Remembering a Different Colorado, and Optimism for What’s to Come

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The news reports and TV footage have subsided, just like the flood waters said to be of “biblical” proportions. But the damage will cost hundreds of millions and take months or years to repair; and without questions, lives impacted won’t be back to “normal” anytime soon.

Of course, I’m referring to the extensive flooding that struck Colorado towns in the Rocky Mountains and eastern foothills earlier this month.

If you’ve seen the scope of the flooding — caused by around 17 inches of rain, what that area normally gets in a year — you had to be shaken by the devastation and destruction.  I certainly was, but those thoughts were tempered by more positive memories and a sense of optimism.

One of the roads near Estes Park destroyed by flood waters.

One of the roads near Estes Park destroyed by flood waters.

In late March of this year, Susan and I spent a delightful week vacationing in the very part of Colorado that sustained much of the brunt of the flooding — the mountain town of Estes Park and the city of Boulder.  I reported on that Rocky Mountain sojourn in this blog.

It was a very special and therapeutic trip because it gave me time to re-energize before launching my search for that next great job in public relations.

But along with scenery and vistas in and around Rocky Mountain National Park, the crisp, fresh air, the elk herds outside our resort and the way cool vibe and great beer in Boulder, we were as impressed with the people we met: Friendly, welcoming, genuine and self-sufficient.

Missing from the news accounts were reports of looting in flooded Colorado towns.  I did, however, take in several reports neighbor-helping-neighbor and outright heroism.

The River Stone and Bear Paw resort in Estes Park survived the flood waters pretty well.

The River Stone and Bear Paw resort in Estes Park survived the flood waters pretty well.

Already, there are signs that the area — still soggy, still muddy, still challenged — had already made progress.  Here’s one example.

The nice folks at the River Stone and Bear Paw resort, where we stayed in March, sent out an email to patrons promoting “The New Estes Park — Mountain Strong.”

I couldn’t have written a better line myself.

You’ll be back to “normal,” Estes Park.  And hopefully, we’ll be back to visit again soon.

Galena Getaway: A Travelogue

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Last month, Susan and I traveled to the historic and very picturesque Northwest Illinois town of Galena.  We had a purpose: To celebrate my birthday and get away from the city.  (Okay, no need for a late birthday gift, but if you insist, I would welcome a Gibson ES 335 guitar to my collection; cherry red preferred.)

We have history in Galena, a town that once was a major center of commerce but now is a prime Midwest destination for visitors. More than a dozen years ago, we owned an investment condo in a new development among the rolling hills and hallows just east of town. The investment, let’s say, was not the best expenditure of financial resources.  So we sold it and had not returned to Jo Daviess County and the storybook — well, for Illinois — community since.  When we visited in August, we found that what attracted us to the area was intact and just as special.  Picture post card weather certainly helped.

Our itinerary was simple: Relax, visit the town, cruise the winding country roads, enjoy the serenity, and relax further. Some memories:

  • Stopping on a side road at night and hearing a symphony of cicadas, crickets and other insects. It was near deafening, but thrilling to enjoy beneath a starlit night sky.
  • Recognizing some new developments in and around town, but not too many to spoil the character of the area.
  • The room we had at Eagle Ridge Resort, which faced woods, included a modest deck and offered privacy.
  • Lunch at Stella’s Cafe in nearby Stockton, IL, where we had an outstanding meal served by genuinely friendly people.  My BLT arrived on homemade bread and featured lots of bacon and real, home grown tomatoes.
  • The “musical stylings” of a singer/guitarist who performed in the Eagle Ridge lounge each evening.  He wore a cowboy hat, and deserved to. And, he sang “Happy Birthday” to me.

And now, a few visual memories. The good shots were taken by Susan with a good camera; the not-so-good shots came from my trusty BlackBerry.

The view of Galena from Grant Park.

The view of Galena from Grant Park, which overlooks downtown.

The town is known for General Grant.

The town is known as the home of U.S. President and Civil War hero General U.S. Grant. His home is here, and there’s a golf course named for him.

Standing on Main Street.

Standing on Main Street, I blended in with the other visitors with my cap, polo shirt and shorts.  But imagine what this street was like 120 years ago.

One of the grand mansions on the bluffs above downtown.

One of the grand mansions on the bluffs above downtown. It’s now a B&B. Great to know cool structures can be preserved.

How could you not like a town with a home named after you?

How could you not like a town with a home named after you? Actually, I was born a few years later.

Susan with a friendly butterfly.

Susan with a friendly butterfly who greeted us on the dock at Lake Galena behind Eagle Ridge Resort.

Lake Galena at sunset from Eagle Ridge Resort.

Lake Galena at sunset from the hill behind Eagle Ridge Resort. Serenity. Quiet. Peace. A great spot to ponder the good things about life.

The cafe in Stockton.

Stella’s Cafe on Main Street in Stockton. just east of Galena.

One of the best souviners .

A trip to farm country would not be the same without some farm stand produce. And, yes, the corn was delicious.

Galena is known as “the town that time forgot,” because remarkable number of well-preserved century-plus old homes and storefronts. We forgot about Galena, figuratively of course, for several years.  Our visit last month rekindled old memories and brought new ones.

We’ll be back.  Have you visited Galena?  Share your memories.