Denver: hikes, bikes, and beers

So we actually started our trip in Denver, and one of the first things we wanted to do was hike around Red Rocks park. Strangely, that was another thing I never did when I lived in Colorado.

The hike around the major formations is pretty easy. We decided the hardest part was climbing the steps to the amphitheater. Which is probably why tons of people were using those steps as a free gym.

The rocks are beautiful, of course.

We saw a lot of wildlife, especially birds. Magpies, jays, orioles, and a few others I can’t remember.

Fortunately, we saw no rattlesnakes.

It seemed like there were spiky things everywhere.

That night our friends Jennie and Jim met us at Steubens for dinner. If you’re ever in Denver, I highly recommend eating there. It is retro cute, and specializes in comfort food and yummy cocktails. What’s not to love?

The next day we added Jennie’s husband, Patrick, to the group and went on a little bike ride/brewery tour. We rented bikes from B-Cycle (which I can’t believe they don’t have here). Then we headed off to our first stop, Strange Brewing Company.

This place is awesome. It’s basically like a big garage where they throw open the door, you park your bikes, and get a drink.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t drink much, especially beer, but I’m really trying to learn more and embrace the craft brewing movement. What better place to do that than Denver?

Our “tour” ended up being only two stops long, but it was still fun. We even saw this guy next door to the bar.

He had blue toenails!

Then we headed back to the Dorris/Doyle home for a backyard barbecue full of homegrown things. Patrick made us some delicious cocktails, too.

Complete with perfect ice cubes.

Aside: This was my first trip out of state since we moved to California, and it totally confirmed all the differences I’d observed between CA and the other places I’ve lived. I just kept saying, everything is so clean, and so far apart! Everyone is so friendly! My hair is so straight!

Anyway, after we recovered from that night, we decided to take a drive up the mountains outside Boulder. We drove up into Four Mile canyon, and saw a lot of the damage from last year’s wild fires.

The trees were just blackened. Some houses were untouched, others were completely destroyed, some had already been rebuilt. The views were still incredible, though.

The best part of the trip was when we got sort of lost and stumbled on this old mining town called Gold Hill. It was just a few houses and the general store.

Complete with sleepy dog on the porch.

We stopped and had a piece of chicken pot pie. We also bought a map.

All in all we had a great time, and can’t wait for someone else to get married so we can go back!

Dave and Rachel’s Colorado farm wedding

We are back in California now, but we had such a great trip to Colorado. I’m not gonna lie — we had some misadventures, too. But something about a pretty Colorado day makes you roll with the punches just a little bit more.

The trip started out with me trying to get a cab to the BART station so I wouldn’t have to park my car there for five days. About five minutes after the driver was supposed to pick me up, he called and said in a near-unintelligible accent that my street did not exist. I tried, desperately at that point, to communicate to this man that my house is actually super easy to find. But eventually I had to give up and race in my car to try to find a place to park. Fail!

But it was all fine. We got to the Oakland airport in plenty of time to eat a crappy dinner and board our flight. And here is where I would just like to say how much I missed flying Southwest and how awesome they are. Seriously. I get nothing for saying that.

With their general admission/numbered boarding style they had us all on that plane and ready to leave in 15 minutes. On the way home, the pilot (who looked like a Ken doll) came out and gave the announcements. When a baby screamed for what must have been the whole first hour of the flight, one of the flight attendants picked her up and rocked that baby to sleep in minutes. Our plane back was delayed by two hours, and they must have apologized for that about 20 times. I guess I am so used to delays it just seems normal, but I appreciate the customer service.

This is not Lake Tahoe. But it’s close.

OK, back to the reason for this trip. A wedding!

Dave is one of my former coworkers from when I lived in Boulder in 2005. He met Rachel when they were in New York for grad school, and they moved back to Boulder and bought a place. They’re both super kind and very ecofriendly people, so their farm wedding reflected that.

Did you know that in Colorado couples can marry themselves? They had an officiant, but they read their vows to each other, which was very cool.

Gotta love a groom who can pull off a bow tie!

Everyone kept teasing me about taking pictures of the food, but that’s what I do. Plus, it was (mostly) vegan, including the unbelievably tasty Tee and Cakes cake.

It’s hard to see in my photo but the cake had a little newspaper flower topper.

(Later, we tried a Tee and Cakes bacon cupcake. And I can tell you, it works.)

The band, Via Audio, came from Brooklyn to perform, and they were awesome.

The flower arrangements were made by a friend of the couple who used bundles of recycled jars.

Somewhere, Pete is always in the background making that face.

Apparently this farm had never been used for a wedding before, but it seemed like the perfect setting. Reminded me, of course, of Brianne’s lovely farm wedding.

I love these people.

After a while, many drinks were poured, and we ended up swaying in one big group to “Purple Rain.” It was great.

Apparently the bus driver decided she was only making one more trip back to town, so we all crowded onto the bus, which sounded like the shocks were going to give out any minutes. About a block from the hotel, the bus actually did break down. But it was the radiator.

So we went to the bar!

We had some terrible drinks and felt really old compared to all the belly baring college kids there. I love this picture, because it seems to capture exactly how things felt.

And then we went back to our hotel and fell asleep with Purple Rain in our heads.

I’m not sure how, but we managed to recover enough to do a pretty challenging hike the next day. After all that drinking and cake eating, we kind of needed it.

We decided to go up to the Flatirons, since I had never actually hiked up there. It’s a really popular place to hike, especially on a nice Sunday in the summertime.

Boulderites are so ridiculously fit, it’s not uncommon for someone to come running past you in Five Fingers shoes while you’re panting at turtle pace. But after all my hill walks I actually did really well. Normally when I travel, at altitude, and stay up late, and drink, I feel like crap. But I seem to be able to recover a lot better than I used to.

Anyway, we chose to route up to the Royal Arch, which is a cool formation. If my camera had not died part way up the trail, it would have looked like this.

At the beginning of the trail we spotted a mama deer with two teeny spotted fawns.

These giant mushrooms were all over.

I’m lucky that there are lots of hiking opportunities where I live, but I do miss being able to get to the mountains in just a few minutes.

Mike’s hiking boots died a sad death that day.

I kept thinking of other Boulder/Berkeley comparisons. And then I thought, this should really be a chart!

Berkeley Boulder
weather pretty much perfect four seasons, and lots of sun
people surprisingly smug laid back and friendly
athletes cyclists and gurus mountaineers and marathoners
style dirty hippie casual and cute
shoes Toms Tevas
pot policy just pass the joint dispensaries on every corner
students rocket scientists ready to party
food phenomenal: fresh, healthy, and local filling and good: you need fuel to hike that mountain
ecofriendliness as good as it gets as good as it gets
music scene hipster friendly you like Phish, right?
tech plugged in and inventing the next big thing thinking of the next big thing while running a marathon


OK, so I know that’s a bunch of sweeping generalizations, and really those two cities are about as similar as they could get. But it’s funny to think about.

Another post about Denver coming soon!