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.