Eighteen years later we discovered that Salida had made it's own journey. After our afternoon in Telluride we thought that Salida might be a good stopping point for the evening. We got a room at a very friendly motel and headed out to Amica, a wood-fired pizza and brew pub we found on Chowhound. http://amicassalida.typepad.com/ Showing up on Chowhound told us that Salida had indeed come a long way.
Yes, Salida had grown considerably, but in a good way. The town was vibrant and full of interesting shops. People were strolling in the Old Town. Many cars were topped with bikes and kayaks. As the gateway to the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Salida was in a key position to capture the area's many hip young adventurers.
However, what impressed me more was the friendliness the town inspired. From the motel owner to the baker. At Amica we were told the wait (at 8:00 on a Thursday evening) would be about 25 minutes but that we were welcome to sit at the community table if we wanted to eat sooner. We settled in with another family. In the course of our dinner Lark had noticed a Peace Love Ukulele shirt one of the kids at the table was wearing. This spurred a conversation about a range on topics including ukulele artist Jake Shimabukuro http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puSkP3uym5k, backpacking in the area, Jewel Cave and Crazy Horse in South Dakota. All in all a very enjoyable evening.
The next morning we headed to the other Chowhound recommendation for breakfast, The Salida Cafe on the banks of the Arkansas River. http://www.salidacafe.com/ Another great recommendation. We ate delicious peach pie and breakfast burritos out on the patio while the rushing Arkansas River glittered in the morning sun. Again people were friendly and accommodating, especially Nate, the Salida Cafe barrista. Hey to Nate.
Salida proved Outside magazine right and is certainly a wonderful stop when driving through southwestern Colorado. I still think Northampton was the right choice for us but I'd gladly go back to Salida anytime I'm out west.