The Land of Sunshine and Gold: Weekend in Vail

Is summer really over?  It doesn’t feel like it here in Denver.  Supposedly yesterday was the first day of autumn, and although I hung my autumn wreaths on my front doors, and switched out my summer scented candles for those of cinnamon and spice, it still doesn’t quite feel like fall.  To get more in the spirit of the season, however, the hubby and I spent the weekend in Vail with our dear friends Peter and Ade, at Peter’s parents’ home.  Nestled in the valley, East Vail is truly picturesque mountain living.  Surrounded by towering mountain sides covered in now-golden aspens and evergreens, it is a perfect escape from the hustle of Denver.

We left around 4pm on Friday afternoon and battled a little traffic to get to the home of Betsy and Arlen, Peter’s folks, around 6pm.  We beat our friends, but had a great time catching up with their family (they are very much our home away from home), drinking wine, and smelling the delicious home cooking wafting from the kitchen.  Peter and Ade arrived about an hour later, and we all sat down for a great dinner, chatted about everything going on, and planned the next day’s activities.  Ade and I planned on doing a substantial hike, while the gents were going to play golf at Red Sky Ranch and Golf Club (one of the most stunning courses imaginable).  Betsy had done a hike a few days prior on the Bighorn trail, about 10 miles total from where we were staying, and this would be prime time for the changing aspens.  With that decided, we finished the night with delicious chocolate mousse, and hit the hay.

The next morning we got started around 8am with a hearty breakfast and we ready to go for the hike around 9:30am.  It was in every way the perfect day for this hike: the sun was shining, barely a cloud in the sky, high of 72 degrees… all around ideal.  The trek up to the “top” of the trail (you could make this hike longer by connecting to the Gore Creek trail for about a 6-8 hours round-trip hike), was steep in a few sections, but I could feel it more given I am hiking at an even higher elevation than normal.  The five miles up from the house felt like they took forever, and for Ade and I, both recovering from a cold, seemed fairly slow in spots, but that allowed us opportunities for amazing pictures and taking in the view.

Perfect day for a hike.
Perfect day for a hike.
The aspens were amazing. I'd never seen them like this!
The aspens were amazing. I’d never seen them like this!
This trail followed a stream throughout, and boy was that some clear water!
This trail followed a stream throughout, and boy was that some clear water!
2014-09-20 10.55.16
We were going up for quite a while…
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Hello beautiful golden aspens!
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Straight up snow melt: cold, clear and refreshing.

By the time we reached the cabin, which everyone on the trail was using as a landmark, we reached 10,788 feet in elevation and hiked a little over 4 miles from the trail head.  The infamous cabin was very old and on the verge of collapse, but as the Forest Service website said, it could be used for hikers as shelter during inclement weather.  Thankfully, no such weather occurred during our hike.  Ade and I walked around it and crossed the stream to sit at the base of the peaks to the right of the cabin.  We brought grapes and nuts to snack on while we chatted and basked in the gloriousness of this perfect day.

Some of the rock fields on this hike were intense.
Some of the rock fields on this hike were intense.
"The hills are alive" anyone?
“The hills are alive” anyone?

2014-09-20 11.28.59

So beautiful it looks fake.
So beautiful it looks fake.

2014-09-20 11.51.58 2014-09-20 11.55.54

This is where we sat and had our snacks.  Doesn't suck.
This is where we sat and had our snacks. Doesn’t suck.
2014-09-20 13.02.10
She could totally be an outdoors sports model.
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I could swear I’ve seen this in a magazine…
2014-09-20 13.41.27
Aspens as far as the eye can see!
I was tempted to never leave.
I was tempted to never leave.

We ventured back down, taking significantly less time to get back, and started chatting with a local who lives at the base of the trail and has hiked all of the 14-ers in Colorado at least once, if not twice.  I was wowed, not having hiked a single one… yet!  My goal for next summer, needless to say.  After returning home, and following a most delightful shower, we made a quick salad lunch and went for an early evening yoga class at the East Vail Racquet Club.  We got home, and shortly afterwards our men arrived, and we ended the evening with steaks, grilled veggies, and oven roasted potatoes.

The next day was cloudy and rainy, so rather than a short morning hike, we decided to hit the road around noon and stop by the outlets in Silverthorne on our way back to Denver and Boulder.  I will never say no to outlet shopping, and we

What's a post without a picture of my pup?
What’s a post without a picture of my pup?

even got great items for the hubs (he was so excited about the deals we got, I may have converted him to the dark side…).  Before reaching home, we picked up our pup from my hubby’s parents and then got back, made a great dinner, watched the Bronco’s game (alas…) and called it a day!

Thankfully this week I am finally back into the routine of work and workouts.  This week kicked off the LacyFit Fall Fitness Challenge (of which I am SO excited, more on this later), and I finally feel like I have regained my sense of normalcy post-vacation.  Maybe every vacation should end with another vacation!  This weekend should be a fun one for spending it all at home, given we have dinner plans on Friday and Saturday!  Friday the hubs and I are getting dinner with his folks at a steakhouse I haven’t yet tried in Denver, Grace and Guard.  Saturday we will meet up with our foodie friends Scott and Danielle (our typical Foodie Friday couple, but on Saturday, oh my!) for dinner at Lower48 Kitchen.  We’ll definitely fit in some long runs, given that our first half marathon of the season is only 25 days away (eek!).  But for now, let’s just get past Wednesday!

What are your favorite signs of autumn?  Where do you go for an easy weekend getaway?  What are your weekend plans (it’s never to early to think about the weekend)?

Making the Most of It: Pre-Trip Festivities!

Another amazing Colorado weekend in the books.  With my trip to the United Kingdom a matter of FOUR days away, I am trying to make the most of my last week in Colorado before we leave.  Over the weekend, other than prepping for our impending travels, the hubs and I were busy hosting the in-laws for a delectable home cooked meal, getting in some miles in preparation for our fall races, and I met up with some local sorority sisters for a hike and an unexpected adventure.

Saturday started off with a nice five mile run with the hubs, followed by necessary errands to prepare for our trip.  With all of the changes we have made in our diet and regular exercise routine, my hubby has lost quite a bit of weight.  It was definitely time, possibly overdue, to get him some new duds to show off his svelte figure.  Obviously we want to look our best abroad, and London is a classy city, so it was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of updating his wardrobe.  Besides, I love shopping for him… there’s something so enjoyable about dressing men!

That evening we hosted my in-laws for a home cooked meal as a thank you for taking care of our adorable pup, Rocco, while we’re away.  We’ve

I cannot begin to express how much I am going to miss my puppy boy!
I cannot begin to express how much I am going to miss my puppy boy!

had our puppy for just over a year and have never left him for more than 4 days.  This is going to be a big switch for us, and I can already tell I am going to have separation anxiety.  Luckily my in-laws also have a Chihuahua who is our pup’s best friend in the whole world.  Something tells me this will be a vacation for Rocco too.  On the menu for the evening was a delicious cheese plate with Manchego and Pecorino cheeses, rosemary olive oil crisps and crostini from Whole Foods, and black seedless grapes.  With this in mind, the hubs and I decided to go Italian.

We prepared homemade pork meatballs, which we seasoned ourselves, freshly made creamy polenta (my first time making it!), and topped with homemade San Marzano tomato sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano and arugula.  I am a bad blogger and didn’t take a picture of the awesomeness.  The recipe was based off of a dish I used to order at my favorite little Italian restaurant in Boulder, Radda Trattoria.  The hubs and I were so spoiled because this restaurant was just across the street from our townhome, so it became a restaurant staple.  The meal is called Polpette e Polenta, and is too delicious for words.  Without fail, this was always what I ordered.  It’s also this restaurant where I first had a Martini Basilico, which my hubby has beautifully been able to recreate at home (YAY!).  We finished the meal with my mother-in-law’s homemade peach bourbon upside down cake.  Overall, it was a phenomenal meal.

Another perfect day for a hike!
Another perfect day for a hike!

The next morning I met up with two local sorority sister for a Sunday morning hike.  We drove west towards Morrison, the same place I had hike the weekend before, but this time we went to a trail on the opposite side of Red Rocks amphitheater.  The trailhead, Mt. Falcon, takes two paths.  One, the Castle Trail, is mountain biker friendly, so a number of adventurists passed us on the trail, impressively navigating the terrain on bike.  At the first summit, you can see beautiful vistas of the valley below and the Denver skyline in the distance.  Although we decided not to go to the top of Mt. Falcon, for timing reasons, we took the Turkey Trot trail around the back side of the foothill, which allowed for amazing views and a gorgeous woodsy atmosphere.

My hiking buddies, Kaitlin and Christie!
My hiking buddies, Kaitlin and Christie!
The Turkey Trot trail took us through some beautiful woodsy paths.
The Turkey Trot trail took us through some beautiful woodsy paths.
Love these views!
Love these views!
We found Red Rocks!
We found Red Rocks!

After hiking, we drove to downtown Golden for lunch.  We sat on the back patio of the Buffalo Rose bar and grill, and quickly realized we were in the middle of the USA Pro Challenge cycling race.  The main street of Golden was lined with spectators trying to catch a glimpse.  I’d never seen a cycling race in person, so when the hordes of cyclists passed a dizzying speeds, followed closely by pace cars, I was pretty excited.

Definitely an unexpected surprise for our day!
Definitely an unexpected surprise for our day!  Source

Shortly afterwards we tried to leave Golden, and realized the city was shut down for the race.  We managed to cross into the entrance to the Coors factory, and the guard at the gate allowed us to drive through their property

Fort Keg, it's a pretty formidable structure.
Fort Keg, it’s a pretty formidable structure.

to get back to the highway.  Having done the Coors factory tour four times now, I had absolutely no idea how HUGE the factory is.  We drove for quite some time through service roads connecting the facility together, interspersed with Coors’ own railway system.  It was impressive.  Then we saw the castle of kegs, and that was incredible.  I doubt they were full (that would not live up to the Coors cold-brewed standard), but it definitely made me wonder how much beer could fill all of them…  It was in every way a memorable day!

Yeah, not sure we really should have been allowed back here... oh well!
Yeah, not sure we really should have been allowed back here… oh well!
The sunsets along my run are always so beautiful!
The sunsets along my run are always so beautiful!

This week, interspersed with packing, I have jam-packed in fun events and last-minute get-togethers.  Yesterday I fit in a 5K run in preparation for the Esprit de She 10K this Thursday.  The sunset was stunning, and the weather perfection (finally).  Hello 65º!  I hope Thursday night has similar weather.  Tonight, after Zumba, I am stopping by the Esprit de She Packet Pickup Party at the Athleta shop in Denver’s Cherry Creek area.  Not only can I get my bib, but as a participant we also get 20% off in store, snacks, giveaways and more.  Yes please!  Tomorrow evening I will be going to the Squeaky Bean with my friend Danielle for pre-trip cocktails.  The Squeaky Bean boasts one of the best professional mixologists in Denver, so the drinks are fabulous.  Finally, Thursday I will be running the Esprit de She with my friend Christie, and cannot wait for the post-race festivities.

Have a great week everyone – make every day an adventure!

How did you make the most of your last summer weekend?  Do you know how much beer could fill all of those kegs?  What are you looking forward to this week?

The Happiness Factor: Friday Favorites Edition

Friday is here again – hooray!  This summer has simultaneously flown by and dragged on… not really sure how that works, but there you have it.  The fall semester started this week and work has been a bit of a chaotic, excited, anxious blur.  Thankfully things have calmed down slightly on campus, but will probably pick right back up come Monday.  For now, let’s appreciate Friday and look forward to the weekend!

I find it is sometimes best to focus on favorites as a means of happiness.  I saw an infographic this week that broke down the elements of happiness into 15 categories, most of which is genetic (I tend to think I am a happy person at heart, so I believe that to be true), but thoughts, actions and beliefs are three other key pieces to happiness.  If we think about things that make us happy, and tend towards positive beliefs and actions, we are more apt to be happy people.  Therefore, Friday favorites are a piece of the happiness puzzle – hooray!

Let’s jump right in to the Friday Favorites lineup!

  1. Traveling – of course I am focused on travel given I leave for the UK in a matter of eight days!! Not that I am counting.  The hubs and I will be taking our first trip together across the pond, and for my hubby, his first truly international trip.  He’s been to Canada and Turks and Caicos, but that is it.  I was lucky enough to be born abroad, so did most of my life’s traveling by the time I was four.  In college I studied abroad in London, England and Sydney, Australia (I was an English major, so naturally I went where they speak English!), and have been dying to go back to both since.  Six years after studying in London, I am finding my way back, this time with the hubs in tow.  We were dating when I was last there, but all I could think was how much he would love it.  We plan to travel to Oxford, Canterbury and Bath during our stay in London, and end our trip in Edinburgh, Scotland.  I am half Scottish, and my hubby is a quarter, so it’s about time we go see the land of our heritage.  I am a wee bit excited (catch my sarcasm?), and will begin packing this weekend.  One more week… I can make it.
  2. Six years later, I am finally returning to one of my favorite cities in the world!
    Six years later, I am finally returning to one of my favorite cities in the world!  I can’t believe my hair was once that short and blonde…
  3. FREE RACES – yup, that’s right.   About a month and half ago my friend and local sorority sister contacted me about participating in the
    I do love some good race swag after all!  And champagne.
    I do love some good race swag after all! And champagne. Source

    Esprit de She 10K on August 28th.  At first I thought, “Hmm, a race on a Thursday night?  Not too sure about that…” And then she intimated that I could participate for free.  Furthermore, it’s a race designed for women, and at the finish line is champagne (HELLO!) at their Bubbly Bar, hair braiding and mini manis (awesome), post-race tapas (you had me at champagne), and a FABULOUS Athleta tech tank.  Did I mention that Athleta is one of the major sponsors?  Did I also mention that my friend formerly worked for Athleta and that’s how I got to sign up for free?  I also figured, besides all of the incredible goodies, this would be great practice for running an evening/night race before the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November.  So yay for free!

  4. Colorado Mountains – during this past month I have spoiled with myself with adventures in the Colorado Rockies. We took some of our east
    How cool is it that I get to live here?
    How cool is it that I get to live here?

    coast friends up to Vail at the beginning of the month, and then partook in Yoga on the Rocks and hiking around Red Rocks last weekend.  After moving from Boulder, I find it harder to take the time to explore the amazing landscape of our state.  I am hoping to fit in another hike this weekend, potentially near Golden.  Although Denver is a great city to visit, the foothills and mountains that flank its west side are the real tourist attraction, in my opinion.

  5. Tea – completely unoriginal, but there you have it. With my trip coming up I have been drinking so much tea recently.  I am a huge fan of Harney & Sons Paris Tea, but have recently converted to their delicious Earl Grey Supreme.  As much as I don’t want summer to end, I am conflicted in that I am craving cooler days, autumn sunshine, changing leaves and enjoying a beautiful pot of warm tea (with milk, because that’s how I roll).  I may have an entire cabinet entirely dedicated to tea… and 8 teapots of varying sizes and styles.  I may also have planned at least 3 teas during our trip, with a potential for 3 more…  Fortnum and Mason, anyone?

    Thank you Buzzfeed, I am okay with this.  Source
  6. Outlander – although I have significantly reduced my television watching, there are some shows I make time for. One of my new favorites is
    I recommend this series - it will suck you in!
    I recommend this series – it will suck you in!  Source

    Outlander.  In college, a dear friend and roommate recommended the Outlander series, and I read the first two voraciously.  I haven’t picked up the others since, and now really want to re-read the first all over again.  Starz just introduced a new series based upon Diana Gabaldon’s books, and timing couldn’t be more perfect.  Set outside of Inverness, Scotland, it has me daydreaming of my impending adventures.  I really recommend the books and the show!

So here’s to happiness and the things in life that make us smile.  Have a happy, healthy and fabulous Friday everyone.  Go out and enjoy some of your favorite things.  It just might make your day that much happier!

What favorites are making you happy these days?  Any fun plans for the weekend?  Anyone have other London/Edinburgh recommendations?

Yoga on the Rocks and a Beautiful Saturday Hike

I have never experienced anything quite like Yoga on the Rocks.  That one hour of my life was so serene, so peaceful, and

Watching the sunrise over Red Rocks - so surreal!
Watching the sunrise over Red Rocks – so surreal!

yet incredibly fulfilling all at once.  I had initially heard about Yoga on the Rocks from the instructor of LacyFit, Amy Lacy.  The program is put on by Core Power Yoga and co-sponsored by Whole Foods (excellent combination).  Amy had participated with a group of friends at the end of July.  The pictures she posted were incredible!  Thousands of people from all over Colorado, and beyond, participating in a massive outdoor group yoga session, while the sun bathes you in light on the steps of Red Rocks… yes please!  Personally I am not a huge yogi, but I have done a few videos at home and sessions with friends.  This type of experience, however, was completely up my alley.

After learning there were three classes left for the summer, I checked

So grateful for my yogi friends!
So grateful for my yogi friends!  Tessa is on my left and Ade on my right.

my calendar and called my two main yogi friends, Ade and Tessa.  Ade and I bonded over joblessness and hiking after moving to Boulder, Colorado post-completion of our respective graduate programs.  Tessa is my longtime friend from high school who initially moved to Colorado shortly after I did, then spent two years in Istanbul, Turkey, and just moved back to Denver this July!  It was meant to be, we were all free on August 16th!

Knowing I would have to awaken prior to the sun, I figured this would be a good opportunity to seize the day, and asked if the ladies would also like to join me for a hike around Red Rocks after yoga.  Thankfully they were on board, so we had a whole morning of stunning scenery and physical fitness ahead of us.

Red Rocks is about 25 minutes southwest of Denver proper, nestled in the foothills of Morrison.  These naturally occurring jagged red rocks quite literally set the stage for an outdoor amphitheater.  There’s really nothing quite like it!  I remember visiting Red Rocks on my very first trip to Colorado in 2007.  Little did I know then that I would live a short drive away someday.

I picked up Tessa early that morning and Ade drove down from Boulder and met

Prepping for our morning yoga session!
Prepping for our morning yoga session!

us at the amphitheater.  The sun was just peeking above the stage and thousands of yogis were laying out mats, stretching, and taking pictures of our surreal surroundings.  The early goers got free Core Power Yoga mats and awesome bright orange sunglasses.  Obviously we all put those on immediately.  People-watching was awesome, mostly for the incredible yoga pants all over the place.  The program started just after 7:00am, and it was truly a perfect morning: barely a cloud in the bright blue sky, light breeze, and sunny.  It was the best Saturday morning I have had in a long time.

There's definitely nothing quite like it!
There’s definitely nothing quite like it!
The one artsy shot we had to get - stretching it out after a great class!
The one artsy shot we had to get – stretching it out after a great class!

Although not the most challenging yoga class, it was designed for yogis of all strengths and skill levels (good for a novice like me!).  The poses focused all areas of the body, and the instructor was very cognizant of the wide array of experience throughout the amphitheater.  She had us repeating throughout the class, “Where are you?  Red Rocks!  What are you?  Alive!”  At first it seemed like a silly chant, but looking around, it meant so much more.  Very few people in the world get the chance to do this, and what a perfect day and way to celebrate just being alive.

At the end of the class, Whole Foods stations were located at the top of the

This was the perfect post-yoga hiking trail - not too tough with awesome views!
This was the perfect post-yoga hiking trail – not too tough with awesome views!

amphitheater with fabulous giveaways and snacks.  We grabbed some vitamins, protein milk, granola and yogurt, Justin’s nut butters, and some snack bars from Cascadian Farms and Lara Bar.  We knew we needed some sustenance before heading off on our hike.  After a bit of wait getting out of the parking lot, we made the 3 minute drive over to the parking lot for the entrance to Matthews Winters Park.

Hiking up the Red Rocks trail.
Hiking up the Red Rocks trail.
Picture perfect day!
Picture perfect day!
All I could say was, "Wow!" View from the top of Morrison Slide trail.
All I could say was, “Wow!” View from the top of Morrison Slide trail.
A successful day all around.
A successful day all around.
I still can't get over these views!
I still can’t get over these views!

We started on the trail which takes you up and over some rolling hills, very un-Colorado like, towards the Red Rocks trail.  This eventually connects with the Morrison Slide trail, which boasts incredible views of Red Rocks and the valley beyond.  The sky was so clear we could see nearly all the way to Pikes Peak.  We connected back to the Red Rocks trail and took that back to the parking lot.  We were done with our morning activities by 11:15am, and at that point, it was time for tacos!  Much like Pirate Bobcat, I live for tacos, so Tessa and I ventured in the Highlands for fajita tacos at Patzcuaro’s.  So good.  Needless to say, it was an all-around perfect day!

Yup, pretty much amazing.
Yup, pretty much amazing.

Although I don’t have anything quite as exciting planned this weekend, I will be packing for my trip to London and Edinburgh.  I leave in TEN days and absolutely cannot wait.  As much as I love Colorado, I adore the UK!

Have you tried a sunrise yoga – what did you think?  Do you love to rise early on weekends and seize the day?  Any fun post-summer travel plans?

Waffle Doughnuts and August Adventures

I was not really aware, not being an expert in the field of doughnut creation, that such a thing could exist: waffle doughnuts.

Seriously - first cronuts, now wonuts?  Brilliant!
Seriously – first cronuts, now wonuts? Brilliant!

Mind blown. Tomorrow is my boss’ birthday so we celebrated today, and thankfully my cleanse is coming to an end. I may have partaken in the deliciousness. If you haven’t tried them, you should, preferably with chocolate icing. What can I say? I have a sweet tooth!

Other than the delightful world of doughnuts, August is shaping up to be a pretty fantastic and adventurous month! Last weekend the hubs and I had the pleasure of hosting some of our dearest friends from Washington D.C., Alex and Colleen. They flew out for a whirlwind of a weekend trip and we were up to the challenge. They arrived late last Friday evening, so we decided to have a relaxing evening in so we could rise early on Saturday and head into the mountains for a quick day trip. If you live along the Front Range and have attempted the journey up I-70 this summer, you know what a bear it’s been to get past Idaho Springs. Given the long winter months in the mountains, all road construction takes place in a short window, and a lot needs to be completed in a limited amount of time. In other words, it was slow going, but we finally arrived in Vail just before 11:30am. We wandered around the town a bit, basking in the mountain air and watching the Keen Kids Adventure Race (it was a pretty epic ordeal). The race was a series of obstacles, starting with a climbing wall, followed by a bike race, and ending with an inner tube race along Gore Creek. I cannot deny that it looked like so much fun. And because it’s Colorado, these kids were fiercely fit and very competitive.

Beautiful views from the Mountain Standard patio!
Beautiful views from the Mountain Standard patio!  The race is in full swing.

We had lunch along the creek, with full view of the festivities, at a fantastic restaurant called Mountain Standard. By 12:15pm the place was packed – a good sign in my book! We had a light lunch, mine consisting of a fantastic caprese salad with homemade ricotta and fried polenta “breadcrumbs”. It was delish! If you find your way to Vail, it’s a definite must, especially in the summertime.

After lunch we stopped by my all-time favorite Christmas shop (let’s be honest, Vail looks like an eternal Christmas card), The Gilded Spruce. They provide some incredible ornaments made in Colorado, as well as European treasures. I was born in Germany, so I grew up with traditional German Christmas ornaments, including handmade wooden German pyramids/windmills and smokers. This shop definitely takes me back to my childhood, and I love being transported to a Christmassy winter wonderland! Better still, I love visiting the shop to see my friend Peter’s mother, Betsy. Although I wasn’t sure if she’d be working that day, I had to stop in. Luckily she was there and the shop was quiet, so we were able to catch up and introduce our friends. The hubs and I will be returning to Vail in months’ time with our friends Peter and Ade, and Betsy is kind enough to put us up!

Great day with friends and the hubby in my favorite mountain village!
Great day with friends and the hubby in my favorite mountain village!
Picture perfect day in the mountains!
Picture perfect day in the mountains!
This view needs no filter.
This view needs no filter.

After the Gilded Spruce, we wandered the town a bit more, checked out some shops, and walked by the gondola and the finish line of the kids’ race. The day was beautiful, and the mountains are utterly peaceful. We left around 3:00pm so we could get back with enough time to relax before dinner. The hubs made some signature cocktails before we got an easy dinner nearby. The next day the boys played golf, while Colleen and I got in some serious pool time.

The hubs got the Fort's Game Plate, complete with bison, elk and quail!
The hubs got the Fort’s Game Plate, complete with bison, elk and quail! 

That evening we went to dinner at the Fort. I have been hearing about this place since moving to Colorado, and although the hubs had been before, it had been many years. The Fort is a Colorado staple: it serves dishes more common to the region, including bison, elk, quail, and the occasional rattlesnake. The structure itself it a replica of Bent’s Fort, an old fur trading fort built in 1833, constructed by a family seeking the true western experience nestled in the foothills outside of Denver. Now it is a culinary collaboration of Native American and southwestern flavors, and boy is it good! The service is spectacular, the food awesome, and the portions are insane. We left with tons of leftovers and full stomachs. If you visit Denver anytime soon, you simply must go to the Fort.

Monday morning we dropped off our friends at the airport bright and early, and the rest of this week has been a blur. I can’t believe it’s Friday already! Last night after an awesome Zumba class I went to the Matador in the Highlands. I had recently read about the incredible Jalapeno Cucumber Margaritas from Chocolate Covered Race Medals, and thankfully some of my local sorority sisters had planned a happy hour there for Thursday. They did not disappoint whatsoever. I could have had way more than two, but thankfully I did not so I could get home safe and sound. I can’t wait to take the hubs and get some grub (we just munched on an awesome plate of nachos). Everything there looked awesome.

Tonight the hubs and I are hosting some of our friends for a couples date night at our house. They are thrilled as they have

I cannot wait for Yoga on the Rocks - watching the sun rise over Red Rocks while doing yoga, yes please!
I cannot wait for Yoga on the Rocks – watching the sun rise over Red Rocks while doing yoga, yes please!

two adorable little daughters, ages 3 months and 2 years. My hubby has some awesome brined grilled chicken, corn on the cob, sweet potato fries and arugula salad planned, and I will work on a sweet treat for dessert. Tomorrow morning I am rising before 6:00am so I can meet up with two of my gal pals for Yoga on the Rocks. Red Rocks is a stunning outdoor amphitheater carved into the red rock face of the foothills by Morrison. Starting at 7:00am during most Saturdays in the summer, they host a giant yoga class with people and their mats lining the many rows of seating all the way down to the stage. I cannot wait! Afterwards we plan on doing a short 4 mile hike nearby.

The most exciting part of this month is my countdown to London and Edinburgh!! The hubs and I leave in two weeks’ time for an incredible adventure, and it’s all I can do to make it through the day without wanting to drive to the airport and leave right now! Have a great weekend everyone – make it an adventurous one!

Any amazing weekend plans in your future?  Have you ever done a mass yoga class – what was it like?  Where is your favorite day trip?

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

It’s crazy to think how last week and this week flew by.  My birthday is this Saturday and I don’t even know what happened to the month of May!  Two Thursdays ago I flew home from Jackson Hole, WY and shortly afterwards our friends Samantha and her hubby arrived in Denver for a long weekend stay.  It was a much needed respite from work, and a welcome visit from some of our favorite people.

The first time Samantha and her hubs came to Colorado, we were living in Boulder, and had only been in residence for about 6 months.  Colorado was still very new to us, but we were able to showcase some of our favorite things, including Snooze.  My sister and brother-in-law introduced us to the restaurant a few years before moving there.  Snooze is an AM Eatery, with an old school diner vibe infused with unique flavor combinations.  My all-time go-to, hands down best order?  Red velvet pancakes.  No lie.  To be sure, our friends fell just as in love with Snooze as we did.  The first order of their second trip to Colorado?  Snooze, duh!

Delightful Snooze beverages!
Delightful Snooze beverages!

We went to Snooze Friday morning, and only waited about 40 minutes (there are no reservations, and people will line up outside to wait, so anything less than an hour is a blessing).  Thankfully they were still on East Coast time, so it was easy to rally early and head out for a delightful breaky.  I ordered their epic breakfast burrito smothered in green chili.  If you aren’t from Colorado or New Mexico, proper green chili sauce is hard to come by.  Having fresh roasted hatch green chilies makes all the difference in the world.  YUM!  I was tempted, however, by a new pancake on the menu: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie pancakes.  Needless to say, we got one to share for the table.

After gorging ourselves with Snoozey goodness, the boys went off to play some golf while Samantha and I went shopping.  Our first stop was the Run Colorado store in Greenwood Village.  I absolutely love the Run Colorado store.  Their Nike pullovers and running tanks, with great Colorado logos, make my day every time.  I bought some items for my friend Christine’s birthday, but knew that Samantha would love this store too.  To say we did some damage would be fairly accurate.

After hitting a few more stores, I took Samantha to Lark Burger for a small lunch.  She’d been hearing about Lark Burger for some time, and I often rave about it.  We each got a Little Lark and split a side of their legendary Parmesan Truffle Fries!  So fabulous… I am pretty much always sold when it comes to truffle anything.  We jetted home and met up with the boys before going downtown for drinks at Peak’s Lounge and dinner at Osteria Marco on Larimer Square.

The next morning we woke early and readied ourselves for a hike.  The last time Samantha and Michael came to visit was during the month of

This is the map of Castlewood Canyon State Park - beautiful views of Pike's Peak!
This is the map of Castlewood Canyon State Park – beautiful views of Pike’s Peak! Source

January – not prime hiking season.  But we obliged anyway!  By the end we were practically scooting on our rears all the way down due to slick, steep ice and packed snow.  This time was significantly better.  We headed southeast to Castlewood Canyon State Park, south of Castle Rock, CO.  We parked on the east side of the park, started on the Lake Gulch trail, connected with the Rim Rock trail, taking us along the top of the canyon, and then continued on the Creek bottom trail before hooking back up with the Lake Gulch to head back to the car.  In total, the entire hike was about 6 miles and we made great time.  We tired out Samantha and Michael by the end but they were in great spirits.  Samantha and I spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool, strawberry mojitos in hand, and had a nice easy evening.

Yay hiking selfies!  And photobombing!
Yay hiking selfies! And photobombing!
Yup! That's Pike's Peak behind the adorable couple!
Yup! That’s Pike’s Peak behind the adorable couple!
Don't jump Samantha!
Don’t jump Samantha!
Gorgeous day in Garden of the Gods!
Gorgeous day in Garden of the Gods!

The following day we went to Whole Foods in the morning to prepare for the evening’s meal (light protein and carbs in preparation for Monday’s race) and our Memorial Day barbeque (Robbie’s famous burgers!).  Afterwards we drove south to Colorado Springs, meandered through Garden of the Gods, and then hopped on the Cog Railway train in Manitou Springs to head up Pike’s Peak!  The train was packed, but we made the most of it.  We made it to the top this time, although it was surrounded in clouds, and just as we were departing the clouds broke for a few moments, and the rest of the world (it seemed) lay below.  You could see all the way to the state of Kansas, so that in itself was pretty awesome.

The top of Pike's Peak!
The top of Pike’s Peak!

With the BolderBOULDER the next morning, we prepared fish and sausage on the grill with a side of purple rice.  Monday morning we were ready to leave by 6am.  We got to Boulder around 7:15am, parked at CU, and walked to the starting line.  We missed our corral by about 5 minutes, but given that there are nearly 100 start waves, it wasn’t an issue.  We started the race in red, white and blue style!  Samantha bought us all patriotic sunglasses to wear during the run and they were so fun!  Robbie wore a Captain America shirt, Michael had Superman, and Samantha and I decked out accordingly.  We ran the first three miles with Michael and Samantha, but separated after that point so they could take a bit more time due to the altitude.  The hubs and I ran straight through to the end, noticing how much easier it was this year versus last year.  We are a bit more in practice this time around!  Shortly after finishing, Samantha and her hubby joined us and we wandered through the after-race expo.  The crowds were pretty enormous, so we grabbed a few things here and there, and then headed home.

BolderBOULDER awesomeness.  I love coordinating outfits and Patriotic sunglasses!
BolderBOULDER awesomeness. I love coordinating outfits and Patriotic sunglasses!
Another awesome year running the BolderBOULDER!
Another awesome year running the BolderBOULDER!

That afternoon was spent on our back patio, eating hatchamole (guacamole with hatch green chilies!) and chips, mixing up delicious cocktails, and dining on my hubby’s homemade burgers (hello pretzel buns!).  It was the perfect Memorial Day weekend celebration.  I couldn’t have asked for a better visit!

We celebrate in delicious style.  Strawberry and blueberry mojitos and watermelon slices!
We celebrate in delicious style. Strawberry and blueberry mojitos and watermelon slices!
My boys chillin' outside - still rockin' the shades.
My boys chillin’ outside – still rockin’ the shades.
I worried Samantha and Michael would try to take Rocco with them...
I worried Samantha and Michael would try to take Rocco with them…
Perfect weekend!
Perfect weekend!

How was the start of your summer (okay so technically it starts on June 21st, but it’s the symbolic start to summer, right?)?  What are your go-to’s when friends come to visit?  Don’t you just love our Patriotic ensembles?

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

What a hiatus! Last week, through this past Monday, was just an incredible culmination of fantastic moments and awesome memories.  I was lucky enough to spend Monday through Thursday exploring beautiful Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park.  Sadly Yellowstone was a bit too far to fit into our schedule, but my coworkers and I made the most of our time in Jackson.  As previously mentioned, we ventured through Teton National Park, particularly around Jenny Lake and hiking up to Taggart Lake.  To say it is stunningly beautiful would be an understatement to end all understatements.  Ah – mazing.

Just to recap: one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been to!
Just to recap: one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been to!

The following two days in Jackson were spent primarily in some awesome sessions for the conference I was attending.  We met great people

This section is called the "Sleeping Indian," not so politically correct, but there you have it.
This section is called the “Sleeping Indian,” not so politically correct, but there you have it.

from around the region with good ideas we hope to incorporate into our current work structure.  I was able to go for a 5 and a half mile run on Wednesday between conference sessions and dinner.  From our hotel, which was located at the very southeast corner of Jackson, right up next to Snow King Mountain (I use the word “mountain” liberally, but apparently it is the steepest north facing ski slope in the US).  I followed Snow King Road west until I could hook up with the main road in and out of town, Cache.  I ran down this stretch until I was clear out of town, about a mile and a half.  Once you emerge from Jackson Hole and are heading north, you run right into the National Elk Refuge, which parallels much of Teton National Park.  During the winter months, the locals host actual sleigh rides which allow you to get right up to herds of elk, while explaining the history of the refuge and more about the animals themselves.  While that sounds awesome, for that day, running alongside it, without snow and ice, was fine with me!

There’s a fairly new, and outstanding, bike path that follows the edge of the refuge.  Now I was not up for renting a bike, so I decided to risk it and run along the path for a while.  Some of the views were breathtaking.  At this point you are shielded from the Tetons, but on the eastern range are some awesome mountains and formations.  The day was perfect, the sky was blue, and it was like being in a world of my own.

Honestly, the perfect day, and ideally located bike trail, for an afternoon run.
Honestly, the perfect day, and ideally located bike trail, for an afternoon run.
Perfect views of the Tetons from atop Snow King Mountain!
Perfect views of the Tetons from atop Snow King Mountain! Sleepy Jackson Hole just below.

The next and last day of the conference, I woke up at 5:50am and jetted out of the hotel to hike up Snow King Mountain.  I will give Jacksonians credit: it is steep.  I took the Summit Trail three-quarters of the way up (I had to watch my time since I needed to be ready for the morning by 8am), and from there, the views were phenomenal.  Suddenly the Teton Range comes into view above the ridge surrounding Jackson Hole.  The entire valley invades your view, and it’s like the entire world is resting below your feet.  I have gone on plenty of hikes in Colorado, but this vista was particularly enthralling.

My coworkers and I left that afternoon (after a two hour delay spent in the airport – time wasted when we could have done another hike!), and within a few hours our friends Samantha (the lovely Miss BakeNBurn) and her hubby arrived for the most wonderful long weekend ever.  Wow, did they spoil us.  Our hubbies got to play golf, we basked by the pool, there was some excellent shopping, we went hiking through Castlewood Canyon State Park, we took the cog railway up Pike’s Peak (and made it to the [cloud-covered] top!), we wandered through Garden of the Gods, and topped it all off with their first high-altitude race – my favorite – the BolderBOULDER (I may have already signed up for next year…)!  I’ll get into all that later, but the past two weeks have been a reminder of how fun life can be, what great friends I have, and how many amazing places I have yet to explore!

BolderBOULDER awesomeness.  Yeah we were all in red, white and blue (Go America!). I miss them already! Come back!
BolderBOULDER awesomeness. Yeah we were all in red, white and blue (Go America!). I miss them already! Come back!

Are you like me – do you take advantage of every moment you have when exploring a new place?  What is one place you’ve been to that has just taken your breath away?  What did you do for Memorial Day Weekend?