Good morning bloggosphere! Thanks so much to all of you who checked out my post on the first leg of our recent trip to CO. If you missed it, go back and read that first THEN come read this one, ok? I’ll give you a minute.
Now that you’re caught up 😉 I’ve got a story for you. Once upon a time, a young, skinny, handsome college boy packed himself in a little car with three friends and few possessions and drove from Iowa to Boulder, CO during a summer break to seek adventure and temporary employment. He lived in a funky old house near Pearl Street, worked at a concrete construction company, and ate a ton of burritos at Illegal Petes. It was a magical time. Many many years later this boy (now an older, buffer, still handsome man) came back to Boulder for just one lovely day and brought his gorgeous adventure-loving pregnant wife and four children to eat a burrito at that very same joint on the Pearl Street Walking Mall. Could the young man have looked ahead 18 years and envisioned this moment? Could the older man look back at those 18 years and trace the steps that had led from that first burrito to the last? Big questions over a big burrito. The end.
After we left our lovely Airbnb in Loveland on Wednesday we drove through Boulder on our way to Denver for Matt’s trade show. Boulder was a place I had a (probably overly-romanticized as usual) idea of in my head, Matt had actual experience of (see above) but 18 year old experience, and we had heard mixed reviews on its overall awesomeness. We weren’t able to be there long, but the hours we wandered the Pearl Street Walking Mall were absolutely fantastic. It was a gorgeous sunny day, the mall was quiet and beautiful (not a hippie cesspool at all!), and the little shops we bopped in were unique and funky and right up my ally. Kombucha, art galleries, all-natural bakeries, fair-trade clothing stores, juice bars, and of course the famous giant bursting-with-flavor burritos at Illegal Petes made for a great stroll. Wish we had more time to dig in to the flavors of this ‘burb…but we’ll be back. Photo time!!
After Boulder we took the short drive to Denver and caught a tour of the US Mint there- one of only four in the US. There were no pictures allowed inside, but we did get to see some great collectible coins, learn about the history of coins and currency production in the US, see the equipment that produces 40 million coins PER DAY, and ogle at three big gold bars worth over $2mil! We’ve been studying money math in school this first quarter, so it was an especially fascinating field trip for our little scholars. Moving along, we checked into our fancy conference-center Marriott in downtown Denver for 3 days of hard work for Daddy and more exploring for the kids and I.
Our time in the Denver area was a lot different than the beginning and the end of our trip- being in a big city for one felt a bit stifling and bustle-y after our time in the open-air-nature-wonderland of RMNP. Also I was on my own with the kids, navigating an unfamiliar town. Now I’m definitely not new at this…almost all of our trips involve some business commitments for Matt so I’m used to have big chunks of time without Daddy to steer the ship and it almost always goes really well. We won’t talk about that one time we got super super lost in the parking ramp below Millenium Park. 😉
As usual, I had done some research prior to our trip (Yelp and Trip Advisor and fellow bloggers- thanks for narrowing down the options for me!) and had a few places planned out to take the kids in the Denver area. One of our first stops was the Denver Museum of Nature and Science which was a fantastic stop- we could have spent several days here and legitimately called it school- so much to learn about so many topics and the kids just soak that stuff up like little nature-loving-having-so-much-fun-they-don’t-know-theyre-learning sponges. 🙂 The balcony overlooking the city skyline and the range behind it was a stunning stumbled-upon find. There were some sweet older volunteers there with special telescopes aimed at the sun- solar flares and storms and all. That view was worth the price of admission (in our case, free because of our membership to the DM Science Center- booya!) alone.
Another place I had researched before our trip was a restaurant called Ace Eat&Serve, where we had slupper after our day exploring the museums. I had an amazing spicy pork ramen bowl, fried kimchi fritters and fresh squeezed juice and the kids devoured grilled shrimp and chicken bento boxes. Seriously such good food- if we had a place like this back home my wallet and waistline would be in trouble. 😉 While we waited for the food and after we were done chowing down, there were ping pong tables galore and the kids had an absolute blast ponging it up. So much smarter than the four crayons and kids’ menus to color on. We could have stayed all day…but the fresh air was calling and we went looking for it. We drove about 30 minutes outside of Denver to this little town called Golden (awwwwwwwww) and did some gentle hiking at sunset in these gorgeous hills. The kids seemed relieved to be out in nature again and picked me some precious CO wild flowers. Be still my soul. We ended the night all clean and cozy back at the hotel with pizza and Underdogs. It was a nice nice day.
The next Denver day we had fewer plans but a gourmet crazy donut place called Glazed and Confused was first on the list. I had a Thai coconut concoction of lemongrassy goodness and rode the sugar high all morning. We drove around a bit and saw a sign for the Red Rocks Amphitheater. What?!? I knew it was in Colorado but had no idea this mecca of music venues was right outside of Denver and that the hiking around the actual venue would be so fantastic. The rock formations there seem to come from nowhere and are unlike anything else I saw during our CO time. Fantastic. My very long bucket list includes seeing a concert here, but after experiencing the space in person that has moved way up the list. In fact as I typed that I took a little Google detour to look up the concert schedule for 2017. I know I’ve said we’re playing it a little closer to home for these next months (baby and all) but eventually the baby will be old enough to leave for a few days so we can go rock out in the rocks, yeah?!
After some very fun hiking and cave-exploring and lets-pretend-we’re-all-different-animals-that-live-in-the-mountains-ing in the Red Rocks area we went driving a bit further and found ourselves in the Pike National Forest. We parked along the side of the road and climbed some massive granite boulders/slabs that were so fun and most certainly the homes of bears and moose and skunks and wolves and all kinds of critters, the only one which we saw being a rabbit which totally scared the you-know-what out of me when it jumped out of the shrub. It was an extra large rabbit. 😉 Moving on we came across a place called “Lair-o-the-bear.” If you read CO blog numero uno you know bears and me go together like peanut butter and poop. 😉 But I decided to face my fear and go check it out with the kids…there were several cars in the parking lot and I took my tiny pink canister of pepper spray. Totally prepared. We did a little hike to a little stream where I let the kids take off their shoes and do a little wading and it was a little scary but mostly awesome. After a bit we got the text from Daddy Bear saying, “I’m done thank God come pick me up at the hotel and lets get outta here” so we drove back into Denver and he took the wheel and pointed us straight West toward Part 3 of our Fabulous Colorado Adventure, which you’ll hear more about after these pictoral messages…
See y’all back here real soon! More mountainous fun (and lots of aspens!) to come…