COBWEB CORNERS: Picnic trips when I was a kid
By Mel McFarland
As a kid we did a lot of picnics in the summer. Sure, just to get to someplace cooler! In my family, on a Sunday morning my mother might make fried chicken, potato salad and such, and off we would go. If it was less planned, we might grab meat, buns and chips on the way. There was an old frying pan we'd bring along too. Our first cooler and insulated jug was called a "Little Brown Jug" and it was used to pack the goodies and probably iced tea. On rare occasions we would stop in Manitou for mineral water, usually from the Ute Chief spring at the west end of Manitou. Manitou water lemonade has a long history in my family back to when my grandparents were courting, well over a hundred years ago.
I was recently talking to friends about spots we used to go up around Woodland Park, often just parking beside the road, scraping together a fire and frying burgers in the old frying pan. Now many of these spots are in someone's yard! Old Manitou Park was great, and it still is, even if you pay a small fee! Eleven Mile Canyon is in that range also, but for me it held a special touch. I just knew a railroad had to have been there, long before I learned of the Colorado Midland.
My mother grew up in Colorado and she really liked being in the mountains, and I can not remember any long discussions about when to go on a picnic. My dad loved to drive in the mountains and both were pretty good cooks, so the two of us kids never complained about it until we were teenagers, and then we complained about a lot of things! Today we remember some of the fun places we had picnics, as well as some of the food. My father was from Maryland and every three or four years we would drive back there. Traveling was just an extended picnic, as we rarely ate anything but breakfast or dinner in a restaurant. Our brown cooler held goodies for at least two lunches! Finding rest stops with tables was almost unheard of then!