Welcome to Colorful Colorado!

cropped-rsz_2dsc_0138.jpg“Welcome to Colorful Colorado,” the phrase that greets people at the state line.  This phrase is a welcoming  beacon after a long day of travel.  It greets visitors and residents in the same manner, with open arms and opportunity.  When you see those 4 words you know that you have arrived at your destination.  These words, almost as soothing as “I love you.”  Ok, I know that may be pushing it a little, but in reality if you are traveling and Colorado is your destination, sometimes it feels that way.  Depending on what direction you are traveling, that sign may be a sign of relief.  **Did you know–Colorado has 7 border states–Wyoming, Utah, Arizona (part of the infamous 4 Corners region), New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas.

We travel a lot around the United States and in all honesty, I am not being biased, the Colorado welcome sign is, well, the best.  It has pizazz!  Ok, I am biased.  I just love to see the welcome sign.  It means I am home.  This particular sign does represent home.  It is along the Colorado/Utah border on I-70.  It is my favorite picture.  I took it during our home search in Grand Junction.  Screenshot_2017-06-22-13-40-10-1-01

The sign, which is deep-rooted with Colorado residents, almost had a face-lift.  When I was trying to find some information or history in reference to the sign I read that there was talk years ago about changing the font.  But, Colorado folks were not having that!  I have also read that some feel the sign is monotone and drab.  I mean how can you have the word colorful in a drab wooden, two tone sign?  I think it is perspective.  What makes Colorado colorful?  Colorado is not only mountains.  Prairies, farmland, deserts, mesas, canyons, valleys, monuments, all adorn the Colorado landscape as well.  All of these different types of topographic treasures make Colorado colorful!  It just depends on your outlook.

(The welcome sign on the Colorado/Wyoming border) Screenshot_2017-06-22-13-53-01-1-01

I am still a self proclaimed tourist in my own state.  I am the one you will see on the side of the road (safely) snapping a picture of the “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign.  I find it to be somewhat of a treasure hunt to find all of the different signs welcoming folks to the great state of Colorado.  One sign in particular had me on a quest.  I first saw the sign on Instagram.  It truly was the only “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign that was, well, colorful.  I had to find it.  I was on a mission.  And I was bringing my husband and our pup along for the ride.  It took some time but I managed, thanks to the Instagram community, to pinpoint the location.  20170429_161848-01_resized

See!  It truly is colorful.  This sign is located on the Colorado(Hwy 90)/Utah(Hwy 46) border.  The nice thing about the location of this sign, it has a turnout for safely taking pictures.  Now, I should state that not all signs along the border welcoming folks into Colorado are exciting!  But they are worth mentioning.  One honorable mention is the Colorado state line sign in Dinosaur National Monument.  Not an exciting sign, but it is neat to know that while in the park you are traveling between two different states. 20170603_150921-01-01_resized

You might be thinking, how in the world can she devote a blog post to a welcome sign?  My response, it is a Colorado thing.  We even have signs to let you know when you are leaving…..Screenshot_2017-06-22-14-03-30-1-01

As always, please share your thoughts in the comment section.  You can also follow me on Instagram, where I spend most of my time!:)

Hanging Lake

20170619_184836-01_resizedWe have been in Colorado since 2010 and we had never hiked Hanging Lake until just recently.  We decided that we should probably hike the iconic and quintessential trail sooner rather than later because recent reports of vandalism to the trail had sparked conversations about possibly closing the trail.  (FYI, today is June 21, 2017 and I have read and heard the trail will probably implement a permit system instead of closing down).

20170529_163400-01_resizedCurrently, there is no fee to hike the trail.  The exit to the rest area which will lead you to the trail head is well marked off of I-70.  Keep in mind that this is a VERY popular trail, especially in the summertime and the parking lot gets full very quickly.  Keep this in mind while planning your trip.  Please keep in mind that the park staff works very hard to make sure that the flow of traffic and the parking spots are monitored.  Please don’t get angry with park staff because of parking or traffic, plan wisely to avoid frustration.  Another tip, hike on a weekday if you can and arrive early or later in the afternoon when the crowds have cleared.

20170529_163850-01_resizedThis hike is absolutely beautiful.  The lake is stunning and majestic.  When you make it to the top and round the bend and your eyes first catch a glimpse of the infamous lake, you immediately forget the strenuous hike and realize the best views do require some hard work.  “Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake formed by travertine deposition where the natural geologic and hydrologic processes continue to operate as they have done for thousands of years. The site is also noteworthy for its thriving hanging garden plant community.” – See more at: http://www.visitglenwood.com/things-to-do/hanging-lake#sthash.CX2kv7QD.dpuf

After hiking the trail twice, reading the multitude of signs posted around the rest area and trail, talking with visitors, and observation I decided to compile a list of helpful tips.

  1.  Unfortunately, you can’t drive to the lake.  You have to park and hike up to it.
  2. Proper footwear is a must for this hike.  This hike is steep and rocky, and the rocks can be very slick.  I do not recommend this hike in flip flops, dressy sandals, etc…
  3. In my opinion, this hike is a steep climb.  Be aware of this before you embark on the hike, if you are with someone with health issues, this may not be the hike for them.  I personally would rate the hike as strenuous.
  4. Hydrate.  Bring H2O.  Don’t let the small mileage fool you, especially in the summer and especially if you aren’t used to the elevation.
  5. Take your time going up.  In my mind, hiking is similar to yoga, everyone goes at a pace that is personally comfortable.  The hike is beautiful all the way to the top.  Stop, catch your breath, and enjoy the scenery.  (There are places to sit along the hike).
  6. Parking is very limited at the trail head/rest area.  Expect crowds, especially during the summer.  Plan ahead, start early or go a little later in the afternoon.
  7. If you show up at the trail head at 7:45 pm in the summer, keep in mind that the chances of coming back down the trail in the dark is highly likely.  Plan accordingly.
  8. Leave no trace.  Pack out what you brought in.  There are no trash cans along the trail or at the top by the lake.
  9. Please respect all of the signs and barriers.  There are signs everywhere letting visitors know what to expect and the rules of the trail.
  10. This is not a dog friendly hike.  Pups will have to stay at home for this hike.

Enjoy your hike and visit to the Glenwood Springs area.  If you hike or have hiked to Hanging Lake, please share your comments, I would love to hear about your adventure.

For more information on Hanging Lake and visiting Glenwood Springs, please visit http://www.visitglenwood.com/things-to-do/hanging-lake

 

 

Home ownership in Colorado–Western Slope Style!

20170618_204556-01-01_resizedWe bought a house in Grand Junction, Colorado, aka the Western Slope.  We now have an investment and we are no longer paying exuberant rent.  We feel blessed.  Everyday we get to see the beautiful, confident, underrated Mt. Garfield outside our bedroom window!  However, with all of our blessings we have quite a few homeowner lessons that we are learning along the way.  First, let me point out that I am a very organized person.  I still keep an old school check register because I have to highlight and mark off transactions and pending transactions.  I like to know what our monthly bills are, to the decimal point.  So with all of this border line OCD happening in my head, home ownership has had many unexpected costs.  I would like to share these costs because in my mind, well, this information is just really helpful.

First, we belong to an HOA.  No biggie.  We knew our neighborhood had an HOA prior to signing our final paperwork.  What we didn’t realize, our annual dues are due in January.  We bought our house mid-December.  The added cost of the HOA dues really put a wrench in our month, which by the way, includes Christmas and gift buying!  So, I made some phone calls and emailed the HOA and thank goodness, they allowed us to pay the dues in installments.  So, now we know that we need to have an extra $300 in checking to pay our annual HOA dues which are due in January.

Second, speaking of HOA, in our neighborhood we have irrigation water.  Now, I am not that well-versed on the whole irrigation water set up.  But what I do know, irrigation water is handy because it allows us to water our lawn and not use the same water that we use inside the house for cooking, drinking, and cleaning.  Irrigation water maintenance is very specific.  Apparently, before winter the irrigation system must be “blown out” so that the pipes don’t freeze.  We didn’t have to do that this year because the previous homeowner took care of it.  In the spring, you have to make sure, before they turn on the irrigation pump that the valve on your property is closed and then once they turn on the pump you can turn on the valve.  Confusing right???  Well in all of that confusion we also got a bill for $60 from the ditch and drainage company.  This annual bill is due in March.  So, I had to make another call and find out what the bill was for and if I could pay it a little late.  So, now we know that we have to pay an extra $60 for irrigation water in March.

Third, we got another bill related to the irrigation due in June.  This bill is paid to the drainage district and is the storm water utility fee.  This fee of $36 is an annual bill for the runoff from the irrigation water.

Fourth, the power companies (electric and gas), water, sewage, garbage, and cable all have to be set up.  Theses utilities also include an initial connection fee.  I know this seems like a no brainer, but we were renting and didn’t pay for water, sewage, or garbage.  Also, our power bill was one bill when we rented and now it is two separate bills from two separate companies.  Cable, I know it is not a necessity, but we do set it up, especially for the Internet (how would I write this compelling blog post 🙂

Fifth, we rekeyed the house, completely necessary.  We had  to buy an extra garage remote, because the previous homeowner only left one.  Also, we needed a washer and dryer.  We could have sworn that the washer and dryer were being left behind in our contract but we reread it, and were sadly mistaken.  Thank goodness for Craigslist.  We also needed a lawn mower, edger, and a hose, which we didn’t have to buy right away because it was winter when we moved in.

Home ownership is teaching us a lot.  We have other expenses but they are not necessities.  For example, we have changed out the old light fixtures for more energy efficient lighting.  This was not necessary, but we are slowly putting our own touches on our house along with trying to find ways to cut costs like the electricity bill!

In conclusion, home ownership is blissful and stressful!  We own our very own home.  We can paint, change lighting, pull up carpet, and basically make it our own.  This is what makes buying a house turn into a home.  But, the most spectacular part of home ownership is that we get to visit places in western Colorado that we have never visited before.  We are off exploring every weekend and we are enjoying our adventures!

 

**If you have any home ownership tips to share, please put them in the comment section.  I love to hear different perspectives and advice.

 

Our New Home, the Western Slope!

It has been a while since my last post.  I have no excuses.  But I will admit, I am addicted to Instagram.  That is where I have been keeping up with lovelivingincolorado social media.  Since my last post, we moved from Denver (where we lived for 5 1/2 years), which is also known as the Front Range to Grand Junction, which is known as the Western Slope.  We have always enjoyed visiting the Western Slope.  When the opportunity popped up for us to relocate to the Western Slope we jumped on the chance to relocate.  Some may read this and think, “why would you ever leave Denver?”  I had a hard time at first, thinking about moving away from the city, but then I remembered all of the reasons I truly love the Western Slope.  Below are some reasons, if you have any you think I should add, please let me know!

  1.  Affordability.  We were finally able to buy our first house.  While we loved living in a little over 800 square feet for 5 1/2 years in Denver, having a home with over 1600 square feet, more than one bathroom, a 2 car garage, a backyard for our pup, as well as absolutely NO shared walls, well, we feel spoiled!  Did I mention no more shoveling out our cars????
  2. We are about 20 minutes from wine country.  Yes, that is correct.  Colorado wine country, also known as Palisade, Colorado is a little piece of Heaven!  Visiting the wineries via bike, a must!
  3. The Colorado National Monument is literally minutes from our house and the views never tire.
  4. Many, many trails to hike.
  5. Close proximity to skiing at Powderhorn as well access to the Grand Mesa (largest flat top mountain in the world).  No more fighting the crowds on I-70 trying to get, well anywhere to ski.  We are on the other side of Vail Pass and we don’t have to travel through the Eisenhower Tunnel.
  6. We are about an hour and 45 minutes from Moab, Utah, which is home to not one but two National Parks.
  7. Telluride is about 2 1/2 hours away, Aspen 2 hours and 13 minutes, Crested Butte 3 hours, Durango 3 1/2 hours, and Glenwood Springs now only takes us 1 hour and 21 minutes.
  8. Have you heard of Palisade peaches?  Yum!
  9. Love the outdoors?  The western part of the state is for you!
  10. The landscape, Mount Garfield and the Bookcliffs are absolutely stunning!

Colorado is wonderful for many reasons.  As much as I miss Denver, it is exciting to experience another part of this wonderful state!  If you need any Western Slope recommendations, please leave a comment below.  The West Slope is the Best Slope!  Thanks for reading!

Aaron Woo featured Chef at Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management

It is spring!  That means there are new cuisines to enjoy at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management.  In previous posts I have raved about the School of Hospitality Management. Before I begin this post, if you haven’t had a chance to check out the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management…it is a Denver must!!!!!    On Wednesday, May 15, 2013 the school will be welcoming chef Aaron Woo, Sunset Magazine’s Best Chef of the West, and Chef and Owner of Natural Selection in Portland, Oregon.  This dinner appeals to me in many ways.  First, we lived in Portland, Oregon (http://ouryearinportland.wordpress.com/)for a year and I loved it.  Next, the cuisine will be vegetarian.  If I have a choice, I prefer not to eat meat.  So I am very excited about this vegetarian cuisine.  Last, the School of Hospitality Management is phenomenal.  I sing their praises as often and as much as I can.  If I could dine at the School nightly, I would.

Aaron Woo is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy who has worked in such notable San Francisco kitchens as Absinthe Brasserie, La Folie, Stars, and as sous chef of PlumpJack Cafe under Chef Keith Luce. In Telluride, Colorado Aaron worked as Executive Chef at 9545 and Chef de Cuisine at The CosmopolitanRestaurant. Upon moving to Portland he worked with Morgan Brownlow and Jason French at ClarkLewis.

The dinner will include a wine pairing and is $70.00 per person.  Cocktails start at 6:00 pm and dinner is at 7:00 pm.  The dinner will be held at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management Joy Burns Center, 2044 East Evans Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80210.  To RSVP for this amazing night please check out the website:  http://knoebelschool.ticketleap.com/aaron-woo-guest-chef-dinner/

Please check out my other posts about University of Denver’s School of Hospitality Management: 

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/tour-ditalia-dinner-at-du-with-gina-stipo/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/fritz-knoebel-school-of-hospitality-management-and-gina-stipo/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/university-of-denver/

We have been very honored to attend these FANTASTIC events at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management:  Beer Pairing Dinner, the Guest Chef Dinner with Gina Stipo, and the Spring Showcase (picture featured below is from the Spring Showcase).IMG_20130326_221214Of course, I can’t close this post without giving my favorite peeps at the School a shout out!!!  Chef Raymond and all of the exquisite students you are the best….talented, professional, and extraordinary!!!!  ????????????????????????????????????

Tour d’Italia Dinner at DU with Gina Stipo

The Tour d’Italia dinner at DU was fantastic.  Gina Stipo was very nice.  The setting was intimate so we got to talk with Gina as well as take pictures and discuss the menu.  DSC_0042We absolutely love dining at Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management in Daniels College.  We feel like part of the family and we ALWAYS are the last to leave.  The room was beautifully decorated as usual and the food presentation was delightful.  The students in this program are out of this world.  We absolutely love the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management.  It truly is a hidden gem tucked away in Denver.  Now onto the food!  If these pictures please your palette please check out the Daniels College website–http://daniels.du.edu/ and click on the “view calendar” icon under Daniels Events to make reservations for upcoming events.

DSC_0023This is the menu.  Beautiful and elegant.  I just love the presentation at the Fritz Knoebel School. 

Our first course was Baccala with crostino, celery, and pickled onion, paired with Le Rime.DSC_0024The next course was Roasted cauliflower soup with Rosemary, paired with Centine Rose.????????????????????????????????????Oh my favorite–Mushroom and three cheese ravioli with Sage butter, paired with Centine Rosso.  These were so good that three just simply were not enough.  They were delectable!  I could have eaten a whole bowl full of these raviolis.  Truth be told, I probably should have with all of the wonderful wine I sampled :).DSC_0033The main course was Pan fried loin of veal with black cabbage, kale, and cannellini, paired with Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino.  Believe it or not this was the first time I have ever eaten veal.  It was very tasty and very tender.DSC_0035Dessert–Pear poached in spiced Chianti with cinnamon Mascarpone and granola brittle, paired with Rosa Regale (the best dessert type wine I have ever tasted).  This was a very light and whimsical dessert.  DSC_0037An absolutely wonderful evening.  A picture of our favorite people at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality.  Thank you!!  We adore you!????????????????????????????????????

Tom’s Urban 24 Winter Menu

I was invited to the winter menu tasting for Tom’s Urban 24.  It was a wonderful experience!  I felt extremely lucky to be invited to this extraordinary tasting event.  I am going to tempt you with the glorious menu options that Tom’s Urban 24 is currently offering.  I have previously posted about Tom’s Urban 24https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/toms-urban-24-in-denver-colorado/

I like this diner for two main reasons:  unique, modern food offered in a 24 hour restaurant.  I am going to let the pictures tempt you into trying Tom’s Urban.  Let the pictures marinate in your mind and hopefully cause your mouth to water!2013-02-07_11-43-45_944  This is the Truffled Lobster and Shrimp Pot Pie $24–the king of all pot pies!  Truffled lobster, shrimp, roasted vegetables, truffle gravy, topped with a puff pastry lid.  I literally ate chunks of lobster that were deliciously stored inside this wonderful pot pie.1360283620993Tuscan Kale and Romaine Chicken Caesar $13.50–chargrilled marinated breast of Red Bird chicken, peppercorn Caesar dressing, shaved Parmesan cheese, and grilled lemon.  This is an excellent way to get in your daily dose of greens.  Plus, I am really loving kale lately.  2013-02-07_11-46-53_734Thom’s Urban Super Pho $13–egg, shrimp, chicken, duck garnished with basil, cilantro, mint leaves, chile slices and sprouts.  I am a Pho fan!  This Pho doesn’t disappoint.  It is warm and comforting and very filling.2013-02-07_11-24-47_286Lobster & Shrimp Taco Platter $21–butter-poached lobster and shrimp, Baja slaw, cilantro crema, chipotle sauce on blue corn tortilla, served with seasoned Mexican rice and charro beans.  If you like seafood then you are going to love the lobster and shrimp tacos.  A generous portion of lobster and shrimp await the diner inside these decadent tacos.2013-02-07_11-34-09_830Stranahan’s Whiskey BBQ Ribs $26–chargrilled full slab of ribs.  Stranahan’s Whiskey BBQ sauce, Asian peanut vegetable slaw and sweet potato waffle fries.  My husband was terribly jealous that I got to sink my teeth into these ribs.  I have previously posted about Stranahan’shttps://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/the-tour-of-stranahans-distillery-in-denver-colorado/

If you haven’t made it to Tom’s Urban 24, please give it a try.  Some other menu items that were available during the winter menu tasting:  Tuscan White Bean Dip, Colorado Calamari, Urban Cowboy Egg Bake, NY Strip Steak and Eggs Platter, Tom’s Filet Mignon Pot Pie, Blue Corn Crab Enchiladas, Angus Open-Faced Meatloaf Platter, Fried Chickenlooper with Corn Cakes, and Fried Brussels Sprouts with Asian Vinaigrette.  For more information on these tasty treats please visit:  http://www.tomsurban24.com/menu/

Thank you to denver.eater.com for mentioning lovelivingincolorado!  http://denver.eater.com/archives/2013/02/25/the-early-word-on-toms-urban-24-in-ludo.php