Unhurried, but with plenty to do, wander Paonia
Sure, you can head over to Paonia and get ambitious. There are mountains to climb and woods to explore, and the pristine beauty of the North Fork Valley certainly leads the feet in those directions.
But here’s another thought: Stop by Galaxy Bike and Sport (334 Grand Ave.) and rent a bike. Or, if even that seems too rushed, simply walk.
Paonia is a town of unhurried pace and lovely tableaux, and a way to really appreciate it is with all the time in the world. Or what seems like all the time in the world, at least for a day.
In fact, a timeline (not that you’d want, or need, one):
Start your day — not too early! — with a reviving beverage at Backcountry Coffee, 210 Third St. And maybe some homemade granola with yogurt and fresh fruit? Why not!
Then, continue moseying down Grand Avenue for a church architecture and tree tour. The Paonia Christian Fellowship, the Church of the Nazarene, Friends Church and Sacred Heart Catholic Church offer lots to look at, regardless of your beliefs. Plus, as Tree City USA, Paonia is all shady lanes and dappled sunlight falling on a riot of dandelions.
After your architecture fix, turn around and wander back to Grand Avenue. A long three blocks constitutes Paonia’s downtown, where there are shops, theaters and restaurants — Ollie’s Ice Cream, Homestead Market, Hays Variety Store, Paradise Theater and Louie’s, which offers live music most weekends.
By this point, it’s probably lunchtime. The Flying Fork Cafe and Bakery, 101 Third St., offers fresh, local cuisine and impossible decisions: Should you have the grilled lemon ginger chicken salad or an open-faced chicken Parmesan sandwich? Or maybe rigatoni pomodoro or creamy pesto pasta with garlic toast? Keep in mind it’s open for dinner, too.
After lunch, head next door to Elsewhere Studios, 107 Third St., to learn more about Paonia’s Community Support Art Library and the work of Elsewhere’s artists in residence.
In the afternoon, tour one of the North Fork Valley’s many farms, orchards and vineyards (information at http://www.paoniachamber.com). Stop by Delicious Orchards, 39126 Highway 133, for a sip of organic apple cider, then go to Orchard Valley Farms, 15836 Black Bridge Road, to pick your own organic fruit.
Finally, wind down your lazily busy day in Paonia with a refreshing beverage at Revolution Brewing, 302 Grand Ave. Sit outside, lean back and watch the sun paint the West Elk Mountains pink and gold.
And, when it’s all over, feel grateful for small towns and smaller moments, and world-fulls of experience.