Yampa At the end of a wide dirt main street and a row of shops with wild west wooden fronts sits The Antlers Cafnd Bar.
Hitching posts are still outside and still used by local ranchers who ride up for a Budweiser and a hand-cut, locally raised steak.
Inside, the walls are lined with taxidermy and the old wooden booths that have been there for a hundred years as long as the place has been open.
Two six-foot, gold-framed nude women pose on either side of the restaurant and add to the anyone-can-get-shot-at-this-night's-poker-game feel.
The Antlers, which is listed on the State Register of Historic Properties, is a place rumor says changed owners during a hand of cards.
The Antlers is a surprising discovery and a welcomed cold beer for dirty backpackers coming off long trips in the Flat Tops.
It's a gourmet road trip for Steamboat food lovers and a Yampa locals' favorite.
It is all those things most recently because of the work of Chef Margi Bach.
With two red braids and a tough-girl smile, Bach has been cooking, she says, since she was 4.
Her father was a chef and her grandfather was a butcher. She says it's in her blood.
She went away to school at the University of Maryland in Baltimore to major in journalism, but deep down she knew the only thing she would ever write was a cookbook.
"You don't choose to be a chef," she said. "It chooses you."
Bach joined The Antlers kitchen three years ago and immediately started work on bringing Yampa locals back to her tables.
Yampa is made up of mostly ranchers, railroad men and coal miners.
The previous chef did a good job attracting Steamboat and Vail patrons but alienated the people who lived right out the back door.
Bach serves locally grown lamb, beef and pork when it's possible and fresh local mushrooms and in-season produce when it's available.
She calls the food at Antlers "fresh Colorado cuisine."
"People come in here and they don't want to meet me, but they do take pictures of the food," Bach said. "It's because I love what I do."
Idea for a night out
These days you might find a horse and carriage parked in front of the restaurant.
Driver Angie Hess, a Yampa resident, will take you through town or onto the tree-lined road, past grazing sheep, often to watch the sunset.
If you're curious enough, Hess may even tell you her fascinating life story along the way.
She left home when she was 13 years old and showed up in Colorado with some friends.
A rule breaker and adventurer, it took her a while to find a place where she fit in.
Now that she's found it, Yampa seems to suit her nicely.
"It's not every place where you can drive a horse and carriage down the middle of the street," she said. "This is a great place."
After high school, Hess married.
When her husband received an assignment to the Air Force base in Phoenix, Ariz., she moved with him.
They had a son together but eventually divorced.
By the time her son was ready for kindergarten, she had become tired of Phoenix.
"I grew up in the city and I didn't want that for my son," she said.
She decided to return to Colorado. That was eight years ago.
Home prices kept her out of Steamboat, but she eventually found a place in Yampa.
"It's so crazy in Steamboat now," she said. "I'm glad I ended up here."
Yampa has changed since her arrival. Commuters are moving in from Vail and property values have quadrupled.
Hess has been working with horses for years, but a bad back took her out of the saddle.
"I wanted my horses to be more than big dogs in the front yard taking up money," she said. "So I turned to carriage driving. It's the perfect solution."
She bought Zane, the horse that usually pulls her carriage, in October. He's a white Percheron draft horse. His breed was created during the medieval ages for war, Hess said.
"I've never been around draft horses before," she said. "I usually have quarterhorses and they don't have much personality. Zane is completely the opposite."
Originally, Hess drove her carriage for shows, not for profit. She didn't even realize the potential of a business until one day when there were two weddings scheduled in Yampa.
Her friends convinced her to drive up to the weddings in her carriage and offer rides.
She changed into show clothes and pulled up as soon as the doors opened.
Her timing was perfect and the $50 she made in 10 minutes alerted her to the potential.
Before long she was receiving calls for more weddings. It was time to start a business.
She will now come to anyone's door in Colorado for any event or you can find her at The Antlers while enjoying Bach's "No Apologies" meatloaf.
The Antlers is located at 40 Moffat Ave. in Yampa, 638-4555. Angie Hess can be reached by calling 638-4696.