Tag Archives: 5280

Food Tasting Tours Around Denver

September 27, 2014

website: http://www.Denvergourmettours.com
phone: 720-722-2350
Price: $49-$69, Groupon half-price

Not going to the mountains, want to explore a neighborhood, and try some food, on a nice day, http://www.denvergourmettours.com might be something different to try.

Now for the caveats…get the groupon as I found “gourmet” to be a bit of a stretch. Gourmet applied to the portion size more than the type of places that we visited.

There are a variety of tours available. We picked the Highlands expecting to go to some of the popular, fancy restaurants, though for $25 we had our suspicions. While we didn’t make it to any place fancy, we did stop by a few places I didn’t know about and the day was glorious, so overall we found the tour to be worth it once.

We started out at Savory Spice on Platte Street which is a shop, not a restaurant. We were provided a bowl of popcorn and got to taste several spices that they grow and grind themselves. It is a very nice spice shop, and I have been to the one in Littleton. Any cook would love this place. http://www.savoryspiceshop.com/

From the spice shop, we walked next door to Eat+Drink, a popular Vail Valley artisan cheese boutique. While it feels more like a fancy cheese shop to me, Eat+Drink includes a small indoor dining area and patio. The menu offers paninis, cheese plates, olives, charcuterie plates, salads, and even chocolate flights and wine. We tried three different cheeses on tasty bread which we quite good. http://eatdrinkinc.com/

From Platte Street, we crossed the bridge and walked up to Boulder Street where the Highlands Farmers Market is held. It was just ending around 1 p.m. when we visited Shangri-La Cafe. Again, I wouldn’t consider a coffee shop gourmet, but I will say the Artufo panini (turkey, pesto, swiss and arugala) was fantastic! If I lived in this neighborhood, I’d probably come here for breakfast sandwiches. I bet they are good. http://shangrilacafe.com/

We moved on from savory to sweet and tried out the ice cream at Little Man which offers a handful of flavors from its freestanding building. For every scoop it serves, it donates a scoop of rice or beans to underdeveloped countries. The scoops are large and filling. I see why we came here next, due to the location, but it was weird to have ice cream and then visit a Jamaican Food Truck. http://www.littlemanicecream.com/

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We returned close to our starting location and enjoyed a pulled pork taco and fried banana from the food truck by the Denver Beer Company. I was positively full by then, but I stuffed down the tasty dish with a beer before we ended our afternoon. http://denverbeerco.com/

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We were surprised by the warmth of the late September day, but enjoyed the sun while we could. We were also surprised by the average age on the tour which was a bit older than expected, but didn’t affect us. While we didn’t try any fancy restaurants, it was nice to spend a nice, relaxing weekend day in Denver. It doesn’t seem like I do that very often. ETB

For notecards, key chains, and photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
pine cones website

Root for the Rapids!

September 27, 2014

Colorado Rapids
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
6000 Victory Way
Commerce City, CO 80022

Phone: 303-727-3500
Email: rapidsfanmail@dsgpark.com
Website: http://www.coloradorapids.com/

It’s not too late. There is still one month left in the Colorado Rapids soccer season. The team plays at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park located a few miles north of I-70 on Quebec. The tickets are reasonably priced (especially in the resale forum on the team’s website) and the free parking with relatively light traffic makes this professional sporting event an enjoyable and affordable night out for a single person or a family.

I’ve been fortunate to go to a few games this season, most recently with my friend Suman this last weekend. We purchased $12 tickets, sat in the corner, and snacked on venue food. I can’t go to a ballgame without getting some junk food. I can’t say the food was particularly good, but it was reasonably priced and the whole night was probably cheaper than going to a movie these days!

The Rapids play in the Western Conference and currently are not in the top five teams to reach the playoffs. I’m not sure they will make it, but does that really matter? It’s time to support soccer, and judging by the crowd at the game, the Rapids have a great fan base! We had a fun time at this lively event and watched an exciting finish.

There are two home games left, October 5 and October 18 at 1:00pm. Enjoy a nice fall day at the stadium and then head over to North Field for some shopping and eating or maybe even stop by Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge which is right next door and look for the bison (see my post http://adventuresofacouchsurfer.com/2013/11/17/barr-lake-state-park-and-rocky-mountain-arsenal-national-wildlife-refuge/). Go Rapids! ETB

For notecards, key chains, and photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
fall colors website

Circle City Park!

September 13, 2014

Website: http://www.denvergov.org/ParksandRecreation/ParksandRecreation/Parks/CityParks/tabid/443559/Default.aspx

Denver has 205 parks in its city limits which makes it the largest park system in the U.S.. City Park is the largest park in Denver. I think if I walk the nine blocks from my house to the park, circle it and return, it is almost 4 miles!

The park is home to all sorts of indoor and outdoor activities for anyone to enjoy. Just take a walk around the park and enjoy a nice day like I did a few weekends ago or try something else.

Want to play tennis, well use the courts at City Park. How about horseshoes? You can find horseshoe pits by the tennis courts on the west end. Want to join a kick ball, volley ball or soccer league. You can probably find one at City Park.

Is that too active? Then enjoy a picnic in the shade or by the ponds. Watch your kids play on either one of the playgrounds. You could even press your luck and feed the geese, though that might turn into an active activity when you have to run away from them.

The park is also home to the Denver Zoo (look for a post soon), the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and City Park Golf Course. But that is not all, try out a surrey, a pedal boat, kayak, or paddle board. There are ample things to do at the park and in the summer Jazz in the Park is free on Sunday nights!

Enjoy some fall days at the park before the snow comes and the mountains call skiers to their peaks. ETB

For notecards, key chains, or photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
lichen website

36th Annual Park Hill Home Tour

September 28, 2014

website: http://greaterparkhill.org/
Ticket Price: $15/adults in advance, $20/adult on the day, lower pricing for seniors and children

Well, you will have to wait a year, but going on the annual Park Hill Home Tour is worth $20! The event is held annually and is the biggest fundraiser for the Park Hill Community. I volunteered to work the event for three hours (2-5). As such, I earned a free ticket and three hours to use it (11-2).

I started out 2334 Grape Street. From the sketch of the home, I wasn’t sure I’d like it as the low point of the roof is in the center of the house. But in the end, I think it was my favorite. It was simple, sleek, modern, and zen all at the same time. I’m not exactly sure how all those adjectives can be used in the same sentence, but they can. Personally, if it were my home, I wouldn’t need a meditation room or sauna, but I had to admire the thought and planning that went into the home. It was obvious that the owners knew exactly what they wanted from the placement of the windows to the rain chains to the finish out, and I had to appreciate their thoughtfulness.

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From 2334 Grape, I crossed the street to visit 2351 which is a very modern home. The white kitchen cabinets with the stainless steel appliance were quite nice, but the coolest part of the house was the staircase. The maple steps are suspended by thin steel cables which creates a very airy appearance. The stairs looked like they were floating!

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I continued south down Grape to 2050. This home was built in the late 1800’s so that alone earns some kudos. While I could mention indoor features, these have been written up on all the houses in several papers like this one http://www.parkhillhometour.org/home-tour/, so I’m focusing on a few things I like from each house. I think it is cool to have a carriage house, but would I loved the most about this house was the yard. The double lot included a large grassy area, a garden, a small little bridge, a large chess board with pieces and a large Scrabble Board! Who knew you could play Scrabble outside on the ground with letters so big grandma can see them!!

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By now, it was lunch time, so meandered over to Forest and Montview to check out the street fair which included two long blocks of vendors, a block of food tents, a block of old cars, and a band. The grassy median included tables and seating and there was even an alcohol tent requesting a suggested donation. I grabbed half a gyro from Nicky’s Quickies and enjoyed the sunny day before I strolled by the furniture, jewelry, clothes, and other vendors.

1932 Hudson Street was pretty close to the street fair, so I stopped at that home next. These owners did some significant renovations on this 1925 home. Before pictures were hung near the doorways of many rooms, just the paint, furniture, and window dressings made a big difference in most rooms. But they added on to the back of the home enlarging the upstairs master bedroom which added a gas fireplace and lovely patio. This expansion also changed a tiny kitchen into a large one. The old one almost looks like a hallway as it functions like a bar area.

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When I began the tour, I wasn’t certain if I would be able to make enough time for the Monaco house given I was walking and it was a bit out of the way relative to the rest of the houses on the tour. Had I chosen to drive or ride my bike, I certainly would not have faced an issue, and I fortunately did not run into a time issue walking either. What a nice way to get in some exercise and enjoy this beautiful fall day!

2315 Monaco Parkway was interesting. It was a more traditional home like the last two. The kitchen and the powder bath off the kitchen appeared recently updated and were very nice. I liked the paint colors as well and found the wide band of paint by the molding worked well. The tile window sills were cool and the rooftop patio was fantastic. Some of the other bathrooms still had the old time which I loved though they could have used new sinks! The home owner is an avid gardener, and I loved how the vegetables were intermingled with the flower garden so that the vegetables were almost camouflaged.

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The final stop was Smiley Campus which opened in 1928. Now it is the new home for McAuliffe International School and Venture Prep. It was just on my way home, which was perfect as I took a quick break before I returned to 2334 Grape St. to sell tickets for the afternoon.

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I really enjoyed the tour and street fair. Next year I’m torn. I’m not sure if I will volunteer and do the tour, or get a booth and sell my cards, key chains, and photos as I have a good walk up business at fairs. Regardless, if the weather is good, and it was perfect until 4:45, the Park Hill Home Tour is a nice event for a fall day, especially when the Broncos aren’t playing. The only thing that could have made it better is if photos were allowed indoors. ETB

For notecards, key chains, and photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
maple leaf website

The Chihuly Exhibit at Denver Botanic Gardens

September 16, 2014

Denver Botanic Gardens
10007 York Street
Denver, CO 80207
720-865-3500, press 0
email: see contact us on website
http://www.botanicgardens.org/

Hours: 9am-8pm

Fees: Members/Free, Adults/$15, Students and Seniors/$12, Kids (3-15)/$9, Kids under 3/Free

The Chihuly Exhibit has been at Denver Botanic Gardens’ York Street location since June 14th and remains in the heart of Denver until November 30, 2014.

I attended the exhibit opening night for garden members in the rain a few months ago and then again last night with a few of my girlfriends. I thought it would be interesting to see the glass in all different light…overcast, sunset, and night.

Being a member, the exhibit is free until October 3rd when Chihuly Nights begins. At such time, there is a $10 admission fee for members and $15 for non-members as the gardens are not usually open at night in the winter-time, though it appears members are afforded two complimentary tickets, so reserve them now!

Chihuly is from Washington, studied interior design and continued his education in glass in the late 1960s. In 1971, he co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State and is credited in revolutionizing the glass blowing industry. His pieces can be found all over the world. For as famous as he is, I thought maybe there would be more information on each piece of art. Perhaps it is just the statistician in me that made me wonder how much glass he used for each piece, how long it took to make each one, how much each one weighed, and his inspirations for each creation.

I didn’t find much of that information online (a little on inspiration) or at the Botanic Gardens, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the art work. Some of the pieces looked like snakes, others birds, feathers, icicles, fire, spouts of water and rocks, just to name a few. The pieces dotting the landscape of the gardens added to the majesty. I particularly liked the boat of balls. The colorful reflection in the tranquil pond equals “Serenity Now”.

We wandered along the sidewalks, trails, and the wending river rock path twice through the variety of gardens to not only get different view of the glass, but to also enjoy the waterfalls, ponds, flowers, cacti and fragrances. Along with the Chihuly Exhibition, the Denver Botanic Gardens offers a variety of programs and events from summer concerts, classes and plant and bulb sales. It’s important to check its website for special events and closures.

The York Street location is a gem. I have yet to visit the Chatfield location or Mt. Goliath but will have to soon! ETB

For notecards, key chains, and photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
Sunflowers website

Festival Italiano at Belmar

September 7, 2014

This weekend marked the 11th annual italian festival at Belmar. Sunny skies and lovely temperatures lured a group of us to the event. Moria and Mario love the event so much, they attend the festival both days, every year. It lasts from 10am-9pm on Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sunday. This was my first year to stroll along the closed off streets lined with artisan, food and wine vendors. Gelato, pizza, and italian sausage were tasty italian food choices.

Along with trying the food, we checked out the chalk art, watched the flag throwers, and surveyed the bocce tournament. We could have also taken an Italian lesson if we wanted, though I don’t think stomping grapes was open to adults, only children. Music stages stood at both ends of the long street of tents, and schedules for all activities are available on the website: http://www.belmarcolorado.com/sub/event/festival_italiano/

After enjoying a nice afternoon in the middle patio area, we bought some flavored pasta and pastries for the road. It was a nice, relaxing afternoon with friends. ETB

For notecards, key chains or photos on canvas visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
enchanted keychain sideview

The Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary

August 30, 2014

The Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary
42132 Ridge Road
Deer Trail, CO 80105
303-621-7752
info@greatescapesanctuary.org
http://greatescapesanctuary.org/

Hours: Call to schedule tour (allow 3+ hours)

Suggested Donation Fee for Tour: $40/adult, $20/child (6-15), under 6 FREE

Today I went with a group to the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary. I hadn’t heard of the sanctuary before, but was excited to have a chance to go see some wild horses, especially Mustangs, a symbol of the American West.

The Sanctuary, also known as GEMS, is located on 900 acres at the northern tip of the Black Forest in Deer Trail, CO about 85 miles southeast of Denver. I wouldn’t have guessed there could be a forest after driving past miles of flat farmland. Uniquely, the driving directions on GEMS website use “trees” as a landmark! Part of the drive is along a well maintained dirt road and probably takes 1:15 hrs from the Stapleton area.

Our group of ten took a hiking tour that we found on Living Social through the property to see the wild Mustangs. Deanna greeted us. We signed a waiver and were offered a restroom in the office before we began by visiting the burros.

The burros arrived from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facility in Canon City ten days ago. Enclosed in a fenced area by the barn, they stood in the middle of the pen as we peppered Deanna with a variety of questions about the facility, its mission, and the Mustangs in general.

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We followed a dirt road along the open, rolling hills of the property. Though the rain wrecked havoc on the road which may also be used for driving tours, it made for a nice landscape of green grass and wildflowers that would otherwise be non-existent in August. We enjoyed a lovely day, no rain, and though warm by the afternoon, I can think of much hotter days during most summers.

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After about 1.5 miles, we finally spotted the Mustangs up on the hill in the shade of one tree. We walked a half mile further, mostly on the road and partly bushwacking through tall grass sprinkled with yucca and prickly pear. Soon we were picnicking 30 feet from 21 wild horses.

The Mustangs came to the sanctuary from a variety of places, though all future Mustangs will be coming from the Sand Wash Basin about 45 miles northwest of Craig, CO. The Sand Wash Basin is one of the BLM’s Herd Management Areas where the BLM conducts round-ups. As Deanna put it, “The round-up is not a pleasant experience for the horses,” but the area is rocky with little shade and cannot support the herd, so the government collects as many horses as it can and keeps them at its holding facilities. From what I understand, the holding facilities are not that great either, so it is nice that non-profit sanctuaries like GEMS are being created to offer these horses a better life.

Not only do the American Mustangs have better grass, shade and weather in Deer Trail, CO, they are also handled, trained, and adopted over time, thus the horses go to good homes! GEMS is currently home to eleven Sand Wash Basin Mustangs. Most of them were gathered as yearlings in 2008 and lived at a holding facility in Canon City until the sanctuary adopted them at the end 2012. Of course, before GEMS could adopt the horses, the government inspected the facilities and did not hand over the title to the horses for a year until after the government checked on the safety and well being of the Mustangs.

In addition to the American Mustangs, GEMS offers a home to several Spanish Mustangs. The Spanish Mustangs have quite a different appearance from the American Mustangs. Many have a dark stripe down their back and most of the ones at the sanctuary were of a roan, gray or pinto color, though not all. The Spanish Mustangs came from a few different ranches including the Cayuse Ranch, Caballos De Destinos, and from a man in Foxton, CO who passed away.

Most of the Mustangs are small for a horse, pony size standing 14 hands high. Generally, the group stood with their rumps to us beneath a tree, however, a few entertained us. Naomi, a chestnut mare with a few white splotches on her side, was the most interested in us. She came the closest and let Deanna pet her for a second. What a pretty face she had too!

The black and the gray were inseparable, so they followed each other around near the vicinity of the other horses. Tanner, one of the two geldings on the property, was very interested in three of the Spanish Mustang mares, so he pinned his ears and directed traffic occasionally. While I was standing slightly off from the group for a few minutes shooting photos, the Spanish mares came directly toward me. Deanna mentioned that Tanner was relatively friendly, so I held my hand out in hopes for a quick pet, but he was more interested in the ladies he was following.

After our leisurely picnic, we bushwacked a different direction back to the road as we headed toward the barn. We met a few more Mustangs in a pen near the burros. One old lady was close enough to pet. We also walked out to the front pasture to meet some of GEMS “ambassador” Mustangs, though they were more interested in grazing than visiting us. The ambassador horses are halter broken, trained in ground work, and trailer trained. They go to different educational events for Mustangs.

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There are many ways to get involved with Mustangs including volunteering at GEMS and even documenting horses at the herd management areas to improvement lineage records. Visiting the sanctuary was both an educational and peaceful experience. I recommend it for something fun and different to do near the outskirts of Denver…ETB

For notecards, key chains, and photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
lichen website

The Butterfly Pavilion

August 28, 2014

The Butterfly Pavilion
6252 West 104th Ave.
Westminster, CO 80020
303-469-5441
https://www.butterflies.org/
visitorservices@butterflies.org

hours: 9am-5pm, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

prices: adults=$9.50, Westminster residents and seniors=$7.50, children(2-12)=$6.50, children<2=FREE

The forecast called for showers throughout the day, so Tanya and I chose to visit The Butterfly Pavillion for an indoor activity. The Butterfly Pavillion calls itself "a zoo of small wonders and BIG experience" and boasts over 5,ooo animals. While the majority of animals are butterflies that fly free in a humid dome, the small facility also includes a variety of other creatures to admire.

The entry hall led us to the first room which featured bugs, spiders, and bees. We looked beetles, cockroaches, scorpions, stickbugs and trantulas from around the world with the highlight being Rosie. Rosie was a tarantula that crawled on a zoo keeper's hands. Tanya and I had pepper the young lady with multiple questions before we allowed Rosie to crawl on our hands. First, we wanted to know what it would feel like. "Q-tips," she responded. Just looking at the hairy spider sent chills through my spine. I expressed my fear that I might fling her across the room when she touched me. The young zoo keeper assured us that she would hold our hands. After much convincing, we faced our fear. Despite Rosie being the size of our hand, she hardly weighed a thing! It was so cool, and we even earned a sticker for holding her.

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We moved from the bug room, to the room of sea creatures. Though the room was small and featured approximately eight aquariums and two touching pools, I could have stayed in this area for an hour, probably due to my fascination with underwater sea life. As much as I have been SCUBA diving, I was surprised to see such a unique collection of sea life, some species of which I have never seen.

I loved the Fiddler Crab which lives in mangroves on land and not in the water. The male is identified by its large pincer that it waves to court females. Each crab had a tiny pincer it ate with and another large one to attract the females! The aquariums also featured upside down jellyfish, colorful Halloween crabs, amazing sea anemones and corals (many of which were new to me), as well as sea stars and horse shoe crabs to touch.

We moved from the cool, rectangular rooms to the butterfly pavilion which was humid like a rainforest. Orchids and hibiscus along with a selection of blooming flowers attracted countless butterflies. Many flitted one flower to the next. Others perched quietly on trees, vines, and even plates of fruit from which they fed. At first, we walked along the curving sidewalk, spun around, and pointed at the colorful insects as they glided around us. Then we simply stood still and stared into an area. It was amazing how many we could find camouflaged on a tree. Two of them even landed on Tanya.

Signs posted in the gardens reminded us of the life cycle of the butterfly. A butterfly’s egg, generally the size of a period punctuating a sentence lasts for two weeks before it enters the larval stage. The larva, also known as a caterpillar, lasts two to eight weeks before it enters into the pupal stage. The pupal stage is two to four weeks long before the butterfly emerges. A sign describing a few species of butterflies was also posted, though a more descriptive pamphlet to help identify these delicate creatures was available at check in for a $1.

From the gardens, we visited an interactive maze for kids which tested their knowledge on the rainforests and butterfly farms. Every week, the butterfly pavilion buys 600 to 1,000 pupa from butterfly farms located around the world! We learned all sorts of facts about butterflies, including their eating habits and reasons why butterflies lay their eggs on certain plants.

I found the exhibits to be well done and informative and the gift shop was extensive. We spent approximately 2 hours at the facility, from 10:30-12:30 on a week day and shared it with many toddlers. It would be a good place for a kid’s birthday. The Butterfly Pavilion also hosts events such as yoga and “Hoppy Hour” and has a ballroom for any type of corporate meeting space. For more information including membership, visit https://www.butterflies.org/. ETB

For notecards, key chains, or photos on canvas, visit http://www.notablenotecards.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards
great spangled fritillary website copy