Took a drive up to Florence for a Saturday afternoon. If you want to look at antique stores, here’s the place! Best of all, lunch or coffee and desert at the Aspen Leaf Bakery. This place could be in downtown San Francisco or New York City. It is so hip and the food is fantastic. Today was a typical late January day in Colorado. The tail end of Autumn. Winter is on the way now, but it was nearly 60 degrees out today and the sun was shining brightly.
We left after lunch, in the arc of the afternoon. The winter sun masqueraded as Autumn. Balmy breezes hugged the desolate landscape. On the drive up to Florence, we passed through a residential area known as Turkey Creek. A bit far from everything, but not really isolated. On 115 heading south, there is a forest of Junipers flanked by red rock canyon walls. Homes in the tradition of Pueblo Indian design and others that seem to plant themselves in the rocky landscape rise among the Junipers to the right of the highway. I am drawn to them, wishing I could detour, find their driveways and gaze at the arrangement of their living quarters in such a wild land. But we did not stop. We were on a mission – Florence bound.
The way to Florence is through Penrose; short and not very impressive. This is a place that seems like two rejected pieces of lace, tacked to the sides of the road in haste. Something better than nothing. There must be more to Penrose. Someday soon I will explore the back streets, if there are any. When we arrived on the outskirts of Florence, we were deceived. My husband, Paul, told me we had arrived. “No!” I fired back at him. “This doesn’t look like Florence.” I was remembering the main street, the antique stores and marvelous Ace Hardware. We were diverted on a detour. It took us off the main highway into suburban Florence. Okay.
Back on the main drag, the view that hung in my memory appeared. “Here we are!” I was gratified but admitted defeat. He was right. We were in Florence all along. The main street is not long, but it is colorful. We drove the length of it and then turned around, cruising back slowly, searching for a place to park. Easy enough, we parked in the heart of Florence and emerged to a lovely January afternoon. Every storefront invited us. We chose three to explore, and then retired to the Aspen Leaf. Exceptional deserts. Perfect coffee. Cream (real cream) and sugar for the taking. We spent time there, sipping coffee and nibbling on Key Lime Cream Pie and Italian Layered Desert (lemon cream cheese filling and sponge cake) . It was relaxing. I plucked a cookbook from the display to read with my coffee and desert. Paul settled in for Key Lime Pie. When we finished, we headed home, satisfied.
If you want to take a day, explore truly quality antique goods well displayed in stores that offer more than a musty experience, go to Florence! Don’t miss the Aspen Leaf. Take a trip into Turkey Creek and let me know what you find.