I have written multiple times about being a tourist in your own town, but that was before this world-wide pandemic. We’ve all been stuck in our own towns for a year now and I have little doubt that you’re sick of it. Sick of eating food from the same restaurants, sick of staring at the same four-walls—just plain sick and tired of staying put.
Thankfully, the world is slowly opening back up. As more and more people get vaccinated and more and more articles about reaching a sort of “herd immunity” status circulate, we, as a society, become less risk adverse.
However, there are still fears and perhaps a flight or cruise isn’t in your future. How does one “travel” locally?
Now I am not saying I have all the answers. Far from it. I have not dealt well with this pandemic. Some days I do not want to get out of bed. Some days I want to drive and just keep on driving. Some days, when it’s warm and sunny, it feels almost normal as I walk the dog around the neighborhood.
I have discovered a few things during this pandemic and one is that I am just not as creative when I am stuck at home 24/7. I need to be out and about. I need to experience new things and meet new people. And I know I am not alone in this. Other creatives feel stuck as well, especially those of us with a extrovert streak.
Ryan and I have also discovered that we’ve seen all the good movies, fish and chips is not a good delivery food, and beer tastes better at a brewery.
The struggle is real and while I don’t have all the answers or any of the answers for that matter, I do know what gives me pleasure.
Discovering new things makes me truly happy, especially if it’s food. This past month, I had my quarterly appointment with my eye specialist at UC Health in Aurora. We have been using these appointments to discover new dinner spots in the area. Four months ago, we discovered Pacific Ocean Marketplace, a plethora of foodie delights. For instance, there are a lot of various kinds of noodles (and I’d like to try them all).
We also ate at a very good Korean restaurant next door.
On our most recent trip to Aurora, I discovered a strip mall parking lot with everything I need to make me happy. On the corner of Iliff and Peoria there are two Mexican restaurants, a Mexican market, a Russian Bistro, Chinese food, a pho place, a French bakery, a Korean fried chicken joint, pizza take-out and a Panera Bread. There is also a liquor store here and I feel that is important as well. Lastly, there’s a sports bar because every corner should have one. Panera is necessary for Ryan because he buys their monthly coffee subscription.
I had a craving for fried chicken, so that’s how we found Von’s Chicken. After an amazing meal of spicy Yang-Nyum fried chicken, we walked around the strip mall in awe. There are so many spots we want to try here. The bakery was still open so we popped into Daniel’s of Paris for a look around. It smelled so good. I am pretty sure, if there is a heaven, it smells exactly like this French bakery.
High on heartwarming scents and yummy fried chicken, we proceeded to buy things. A bag of croissants, a few cookies and a tiny little dome for Ryan that was so pretty I wasn’t sure it was for eating or displaying.
Everything is pretty in this shop. That’s what ultimately got me into trouble. I am not much of a dessert eater, unlike Ryan who loves anything remotely dessert-ish. However, if it is pretty, I will buy it because it’s like magic. This is why I watch that British baking show. I can’t bake so it is partly a baking show and partly a magic show and I really like magic. Seriously, if you do magic, you want me in the crowd. But I digress.
The truth is that I could live in this Aurora strip mall and be perfectly happy.
RELATED: Be a Tourist in Your Own Town
Earlier this week, I had business in Greeley on a 60 degree day. Not only did I take a little time to explore the murals downtown, I ate at a pho place I’d been hearing about. It’s Pho Duy and it was busy at 3 p.m. on a Monday.
I’ve never met a pho I didn’t like, plus, I was happy to discover an Asian Market next door. Always stop in an Asian Market. Even if you just get some unrecognizable candy, it will be a feast for your belly and eyes. By the way, in Loveland, I go to Pho Lan on 29th Street. It’s one of the best phos you will ever slurp.
I walked away with a handful of spicy ramen, potato chips and candy. I’ve been listening to My Opinion is Fact with David Chang, founder of Mokofuku restaurants. He had on Noelle “Snackmaster” Cornelio. If you like snacks, you should give it a listen, but I learned that the Asian potato chip game is strong and now I will be the judge. I haven’t opened the bag yet that obviously came from sea level because it is about to explode.
PS They aren’t chips. I am an idiot. They are like Melba toast so I need to buy something to put on them or to dip them in. They are very garlicky!
So this is my suggestion, citizens. If you are missing travel, go forth and eat somewhere different. Maybe take in some murals or go shopping at an Asian or Mexican market. Perhaps the town next door has a Korean restaurant that you’ve been meaning to try, or your town has a new taco truck that’s just not in your repertoire yet. Go! Not only are you supporting local and all that jazz, you are helping yourself. You are being adventurous.
By the way, I have an upcoming article in NOCO Style Magazine about wonderful ethnic food restaurants. It may help you start a list of places to go in Northern Colorado.