I was driving down College Avenue a couple of weeks ago when I glimpsed a sign advertising live glass blowing. I thought it sounded like a fun thing to do with my boys, so I made a mental note to check it out. In fact, I was so gung ho about it that I wouldn’t let my family go to the glassblowing studio in Estes Park the last time we were up there. So, imagine my consternation when, with boys in tow, I discovered that the Fort Collins glass blowing establishment in question is...do you know where this is going?...a pot shop. Uh, yeah…I guess they’re not making Christmas ornaments. Good thing the sign on the door read “Must Be 18,” or I probably would have blundered in anyway. (How exactly does one explain that field trip to one’s husband?)
But what might have been a “wasted” trip for some turned into the discovery of hidden gems—literally—when we instead ventured into The Mineral Cache next door. The store is the current tenant in what I’m pretty sure was the long-ago home of the Tattersall children’s store. (Help me out, fellow natives. Anyone else remember that place?)
My boys love and collect rocks, and we were immediately impressed by what we found. Being Coloradoans, we were interested to see the great selection of native rocks and minerals, including calcite, pearilte, barite, jet, yellow garnet, beryl, amazonite, and something called a septarian nodule (which sounds like a medical condition). In addition, the collection includes the Colorado state mineral (rhodochrosite), the Colorado state gemstone (aquamarine), and sizeable chunk of Colorado amethyst. The Mineral Cache has many specimens from more far-flung places, too, including okenite from India. Inside geodes, this mineral forms into little white clumps that look and feel like cotton balls. I almost thought they were a practical joke, along the lines of the granite-looking sponge “rock” my geology professor once used in a lab exam.
One of my pet peeves is being the only customer in a store and having the employee either pretend I’m not there or give me the Single Nod of Extreme Disinterest and then return to a semi-comatose state. Well, this was not the case during our visit. Store employee Brian removed all kinds of stuff from the cases for us to examine, he didn’t mind me taking pictures, and he knowledgably answered every one of our questions. His family owns the “Thank You Lord Mining Claim” on Mt. Antero, a Colorado fourteener known for its plentiful aquamarines, so he was also able to tell us what it’s like to be a working miner. (Contact the store for information about their mining tours.)
So even though my activity for Week 47 didn’t turn out as I planned, it was still a fun experience and reminded me that: a) Fort Collins is full of interesting people and places, and b) for every pot shop door life (thankfully) closes in my face, another door is opened.