Tag Archives: summary

Root for the Rockies!

August, 2015

The Rockies
Location: Coors Field, 300 Blake St., Denver, CO 80205
Website:http://colorado.rockies.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=col

Fees: $4 and up

While the Rockies are last in their division, it is still fun to enjoy one of America’s past-times, a baseball game at Coors Field, especially when ticket prices start at only $4. While the Rockpile perhaps isn’t the most comfortable seating with bleachers, it is generally out of the direct sun, so the weather is quite pleasant.

The stadium is nice with lots of options, and if you are willing to walk 10 blocks or so, the parking is free. Better yet, ride bikes to the stadium and grab a bite to eat at the surrounding restaurants for a fun night out! ETB

Play at PalletFest

August 30, 2015

PalletFest
Sculpture Park (Denver Performing Arts Complex)
Website: http://www.palletfest.com/

Fees: Free or $35 VIP tickets
Hours: Yearly, Saturday 10am-10pm, Sunday 10am-5pm

PalletFest is Colorado’s first Upcycling Festival. This yearly event took place at Denver Performing Arts Complex’s Sculpture Park the last weekend of August. While VIP tickets are available for $35, the festival may also be entered for FREE which is what I would recommend unless you would like several alcoholic beverages.

Vendors displayed all their products using materials that are sometimes considered trash like bottle caps and pallets. Bands played as festival goers walked on stilts, walked through a pallet maze, played cornhole and connect four with “upcycled products”, hula-hooped and burned initials in pallets.

It was fun to stop by for a few hours to try something new. ETB

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fall colors website

The Big Wonderful

August 29, 2015

The Big Wonderful
26th and Lawrence
Website: http://thebigwonderful.com/

Fees: $5 donation
Hours: Saturday 12:30-7:30

The Big Wonderful, located at 26th and Lawrence, is an outdoor market and beer garden in Denver, Colorado. It takes place every Saturday from 12:30 to 7:30 and features a variety of vendors and food trucks along with live music.

I rode my bike to the Big Wonderful and met some friends to peruse the venue. It was a warm day and toward the end of summer, so it wasn’t too crowded. In fact, it would probably be more fun on its opening day, as I don’t believe it runs all winter.

Regardless, we were able to get a snack and a drink and “window shop”. Pampaw offered tastings of their hot sauce which was quite good, and Pickett’s let us taste their ginger beer which can also be used for cooking. We only stayed a few hours as it was a quiet day, but for a $5 donation, it wasn’t a bad place to try something new. ETB

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maple leaf website

Herman Gulch in the Summer

August 22, 2015

Herman Lake
Location:
0.1 mile north of exit #218 from I-70
Elevation: 10,332-11,987
Roundtrip: 6.5 miles
Fees: None

I finally made it to Herman Lake. This is a hike I have wanted to complete since I moved to Colorado four years ago. I finally tried getting to the lake this past winter and didn’t make it. I decided to try it in the summer with Heather, Jaz, and David.

This time we made it. We made the left turn soon after the trailhead and climbed up through and aspen grove and beneath the conifers until we reached an open area blanketed in wild flowers. Again, we entered the forest and soon popped out above the treeline.

We gained around 1,600 feet over 3.25 miles to lake situated beneath the peaks around 12,000 feet. We enjoyed lunch at the lake beneath finicky skies…sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy and cool. Little did we know that when we returned to Denver, we’d be entering a down pour! We felt fortunate for the lovely morning in the mountains. ETB

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Blue Columbine website

Take a Road Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park

July 23, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park
Location: Near Estes Park, about 66 miles from Denver
Website: http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm?utm_source=Persbestand&utm_campaign=051d219cbc-Persbericht_Rocky_Mountain_National_Park&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1829023557-051d219cbc-48538949

Fees: $20 for week per car, $40 for yearly pass, $80 for all national parks for year (fees changing Oct 1, 2015
Hours: Year Round

The Stanley Hotel
Address: 333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517
Contact Info: Toll-Free 1-800-976-1377, 970-577-4000, info@stanleyhotel.com
Website: http://www.stanleyhotel.com/

Denverites are fortunate to live about 1.5 hours away from the glorious Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park. What makes a road trip to this National Park perfect is to enjoy a little luxury at the Stanley Hotel. David and I enjoyed a few days in the area for his birthday!

I was so excited to finally stay at this iconic hotel, famous for inspiring Stephen King to write The Shining and featured in the hit film Dumb and Dumber. The hotel was built by FO Stanley (of Stanley Steamer) after he and his wife moved to Colorado for his health. The construction began in 1907 and the hotel was complete in 1909 with a hydraulic elevator, running water, and phones.

Admittedly, I was slightly disappointed with our room. It’s small size and no air conditioning didn’t bother me too much, but the mold in shower and on the curtain, the lighting on only one side of the room, and no place to place a makeup bag in the bathroom was little to be desired. Fortunately, we were not spending much time in the room, and the lobby, whisky bar with 800 choices, porch, and views certainly made up for the lacking decor in the bedroom.

We didn’t arrive to Estes Park until Monday afternoon which we spent eating lunch, savoring ice cream and strolling around town before we checked into the hotel. After checking out the grounds, we sat on the patio at Cascades Restaurant and enjoyed a nice dinner before we decided to take the ghost tour, as the Stanley is known for its hauntings, in particular room 217.

The tour took us to the pet cemetery to begin and through a variety of the wedding rooms, the music room and the haunted tunnel. We were encouraged to take pictures in black in white in order to see green orbs and other aboritions. David and I aren’t big ghost hunters, so we found the tour to be slightly hokey, though we did enjoy learning some history about FO Stanley and his hotel. Who knew he created the #2 pencil, though he made most his money changing the photography world. It was also kind of fun to go in places closed to the masses.

Tuesday we decided to tackle a 10 mile hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. We got a late start and at 9:30 am the Glacier Gorge Trailhead Parking was already full. Park and ride was available, though there was a small parking lot about half a mile down the road, so we turned our ten mile hike into eleven miles. I suppose we were probably fortunate we picked a weekday to visit, as I doubt we would have found parking at this location otherwise.

The trail to Sky Pond was absolutely spectacular. We began following the well groomed path through a small aspen grove as it ascended to Alberta Falls. I think many visitors to the park stop here. We kept going along the well marked track to Loch Vale, a large lake where many tried their luck at fishing.

Our ascent to Loch Vale was gradual as we followed the cascading creek beneath the conifers to open, windy ridge. The dark skies dropped just a few rain drops, but spared us for most of the climb up. Soon we reached another waterfall which one group call a staircase that basically required us to boulder up the wet rocks to Lake of Glass. This lake was beautiful and any tired souls wouldn’t be missing much if they stopped here instead of continuing on to Sky Pond, as the water features were similar.

We kept going. We followed a rock path through grassy terrain, stepped across a small patch of snow and enjoyed watching the countless marmots. Some ate with no fear of visitors while others scampered into their holes. With a strong wind circling around the pond, we took cover behind some rocks for lunch, but didn’t stay too long as the skies looked ominous, and we could hear rolling thunder in the distance.

Just about as soon as we descended a light drizzle fell…enough for a raincoat, but not enough to make life rough or anything. Upon reaching a lower elevation, it stopped and we continued the rest of the way down the peaceful path. I actually expected to share the trail with more people, so the few we encountered wasn’t too bad. It is always slightly entertaining to see the hodge podge of hikers in the National Parks.

Drove by these guys on the way back from our hike!
Drove by these guys on the way back from our hike!

We worked up an appetite for Twin Owls Steakhouse. The pecan pie was delicious, but I had hoped David’s birthday dinner would have been as good as mine. All of it was reasonable and the service was great, but I wouldn’t say it was out of this world or anything.

Wednesday found us dragging a bit. I think we had gotten enough hiking in over the last few weeks, so we spent a leisurely morning on the porch at the Stanley drinking our coffee. We opted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park again, though this time we just took a drive across Trail Ridge Road to Lake Granby. I’ve driven this road in the past. The views and the elk never disappoint!!

Our final stop before returning to Denver was at the Holzworth Historic Site. We managed to stroll the half mile down the dirt road to find old farming equipment, wash basins, and log cabins. The ranch was established in the early 1900’s and guests used to come to fish. It was lovely and a nice way to cap off a fun birthday jaunt. ETB

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Herman Gulch Trail and Lake Attempt

February 7, 2015

Herman Gulch Trail
Location: 52 miles west of Denver on I-70
Round-Trip: 6.5 miles
Elevation: 10,332-11,987
Fees: None

It was a glorious, winter day in Denver…sunny, 70 degrees and record-breaking! I thought what better time to go for a snowshoe as I won’t freeze.

Jim and I met in the Wooly Mammoth parking lot at 9:30. The late start was specifically chosen to let the ski traffic die down and to enjoy the warm weather. We hopped on I-70 West, sat in intermittent traffic, and in a little over an hour exited #218 and made a hard U-turn into the parking lot for the trailhead to Herman Gulch Trailhead (and lake).

The snow seemed packed at the trailhead, so we stepped into our micro-spikes, strapped our snowshoes to our pack, and pulled on our hat and gloves in preparation for our hike. Armed with the trail description, we expected a flat start with a steep climb only to level off again in a valley and then a final climb.

Without my sunglasses (Ugh) and one eye squinted closed, I led us up the snow packed trail than began at 10,000 feet. At first we walked through evergreens, and then along a flat, open area, and then up again through the trees. I kept thinking to myself that the trail didn’t seem as steep as I expected a 2,000 foot gain over 3 miles to be, but I decided to give myself credit for all my recent trips to the gym.

Soon, after about a mile, the forged trail abruptly stopped. No snowshoe or cross country ski tracks could be found. After post-holing for the last thirty feet and then reaching the end of the trail, I turned to Jim and said, “I don’t think this is right. Do you think we missed a trail junction?”

He replied, “I didn’t see another trail junction. Let’s keep going.”

Based on the cars in the parking lot, I knew others went out on the trail ahead of us, therefore, I had some hesitation with breaking the trail. In addition, in the back of my mind I felt like I saw a trail go off to the left from the corner of my eye, but it seemed less traveled so I followed the trail straight ahead.

I asked, “Will you pull the trail description out of the back of my pack?”

After studying the description and Jim adding a few waypoints to his GPS, Jim decisively determined we went the wrong way. I suppose he won’t follow me anymore! Normally, he has all the coordinates in his GPS before we go, but after a long week in California, he just relied on me printing the trail directions which were relatively simple.

As we backtracked the mile, we met a group of five.

Jim nonchalantly inquired, “Where are you guys headed?”

The leader of the pack looked at him inquisitively and replied, “The lake”.

Jim informed them that we think they are headed the wrong way, so they turned around.

Sure enough, near the beginning of the trail, we needed to do a hairpin left turn instead of following the trail to the right. Our print out didn’t mention a switch back, but it did mention at trail junction at 0.17 miles. Unfortunately, there wasn’t even a sign deciphering the two trails. It must have been covered in the snow?!?

Now that we were on what we felt like was the right track, we climbed up the incline through the aspen grove. The next couple we found, who were lucky enough to notice the trail junction, waited for someone to come along but when no one did they guessed left. At this point, I wasn’t feeling too bad about my misdirection, and we had plenty of time to make it to the lake.

As we continued up the tacky, soft snow, each group we met hadn’t made it to the lake. Having wanted to do this hike for over a year, I was feeling a bit discouraged, but determined to make it.

Once we exited the shade of trees and hit the level meadow of rippled snow in the blazing sun, we started post-holing regularly. Each time we fell thigh deep into the snow, we’d lean on our pole to push out only for our pole to sink or our other leg to sink. Finally, we succumbed and strapped on our snow shoes, something we were trying to avoid because they are clumsy and slow going. Not to mention, we could see the next section of packed snow just ahead where snow shoes wouldn’t be needed.

I must admit, in this instance, snowshoeing was much easier. We should have switched over sooner, especially me since I was falling through the snow three times more often than Jim. We’d probably only hiked a little over three miles by now, and I was exhausted from all the squats and lunges I was doing to get out of the snow!

We kept going intermittently through open areas, with views of towering snow-capped mountains, and the trees. Soon we were less than a mile from the lake, yet not one snowshoer had made it. One girl, who was a regular on the trail suggested that we not break our own trail to the lake since we didn’t know where we were going. Silently, I agreed with her. In addition, another couple mentioned they had never made it to the lake in the winter time. With those two comments, I told Jim, “We are turning around!”

Not one to quit, I’m kind of glad we turned around when we did. A dark cloud rolled in, and it began lightly snowing on us! Oh the joys of mountain weather. Not to mention, I rubbed one heck of a blister on the back of my heal, so I wasn’t extraordinarily faster going down hill than up!

We still got the 6.5 miles in that we planned, though at a much slower pace. We probably got in four hours of exercise and were on the trail for almost five.

Not making the lake only fuels the fire for me to go this summer. It is supposed to be home to fantastic wildflowers, moose, big horn sheep and mountain goats!! Overall, we had a blast laughing at ourselves and enjoying a lovely day! ETB

PS…Should you forget you sunglasses on a sunny day in the mountain snow, remember to put sunblock on your eyelids!

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snowy falls website copy

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.

IMG_0893 window

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

IMG_0892

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

Try a Trail Off 285

January 17, 2014

So a great place to hike is off 285.  There are a variety of trails to choose from and I-70 traffic is avoided.  My preference is to hike along creeks or to an alpine lake, but today I opted for a different trail that I had yet to hike called Meridian.  The trail climbs 1,600 feet over three miles through aspen groves to a saddle that marks the Arapahoe and Pike Forests borders.  I suspect the best time to hike this trail is in the fall for the colors and the views.  Given it doesn’t offer my preferences, it wouldn’t be my first pick, but it does offer a nice place to exercise within 50 miles of Denver.

The most difficult part of the trail for me was finding it! My book with directions to the trail was slightly confusing with the description “At 0.3 miles, then 0.6…”.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, so when I saw the sign for Meridian Campground, I turned into this area.  I figured I had to drive 0.9 miles down the dirt road to the campground, but the road was closed, so I trounced along the snow covered road in search of the trailhead.  No luck!

I enjoyed following the road the wound up the mountain through the trees to some private property, but it was not where I wanted to be, so after getting about a mile in, slipped back in the drivers seat and searched a bit more.  I decided to continue down the paved road from which I turned into the campground another 0.9 miles.  Here I found a sign that pointed to Meridian Trail one mile down the dirt road to the left.  Pleased to find the sign, I took my Subaru as far as I felt comfortable along the rutted, snow packed road.

I found I was so distracted by the tire tracks in the snow and where they abruptly stopped, I failed to count exactly how far I had gone.  According to my book, I was to park by a horse coral, that I did not see.  I did, however, park in an area marked by dead branches which was in front of an unmarked trail.  I also saw that the snow-covered road, with only foot traffic imprints, continued on.  I wandered down the road a bit beneath the evergreens which was quite nice, but didn’t go quite far enough to find the trailhead which was a half-mile farther down.  It seemed like I drove in farther than half a mile.

Needless to say, I already had two miles under my belt before I finally headed in the right direction as I found a local who thought the trail might be at the end of the road, but wasn’t certain.  She did know there was a sign and parking area there.  Funny, there wasn’t a horse coral, but it was the trail, and I was pleased to finally get started as I crossed the log bridge over the shallow creek.  Crossing the creek may have been the prettiest part of the hike to me this winter.

I continued on across intermittent red granite and snow.  I only need my microspikes until about a mile and a half into the hike. At this point I began post holing through thick snow as the wind picked up.  I could have stripped off my micro-spikes and strapped on my snow shoes had I found a dry place to sit and continued on, but I decided to pass.  My headache wasn’t encouraging me onward.  Given the whole trail is below the treeline, I expected that the views would remain similar even when I reached the saddle, so I wasn’t missing too much.  Had I not wasted valuable time at the beginning, I would have finished the whole hike, but I was pressing the time I needed to be back home, so I accepted hiking between 5-6 miles in a variety of places as my exercise for the day.

I’ll have to try the hike again, now that I know where it is.  I think I will save it for the fall!  ETB

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maple leaf website

Take a Road Trip to Colorado Springs

I wrote this post on my other blog about painted mines, the incline, and the Broadmoor. Since Colorado Springs isn’t too far from Denver and even closer than some mountain jaunts, I figured this post would also be suited for a day around town 5280.

http://adventuresofacouchsurfer.com/2014/12/21/painted-mines-the-incline-and-christmas-at-the-broadmoor-a-cracking-time-in-colorado-springs/

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snowy falls website copy

The Nutcracker Ballet

December 12, 2014

The Nutcracker Ballet
Colorado Ballet
Ellie Caulkins Opera House
950 13th St.
Denver, CO 80204
Phone: 303-837-8888
Website: http://coloradoballet.org/performances/the-nutcracker-2014

Fees: $25-$155 depending on date and section.
Hours: 1pm, 6:30pm, and 7:30pm on select days

Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet is one of the most famous in the world. It is based on the “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” written by ETA Hoffman. I found a synopsis of the story at the following link which is better than what I could say about it: http://classicalmusic.about.com/od/balletsynopses/a/thenutcracker.htm.

nutcracker

Why not make going to the Nutcracker an annual tradition? The Colorado Ballet produces the show each year. This year productions can be seen from November 29, 2014 to December 27, 2014. I went Friday night with a few friends, and we thoroughly enjoyed the show from the dancing to the costumes. Something I’ve never seen before at a venue are teleprompters on the seatbacks. While the neon blue words that flashed on the seatbacks were a little distracting, it was helpful for following the story. If I wanted, I could have turned it off.

We sat on stage left and had a very nice view of the show. It was a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. ETB

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