Day 45/46 - Denver/Boulder/Golden, CO

Howdy!  It's my first cheater multi-day combo-blog.  Seemed appropriate since we have spent the last two days cruising all around the general greater-Denver area.  Also, the professional photo guy that I am, I forgot a memory card yesterday, so I only had my phone and pics were pretty limited.  Duh. It was OK having a one-day breather from the camera, sort of permission to not worry about documenting stuff.

Thursday was a city day.  We wanted to get a bunch of urbanish walking in, but we got a later start since we were up late the previous night at our show.  We walked to Voodoo Doughnuts for a mid-morning snack (good stuff....but Pip's Original in Portland is still leader in the clubhouse for Doughnut Champ of The Big Trip), then we hoofed around the surrounding lovely Capitol Hill neighborhood, saw the awesome Cathedral Basilica play its Noon bells, checked out the State Capitol, Civic Center Park, tried to do the Molly Brown Museum but got impatient at the wait and then headed back to our car so we could drive to Boulder.  

I really love Boulder.  As a younger lad, I spent a bunch of vacation time in and around the area, but had not been there in many years.  It was what I remembered, still a Madison-West sort of vibe, but maybe a bit more mature now and not quite as edgy as it was 15-20 years ago.  There has to be a big shed somewhere where they lock up all of the out of shape un-beautiful people, because everyone we saw was rocking the yoga pants and looked great.  We walked Pearl Street for quite a while, people watching and window shopping.  One highlight was Farfel's Farm, a pet supply and rescue store.  MK had been jonesing for a dog fix and the owners there were awesome, talking to us about their operation and sharing a bunch of their hounds for a while (thanks, Jeff!).  Next was an amazing dinner at Pasta Jay's (thanks for the tip, MAG!  Get the Jumbo Shells if you ever go).  The final stop was Chatauqua Park for a short hike at the foot of the Flatirons.  The girls were starting to get a little weary, so we didn't dig too deep into the park, but I wanted them to see a little of a place I really love.  Back to the hotel in downtown Denver so the girls could get some dance practice in and I headed out for my first run in probably a month.  It wasn't fast, but man, it was nice to get out.  Urban running is cool now and again.  I went straight out and back about 3.5 miles down 15th and 16th streets.  It was hip. hopping and happening - clubs, outdoor diners, cool housing, shops, shows, etc.  Back to the room and the girls wanted ice cream, so across the street to a local shop, a little more walking around and back to the room.  To collapse.  Whew.

Friday was a day to have some good Rocky Mountain alpine fun.  We drove out of Denver to Winter Park.  Fun drive up to this great ski community.  We had circled the Alpine Slide really early in our trip planning as something we wanted to do and hey, we did it.  It was completely fun and awesome...until I came around a corner about half-way down the mountain and met a few young kids who had decided to stop on the track.  If you have ever been on an alpine slide, you know there are signs about every ten inches that say 'DON'T STOP!'.  If you do stop, some 200 pound bald guy might run into you and take the top layers of skin off a few spots on his leg and elbow as he tries to not kill you.  Wasn't all that bad, but the 2nd half of the run was at about 2 MPH, so not the thrill we were looking for.  No worries, good story and a few good ski lift rides around the hills.  And the Winter Park area is just beautiful.

And then on to our last stop of the day.  We were going to go up to Estes Park, but it was going to be a long drive there and back, so we took a tip from a friend who's family is also in the area (thanks, Wendy - we didn't make it to the top, but it was great!) and headed to the Guenella Pass Trailhead to hike around Mt. Bierstadt.  It's a 14'er, and although we only made it just over 12,000 ft due to rain and running out of daylight (and I don't think our clan would have made it to the top as a group even if it was dry and light...), it was a great hike above the tree line.  Even though we didn't get all the way up, a 4-ish mile hike between 11-12,000 ft isn't anything to sneeze at!  Also, I LOVE ALPINE SCENERY.  We have seen so much beauty on this trip, but the Rockies are just something special.

And that brings us to tonight, horses hitched up for the night in lovely Golden.  A little more Colorado fun tomorrow and then some long miles south.  Have a great start to your weekend!

- Jim

At the foot of Mt. Bierstadt, Front Range, Rocky Mountains.  Beauty at 12,000 feet.

Our hike in the Rockies.  The peak in the background is Mt. Bierstadt, jut over 14,000 feet, we made it to 12,100.

Had to cross a cute little stream.

Hearty Alpine wildflowers EVERYWHERE!

Lift to the top for the Alpine Slide, Winter Park, CO.


Cool Altitude app!