Summit County Notes

What may have been lawn, now wildflowers, Frisco Marina

We drove by Dillon’s white wood frame schoolhouse, built in 1883, relocated when the town moved in the early 1960s so Denver Water could create this reservoir, completed in 1963. A new school had been built long before that and the little school became a chapel. It was the church ladies who badgered Denver Water into moving it.  Church ladies can move mountains when they set their minds to it. At the reservoir, I imagined the brick-and-mortar school that couldn’t be moved, perhaps still standing under 80 feet of icy water, fish swimming through its classrooms.

Because I know some Spanish, I’m alert to hearing it spoken—usually with little luck at comprehension. “Es que,” one of the kitchen workers begins, and I know she’s explaining or excusing something, but the rest of her sentence is lost in clattering dishware. There’s plenty of español in Colorado mountain towns: kitchen staffs, construction crews, concrete workers and hotel housekeeping personnel all speak it. Americans won’t do those jobs for what they pay. Where do these immigrants live? We scanned a Summit County newspaper with four pages of homes for sale, almost all over a million.

A Frisco salesclerk told us, “Aspen doesn’t want their workers living there. They’re fine with bussing them in. In Frisco we think people who work here should be able to live here. At least we’re trying to build more affordable housing.” She paused, smiling. “For people like me.”

Outside Frisco’s Next Page bookstore

A schedule of book club meetings was taped to the Next Page checkout counter. A group of older women sat in a nook, books in their laps, several of them frowning at the woman who was speaking. Perhaps a difference of opinion about the book, which enlivens discussion.

Next Page is a new bookstore, and we are partial to the second-hand and antiquarian, but Phil told the owner the shop was well-curated, and she beamed. She directed us to a second-hand store in Breckenridge, where we arrived along with another older man who was looking for biographies of artists and found one there. A happy book scouting day for him, nothing for us. So it goes.

Kissing pigs

Dillon’s Arapahoe Café has kissing pigs on the way downstairs to the pub, where on Wednesday nights, you get $12 burgers and fries, loud music and standing room only. Upstairs is quieter, the BBQ ribs good, the trout average, and we watched people strolling down the four blocks to the reservoir and amphitheater, where a Greenway Bluegrass concert was about to begin.

Our suite was comfortable, quiet, though the lighting in hotel rooms is never designed with readers in mind these days—if it ever was—and even accessible rooms leave some accessibility to be desired. But handicap parking was next to the elevator entrance, and a substantial hot breakfast, good coffee, waited downstairs. Upstairs, a view:

The Vue, atop Homewood Suites, Dillon

In Dillon, bike and pedestrian paths curve around the reservoir. The morning is exquisitely quiet, the water glazed and people nod, say hello as they pass, a small-town habit my city neighborhood once had but in recent years lost. Dillon is still a small town.

Oregon grape? On the reservoir path

Before bracing to run the I-70 East gauntlet home, we stopped at the reservoir for a last savoring. I walked to the end of the empty dock on that cloudy morning, breathed sweet air, watched a shaft of sunlight mottle its way over a mountain, listened to the quiet.

Dillon Reservoir


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9 Responses to Summit County Notes

  1. Edna says:

    Nice, Pat! I love that you enjoy little trips like this and am happy you have someone to travel with!

  2. Bob Jaeger says:

    Thanks for sharing this lovely trip! Ah, the friendly greetings and the quiet, harder and harder to find here.

    • dubrava says:

      The first night we were home, Bob, I heard the sirens, the traffic, the planes. Now I’m mostly ignoring them again.

  3. Nan says:

    Loved “watched a shaft of sunlight mottle its way over a mountain”.

  4. Lois Harvey says:


  5. Michael Stipek says:

    The Lake Dillon area is quite lovely, with some very peaceful spots. Last summer, Peg and I stayed twice at the Best Western Ptarmigan Lodge. It borders right on the southeast side of the Lake. The second floor is the best location, because almost all of those rooms have a small balcony, some of them looking out onto the lake, others onto a lovely little “forest-like” interior area. Breakfast is good. The owners are very nice folks. There is no elevator.
    Also, when you take the I-70 offramp into Dillon (bottom of the steep grade from the Tunnel), turn left to go under the Interstate, go uphill about 2-3 blocks and turn right into a shopping center parking lot. At the far end, you will see the Sunrise Cafe’. I have been breakfasting there since the early ’90s. The food is exactly what you need to fortify yourself for your adventures in the area. Delicious, plentiful, with an excellent serving staff.
    The Arapahoe Cafe’ near the hotel is quite good, with a large selection of tasty eats. It is in an old house that had also been saved from the flooding of the Lake Dillon area. The outside dining is the best because the patio is surrounded by beautiful potted plants, with light breezes taking the heat off of the summer’s day.
    There is also a back road that goes from Dillon to Breckenridge. It’s a lot faster – and more scenic – than going through Frisco via I-70. Very little traffic on it.

  6. dubrava says:

    We had a great time, and ate at the Arapahoe Cafe twice. We’ll consult your notes if we ever go back up there. Thanks, Mike.

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