Expedition Christmas

Two days from Christmas, little remained on the shopping list. The cold, brisk air certainly added to the charm.

Much of our shopping, this season, was done online. And, mostly for the home. When those items came, we began using them straight away. For the girls, we shopped for them while they were away. Those items that were delivered on a Friday or Saturday, we acted fast to keep them out of their sight. Equestrian related? Maybe.

It’s harder to shop for them during our shopping expedition. They are right there watching, applying their equestrian collaboration to observe. Distractions help, but we raised our girls to be smart and not to be distracted. The same can be said when they shop for the ‘rents. Generally, it’s three on three, but it can become five on one in a blink of an eye. “Shoo” becomes a popular word in our vocabulary.

Our favorite place to shop our expeditions are Old Colorado City (the west side of Colorado Springs) and Manitou Springs with their eclectic variety of shops. After getting parked, we started with a little window shopping. We made our standard stops at the kitchen gadget shop and a hardware store. To the casual shopper, both places seem to be highly disorganized. But if you’re looking for that certain something, they will likely have it.

We thought about taking an early lunch but decided on shopping first. The mandatory stops, two old book stores. Tara is our book hound and avid reader. She’ll read close to any genre, but prefers classic reads from Thomas Wolfe (You Can’t Go Home Again, Look Homeward), Tom Wolfe (Bonfire of The Vanities, The Right Stuff), Isaac Asimov (The Foundation Series), Ray Bradbury (Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451), among others. The others include JD Salinger, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf and Upton Sinclair.

a London-style used bookstore

front window: kitty on a book bed

Our window shopping included visiting a trio of art galleries. Most of the galleries, in Old Colorado City, specialize in Southwest Art. The gallery that drew our interest was one featuring a more contemporary palette. If one was to step inside our home, it is a comfortable retreat. Our prints, Hawaii. Our furniture, contemporary (wing chairs, sofa and loveseat). Our dining room table, vintage 1960s Danish walnut (handmade). Our area rugs, traditional Oriental medallion. Lamps, Tiffany-style. The gallery visit was mostly to glean ideas.

One of the more intriguing shops we visited was an antique store. While they’ve always been here, they did a facelift to their store. It is something you may find in a larger city, like Boston or NYC.

antiques, curiosity and charms

We didn’t find any curiosities, but we did spy a handsome roll-top desk (complete with hiding nooks) and a Duffner-Kimberly stained, leaded glass lamp. They sold a Handel lamp several months ago. They do have some nice pieces. We did not see any unusual pieces that comes with the warning, “Oh no … it’s not for sale. May I tease your eyes and heart with this instead.”

On this Christmas Eve, it is some quick wrapping of a few glitter items for the girls. My two favorite women, Laurie and Andrea, they said thank you and opted to wear their gifts right away. They wanted to know when I found the time to buy the champagne topaz. (It’s a direct buy from the mine.)

Later tonight, all the careful gift-wrapping will be undone.

And, much later, the ‘rents will watch the glow from the fireplace. Happy that our girls are happy.


Expedition Christmas

Last Christmas, we loved the old-fashioned, daylong shopping expedition. We strolled the sidewalks, stopping here, stopping there, late into the afternoon. It was fun, it was enjoyable, it was relaxing. Instead of having much of our shopping done by mid-September, we saved it for a few days before Christmas. It has become our new tradition. And, no, we are not the harried shoppers looking for those perfect, certain or unusual gifts.

With Laurie and Andrea having Tuesday off, we again chose Old Colorado City, on the west side of Colorado Springs, as our prime shopping location. The variety of shops along the avenue is an eclectic mix of bookstores, art galleries and specialty stores. Along with several restaurants, large and small, it has a decidedly slower pulse compared with our local malls.

Our first stop was a jewelry store. After picking up a couple of special orders, we made our way to a small breakfast place. Since the tables were small, Laurie was quick to commandeer two of them for us after getting her latte.

in shade and light: Laurie saving our tables

She gave the mom look when the girls were deciding whether they should sit in the shade or in the sunny spots. They settled for sunny. Laughing our way through breakfast, we decided which shops to visit next. One place the girls wanted to visit was the jam-packed hardware store. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at the other places, this hardware store is the place to visit. And, the store owner knows where every item is located. It was not like the girls needed hardware from the store, but they love the highly-organized clutter.

We window shopped for the most part over the next two hours before taking time to visit a couple of art galleries. One specialized in southwest art, the other in landscapes. The one gallery we took time to visit was Michael Garman Galleries, a long-time fixture on the west side. The centerpiece of his gallery is a 3,000-square foot exhibit called “Magic Town“. It is a 1/6-scale representation of a small town from yesteryear (circa early 1950s).

After looking through the galleries, it was a stop at Tara’s favorite bookstore. The store offers selections ranging from out-of-print to newer titles, a mix of hardcover and paperback.

down the fiction aisle

A committed reader of books, Tara can often be found with a book, or three, in the process of being read. She reads from nearly every genre. In her room, Tara has two bookcases – one for those currently being read, and the other for titles worthy of a re-read, or two.

No shopping trip is complete without stopping at a Christmas specialty store. The store we visited strictly sells Old-World style ornaments of every size and style.

seeing in red: color of the season

Before calling it a day, it was time to visit the new store. The fast-fading daylight brought out the varied colors, reflections and flickers of the various lamps. The shop was softly lit by the lamps, allowing one to appreciate the artisan designs.

of eastern influence: lamps from the Near East and the Far East

By the time we finished looking at the lamp store, the night sky was taking hold. The lights, the colors. It was no mistaking Christmas is almost here.

the Christmas effect: street lights and traffic lights

Christmas lighting: outside the lamp store

Having found the gifts we needed to find, it was time to call it day. Before heading home, we stopped at our favorite small BBQ restaurant for dinner.

It was a good end to our day.

Expedition Christmas

Usually, much of our Christmas shopping is completed by mid-September, and mostly online. Very, very few things remain on the list when the Christmas countdown begins. This Christmas, we opted for an old-fashioned, shopping expedition. An all-day one. After her morning rounds on Saturday, we met up with Laurie in Old Colorado City on the west side of Colorado Springs. A variety of shops dot the avenue, from bookstores to jewelry shops to gadget shops. And, several restaurants large and small. With two SUVs, some serious shopping could be done.

Our first stop, the shoe repair shop to pickup two pair of English riding boots, belonging to Deborah, that were being re-soled and fitted with new heels. The repair, far more reasonable than buying a new pair each time one wears out. Next stop, a jewelry store. After buying a few shiny eye-catchers, the next stop was a small coffee shop. Taking two tables, we have our order – lattes (Laurie, Andrea and Tara), two regulars (Deborah and myself) and one hot cocoa (Elizabeth). While we were laughing very much with our hot drinks, Laurie had to step away to be a doctor for a few minutes.

ordering a medication adjustment for an inpatient on her BlackBerry


After Laurie finished her call and latte, it is back to shopping. We drift in and out of shops for the next couple of hours. The kitchen gadget shop, jammed pack with every conceivable item that might be used in a kitchen. Rivaling the kitchen gadget shop, a hardware store of sorts. A retro record store selling vinyl LP albums, which included Elvis, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lawrence Welk. Along the way, we buy a few things.

We stopped for a late lunch at Thunder and Buttons, a longtime fixture on the west side. While waiting for our food, Laurie took out the “mountain man” hat she bought for her brother, Tom. He and his wife, Alicia, plan to come to Colorado when the girls ride in the National Western in a few weeks.

Laurie modeling the mountain man hat, made from 100% acrylic fur


Laurie mentioned how Tom loved his Davy Crockett/Daniel Boone coonskin cap when they were growing up. She said their mom threw it out when it became all-ratty looking. Buying another wasn’t likely since Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone caps were no longer available for sale. Laurie said Tom would’ve passed it on to his son, ratty or not. Far from a gag gift, Tom is looking forward to having a mountain man hat. He should “fit” in at the National Western.

Our last stops, before calling it day, was a pair of bookstores. The first bookstore sells more contemporary works, while the second sold older, out-of-print books. Tara is a lover of books, the more the merrier. She gave each of us a list of four titles she was interested in. We were able to find all but two of her selections. Of the twenty books Tara received last Christmas, all were read before the end of March. This was in addition to the reading assignments for her classes.

The next day, the girls rested up by riding their horses for most of the day. Andrea, Laurie and I recovered by having hot cocoa and a few chocolate cookies while the girls were riding.