Just a week after visiting The Outlets at Castle Rock and being distressed by the sky-high vacancy rate there, I discovered a similar situation in Idaho Springs, a community I've enjoyed visiting for years. On September 6, Miner Street, the heart of the old downtown, was hardly bustling, and a surprising number of storefronts along the main drag were unoccupied -- including Skipper's Ice Cream Parlor, a staple of the community that was always packed whenever I dropped by. As you can see by the image here, the folks behind Skipper's have decamped for Grand Junction, one of the few cities in the state that's doing well, thanks mainly to the explosion of oil shale and natural gas exploration taking place nearby. Sounds like a campaign slogan John McCain might be able to use: "Drill Now, or No More Ice Cream." -- Michael Roberts
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