Ah, sweet, sweet Colorado. I could write a love song for that state.
Maddie and I returned yesterday morning from a fantastic (and whirlwind) of a vacation to visit our friend from college, Tyler, in Denver. The trip was a perfect combination of relaxed but full. See why below!
We flew Frontier Airlines out of Orlando to Denver. Tyler picked us up at the airport and dropped us off in LoDo for brunch at Snooze. After I ate an amazing breakfast burrito (and a chocolate chip pancake on the house since it was my first time eating there), Maddie and I set about to explore downtown Denver. We shopped around but were relatively unimpressed with all the chain stores in the area — no cute boutiques or anything like that here. What did impress me was the number of man buns (the hairstyle, not the body part like any Facebook friend of mine over 40 seemed to think) and thick beards. One of the most surprising things Maddie and I noticed was simply how many guys there are in Denver. Tons. We took the Light Rail down to Tyler’s office to meet him that afternoon. We snuck into the lobby (following behind a caterer and dodging his question when he asked if I had a badge) but were asked to leave five minutes later by a guard…those rocket scientists can sure be stuffy!
That night, we went to a happy hour at an Italian restaurant near Tyler’s place and then to a trivia night at a local sports bar. It felt good to be playing trivia again (as opposed to hosting it)! We finished in 3rd place (and I was proud).
We slept in and then headed to Copper Mountain for a day of skiing! We actually rented our gear off-site and I highly recommend the shop we where we did so. The guys were really cool, the gear was nice and they even gave me a free chocolate chip cookie! (It doesn’t take much to make me happy.)
Tyler’s friends John and Ann joined us to ski that afternoon. It’s funny…the main reason they came is because Tyler and Maddie are both self-proclaimed “terrible skiers” and didn’t want me to have to ski alone when I wanted to leave the bunny hill. So I skied with Maddie and Tyler for the first hour or so and then moved onto bigger and better stuff. I’ve skied before in Colorado, in Winter Park, but this was my first Copper experience and it was great! Just because I love trying new things, I think next time I’d venture over to A Basin or Vail.
After we left the ski resort (not before having a slope-side margarita), we went to the Dillon Dam Brewery for a beer. One of my favorite things about Colorado (and a repeated theme you’ll see throughout this post) was all the breweries! Then we headed to Beau Jo’s for mountain pies…where we sat in the literal attic in the dark for dinner. It was interesting and I so wish I had a photo.
We went to brunch at The Original Pancake House on Saturday morning with another college friend, BreAnne, before heading to Fort Collins for the day. When we got to Fort Collins, I tweeted at Coach McElwain (who just came to UF following a coaching stint at CSU). He didn’t reply, but Colorado State’s Athletic Department did! I got some recommendations on where to go in FoCo for the day that wound up being really helpful. We started at New Belgium where we had the best tour ever in spite of not having registered beforehand. (One of my strengths is talking my way into activities/shows/etc.) Our tour guide Dave was such a treat and it was awesome to a) enjoy like 5 free [mini] glasses of beer and b) see where some of my favorite brews are made! We even got to see the room where La Folie, my favorite sour brown ale, spends anywhere from 1-3 years in oak barrels before it’s bottled.
After we left New Belgium, we headed over to O’Dell Brewing for even more craft beer goodness. The tour wasn’t nearly as high-quality as Dave’s, but we were still glad to have gone. The place was crawling with people since apparently folks in Colorado love to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day several days early. For lunch/dinner, we went to Choice City, a recommendation from both CSU and a bartender at New Belgium. It did not disappoint! This also gave us a chance to see the downtown (i.e. adorable) part of Fort Collins.
In this marathon of a day, our next stop was back to Tyler’s place in Denver to change for the Colorado Avalanche game! We met a nice guy at the train station to the game (Alex) who I bugged the whole time about hockey and Colorado and life and I’m pretty sure he loved every second. It was mine and Maddie’s first NHL game and, although our seats were dreadful, we had a good time and the Avs won! I even scored a new (10-year-old) boyfriend named Logan who sat next to me at the game. Afterward, we walked a few blocks to hit the town. We ran into more awful guys and people that night than I knew was possible (including one who told me I was “thicker than three hot cakes and a milkshake” and meant that as a compliment) but eventually found our way into a karaoke bar which was a blast. We ended our night with a Lyft home where I (of course) shared deep thoughts with our driver Troy on his sexuality and coping with telling his ex-wife and kids that he’s gay. Only me.
We spent Sunday in my favorite place of the trip – Boulder! We shopped alllllll along the Pearl Street Mall and soaked up the gorgeous 78 degree, sunny weather. Tyler was a trooper as Maddie and I went into shop after shop. There was so much life on Pearl Street because of what a beautiful day it was: street performers and families and artists and dogs and locals and tourists and it was awesome. We ate at Illegal Pete’s and made a trip into a not-legal-in-most-states shop (because it’s Colorado, you have to). We also drove around CU’s campus, which was stunning. I really didn’t want to leave Boulder and am pretty sure I left a tiny piece of my heart there, but alas, we had a plane to catch.
That night, Maddie and I caught the red eye back to Orlando… and it was miserable. It was a four hour flight and I slept maybe 20 minutes because of my terrible cough. When we landed in FL, I was exhausted but had to make the drive back to Gainesville immediately. Well, the trip took almost an extra hour because of an awful accident on I-75 and let’s just say, I was thankful it wasn’t me. I was so tired that I was fighting to keep my eyes open on the road — rolling the windows down, blasting AC, changing the music — anything to stay awake. We did finally make it, though, and I had time for a 90-minute power nap before heading into work and back to reality.
All in all, it was an incredible trip. We had weather over 70 degrees all the days except our ski day (where it snowed on us and was beautiful). Tyler was a kind and generous host (thanks, T) and Maddie and I both are adding Colorado to our list of “places we could live.” Success!