Summertime in Denver.
There aren't a whole lot of things that can beat it. As summer continues on, one of my biggest goals is to see a lot of what Colorado has to offer - as much as I can. Last year when I moved here, I got here mid-way through the summer, and with adjusting to a new job and city, I didn't get to explore as much as I wanted. So this summer, game on!
I wanted to share some of the adventures from the last few weekends. Since work stays pretty busy throughout the summer, weekends are really the only time to get out and explore. So explore I have!
I dedicated an entire post to Tough Mudder here, so I won't go into details. But they just released their official video from our weekend, so watch and be jealous... or grateful you didn't do it...
Rocky Mountain National Park
Kristen and I made some plans to check out one of the national parks in Colorado. What originally was going to be just a Sunday trip added a bonus day because she didn't have to work at her second job. So we took off for Estes Park. The first order of business was finding a hotel since this became a spur-of-the-moment trek. This proved to be more difficult since it was their big marathon weekend, but we found one! Then, we hopped in the car and drove Trail Ridge Road, where we saw several deer and elk, as well as amazing valleys and mountain peaks as far as the eyes could see. After a nice dinner on a patio listening to live music and the flow of a stream, we planned the next day's adventure.
What complicated Sunday was the fact that the Bear Lake Road is closed during the day for construction, only allowing shuttle buses to transport people back and forth. I wanted to go hiking, and we had afternoon plans to go horseback riding, so we were on too much of a time crunch to take the shuttles. Since we had reservations at the ranch, they would allow us to drive to the ranch, but no further, and they weren't loving us showing up 4 hours before our reservation. So I smooth-talked my way (I disobeyed the "honor system" request that the ranger gave me... shhhh!), and we spent a few hours hiking some amazing trails! It was a super windy day, but the hike and the views were out of this world. After our hike, we made our way to the Glacier Creek Stables and were given our horses for our 2-hour ride. Kristen's horse, Gwendolyn, has a tendency to spin and turn whenever it wants, and also happened to have a hard time with crossing water. My horse, Wendy, was absolutely humongous, but was skittish - of squirrels, wind, everything. Our guide's horse happened to be scared of large boulders, so she would stay as far away from every rock as we passed. This made for quite the ride and we had so many laughs. But what an amazing experience. We grabbed dinner after and hit the road for Denver, seeing a bear and coyote on the way. What an incredible adventure!
My parents and brother took a trip to see me, and it's the first time they've all been to Denver since I moved here. My mom came for a quick conference in Boulder a month ago, but I was really looking forward to spending a couple days with them. My mom landed first, so we got to grab some lunch and go to the zoo. Then the other two landed, and we had a great dinner and wandered the 16th Street Mall. We got up the next day and headed to Red Rocks Amphitheater, which always ends up on the tour for anyone who comes to visit me. We then decided to drive up Lookout Mountain and check out the Buffalo Bill Museum, which was fun to see some of the history of the Wild West. We grabbed lunch at Woody's in Golden and toured the Coors Brewery in the afternoon. We had a noisy dinner at Lime in Larimer Square (they sat us across the room from a HUGE bachelorette party, and nothing says cozy dinner like a bunch of loud, yelling, and rowdy women). Sunday, we had breakfast at my favorite Denver restaurant, Snooze. After eating ourselves into a coma, we drove to Mount Evans, winding up the highest paved road in North America. This was the highlight of the weekend as we got to see the summit of a 14er, catch some more incredible views, and watch families of mountain goats. We grabbed dinner at Mellow Mushroom, I said "see you in a week" to them, and called it a weekend.
With their different schedules and me working, I won't see them again while they're here, but I'll be in Minnesota in a week, so I'll get some more family time!
These are the weekends that I live for, and I am so excited I got to share these amazing memories with my family and my girlfriend. What an incredible last few weeks that it has been.