Tag Archives: denver

Cycle to Golden

March 28, 2015

Ride to Golden
Length: Approximately 30 miles

What a great spring day in Denver. Being a non-skier, I’ve been enjoying this unseasonably warm weather, though I suppose there are others who wish it would snow. We took advantage of this 70 degree March day to bike ride to Golden.

I’ve only completed this ride once along the road from REI. This time we met across from Linger as one of our friends lived nearby. Once we all congregated, Brian and Erin on their tandem led the way. They cycle frequently, so they know several trails.

This time we took the Clear Creek Trail to Golden as opposed to the 26th and 32nd. Due to some damage to the trail, we took Tennyson north to the trail in order to skip the problematic area. Little did we know a Cesar Chavez parade would be going down Tennyson when we started our ride!

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Once on the trail, we followed the creek while stopping occasionally to fix Moria’s bike. I think she is all set for next time. We crossed a few bridges, rode through several hatches, climbed a few hills and skipped a few others when we jumped off the trail and took 32nd into town. Originally, we planned to tour the Coors Brewery, but most of us were hungry so we stopped at Bob’s Atomic Burger. In order to deliver our orders, they call out names they gave us like Yogi Bear and Farrah Fawcett. We got the last table on the patio outside and savored some tasty burgers and sweet potato fries.

Mario met us at the burger joint to pick up Moria and Michelle. The rest of us decided to skip the Coors Brewery Tour. Everyone had done it except for me. I didn’t realize there would be a 20 minute line or so just to be shuttled to the brewery, so I’ll plan another ride out to Golden some other time.

After lunch, we followed the roads home. This way is almost all downhill, and we easily reached speeds of 35 mph. Brian, Erin, and Harlow stopped at Hogshead Brewery on our way back into town. I carried on for the next two miles back to the car so I could make it to my niece’s soccer game.

The round-trip on the road from REI is about 30 miles. We added about four extra by traveling north to the trail. It doesn’t feel like a hard ride as the uphill is mostly gradual and stopping for lunch breaks up the length of time on the bike. What a great day to be outside with great company. ETB

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camellia website

Matisse and Friends Exhibit

February 6, 2015

Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century
Denver Art Museum
100 W 14th Ave Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204
Phone: 720-865-5000
Website: http://www.denverartmuseum.org/exhibitions

Fees: Colorado adult resident – $10, non-resident adult $13; for seniors and youth pricing check the website; member – free
Hours: Tues-Thurs, Sat-Sun 10-5; Friday 10-8

While I have to say Tanya and I enjoyed a lovely day on this splendid, Denver afternoon, I recommend not paying for the Matisse and Friends Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. And given it is closing today (February 8, 2015), don’t feel bad if you missed it.

We started out with lunch on the patio at Lo Stella enjoying 60 degree temperatures in February! My grilled seafood salad was fantastic as well. Tanya ordered the Nicoise which wasn’t traditional, but a nice salad once she added salmon.

Lo Stella is just a few blocks from the museum, so in no time we presented our member cards, and had access to a large, exhibit room on the first floor that seemed like it would house several Matisse paintings which we were excited to see. Much to our dismay, the exhibit displayed more of his “friends” work, than that of Matisse. And while I am no art connoisseur, both Tanya and I liked some of his “friends” work, better than the four Matisse paintings hanging on two walls.

Due to the bright colors, we liked Matisse’s “The Open Window” the best. It was also cool to see how he depicted the scene compared to a black and white photo of the window located at the entrance of the room.

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Our favorite painting in the Matisse exhibit was by Rauol Dufy. It was of sailboats.

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Despite the limited number of paintings in the exhibit, only 14 in total, the atmosphere with different colored walls and cozy seating arrangements were an added touch.

Fortunately, the museum is large. Since we strolled through the Matisse exhibit so quickly, we wandered through part of the regular museum. Some of the western art was fantastic, along with “junk” art made of cardboard and styrofoam.

There was also a neat piece made of the metal pieces that cover the tops of wine bottles. All in all we had a nice time, though we wished there were more than four Matisse oils. ETB

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Sunflowers website

Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century

December 13, 2014

Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century
Denver Art Museum
100 W 14th Ave Pkwy
Denver, CO 80204
Phone: 720-865-5000
Website: http://www.denverartmuseum.org/exhibitions

Fees: Non-member weekend with audio: $27, Non-member weekday with audio: $25; for member pricing and other discounts check the website
Hours: Tues-Thurs, Sat-Sun 10-5; Friday 10-8

Cartier was founded in Paris, France in 1847 by Louis Francois Cartier.  The company remained family owned until 1964.  Louis Francois Cartier’s grandsons, Louis, Pierre, and Jacques, who were responsible for making the brand recognizable world wide.

Cartier sold its jewels to royalty and movie stars and produced several different styles of clocks, vanity cases, and jewelry influenced by a variety of cultures.  I was suprised to see the Asian Influence at the Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century exhibit at the Denver Art Museum.

What a treat for Denverites as Denver is the only US city where this exhibit will travel.  It stays open until March 15th and is worth a visit.  Crown jewels displayed at the beginning reflected the light so brightly, I couldn’t even snap a good photo.

I found a few favorites.  One bracelet which I thought was ruby and diamond also included enamel and onyx.  I was surprised to read about the extra gems and stopped to take a closer look at all the intricacies.  So subtle and spectacular at the same time!

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I also loved the Tutti Frutti line of jewels.  How colorful and so detailed!  One of the necklaces on display was worn by Daisy Fellowes, an American heiress to the Singer sewing machine, daughter of a French duke, and married to a French prince, known for her taste in fashion.

It was interesting to learn about the Mystery Clocks.  The hands look as it they are floating and no operating mechanisms can be seen.  It turns out each hand is enclosed into its own crystal disc.  Each of the crystal discs turn, not the hands.  Speaking of clocks, the first Cartier wristwatch was inspired by aviation as pocket watches were unreliable and impractical.

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After the war, when metal and money was scarce, Cartier turned to using less expensive gem stones and gold. The designs were still amazing…sleek and bold!

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Other items on display were Grace Kelly’s engagement ring along with a magnificent diamond necklace she used to wear as well as a ruby and diamond necklace worn by Liz Taylor.  I’m so glad I was able to join Tanya and her family to see this exhibit.  ETB

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Lighthouse website

Visit Castlewood Canyon State Park

December 7, 2014

Castlewood Canyon State Park
2989 S Hwy 83
Franktown, CO 80116
Phone: 303-688-5242
Website: http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks/CastlewoodCanyon

Fees: Daily Parks Pass $7, Annual Pass $70
Hours: 8am-5pm

Dogs allowed on most trails

I had heard Castlewood Canyon was pretty, but I found such a statement somewhat hard to believe given the park’s location. The canyon is nestled on the plains in the southwest suburbs of Denver, and I have to admit it is quite pretty.

There are two entrances to the park, the main entrance on the east side and the more remote entrance on the west side. I chose the less commercialized west side entrance and followed the dirt road to the parking area at the Lucas Homestead.

I love old ruins, so I found the Lucas Homestead quite interesting. Patrick and Margaret Lucas were Irish immigrants who met in Arizona and moved to Colorado in 1893 where they settled on 160 acres. The Lucases originally built a wood house and later a cement home to house their family of 10. It is unknown what exactly they did with their land as it was too steep to drive cattle or equipment. It thought they were attracted to the area due to the newly constructed dam. Beginning in the 1920’s, it is said Mr. Lucas began charging travelers twenty-five cents to cross his land to visit the dam.

I eventually made it to the dam, but I first followed the Homestead Trail to the Rimrock Trail. The Rimrock Trail led me across the creek and then up a steady climb of switch backs and stairs to the rim of the canyon. The canyon rim offered a view of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains which was lovely. As I followed the trail along the rim, scooching to the edge a few times to take a look in the canyon, I came across three deer grazing to my left. It is always a treat to spot wildlife! Amazingly I spotted three more deer toward the end of my hike and on my drive back to Denver, I passed by a herd of 15 or more pronghorn.

Soon I reached the trail’s descent and followed the path to a trail junction near the creek’s bottom where I veered to the right to check out the remnants of the old dam. The dam, which was built in the late 1800’s burst in 1933 which sent a 15 foot wave all the way to downtown Denver! That must have been a surprise.

After following the Dam Trail and checking out the historic structure, I connected to the Creek Bottom Trail to complete just over a four mile loop. The Creek Bottom Trail in many places was rather muddy from snow melt, but it did provide a great view of the icy water fall. I followed the undulating trail through the juniper until I ended at the parking area. What a nice way to get a few hours of exercise! ETB

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mountain goat keychain sideview

Visit the Clyfford Still Museum

October 31, 2014

Clifford Still Museum
1250 Bannock St.
Denver, CO 80204
Phone:720-354-4880
Email: info@clyffordstillmuseum.org
Website: http://www.clyffordstillmuseum.org

Fees: Adult-$10, Membership-$45; See website for details on groups, seniors, and children
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday/Sunday 10am-5pm, Friday 10am-8pm

The Clyfford Still Museum offered a free day on Halloween. Knowing nothing about Clyfford Still, I took advantage of it. I am still stumped as to why there is an entire museum dedicated to Clyfford Stills in Denver. I know upon his death, his will stipulated that his work go to an American city that was willing to dedicate a permanent museum to his creations, but I wonder how his wife picked Denver given he spent most of his life on both coasts. The short stint he spent in Colorado was for teaching, and he did not paint during that summer in the state. I suppose I should just consider Denverites lucky.

Clyfford Still was one of the first artists to develop abstract expressionism, a new approach to painting that began shortly after World War II. I was expecting to see lots of modern art on canvas; however, his work ranges depending on the period of his life. I’m generally not the biggest fan of “modern art”, as I don’t see how one line or splatter paint can be so coveted when it seems like a three year old could do it!

Having said that, I’m not knocking Clyfford Still’s work. In fact, I was quite impressed. I loved moving from room to room in the stark museum to see how his work changed over time. In addition, his talent was recognizable given the variety of techniques and medium in which he practiced. The museum exhibited watercolors, oils, carvings, etchings, charcoal and more. He painted landscapes, self portraits, and abstracts.

Much of his work at the museum has never been seen as he kept it rolled up in his studio. While most of his work has been in very good condition, the museum has restored some of his work and offers a rotating exhibit to display his all his pieces. I enjoyed the museum and made it through the space in an hour or so, probably a little faster than most. ETB

Side Note: Photography is allowed without a flash and available for personal use, but not commercially. Given I don’t write my blog for money, I understand it is OK to post a few photos to encourage my readers to visit the museum.

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Lighthouse website

Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge

November 1, 2014

Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge
6550 Gateway Road
Commerce City, CO 80022

PHONE: Refuge: 303-289-0232, Visitor Center: 303-289-0930
EMAIL: rockymountainarsenal@fws.com
WEBSITE: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Rocky_Mountain_Arsenal/

HOURS: Open from sunrise to sunset; the visitor center is open from 9-4 on Wednesdays-Sundays

I’ve visited Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge a handful of times over the last year. The refuge was once an area where the army produced chemical weapons for World War II. Clean up for the area began in 1985 and when a bald eagle winter roost was discovered, the area was converted to a refuge.

The refuge is not only home to bald eagles, but also countless birds, bison, prairie dogs and deer. Last winter I took a wildlife viewing tour with staff to see the deer during rut. I learned quite a bit about the difference between white tail and mule deers. I will probably do it again later this month.

Today, I decided to advantage of the 10 mile trail system at the refuge as I didn’t feel like driving miles to the mountains. I had hoped I would spot a deer, but I was starting my walk mid-morning so the likelihood was low. I drove past the visitor center to check out the Locust Loop and Army Historic Trail first. I kept my eyes peeled for four-legged friends, though mostly found song birds and one remaining home with a windmill. Two hundred families once lived here, and eight kids were raised in the Egli House.

As soon as I gave up on spotting a deer, one stood just outside a small clump of trees and stared at me, just like a “deer in headlights”. I slowly raised my camera with my blue water bottle in the other hand, and just as soon as I went for a shot he moved into the protection of the “forest”. I finally found an angle in the trees that provided a full view of this magnificent buck. He was huge with a giant rack!!

Upon finishing up the 1.7 miles of trails, I felt like I wanted to walk somewhat longer, so I crossed the parking lot to Lake Mary’s Loop and followed the 0.6 miles around the placid lake. The quiet, sunny day offered wonderful reflections on the glassy lake. From Lake Mary’s Loop, I connected to Ladora Lake Loop, which added another 1.8 miles to my journey. This lake was much larger and home to ducks, geese, terns, a heron, and a crane, though I didn’t have a long enough lens to capture a decent photo.

At the end of my hike, I drove through the bison area, but didn’t spot any grazing on the grassy plains. They weren’t very cooperative given it was national bison day! My self guided wildlife drive was still nice and just one more activity the refuge offers. Maybe I’ll try fishing in the spring, or not, but it is available to visitors. What a nice way to spend a few hours within 10 miles of downtown Denver! ETB

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Sunflowers website

Hooked on Haunted Houses

October 15, 2014

The 13th Door
Curse of Slaughterhouse Gulch

3184 South Parker Road
Aurora, Colorado 80014
(303) HAUNTED
http://denverhauntedhouseguide.com/

HOURS: Sun-Thurs 7pm-10pm, Fri/Sat 7pm-12am

FEES: $25, VIP (skip the lines) $35

With a nondescript exterior and shopping center location in Aurora, my first impression of The 13th Door and Curse of Slaughterhouse Gulch haunted houses was will this experience be worth the $25 price of admission. Let me just coin the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

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I can’t even remember the last time I visited a haunted house, but I didn’t find the lines, price, or the fear factor to be worth it in the past. This experience, with Erin and Moria, was quite the opposite.

We purchased our tickets online which automatically upgraded us to VIP “skip the lines” priority. For a Wednesday night, this didn’t make much of a difference, though we did get to cut in front of a few people.

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We chose to go through The 13th Door first. The legend of The 13th Door stems from a riff between a wealthy Denver millionaire, John Barrington and his nephew Andrew. John Barrington was holding his annual Hallows Eve party in his hotel’s penthouse suite when his nephew pleaded for his help. Andrew had run up large gambling debts with unsavory individuals. When Andrew’s uncle refused him, he went into a fury, blocked all exits to the hotel, and set it on fire. Only one person survived to tell the story, the one who found the unlocked 13th door.

We slowly crept through the dark hallways, pushed back black drapes and cautiously entered into each room. As expected, actors jumped out at us from multiple corners and sometimes followed us down the hallways which was very creepy and sped up our very slow pace as we huddled together at every turn. Luckily, they have a rule not to touch the guests. And of course, we knew they would leap out at us, so I don’t know why we felt so scared. With strobe lights, fog, and pitch black hallways, it was very hard to see during our fifteen minutes in the dark. When we did stop and look around the rooms, I have to give props to the detail of the decor. It was well done! By the time we finished, our adrenaline was pumping and we’d broken into a sweat. Our alternating screams and giggles, I’m certain could be heard from a distance.

After The 13th Door, we were greeted by a bloodied face host at the entrance of The Curse of the Slaughterhouse Gulch who had nothing to say, but still creeped us out. So much so that Erin bowed out. This haunted house was like a theme house of scary movies…Scream, Halloween, Friday the 13th (just to name a few). Moria and I walked through or should I say jumped, skipped and ran through with locked elbows. It was scary! There was one room where neither one of us wanted to walk through the hanging corpses so naturally we looked for a nearby exit, and the actor grunted “wrong way” as he followed us through the manikins…YIKES! And we were chased to a speedy exit. The folks that worked at the haunted houses did a great job. We had a ball and the experience was well worth our money. We were laughing all the way home.

Two more weeks until Halloween…try one out for yourselves! ETB

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maple leaf website

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

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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

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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

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lichen website