I did it again. Colorado demanded my return and I gladly obliged.
Friday, November 17th - 3:30pm - I pointed the Tacoma west, plugged in the iPod, and put the hammer down. I needed out of the Central Time Zone asap.
Sunset over western Oklahoma.
I landed in Raton, NM on Friday night. I went inside my Airbnb (use it!) and upon exiting to get my bag, was greeted by a herd of deer right out the door! We had a good chat before they moved along. All told, there were eight lounging around....and eating people's yards.
Breakfast Saturday was at the busiest Denny's on planet earth. Also...it was seemingly the only place open in Raton that morning.
I just stopped here on my last trip, but I couldn’t resist another brake check.
Some early views of the snow-capped Rockies. I had gotten off of I-25 by now (yay!) and was headed toward Salida.
Highway 50 into Salida runs right next the beautiful Arkansas River. There were so many places I wanted to pull off, but if I had, I’d have never made it to town!
Lunchtime in Salida meant a stop at Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub. The last time I was in Salida (2015) I wanted to eat here but they were closed. I figured I’d better make up for lost time.
Pizza requires beer. Monlight’s IPA hit right where it should. Yum!
The view from downtown Salida does not disappoint.
I had to make a quick stop at Absolute Bikes for nostalgia’s sake. The Tour Divide mountain bike race goes from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Dive and passes through Salida. I’d seen this shop years ago in the Ride the Divide documentary (highly recommended!) and wanted to pop in. Again I was a good boy and kept my billfold tucked tightly...though it was no easy feat.
Mt. Antero - 14,275 feet
Playing in the snow along Highway 24, south of Leadville. Awesome views and cool air were quick to lure me off the road for a short delay.
(The cool air didn't mix well with my Toyota plastic....not long after these shots....I went He-Man on my passenger door handle. Rest in peace gentle soul.)
Leadville, CO - highest incorporated city in the United States.
A storm rolled through a day or two before my arrival, so the roads were slushy and slick. It definitely felt like Colorado....and I liked it.
Of course, a stop at Periodic Brewery was necessary!
I played the tourist role and got snow all in my shoes walking in from my truck. Thankfully Leadville isn't exactly a bustling metropolis...so no one saw.
The local fare. The beer was well-crafted and really hit the spot! It was an hour well spent.
Cruising Highway 91 north out of Leadville towards Interstate 70. The plows were out working and I used my 4-wheel drive intermittently. The views were outstanding!
Entering the Eisenhower Tunnel - eastbound Interstate 70 towards Denver. Traffic was definitely heavy but manageable. We never really slowed down too much...it was just busy. I made it to my cousin's house in Lakewood about 5:30pm. We had one of my favorite meals...pizza and beer (yep...had it for lunch too; nope...didn't care), then enjoyed some family conversation around their pot-bellied wood stove. A great end to a great day.
Sunday morning I jumped on the road early and scooted north to check out Fort Collins and the surrounding area. A steep drive on the west side of town shot me up to the edge of Horsetooth Reservoir. Even though the lake was down, the views were spectacular and the weather matched suit.
Met a dude there who looked like me.
Now....it was time.
So much beer to be had inside.
Yes...I'm aware theres a kiddo in the shot. I'm pretty sure she's not mine.
New Belgium Brewing was very family friendly with a large courtyard, games, etc.
This was an imperial frambozen with cocoa and one of the absolute best beers I've ever had. I took it on the tour and just sipped for what seemed like forever. YUM-EEE
Still working on the frambozen....but not too classy to double-fist the free sample! That was a sour and was the jam. Those massive barrels are foeders (fooders) and are used for aging and fermenting beer. Some were very old and I believe there were over 50 in total! I tried to swim in one but they made me get out.
Our guide was one of the original employees....her husband is the brewmaster....and they're the only actual Belgians in the company. Her heavy Belgian accent really made the tour special. Highly recommended!
Sadly, I did make one crucial mistake. New Belgium has an awesome spiral slide that takes employees (and visitors on tours) down to the first floor. Unfortunately (but obviously a wise move) you aren't allowed to take glass down. I was still working my frambozen and NO ONE was prying it from my clutches....so I opted for the stairs with the intent of walking back up for a trip down the slide. Once down....I got distracted...by all the beer....and remembered as I later drove away. So, the lesson here, is that I have to return to New Belgium sooner rather than later.
After a couple of hours roaming around the brewery...the witching hour had arrived:
It was time to go to Boulder.
I settled in quickly to my Airbnb (saving cash means more fun food and beer!) and headed down to Pearl Steet on the hunt for cool stuff to do...and to find some grub.
Just before I walked inside for dinner....this magnificent moment in time materialized above my head. It was breathtaking. I always ogle over sunsets here in Oklahoma....but this one sure gave a run for the money.
Dinner was at Leaf, a farm-to-table vegetarian restaurant that served a wide variety of entrees in an upscale but approachable setting. The waitstaff were knowledgable and friendly as well. What you see is fried trumpet mushrooms, house-made barbecue sauce, a bean salad with a fun name that I can't quite recall (Jumpin' Jack or something of that nature??), and some mac-and-cheese that made me question my true purpose in life. Soooo good!
And then....the scarlet letter.
Avery Brewing did not disappoint! I was there later in the evening so no guided tour for me. However, Avery has some cool elevated catwalks above their operation that let patrons wander freely and get some great views of the brewing equipment.
One of Avery's sour offerings. Obviously it was good because I forgot to snap a photo until it was almost gone!
Late-night beer calls for late-night pizza at Cosmo's. One slice is larger than my hand...and even larger than the plate. Spicy ranch and a water chaser rounded out the evening.
Monday morning meant bike time in Boulder. I geared up and rolled out to find breakfast. Snooze easily caught my attention and drew me in.
Soyrizo (vegetarian soy chorizo), wheat toast, a hockey puck of hash browns, scrambled eggs, and a dollop of apricot jelly set me up for a day in the saddle.
Boulder Creek Trail....over Boulder Creek.
Headed uphill towards....you guessed it....Boulder Canyon.
An upstream shot in the canyon. I could have sat here all day...but I had ground to cover!
Once I rode back into town, I made my way through campus. I doubt I could have graduated had I attended CU. I would have never been in class!
Then I headed back out towards Chautauqua Park at the base of the Flatirons. The ride up through the neighborhood was steep but absolutely worth the effort.
I rode up this street. Downtown Boulder is way down in the valley. It was a lot steeper than the photo allows. Consequently....I made SUPERB time getting back into town.
Headed back to the apartment. It was so refreshing to use the extensive bike lanes throughout Boulder. Truly a bike-friendly city!
Breakfast was still holding strong, so I opted for a light lunch at Rush Bowls. They do yogurt bowls, smoothies, etc. I was really impressed!
I went for the "PB&J" bowl. Combined with the fantastic weather and outdoor seating, it was a tough lunch to beat.
I took advice from my cousin Chris and opted for Highway 93 south out of Boulder, through Golden, and ultimately into Denver. This was a western view from a pullout. The wind was blowing about 160 miles per hour, though you'd never suspect it from the photo. All I could do was laugh!
My last Colorado trip in September brought me to Denver Beer Company. I couldn't resist another lap at this cool brewery. Tasty brews and tasty atmosphere.
Yes....I'd love another.
Just a shot of downtown Denver as I headed back to my cousin's place in Lakewood. The skyline under the clouds was quite pretty.
Dinner was at home with family and conversation. We had another great evening of conversation and laughter before hitting the hay early. I needed to be on the road and Chris had to work so we said our goodbyes in the evening and prepared to return to our respective realities. Such is life.
Tuesday morning sunrise over eastern Colorado.
I was up early and on the road about 5:15am. Interstate 70 through Kansas was the prescription for the return trip to Oklahoma City as I needed to make some decent time. Not my first choice....but the beautiful sunrise was certainly a silver lining!
If you cut loose and head towards the Rockies, I'd love to hear about your trip! Or if you'd like any beta on my wanderings, please feel free to inquire! I love talking travel.
Thanks for the read! Now bundle up and go outside.
Southern Shenanigans in ATX
Any weekend spent in Austin, TX is a good weekend.
Last weekend was a good weekend.
I rolled out of OKC Thursday before 3:00pm and hauled the mail down I-35. Fort Worth traffic held me up just a bit...but considering it was five o’clock, it wasn’t too bad.
The first stop was for fuel in Hillsboro, at Big Willy’s. I played it safe and didn’t go inside....
After fuel and a quick sandwich (from Schlotzky’s...NOT Big Willy’s) it was a beeline to downtown Austin’s Swan Dive for Neosho’s album release show! Neosho is my buddy Justin Williams and his cohort Jackson Bennett. Theirs is an amalgam of sound including saxophone, a plethora of electronics, guitar, and vocals. YES they are on Apple Music and YES you should check them out!
Neosho throwing it down!! It was a fun show full of energy and was taken in by a receptive crowd. Much dancing took place...fueled by a conspiracy of killer tunes and tasty beer. We partied until the wee morning, then I helped Justin load out and we headed to his place for some much-needed rest.
Friday started with a chill morning shaking off the beer fog. Then it was off to Veracruz for some excellent lunch. Austin loves tacos, and so do I. Above is a Migas Poblanos and a Chile Relleno. Once upon a time there was guacamole in that white bowl.
Veracruz has a unique setup - they are paired with Machine Head Coffee for a neat taco/coffee combo. Machine Head is also run by Justin’s pal Nolan who I had the great pleasure of meeting. Though I’m not a coffee drinker, I do appreciate a good setup and business model. Kudos to the folks who have poured themselves into these business ventures!
We cruised around Austin for a bit after lunch and made a stop at the local graffiti (obviously) wall at Castle Hill. We weren’t really seeking this out, but since we were nearby, we took a quick peek.
Next was a quick stop at Mellow Johnny’s. I kept my billfold tucked tightly in my pocket...which was probably a good thing. Such a cool shop!
I found some suspenders in Justin’s car.
I put them on.
Next stop - Jester King Brewery. About a half-hour outside of Austin is the infamous Jester King. It’s a true farmhouse brewery, using local ingredients and water to brew some of the most interesting beers I’ve ever tasted. They go all out to find creative twists on all of their releases. This was my second visit to the king...and certainly not my last! On the way we picked up J’s lovely lady Tara and our merry band of gypsys was born. Between the three of us, I’d say we did our share of damage at the brewery.
Beer plus hands equals happiness.
Stanley’s Farmhouse Pizza is also right on site. They have awesome wood-fired pizza to sponge up all the beer!
After beer and pizza, the next logical stop was somewhere to get more.....food. The general concensus was that Kerbey Queso was essential to the success of the evening. We soon found ourselves lapping up piping hot liquid cheese while pouring over the 24 hour menu.
Vegan pancakes, vegan sausage patties, and tofu scramble landed in front of me and was quickly Houdini’d.
After the Friday Farmhouse Food Festival coma wore off Saturday morning, J and I loaded up and raced out to Reimer’s Ranch to do some climbing.
Hanging at the crag with Justin!!!
It felt excellent to pull on some real rock instead of plastic gym holds. Nothing against climbing gyms of course...it’s just so nice to be outside. We had a great climbing session...then jammed some Lionel Richie on the drive back into town (it’s a long story).
After a stop by Whole Foods (the flagship location is downtown and is awesome) for a quick bite, it was showerville, then the beer chase continued.
Zilker Brewing was first...
...then a nice stroll to Lazarus.
I’m typically not a fan of mounted animal heads, but when it’s plated up like a disco ball....yea....my opinion quickly flips.
A quick stop at Arlo’s food truck for maybe the best veggie burger I’ve had. Very ‘diner-like’...wrapped tightly in white paper, greasy even on the bun, and just loaded with saucy goodness. Another excellent beer sponge!
Next was Hops and Grain. Tasty brews and a local artist’s market made for a nice combo after our dinner.
We closed out the evening at Brew and Brew, a unique joint that serves up fine coffees and fine beers. We sat outside sipping beer and looking at the Austin skyline. It was a great way to wind down.
Do yourself a favor and set up a nice three-day weekend in Austin!! Buy the new Neosho album for the drive, have your mind blown at Jester King, bring your appetite for great food and the great outdoors, and cruise by all the local breweries you can find!
Just promise to leave some beer for us...
Dig it ~ bc