and we’re it’s such a an exciting thing to see what these artists come up with and it’s like I said two-dimensional and there’s really no age limit on you know who can participate they just have to meet some of the criteria that the art gallery needs because we have it displayed at the Blue Pig Gallery just in this area

LM: and when is it displayed

LN: it’s actually on display now we reserve the initial vote to the members of the association so the members of the association hopefully will receive the photos and a voting ballot of all the artwork that has been submitted so they can do their initial choices the top three maybe four depending on how hard it is to decide but usually the top three finalists and then those three finalists are featured in continue to be featured at the Blue Pig Gallery for anybody who comes in the week prior to the festival then they get to do their voting of the three that the membership had chosen

LM: got it okay so the public ultimately picks

LN: yeah so then the public picks the final the final one and then the end of Sunday the end of the festival weekend is when we’ll do the tally and so we should hopefully know by the Monday after

LM: so why does palisade have a Lavender Festival who started it why did they start it

LN: oh interestingly I guess I’ll take that because I researched that the looking into this started way back in the mid how do you say that the mid 2000s

OC: the mid aughts

LN: the mid ok thanks I don’t know how you say that so what happened was prior to 2007 we had a Master Gardener in the Grand Junction area who worked very closely with the CSU Tri River Extension Center that’s out there on Highway 50 and her name was Kathy Kimbrough she’s still in the area she has Garden Scentsations her own still a Master Gardener still doing her design work and such but she had noticed that and I got this out of an article she had noticed that in all of the homes that she would go to to help with their landscaping situations the lavender was there you know there was everywhere or once in a while she would see lavender and and she saw how it was thriving and she worked very closely with the Extension Center at the time Dr Curtis Swift was the horticulturist agent Horticulture agent at the CSU and I guess she with her passion and her vision convinced him to really work on this so when and so that was prior to 07 so then in 07 he agreed to put a test plot out at the Extension Center just to study it find out how viable is this you know can can they prove there what she was seeing in the public homes and their landscaping and it was very successful so then he furthered the prospect and sent her to Sequim with the Master Gardener scholarship sent her to Sequim Washington who has been doing lavender up in that area it’s kind of at a peninsula up there in the Washington area they’ve been 30 40 years doing lavender up in that area so she went up there to learn what she could learn and and that further fed her passion and her and her vision for it so in April of 09 they’d done their test plot you know she studied wrote her reports in April of 09 they and they put out their feelers for a a like a test meeting you know or you know to to find out how they could you know if there was any interest out there and they ended up with over 50 people showing up at their meeting at their very initial meeting yeah so there was big interest

LM: that’s a lot

LN: big interest out there so they explored the whole avenue of everything and shortly after the Lavender Association of Western Colorado was formed and so initially lavender in the state started here on the Western Slope in the Grand Junction around that area kind of Mesa County and and South a little bit down into the North Fork Valley region another person was at that meeting who had already been a long-term lavender growing long long time and that was Paula Lagar from Sage Creations who is still here in business and I guess she’d been growing lavender for a few years so Kathy went out to see her place and said oh my God you’re already doing it then that means everybody can do it too type of thing so they just and that just furthered everything so then you know and when you think about starting up a whole organization which is kind of a a prospect these people were had to have been extremely committed because they had the legal side of it the whole organizational side of it to do yeah some impressive work that they got accomplished in October of 09 Dr Curtis Swift and Kathy Kimbrough wrote a research article of which we have on our website but wrote a research article about the whole viability and the things that you need to think about and what what would work best and even down to how to propagate lavender because it doesn’t necessarily grow by seed you have to some plants truly just have to be propagated from another plant so there’s two main varieties that are that are seen predominantly even across the country but it in our state in particular one has to be propagated the other one can be done by seed but it’s iffy as to its success so there was a lot of activity going on in 09 they formed the organization they got the research project done and they held their first annual lavender and artisan Christmas Fair by December of that year so yeah these were some some hard-hitting fast-moving people that were that were really working on this

LN: and then what is it 2011 was our first annual festival to be held in the summer time so and then we just continued to to progress from there and it was in 2018 that we went statewide took a you know a year or two to to really work on that focus because there were farms that had already developed on the Front Range or in the southwest corner you know there was the statewide there was people growing lavender in in all kinds of areas so we said oh my gosh we need to embrace these people and and really focus on lavender as an entire state not just in one region so since 2018 we’ve been statewide and changed our name then to just the Lavender Association of Colorado

LM: I had no idea that there was a lavender would you call like a trade association or um what’s the right name for it

LN: it was just it was a non-profit association of like-minded people that their love was lavender and how do we promote it and make money on it I mean that’s kind of one of the features of why you do some farming is can I earn anything off this and so it was a cash crop believe me I I had a vineyard that I managed and took care of it was very small it was only three acres it was a losing proposition because because it’s hard work and major amount of effort that goes into it so I have great respect for CAVE and everybody involved in that arena but I had to make my exit yeah and I exited into lavender which is I’ll have to say much more pleasurable right off the top I mean the plants you smell them right away and they’re beautiful right away so yeah there’s my new love yeah

LM: why does lavender grow so well here where they were able to figure that out when they were doing the study

LN: oh yeah we have very dry dry and hot same same way grapes do well here dry hot they don’t need very much water very little water actually and we have slightly alkaline soils which is really good for for lavender although lavender is very adaptable it can grow in crazy stuff but sunshine and sunshine is the other big key you’ve got to give it at least six hours of sunshine a day at least and we have I mean you just don’t want to plant it on the north side of your house or where there’s a lot of shade

LM: I’m thinking right now about where I planted by yeah and that would explain why it’s this big. It’s in the shade.

LN: yeah and sometimes people will put it in their landscaping and water it as frequently as they do their grass lavender does not like wet feet that’s like the common thing they don’t like wet feet

LM: that’s perfect for here so really yeah and low maintenance

LN: so just being dry hot and sunny

OC: so put your plant on the other side of the house now

LM: yeah definitely messed that one up also another thing that we touched on a little bit earlier so you Lee Ann have a lavender farm and you were saying that this year was a little bit more challenging and that kind of ties into it because it has been such a wet year that the lavender isn’t I don’t want to say ripening blooming it’s not blooming on its normal schedule

LN: it’s a little bit slower yeah and one thing that we’ve learned as we were exploring statewide coverage for the state the Front Range is cooler a little bit cooler sometimes although it’s not necessarily a hard truth but it can generally be kind of cooler and where we’re considered high desert on the Western Slope so and we’re generally say around what 43 4700 elevation here but they’re higher generally over there so that’s why they’re cooler for one thing so their bloom and everything is is later than ours so we always started with our bloom in this area maybe around June maybe June July and we’re we’re pretty much done for the season you know as far as our our first big bloom goes where the Front Range will be starting in July so there it’s in it’s neat because you can get everything you need here on the Western Slope lavender wise and then you can go over to the Front Range and get everything again so it makes it a cool thing but this year like you said this year in particular we’ve had a wetter winter time the spring has been much cooler for us on the Western Slope much wetter rainier the wind has not been as bad last year was absolutely horrendous but this year for us that hasn’t been that bad so we are slower this year by almost two to three weeks for our for our bloom but you know what all it takes is is a day in the 80s and they’re going to start going berserk I can see it happening already just this week so it’s just a matter of and on our side of the mountain range we probably have to water a little more frequently than they do on the on the east side so it just kind of and then everybody has their own little micro climate areas and Front Range is much more I think variable and I shouldn’t say they’re more variable they just have a lot of variation there just like we do here because Delta County Paonia Hotchkiss a lot of them are kind of mountainous type of regions we have a huge contingent of lavender down in the southwest corner lots of them down in the Cortez and Bayfield Ignacio Mancos just that whole Southwest arena and I’m not that familiar with that area but I think of it as being hotter yeah than us I don’t know if they really are but that’s what I think only because I think they’re closer to to Arizona and to New Mexico and that Southeast Utah so it’s a hotter to me it’s a hotter area so yeah so they they do I mean every area has its own challenges with that so it just it kind of depends but I know for us here at festival way I think maybe the Grand Junction area has finally caught up to what Paonia and Hotchkiss because they might be a little maybe a week behind this area because we’re a little bit lower a little bit hotter

OC: so now we’re kind of the same

LN: and and now yeah because our cool spring that we’ve been having and this intense cloudiness yeah threat of rain every day it’s crazy yeah it’s just been real different

OC: one thing about the Front Range too with their later blooming don’t they have a July Festival right

LN: yes they do they do yeah the Denver Botanic Garden at Chatfield Farms which is in the in Littleton they do an annual Lavender Festival yeah they’ve been doing that one now for I want to say five to seven years five six years okay something like that yeah they’re members of the Association great supporters yes great supporters of us so yeah we get to we then go to to the Front Range then do festival time again

LM: you probably get to enjoy a little bit more of that because you’re there a little bit more as a tourist than as an organizer

LN: and you know what’s interesting is even though this is our 12th year as a festival we still reach people at the festival who they’ll say I never knew lavender grew in Colorado I never knew there was a lavender Association and then we go over to the the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Festival same thing yeah I didn’t know lavender could grow here it’s just like you guys we’ve been around for a long time but there’s it’s just yeah just getting the word out there is what’s really important

OC: yeah so we thank you Lisa for helping us yeah

LN: indeed most indeed

LM: I’m so glad I have the opportunity to do that so do you do you Olivia do you have a favorite lavender product

OC: oh gosh there’s so many so so many good ones um hard hard one I mean literally the only scent I take get is lavender so you know like lavender soaps and lavender room sprays and lavender dish soap so I don’t know everything I’m just gonna say everything all lavender everything I think if I could make a scent all together I would probably do like an oil like kind of lotion hand lotion sort of thing with coconut oil lavender and then like wild sage that would be like my favorite scent ever

LN: oh that’s an interesting combination

OC: somebody make it for me please

LN: I bet we could do that gotta find some wild sage somewhere

OC: ok I’ll bring you some from my my warmer neck of the woods in the Cortez Mancos Durango area

LN: okay good okay

OC: it grows well down there

LM: did you grow up down there

OC: I grew up in mostly in Norwood and I worked in Telluride for a long time and then I would always go on trips in the kind of further south area southwest corner of the state

LN: I forget that that you’re kind of from that area

OC: that’s ok yeah but I would say like it may be a little bit drier I don’t know if it’s much hotter but I think I can think of like the Mancos Durango area I think that’s a little a little more pleasant yeah Cortez Dolores Dove Creek area that would be a probably similar climate but maybe even a little more dry

LM: Lee Ann what’s your favorite lavender product if you have one

LN: um favorite lavender product I’ll have to say probably for a body product my two favorites are the oh maybe it’ll have to be three favorites maybe it’ll have no I do I like lavender I like lavender lotion and I like lavender in soap in a bar soap but I also like the lavender sprays that the farms can make when they do their distillation they get the essential oil and then the water feature that comes off of it is is called hydrosol it’s a or a lavender water or something like that and it’s you know with an with an essential oil you really need to dilute it before you use it you know regardless of what you’re going to do with it you should be for safety sake but the hydrosol that comes off in the distillation process is usable immediately you don’t have to mix it blend it anything you can spray it right on your face right away you know it’s just yeah it’s an amazing product and so and I I’ll have to say I guess I use that on just about everything me linens so I guess maybe that’s my all all time number one must be it’s got to be the number one

OC: yeah okay I thought of one thing okay so it when I worked at sprigs and Sprouts about 2015 they had a hydrosol that was called chill pill and it had like it didn’t smell like perfume it smelled like lavender but it had this like sweetness behind it that wasn’t overpowering it was perfect so I wonder what I think it was gone now

LN: I’ll have to ask him and I’ll let you know I have to see if they still make something like that yeah yeah and that’s that’s kind of the beauty of lavender is you you can blend it with other other things and there is there is a difference between what is produced from from a farm itself versus what you get in the grocery stores two different things and they’ve been able to perfect the smell if you will of of lavender that many commercial products are synthetic right they’re not even using a real lavender oil I mean lavender based anything and that’s when that’s very initially that was my intro you know in my own youth my intro to lavender and I didn’t I like it right I just I did not like that smell

OC: fake lavender smell

LN: yeah I just didn’t care for it but

LM: it’s a big difference

LN: when I started exploring growing it it’s like then I learned the nuances of some a couple of different cultivars and a couple different varieties so there’s there’s a culinary side of lavender to use that’s very different from your other lavender that is mostly used for body products big and oil producer hydrosol producer so yeah it what you get off the farm is very different from what you can buy commercially even from certain reputed vendors that you buy your products from to make your like lotions or soaps or something depending on where they’re sourcing what they’re getting may not even be a hundred percent pure lavender it may be a combination of constituents to meet a requirement

OC: the chemical combination

LN: yeah it really kind of is the constituents that’s in it you know you have to have this much of this one and this much of that one and and so then it get it lends to standardization it will always smell that way

OC: almost too perfect

LN: that’s right but it skews the the whole idea that will is this real lavender yeah we have our terroirs just like grapevines do and wines deal with so lavender has this has the same thing

OC: the varietals yeah one thing that’s nice about the festival is we only allow artisan handmade products so you won’t see those fake lavender scents in anything there it’ll be all natural real I mean not everyone’s gonna have lavender but yeah if you get lavender there it’s going to be handmade

LN: yeah yeah because we do have that we have that as that is quality a quality issue for our Festival

OC: yeah expectation we’re not gonna you can’t bring in chemical products really

LN: well and part of that is because as farmers we work real hard securing the value of our product you know so we don’t want to who’d want to buy a fake cucumber off of a farm okay well you know this is cucumber it’s yeah

LM: that’s great that’s a great distinction to make one of my favorite things recently has been the little having a little sachet in my suitcase when traveling and then yeah and we open it up and it’s just like it smells like home and it smells amazing I love that

OC: ensuring you have a peaceful good trip right

LM: yeah that’s really nice when traveling so I’m pretty hooked on that and then the culinary thing too like you’re talking about I think it and that’s such a French thing really like herbs de Provence and like I remember the first time I ever tried that and I was like well you can’t eat lavender like it’s a flower you know I had no idea but it’s just such an awesome unique flavor that’s like yeah very I mean very very strong but really interesting like nothing else

LN: and the strength of it is on the is on the user you know or the cooker whoever is preparing something and that’s one of the keys with lavender because it is a very strong herb and your your culinary varieties are the angustifolias or the true lavender so and they are the ones some of them when they grow they can develop seeds and a lavender plant might grow from that there’s a couple varieties and I don’t know the name a couple of cultivars I don’t remember that you can truly grow them from seed but most of the ones that are on farms and such are done by propagation also and that way you get the the trues there’s hundreds of cultivars out there hundreds of them but the so your culinary one is angustifolia it’s usually kind of a shorter blooming not maybe not quite as dense it has stubbier looking blooms your lavandins which is a common name or the x intermedia are a hybrid so they’re a hybrid of the angustifolia and then another variety of lavender but if they’re very hearty they grow beautiful long flowing they’re graceful you know when you see them and those are not necessarily your culinary varieties you can eat them they have a higher camphor content so it’d be like eating mentholatum or Vicks or something like that yeah so and that’s where people because they don’t they don’t maybe know what they have or what they’re trying to cook with and so they’ll get well no it tastes like soap tastes like my grandma’s lotion it’s like well probably you it’s a combination of factors you’ve used the wrong lavender it’s not a culinary lavender and you’ve used way too much you know if you use too much of any spice it’s going to be off it might taste metallic yeah it’s just not gonna taste good yeah but I have to ask you a question if you were to describe the taste or the flavor of rosemary how would you describe that

LM: that is you know what there are some similarities because it’s definitely piney and you know you do a really strong rosemary when it’s really concentrated it does become almost like a menthol or you know lemony or ah I’m losing the right word but now that you say that I do I can’t think of some similarities

LN: well and my point is people will say well what does lavender taste like well what does garlic taste like

OC: yeah how do you describe it

LN: how do you know how do you describe you know what something salty tastes like yeah I already describe what does salt by itself tastes like so it’s real hard to really put that into a description so some of the descriptors are well it’ll give kind of a floral herbal maybe mineral flavor or something but

OC: it’s so hard to describe

LN: it is it’s just very very difficult to label

LM: yeah and everybody’s tastes are different so it’s a lot like wine like I used to I used to pour wine for people and they’d be like well what does it taste like and I’m like I’m not going to tell you yeah you tell me yeah like everything tastes different to everybody and I can’t tell you what it tastes like a lot of people got mad about that

LN: exactly so true that is so true and then mixing it and it’s an enhancing herb so blend it in with your spices blend it in with your your baked goods or something it will impart a little bit of a flavor on its own that you’ll know that you might know that it’s there you might not but it will enhance some of the flavors of everything else that is that particularly spices I think is where it really works

OC: and I just gotta say lemon and lavender together all the time all the time

LN: lavender lemonade yeah

OC: they made for each other I think

LM: well I think that dinner is going to be a great time to experience that all those different flavors and things and it’ll be interesting to see what they do with it

OC: and this is the second year working with them for the dinner they tend you see they’ve had one round and this one’s going to be even better

LN: oh yeah I’m real excited about the menu this year it this sounds yeah it sounds tremendous yeah sounds amazing

OC: yeah check it out on our website

LM: so I maybe that just answered my question but what part of the festival are you most excited about

OC: I’ll let you start and then I’ll go

LN: oh gosh I have to say that the main event on Saturday the festival in the park is probably the one that takes the most amount of attention and planning for the shoulder events the Friday farm tours for the farms that are participating in that they indeed have to do some advanced planning and I’ve participated many years with that and then Sunday tours is a little bit more relaxed and depends on the location some are are big time it’s like going to another festival at their their location I my location will be more low-key we want to engage with the with the customers that come to us we want to teach them a little bit more about what we do and and that’s probably the biggest value in all of it is is we’re constantly educating people you know how to do something why you do it this way and what good is it for and what do you get out of it type of thing so we’re yeah it’s we have one year we had a a vendor that had come to us from the Front Range I believe they were an alcohol vendor actually and at the end of the day the guy that I had worked with the closest said I have never been to a festival that has been more friendly laid back he said everybody coming to us has been so eager to see us he was so impressed at just the lavender in my and he attributed the whole lavender environment it’s like yeah well it’s proven it’s very calming it’s very yeah

OC: hard to be angry

LN: yeah, it’s just like we have so much fun at the festival and at all of our events that we do we just truly enjoy them

OC: so she said all of them that’s what she said

LN: all of them you must go to all of them

LM: mostly Saturday but also yeah for sure like yeah it’s like picking a favorite child or something right

OC: yeah that’s how I feel about it it’s been like giving birth this whole festival thing

LN: it has probably been just as hard

OC: yes for sure yeah it’s been several months of preparing and planning and just you know working and working and trying to make this baby come alive so it’s been fun I will say that probably at the end of it that would be my favorite time because I will have been successful things will be done but I am very excited about the the vendor fair part of the the main event festival I think that’s going to be really fun just meeting all the people that I’ve worked with and started to plan you know things out all the vendors that are going to be there like you said that chill vibe during the fair the festival part of it when I was attending as a Sprigs and Sprouts employee just helping there it was it was just like everybody’s just like oh I’m so happy this is great we’re here

LN: it’s very interesting we enjoy the people that come to us and they seem to enjoy their time so much and yeah it’s just a real shared shared environment

OC: so probably most excited about that but you know I think I don’t even think I’ll get a chance to see any of the farm tours at the beginning probably at the end either because really what I’m in charge of is that main event part and making sure that that goes off without a hitch so no I’ve got a lot of pressure

LN: all the coordination yeah you poor thing

OC: yeah no it’s okay I really am enjoying it and it’s I like figuring out that puzzle of it too you know and just trying to make the things fit together and and it feels good that we’re at a good point right now there’s still a ton to do but I think we’re kind of the main big tasks are behind us

LN: coming down to the home stretch yeah and that’s the beauty of it that is all these stress and stress and stress and plan plan and yeah and then it’s happening and it’s like oh my God it’s falling into place you know just yeah when we thought things were the worst it’s like yeah nope it turned out real good yeah

OC: I have a little side story on that I have a friend who I go to some meetings with and she was talking about planning an event you know and she was talking about how stressed she was and how you know how I’m gonna get it all done and there’s just so many things I’m responsible for and and I told her I was like so I’ve planned a lot of events and you will mess something up absolutely something’s gonna go wrong but you know what you just drop that ball and you walk away you know because somebody’s either gonna pick it up if it’s that important or it’s gonna go away talk about it for next year and how to not do it again

LN: you’ll learn

LM: that’s a really good outlook to have because something always goes wrong it’s like inevitable

OC: yeah I mean do everything you can to get it right the first time you know but don’t don’t live in the stress that it causes to you know worry about what is going to go wrong because inevitably it will so

LN: and while you’re doing it it’s like oh I should have done this I should

OC: yeah you just bring a notebook and you write yourself notes

LN: yeah and you just learn as you’re going through

OC: yeah but it’s gonna be fabulous and we’re gonna have fun I’m not worried

LN: you’ve done some amazing planning and prepping your first time through

OC: thanks it’s been great

LM: is there anything about the festival or about lavender that I didn’t ask you guys that you wanted to talk about

OC: I’d say about the festival we’re looking for volunteers so we have a handful we definitely need more we just added a volunteer coordinator will be helping to recruit and so please go online we are it’s on our website as well as on our eventeny page so that’s where we’re doing our all of our tickets our vendors volunteers things like that are all going on eventeny so do look that up please sign up and volunteer if you can not necessarily you but you the listener

LM: yeah you how do you spell eventeny I’ll put a link in the description for sure

OC: yes it’s e-v-e-n-t-e-n-y and just dot com and then you can just look up Colorado Lavender Festival and that should pop up yep

LM: awesome

OC: yeah what about you Lee Ann

LN: oh gosh I could go on and on

OC: you’re a wealth of knowledge I love it well I’ll say something about Lee Ann I couldn’t have done this without her she has been so helpful and and just somebody who I’ve always turned to and I feel like my mentor in this so I really do appreciate everything that she’s brought to the table

LN: I guess it attests to how long I’ve been around

OC: but you’re so kind about it and you really care and it means a lot

LN: thank you

OC: yeah

LM: that’s so sweet

OC: no crying girls

LM: so before we go I have to ask you both what your favorite thing is about the Palisade community because I ask everybody that so

OC: you live here I’ll let you go first

LN: you know I I I just enjoy the small town vibe being in the whole small town arena and I also really appreciate the agricultural focus that is here we have a lot in this area that is incredibly an incredible amount of agricultural things that are I mean the farms the vineyards the the grapevines the everything and it’s that gives me a sense of unity and I and it’s interesting when I talk to somebody else who isn’t from Palisade they’re very impressed that I live in Palisade which further supports my belief that it’s a really cool place yeah it’s a really cool place oh you’re in Palisade I want to live there I know yeah we pat ourselves on the back I’m glad I chose it

OC: good choice for me I grew up like I said in San Miguel County so Norwood that area and it’s a very small town vibe as well very small 500 people when I first moved there in the I know right long ago but this small town is a different vibe it’s definitely I feel like you definitely get it’s just very peaceful and live and let live and like I think that it’s just a very open and understanding community and they still you know do all the same things that were done out there but there’s also the access to more you know activity in the area and so I think for me coming from that small town and coming here felt like home you know in more of the way that worked for the person that I am so you know it just has some magic to me that I can’t describe

LN: I know it is it’s kind of hard-hitting

OC: and it’s drawn me for many years

LN: the tourism focus the agriculture

OC: yeah my best friend she lived right across from the blue Pig right up on those top apartments up there and I was gonna get that apartment and so I was devastated when I didn’t get it and ended up in Fruita but you know it’s cool to still be part of Palisade and the festival and everything

LM: and like I said we’ll get you over there

OC: yeah someday someday I’m crossing my fingers it’ll work out

LM: just keep looking for stuff it takes awhile

OC: but thank you for having us here in Palisade

LN: yeah I appreciate it I’m excited to listen to the podcast

OC: what about you what’s been your favorite things about Palisade

LM: oh it’s the I mean the community I love how you said the unity

OC: yeah Palisade it is special and there’s like I don’t think you get like in in the rest of Mesa County there there is community in Grand Junction and Fruita and Clifton

LM: for sure oh yeah absolutely

OC: but it’s it I don’t know Palisade like I said it’s just it’s magical and people like really want want you to be around it feels good

LM: I know it’s so cool I don’t know I don’t know what it is and maybe I don’t I don’t want to figure it out but it’s just like maybe it’s the lavender in the air maybe that’s something

OC: maybe that could totally be it yeah I mean especially coming from the Norwood area Telluride like Telluride had such a they had a really great community for a really long time and a lot of locals have said that now it’s changed a lot and it’s not as kind of wholesome and tight-knit and you know a little bit more I don’t know just it’s not what it used to be it lost its spirit so I’m hoping that Palisade hangs on to it

LM: I know I know that’s really scary how do you balance that and yeah yeah Telluride yeah it is just so busy so many people who live there don’t live there full time

OC: yeah most of the most of the residents well prior residence now live in Norwood or Montrose or Cortez or you know things like that and so it’s nice that people can still live in Palisade mostly

LM: I know I know hopefully with planning and everything it seems like they’re trying to be intentional about keeping it the way it is but it’s like yeah that’s tough that’s tough balance

OC: it is it is I think they’re striking it right now so let’s just keep keep on hoping that they continue

LM: thank you so much for your time it was really fun getting to learn about lavender from you both and the festival and I hope I’m sure it’s gonna be awesome event I can’t wait to check it out

OC: yeah thank you so much for having us

LN: yeah thank you thanks for having us this was exciting

OC: first podcast I’ve been part of

LN: me too

LM: Get some of that lavender calm for yourself at the Colorado Lavender Festival this weekend, either as an attendee or a volunteer or both. And don’t forget to swing by the Blue Pig Gallery asap to vote for the artwork that will be featured at next year’s festival! I’ve already cast my ballot. And, if you’re up for it, shoot me an email and let me know what you think lavender tastes like at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com

Are you enjoying this podcast? There are a couple ways you can let me know: you could leave me a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or a follow or rating on Spotify. I’d really appreciate it! If you’d like to be part of or have an idea for an upcoming episode, you can reach me at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

E10: Cygnus Crossing – Kathy and Scott Gilbert

I catch up with Kathy and Scott Gilbert about alllllll the projects they have in progress right now: besides the Cygnus Coffee bus that we all know and love, they’re also working on the new Sempre Caffe in downtown Palisade, a yet to-be-named ice cream truck, longer-term projects at their G Road location by the high school, and one surprise thing. We talk about what brought them back to Palisade and so much more. It’s hard not to catch Kathy and Scott’s infectious enthusiasm, energy, and excitement for bringing tasty things to Palisade! Grab your favorite caffeinated or decaf beverage and hear all about it.

For more info about Cygnus Crossing, check out their website: cygnuscrossing.com or instagram: @cygnuscoffeebus.

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Hello and welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that shares a snapshot of the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m Lisa McNamara.

Today I’m talking with Kathy and Scott Gilbert about all the projects they have in progress right now: besides the Cygnus coffee bus that we all know and love, they’re also working on the new Sempre Caffe in downtown Palisade, a yet to-be-named ice cream truck, longer-term projects at their G Road location by the high school, so many other things, and one more surprise thing.

LM: wow, so it’s so much more than I even realized
KG: it really does sound like a lot when you put it like that I’m not that busy
LM: is that everything?
KG: yeah I think that’s it
KG: we’re working harder than we’ve probably ever worked in our lives but it’s also
SG: it doesn’t feel like it!
KG: but it doesn’t feel like it. it’s it’s fun work. yeah like I’m building this thing, I’m making this thing happen, and I get to be creative and I get to try this thing and if it doesn’t work then fine, I won’t do it again. but at least I tried. what’s the worst that can happen? yes it can blow up you fail. Okay!

We also chat about what they love about owning a farm – because, yes, they do that too:

SG: you own 30 acres here in Palisade, you’re producing something. you’re actually making the land produce something for people to have to eat and it that just
KG: that’s the coolest thing. yeah we like producing and growing versus just sitting and observing. we’re not good at observing, we’re just, passive, not our thing

And why the business community in Palisade is so great:

SG: on a business front, one thing that’s unique about Palisade is there, not 100% but there tends to be a cooperation among the different businesses and the different people that own those businesses.
KG: it’s not catty and backfighting and that’s yeah
SG: right, all boats rise when everybody cooperates
KG: because we we all, if we all succeed that’s for the better of everyone. it’s the town we want to succeed

All that and more, on today’s highly-caffeinated Postcard From Palisade.

SG: Go ahead, you first.
KG: Okay I’m Kathy Gilbert. I have many skills…we own a farm and I make coffee.
SG: And you went to high school here.
KG: oh I did go to high school here!
SG: I’m Scott, Kathy’s husband I grew up in Fort Collins. we actually met I guess in the in the orbit of Palisade.
KG: Well, I went to church camp and you were we were at the church camp in Ponderosa? So, that way.
SG: Yeah, and then came out here and met and so we have some sentimental attachments to the area but I’m a retired accountant having spent the last 30 years or so in Phoenix, came up here about two years ago
LM: cygnus what I’ve learned is it’s a constellation, right?
KG: It is a constellation, the swan constellation and it’s over the farm during the summer during picking season.
SG: and also symbolizes sort of the swan on the on the mesa over there too.
KG: We can tell her it started with a Rush song.
SG: I’m a big Rush fan and our son is too and he suggested Cygnus, and we thought Cygnus, swan, and there are some connections so it’s it
KG: oh that works!
LM: yeah so it ties it both to Palisade and in multiple different ways very cool
KG: but usually when you say Rush lyrics people go, what? so we don’t say it a lot
LM: oh no I know what you’re talking about. Tom Sawyer and everything. I forgot the other song names.
KG: He knows them all!
LM: so have you seen Rush like a bunch of times
SG: yes yeah yeah yes but well they stopped a few years ago but we went while we could
LM: Awesome. I feel like whenever I’ve met somebody who is a huge Rush fan they’ve seen them like
KG: as much as they can yeah right
SG: as much as they can
LM: so many times
KG: Yeah, every time especially that last tour
SG: right
LM: yeah. and how did you get into opening and operating a coffee business?
KG: that’s part of the dark tale
SG: that’s really your side of the coin
KG: that I get as my side of the coin. I was teaching at a private school and learned that I do not want to be a teacher and there was an opening at the coffee shop and I’m like oh I’ll go work there and turned out that was kind of my thing and then we bought a coffee shop in Phoenix and ran that for a few years. it was a failing coffee shop and we turned it into winning award coffee shop but he was, his job was just so busy at that time we couldn’t do it, I couldn’t do it alone and he didn’t have time to help so we sold it and started renovating houses and then we got here and I’m like I’m never doing a business again no that’s too much work and then six months later: hey I got this idea let’s buy a food truck so yeah
SG: and then let’s buy a property
KG: let’s buy the property!
LM: and now you have like six businesses or something?
KG: something like that yeah I don’t know what happened. I’m honestly not sure what happened it seemed like a good idea. it is a good idea it’s just a lot a lot juggling right now
LM: well and it’s not a typical food truck right?
KG: Nope. definitely unique she has her quirks her name is Brewnhilda b-r-e-w-n-hilda and I love her but at some point she’s probably going to kill me
SG: turns out 74 Volkswagen buses are very high maintenance, they take a lot of work.
LM: who knew?
KG: who knew?
SG: we’re fortunate to live very close to Restoration where Gary Brauns is a German mechanic as it happens in his spare time
KG: it needs a sticker on the back, like this bus is brought to you by Gary Brauns at Restoration Vineyards because it would not be running at all
SG: right and that was just a total fortunate coincidence that he was there to help with some of the issues that she had earlier on
KG: like going in gear going in reverse we still have a few issues but it’s getting there
SG: It’s getting there.
LM: okay and so what what exactly is the model and year?
KG: oh 1974 Kombi Panel VW bus
SG: found in Mexico in a junkyard and restored
KG: sort of, parts were restored, parts are questionable.
SG: Yeah. so the dashboard is in kilometers we have to say you know 60 kilometers is about 40 miles an hour we have to do that mental conversion when you’re driving
KG: I got her up to 80 kilometers today it was terrifying, like I’m not going to do the math I’m just not going to do the math and every time you find your gears it’s in a little different spot
LM: oh yeah oh yeah. how did you find her?
KG: I was shopping on usedfoodtrucks.com and there was somebody who had taken a VW bus and turned it into a basically a non-legal food truck. they’d stuck in like a home coffee brewer and they’re like look this food truck is for sale and I’m like no that’s terrible, but maybe there’s something better so I Googled VW bus food trucks and I found two companies. one does these plastic replicas out of LA that don’t drive and you have to tow which defeats the purpose but the LED roof goes up on lifts and it’s really cool and then the other one was a company out of New York that will build them to your specifications and so we went with that one, hoping to drive it. and she sort of does she should not go more than five miles outside our radius though!
SG: Yeah. Fortunately there’s plenty to do with this two mile radius here
LM: yeah exactly you have a regular route or kind of going around to different businesses and then you’re back here in between. So Sing up the sun I was I kind of came over and ordered coffee and there was this couple ahead of me that basically just came over to talk about the bus. how often does that happen where people are driving by and they’re just like…
KG: every day, every day they will stop and come over take a picture with the bus, we talk about the bus and usually they had a bus or they had a friend who had a bus and they have camping stories in it or they did this in it and then they tell me their bus made it all the way across the country and I’m like yeah that’s not my bus
SG: it’s a very iconic vehicle for the 70s and 80s and 60s even
LM: right and it’s just such a I mean it’s like a tight-knit group of people who has
KG: they’re very specific on their buses and like you know you have to know the year and what color and they all look at the inside and question why did I choose the baby blue well because they only gave me three options and red didn’t work so yeah baby blue it is
LM: yeah I figured that was not a unique experience I figured that probably happened all the time
KG: all the time all the time, yeah. at least once a day and if we go somewhere it’s probably 10 people if it’s at an event
SG: it’s great because it draws attention.
KG: yeah she’s cool and I love her
LM: yeah she’s beautiful she’s like iconic with the way the top pops up and I don’t know when you see it from distance it’s like, how does that even work?
KG: what is that, yeah? What is that?
LM: and then you get a little closer and see how it all works
SG: yeah we went to the movies this last weekend there was a preview for a new Transformers movie they’re like oh
KG: and there was a VW bus
SG: that’s a Transformer
KG: I really hope that there’s a VW Transformer because I’m going to buy it that is going to happen
LM: oh my gosh and I’m glad that you’re able to get the roof reattached relatively
KG: yeah, that was a thing
LM: so what happened a couple weeks ago?
KG: it was closed, completely closed
SG: it was closed but we had, over the year that we’ve had her we have stopped latching the roof closed because it’s 200 pounds it’s hard enough to lift by itself and
KG: and the latch sometimes gets stuck
SG: and the latch sometimes gets stuck
KG: it’s a pain
SG: and so we kind of stopped latching. well there was that freak storm two weeks ago Monday that came through and within a space of 10 minutes there was maybe an 80 mile per hour gust at the perfect angle that lifted the roof off and
KG: then just ripped it off completely
SG: snapped it right off the side and believe it or not we were actually fortunate because had it not snapped off the whole bus could have tipped over
KG: and we were fortunate that the plumber called yeah and said hey Kathy your bus is open. I’m like oh no one of the kids didn’t close it right today oh those idiots! wait what, the roofs on the ground?
SG: we got down here just within, this is at like 10 o’clock at night just before it started raining
KG: to get it in the garage
SG: and had it rained all on the inside and on the machine it would have been totaled so it was actually in the scheme of things, we were lucky
KG: it’s not the worst thing yeah it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen it can always be worse
LM: yeah I’m glad it was able to get back up and running pretty quickly
KG: yeah Gary, that was due to Gary again, Restoration, and the kids came down and they put the roof back on learned how to use a rivet gun
KG: we’ve learned all kinds of new skills
LM: what are the challenges of operating a business out of a Volkswagen bus?
KG: keeping it stocked, keeping the generators
SG: winter is something we learned you don’t do
KG: we’re not doing winter outside
SG: with an open air roof bus
KG: nope!
SG: if it rains or snows and even when it’s just too cold it doesn’t go as well
KG: we learned that wind chill of 12 degrees starts freezing your pipes and so you close. things I know now
LM: so soon that won’t be as much of a problem, right?
SG: it’s part of why we yeah we needed a permanent roof going forward and then she’ll be for events only once once we have the brick and mortar up and going
LM: yeah I was going to ask was she going to be retired
KG: oh no she’ll go um she’ll go to events at that point and then Farmers Market season is coming
LM: yep, can’t wait!
SG: and then in the winter she’ll be in a garage safe somewhere
KG: she will be grateful for that
LM: so let’s talk about the new Cafe though! I think the whole town is really excited about it, I know I’m really excited for it. I mean, other than needing a place to maybe operate in the winter, but how did you decide to go downtown and buy a place there?
KG: actually saw the Realtor listing of it on Instagram and I went oh! that building is for sale
SG: what could we do with it
KG: that building! but within 12 hours we’re like all right we’re gonna do this we’re going to do gelato and tea and coffee and lots of healthy grab and go and so that is what’s in progress or process right now
SG: and part of that too was that this property here on G Road is taking, when you’re going from the ground up all the planning and engineering and architectural that goes into that takes a couple years
KG: we’re 18 months in it’s not just sitting here it’s like we’re we’re 18 months in on all of it
SG: and we have another 18 to go probably
KG: if they started today it’s 18 months
SG: so we can have this shop in town open within a matter of weeks or a month or so and then while this is still being developed
LM: okay so the original plan was to have a coffee shop here
KG: yes
LM: and it’s just you’re you’re basically like you’re retrofitting a house into
KG: they’re threatening, yeah, that was our first thought and then it turned into well, engineering wise we need to do this and it has a basement and so
SG: the original thought was to just kind of remodel this house into a coffee shop but the engineering and the architectural and all those considerations it may just be cheaper and faster to knock it down and rebuild, but the shop will be on this site either way
KG: so this where we’re sitting right now will be the front of house and so the coffee bar would be along the equivalent of where that wall is but then they’re basically doubling the size of this building going out the back and that’s where the kitchen will be and it’s easier to do that because then it’s on slab, it’s poured, it’s all new going in. but that is the plan for that
SG: right, right
LM: Amazing
SG: so the town location just you know, someone might ask
KG: why are you doing two?
SG: why are you going to have two.
LM: yeah, I was going to ask that! Just like that, too!
SG: and it’s really they’re two completely different concepts. the town location is going to be a little bit more of an upscale vibe, somewhat more dessert oriented. we’ll have plenty of food options too but a little bit more emphasis on gelato and tea and you know kind of a dessert feeling there and it’s going to serve people in town whether they’re residents or just coming into town for dinner. there’s not much there after five o’clock at night
LM: oh tell me about it!
SG: and you want to go have a dessert after dinner you know, we’ll be there for you
KG: we’re taking the entire backyard of it and turning that into a courtyard with a fountain and covered seating and just a good place to hang out when the weather’s nice
LM: I know a lot of people are like, we just need something to do at night that’s not centered around drinking you know or you know just something else
KG: and there may be like, a winery can come in if they want to ever do a pairing of cheese pairing or something and run that through there but
SG: or gelato pairing
KG: yeah or gelato pairing with wine would be fun, but we will not be serving alcohol. I don’t want to go down that path and there’s a lot here
LM: there is a lot here and I think just having that just having something else to do at night will be a really nice thing for the community.
SG: yeah exactly and this location on G Road will also be something to do at night, but it’s going to be a little bit more of a market vibe. it’ll be somewhat more food oriented with more emphasis on ice cream as opposed to gelato, some grocery items, and also we’re planning to have third party food vendors rotating through
KG: we’ve built out the kitchen, designed the kitchen and built it out so there can actually be more than one chef in there, so if somebody wants to take their food truck and try a brick and mortar they can come they can come and try it
LM: almost like a food hall or something
KG: kind of along the lines of a food hall um yeah yeah so more opportunity because build outs are very expensive and you don’t know if your thing is going to work or as a brick and mortar or if you just stick to food truck
SG: Yeah it’s exactly
KG: you just don’t know
SG: exactly, so food hall is a good term because it’ll naturally serve the high school, not only the students there but there’s events here almost every night where families are coming down, parents are coming down, it’ll have of course the road traffic and the town itself so you know two locations but two very different angles
KG: and our goal is, yes we want something the tourists like, but we really want something that the town likes because we live here and we want something for the town more than anything else
SG: and we will be opening in the winter
KG: and we will be open in the winter because we will not be on a bus in the freezing with that freezing steel counter we will be inside and warm. we’re really looking forward to that yeah
LM: the Sempre Caffe you’re thinking will be open this summer at some point?
KG: yes it will be open this summer, we’re going as fast as we possibly can
SG: as fast as the permitting allows
KG: as fast as the permitting allows us, yes
LM: I’ve been peeking in the windows every time I go by and I see that you all had to trench the floor?
KG: it’s like oh look there’s there’s dirt and big pipe, wow that’s attractive
LM: was that something you thought you’d have to do or was that a surprise?
KG: oh we knew we’d have to oh no
SG: it’s going from an art gallery to a basically a restaurant so
KG: it’s not going to be we won’t be cooking in there per se, we will be doing a lot of salads and sandwiches and prep, but even with that you’ve got to have a food prep sink and the food prep sink has to have a floor drain with an air gap to prevent back siphonage and then this has to have a floor drain and then this has to have a floor drain, so it’s like fine rip it all up. it’s just a lot easier instead of trying to make it work without that
SG: right so there’s there’s actually not a lot of work involved it’s the permitting process and then coordinate, getting the different trades that have to go in that takes the most time so
KG: so it needs to be plumbing, pour the floor, framing, finish the electrical, close it up, and make it pretty, and that’s the timeline and I have my trades ready to go, we’re like, we’re so ready!
SG: and then landscaping
KG: that can be done simultaneously however. It’s a process.
LM: right, it has to go in order
SG: we’re pushing hard. it should be just a matter of weeks at this point
KG: yeah yeah knock on wood
LM: very I know right go ahead you can do it
KG: want to talk about the warehouse?
SG: yeah so here on the G Road location, because that’s going to take even best case scenario from today another 18 months maybe more
KG: yeah, more
SG: by the end of the summer we’ll have a warehouse in the back of the property, southwest corner, where we’re calling it the test market and that’s going to be kind of a almost a pop-up concept, a full commercial kitchen in there but we’ll be able to be up and running on this location on sort of a call it a beta version
KG: plus we can, since it’ll be a commercial kitchen and we can wash our peaches there and freeze them to make jam later, we can wash our peaches and dehydrate them and sell them because it has to be done in a commercial kitchen and there’s nowhere to do that on the farm. so and we may end up renting out space if you need to press your grapes or because we have a lot of grapes
SG: yes and that will also be fully plumbed for that kind of an operation we’re thinking ahead to the most flexibility
KG: extra floor drains, extra hose bibs, extra plugs, it’s like it’s a transformer. but my favorite part is on the, on the, which end is that, on the east end there’s a 20 by 40 just covered area like ordinary fellows where you could just sit outside and in the shade and drink your coffee or whatever vendor happens to be there
SG: so that’ll be there while this building is being built
LM: okay okay wow so yeah it’s definitely easy to do that at the beginning rather than going back and trying to retrofit again
SG: exactly
KG: we’ll always over build, always put in more plugs, always put in more water than you think you’ll need, and a bigger hood for your stove
LM: wow, so it’s so much more than I even realized
KG: it’s a lot!
SG: there’s a lot to it. there’s a couple other nuances, I guess. the entry is going to be moving off of G Road and over to Shiraz because it’s hard to slow down and turn right here
KG: it’s kind of terrifying
SG: it’s a little bit terrifying and also that is going to accommodate a, the town is putting in a sidewalk to connect the high school through town over to the town.
KG: so there’ll finally be a sidewalk all the way to the high school
LM: boy that’s really needed
KG: yes so we’re we’re giving them land to do that because so that they have
SG: for a small price yeah
KG: yeah yes we haven’t discussed that yet. but but also in process right now, because I, we’re insane, um we have an ice cream truck that’s up and coming. it’s really cute it’s at the electrician that was calling when you pulled up I have an electrician right now he’s rewiring it to put all the equipment in. it’s a 1948 International Metro milk truck. it’s so cute, I mean Brewnhilda’s great and I love her, but I also really love this truck too
SG: well, we learned that we needed a backup for the bus and before we sort of committed to the brick and mortar route, we we thought a second food truck would be good and it will be good but that’ll focus more on ice cream
KG: but we can still make coffee
SG: we use Third Bowl out of Hotchkiss she supplies our ice cream for that and she will be primarily events if not entirely events
KG: yes yeah
SG: we think an ice cream truck going around to the different wineries would be a good concept
LM: that would be amazing
KG: yeah ice cream truck is awesome
SG: she’ll also be able to do coffee as a backup to the to the bus
KG: yeah we’re putting in a double espresso machine in there as well so we can do everything we do on that we can also do on the ice cream truck and then some
LM: does it have a name yet or are you still waiting for the right name to come to you
KG: okay we’ve narrowed it down Elsie, Clarabelle, what was, there was another one, shoot I can’t remember it. I kind of like Clarabelle or lily Bell it’s just very, what would you name a cow
LM: well yeah
KG: yeah like what would you name it yeah
LM: Elsie the cow is the
KG: I think it’s Borden’s I might get sued you didn’t hear that Borden’s
LM: so back to the shop downtown, are you gonna keep the exterior paint color? No?
KG: no, we’re painting, probably more in line with like our logo colors.vthe Navy and then a cream and then where the red spots are we’re looking at like a deep burnished peach so that way I can add copper highlights inside because that would look really good
SG: it may always be known as the turquoise building
LM: yeah right it’s very so it’s vibrantly turquoise red and yellow?
KG: green, lime green
LM: lime green
SG: lime green
LM: today
KG: very Easter egg
SG: we will be repainting the whole thing
KG: I said though, in 10 years she’ll be like, oh yeah you know the turquoise building next to peche, oh yeah that one. things don’t change here
LM: no. when that’s up and running, what hours do you expect to be open? do you know that yet or are you still working it out?
KG: 8 am for sure. what’s questionable is how late on weeknights
SG: into the evening
KG: into the evening. whether that’s 7:30, 8, 9
SG: so you can have dinner and go get dessert. So I don’t know if that’s 8 or 9 or what. it’s going to be full day seven days a week
KG: so they can get ice cream or gelato seven days a week.
LM: and there isn’t anything like that now, so that’s awesome
KG: no, not right now. and we’ll be focusing, we will be able to do coffee and all of the drinks we do on the bus, but we’re also focusing on being very tea heavy with about 35 different kinds of loose leaf teas and have a big variety there
SG: yeah you don’t see an actual tea shop on on this side of the Rockies
KG: my daughter-in-law is like kind of the tea expert so we’re letting her run with it and she’s like I have this one and this one and she has excellent tastes so we think you’ll like them
LM: so you’ve got a lot so you’re going, so you’ll have the coffee bus, the ice cream truck, cafe downtown, Warehouse here, working on building out a bigger space here, and you have an Orchard, and a vineyard
KG: we have an orchard and a Vineyard yes with two airbnbs
LM: and airbnbs
KG: it really does sound like a lot when you put it like that I’m not that busy
LM: is that everything?
KG: yeah I think that’s it
SG: we have we have three kids that help us too
KG: yeah
SG: it’s kind of a family run thing it’s not just the two of us
KG: we hire them to go clean they get they get to clean that’s their job and they work on the bus and they’ll work on the truck
SG: and our farm is leased out to the Ruckman family, we’re not out there in the fields toiling because
KG: we don’t know what we’re doing
SG: we don’t know what we’re doing. We’re urban.
KG: we’re very urban, we definitely don’t know
LM: so you just moved back here two years ago, is that right?
KG: two years ago. we learned with his job he could work anywhere, with covid office was not necessary, so we said why are we in a city
SG: yeah and about a year into living here we said, well, I don’t really have to work. not only do I kind of work where I want, I don’t really have to do anything
KG: let’s go do this thing now
LM: especially for you having transitioned from like corporate life into entrepreneurship and then you’ve been in entrepreneurship for a while, what’s the best part of having your own businesses and then what’s the biggest challenge
KG: the best part is saying, you know what, let’s just go have some wine this afternoon. have a wine break. we did that yesterday. biggest challenge would be self-motivation. I have got to get that done today, I’ve got to get that done today, and there’s nobody telling you you have to get done, you just have to get it done and you have to stop whatever you’re doing and go do that other thing when that fire flares up
SG: right yeah I say, just there’s a satisfaction particularly coming from the accounting world of being able to point at something that’s actually, you know like that’s it’s a thing, it’s a physical thing, it’s not just a spreadsheet on a computer. so being able to point to something at the end of the day is good. the biggest challenge I think or one of the bigger challenges is just it’s always always always on your mind, it never stops, it’s 24/7
KG: there’s no day off
SG: and that’s a, if you like it, which we do
KG: we do, we do like it
SG: that’s a good thing. but it’s also hard to switch off because there’s always something to think about, something to decide, something to plan. it’s it’s a constant river of decisions and issues
KG: and then you question did I make the right decision was that a stupid decision did I order that oh no that’s the 2AM we’re out of that quick Amazon
SG: it’s that stuff that gives you a reward too, so you take the, you take both sides of it.
LM: you don’t always know if you made the right decision – like, what is the right decision?
KG: exactly. we’re working harder than we’ve probably ever worked in our lives but it’s also
SG: it doesn’t feel like it!
KG: but it doesn’t feel like it. it’s it’s fun work. yeah like I’m building this thing, I’m making this thing happen, and I get to be creative and I get to try this thing and if it doesn’t work then fine, I won’t do it again. but at least I tried. what’s the worst that can happen? yes it can blow up you fail. Okay. well we’ve done sort of blowing up I mean things blowing off and
SG: nobody’s been hurt
KG: yet. not permanently, not permanently
LM: how how did you pick here versus anywhere else
KG: well we were gonna, we were thinking like you know maybe Montana, maybe Montana, and then I saw videos of the snow and the bear going into the house in the snow and I’m like not Montana. and then we thought Colorado and I’m like you know there’s Palisade and we could just get little small plot of land and you know have a few peach trees and that turned into a lot of peach trees
SG: and it’s drivable from where we were at the time
KG: it’s drivable from Phoenix. and you know let’s just go look. when I say let’s just go look that means I’ve made up my mind and I just have to get him to agree. but let’s just go look and so we went and looked and the place we bought ended up being the last place we looked at. we’re like you know what not up there that’s that wasn’t great but let’s just go tick it off the list and we get there we’re like no we don’t hate this, maybe we should call the Realtor. and we were hooked
SG: I remember driving back that night, we were driving through Monument Valley
KG: with the stars
SG: on the way back with the stars, which is another cygnus tie-in, and I was just saying every five minutes, I’m not going to be a farmer. I don’t want to be a farmer
KG: I can’t be a farmer. I don’t know what I’m doing, no
SG: I had all these notions of what a farmer was and I was like I’m not going to retire into working in the field 12 hours a day and breaking my back
LM: working harder than ever before
KG: we still do that
SG: so I was like okay, well, as long as the Ruckmans can do it then okay. you know by the time we got home we were like okay well this might work. I think for me, I I’ve always wanted to own land and the thought of owning 30 acres in Montana where it’s beautiful but what do you do? you can walk around
KG: what do you do
SG: you know what are you doing? you own 30 acres here in Palisade, you’re producing something. you’re actually making the land produce something for people to have to eat and it that just
KG: that’s the coolest thing. yeah we like producing and growing versus just sitting and observing. we’re not good at observing, we’re just, passive, not our thing
LM: what kind of peaches and grapes do you grow
KG: we have nine acres of grapes. we have two and a half each of cab franc, tempranillo and then about what, one and a third of gruner vetliner, dolcetto, and what’s the other one, I can never remember
SG: teroldigo. so three colder varieties and then the sort of the mainstays
LM: do you sell them to a local producer?
KG: they’re pretty much already sold
LM: can you say, can you say who they go to or is it secret
SG: most of them will go to Restoration because they’re just quarter mile down the road yeah so that then there’s
KG: and then red fox yeah I think is taking the dolcetto and the teroldigo.
SG: yeah so but if for some reason that they find that there’s too many grapes, which probably won’t be the case, but there’s others that can slide in. selling the grapes isn’t the problem, it’s it’s growing them
KG: it’s growing the grapes
SG: in this cold weather
KG: 2020 wiped out everything that had been on the farm when we had bought it. there was nothing left and it took out quite a few of the trees. we’ve spent the last two years replanting but we are now officially fully planted. so we’re fully planted with 12 acres of peaches
SG: nine of grapes
KG: nine of grapes
SG: and an acre of cherries and then we’ve got some plums and
KG: but the cherries are special cherries
SG: they are special cherries
KG: they’re the they’re on a UFO training, uniform fruiting orientation, so they go on a trellis they go sideways on a trellis and you train them on the wires and they grow up and it makes like a wall. it’s just a wall. it’s kind of experimental but it seems to be working quite well
LM: interesting. what’s the advantage of doing it like that versus letting it go tree-form
SG: you get a much greater density of trees per acre so the yield is incredible
KG: so where you would normally plant 100 trees we have 500 trees in one acre. so our Airbnb guests come and they’re like were you drunk when you planted them because they all grow sideways. no that was on purpose. honest we meant to do it that way
LM: I’m assuming you get some of that too to keep for yourself to eat and everything
KG: we go through after they’re done picking to sell because Ted has his own network he sells through, the Ruckmans do, and then whenever the ones that are just left over we go and get them, the sad ones and the leftovers and

LM: slightly dented
KG: the slightly dented ones that’s fine I’ll eat that no problem
LM: you know where it came from! Do you have the kind of peaches that produce early or late or mid?
KG: our first one is after the PF one through four. our first one is is it Rising Star and they usually ripen around right after the Fourth of July and they’re a semi-cling and then the rest are what about two weeks after that
SG: yeah just it’s probably eight or so varieties up there yeah and some of them we just planted so we won’t we won’t see anything for three years
KG: and I think those were meant to fill in in between the rising star and like the glowing star
LM: sure so you just have a consistent crop throughout the season
KG: so it’s not all at once because the peaches used to all be picked like within five minutes and when they were all Elberta and now they’re just sort of spaced out. my favorite are the coral star those are my absolute favorite trees, they’re my favorite peaches, they’re just the prettiest
SG: those ripen the latest right
KG: those are one of the no I think glowing star of ours is the last because those are like the purple the deep dark purple
SG: yeah and they get big
KG: the coral star just they’re giant, they’re pretty, they’re my favorite ones. I love them.
LM: I had no idea there are so many different varieties of peaches until I moved here
KG: and they all have a slightly different taste and a slightly different color and
LM: well and I so I got here in September, so I’ve only had the late season one so I cannot wait to go through the whole year this year
KG: it’s just it’s just the best yeah it’s just the absolute best. the smell, my favorite thing is the smell and it’s not just peaches, the trees have a smell, and it’s just the absolute best smell. we go through the orchard, oh there it is, and we just kind of chase that smell because it just travels. I love it
LM: it’s wonderful. it’s such a cool thing to be able to have that experience here and like how wild is that?
KG: it is, we love it, we want everyone to have the experience. like our Airbnb guests we’re like, walk through the orchard, experience this. some do, some don’t really get the nature part, but we tried
LM: what’s your favorite thing about the Palisade community
KG: I like the small town where you just know everybody, just it’s not, it’s not too many people, you know everybody, you know that if something is wrong all you have to do is call and somebody’s gonna come, somebody’s gonna come help you
SG: yeah everybody here is so friendly and it is such a close-knit community. you know in Phoenix or in Denver where we’ve lived
KG: you don’t know anyone
SG: just you go a block from your house and it’s strangers everywhere, which is, which is okay, but this is a different feeling. here you feel like you really are part of a community, not just living in a city
LM: yeah I was talking with some friends last night, we lived in Chicago for a long time and then they still live there, about how you know they kind of look at our Facebook things and they’re like wow you know a lot of people and you know you’re doing a lot of things and it’s been really fast and like and just thinking back on how different that was because you had that anonymity and I’m not gonna be able to say it, anonymity
KG: anonymity!
LM: anonymity!
KG: that’s a hard one
LM: where um you know you walk out the door and you kind of intentionally don’t look at people, you just go about where you’re going to get there, and then you know it’s just such a different feeling, a different way of living
SG: yeah yeah and on a business front, one thing that’s unique about Palisade is there, not 100% but there tends to be a cooperation among the different businesses and the different people that own those businesses. the farmers cooperate with each other and help each other, the wineries help each other and refer to each other
KG: it’s not catty and backfighting and that’s yeah
SG: right, all boats rise when everybody cooperates and you’ll see more of that from us with others in the community as we open these things. but it that impressed me a lot, it’s not just a zero-sum game, it’s everybody’s cooperating to make it work for everyone
KG: because we we all, if we all succeed that’s for the better of everyone. it’s the town we want to succeed
LM: it’s not just about you it’s about the town. Which is cool
KG: we had, in Phoenix it was very much a big city and we had our coffee shop there and a lot of rude people is the best way to put it and I was like I just I never want to be in the public again. I never want to be at the counter after just so many horrible mean people and then we were here and I was like people are different here. it’s different and they’re they’re pleasant and our one son, he worked for us there, and he and his wife just moved back here to come work on the farm and he’s worked the bus and he’s like, everybody’s really nice, what is that. I’m like yeah, I know that’s why we’re doing this. it’s because they’re nice and pleasant and it’s it’s a really, I love going to work. before I kind of just, I don’t want to go behind that counter
SG: because you’re going to get yelled at
KG: I’m gonna get yelled at or I’m gonna have a coffee cup thrown at me or you know a spiteful Yelp review because I didn’t give them something free and I’m just like I don’t want to do that, and now they’re all just nice. that’s just so refreshing
LM: right, it’s just a better way to live
KG: it really is I mean how can you be mad here? you’ve got great views it smells great, there’s fruit and vegetables everywhere, it’s just awesome. and wine
LM: yeah right so much good wine. I don’t know if I ever would have learned this if it wasn’t for Sing up the Sun, but you have an amazing singing voice
KG: oh Lord
LM: it was absolutely incredible
KG: thank you
LM: did you ever sing professionally or is it a hobby or
KG: College
SG: you majored in music
KG: I majored in Opera yeah that was that was like, another life. it’s definitely another life, but thank you
SG: well in fairness she did give up some opportunities to do the married mom thing
KG: you can’t be professional opera singer and have babies and I like my kids most of the time so we went with that. yeah yeah it’s a good trade-off. like I look back now and I’m like, wow, it seemed like I was giving something up, but then it also led me here, and I would not want to be anywhere else but here. I would not trade this for anything. do I miss music? Yes, but this is also pretty darn awesome
LM: are you ever going to be singing places or is it something you just do if your friend asks you to do it
KG: I love to do it, it’s just, there’s not a whole ton of opportunity. I got to do my lifelong dream of, I’m gonna go sing on a baseball field for the professional baseball and I got I got to do that and it’s one of the most terrifying things I can do because I’m like, I am not going to remember the words, I’m not going to remember the words. and so I ticked that off my list and I’m pretty proud of pulling that one off. I’ve done that well like 12 times now. national anthem at the spring training game
SG: spring training in Phoenix is a big thing
KG: I would go and audition. I never made it to the full, like the actual game games, I just did the spring training
SG: well, you’ve done it once in Grand Junction
KG: I did, yeah I did JUCO last year and that was pretty fun, so just fun. I do miss I miss singing just and especially with a group and covid kind of killed a lot of that, because I had a group of friends and we would just hang out and do that and then they shut everything down so we missed that
LM: well, I mean now you could start that back up again
KG: I know, I just don’t don’t know if there’s a market of people that want to do that in Palisade but
LM: all right well let’s find out we’ll ask them! you just have such a beautiful voice
KG: I just want to sing and just have fun and sing stupid stuff. so go on a road trip and sing all of the Disney songs and Broadway songs
LM: I love it. I think we talked about this a little bit too but when you get a day off how do you enjoy it
KG: what was it, um we don’t take days off, we take time off
SG: we’ll take a couple hours off and we’ll go to a local winery
KG: we’ll take the back roads in the UTV and yeah, hit up a winery
SG: yeah this morning I got to use the tractor for the third time in my life, mowing between the grape rows and that to me is is not working
KG: because it’s like it’s nice out you know
SG: towards the 30th row, you’re like okay I’m done, when is this gonna end, but I enjoy doing stuff like that, so it’s not, again, it’s just not working
LM: how can people find you if they want to find you
KG: we put on Instagram which is linked to our Facebook page where the bus is every day. if it doesn’t say we’re there, then we’re most likely here. unfortunately Google business page doesn’t let me change my location every day, they’re like no you are right here, so we have to rely on social media to tell where we are. because we were at Blaine’s this morning tomorrow we’ll be at spoke and Vine and then up to Restoration if it makes it up the hill
SG: and our central sort of website
KG: we do, yes we do have cygnuscrossing.com, that is our website and it has all the crazy that we’re doing on there as well as links to the Instagram account. oh we are taking over um, yeah, Anne is selling us, yeah we do have one more thing
LM: oh my goodness
KG: the Percy vending machine that’s outside of or out by ordinary fellows. Yeah, Anne asked if we wanted to buy it from her and that’s in process, so we’ll be taking over that. it will stay at ordinary fellows until the tea shop is open and then we will move it there because it’ll do better inside, but since we’re open so many hours there’ll be plenty of access to it so
LM: so that’s the palivend right now right
KG: palivend yes yeah
LM: cool, are you going to keep the same kind of local artists
KG: we’re doing our best to get as many local artists in there as possible, because it’s like, it’s a very finite space and the things have to fit in there so it’s like, do you make tiny art? all right we are your people. um can you can you make it a little bit smaller? and we needed to package no thicker than this so that it can fall down properly
SG: Anne’s showing us everything. we’ll probably have that as of maybe next week, early next week yeah
LM: oh that’s fun
KG: yeah so that’s a process too, everything’s in process
LM: it’ll feel good to start opening some of these things!
KG: right yeah! ice cream truck, knock on wood again, it should be up and running by within a month so
SG: followed by the town shop
KG: followed by the warehouse
SG: by the warehouse and then followed by this market
KG: many, many moons from now on this
SG: yes
LM: well I’m really excited. I’m excited for everything, yay, and I thank you so much for taking some time to talk to me
SG: yeah, thank you
KG: thank you for having us.
LM: I really appreciate it
LM: When talking with Kathy and Scott, it’s hard not to catch their infectious enthusiasm and excitement for bringing tasty things to Palisade. As I was leaving after our chat, Scott shook my hand and said goodbye with such a sincere ‘you’re welcome here anytime.’ Fingers crossed the downtown location’s permits get sorted out soon, so I can take them up on that.
Also, if there’s anybody out there who wants to sing fun songs with Kathy, now you know where to find her!
Are you enjoying this podcast? There are a couple ways you can let me know: you could leave me a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or a follow or rating on Spotify. I’d really appreciate it! If you aren’t enjoying the podcast, I suspect you haven’t made it this far, but if you have: shoot me an email at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com and let me know what could make it better for you.
The Postcards from Palisade podcast is available on all major podcast distribution platforms. Find us and subscribe now so you never miss an episode. Latest episodes and links to more information are also posted on the website postcardsfrompalisade.com.
Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

E9: Palisade Pedicab – Mark Williams

Mark Williams is the owner of Palisade Pedicab and the driving force behind community groups like Bike Palisade and On Palisade. Bike Palisade organizes regular community cruiser rides and bike nights to get locals out and about on bikes in Palisade. On Palisade posts weekly Palisade event listings.

Mark and I chat about how he got into pedicabbing, lessons he’s learned along the way, what an ideal bike-friendly Palisade would look like, and lots more. We also hear from a few locals about what the weekly community rides mean to them.

For more info about Palisade Pedicab, check out their website: palisadepedicab.com.

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Hello and welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that shares a snapshot of the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m your host, Lisa McNamara.

Today I’m talking with Mark Williams, the owner of Palisade Pedicab and the driving force behind community groups like Bike Palisade and On Palisade. And Mark always has a handful of other ideas and projects in the works.

Mark and I chat about how he got into pedicabbing, lessons he’s learned along the way, what an ideal bike-friendly Palisade would look like, and lots more.

Mark talks about what cycling thousands of miles around Palisade has taught him:

MW: I’ve gotten to know all the contours of this town, very well. All the bumps, all the contours. All the potholes.

What it’s like to run a pedicab business:

MW: You kind of have to be a crazy person to do this. Honestly. It’s just really stressful and it takes over your whole life a lot of times.

And why he thinks more people should get on a bike:

MW: I think biking can improve your life in just an infinite amount of ways. Just being outside. I think, being outside and then just taking time to get places, those two things together, do crazy stuff for your mental health and your life in general.

We’ll also hear from a few locals about what the weekly rides mean to them.

All that and more, on today’s Postcard From Palisade.

Mark Williams (MW): I’m Mark Williams. Do I need to say what I do, too, I guess?

Lisa McNamara (LM): Yep!

MW: OK. I’m Mark Williams. I own Palisade Pedicab and do bike stuff in Palisade.

LM: How would you describe a pedicab to somebody who doesn’t know what it is?

MW: Yeah, it’s kinda hard, because pedicab is a really bad word for pedicabs, but I usually say it’s either a rickshaw or a bike taxi, that sort of thing, and then people know what it is. But yeah, pedicab’s an unfortunate word. It doesn’t really make sense.

LM: So, basically, bicycle in the front, people carrier in the back?

MW: Yeah, pretty much, yeah.

LM: And so what kind of things do you do? Who rides around in a typical pedicab?

MW: Well, in Palisade, we mostly focus on wine tours. And for that we do a five hour tour that kind of takes people around, shows everyone everything. Go to wineries, farm stands, restaurants. Really, whatever they need to have an awesome time, that’s what we do. For five hours. And we also act like a taxi, kinda late night, and for festivals as well. We do festivals all over Colorado as well, so we’re kind of expanding into that this year, which is cool.

LM: So it’s not just you, you have people who help you out, right?

MW: No. I think I have five employees now. I’m hoping to get more. We’ll see how it goes. It’s hard to find the right people for this. It’s a process for sure.

LM: Yeah, what’s the right person like? What’s the best pedicab driver?

MW: Well, it has to be someone that wants to do it, which, that excludes 99% of the people. And they have to be reliable, which that excludes a lot more people. And then you have to have the right attitude. It’s kind of a – I don’t know how to describe it. It’s like, it’s like if you just show people an awesome time, it’ll be worth it. That kind of attitude. That’s the best way to describe it.

LM: So it’s sort of – you’re not really just biking people around, you’re giving them a tour.

MW: Yeah, we’re entertaining people. That’s what we are. Yeah. Transportation is only 10% of it.

LM: Does that kind of wear you out, like when you’re done with the day, you just want to relax? Not talk to anybody?

MW: Yeah, that’s usually how it goes. Yeah.

LM: How did you get into running a pedicab business?

MW: I just saw people doing it. I was living in Oklahoma City at the time, and I saw people doing it and asked them how they did it. And then they invited me in to work. And then I haven’t looked back since and that was like fifteen years ago. So, yeah. And when I was living there, I realized the potential for traveling while you’re doing it. So I bought a van and I built it out to kind of live in the pedicab with my van – or, live in the van with my pedicab – and traveled the United States for five years.

And then, in that process I discovered Palisade. I came here to ride bikes. I came here to ride Kokopelli’s Trail, which is from Grand Junction to Moab. And then the last day, I ended up here. And I just realized how awesome it would be for pedicabs, and so I did it. And now I’m here for good! Yeah. It’s great!

LM: Awesome! So, when you were traveling around, different places, where did you go?

MW: All over! Yeah, so there’s kind of a traveling festival circuit for pedicabs. So you go around and work all the big festivals, kind of like Coachella and Electric Daisy Carnival and there’s like ten of them. And so I would do that, on and off. And then I would also seek out my own events. I would just find random places that I thought would be good, that’s, yeah, I have like ten or twenty of those that I would do. And then I would be based in Denver most of the time, so I’d come back there. And that’s pretty much how it works.

LM: What places did you like the most and least?

MW: Well, there are some Colorado towns that I like the most. Can’t really talk about it because it’s kind of a secret. Yeah. The least. The ones I like the least are big cities. Pretty much any big city. I mean, you can make pretty good money, but it’s just really competitive. The people aren’t as fun. It’s just not as much fun, so, you know, you can go there if you need to, but I’d rather not.

LM: So you still do it, like, for festivals.

MW: Yeah, for bigger events, I’ll go to Denver. Denver’s really the only city I work in now.

LM: How did you find Palisade? Did you know about Palisade before, or did you only know about it through the Kokopelli Trail?

MW: I didn’t know anything about Palisade, and then, we did the Kokopelli trail, and the last day, we just decided to come over here. And I think I went to Maison la Belle Vie, probably. I didn’t know anything about wine. I actually didn’t like it when I tasted it. Not because Maison’s bad, it’s just because I didn’t like wine at that time. But, I just realized it’s a really awesome place that I wanted to be, and it’s just perfect for pedicabs.

Everything is too long to walk but not long enough to drive, and that’s where pedicabs excel. So, I mean, it’s pretty much perfect. Especially with motors. So in the last five years, motors have become a thing on pedicabs, so that kind of makes, that’s what made this place possible was that sort of thing. We set up the motors to be within the regulations of a bicycle, so we’re still a bicycle but we have a little bit of help, and it makes it all possible. It’s great.

LM: I can see how that would be really useful!

MW: Yeah, I don’t think Palisade would be possible without it. Yeah, they call it last mile transportation, it’s a whole thing.

LM: So how many miles do you think you’ve ridden around Palisade? Or how many do you think you do in a normal year?

MW: Oh, a year? I haven’t thought about it but, you know, I think, the bigger events like Winefest or Peach Fest, we’ll easily do a hundred in a day per pedicab. I think a regular wine tour’s about twenty miles. Maybe a little more. Depending on what you do. So, I haven’t done the math, but that’s a lot of miles.

LM: That’s like thousands of miles, every year.

MW: That would be fun to calculate it. I might do that this year.

LM: Does that make you less likely to want to ride a bike for fun?

MW: Yeah, I don’t ride as much as I used to, I guess. I don’t know if that’s because I’m so busy, or if I don’t want to. I really don’t know. Because I’m really busy, so.

LM: Well, and you, you enjoy driving pedicab too, right?

MW: Yeah, yeah. I guess it’s pretty much the same. I do like mountain biking, and I don’t do that enough, so, you know. It’d be great to do more of that for sure.

LM: Did you do the Kokopelli Trail, the whole thing?

MW: Yeah.

LM: Oh man.

MW: Yeah. It was hard.

LM: It looks so hard. I thought I could do it, then I started reading about it and I was like…um, I can’t do this.

MW: Yeah, it’s hard. We ran out of water, twice. Yeah. Yeah, don’t believe the internet when they say where the water is. It’s not right. You have to stash water. I don’t think there’s any way to do it without it.

LM: Right, right. So what did you do?

MW: We uh, we just waited, waited until we saw someone and then we just bummed water from them. It was pretty, it was not ideal. But we made it. We were determined. We made it.

LM: OK, so would you ever do it again?

MW: Yeah, I’d love to do it again. I’d probably go the other way, though. Because from Moab to Grand Junction, it’s a lot easier because it’s downhill, you don’t have to do that last day where it’s, I don’t know how many feet it is. 5,000 feet. Yeah. You’re going downhill for that instead of uphill.

LM: OK, why doesn’t everybody do it that way, then?

MW: Because people like to suffer, I guess.

LM: OK, that’s good to know! What would you say, like what are the biggest challenges and best parts of running your own business?

MW: Obviously the best part is it’s all on your own terms. Yeah. I mean, It’s pretty awesome. And it’s like, you’re creating something new and you’re basically just making a dream come true. It’s really awesome to work really hard and for that to be a reality is really awesome. But, the negative side is, there’s a lot, for sure. You kind of have to be a crazy person to do this. Honestly. It’s just really stressful and it takes over your whole life a lot of times. And if it’s, for me, this is really the only thing I have to make money from, so there’s that stress too. It’s kind of a livelihood thing. But, I’ve learned a lot, and I deal with all of that pretty well now.

LM: It’s gotta be hard to know when to kind of stop. Like what is the right size, right? What is the right amount of growth?

MW: Oh yeah, I have that problem. Yeah. I, yeah. We have so much potential to expand, but I’m only one person. I’ve made a lot of mistakes doing that, actually. So, yeah, I’ve learned that it’s better just to be really careful with expansion rather than just to go for it. Yeah.

LM: What’s you’re favorite stretch of road to bike around here?

MW: Oh. Let me think about that. For short range, pedicab stuff, I would say the vinelands is really great. If you ride through the vinelands up to Bookcliff, that’s really cool. That’s probably my favorite route. Outside of that, I would say around Horse Mountain for gravel riding and stuff like that. But for pedicab routes, it’s from town to Bookcliff through the vinelands. That’s the best.

LM: That’s a good one. A little steep at the end!

MW: Yeah. Oh yeah. We know that, very well. Yeah, I’ve gotten to know all the contours of this town, very well. All the bumps, all the contours. All the potholes. Yeah.

LM: I bet! So I noticed on the pedicabs that there’s a sponsor on the side, so what’s the deal with that?

MW: Yeah, so this year we got a sponsor for all the festivals we’re doing and so because of that, we’re giving free rides at pretty much all Palisade festivals, except for Winefest. We’re charging for that but we’re only charging $5 a person, so not too bad. Yeah and they sponsor us, they pay us just to give free rides and they put their ads on our bikes. It’s pretty awesome.

I guess I should say it’s Atlasta Solar Center that’s sponsoring us this year. They’re really awesome because it’s allowing us to do so much more than we would have otherwise. It’s really great. Just knowing that we’re going to have the income for the events, the sponsorships, it allows me to branch out to more things that we’re doing. And I can try new things. Just knowing that I have that income makes it a lot easier to expand.

LM: It’s like a win-win, because then they also get free rides.

MW: Yeah, it’s a win for everybody, I think.

LM: In addition to running Palisade Pedicab, Mark started a community group called Bike Palisade, which is made up of a small group of locals who are advocating for cycling and community in the Palisade area. Perhaps most visibly to other locals, Bike Palisade holds community cruiser rides once a week on Mondays and once a month on Thursdays.

LM: What would you say your goal is for the bike community stuff here?

MW: I want to develop bike culture here, I guess. That’s the best way to describe it. I don’t know, really I just want to, I just want more people to ride bikes. And I want to provide fun things to do while riding a bike. And the community part too, it’s, because it can be hard to meet people here, so I wanted to create something where it’s like a regular thing where people can meet with common interests to get to know people. That was probably the biggest motivation in the bike ride.

LM: So what’s the story with how it started?

MW: It was a long time ago! It’s kind of hard to remember the details. Yeah, I just wanted to start it. It was the first year I was here, and so, I think I was just talking with Jeff and Jody, Spoke & Vine, and some other people and we just did it, and then it kind of caught on. It was actually kind of big the first year, and that was before locals Monday was a thing at Spoke & Vine.

And I don’t remember why we chose Monday, I think I chose it because it was the best day for me and so, yeah, that’s why we went with Monday. And then the first year it was pretty big. There were probably twenty people at the rides, and we started later in the year so it was nice weather, too. Yeah, that was before they had a bar, too, so it was just us riding and yeah, it was fun. That’s mostly what I remember!

Spoke and Vine was just a perfect place to have it, because they have that little area to hang out. It might have been before they had that little area. But either way, it’s just still an awesome place to be. It’s a good place to meet. And you know, Jeff and Jody are awesome, so they wanted to be a part of it.

LM: Why do you want more people to bike, and why do you want to show that presence to the community every week?

MW: I think biking can improve your life in just an infinite amount of ways. Just being outside. I think, being outside and then just taking time to get places, those two things together, do crazy stuff for your mental health and your life in general. And just being outside and being active. That’s probably the best way to describe it.

LM: Yeah, that’s good stuff! I do see complaints from people about, you know, drunk tourists on bikes, so I think it is really important to say, there are also locals who love to bike and we’re not just biking around like drunk, you know, tourists, but we’re here too. We also love to bike.

MW: Yeah, the drunk cycling thing here is unfortunate, but it really is a minority of people. It’s not very many people. Most people that do it are super responsible.

LM: Yeah. I agree. I think you do occasionally see a problem, but unfortunately that is always what sticks in people’s minds. So I think that the more we can get out there and be not drunk tourists, that’s what will stick in people’s minds. If Palisade was the perfect bike-friendly town, what would that look like?

MW: We would definitely have a separate bike path. Just something separate from the road. Just to all the main destinations because yeah, I guess that would be all along First Street, all the way out to Maison, and then you could just continue it from town, across the bridge, all the way out to the rim trail. That would be ideal, just that. But that’s super complicated, so.

LM: It’s a little discouraging how complicated it is. I had no idea. I thought, oh, big deal, it’s a sidewalk or whatever. It’s a path. But I had no idea that there are the three difference jurisdictions that are responsible for different parts of the same road.

MW: Yeah, you have to deal with that and then you have to deal with the private land issue as well, so there’s multiple layers of things. And then you have to pay for it. So.

LM: Right, yeah, it’s a little discouraging, honestly. But we’re not going to give up.

MW: No, we’ll make it happen. Maybe. In like 20 years. It’s a 20 year plan.

LM: I’m staying here for 20 years, hopefully!

MW: I’m down.

LM: So, what’s your favorite thing about the Palisade community?

MW: It’s very inclusive. That’s probably the best thing about it. Especially compared to a lot of other Colorado communities. Man, Colorado’s hard, for sure. I think because mainly because it’s so hard to live here, so expensive, that a lot of people are just barely surviving, so it just makes it hard to develop any community around that. But Palisade is not that way. And that’s the main reason I like it.

LM: When you get a day off, how do you enjoy it?

MW: Usually go hiking with Sarah and our dog Zappa. Somewhere. Hiking is usually what we do. Or, getting some time on the river. Trying to get back into rock climbing, but that’s hard. Maybe that’ll be a thing this year. And mountain biking, although I don’t do that much anymore, I want to do that more. Hopefully this year.

LM: Are there any events you’re looking forward to, for the event itself, or is it mostly just work?

MW: For the event itself, probably Palisade Bluegrass Bash is the best one. Which happened already. But Palisade Bluegrass Festival too is really awesome. They’re probably equal in my mind, they’re just different in so many ways. But yeah, Bluegrass and Roots is what it’s called. That one’s great. It’s just down by the river. There’s a lot of great artists and yeah, super fun to hang out at that. Do you have time right now? Or do you have a place to be?

LM: Yeah, well yeah but I have to say thank you for your time!

MW: Oh dang, alright, let’s do that.

LM: Thanks for your time, Mark!

MW: You’re welcome, thanks for having me, this was awesome. Really love what you do.

LM: Oh gosh, OK. I’m going to delete that. Thank you.

LM: Mark and his girlfriend Sarah are some of the first people we got to know in Palisade. And, full disclosure, I work with Mark on the Bike Palisade and On Palisade groups, too. I actually found it hard to objectively quote unquote interview Mark, because I already feel like I know what he does and doesn’t want to have as part of his official story.

But one thing that I felt should be part of the story about Mark is those community bike rides. I’ve already talked on previous episodes about how much the community bike rides mean to Paul and me. I suspected that they were at least as meaningful to the other people who show up as well. So I asked a few people after one of our rides: how long have you been coming and why do you show up? Here’s what they had to say.

(community clips)

Gary’s bell: the official sound of the community ride. Thanks, Mark, for everything you do to make Palisade a great place to be.

Hey, do you like to ride bikes? Are you in the Palisade area? Check out our group on Facebook, Bike Palisade, for more information about community cruiser rides and come join us! We always love to meet new neighbors and see familiar faces.

Are you enjoying this podcast? There are a couple ways you can let me know: you could leave me a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or a follow or rating on Spotify. I’d really appreciate it! If you aren’t enjoying the podcast, I suspect you haven’t made it this far, but if you have: shoot me an email at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com and let me know what could make it better for you.

The Postcards from Palisade podcast is available on all major podcast distribution platforms. Find us and subscribe now so you never miss an episode. Latest episodes and links to more information are also posted on the website postcardsfrompalisade.com.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

E8: Christine Moore – Yoga, Dance, and Yoga Therapy

Christine Moore is a yoga and dance teacher and yoga therapist based in Palisade. Christine and I chat about the difference between yoga and yoga therapy, the different classes she teaches – both regularly and for special events like the upcoming Grand Valley Yoga Fest, yoga philosophy, the history of belly dancing, what always draws her back to Palisade, how she takes care of herself so she can best take care of others, and lots more.

For more info about Christine and her classes and other offerings, check out her website: christinemooreshimmyogini.com

For more information about the Grand Valley Yoga Fest, check out their website. 100% of the proceeds of the festival go to mental health and suicide awareness programs in the Grand Valley: grandvalleyyogafest.com

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Hello and welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that shares a snapshot of the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m your host, Lisa McNamara.

Today I’m talking with Christine Moore, yoga and dance teacher and yoga therapist here in Palisade.

Christine and I chat about the difference between yoga and yoga therapy, the different classes she teaches – both regularly and for special events like the upcoming Grand Valley Yoga Fest, yoga philosophy, the history of belly dancing, what always draws her back to Palisade, how she takes care of herself so she can best take care of others, and lots more.

Like why she is drawn to work with the populations she works with:

CM: I was really inspired, and am really inspired, to work with people that are challenged to get to the mat vs. people that can like hop in a car and be there and are super athletic. I like to help people find results, and that’s what really excites me about yoga.

The meaning behind her sword dance:

CM: I like the concept of cutting away that which doesn’t serve. Clearing the space. Making room. So it’s not really a weapon, so much as it’s a, something to transform, to change, and to shift. And it’s fun. For me, I’ve always loved dancing with a sword.

And about what teaching yoga and dance has meant to her:

CM: Oh, I think it’s saved my life, in so many ways. In my own experiences with trauma in my life and a lot of loss, and just a lot of different challenges that life has, it’s really helped motivate me. And I think in helping – I don’t even like the word helping, because I love to bring out what people already have inside. That’s why I feel I do more than helping them. They’re helping me.

All that and more, on today’s Postcard From Palisade.

Christine Moore (CM): I’m Christine Moore and I like to start by just letting people know that I’m a yoga teacher. I’m a dance teacher as well. And a yoga therapist. The difference being that a yoga therapist works more one on one with people and helps them with personal challenges and working with a doctor or with a physical therapist to address specific things that yoga can help with. So it’s a little different than regular yoga class.

Lisa McNamara (LM): Do you need special training or anything for that?

CM: Oh, absolutely. I think there’s only two or three possibly certified yoga therapists in Mesa County. So, there is quite a bit of extensive training, and for me, I had about ten years of working with people with disabilities in group homes and veterans at the VA hospital. I worked for five years at the Boulder County jail. So I had a lot of experience under my belt already with working with different populations. And yes, there’s extensive extra training from yoga certification.

LM: Interesting! So, tell me about your path to yoga – how did you get started?

CM: Oh, gosh. I was teaching dance for several years and I had a dance troupe in Boulder, and I started feeling like I needed more for my dance, so I thought yoga would be an interesting add-on, since I always enjoyed taking yoga classes. So I really started yoga to enhance my dance practice. And then, during the training, my son was serving in Afghanistan and one of my fellow teachers brought me an article about teaching veterans, and I felt like my skin tingled, you know, as I read it. I thought, wow, this is something I’d like to do.

So I looked into it, right after I was certified, and started at the VA hospital in Denver, and that just started the rest. I was really inspired, and am really inspired, to work with people that are challenged to get to the mat vs. people that can like hop in a car and be there and are super athletic. I like to help people find results, and that’s what really excites me about yoga.

LM: I saw that you had a link to an article in the Huffington Post about your work with veterans and with people with disabilities, and it just sounds like such a rewarding group of people to work with.

CM: It’s very rewarding. It’s really lovely to have people come to you and let you know that it’s really changed their life and that in itself is just very fulfilling.

LM: And how did you get to Palisade?

CM: Oh, well, my son moved here several years ago. He graduated from college and said he’d go apply for a job in Grand Junction, just for the experience, and then ended up finding work here and getting hired. And so, once he and his partner at the time decided to have a child, they invited me. Five years ago. I moved here two weeks before she was born, and I came for that. The invitation came and it just felt like the right time. I felt like Boulder was outgrowing me. It’s really changed, and I had been there for fifty years. So it was a lot to let go of, but I’m really happy with making that decision.

LM: Yeah, that’s tough though, to let that go and to move to somewhere totally new.

CM: It is tough, and yet I can hop in the car and be there in four and a half hours.

LM: Yeah, good point!

CM: And I have plenty of places to go stay and visit and people to see. I really miss the people. When I go over there now, it changes so rapidly that I kind of feel like, I can’t wait to get back home! Which surprises me. Because I do, I love the front range, I love Boulder, but it has really changed a lot, and a lot of those changes break my heart. So. I like the small town, small community.

LM: Where and what do you teach here in Palisade?

CM: In Palisade I teach at the community center, I call it, the Veterans’ Memorial building, and we move outside in the – probably next week, we’ll start yoga in the park, right over here at Peachbowl Park. And I also offer some privates at my home studio, so I like working one on one with people to really help them enhance their yoga practice or benefit from learning more about what they can do for themselves to improve their health.

LM: For the classes here in town that anybody can sign up for and take, who do you want to welcome into those kind of classes?

CM: I really like to look for people that want something a little different than a regular studio has to offer. Maybe they’re a little intimidated by that, or they might be working on a personal injury. So a lot of my students are a little older, and some are coming from a background of just having an injury or not really feeling like they fit into a regular studio class. So I can offer them like a safe space.

I offer different, I don’t like to call them levels, but more so options for people, so if some people want to really push themselves a little more, they can, and other people can find a way to feel safe in their body. So I’m always watching for what it is that the people that I’m teaching need, rather than a lot of the yoga classes I’ve been to, the teacher just teaches the class, and I try to teach the individual students that I have in front of me.

LM: That’s awesome. Those birds are going crazy! I love it.

CM: They are!

LM: There must be a little nest or something over there. But that just seems like something that is really missing from a lot of areas or studios or things like that.

CM: It is, and yet I don’t think people know what it is they’re wishing for, so that’s the tricky part. To try to help people understand what I offer. I am really a fan of yoga philosophy too, because I think it really ties into better health and it suits a lot of people and a lot of people are a little shy about that too. They don’t know what it is. And it’s something that’s applicable to pretty much any lifestyle or belief system.

LM: And it can be really intimidating, because I know it’s like, if you feel like, well, you don’t know the moves or you don’t want to embarrass yourself, like, it can be intimidating, so it’s nice to have just more of an open and welcoming environment.

CM: Yes.

LM: Do you base your practice on any specific – and I’m not going to get the right terminology, but, style of yoga, or teaching…

CM: Yes and no. I really would say my classes are trauma-informed, so I’m very aware of what people might be triggered by, different populations, and the yoga therapy. So it’s Hatha yoga, which is pretty common, and I have learned a lot from Iyengar teachers and different practices. I teach yoga Nidra, which is yoga for sleep, it’s meditation. So I like to do a little guided meditation at the end of class to reset people. I really try to find a structure where people have the opportunity to get a little movement going and then calm themselves back down. Sometimes emotions come up in yoga and we don’t know what to do about it, and what I love about the practice is it’s really designed to calm the nervous system back down and regulate people so they have that ability rather than just walking out the door like you might if you get a massage, for instance, and something comes up and you’re feeling strange then you’re just kind of left to yourself, so I like that idea that it gives us a way to reset and kind of re-calibrate to be able to carry on with your day.

LM: There’s the upcoming Grand Valley Yoga Festival, I’ve noticed, that’s in a few weeks?

CM: Yes, it’s June 2nd to 4th, yes.

LM: OK. So how are you involved with that? Are you attending or teaching or both?

CM: I’m teaching dance, so it’s going to be a little different. They wanted a dance element. I have a friend that’s teaching some of the sound that’s going to be staying here while he’s here from Boulder and I am participating by leading dance. It will have a bit of a yoga element to it, because it’s a yoga festival, but I want to offer people a way to just get moving, to feel comfortable in their bodies, and express themselves, and just have some fun with it.

LM: Um, this is a totally random question but the sort of thing that I would worry about if I had never come to a class for yoga or for dance or whatever, would be, like what should I wear, you know? What should they wear if they’ve never come to a class before?

CM: Yeah, absolutely, good question. I think anything that feels comfortable to move in. Funny, when I was teaching veterans, I had a really hard time getting those guys not to come to class in jeans, which is kind of cumbersome, or can be inhibiting to your movement. So, maybe it’s all they have. You know, so you don’t want to be too picky about it. Definitely want to be open to people having it accessible.

I mean, accessibility is key. I know there’s a lot of specific yoga clothes out there, but really, you just need to be in something you can move your body in. And then thinking about temperature, if you’re outside especially. Do I want to bring a little jacket, just in case? Or, layering is always good. But something stretchy and movable. You don’t have to have fancy yoga clothes.

And we practice barefoot, so there’s no shoes involved, it’s pretty basic. I have props for people if they don’t have them, we have some at the community center, and for outdoor yoga, if people let me know I can bring things if they need them. So, if they don’t have a mat I can bring an extra mat with me.

LM: That’s awesome. So you mentioned though that you got into yoga because you wanted to improve your dance. So what kind of dance do you do, and do you still dance?

CM: I do, kind of! I gave up my troupe. I’m actually a belly dancer, so I studied belly dance for several years and I taught and had a troupe for 25 years on the front range. I was a little bit ready to let it go when I moved over here, and yet, once in awhile, I really miss it. I miss it a lot. What I miss about it the most I think is the way it can really enhance people’s lives and help them feel better about the body that they’re in. So I’m more interested in movement elements that enrich people’s lives and their feeling about themselves now than I am about stage presentation.

LM: Interesting difference.

CM: I do the Sing Up The Sun performance, and preferably I would have enough time to set it on the dancers and have them perform, not necessarily perform myself. I love performing, I’ve performed for years. I performed professionally, but I – I’m just not – I mean, I’m 63, and it’s not something that inspires me as much as, especially with women, having women really get comfortable in their skin, because that’s challenging in this culture. In many cultures.

LM: Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned the Sing Up The Sun festival, and I did see your performance there, along with the others, and it was so cool! So, I have to ask about the sword portion of the dance. What’s the significance of that?

CM: Well, the funny thing about belly dance, which is why I kind of like to fuse it with other dance forms, is that there’s so much of the history that’s missing, so it depends who you ask! For me, being a yoga person who is really interested in Hindi philosophy and deities, I like the concept of cutting away that which doesn’t serve. Clearing the space. Making room. So it’s not really a weapon, so much as it’s a, something to transform, to change, and to shift. And it’s fun. For me, I’ve always loved dancing with a sword. I love the props. But yes, as far as historically, it’s kind of hard to piece it together. You know, where did swords come in? They really came in when belly dancing moved more to the United States. They’re not something that’s maybe as indigenous to the culture. So, that’s true with several things. It’s changed so much over time.

LM: It’s super impressive to see. It’s like, everybody’s just sort of gasping, you know? Like, ah!

CM: I know. My little granddaughter – my son and his fiancee didn’t know that I was performing sword and they said, oh, she’s got her sword. And my granddaughter says, oh yeah, she does that. Because she dances with me over here and I’ll get the sword out because it’s kind of fun, she’s like, in awe. And, oh yeah, she does that!

LM: I have to ask a dumb question though – have you ever cut yourself with the sword?

CM: I cut someone else.

LM: Oh no!

CM: When I was performing. I’ve hit myself in the head with the little hilt, but, we were doing this piece and I was moving through space, and we were pretty close together, and I cut one of my dancer’s hands. And she kept going through the whole performance in spite of it and I didn’t even know. It was, and we still talk about it. It’s one of those things you don’t forget. I just hit her with the tip of the sword and cut her hand. So she was doing the dance and bleeding.

LM: Oh gosh!

CM: So, yeah. Little hazardous.

LM: Right, I had to ask that, because you have it, like, in your teeth and it’s like, ahh oh my gosh! It’s really cool though, the performance is really cool.

CM: I actually balance it on my chin. It looks like it’s in my mouth but I’m balancing it on the chin.

LM: Ah, it does! OK! Cool. How has teaching yoga and dance to others, how has that impacted your life?

CM: Oh, I think it’s saved my life, in so many ways. In my own experiences with trauma in my life and a lot of loss, and just a lot of different challenges that life has, it’s really helped motivate me. And I think in helping – I don’t even like the word helping, because I love to bring out what people already have inside. That’s why I feel I do more than helping them. They’re helping me. Because, for instance, teaching veterans was such a huge inspiration and really helped me face some of the challenges and learn more about challenges I might have when my son returned home from his tours. So I really feel it’s a gift to myself to bring yoga and dance to other people.

LM: When you do the therapy and working with others through yoga therapy, how do you let go of that trauma that other people kind of bring to you? Because I think personally, I would personally be terrible at that because I really hold on to the things, and you know, I wouldn’t know how to let it go. So how do you make sure it doesn’t weigh on you?

CM: That’s a great question, and it’s a constant challenge, you know, because I really try to draw my strength from source, so to speak, because I don’t really feel like a lot of my work comes from me – it comes through me. So, if I can really vitalize myself to begin with. Not take on too many clients. And sometimes it’s a little unavoidable. I do some grief circles online, I do women’s circles online, and quarterly they are grief circles, and I can leave circles sometimes just feeling shot for the day. I’m really wiped out.

So I have to remind myself to really build myself up and to not take things on. And it’s a constant challenge. That’s a really good question. I think that really maintaining a good diet and good health is useful. And once in awhile, it just sticks. It’s a little unavoidable. But for the most part, over time, I’ve gotten better and better at not absorbing what other people are feeling, because it’s not mine to have, you know? But it’s a challenge.

LM: I bet. I bet. When I was reading about your yoga therapy, or anyone who does any kind of therapy or grief counseling, or anything like that, I think that would be really challenging to make sure that you can be there for somebody and support them through what they’re going through, but also take care of yourself, so can help other people.

CM: Yeah, it is definitely a consideration. Different people take on more than other people, and I think it’s been really good for me to learn that too, because I can easily take on too much with my family. And so, how do we stay in our own lane? Yeah.

LM: Good thing to be aware of. But hard. Hard to keep that in mind.

CM: It is. It really is.

LM: So do you consider what you do to be a business you run or do you consider it something else?

CM: I consider it more of a business now. I work for the Giveback Yoga Foundation, too, and so I actually help distribute mats to a lot of under-served communities all over the country. So that ties in to my passion with yoga. And, yeah, I do try to keep it in a business scope. I teach at the Grand Valley Oncology, so I work with cancer patients there. And I do consider it a business, although not – I’m really not able to sustain myself with just that. So it is a constant challenge. I have to bring in other things to bring up my income level.

And there are so many people that offer yoga as more of a hobby and maybe for free. It’s really expensive to keep all my certification up and to continue with my training. So, that is something to consider too. In the work I do.

LM: Yeah, that’s interesting. The hobby vs. work distinction is pretty important.

CM: It is. And in a rural community, frankly, it’s a little less noticed when people have specific qualifications vs. in a place like coming from Boulder where it’s really expected. It’s just a different type of expectation, I think, from a teacher there than it is here.

LM: So, switching over to Palisade stuff, so you’ve been here, five years, you said?

CM: Yes.

LM: So, what’s your favorite part about the Palisade community?

CM: I love being in a small community. For instance, when I had covid, I had little gifts of food left at my door. I know all my neighbors. I feel this real welcoming presence in all of that that’s so different. I lived in a townhouse in Boulder, the last one I lived in, for 20 years and I didn’t know my neighbors the way I know them here. I like how accessible it is to hiking and different – you know, it’s just beautiful to be out in nature here. And so I love that about Palisade. And I feel like it keeps growing and changing, and it’s just fun to be in a small town.

LM: I know, the train. The train is in every episode. It’s unavoidable.

CM: It’s so loud for a couple seconds there. Then it kind of…

LM: I know. Do you sleep through it? Have you gotten used to it?

CM: I do. I think that, once in awhile, it might wake me up without me knowing that’s what it is, but I think for the most part I’m used to the sound. I mean really, if you live in Palisade, you hear a train.

LM: Yeah, you have to get used to it. I’m like surprised that I got used to it, because I’m a really light sleeper, and I do think that sometimes it does wake me up and I don’t realize it, but, for the most part, I don’t know how that happened!

CM: I know, it’s, and I forget sometimes to tell people, if they’re coming here to stay with me, like oh there is a train. And they’re like, well how loud is it? And it’s hard to gauge because we’re used to it.

LM: Yeah, anyway. But yeah, getting to know your neighbors – it is so different, because I do feel like people look at everybody here as a friend, as opposed to, even in Fort Collins, I knew who my neighbors were but you would sort of say hi quickly in passing, not really make eye contact, and just – it’s a totally different feeling.

CM: It is, and when I moved here, people were saying, you’ll get to know everybody in town. And I though, well, probably not, you know! And yet, in some ways, you do. And I certainly know most of the people in the neighborhood, and even a couple of blocks over. People I walk my dog with. Which is a really different feeling of community and connection that I didn’t have in Boulder. I would have to seek that more and here it’s kind of a natural.

LM: Completely. Do you have regulars who come back to your classes every – is it every week?

CM: It’s every week. Right now I’m teaching once a week. I might add on. Last summer I added because people really like to be outside. So I do, I have people that have been very consistent and some who kind of wiggle in and out. They’re here maybe once a month, or traveling different – you know, Palisade is that kind of a community where people travel a lot, come and go. There’s seasons that people are too busy here.

LM: Yeah, makes sense.

CM: It’s a really different season here that I don’t think people quite understand and that has taken me awhile to grasp. As far as when people are really available or not. It’s different here.

LM: Yeah, it’s interesting to get used to. I wasn’t expecting it to be so quiet over the winter, but I think after being here for a few years, we might come to appreciate that!

CM: Yeah, it is different, and it seems like – the first year I moved here, I took care of my granddaughter for the first year, pretty much full-time, while they worked. And then I surrendered her to daycare and started diving into my practice. Then covid hit. So it’s really been interesting to navigate through all that and set a course for myself that makes sense. Kind of coming out of that being really internal time.

LM: Right, right. Did you do teaching by Zoom or anything during that time?

CM: I did, and I still do. I was teaching Thursday nights at the community center and that shifted to online and it stayed online, partially because they ended up giving the space to someone else during that time slot and also because I can have, for instance, my mom, who is 92, comes to my Zoom class every week pretty much and my sister who’s in New Mexico, and some of my friends from the front range or students pop in. So it’s really expanded my practice, and I never thought I’d be comfortable teaching yoga online and I really like it. So, that changed.

LM: Do you do the moves along with everyone, or are you more observing and directing, or, not directing, guiding, I should say?

CM: I, yeah, it’s, that was tricky to navigate and I think one of the things I was resistant about. If I do a one on one with somebody, I’m really navigating them and going back and forth, but my class I’m pretty much demonstrating and know the students well enough, hopefully, that are participating that I can kind of give them cues and different ideas. But a lot of people, especially people with trauma, really need to watch while they do. It can be a little different than being guided if you really know what you’re doing in yoga. And I learned that especially with veterans. Veterans really need to be demonstrated to. And that’s a very generalized statement, but they need to have the visual as well as speaking. So I definitely am demonstrating the whole time online.

LM: Interesting. And that’s cool that it’s worked well and become its own thing now, post-covid.

CM: It has. It surprised me and I’m really happy to be open to it. I’m happy that other people have been. Some people aren’t – some people do not want to practice or participate online and other people prefer it. So. It’s nice to be able to be at home after your practice, especially at night. When I offer yoga Nidra sessions, which are meditation, it’s really nice to be able to leave people in their space and just let them be comfortable. They don’t have to get in a car and drive somewhere.

LM: Right, right, because the whole point is being relaxed and ready for sleeping. You don’t want to get in the car and then drive home and then be all stressed out!

CM: Right.

LM: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It’s cool to have the different options to be able to offer. So when you get time off, what do you like to do?

CM: I like to travel. I love to go on river trips. My son’s a real river rat, and so I like to go with them. I like to spend time with my granddaughter, and I like to go over to Boulder and visit my friends there. I like to go to New Mexico and I love soaking in hot springs. But I work so many different places that it’s really challenging to get a chunk of time off. So I’m often more of a three or four day type of traveler.

LM: How do you keep track of all the scheduling of everything?

CM: I wake up in the morning and go, which day is this?! What am I doing today? It’s challenging. I have a Google calendar that I use. That’s really been important and yet each day of the week I might have specific things I do on that day and so I get kind of into my own routine with it. But it can be kind of strange, especially when I do extra workshops and things like that, just to keep it all scheduled and keep it straight.

LM: Yeah, it’s a lot!

CM: But it doesn’t get boring!

LM: Yeah I really rely on the Google calendar too, the reminders and everything.

CM: Yeah, if you’re going to different places each day and you don’t want to be thinking about it overnight or anything, just put it on the calendar and know that you can check it out if you don’t remember or have something unusual going on.

LM: So anything else about, that you want share about anything?

CM: Well I really do love my goddess circle offerings online and those are really fun to dive into some of the history and mythos, so to speak. And to notice how much it can apply to life now and doing a little dancing and writing and those, I would love to at some point maybe offer some small groups in Palisade. But I find that it’s easier to get enough people interested if I keep it online, because people can come from all over the place. And they’re small. They’re intimate. There’s a sense of confidentiality, so that people feel like they can come in and really share and participate without feeling that anything that comes up goes anywhere else. So that’s just something that really, I do them once a month, that I’m really fired up about. They always are really exciting. I do a lot of research and continuing education for those.

LM: You mentioned a lot of the things are still relevant today. Can you just give one example of something that recently surprised you?

CM: Well, I find it really fascinating that in the Hindi mythology, there’s a lot of reference to times like this, meaning times of natural discourse, so to speak, and how that relates to, for instance, how we treat the earth, which in mythology is going to be how we treat that goddess, for instance. And so we find that, in not taking care of the water and the source and the earth, so to speak the earth, but the air we breathe, that there’s repercussions, and that’s definitely part of the mythology. As well as different issues that women have throughout time are really resonant in different deities and what they offer and the support they give to just multiple, almost anything. There’s so many of them. It’s really fun and very fascinating to me. But it seems like whatever I pick seems to be really relevant for people in that time and place. You know, there’s very nurturing deities and there’s some that are really strong and like warriors. And the battle of the warriors is really about the battle of the human consciousness. Like we’re taking the swords and we’re taking the fighting and what we’re really fighting is ourselves. It’s very internal. And that doesn’t go away. That’s sustainable throughout time, that we have challenges and things to work through in life that are part of what life is about.

LM: That’s really interesting. Human nature.

CM: Yes!

LM: Well, I really appreciate your time. And so can you talk a little bit about the specifics of the class that you’re leading for the Grand Valley Yoga Fest?

CM: Well you can go to grandvalleyyogafest.com and it’s a very reasonably priced festival that has a lot to offer. A lot of different things. There’s music, there’s the dance, and my specific class is at 1:15 on Saturday, June 3rd, and it’s all held at the Palisade High School. So you can sign up for the entire weekend and sign up for specific classes. And there’s a lot. And other than that, what is my class called? I’m not even sure! I’ve just been calling it Dance with Christine.

LM: That might be what I’ve seen on Facebook too.

CM: Yes, yes. And the class itself, we’re going to go through some movement, some postures, and some basic movement. I’m always really careful about describing what we’re doing, culturally, because I’m teaching this philosophy and movement and dance, so to speak, from the Middle East, which has nothing to do with yoga, which is from a different area entirely and a different culture. And yet, so much of it goes hand in hand really nicely. So we’ll be doing some isolations. I’ll get the veils out, because they’re really fun to play with. It’s really easy to feel like dance is accessible when you have a veil as a dance partner and don’t have to think so much about your hands. And really I want to get people into how they feel, more than how they look, which is such an important part of movement to me. To really take that subtle movement and energy and enjoy ourselves. So that’s what we’re going to be doing, is just having some fun.

LM: And then regularly, normal classes and things like that, what’s the best way for people to see what you offer?

CM: The best way to see what I’m offering is either to go to Facebook or to my website which is kind of a long name, but it’s christinemooreshimmyogini.com. But even if you looked up Christine Moore in Palisade it would come up. And there’s so much on my website that people can probably find something that’s interesting to them if they’re at all drawn to yoga and dance. There’s just a lot there. And then there’s a contact page on the website so people can contact me that way. Can find me on Facebook too, with my name or just poking around, because I do try to put most of my offerings, at least the local ones, on the Palisade Business Board. I keep my classes listed regularly, and some of my workshops as well, but some of that, if it’s not here, I don’t feel like I want to spill over to that. We also have a Palisade Yoga and Dance Facebook page that the teachers that teach in town post in and I post in. So that’s another resource for people if they want an update. And it’s just called that: Yoga and Dance in Palisade.

LM: That’s one I don’t know about! Cool. Well, thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate. And I appreciate you reaching out awhile ago and just being interested in doing this.

CM: Yeah, thank you. I appreciate that you’re doing this and bringing more of what’s going on here to people. We don’t always know what’s happening in Palisade.

LM: I know, I know, and like I want to know! Thanks, I really appreciate it, Christine.

LM: A few days after I spoke with Christine, after a couple glasses of wine, I was thinking about how I haven’t danced for ages. Something about feeling older, stiffer, worrying more about how I looked than I felt. That distinction really struck me. So I put on my headphones, silent-disco-style, and danced around my kitchen like a maniac. It felt awesome. But I really hope that no one saw me. Thanks for the inspiration, Christine.

If you’re enjoying this podcast, let me know by leaving a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or a follow or rating on Spotify.

If you are interested in being on the show or if you have ideas for a future show, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com.

The Postcards from Palisade podcast is available on all major podcast distribution platforms. Find us and subscribe now so you never miss an episode. Latest episodes and links to more information are also posted on the website postcardsfrompalisade.com.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

E7: Dancing In My Head Photography – Lisa “Moose” Kral

Today I catch up with a fellow Lisa: Lisa “Moose” Kral of Dancing In My Head Photography. Lisa has been one of the photographers for Colorado Mountain Winefest for many years and will be returning as the Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Festival photographer in June. She’s also looking forward to returning as a photographer for the Palisade Peach Festival and lots of other local events.

Lisa may be best known for her ability to effortlessly capture Facebook-profile-worthy photos of people…along with her ardent love of the color purple. Lisa shares her path from desk job as an office manager to full-time photographer, the challenges of running her own creative business, how she and her husband Matt ended up in Palisade, her wildest celebrity and neighborhood encounters, and lots more.

For more info about Dancing In My Head Photography, find Lisa on Facebook or on Instagram @dancinginmyheadphotography.

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Hello and welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that shares a snapshot of the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m your host, Lisa McNamara.

Today I’m talking with Lisa “Moose” Kral of Dancing In My Head Photography. Lisa has been one of the photographers for Colorado Mountain Winefest for many years and will be returning as the Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Festival photographer in June. She’s also looking forward to returning as a photographer for the Palisade Peach Festival and lots of other local events.

Lisa may be best known for her ability to effortlessly capture Facebook-profile-worthy photos of people…along with her ardent love of the color purple. Lisa shares her path from desk job as an office manager to full-time photographer, the challenges of running her own creative business, how she and her husband Matt ended up in Palisade, her wildest celebrity and neighborhood encounters, and lots more.

Like her favorite kind of photo to take (clip), how she deals with un-credited photo sharing (clip), and what she loves about Palisade – from the heartwarming things (clip) to the kinds of wild adventures you might not see coming (clip). All that and more, on today’s Postcard From Palisade.

Lisa McNamara (LM): Do we really want the pickle song?
Lisa Kral (LK): Matt, do you wanna sing the pickle song? Just sing it real quick.
Matt Kral (MK): You talking to me?
LK: Yeah, sing the pickle song.
MK: Everybody’s pickling pickling pickling.
LK: That’s my introduction, folks. Welcome to the podcast about Dancing in my Head Photography!
LM: When you introduce yourself to somebody who doesn’t know you, how do you introduce yourself?
LK: Oh, just, I don’t pull out the Moose thing right away, I just say Lisa Kral.
LM: Would you rather ask people to call you Moose, or?
LK: No, I feel like people choose what they want to call me. My Mom refuses to call me Moose. There’s another woman in town who shall remain nameless, she does not accept Moose as my nickname. That’s totally fine. People who have known me a long time don’t often call me Moose. But they see it, and new people in my life usually pick it up.
The name of my business is Dancing In My Head Photography. I’m a photographer in Palisade, CO. That wasn’t exactly the plan when we moved out here, but it kind of happened, kind of organically. I feel lucky to be working with something that I love to do, instead of…my office management job was great and I was really good at it, but it didn’t bring me as much joy as photography does.
LM: So how did you end up in Palisade?
LK: So my husband and I met in 2003 and when we started dating we started going on a lot of road trips in Chicago. And we went like, everywhere, but like, small town. And we finally got really sick of driving through Indiana. Sorry, Indiana, if you’re listening!
LM: But it’s so fast!
LK: And we really, we took a trip to Breckenridge and we fell in love with it, and we just kept thinking, like, new road trips! We should just move to Colorado! And his job came with him, so it was really easy to make the transition to Denver. And when we got to Denver, we started road tripping everywhere, and Palisade was one of those places we just kept coming back to.
And we finally stayed at this B&B, it happened to be in Clifton, and it was for sale, and I fell in love with it. And we had just gotten married and then we started thinking about a house, and I wanted this B&B in Clifton. And we met with the Realtor and he’s like, you do not want that B&B in Clifton. So, he’s like, let me just show you a few more things, and he showed us, like, more than a few more things. And we saw this house – it was on the market for about a week, it was going to be in the parade of homes, and Matt and I were like – let’s move to Palisade! We kind of live our lives like that, we just, I mean, calculated risks, but you know.
So we ended up moving to Palisade and moving into one of our road trips, one of our vacations. Unfortunately, the only thing about Palisade is like, we don’t want to road trip as much, because we live in one! We’re like, living in our vacation, so it, you know, Palisade kind of changed our lifestyle, but in a good way, and we’re happy to be here. And we’ve been here for seven years now.
It was hard, I mean, our next door neighbor, who is no longer our neighbor, but she told me it would take me at least a few years to adjust. And it did. When we got here, I wanted to have the same exact job as I did in Denver, it was a great job. I was an office manager for a wealth management company, doing really well, treated very well, but I came here and it just, it wasn’t a necessary position that people were looking for. If anything, I did too much, and people were like, you’re going to get bored.
So, it did take me a few years to come into really accepting the photography thing as like, what I was going to really do, you know? And, now we’re happy, but those first few years were definitely a transition.
LM: Was it always a hobby for you, and nothing you thought of as a profession?
LK: Yeah, you know, even as a kid, I just documented everything I did. I remember my first big trip without my family was to Israel, and everybody I went with brought like one or two rolls of film. I was like, I need like 20 rolls of film! We’re going to be gone for weeks and I need to take pictures of everything! So, from then, and then my parents gave me a digital camera, and phew. Photos just, I mean, everywhere, everything! Close-ups, landscapes, just everything. And then I got into social media and started posting my photos and people are like, you need to sell these.
And so I started thinking more and more about just having this as a hobby, but then I had to, I wanted to brand it. And I was a dancer in college, a ballet and modern dancer. And I knew I wasn’t going to be dancing forever, physically, but I’m always – ideas are always dancing in my head. So that’s where that came from. It was really like, a no-brainier when I wanted to brand my business.
And we moved here and I met with the Chamber and I started working with the Chamber and covering more people. It was less landscapes from our road trips and more people of Palisade. That just kind of became something that people recognized about me – oh, you’re the person that took that awesome photo of me at Peach Festival. So I just started getting jobs, covering events. So now lately, it’s more people photos. Which I love, but it’s harder, because landscapes don’t complain. And some people do, but I think most of my clients have been happy.
LM: Yeah, landscapes don’t blink, either.
LK: Yeah. No blinks, no, you know, I don’t like this angle.
LM: Right, let me see it and let’s do it again!
LK: But, so far, I don’t think I’ve had any unhappy clients, at least not that they’ve told me! But, I love seeing my photos as people’s profile pictures. It just makes me happy. I like when I can make someone feel beautiful. It’s not always an easy thing to do. And I hate pictures of myself, so I get it! Please, people who I am taking your photo, I really get it! I know! But I, I see beauty. I will stare at a photo of someone for hours and hours and hours and they just get more beautiful to me. I see things that maybe they don’t see, other people don’t see, but I’m staring at them, you know, in this like frozen moment in time, and their beauty just comes out at me from the screen, and I love it.
LM: What’s your favorite kind of event or thing to photograph?
LK: I love festivals, because people are uninhibited. When you’re doing a head shot or even band photos, they want to portray a certain image. But at festivals, people are just having fun, and that’s what I like to – my favorite photo is just capturing someone’s happiness, and like I said before, joy. I think that’s the most rewarding thing for me, is just to capture that moment that someone else sees in a picture and they’re like, in that moment, you know? I’m digging the people photography right now!
LM: And I see if everywhere! You’re in all the magazines and on every website. When I was looking around to see if there were any other articles or anything written about you, it’s impossible to find anything because it’s like, photo credit: Dancing In My Head Photography, photo credit, that’s all that comes up, for like, pages!
LK: Right. Yeah, I mean, they did an interview for ShoutOut Colorado. It was pretty in-depth. I was very detailed, which I’m not always good at. My story is not like, super interesting. I’m just a delightful little person, floating around.
There’s random facts about me, like, I don’t know if I want to go into them. Like, sports is in my family, so my father and his brothers used to be part-owners of the Chicago White Sox. My mom’s cousin is the Dallas Cowboys announcer Brad Sham. My cousin Cory Provus was a baseball announcer for the Minnesota Twins. So there’s lots of sports and all these like, fun facts. Like when I used to go to baseball games as a kid, I’d meet like, Mr. T. I don’t know! I have all these weird, random stories that probably make me pretty interesting but no one really gets to know them because they’re like, I don’t know.
LM: OK, but what did Mr. T say to you?
LK: Oh gosh, I don’t even. I think he just told us how lovely we were. He was really nice. Here’s a funny story. My dad was a golfer in his younger days. But we used to go to Florida, because he loved to golf. And we went to this really beautiful country club, called Doral Country Club. And OJ Simpson was there. This was before, you know, the whole, OJ was the guy. But me and my friend were there and we met OJ Simpson, and he came up and my friend was swearing – she was a kind of rough-around-the-edges girl, we’re in our teens, and OJ Simpson told us that young, beautiful girls don’t swear. And you know, at the time, we’re like, oh, OJ Simpson just said that! But now, in retrospect, we’re like, OJ Simpson said that. You know?
LM: And if you keep swearing, I’m going to murder you!
LK: So you know, I have random fun facts.
LM: That’s hilarious. Oh man, I just got so sidetracked in my mind.
LK: I know, I did too.
LM: But no, it’s fun! OK, so we talked about how your favorite kind of thing to photograph is a festival. Do you feel anything when you line up a picture that you’re just like, this is perfect?
LK: Oh yeah! It’s like…like, everything inside you is just like is giddy like a kid and I can’t wait to get back to the computer and share it with everyone. You know, I know, like when I won’t have to edit or touch a picture, it’s like boom, done. It’s a great feeling. Because I don’t like editing. I’d rather just get the photo and move on. Editing is not the best part of the process.
LM: Do you spend more time editing than you actually spent photographing originally?
LK: Yeah. I mean, the more, see, I’m trying to get better at editing and just get fancier with it, and so the fancier, the more I know how to do with editing, the more time I’m spending. There’s something to be said for that, like being able to really accentuate a photo, but there’s also something to be said for getting it and not having to touch it.
LM: Yeah, because how do you know when you’re done? It’s just like with any art…any piece of art. How do you know when it’s over?
LK: It’s like a painting, yeah. Sometimes I just have to, you know, give it to the client and if it’s done – but it might not be done if they come back. I’m never finished until the client is 100% happy. But now, it’s funny, when I’m bored, I go back to old photos, before maybe even Dancing In My Head Photography was a thing, and I start re-editing those. Like, I could have made that better. And also I had a shhhh, I had a bad camera at the time. So. Don’t want you to have to bleep me!
LM: So far nobody has actually dropped any swearing on the podcast!
LK: Sorry, I could have been the first one! Ah!
LM: Jeff almost did, but then he censored himself!
LK: Just like I did?
LM: Yeah! I don’t know, I guess somehow this is turning into a clean podcast. Which is weird.
LK: Well you have a very wholesome voice.
LM: Hah!
LK: You do, I listen to your podcast and you just sound so, just, calm and peaceful. I can’t see anyone trying to be dropping swear words, like, left and right.
LM: Can you talk a little bit about what you’re working on right now? Or what you have coming up that you’re really excited about?
LK: Oof, I’m like, so, I’m working on a lot of things right now, I’m just like everywhere. Yesterday I took band photos so they’ll be my focus for, you know, until they’re happy. I have a Chamber photo event – actually, when’s this airing?
LM: If I can get it done for next Tuesday, I’ll do next Tuesday.
LK: Oh, well, it’ll be after. So, the community hospital grand opening is this weekend and I’ll be taking photos for the Palisade Chamber of Commerce. I have a friend’s wedding up and coming at Maison la Belle Vie this month. So just, you know, there’s a lot of little different things, some private photo sessions, and…I’m just everywhere this month.
LM: I’m sure it gets a lot busier as you get into festival season and wedding season!
LK: And better weather outside, people want to get photos. That’s Mellow [an adorable cat had just walked into the room].
LM: Hi Mellow! I love gray cats, especially. What’s your favorite camera to use?
LK: My favorite camera is my Sony A6500. I have tons of cameras. Believe me, my office is full of different cameras. But this one, I just, it’s always been reliable. I don’t know if it’s my lucky camera strap that I have on here.
LM: I love that strap.
LK: Yeah it’s just my go-to. I like it.
LM: It’s compact..
LK: It’s compact, yeah. I’m a tiny person. I have a giant camera and I feel like I’m walking hunched over – this is not good for my posture!
LM: Right!
LK: Yeah, I love my Sony A6500, as I almost drop it.
LM: What’s your dream camera to own?
LK: Oh gosh, I don’t know. I try not to even look at things, because then I get big eyes. And I don’t need a new camera right now. This one is very good to me. I don’t have a dream camera. I probably would if I looked.
LM: That’s very responsible!
LK: Yes, I know myself. I see something. I love clothes, too. Something weird that I do as a photographer is I try to have themed clothes for all my photos shoots. So like yesterday, when I photographed the band, I wore a shirt with a guitar on it. I have pants that have coffee on it for the Palisade Chamber’s Community Over Coffee, and like, we went to a wine festival and I have wine pants.
LM: I saw your wine pants, I was like, those are amazing!
LK: I have themed clothes, it’s weird. So, if I see the clothes, it’s the same thing about the camera. If I see it, I’m going to want it. So I know myself well enough.
LM: I’m impressed! That’s really good discipline.
LK: And that’s how we ended up with a purple car! I’ve had my other car for 20 years and this one, with all the high tech stuff, you know, my phone connects to the car now, so like I’ll be driving around Palisade and I’m getting texts, like, I just saw you in your purple car! And I’m like ah! Stop talking to me, car! Cars talking to me now! I might sound like an old lady, but, it’s just weird.
LM: You post a lot of your stuff online. And I know you watermark and everything.
LK: I’m getting better about the watermarking. People used to yell at me about not watermarking.
LM: I’ve asked you, oh, can I use one of your pictures, with credit and everything, but I’m sure that people use them, people share them. How do you feel about that, or how do you deal with un-credited sharing?
LK: Oh, it’s hard. I pick and choose my battles when it comes to that. I feel like some people should know better, you know? And it’s weird, because my feelings are not consistent. It’s very situational. But, in general, I don’t like people stealing my photos. But with the way things are these days, on social media, people can just right click and save it, you know!
LM: And you have no idea.
LK: Yeah. You don’t. For some reason, I feel like the Facebook algorithms are good to me. I’ll be scrolling and I’ll be like, oh! There’s my picture! Interesting. So, I’ve been able to catch a lot of it, just, I don’t know why, if the algorithm gods are being kind to me or what. It’s hard. It’s definitely hard when I see my photos somewhere where I wasn’t expecting them to be. I think a lot of people, in this day and age, who are in my circle – because I’m friends with a lot of photographers – they know. They know the unspoken rule. If you’re using someone else’s image, you ask. You give them photo credit. But, just for the record: photo credit doesn’t pay the bills.
LM: Totally! Yeah, no kidding.
LK: But like I said, it’s very situational. Like with the Sing Up The Sun festival – those are all my friends. You guys are all my friends. I’m not going to get mad at my friend for saying, you took this beautiful photo of me, can I use it? Like, of course you can!
LM: So if you do see something, do you try to –
LK: I usually say something. I try to be very polite. And usually the response is polite as well. It’s usually just an oversight or something.
LM: But this is a ton of labor and a ton of work and I think that people don’t necessarily see that. They see part of what you’re doing, which is being there and taking the picture, but, it’s your time, and then it’s your time later editing, and your skills, which are hard to quantify even. And there’s just so much more that goes into it.
LK: When I’m in editing mode, I come here, but I have a giant screen in there, so like I’m here, I’m there. I’m putting them through different editing programs, I’m looking at them, I look at them, I walk away, I’m not, I can’t just sit and stare, I need some perspective. It’s a whole, like, emotional process that I go through with the photos after I take them. That luckily only my husband has to see.
But yeah, I will shut down, for like a few days, if it’s a big event and there are thousands of photos. Not to toot my own horn, but I usually like a lot of those thousands of photos! So then I have to like, be more discerning. I think that’s probably my biggest flaw, is being more discerning. Because I usually fall in love with a lot of the photos that I take and it’s like, even if the band member may be just slightly different here, but they’re both good pictures! But yeah, the editing process is something that I think is definitely under-appreciated.
LM: Absolutely. Absolutely. In terms of owning your own business, especially a creative business, what do you find most rewarding about that and what’s the most challenging thing about it?
LK: Well, the photography business, since there’s no scheduled hours – I used to be very routine, when I had an office job. Wake up at the same time, shower at the same time. Everything was, and now I don’t have a routine, which is very hard, and it’s hard on him too. So, that’s the hard part, I don’t have a very steady routine. You never know when you’re needed and I try to be available at all hours. Except the morning. You have to pay me extra to be like, up in the morning and ready. Photo gigs in the morning cost extra!
The most rewarding though is I can do what I want! Not that I say no to anybody, but I can choose what I want to do. Being an office manager, at a high demanding job, I couldn’t say no. I did everything. I was the IT girl, I was answering phones, ordering things for the office, preparing nice-looking presentations, and taking care of clients. It was just everything. I had to do everything, and it wasn’t always my choice. But I think it’s very much my choice, which I love about having my own business.
LM: What’s your favorite thing about the Palisade community?
LK: Oof, um, it’s funny, because after living in big cities for most of my adult life – we had our certain friends, and small, but you move to Palisade and you feel like you’re friends with everybody. And I love it. Growing up, I had like four guy friends, four or five guy friends, and those were my boys. And I kind of stayed, throughout my whole life, most of my friends have been guys, until I moved to Palisade. I have a lot more female friends here. I feel like, better about that! I used to get, like, panic attacks when I had to be in a room with a lot of women. But now I don’t feel that at all. I like it. I felt very welcomed here. It’s hard sometimes if you want to just roll out to the grocery store, but now with my purple car there’s no going to the grocery store and like, not seeing anybody!
LM: You can’t go incognito anymore!
LK: Matt’s like, you’re not going to know anybody here, and we walk in and I was like, hi. I already know someone here.
LM: You’ll have to go to some grocery store on the other side of town, but you’ll still probably see somebody you know!
LK: But even there – yep, yep. I mean, with the purple hair and now with the purple car, it’s really hard to be incognito. But I love it. I really like it. It’s a very warm community. I mean, I’m a city girl, so I have great stories now. Our neighbors used to have pigs that got loose. Matt and I have chased loose pigs, like, three times, I think. And just like, these stories that I get to say, these words coming out of my mouth. Like, there were pigs rolling around on our pool cover once. And they were over 200 pounds. And they’re like, you know, during the season the pool cover collects rainwater and stuff. The pigs got out and I’m looking out this window and there’s just a pig rolling around and I’m like, and Matt’s, I call Matt and I’m like, I don’t know what to do!
And luckily the pool covers can hold up a lot of weight. I mean, I’ve stood on it before, it’s like a water bed almost. But, I was like, Matt, what do I do, the pigs are on the pool! And there were two others, like, looking at it. So Matt comes out and I’m like, oh the photographer in me, I have to record this. So Matt goes out and he’s like, herding them away from the pool and I have it on video. Sorry, this is a podcast and you can’t see it, but it’s like, a really funny video.
LM: I can visualize it, trying to grab the – or were you just trying to herd them?
LK: They were so big. So, one time they got little babies. This was the third time that they got pigs. They thought they had secured the, but they were so tiny that the little pigs got out, and those were the only pigs you could actually pick up and carry. Of course I have pictures of that too. But the other ones, the ones on our pool cover, there was no picking those guys up. They ended up being over 250 pounds, so what we had to do, was like, everybody had to grab something. Like a stick, a rake, our pool skimmer, whatever it was, and you have to, like – you need at least four people to kind of corner them off and like kind of run them back to the pen.
And luckily one time when they got out, some guy was just driving down the highway and he pulled over and his dog was a herder. Because the neighbors weren’t home and it was just me and Matt and we’re like, trying to get these giant pigs. And this guy comes out and like finally the neighbors get home or their friends come over and so the herder dog saved the day. So, wrangling pigs. That’s another thing I love about Palisade – I get to tell stories like that. Mom, I wrangled pigs today!
LM: I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have ever happened in Chicago.
LK: Not really, and not Denver either! Not something I ever imagined myself saying, but love that I have these stories. And you know, even just simpler things. I never thought we’d have a peach orchard. We have 130 trees, about. Maybe a few less, because we’ve lost some over the years, but Dennis Clark takes care of our peach orchard and we couldn’t be more thankful.
The first year we were here it was a great season, and we didn’t really know, we were still getting to know the situation the previous owners had with Dennis, and we woke up to like, boxes, giant boxes of peaches. It was a very good season. Every day for like three days we’d just get giant boxes of peaches. And Dennis sells them at Clark Family Orchards. We just run the irrigation and they take care of the rest. And we’re very thankful. So even things like that, you know. The things I get to say about my Palisade life, which has been my hashtag since I got here. I just, I love the things. And they bring smiles to my face and to other people’s face when I tell them. So, it’s just like a good life here. My Palisade life is really enjoyable.
LM: So when you get a day off, how do you enjoy it?
LK: When I get a day off, I – I mean, everybody thinks I’m like, this super social person – and I am, but I lately, especially, I just like retreating, just being by myself. You know, it’s funny – he works from home, and I enjoy like, listening to him on his phone calls. I like it. He says things that warm my heart. I’m like, that’s my husband! You know, I just –
LM: Oh no, Paul’s going to be so jealous, I always say, you’re so loud!
LK: Well, I will say, he used to sit out here and work and I’d be like, dude, you’re in the middle of our house. Like, you gotta take it into your office. You got one. But there are times when I’ll be editing photos over here and he’ll be working next to me, and it’s kinda nice. Like I said, a lot more lately, when I’m not working I just want to kind of have some down time. Just peaceful, quiet. You can see I – I can just sit outside or take pictures around my property.
I really never stop taking pictures. Even if I’m home, I’m like, ooh, that tree looks pretty, ooh there’s a pretty, you know, so, it’s just me time, when I’m not working. And I actually don’t have the best memory. So photos actually really help. Like we were just, last night, we were like reminiscing about all the houses we looked at when we were moving – I don’t remember, and this was only eight years ago – but I don’t remember any of the houses except this one. He’s like, don’t you remember, it had the weird – and I’m like, no. I don’t even remember being there. So photos help me remember certain things.
And also, like, it’s funny cause I feel like I see the world in like, super vivid colors. And then I always, that’s why, like, when I edit some photos, I get carried away. Because when I see things, everything seems, like, much more vivid. And I know cameras don’t always capture the true essence of colors, but, I just love making things really bright and vivid and colorful. I do that even when I’m alone, you know? Like I said, I work on old photos sometimes, and just because I think, like, oh I didn’t really capture what I really saw. So yeah, I have fun by myself. I’m really good at being alone. I really don’t mind it at all. And you know, he’s a hoot. He’s always good for a laugh. And entertaining.
LM: That’s good. Good to like your husband! Is there anything else that you want to share? Anything that I didn’t ask you?
LK: Well, I’m really glad that you didn’t ask me about my nickname and where it came from, because that’s a story best told at other times.
LM: Part of the problem is that I already read the story!
LK: Yeah, if you don’t know the story, too bad!
LM: Yeah!
LK: Just kidding. Come and find me and I’ll tell it to you. I guess, I want people to know that I love taking photographs of anything and everything and I’d love to help out. If you’re struggling to see beauty in yourself, I’d love to help you find it. I think that’s what’s been motivating me a lot, lately, is helping people see what I see, that beauty is in anyone, anywhere. So just know that I photograph anything and everything. I used to say, I only do this – but now, there is nothing I won’t do. I really hope people in Palisade and beyond, whoever is listening this, will consider to hire me. I’d love to work with you. Is that like, a good shameless promotion?
LM: Yeah!! That’s an excellent shameless promotion!
LK: I work with many budgets and all kinds of things. So yeah. Reach out to me.
LM: How would people get in touch with you? What’s the best way?
LK: Um, you can’t. No, just kidding. You can email me, my email is lisagkral@gmail.com. You can find me on Facebook at Lisa Moose Levy Kral or Dancing In My Head Photography. I have a website that I don’t like, so I don’t want to steer you there, but it’s another way to find me. It’s dancinginmyhead.com. I have someone who wants to help me with my website, and I know she will. Hannah, I know you’re listening, maybe. And I will ask you to help me, eventually. I’m on Instagram – dancinginmyheadphotography. So, I’m easy to find. I’m also that girl with the purple hair, so.
LM: And the purple car! Thank you so much for your time. This was super fun.
LK: Yeah, thanks. It was nice for you to get to know me. If anyone has any questions for me, I’m happy to talk, and spend quality time. And maybe I won’t take your picture, we can just talk.
LM: Sounds good. Awesome. Thank you, Lisa.
LK: Yeah, thank you.
LM: Something that Lisa says is: you can’t spell Palisade without Lisa. Just look, it’s right there in the middle. And you’ll never unsee it now.
If you’re enjoying this podcast, let me know by leaving a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or a follow or rating on Spotify. If you are interested in being on the show or if you have ideas for a future show, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com. The Postcards from Palisade podcast is available on all major podcast distribution platforms. Find us and subscribe now so you never miss an episode. Latest episodes and links to more information are also posted on the website postcardsfrompalisade.com. Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

E6: Spoke and Vine Motel and Fidel’s – Jody Corey and Jeff Snook

Jody Corey and Jeff Snook own and operate the Spoke & Vine Motel and Fidel’s, a cocina and bar in central Palisade. Jody and Jeff bought the old Mesa View Motel, remodeled it, and opened as the Spoke & Vine Motel in 2019. And then they very unexpectedly became restaurant owners when they bought the old Palisade Café and Wine Bar on two weeks’ notice, renovating that space into what is now Fidel’s. We talked about how they navigated both projects – relying on each other and the community for support, about the biggest surprises they encountered along the way, their favorite things about Palisade, and lots more.

For more info about the Spoke & Vine Motel and Fidel’s, check out their websites: fidelspalisade.com and spokeandvinemotel.com.

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Hello and welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that’s all about the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m your host, Lisa McNamara.

Today I’m talking with Jody Corey and Jeff Snook. Jody and Jeff own and operate the Spoke & Vine Motel and Fidel’s, a cocina and bar in central Palisade.

Jody and Jeff bought the old Mesa View Motel, remodeled it, and opened as the Spoke & Vine Motel in 2019. I caught up with them on their equivalent of a Friday afternoon after a busy weekend and we shared some laughs and great conversation.

They shared my favorite kind of construction budget story: (clip), We talked about how they adjusted to motel ownership life: (clip), And about how they very unexpectedly became restaurant owners when the old Palisade Cafe and Wine Bar suddenly went up for sale: (clip). Keep listening to find out what I asked Jeff that surprised him: (clip)

All that and more, on today’s Postcard From Palisade.

Jody Corey (JC): I’m Jody Corey.

Jeff Snook (JS): I’m Jeff Snook, Jody’s husband.

Lisa McNamara (LM): We could probably spend two hours talking about everything you do, but when you introduce yourselves to somebody, what do you say you do?

JS: Uh…

JC: We usually sigh!

JS: Yeah, we usually take a break, like a, kind of really think about exactly what we do.

JC: What is our purpose here.

JS: Yeah, what’s our purpose in life?! I think the first thing that I say is, hi my name’s Jeff. I usually don’t ever say my last name, I don’t know why, but, I say, hi my name’s Jeff. My wife and I own and operate a restaurant and a motel in Palisade. And yeah, that’s about it.

JC: I usually add that I dabble in real estate and consulting. Interior design. Whatever you want, we can take care of.

JS: That’s right.

LM: So I read the story on your website about Spoke and Vine – the origin story, the myth, the legend. Can you talk a little bit about that – like, why did you decide to buy a motel?

JC: So, I was in Steamboat for twenty years in total and throughout my time there, I worked for a real estate developer, I had an interior design business, and then a property management business. And with that background, I started reading about a lot of motels going through a renaissance period. Where people were once again interested in them. Most of them were built in the fifties and earlier, and I think they have some inherent interesting qualities as far as the architecture is concerned. So I started reading articles about people renovating these old motels and making them into – refreshing them and making them into something new and attractive and desirable again. And that was just really interesting to me.

However, we were in Steamboat, and there was a motel for sale up there and it was just way expensive and it was just a story that kind of kept playing in my head. That I really like taking something old and turning it into, breathing some new life into it.

So fast forward, I came on a girls trip and a girlfriend of mine, she had a bachelorette party here, and she talked about Palisade every time I saw her. She just loves Palisade. So for her birthday, we came down here, four girls, and we stayed at the Mesa View Motel. And we stayed there because there really were no other lodging options in Palisade. So we stayed there and we checked in and we were, we were a little nervous, to put it lightly. We checked in super late, like I think it was quarter to eleven at night. And the lobby experience was very – a bit sketchy, and then the room was not much better than that. And so we checked out the next day. And the girls went out for drinks that night, and I was like, you know what, Palisade is darling. We went wine tasting, we took our road bikes through the monument, we had a great time. I’m like – we should buy that place! And they were like – what are you talking about?

JS: Granted, Jody and I, we were married at this time. We are together, we were together. So go ahead.

JC: So, so anyway.

JS: So she asked the girls about buying a motel before she even talks to me. This is just how life goes.

JC: But anyway, this is how, this is how the idea…

JS: This is how Jody goes!

JC: This is how the ideas get created! So, anyway…

JS: So anyway!

JC: I sent a friend a message who lives is Palisade, I said, what do you know about the Mesa View Motel? That night. So she responded, she didn’t know much, whatever. And a few months later, it got listed and her name is Jen Sliney, she used to live here for years, she texted me and she says, the motel is for sale. And this was, I want to say now it’s probably December. So I was in property management, Jeff was the GM of a restaurant…

JS: That was like, October/November, because I had just started as a – oh no, excuse me, it was in like, May/June, because I had just started at Salt and Lime.

JC: No that, so anyway, we were getting into our tourist season. And Jeff’s like, shut up, you don’t, this is the last thing we need to be worried about. And so that spring, we came down in May, and we did the, it was this race, called the Gran Fondo, put on by Jen Sliney. We came down with a bunch of friends and our campers and we stayed at Base Camp. And it was a beautiful weekend, we did this beautiful bike ride, went to the distillery, we did all the things, rode around on our bikes and our cruisers, and we had a great weekend. And on the way out of town, I’m like Jeff, just, just do me a favor, let’s just drive by, the camper’s hooked up, we’re ready to get on the highway, he u-turns it. And we drive by the old Mesa View Motel. We drive by, there’s like people hanging out, all the doors are open, it, you know, if anybody lived in Palisade they know what I’m talking about. It just was not visually appealing. And Jeff was like, what are you, nuts? There definitely was a curse word in there somewhere.

JS: Yeah, I was like what the f– do you want to do with this place? What are you, nuts?

JC: The trip back to Steamboat is three hours. I had three hours to convince Jeff that this was a great idea. By the time we rolled into Steamboat…

JS: And those were my words, I said, you have three hours to convince me about this. I was like, and once we’re home, we’re home.

JC: And then by the time we got to Steamboat, we already had a trip booked that following weekend, lined up, we were going to go see the place.

JS: Yeah.

JC: Because it was still for sale. And we stayed at the…

JS: And we stayed at the Wine Country Inn for like two night. We brought our cruiser bikes, we like, checked it out. It was cool.

JC: We kicked the tires on the town. And we’re like, you know what? This is a town that we can see ourselves in.

LM: What was your objection to it originally?

JS: Uh, living in Steamboat. Disrupting our life. I had just started a job at a restaurant, Salt and Lime, I was a GM, and I was like, this is my dream job. Well, not my dream job, but a job that I want. You know, I was still very much invested in it and I had committed to them. I was like, if we do this, we have to drop everything. I’m going to be the one that has to leave. So I was like, I don’t really want to do that. And then she started selling it, and then she started talking about it, building it up. And then we came down here and it was like, OK, let’s put an offer in!

And they were asking an exorbitant amount of money for it, which they didn’t get. And, you know, we just spent that summer kind of doing the due-diligence. So I came back and forth from Steamboat to meet with the previous owners and plumbers and electricians and pest and everything you could think of. I mean, kicked the tires hard on it.

JC: And then we still had some surprises!

JS: Yeah, still do!

LM: You totally remodeled it, right?

JS: Yeah, it was interesting.

LM: What was the biggest surprise that you found?

JS: Biggest surprise? I mean…

JC: I think I would – I would like to say probably the volume of mold. The volume of mold on pipes that went…

JS: On interior walls…

JC: I think actually the biggest surprise was, we ripped, I don’t know, 85% of the place out. All the plumbing underneath the building. Even the drywall.

JS: All new electrical, all new plumbing.

JC: Some new studs. Like, we had to re-frame a lot of walls, including exterior walls.

JS: Ugh…

JC: But, the biggest surprise to me, as somebody that is in interior design and construction, when we went to rip out one of the rooms, it was linoleum, linoleum, carpet, then carpet! And I don’t know how much money you’re saving by laying carpet over old carpet! That just doesn’t even make sense.

JS: Well, the labor of pulling it out, the new foam backing…it’s a lot of money.

JC: I guess. We lost a quarter inch on just pulling it out – or, gained a quarter inch in ceiling height! So yeah, that was probably the biggest shock to me.

JS: Yeah, I think the biggest shock was the rot on floors that you would never see unless you tore the place apart. And obviously we were told there were never any leaks. And the amount of mold. And the amount of money…

LM: Yeah, in a dry climate, that is just not expected.

JS: Yeah, right, well the budget just jumped, exorbitantly.

JC: Yeah, our construction budget was a bit of a…you know…it was…

JS: A moving target.

JC: Totally a moving target. And we did a lot of the work ourselves. But what we, what helped was, we’re a husband and wife team, and the days Jeff was low, I was there being the cheerleader. And the days I was super low, he was the cheerleader. And luckily they didn’t happen – we weren’t both in the lows. Not frequently.

JS: Not frequently. Sometimes.

JC: Sometimes! But I think what we kept saying as like our mantra, like, we’re just doing this once. When it was an option to do it right or half-ass it, it was like, we’re just doing it once, we’re going to do it right. So, but we did take some extra time and spend some extra money to make sure that this motel can last another hundred years. That was important to us.

JS: Yeah.

LM: And did you do all the interior design and graphic design?

JC: I did the interior design. The graphic design we used a great friend of mine who I’ve been working with for years. She did the website, she had a great branding team, graphic designer.

JS: Tall Poppies?

JC: Yep, Tall Poppies. And then Jeff, he did, he GC-ed the project. We painted half of the exterior ourselves. Jeff, I don’t know, you…

JS: I don’t even remember what I did. I was, you know, I worked next to – we hired a carpenter who built the walls and I was just basically his assistant. I was the grunt. I swept up every day, I brought the wood in, I brought the flooring in, like I had everything essentially ready for the contractors to come in and do their thing and save on them having to babysit it and running around in circles. They needed an extra pack of whatever – paint? I’m going to go get it, you keep working.

JC: We built all the furniture ourselves, whether we ordered it. Seventeen vanities.

JS: Seventeen vanities, out of IKEA! Late nights at the motel by myself! And granted, I don’t know, that a lot of people probably don’t know this, but Jody was still living in Steamboat for the first year. While the motel was open. So I lived here by myself in a camper for the first two months in the parking lot of a shady motel.

JC: In the winter, with terrible heat!

JS: That I knew nothing about the town, so I’m like, waiting to get murdered, abducted, whatever.

JC: And really, not many people came over. Our first friend, for a long time, first and only friend, was Bennett Price. He’s a legend, we can’t say enough about him and Davy across the street at De Beque Winery, but they were, they welcomed us like family.

JS: Yeah. Also, Riley Parker was pretty cool.

JC: And Riley Parker.

JS: Riley kind of lives kind of catty corner to the west of us across the frontage road, man. And he would always – he’d see me out there, he’d always pull up. He’d introduce himself and from that point on it was, hey Jeff, how’s it going? You’re looking good man, you’re always working! And I was just like, thanks! They were just, they were cool, they were supportive. Because they both essentially live across the street from what used to be the Mesa View and it was an eyesore. So they saw the potential as well. So it was nice to kind of get the kudos from like, you know, the locals. It was cool.

LM: They were probably happy about what you were doing and glad you were here.

JS: And we didn’t know.

JC: Yeah, there was probably some nervousness from some people, like, what’s going on, here we go again. Waiting back and see what they see and allow us to do what we do. Which was great.

LM: I talked to Cody last week, from The Homestead, and one of my questions for her was a similar thing, what inspired you to buy a hotel and take this project on? And she said it was really seeing what you guys did and seeing the positive transformation of something that had been a really big part of Palisade and a visible part, and seeing it turned into something beautiful and productive and useful and that really inspired her to take on that project herself. And so I was curious what, like what does that mean to you, that you are now inspiring other people here?

JS: I mean, I think that’s the biggest compliment you can get, you know.

JC: Yeah, for sure.

JS: And their property is amazing. Like, and they’re amazing people. So it was kind of like – because we went down there for their grand opening. It was really cool to walk in and be like, this is what people probably felt like walking into our property when we were doing it. So kind of, to be on the other side of it, to kind of seeing what someone else was doing. Regardless of us doing it. But just to know what that property was and to walk into what it is now, is like, whoa. Nice work!

JC: And also know that there are blood, sweat, and tears. They went through all the emotions just as we did.

JS: Yeah. I’ve talked to him twice now, commiserated about something very similar now that we’re both open. And we’re just like, you too, huh? And we’re like yeah, OK, cool.

JC: Cody reached out to me a few months ago and introduced herself and we had coffee and I shared as much as I can with her to help her be successful and share the lessons that I’ve learned and hopefully, it’ll help them out. I’m sure they have their own lessons to learn as well. But we have a really good relationship with them and we’re really proud of them. And we went through it and there’s no reason to hold onto it. We all want the same thing for us, our families, for Palisade, for the community, for our guests. It’s an opportunity to show off why we live here in this beautiful place. And we’re attracting really cool tourists that are quote unquote getting it. Getting why Palisade is so very special. So yeah, it’s been fun to have them in the lodging community here in Palisade.

LM: Any flashbacks when you went to the open house?

JS: Absolutely!

JC: They were telling their stories and we were like, oh yep! We were there, we built tons of furniture too, you know, whatever it was. A lot of people ask about the motel renovation and they think it’s like, this glamorous thing. It wasn’t!

JS: No! I have a lot of pictures to prove it!

JC: You know, our lifestyle is not particularly glamorous. We have to have the phone on our nightstand. We have to be ready to drop plans, run in, and pitch in. I think it’s important. And we do run a business where we are ever-present, for better or for worse. We are always there to pitch in when it’s busy. We’re always there to take out the trash. We are never too proud. And that’s the kind of business I grew up in, in a family business that the owner has to do all of those things. And if you’re not prepared to do all those things, how can you expect your employees to do it? And in small business, we all have to touch every thing, you know? Everybody has to be able to help all the other parts of the operation for the ultimate success of everybody. It’s important.

LM: It really does feel like an extension of your home too, because you have the Motel Bar and then the outdoor patio. When we hang out there, it’s like you invite locals to hang out there and you also invite your guests in, but it also feels like it’s partly like that because you spend so much time there and it’s a homey environment.

JS: Well, we live there!

JC: It was our home!

JS: The bar was my home! Our home, excuse me. It was my home for the first year.

JC: It was the living room.

JS: Yeah, the bar was our living room. We literally, like, when we finally had the wood floors done and we could move in, we didn’t have any furniture and we just put the queen bed mattress right in the living room where the ice machine was right now. And it wasn’t open, obviously you couldn’t see into the lobby, but that double, that weird double door was there, you know? So you look back at it, and that’s, I think, outside from the mold, you asked that question earlier, like, I thought it was so weird that I was living in a motel.

JC: It was so weird that we were living in a motel! So everybody…

JS: A motel that we own, which was also weird! Because I never thought that was going to happen.

JC: Everybody that knows me knows that I’m from New York City. So, so, when we first opened the motel, people would be driving in, late night, and I’m out the window like, who’s in the driveway?! Like I just had that visceral reaction, like, someone’s coming in unannounced. And Jeff’s like, we own a motel! And I’m like oh right, right! OK, OK!

JS: They want to pay us money to stay here! For what we just did!

JC: OK, OK, we gotta get with it. Or you’re coming with your groceries and you know, the next thing you know, the guests are asking for directions…

JS: It’s July and the ice cream is literally dripping on the concrete because they want to talk about wineries. And I’m like, OK, I’ll do this! That’s what we do!

JC: Right, because we generally are helpful. That’s what we do. So, because we lived there, that was our only outdoor space. It’s not as if we hung out in the back alley – we had our family barbecues out there. So when we had people over or we’d just want to go out and drink coffee in the morning or go have a glass of wine, our guests were out and about.

Honestly, that was the best situation as far as market research. Our guests told us so much about what they enjoyed in Palisade, where they came from, what do they expect on vacations. We really got – we came away from those years with friends. Our motel guests became friends and there were many nights when you’d see us around town with, you know, the guests from number nine.

JS: We still hang out, we still – when people come to town, we still go out to dinner with them. From when they first stayed with us. Yeah, like Landon and Sarah. Cool people. It’s really cool.

JC: And that’s – when we built the motel, we were talking about, what is the identity, what kind of place do we want to build. It came from building a business that suits our personality and it has worked out because we have attracted people we generally connect with. We wanted it to be more than just a place to sleep. We wanted it to feel like a home away from home. That they were part of the Palisade community.

LM: And you’re building community around the motel as well, with bike nights and things like that. Can you talk a little bit about how you started that?

JS: It started with covid. Really. I mean, covid happened, and it was our first year. Our one year anniversary was May 1st of ‘20. Covid hit. And Jody had just moved to Palisade that February. So, very thankful for that. The motel was dead. We were scared, obviously. But then, we started to meet the community. This is when we really started to like, see Palisade people, because, you know, nobody else was here.

JC: And we had time!

JS: And we had time. So you know, people would be cruising around, talking, hanging out, whatever, and we were like, we’re outside, let’s do a cruiser ride. Let’s go cruise around town, come back, and then have a couple drinks. And it just kind of started happening from there. And then, I don’t even know how Pali Thai started. I think it was just kind of – hey, we should get a food truck!

JC: Yeah Mark, Mark from Pedicab…

JS: Oh, that’s what it was. We finally moved out of the motel and we has this space, and I was like, Jody we gotta do something with this space – let’s build a bar! And she was like, you want to build a bar? And I’m like, yeah, let’s build a bar! So we built a bar. Got a liquor license, did all the jazz. And then, then it started to really progress. Like oh, let’s go for a cruiser ride, get people to come to the bar and buy some drinks. Kept it reasonable. And then like, oh, let’s get a food truck. Like Pali Thai. A few other people. And then it really, Pali Thai just committed and they’re like, Monday nights are yours. And it was like, locals night. Just kind of started turning into something really cool. And it ebbs and flows like it does, but ultimately, everybody talks about it in the winter – like, alright, when are we gonna start this up?

JC: I mean, when we moved to town – Steamboat is a very special community and we had great friends up there, and a lot of the people in Steamboat are transplants, so many of us didn’t have family, and so your friends become your family. And so when we moved down here, we felt like we lost our family. And it was difficult for us, and again, we were working a bunch, to meet other locals. So we wanted to, selfishly, create a community for ourselves. And we thought this would be a good way to get people together, and for other people sort of like us that are looking to meet some other new friends to come and establish some relationships. So, it really has helped. And I know, like, going to the Monday night events, there are so many friends that are sitting together that didn’t know each other months ago. And now they, now they’re making plans outside of the Monday night.

JS: I think it’s still the Facebook page picture, of the original group, and we’re all like, oh, we should probably be wearing a mask. Like I think I have a mask on, and a few other people and we’re kind of spread out a little bit. So it’s kind of cool that that’s where it came from. It’s like, one of the positives from covid for us. Because, you know, covid was a negative for the motel for the first three, four months. It was really tough. And this was one thing that came out of it and it’s still happening three years later.

LM: I can’t even tell you how meaningful it was for Paul and me when we moved here. It was kind of the thing that made us say, we want to stay here.

JS: Oh cool.

LM: Because we didn’t intentionally move here originally. We just were looking for a place to buy and just needed an apartment, and this was the best one we saw, in Palisade, and then we started going on the rides and meeting people and I was like, wait, we just stumbled onto this community and this is exactly what I want. We’re going to stay here. So I think, for us, that was like, the biggest thing, in getting us into this community and just wanting to be part of it. So we really appreciate it.

JC: Oh that’s so cool, I didn’t know that.

JS: That’s awesome. And you know, Jody said earlier and I want to reiterate, Mark from Pedicab, he was right there. It was, it was probably more of his idea and we just had the space, so we offered that space up and it kind of all came together with it and it just developed. And it was cool to have Mark around for that – he’s still around today, but, he’s a cool dude.

JC: There really are a lot of cool people just rallying the community. The amount of things, like, at this point it’s kind of hard to pick what you’re going to go to, we have so many fun events and gatherings and…

JS: Right, we just had the Bluegrass Bash! It’s free music for people.

LM: For four days! Four nights!

JS: Right?! Four days of festival. People pay hundreds of dollars for that. It’s free in Palisade. Like, that’s cool.

LM: I guess before we move on to Fidel’s is there anything else about Spoke and Vine that you want to share, any other stories?

JS: I think Spoke and Vine is just a cool property. It’s important to us because it’s our baby. It’s the first thing we did together, as a couple. She was a business owner and I worked for other people. This was our first business together and we developed it together. Her idea and my sweat. Back and forth. I committed something to it!

JC: Wow, wow!

JS: It’s true! I still have the scars to prove it. You should see my lungs. But no, it’s a special property for us. I think. I think it’s special.

JC: Yeah.

JS: And we’re, we have a great staff over there right now, and they’re pretty much running it. Which is allowing us, which allowed us, to slide into the restaurant industry. Which we never thought we were going to do, being that we had worked in it before. We’re like, we’re not going to run a restaurant. Are you nuts? And so, maybe that’s a good transition into Fidel’s?!

LM: Yeah! It’s a great transition. So Fidel’s, when I first came here as a tourist, it was the Palisade…

JS: Cafe! And wine bar.

LM: What made you say, you know what, we’re going to take this on?

JS: (long inhale) Again, pausing with the question, that’s what we do. We heard about it. And, we, I don’t know, um, go ahead, you go. I’m stumbling for words right now. OK. Here we go! Here comes my Queens girl! Queens is out!

JC: So we were at the Monday night cruiser ride at Spoke and Vine and it was one of the busier nights, and the rumor mill, it gets…

JS: It was the first week of May.

JC: First week of May, yeah. So, the rumor mill came around and we heard that John Sabal was looking to sell the Palisade Cafe, and if he didn’t sell the Palisade Cafe by the end of the month, he was going to close.

JS: New lease starting June 1.

JC: We had literally just opened up the bar. So we had grand plans – we’re going to open up the bar and whatnot. The paint is barely dry at this point on this venture that is the investment in the bar. And we look at each other and we’re like, oh no. Palisade…and I wonder who would buy it, and in a month?

JS: Less than a month!

JC: We’re going into tourist season, and it’s sometimes a struggle to find, you know, food on the busier weekends in Palisade. So we were just worried about our guests. And selfishly worried about us, that we were going to lose another food option. Jeff and I typically like to eat out. And so we were very worried and reached out to John to ask if it’s true. Often when we hear rumors, Jeff and I are the people that, we just go right to the source. So, anybody listening, you know if you’ve ever received a phone call from us asking.

JS: Yeah, this is what we heard.

JC: Right, this is what we heard.

JS: Let’s just kibosh it now.

JC: So I called John and he said yep, yep, it’s for sale. So I’m like, OK, well, just kind of kicking around the idea, just so we know…

JS: Let’s meet.

JC: Let’s meet. I’ll have my list of questions, you bring whatever you have to show me… I think it was like, the next Monday…

JS: It was two days. It was the next Monday night, I think, because I was working the bar and you guys met in room ten. Yeah, I remember that part now. But you guys met, and then came out, and he was like oh, someone else is buying it.

JC: Yeah, so he shows up for his meeting and someone else is buying it.

JS: All right!

JC: We’re like, OK, great. And then we started thinking, we started thinking, and then we heard, maybe the other deal, not sure if that’s going to go through and then, ah, so a few weeks later, or a week later, I go to Jeff and I’m like, what do you think? Should we, should we do it? Should we try? Don’t know? So we kicked it around for a little bit, and then, and then two weeks, halfway through May, we’re like, let’s do this. We got a lawyer involved, look over the contracts, and here we are, buying a restaurant, two weeks notice, we’re closing on June 1.

JS: So we had to work with John, not only for the restaurant, but the landlord. So it was a really quick transition.

JC: And a little complicated!

JS: And a little complicated. Because the landlord was like, well, hold on, maybe I don’t want you in there. Maybe I want to find someone else, because now the lease is up, it’s like, fair game. So we’re like, oh crap. One more hiccup. Because we had already worked it out with John, the restaurant owner, we’re going through the process. Then we’re like, oh wait, right. He might not. So he interviewed like three people, we told him what our vision potentially was, and he actually chose us. And he – the landlord lives in Palisade, he knows us, he knows what we did with the motel. So, he, it was kind of a no-brainer for him, because he knows who we are. But he still had to go through the due diligence for him. It was, yeah, so here we go…

JC: So here we are…

JS: We closed on the Palisade Cafe on June 1st, which was my birthday. It was a great birthday present! Best birthday present ever.

JC: Here we go, we bought you another job! So we got…

JS: Bought you another job…

JC: So Jeff, we close…

JS: We come in, we do inventory…

JC: And we were just, again, it’s the same thing…

JS: Interviewed the staff…

JC: It was like, what are we doing here right now?

JS: We didn’t want it to close.

JC: So, we closed, we had no runway if you will. To really know the operation, see what was going on, and both of us had pretty extensive restaurant backgrounds. So it wasn’t that hard, as far as the operating, but we inherited their whole staff, and you know, they were great. And we just thought, let’s keep it open for the summer, let’s see what we see, see what the staff is telling us, see what our guests are telling us…

JS: We’re not going to change the menu on the staff that’s been doing it for so many years.

JC: We didn’t have a vision, we didn’t have a concept. So we’re like, let’s just, let’s just keep running.

JS: They were nervous, they didn’t know what was going to go on. So they were very questioning to us, like who are you, what are you doing here? So of course we paused and thought about our answer. And then we got to it pretty quick. We knew what was great about the cafe – we also knew what wasn’t great about the cafe. So we focused on what we thought wasn’t great to kind of build it up for the summer. And I think we did. We had a great team, who, you know, you’re always going to lose some people, you’re always going to gain some people. We ultimately had a great team that got us through that season and then we decided to close. We finally talked about what our vision was going to be for what is now Fidel’s. Didn’t have the name at the time. And then closed and then we just started ripping the place apart. And that was a little nerve-wracking, because we didn’t own the building. So now we’re putting all this money, we’re investing all this time and money, into a building that we didn’t own.

JC: When Jeff and I discussed the concept of what we wanted to see, for us, when we would go out in Steamboat, we actually went to Salt and Lime, the place that Jeff ultimately came to be the GM. But when we travel, we seek out tacos and tequila and mezcal. And that’s always been our thing for the last seven-ish years. So, we thought, OK, what could Palisade use? And for us…

JS: In our opinion.

JC: In our opinion, we wanted to create a restaurant that was mid-range but had table service. And had a really nice bar where you could just come in and grab a drink. So we designed the menu so that it can appeal to locals and tourists alike. For us, consistency is probably the most important thing if you’re going to attract locals. We want to make sure the drinks are always made the same, the food is always the same.

JS: The service is always the same. Consistency with the product and the service. The personality. And that’s very much what it is, which is very much what Spoke and Vine was about when opened that. That’s what we’re about.

JC: Yeah. We don’t feel that there is many options for a Mom and Pop restaurant that is kind of middle of the road that has table service. So that was what we were hoping would set us apart.

JS: And again, since covid, a lot of restaurants had to shift. And this is absolutely not a dig on anybody for doing what they do, but we want table service when we go out. I mean, we go to places that has counter service and we enjoy it, it is what it is and we know what we’re getting into. But when we go out to eat, we want to have a server, we want to have a conversation with that person, we want to hear the story of the restaurant or the story of, or whatever their story was, and so it was important to us to get that back. Especially in Palisade, like, not that nobody else is doing that, but that’s what we wanted for Palisade. We were a little nervous, opening tacos, tequila, and mezcal! It’s different. It’s just different.

JC: It’s different. And then, the Palisade Cafe, we were the twelfth owners of the…

JS: Thirteenth owner! Palisade Cafe 12.0 was John, then he changed it to the Cafe Wine Bar. We were the 13.0.

JC: It was eleven, I thought.

JS: I don’t think so. Check the records!

JC: It was Palisade Cafe 11.0, we were the twelfth owners of the Palisade Cafe…

JS: No, no, I’m pretty sure it was thirteen, because I was like, we cannot be the thirteenth owner.

LM: Is this where they like, skip the thirteenth floor, so…

JC: Totally. It wasn’t the thirteenth. 11.0. So, anyway.

JS: OK.

JC: We were…

JS: Sure. I’m wrong.

JC: So, as the twelfth owners of the Palisade Cafe, I think every owner put their own little spin on the place. And after awhile, the menu was a little all over the place. As was the décor. And the worry was, through that first summer, people would come in and they’d say, are you going to put back that Ruben that the fourth owner had on the menu? And I’d look at them like, I don’t even know who that was! So, what we felt like was that we were always going to be compared to the eleven previous owners, for better or for worse. And for us, we thought, let’s just scratch that plan entirely and build something, again, unique, fresh, that, that embodies our personality and our taste. The worry always is, are our tastes in line with what can keep the doors open? You know, restaurants are…

JS: Pay the bills, keep people employed… all that.

JC: Restaurants are fickle. You know, you might like it, but are you going to go? For us, in a tourism economy, Palisade is busy-ish from the middle of April until the middle of October. So you make money and you have to squirrel it away and hope that though the winter, you know, you lose less. And we really rely on the locals to keep us afloat year-round. When we decided on a concept, we kept asking ourselves, would they want to come here in January? Are the locals excited enough to come in February?

JS: And they were!

JC: We’ve had a lot of locals, a lot of the same faces showing up.

JS: From De Beque, Palisade, all the way out to Mack.

JC: Glade Park!

JS: Like what, oh my God, thank you! Like, I want to hug these people that are driving all the way in here for this restaurant. Like, that’s amazing. And again, Jody said it earlier, but we built Spoke and Vine the way we like to travel. We built Fidel’s the way we like to eat. We worked with a consultant on our menu. We worked on the cocktails. But it was ultimately how we enjoy our lives. It goes back to, welcome to our family. This is who Jody and Jeff are.

LM: Right, and you’re spending a lot of time there, so you’d better like the food and you’d better like the drinks!

JS: A lot! Right!

JC: Right! Absolutely!

JS: Yeah, if I’m not gonna eat it, why would I ask anybody else to eat it or drink it? I eat a taco pretty much every day! Luckily this is a podcast and not a video.

LM: There’s no taco belly! What’s your favorite taco?

JS: The bomb-ass fish, man! It’s, I love battered fish. I mean, I like fish. And then, carne asada, oh, it’s all good.

JC: I think the cauliflower taco.

JS: The cauliflower’s good.

JC: It’s different, it’s fresh. I feel like I’m eating veggies without having to eat a salad.

JS: You can still call it a taco! It’s in a tortilla.

JC: Totally.

LM: And you have an extensive tequila and mezcal selection, and it seems like you are so into researching everything there is to know about mezcal and tequila, and actually going to Oaxaca and places like that and touring and tasting and bringing things home. You can really see the passion for that in what you guys have.

JC: Absolutely. We really love any agave spirits, and Jeff is the tequila expert in-house and I am the mezcal expert and we love sharing our knowledge and talking to other people who are into it. We knew we were going to have an extensive list of mezcal and tequila, and then we came up with the idea – again, we’re in Palisade and people are used to tasting wine, you know. The brewery scene is big obviously, where you can have flights. So we were like, how does this, people who come here are generally interested in comparing. Being into the food and liquor scene. So that’s where we came up with the idea of doing the flights. We see many tables just getting a full flight or a half flight even, and just having that conversational piece to compare them side by side. And there’s so much to know about the spirits and we’re constantly educating ourselves and having cool conversations with our guests as well.

JS: And you know, it is hard. It’s really hard to go to Oaxaca once a year. It’s, it’s a tough life, you know. We’ve been there twice now, and we’re already planning next winter to go down with a couple of our employees who want to go and learn. I mean, I would never have gone away with my boss, like, what?! Are you crazy? These people want to go away with the owners of the restaurant who they work side by side with, like we don’t spend enough time together? Let’s go! That’s awesome.

LM: I mean, it sounds good. I’ll go!

JS: Let’s go! We should do a Oaxaca Palisade trip!

JC: I keep thinking about that.

JS: We’ll do the itinerary, you guys get your lodging…

JC: We know hospitality, we can put together a tour.

JS: Yeah, I don’t know if I want to do that full-time, though.

JC: Not full time! January!

JS: I mean, full-time for the two weeks while we’re there.

JC: We do really want Fidel’s to be a local spot. So there are a few things that we’ve done to help foster that relationship and show that we’re here for you, because you’ve been here for us. We only take reservations for the tables inside, but the bar we don’t take reservations for, and then we don’t take reservations for the patio, because we want people to be able to walk in and those sections can turn over a little quicker. We might not have that table right that second or a bar seat right that second, but that’s our hope, is to keep the locals counting on us – that they can get in the car, jump on a bike, walk on down and odds are we can get them in. We also do that…

JS: The rewards program.

JC: So we do a rewards program…

JS: I don’t know much about it anymore. I’m not the front of the house. I am solely in the back of the house at this point.

JC: So we have a rewards program at Fidel’s, where, if you leave your phone number and you pay with a credit card, it will remember your credit card, and basically – or if you pay cash, we can do the phone number – but what it is, if you spend $100, you get $10 off your next time in. So it’s basically 10% off. And that really is that thank you to the locals for helping us, sustain us through the winter. We know we’re going to be a seasonal business, but we really would love to be able to keep our staff employed through the winter. This winter we were nervous we were going to lose a lot of great people, but we limped along good enough and we were able to keep our stars from the season. That just propels us into a much better and smoother tourist season when it does happen. They’re trained and ready.

JS: We do Sparkle Donkey shots for people on their birthday. If no one knows what Sparkle Donkey is – it’s a really tasty vanilla reposado tequila. It’s really good. It’s fun to drink. It’s fun to say.

LM: Oo! I’ll be there on my birthday in September!

JC: Yeah! Please do!

LM: So the only negative feedback that I ever see about Fidel’s is, occasionally, people are like, oh, it’s so expensive. But I think I know a lot of the reasons for that, but how do you respond to those people?

JS: Um, there’s Jody’s response and then there’s Jeff’s response. You know, I get it. When we built the menu, we priced the food out and we literally said to ourselves, are we really going to have an $8 taco? Yes, we are. We’re going to have an $8 taco. We’re going to have more than one. Because of the type of food that we’re doing – scratch kitchen, everything’s prepped. Daily. Every other day. The type of fish that we’re using – wahoo, flown in, fresh. And the amount that it takes to actually run a restaurant. The invoices that we get, from our purveyors? They have surcharges. They have gas surcharges, regular gas surcharges, delivery fees. So, once our menu is set, we’re pretty much set, but everybody else gets to adjust their prices. So we have to balance that act out throughout the year, because we’re not going to make the same amount of money that we’re going to make in July as we are in December. So it has to balance out. And if it’s, if people don’t understand that, if they’ve never done that or realize that, then of course they’re going to ask, why’s it so expensive?

JC: There are so many extras that go into a brick and mortar operation. The fact that we’re a Mom and Pop restaurant – we don’t have the economies of scale that an Outback can have, or a chain restaurant can have.

JS: The buying power.

JC: The buying power, the advertising power, our software – our reservation software, the fact that you can make a reservation, actually does in fact cost us money for those conveniences. It does add up. Our bookkeeping, everything. It’s important that everyone knows that all of our pricing is based on the cost of running a business. And unfortunately, if we drop our prices, we’re not going to have the margins to sustain a business or have Jeff and Jody literally under the roof, making sure everything is right. That’s where that extra money does go somewhere. It sustains the heartbeat, it sustains the level of service. We have a host or a hostess. We have an expo, we have extra bartenders, all of these things. You know, pouring craft cocktails where literally, we pay, our day bartender is squeezing juice all morning.

JS: The hand-squeezer press!

JC: That, you know, it costs money. The cost of limes, the cost of avocados. It’s not taken lightly. We know, if we dropped our prices, we could be busier, but we might not be able to keep the doors open. So it’s very important, and I totally get that, to some people it is expensive because, you know, it is. And going out to eat is considered a luxury.

JS: But that’s also why it’s so important to us to have the service. Because that costs money too. We pay our people well. They’re taken care of. There’s a lot of hidden fees that people don’t know about. And while everybody else can adjust their fees, we can’t bounce that menu back and forth. I mean, that’s just not how it goes. It’s just not. And we have to swallow that very large pill sometimes to say, this isn’t the month for us, because we got all these extra charges. And you know, that’s just what it is.

JC: You know, we’re just one lowly little restaurant. We can’t strong arm our vendors. And that’s not who we are.

JS: Yeah, we want to work together with everybody, not against them. I’m not asking anybody to cut their price. I get it. I’m a business owner, I know what it takes, your price is your price. I’ll shop it, but your price is your price. I respect that. Much like our price is our price.

LM: I think it’s interesting too, because at the same time, people often compliment the service, and the food, and it’s like – these things go together. You’re keeping these staff because you’re paying them a living wage. And you’re keeping the restaurant open through the winter for the locals – and I appreciate that – and those things cost money. So yeah, I was just curious about that, because again, it’s an easy thing just to throw off as a complaint without understanding what goes into it.

JS: And I have to say, thank you for asking that question. We’ve done a few of these – the podcasts, and interviews – and I don’t know if anybody’s really ever – we’ve talked about money and vendors and all that, but nobody’s ever really directed the question towards why. So it’s a good opportunity for us – and it’s not a defense – we’re explaining it. There’s a lot more going on. So thank you for asking the question.

LM: You’re welcome. That’s me, I always want to know why. That’s why I wanted to do this.

JS: And we’ll talk to people left and right. If they ask the questions, we’ll give them the answers. We have nothing to hide from people!

LM: I’m taking up a ton of your time, but I just have a couple more questions. I think we’ve touched on this already, but what do you like most and least about running your own businesses?

JC: I…

JS: I’m gonna see how this goes. How different or alike our answers are.

JC: I always thought I would own my own business. As a kid, I was the one that was always rallying my friends to sell something, do something, invent something. I think it suits me, personally. Somebody said this and it’s always resonated: I work 80 hours a week so I don’t have to work 40. And I love the flexibility around that. I think of myself as an adult that knows how to manage my to-do list, so when my work is done, then I get to play. And if something needs to get done, well then, play needs to hang tight a little bit. And I really love employing people. I love having teammates, I love having people in it alongside of me, pushing me to create something and be better. I think that that’s important. And owning your own business, you have the opportunity that, if you work hard, you can get rewarded for it.

I think the worst part about owning your own business is, you can’t press pause on it. It’s very difficult to take a day off. It’s very difficult to relax your mind and switch off and think about other things. Jeff and I, and luckily, I’ve always liked my jobs and I’ve always liked the work I do, so we talk about work a lot. But, it’s a very difficult thing to press pause on.

JS: Yeah. I think the worst part for me is – and, it’s not even the worst, I guess. It’s just the time commitment. It’s 100% of your life. That’s what it is and we signed up for it. I accept it. But sometimes, you know, you’re just tired. You’re just tired, and you need a break.

LM: You can’t call in sick.

JS: Yeah, and you don’t get to call in sick. Unless you have covid. So, some days you pray you have covid. I’m kidding. Knock on wood. But, you know, it’s just the level of involvement, especially when you say, owning your own business. Hospitality business is different. A restaurant, a motel, because you have your employees, you have your guests, and if you don’t, if you’re not on with one, then you’re probably on with the other, vice versa.

So the best part is also that. I’m on with my guests, I’m on with my employees. Like, we have a really cool group of people that work here, as well as at the motel. And we hang out with all of them. And really, the ultimate best part of having our own business, especially hospitality, is the amount of time I get to spend with people. I like people, I really do. I get burnt out, of course, but I can recharge. But I get energy from talking to people and selling what we do and people asking about us and wanting to hear about us. That’s energy. That’s a positive thing, that people want to know about me. Like, what? Like, I grew up in Delaware! It’s kinda cool. Lot of cool stuff. And it’s hard to look at up close, and get out of your own way when you’re running your own business and just in the mix constantly.

JC: I was gonna say for you, that, I was gonna say for you, that the worst part is, Jeff wakes up every day, trying to figure out how the world is going to screw him.

JS: I’m not…!

JC: So everyday he wakes up and he knows something is going to break, someone’s going to call in sick, some delivery isn’t going to be made, and guess who’s going to pick up the slack? Jeff. So, Jeff lives in constant angst that something is going mess up his day.

JS: That’s not just this! That’s the way I grew up…

JC: And when you own your own business, the buck stops there. Like, you have to fix the problem. It’s only on you. You’re not calling in a lifeline. At the end of the day, you have to take care of it. And that is also the greatest thing. Because you are the problem solver. And that’s cool. People do look at you to fix it.

JS: Yeah, there’s just not enough time, really, for what we do in the day. Honestly. I wish I had more time, and more energy to do all the things. But yeah, I’m a glass is half-empty guy. Like, what’s going to happen today that I have to fix? That’s where I live. It always has been, and, you know, that’s just what it is. Thanks Jody. Like, my phone’s been ringing off the hook, so I can just imagine what I’m going to walk into when I go down…

LM: Well, I’ll just ask you one more question. What’s your favorite part about the Palisade community, or what’s your favorite … or wait, well, I want to ask you two more. What’s your favorite part about the Palisade community?

JS: My favorite part about the Palisade community? Um, I think, probably the chillness of it. Palisade’s – not that Steamboat wasn’t, but Palisade’s different because it’s small. We have 1,500 [LM note: 2,500+ actually] people that live in this town and it’s pretty chill, for the most part, it’s pretty chill. You have golf carts riding down the road for Pete’s sake. You can ride your bike without getting yelled at. The people that you do interact with that are out on the streets – they’re cool. They’re nice people. And I think that’s what I like the most about it. I walk into the grocery store – granted, I go into the grocery store about five times a day! But they know me. They’re like, oh, it’s the guy from Fidel’s! There he is again!

JC: There he is again, picking up salt.

JS: So, you know, I think that’s my….

JC: What was that question?

LM: What’s your favorite thing about the Palisade community?

JC: I think my favorite thing about the Palisade community is how supported we feel. At first, like I said, we didn’t know many people for quite sometime, but after we started getting out and about, there are other business owners in particular – Gary and Linda up at Restoration, Matt and Ashley over at Peche

JS: Mary at Slice O’Life, Rondo at the bike shop, Mark with Pedicab

JC: Edwin and Shari at TWP, like so many people, like we’re totally going to forget…

JS: Mora and Bran, formerly known as Mesa Park. Like, really cool people!

JC: Really cool people, and…

JS: You!

LM: Aww, what?

JS: You guys come in, you’re doing this! This is supporting us. That, that’s…

LM: This is the community that I want to live in, right? I want to build the community that I want to live in, too.

JC: And I think, more people have helped build us up when we’re low than have put us down. And have reassured us to follow our instincts, keep moving forward, and I hope that we do that for them, and that’s the type of people that we want to associate and also that we want to be.

JS: Yeah. We want to support people as best we can.

LM: So when you do get that rare day off, what do you do?

JC: I would say, when we have a day off, we often…

JS: Wake up, drink coffee on our deck, talk about work…

JC: Talk about work! Then we’ll walk our dogs, we’ll take Fidel for a walk.

JS: Yes, Fidel! Fidel’s still alive, that’s not a tribute restaurant. He’s still very much alive.

LM: What does he think about having a restaurant named for him?

JS: It’s nerve-wracking. He lives much like Jeff, in constant angst. Like, he’s not sure what kinda pressure’s on him.

JC: So, we’ll take him for a walk down at Riverbend. I have a horse in Fruita. I will often go out and ride my horse out in Fruita, maybe go trail riding.

JS: I have a dual sport motorcycle I like to ride. Cruise around. Go for a bike ride. Play pickleball – we love to play pickleball.

JC: Oh, our courts here in Palisade are amazing! And then grab a cocktail and some dinner. Just out in Palisade. Cruise around and, our best day is when we don’t have to leave Palisade.

JS: Yeah. Yeah. Unless we’re going to Mexico.

JC: You’re smiling as you think about both things.

LM: It sounds like a nice day!

JC: That would be lovely!

JS: I’m looking forward to that day off in January, next year! It’s going to be a good day. I’m drinking a lot of coffee that day.

LM: Thank you both so much for your time, for sharing your stories. It was really cool.

JS: Yeah of course, it’s fun. We appreciate it.

If you listened to the last three episodes, you may have noticed a common theme. Nelly, Cody and Mike, Jeff and Jody – they all saw something that wasn’t working as well as it should be or that was in need of repair and they said to themselves – you know what, I think I can fix this. I can make this place beautiful. They all saw their vision through ups and downs until they achieved their goals. Because if not them, then who?

If you’re enjoying this podcast, let me know by leaving a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or a follow or rating on Spotify.

If you are interested in being on the show or if you have ideas for a future show, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com.

The Postcards from Palisade podcast is available on all major podcast distribution platforms. Find us and subscribe now so you never miss an episode. Latest episodes and links to more information are also posted on the website postcardsfrompalisade.com.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.

E5: The Homestead – Cody Butters Lewis

Cody Butters Lewis and her husband Mike own and operate The Homestead, the newest lodging establishment in Palisade. Cody and Mike bought the property in 2021 and spent the next 14 months renovating it. Cody and I talked about all the ups and downs of that process, what has changed in Palisade since she grew up here, what she values most about the Palisade area, and more.

For more info about The Homestead, check out their website: thehomesteadpalisade.com.

Music by Romarecord1973 from Pixabay.

Subscribe:

SpotifyAnchorApple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsCastBoxPocketCastsPandoraAmazon MusiciHeartRadioRSS

Transcript:

Hello and welcome to Postcards from Palisade, the podcast that’s all about the people and places that make this slice of western Colorado wonderful. I’m your host, Lisa McNamara.

Today I’m talking with Cody Butters Lewis. Cody and her husband Mike own and operate The Homestead, the newest lodging establishment in Palisade.

Cody and Mike bought The Homestead in 2021 and spent the next 14 months renovating it. We talked about all the ups and downs of that process: “The nights were hard, when we were looking at the bills and how we were going to do it. And honestly, I have no idea how we did it. It was the hardest year of my life.”

And about what has changed about Palisade since Cody grew up here: “We were a more well-kept secret. We’re not so well-kept anymore. But that’s OK, because if you don’t grow, you’re stagnant.”

And what Cody values most about the Palisade area: “Our agricultural heritage is the most important thing to Palisade and we wouldn’t have what we have without the Colorado River. I’m so proud that I went to school with people that are now farmers. We all benefit from them keeping it so beautiful here and having this agricultural piece in Palisade is special.”

Keep listening to hear all that and more.

Thanks so much for spending some time with us today.

Cody Butters Lewis (CBL): I’m Cody Butters Lewis, and I’m a Palisade native, but just moved back about 14 months ago. My husband and I and our two kids bought the old Palisade Lodge, it’s now The Homestead, a little boutique inn/motel. I also have another job that helps pay the bills, but we won’t talk about that right now, we’ll just talk about this!

Lisa McNamara (LM): Sounds good! So what made you decide to open a lodge and buy this property?

CBL: Oh, so many things. Love the hospitality industry, love people. Some might say it’s just kind of a built-in, natural instinct for me, right, to just take care of people. Love that. But I’m also kind part of the post-COVID re-centering of your soul and life, and we were living in Texas and we had had our second child, and was just feeling the need to get back to Colorado, get closer to family, but also trying to figure out how to make a living here.

And I had actually been looking at this property for probably close to a decade, and was kind of waiting to see if it would ever go on sale. It never did. Actually, I just came and knocked on the door of the owners, and asked if they would ever be willing to sell, I was alive and willing to buy! But was very respectful in doing so, I wasn’t trying to make them feel like I was being pushy in any way. But that’s kind of the beginning part of the story!

LM: And so, when you knocked on the door, what did they say?

CBL: Sooooo…

LM: Eventually, obviously, they said OK!

CBL: Eventually would be the key word! We, well she, the owner, she was a little bit taken aback, but she said they were interested in selling. Her and her husband had gotten ill and just were having a hard time keeping up with the place. It also hadn’t been operating as a lodge since probably 2007, is what I can kind of deduce from their paperwork. And so, she said she was interested and she said she was talking to another private buyer and again, ever so delicately, I said, well, can you give me a range? What you’re looking for? And you know, I had no idea whether we could do it or not. It just kind of, the conversation just evolved as we were standing on the front porch. And so she gave me a range and I went right to the – I left here and gave her my card and I called the local real estate folks over at Craig Realty – Fruit & Wine, excuse me! And I was like, what is going on? What is this, is this, is that, who’s trying to buy this place?!? And trying to figure everything out. And without getting into the, like, all the crazy details, we ended up getting under contract I think three months later, without ever stepping foot inside the property! I’d only really been on the front porch.

LM: Wow! So what was it about this specific place?

CBL: I mean, truth be told, watching what Jeff and Jody did with the Spoke and Vine was incredibly inspirational. I mean, I had been going by that motel my whole life and kind of just stopped paying attention to it, just because it was there. And to see them come in with a vision and take, you know, a pretty key part of Palisade and make it beautiful and fun and relevant was completely just – I was like, why didn’t I think of that?! But I couldn’t take on a project of that size. This felt like something that maybe we could do. Again, had no idea if we could do it or not as we were moving through the process. So that was a big thing.

And then again, paying attention to hospitality and that being something that is important to me and my husband. This felt like something that would be a good opportunity for us.

LM: And how many rooms is it?

CBL: So, we technically have six bedrooms but it’s five units. We have four rooms with two queen beds and then two rooms with a king bed, and then five and six are joined by a door so it’s technically a two-bedroom suite.

LM: That’s a nice size. It seems really manageable in terms of the number of people you’d have here on a regular basis.

CBL: Yeah, Spoke and Vine I think has 18 rooms. So six rooms, and a house. We do have the house, too. Oh and that was the other part, right? Like, this is a cool situation where it’s our business and our home, so, I don’t know very many places that operate like this, so uniquely. We can do it because we live here as well as have the Homestead as our business.

LM: When did you close on the property?

CBL: Let’s see, it was December 17th, 2021, and we started construction December 19th, 2021!

LM: So you closed, you got over here, you saw it for the first time, and two days later you started demoing?

CBL: Well, our first walk-through was actually, so we got it under contract in August of 2021 and we came over, we flew up from Texas and did an inspection and a walk-through. So that was the first time that we actually got to get inside the building. We didn’t know that the house was a duplex, so two kitchens, two living rooms, it was split in half, two different entries. Very, you know, unique layout. The rooms, you know, they had a lot of stuff in there and things weren’t working properly. There were things leaking – the toilet and the sink and we kind of had to think the worst as far as septic system and what we would have to do there.

We did do a commercial inspection at the same time, so we had all kinds of engineers out here, checking things out for us to let us know if, you know, the bones were good. Was the plumbing OK, like how much would we really have to get into this. And actually, the bones were good! So the bones were good, but we did end up having to replace damn near everything!

LM: Right, because you’re not on the city sewer. Are you on city water?

CBL: We’re on Palisade water, thank goodness. Best water on the planet!

LM: So the sewer was the only thing you had to handle yourself…

CBL: Yeah, our septic system, so we have a septic on the house and then a septic on the back six, is what we call it. And we had to redo the septic for the lodge but not for the house. So this was in working order, but we had to replace all of the plumbing, all of the electrical, water heaters, all the things. I didn’t buy one toilet, I bought nine toilets!

LM: Excuse me sir, I need to buy these toilets in bulk!

CBL: I know, I was like, sweating in Home Depot, can I have nine of these? It’s just a weird experience, you know. And again, we were – the nights were hard, when we were looking at the bills and how we were going to do it. And honestly, I have no idea how we did it. We financially really stretched ourselves out, but with projections it will recover. And we will, we’re going to do just fine, and the support of the community has been amazing. From our neighbors – you know, coming into a place that hadn’t been running as a business for quite some time, I didn’t know if that was going to be well-received, and it was. Everybody’s been so great, and so we’re really, really fortunate in that aspect. And then, all the local business owners, everybody that’s been willing to – whether it’s been giving us advice, or helping us get our name out there. It’s been fantastic. So I’m not worried – we’re, we’re going to be OK.

LM: Yeah, but it’s scary at the start. And overwhelming in the middle of a renovation project, especially this big.

CBL: Incredibly.

LM: You said there’s a good story about the renovation, or probably good stories. How long did it take?

CBL: It was about 14 months, I think, when we first started working with our general contractor. And my husband was here – and when I say our general contractor, it was him and his father out here every day, working themselves, which I just thought was so cool. And it was my husband and his brother out here working, and then it was the septic guy and his dad were working, and I got some fun pictures, and I was like, yeah, it’s a full family affair out here! It was very – I don’t know if intimate’s the word – but it just, you know, felt right. Like, it was really cool. It was a family affair.

So yeah, our first plan was, I think we were told about five months of renovation. And then I’m not sure if you know this, but 2022 was a rough year when it comes to construction costs! Everything was crazy. It took longer because we waited at certain stages for prices to come down or things to shift a little bit. We were fortunate to have people on our side there too, to have the wherewithal to help us save a little bit of money and try get it done within budget. Which, we were definitely not within budget, but, that’s mostly my fault. It’s mostly my fault.

LM: It’s really hard!

CBL: It’s so hard! I don’t even know why we have a budget at this point. So. But it’s done! So there you have it!

LM: Yes, you’re on the other side of it now. What was the weirdest thing that you found through the process?

CBL: Oh my gosh, that’s a tall question. I uh, well, we had a wasp problem that was attacking everybody that was working on the property. And then, I told you about the carpenter ants. Not on here! So we had our hot tub – our hot tub? We had a hot tub in the gazebo, and it was full of carpenter ants, which, by the way, is not fun to like, get in there and try to remediate. So that was dangerous, and yet handled.

One of my favorite stories was, so when we closed on the property and I hired the general contractor two days later, the next day – oh no, I think it was a few days later, because we had to clear out the garage, it was full of stuff. But we needed to unload our two U-Hauls from Texas. So they were sitting out in front of my dad’s house on G Road. We had to get all the stuff out of the garage so we could unload our things.

So we had all of our friends come over one afternoon and they unloaded those U-Hauls in an hour and a half. It was amazing, it was like a well-oiled machine. And I had already had a big dumpster dropped off and because we got done so quickly, my girlfriends just looked around, and just started picking up stuff and throwing it in the dumpster. I think it was almost like a therapy session! But there was, you know, a lot of leftover items and trash and furniture and so many things. We filled that dumpster in like less than two hours and we were having a blast doing it. That was a good day, but it was like the beginning of a very long journey, but that was a good day.

LM: Was there ever a moment that you were just, like, I don’t want to do this.

CBL: Yes. Many moments, I will be honest about that. I mean, when I, ugh, I almost have to fight back tears sometimes! But it was the hardest year of my life. And hard on our marriage and again, without the support of my dad – we lived over at the house I grew up in my whole life, rent free, thank god. My kids stayed in my old bedroom together, but they were troopers. They were so happy and had a blast. They loved staying at grandpa’s farm. Because you worry about that, right? Are you messing up the kids, are they OK? They were fine, they had a great time.

But we, you know, again, never going through something like this, you never know what to expect. You can plan all day, but plans are made to be broken, in my opinion. And tough conversations, you know, trying to find the money when you really, really need it. It was incredibly stressful. Oh by the way, I had started a new job, and I was traveling a lot. But had to do it so we had some financial stability. But we got through it. But yeah, I would say October, November, I was really hurtin-scooter.

LM: That’s the thing that I really had to learn too is just like, things are going to go wrong. You will never have a perfect project, and no matter what you do, even if you think you have prepared, you’ve done everything right – something’s going to go wrong.

CBL: Amen, sister!

LM: There’s always something unexpected, and you just have to learn how to deal with that stuff and like, let go of the fact that, you’re thinking that it’s going to be perfect. Because it just isn’t! Something’s going to go wrong!

CBL: It isn’t. Something inevitably goes wrong – you’re so right. And looking back, all those hard conversations and sleepless nights and endless research and all these things…you know, there was never one time that I knew we wouldn’t do it. Did I want to walk away or take a reprieve – absolutely. But I knew we’d get it done. We had to! There was like, no other option. Like, we have to do this, we have to finish. And we’re fortunate enough that again, with support, with certain things falling into place for us, we were able to get it done. And we’re just – we’re happy! It’s turned out great, you know? It’s clean, it’s cute, and it’s cozy. It’s home.

LM: What’s your favorite part about running a lodge?

CBL: I like the people. It’s so fun. We’ve had people from Wisconsin, New Jersey, lots of – a few staycations, which by the way, thank you and a shout-out to all our friends and family that have come to just rent a room. In February I sent out, texted my girlfriends – same ones with the dumpster story – and I was like, hey guys, I need you to come break this sucker in! I need you come sleep in the beds and take a shower and use the towels. Mess with the heat, like make sure everything works. And did you sleep well, can you hear each other, what’s it like? And they did it and we had a great time. We had a really fun weekend, it was superbowl weekend so we kind of tied it all together. But they did, they came in, they rented the room, they got online, went through the whole process. So that was super fun.

But anyways, yeah, we’ve had a great time with the guests coming in. Orchard River View, right across the street, for weddings and special events has been real helpful for us. They’ve been great pushing people our way because we’re so close in proximity. You can walk there. I want to figure out maybe a little safer way to get there, a path, yeah something, I feel like we can do something, down the road. But yeah, it’s been great and we’re really looking forward to the summer. And I – I’m from Palisade, like I said. I love Palisade. I’m so proud of Palisade. So when we get our hands on our guests here, it’s really fun to toe the Palisade line, right? We have so much to offer, it’s a unique experience, it’s family-friendly, it’s affordable, it’s all the things that you need to have a good time and not stress about it stretching you out too thin or anything like that. I think it’s just the right place to visit, you know?

LM: The logo, your logo and then the room numbers on the door, they’re like a silhouette of…is it…a crow?

CBL: It’s a raven.

LM: A raven! Argh!

CBL: Yeah! Not a big difference between a raven and a crow, right?

LM: Yeah, my dad’s gonna be so – my dad’s gonna be so embarrassed when he hears this because he’s a huge birder. He’s going to be like, you didn’t know it was a raven?! Anyway.

CBL: Well it’s a little tough to tell because I think you tell the difference by their tail and the wing tips, which, the logo does not lean itself to super clear crow vs. raven. But we, so, working on the property, we were out here and every day, there were these ravens, just flying overhead, and you can hear them talking to each other. They fly like right in line with the Book Cliffs, to the east side of the property here. It’s just, I don’t know, it was a good omen for us.

And then, hanging out at my dad’s house – this is a side story – but hanging out at my dad’s house, where we were living last year, all these ravens were hanging out in the pecan trees, and I’ve never seen so many like, hanging out. And I was like man, I just feel like this is something, like it’s an omen, it’s a good sign, it’s something that means something to us.

And we were trying not to be another “Palisade” something. Palisade, you know what I mean? We were trying to find a name that would stand out a little bit but not be like, too off Palisade brand. And so Homestead it was, and the raven really just stuck with us. We were trying to not make it like too ominous-looking too, you know? But, ravens are good omens, and they were a very good personal omen for us.

LM: Well it’s like uplifting though, because it’s flying upward! It’s not some raven sitting there glaring at you.

CBL: Right? It’s not mawing down on some roadkill! No! That didn’t get voted in for the logo, I don’t know why! Just kidding. No, we like the raven, it’s cool.

LM: Are you ever thinking that you’re going to add on any kind of food service or anything like that in the future, or is that something where you don’t even want to go there?

CBL: I’m so glad my husband isn’t part of the podcast, because this would start a fight!

LM: Oh no!

CBL: I’m just kidding. But, kind of not! So, I think you and I share in these ideas of grandeur, right, and we want things to be what we want them to be. In my vision of the Homestead and what we were going to offer was breakfast and all the things. And we want to get there eventually. So, I think we’re going to start here in the summertime, once we get some more consistent bookings, is we want to do breakfast, brown bag breakfast, that’s what we’re going to call it. Brown bag breakfast. And we’ll shoot you a text – you know, do you want a burrito, a sandwich, or just a yogurt, something like that, and then throw in some local fruit, maybe a juice, and just leave it on the front step at like, eight o’clock or whatever.

You can opt out, you can opt in, but it’s not going to be like a, you know, do you want scrambled eggs? We’ll leave that to the experts at the B&Bs here in Palisade that do that really well. I think it’s important to have something like that. We’re just trying to manage the workload with the kids and me traveling and all that good stuff. So, that’s why it’s a differing opinion between Mike and myself – because he’ll be doing it! So, once we get him onboard! We’ll get there, we’ll get there. But I like it, brown bag breakfast. I think we’re going to start that sometime in May is what I’m hoping to do.

LM: Nice. And you have coffee in the rooms too, right?

CBL: Yes, and we do local coffee from Mountain Roasters in Grand Junction. They took over from the old Toucan, for those that will remember way back in the day. They just got new owners recently in the last couple months. But they’re wonderful, we love their coffee, it’s delicious. So we’re offering that in the rooms and then yeah, it’s really self-sustaining. Once you have your fun in Palisade, you come back with your goods, you don’t have to go anywhere if you don’t want to. You’ve got your wine opener, you’ve got your wine glasses, you’ve got your fridge, you got utensils, whatever you might need to just kind of kick back and relax and rejuvenate, so you can get after it again the next day, right?

LM: Yeah! And the back patio is so awesome with the view of the cliffs. I can see myself sitting out there with a glass of wine and just relaxing. I’m sure people will meet their neighbors. It’s a cool space.

CBL: Thank you so much. Yeah, that was the whole point with the backside – we have a really unique view of Buzzard’s Roost, is what that mountain is called back there. I did a little research and got some help from the Historical Society. John Buzzard I guess was his name, and he owned the land back there, so that’s why it’s called Buzzard’s Roost. It’s just cool, it’s a cool rock formation. And then yeah, we’re at the base of the Mesa, but it feels like the Book Cliffs. And Sauvage vineyard behind us, one of the few. It’s just, it’s just really pretty, and I think people enjoy hanging out back there.

LM: Are you planning any kind of public events this season?

CBL: So we want to do events. We have to get a conditional use permit from the county to be able to do so. I have a meeting next week! So we’re – we kind of have our list of things to do. It takes a decent amount of money. Gotta hire some traffic impact study stuff and engineers and some site plan things and some surveyors, and all the things.

LM: Wow…

CBL: So, so, I’ll get there. But, we can do private events, so I would just say, if you are interested in doing something here, just give us a call and we can talk through it and see what we can do for you. We’re incredibly accommodating and flexible because again, this is our home and our business and it’s at least worth a conversation.

LM: So having grown up here as a local Palisade…do we say Palisadian? Palisader?

CBL: You can! Palisadian…

LM: Palisade resident!

CBL: As a Palisade native – that’s what I like to say.

LM: Yeah, Palisade native. What’s your favorite part of the community and are there any stories or is there anything that a newer resident maybe wouldn’t know that you think is really special about the place?

CBL: Our agricultural heritage is the most important thing to Palisade, and we wouldn’t have what we have without the Colorado River. We wouldn’t have what we have without irrigation. You know, our peach orchards have been here for over a hundred and thirty years, I want to say. We’ve had people from all over the world come to work in this valley. And I do not know if this is still a true fact, but we used to be, and we still might be, the third largest producer of peaches in the country. And I just think that’s awesome. Again, we’re a little – we were a more well-kept secret. We’re not so well-kept anymore. But that’s OK, because if you don’t grow, you’re stagnant, right? But, I just think our agricultural heritage and our roots – pun intended – are so strong. And what we’ve done as farmers. I’m so proud that I went to school with people that are now farmers, you know? And they’re so smart, and I just love listening to what they’re doing and how they’re weathering these cold nights coming up, and how stressful it is, it just breaks my heart. But they’re on it, and they’re doing everything they can to save the fruit, and we all benefit from them keeping it so beautiful here. And having this agricultural piece here in Palisade is special. It’s special and it’s different from other parts of Colorado. Yes, we have mountains, but this is really the beating heart of Palisade, is our agricultural. That’s what I say. That’s what I would say.

LM: Absolutely. If and when, you get a day off, how do you enjoy it? That feels like an if!

CBL: Right? Are my kids with me or are they not with me? Just kidding. No, our kids really like to go hike the rim trail, actually, and our three year old actually does a pretty darn good job with minimal whining.

LM: That’s impressive, because it’s really steep!

CBL: I know, right? He does a pretty good job – we pick him up here and there but he does well. And Parker does a great job too. And so we like to hike, we like to bike, we go to Riverbend quite a bit. We love to ski in the wintertime and we actually got a few days in this year, which was really fun, at Powderhorn, and the snow was amazing, so that was awesome. I want to go to Glenwood here in like the next week or so, just do a little recharge trip. But I mean, honestly, we just enjoy being outside. We enjoy being outside here in Colorado, and that’s it. I mean, we’re pretty easy I guess, right? I mean, I’d love to go to St. John, but, that’s not in the cards right now. I mean, wouldn’t that be nice?

LM: That would be so nice, just sit on the beach…

CBL: Right? Wouldn’t that be so nice? I know, someday. Three to five years, we’ll get back at it.

LM: Yeah.

CBL: What do you like to do in your free time?

LM: Oh like the same! I love hiking, biking. You mentioned how nice it would be to have a path along here. Like, why is there not better bike infrastructure in Palisade? Just a sidewalk! Just something, because people, you don’t want to be walking on the shoulder of the road.

CBL: No!

LM: So anyway, I’m veering off into rant territory.

CBL: That’s OK, but also, like, we have a lot of work to do. We’re a work in progress as a community, as a town. We’re trying to figure this all out. Like the biking is kind of a newer-ish, right, in the last decade, pull for this area and we’ll get – we’ll figure it out. But the input is important, and letting our town folks know that we have these needs or thoughts, then we gotta work together to do it. But it can be done.

LM: Yeah, I’m hopeful it can be done and it’s just – you just need a slight improvement and it’ll be amazing. But yeah, I love biking around here, I like mountain biking – easy stuff.

CBL: So not the plunge?

LM: No! No, I’ve hiked the plunge and been like…how??

CBL: How?? I know!

LM: Seriously, like some parts are scary to walk down.

CBL: Me too, no, I know, and I’ve seen some people, like, carrying their bikes in certain spots and I’m like, how did you even get this far? Have you been carrying it the whole time? Or just this part?

LM: Oh yeah, I know, I’d be walking my bike the whole time. So, I like the easy stuff, over by Fruita, the fun flowy trails.

CBL: The lunch loops. Yeah, we like to mountain bike too, we haven’t gotten to go as much with the little ones. I guess there’s some really cool program someone was telling me about yesterday – Boneshakers, for kids, so they take them on the bike trails and teach them how to do it, so that would be cool.

LM: That’s awesome.

CBL: How cool would that be to learn that when you’re six or seven?

LM: One day when we were at 18 Road, there was a whole bus of very small children, and you know, their little bikes, and they were all kind of gathering to go down Kessel Run, and they were all gathering at the top, and my husband and I had just got out there and we were like, oh, we’d better hurry up and go before these kids go. And then we’re going down the trail and I’m like, that was so dumb, these kids are fearless, they’re so much better than me and they’re going to catch up to me!

CBL: They’re going to run you over!

LM: Yeah, they were so good.

CBL: That’s what I’m talking about, like, that’s so cool to have that opportunity, you know. I didn’t have that when I was a kid here, but I’m so glad that my kids will have the opportunity to do so. And they wouldn’t have had that if we had stayed in Texas. It’d just be different, a different lifestyle. Like, I do want to mention, like, because we really want to pull on the mountain biking community, because we are right here…

LM: Right here being?

CBL: Right next to the Palisade Plunge and the rim trail, and right at the beginning of the Riverfront Trail, but we have secure bike storage. We’re going to make it a little fancier, but right now it’s the garage, but it’s secure, so you’re welcome to it. And maybe there’s a shuttle service, something that we can partner with people on, or whatever, we want to figure that out. So as we evolve, I think the biking community will be a really good demographic for us.

LM: Definitely. If you’re biking over to the plunge trail, it’s not even – not even a half mile.

CBL: It’s just a quarter mile, it’s right there, you can see it.

LM: Right, come down off the plunge, roll right over here, go to the back patio…lie down!

CBL: Yeah, and just chill. Don’t forget to crack a cold one!

LM: Have a little panic attack!

CBL: I made it!

LM: That’s me, I shouldn’t talk for other people.

CBL: No, it’s terrifying. I mean, we started mountain biking in Utah, we lived in Park City, and it was so fun, we were having a blast, and then I got pregnant. Ah, the skiing this year. Do you ski?

LM: I do, but we didn’t get out there this year!

CBL: Oh bummer!

LM: I mean, there’s so much work on that house that it kind of – I mean it doesn’t even look like we made progress, but that was sort of like, what we worked on…

CBL: Totally understand. So like the first winter, we didn’t go, because we were so enthralled and swamped and poor! Like we can’t do anything.

LM: Oh yeah, that too!

CBL: Yeah, you’re like, phew. And so we were doing all that and then I bought passes for this last winter. I was like, we can go, we’re getting close to the end, and the kids hated it. Like, just laying there, like sliding down the hill!

LM: No way!

CBL: Me and Mike were losing our minds, like, come on! This is a family, like isn’t this fun?!? And they’re just like, I don’t want to, I’m so cold. So…you can’t give up! You just have to keep taking them. Hiking the stuff up the hill, dealing with the crying. I mean, even putting the ski boots on for the first couple times is a nightmare. But, the fourth and fifth time, ski boots go on…you know, put your foot in the ski boot monster! You sweat a little less carrying all the gear up the thing, because it’s not just their stuff it’s your stuff and everybody’s stuff – there’s so much stuff! And then Parker actually stayed up and then Cannon wanted to go do another run on the last day that we got to go. He was like, come on mom, let’s go do a run! And I was like, OK!! Yeah, so we’re getting there. So we’ll get there it’s a process. Everything’s a process.

LM: Anything else you wanted to add?

CBL: Um, we are running a promotion. We are running a promotion now through May 31st. We’re calling it Mother’s Day Sunshine and Wine. So come on down and – well, you don’t have to come here, you just book your room online, it’s up and running, I put it in there today – it’s 20% off your whole stay. But book and stay between now and May 31st. And we’re going to partner with Palisade Pedicab and do – I think they’re going to do 10% off for the wine tours. It’ll be a beautiful time of year, everything’s going to be blooming. It’s going to be pretty.

LM: It’s the best, too. Not too hot. Just perfect.

CBL: Perfect, yes, right?

LM: Well, thank you so much for your time.

CBL: Thank you.

LM: I really appreciate you reaching out. It was awesome to hear from you and I appreciate you making the time to talk.

CBL: Of course. Thank you for starting such a cool podcast for Palisade. I love it! I really appreciate it. I really do, I think this is going to be great. It’s fun to listen to, and informative, and helps us know what’s going on with all the local businesses and just people in general. It’s good. Thank you for doing what you do.

LM: Yeah, get to know your neighbors. So thank you! I appreciate that!

If you’re enjoying this podcast, let me know by leaving a rating or review on Apple Podcasts or a follow or rating on Spotify.

If you are interested in being on the show or if you have ideas for a future show, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at lisa(at)postcardsfrompalisade.com.

The Postcards from Palisade podcast is available on all major podcast distribution platforms. Find us and subscribe now so you never miss an episode. Latest episodes and links to more information are also posted on the website postcardsfrompalisade.com.

Thanks for listening. With love, from Palisade.