Walsenburg, Colorado

IMG_0428Huerfano County Seat, Walsenburg, was settled about 150 years ago. Fred Walsen opened a mercantile and started the first coal mine in the area. Woodie Guthrie wrote a song about the “Ludlow  Massacre” where a couple dozen striking miners were killed. I assume the incident was not taken in to account when forming the town motto “A great place to be, welcome”.IMG_0422Good old fashioned county court house.IMG_0425The old Jail is the location for the area mining museum, which was closed.IMG_0421IMG_0420In the middle of no where the car in front of me, with two women,  and myself came upon this overturned semi truck, it was at this moment I realized I am not a first responder. After some panic time it was determined I needed to climb on the truck and look inside for the driver, I did not want to look in, after taking off my jacket and trying to will myself away from the scene another car showed up with a couple real men. It turned out the driver was gone so he must have gotten a ride. There was no cell phone reception so I volunteered to drive ahead and call 911.IMG_0434The truck was full of styrofoam egg cartons, not a good mix with high winds.IMG_0418IMG_0414Some old homesteady crap. I went to several antique stores in town but was unable to find anything that suited me. Every person I talked to did refer me to Georges Restaurant for the best “Chili” burger in town.IMG_0429IMG_0431Georges was packed when I arrived, always a good sign, I was greeted promptly by a very enthusiastic server. I asked for a kick ass burger, the Chili burger with mushrooms was suggested. All this time I was thinking Cowboys sitting around a campfire farting chili but it turned out it was canned green chili’s and canned mushrooms. Not choices I would normally make but this thing was awesome. The service was great and they even gave me an ice tea refill to go.IMG_0446I returned via the Phantom Canyon Highway, coolest road ever.

Boulder, Colorado

IMG_0391Not Getting out of Boulder, Colorado anytime soon, I am hungry for a cheeseburger now, maybe tomorrow.IMG_0394I did not want to play my Boulder card so soon. I spent most of my adult life in Alaska, I have never seen snow and mayhem like the past couple days. The snow was to my crotch, I was unable to get out for two days. I will live south. Luckily I had all ready started a bathroom fan light project and had been to Home Depot 8 times, this is why I cant be a handyman for non-family, It took me 8 trips to the store and four days (two snow days) to install a fucking bathroom fan! I would bid 47 minutes.IMG_0399Anyway here is a Boulder burger, grass fed, grain finished, Angus beef infused with montery jack and jalepeno. I like a meunster for cheese, sweet purple onion, green and yellow. With the brioche.The cat approved.

Canon City, Colorado

IMG_0346Fremont County seat, Cañon City whose motto is “Gateway to the authentic west”  while one sign entering the city says “Corrections capital of the world” and with a nickname of “Climate Capital of Colorado” seems they are covering all bases. This is a great town with the Arkansas River running through it, territorial prison museum, and a few miles from the Royal Gorge. It seems the area is transitioning from primarily agriculture and incarceration to more tourist stuff with white water rafting and fly fishing becoming more popular. It wasn’t until 1994 they decided to put that squiggly line above the first N.IMG_0347I hard a hard time finding a county courthouse but it seems that is all taken care of in this Fremont County Justice Center.IMG_0332Moderate temperatures in this mini banana belt were evident as several trees were in full bloom.IMG_0343I enjoyed this old gas chamber at the prison museum. There were also some interesting stories about escapes and stuff, but the rest of the exhibits were things I had already seen first hand so was glad to be able to walk out.IMG_0353I purchased a 1968 metal Snoopy lunchbox in one of the junk stores. The guy wanted 15 dollars for it which was more than I wanted to spend so I said I would look around and try to add it in to a “lot” purchase. while I was looking through his piles he said he would take 12 bucks for it. Meanwhile his helper looked it up on E-Bay and said they were going for about 40 bucks, of course now I wanted it and he didn’t want to sell it! I gave him 12 dollars plus tax.IMG_0351I talked to a lot of people about my cheeseburger options and most folks suggested the Owl Cigar Store. It is really just a bar but according to the sign “World Famous Hamburgers” meant it was right up my alley.IMG_0350Last week a health food store and now a cigar store, you never really know what you’ll find until you look for it. There is no attempt here to keep up with the artisan burger explosion, that is why I like it. This is bar food, fresh ground beef fried up at the bar, as it was in the ’50s. A regular burger is $2 , I opted for the “double double” for $3.25. No plates or baskets, just served on a piece of parchment paper, everything about this burger is based on grease containment. I took my first bite and felt a sharp pain travelling up my left arm, tightness in my chest and shortness of breath, all signs of an excellent burger. This is an awesome burger in an awesome town.

Burlington, Colorado

IMG_0216 (1)Kit Carson county seat, Burlington, is a stones throw from Kansas on I-70. I Love this town! The town was laid out originally in 1887 by some guy anticipating the arrival of the railroad, the fellow missed his calculations by one mile so when the railroad arrived they started their own town and most settlers from the previous location moved.IMG_0234 (1)County Courthouse, as plain as you can get. I thought with a name like Kit Carson it might be a little more frontiersy.IMG_0199 (1)The main city park does have a large fort looking playground with many interactive areas, I really liked this part where you pull these handles that strike a bell in a certain order to re-create a popular children’s tune.IMG_0245 (1)IMG_0258 (1)IMG_0253 (1)IMG_0244 (1)Old Town is a couple square blocks that is actually all part of the museum, very well done.IMG_0268 (1)My purchase, about the size of a tomato paste can, this promotional puzzle from the 70’s set me back .10. when I got home my niece and nephew assembled to confirm all pieces were present.IMG_0208 (1)I talked to several people in town, from the museum,on the street, and a couple stores about my cheeseburger options. For the most part the initial response was to send me up by the freeway to the couple of chain burger joints, sad. After some prodding and clarifying the importance of doing business at long time local establishments, there were two stand outs. The VFW hall and Essential Foods.IMG_0233 (1)I had stepped in to Essential Foods earlier for a little something to tide me over before cheeseburger hour and was warmly greeted by the staff and owner Melissa. I was given the grand tour by Melissa and was very impressed! The building built in the mid ’20s has lots of character and was superbly decorated, a bit difficult since it is really three things in one, wholistic store, restaurant and spa. Surely I am not going to drive all this way for a healthy cheeseburger?IMG_0284 (1)MelissaIMG_0276 (1)I can’t believe I chose to have my burger at the health food store. I tried to keep an open mind, I already know I prefer grass fed beef that is grain finished because, to me, it is much smoother tasting and firmer. Beef that is grass fed and finished has a bit of an iron taste, so I think I should just have venison. The hamburger at Essential Foods is grass fed and Flax seed finished which provides essential Omega 3s, whatever that is, I don’t know but you hear allot about it these days. The meat was cooked to perfection and extraordinary , add the house honey mustard, fresh greens,succulent tomato and perfectly baked brioche bun, Scrumptious. Where else in the world can you get a cheeseburger, acupuncture, and hemp seed oil in one awesome location. If I haven’t mentioned it I love this place! A gem in an oasis on the plains.

 

Sterling, Colorado

IMG_0182 (1)Sterling, Colorado. Logan County seat. Motto “A Colorado Treasure” Settled in 1868 its been around for awhile. Seems to be a lot if Indian history, as well as part of the Overland Trail, an offshoot of the Oregon Trail.IMG_0166 (1)It is hot and dusty here but the town square begins bustling with activity fairly early, possibly because it seems to be a primarily farming/ranching community. I did see a monument where it seems a boy scout troop in the ’50,s donated a miniature Statue of Liberty to the town for some reason.IMG_0190 (1)This is where cows spend their day “making hamburger”IMG_0162 (1)I found a small antique store where I met the owner and asked where the best place in town was to get a cheeseburger? He suggested a chain, I declined stating I was more interested in the towns best burger not a corporation’s opinion on what we should like. He understood and we discussed how one chain used to be the go-to in town but in recent years seems to have given in to corporate ideals. After some thought he suggested J&L Cafe. I purchased some adorable glass travel salt and pepper shakers for 4 dollars and went on my way.IMG_0176 (1)The Cafe was packed with locals at 2 in the afternoon so I knew it was going to be good.IMG_0159 (1)I honestly don’t know where I can go from here, this cheeseburger was so good how do I compare others? The bun, which in my opinion, makes or breaks a burger was baked to perfection. I believe it is of the Brioche variety.  The third pound patty was juicy and well done at the same time. I appreciated the fact that it was served with condiments on the side so I could position them to my liking. Thick sliced sweet onion, beautiful fresh dill pickle slices, tomato and fresh iceberg lettuce. An absolute explosion of flavor since the very first bite. Perfect. When I have a choice mustard is the only “liquid” condiment I use. I don’t really care about what potato based side it comes with but the tater salad was excellent. This was the first stop in my quest and am excited to see how it compares to the next location.

Looking for a Cheeseburger

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I was in Denver looking online for a decent cheeseburger when I came across an article claiming the origin of the cheeseburger was right here in Denver! I could not believe my good fortune, I would have never guessed after every place I have moved I would end up living 27 miles from the birthplace of, really the only thing in this world that matters, the Cheeseburger. Of course I found the address on Speer and went straight over for a visual, sure enough, in the corner of the Key Bank parking lot is a granite marker. It claims Louis Ballast of the Humpty Dumpty Barrel Drive Inn created the cheeseburger in 1935.  Chisel something in  granite and that makes it real as far as I am concerned. The wheels started turning, am I just to walk away and go on with my day? Do I pull some weeds around the marker? Why am I the only one here? Lots of cars whizzing by, do they not know the significance of this location? A bank customer walked by and I asked her if she liked cheeseburgers, she tightened the clutch on her hand bag and quietly said “I guess” I informed her she was standing at the location of its conception! With limited enthusiasm she said “OK”. I was very impressed at her ability to contain what had to be explosions of joy and wonderment going on in her head. I have never stood on such hallowed ground and wanted to shout from the rooftops. For me at least, this was significant, and I knew from that moment forward my life would never be the same.