ser-en-dip-i-ty  . . . The faculty of making fortunate and unexpected discoveries by accident”
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

Even when you have a fairly detailed itinerary, when you’re on a long road trip, you simply cannot predict when and where you’ll need to stop for a bathroom break, snack, or place to stretch your legs.  We made several serendipitous and memorable stops during our journey through Colorado.  Let me tell you about some of them.

The Park County Library in Fairplay

Public libraries are excellent places to stop for a bathroom break.  As you pass through small towns, you will invariably see a sign pointing you to the library.  If you have time, you can check your e-mail at the library’s internet computers.  And be sure to say hi to the staff — librarians are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet.

We stopped for a picnic lunch on the expansive lawn of this lovely library in Fairplay.  It was formerly a bank, so the building had some interesting features, including a big walk-in safe!   It now houses the coroner’s office in the basement.  Cliff swallows had built nests in the eaves.  While we were picnicking, we struck up a conversation with Terry Dean Hill, weather watcher and HAM radio enthusiast, who came to our attention because his van sported a forest of 8 antennae on its roof!

Spiral staircase in the historic Park County Library in Fairplay

Door to the coroner's office. This library caters to dead people and books!

Terry Dean Hill, weather watcher and HAM radio enthusiast, and his antennae-laden van

We were led to Pachelli’s Deli & Italian Cuisine in Monte Vista by Lonely Planet Colorado.  The guidebook gave this little eatery its “top choice” designation, luring us with its description:  ” . . . the smell of garlic and warm bread as you walk through the door is a prelude to the excellent food to come.”  They described the owner, Fred Pachelli, as “charismatic.”  He had not seen the review in the Lonely Planet guidebook, so we made his day.  We ordered two HUGE sandwiches to go — Tuscan pork and avocado chicken — so that we would not have to cook at our campsite.  Each sandwich was big enough for two people.  (Thank you, Lonely Planet, for the recommendation!)

Fred Pachelli, owner of Pachelli's Deli in Monte Vista, with a loaf of his freshly baked bread

While looking for a place to get a good cup of coffee, our eyes were drawn to Zuma Natural Foods near Mancos by the eclectic vehicles parked in front.  The “hippie” van alone signaled that this was our kind of place!  We weren’t mistaken.  The coffee and pastries were great, and the bathroom was one of the nicest on our trip.

Colorful "hippie" van in the parking lot at Zuma's Natural Foods. Even the tires were decorated.

Bumper stickers on a Prius in the Zuma's parking lot

Mural-decorated bathroom in Zuma's Natural Foods

Another nice touch in the Zuma's bathroom

We were on the lookout for fresh Colorado peaches and Olathe sweet corn, so we made it a point to stop at farm stands along the way.

We stopped at this farmer's market store near Paonia for fresh peaches

The Lonely Planet Colorado guide once again steered us to a great dining spot, the burrito bus across from the Safeway in Leadville.  My smothered burrito was excellent!  (Thanks, again, Lonely Planet!)

Burrito bus in Leadville