HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE
My latest book, HALLEY, awarded 2015 Jefferson Cup Honor for Historical Fiction, awarded the Moonbeam Silver Medal for Young Adult Fiction, and awarded the 2016 Frank Yerby Award for Fiction. Available at: NewSouth Books: www.newsouthbooks.com/halley and Amazon.
I enjoy a good cup of coffee, but some of the places where I’ve had my coffee have raised the experience to new levels.
The first that comes to mind is the collection of rustic cabins on top of Mount Le Conte in the Smoky Mountains. Having heard of the place several times, my husband and I first made the five-and-a-half mile hike to the top in 1968, and I still remember how the camp looked then, how it smelled, how far removed it seemed from ordinary life. It was like going back in time to a long ago, simpler age. Wood smoke tinged the fresh mountain air, but there was a smell of coffee too—from the dining cabin. We soon learned there was plenty of it, free—for guests. And later, in our many stays, with and without the two sons we eventually had, we were to experience it for ourselves.
Another such place was the section of Hadrian’s Wall near Haltwhistle, England. We were there early on a September morning in 1993 when mists hung about the stone wall. It felt as if the ghosts of the roman soldiers who had built and then defended this wall were still present, just out of sight. We saw the remains of the barracks where they’d slept and the bath house where they would have relaxed. We felt the chill winds sweeping in, too, on that autumn day. For a little while, we could imagine ourselves standing in the sandals of those long ago Roman soldiers. We even walked a hundred yards or so alongside the wall, getting more and more chilled by the minute. Soon we were talking about going to find a cup of hot coffee or tea in town. Leaving, we met the employees who managed the site, arriving to set up business for a day of charging admission fees. Too late to charge us! We spent our money on coffee.
Recently, Benjamin and I added another place to our short list of magic places to drink coffee—Kiva Koffeehouse, near Escalante, Utah.
It was one of those days when we had taken several hikes and stopped at countless overlooks of the breath-taking arid terrain in southwest Utah. All at once, we swung around a turn and there below and off to the left was a curving stone building that seemed to be a natural part of the landscape. Like a mirage, we saw the sign: Kiva Koffeehouse. Here? Miles from a town? In the middle of nowhere? Yes!
Suddenly a cup of coffee was exactly what we wanted. Benjamin pulled off to a narrow driveway that led to a parking area. The koffeehouse was lower on the slope than the parking area, so we had to go down a flight of steps to the entrance. Inside, tables followed the curve of the semicircular wall. Huge 300-year-old Ponderosa pine logs supported the ceiling. High windows brought the desert landscape inside. Below the Koffeehouse , on a different level, was another building we thought must be living quarters for the manager, but it turned out to be guest quarters that were available to rent. We knew it was over our budget, but didn’t know how much over until we got home and checked on the Internet. It was also booked solid.
“Two cups of coffee,” Benjamin told the waitress. Then we became aware that there were delicious looking temptations in a display case a few feet away. We ordered lemon bars. I don’t remember what they cost, but it was worth it. While we nibbled and sipped, we looked at the pottery and the black and white photos on display, soaking in the atmosphere of one of those rare places like no other.
Only the arrival of closing time at 4:30 forced us to leave. As we pulled out into the highway another car was pulling in—too late to have the full experience—but not too late for seeing this magic place in the desert.
If you’re ever near Escalante, Utah, look for Kiva Koffeehouse on east highway 12. You won’t be disappointed. They’ll give you a free refill on your coffee!
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