Peach Picking in Palisade, Colorado

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Iis Palisade peach season.  Probably the best peaches I have ever sunk my teeth into.  Super juicy, fragrant, and simply delicious.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying a Palisade peach, let me give you the low down on theses delectable treasures.  The Grand Valley, where the peaches are grown, has hot days and cool nights which are a perfect combination for bringing out the natural sugars in the peaches and growing big fruit.  I grew up eating peaches in California, and no offense to California but the peaches were always very dry, mealy, and tart.  They were picked too early for transport and were not given enough time to develop enough natural sugar (thanks visitgj for this information).  So, you can imagine my amazement and pure joy when I bit into a chin-dripping Palisade peach for the first time.  Yummy!  image

There are two types of Palisade peaches, cling and freestone.  Both terms refer to the way the peach sticks to the pit.  Cling peaches stick to the pit and freestone peaches don’t.  I like both but prefer freestone peaches when cooking.  They are just easier to cut into when making cobblers or adding them to my overnight oats.

imageWe usually buy our peaches at the local Farmers Markets or we take the short drive to Palisade and buy them at the various orchards.

Recently, we decided to pick our own peaches.  We randomly stopped at Mt. Lincoln Peach Co.  We went later in the day and on a weekday so it was quiet, which I love.  When we arrived we received a box for gathering the peaches, we were also given a map showing which trees were ready for peach picking, and we were on our way.  It was a fun experience.  The orchards are green and lush with tons of ripe peaches that are extremely fragrant.  While picking peaches, a perfect view of Mt. Garfield, the Bookcliffs, and the Grand Mesa can be seen in the distance.  Helpful tip:  wear closed toe shoes, preferably tennis shoes.  The orchards were a little muddy and I was wearing a pair of dressy flats, not a good idea!image

A city girl, it was really neat seeing chickens and roosters nearby making the whole experience “a little country.”  I loved it.  imageThe pick your own peaches at this location were $1.00 a pound.  We ended up buying $8.51 (to be exact) worth of peaches.  We went home and I immediately made peach cobbler.  So good!

 

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There are many orchards and “you pick” orchards in Palisade, please visit– visitpalisade.com for more information.

If you haven’t had a Palisade peach yet, don’t worry, Palisade peach season usually runs until September.  Also, you can celebrate Palisade peaches at the annual Palisade Peach Festival, August 17-20, 2017.  For more festival information please visit–palisadepeachfest.com

Check out–“Selecting the Perfect Palisade Peaches,” at visitgrandjunction.com

Please leave a comment letting me know your thoughts on Palisade peaches.

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

 

 

Summer Activities in Colorado

It is summertime in Colorado!  A beautiful season to explore Colorado’s endless bounty.  There are a plethora of activities to keep you busy for many weekends.  We have now lived here for almost 4 years and I have to say the pressure can be somewhat insurmountable to get out and go every weekend!  With that being said we try to be very strategic with our weekend planning.  The following recommendations are what we have actually experienced.  With that being said, make the most of your weekend and see some fabulous sites and take some breath takings pictures.  Have fun!  (By the way, the recommendations are in no particular order).

1.  Manitou Incline—So, I saw this glorious incline on Instagram.  I told my husband we must experience this immediately!  Well, we did and it was quite the up hill battle no pun intended.  Very strenuous.  However, worth every ounce of sweat and strain.  The views from the top are phenomenal.  According to http://www.manitouincline.com/

The Manitou Incline was built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak. After the pipelines were finished, it was turned into a tourist attraction.

After a rock slide damaged a section of track in 1990, the Manitou Incline was closed down and the rails removed. Some locals started hiking up the remaining ties for a tough workout even though it was illegal because of crossing private property. As of February 1st, 2013, it is legal to hike.

This is what Manitou Incline looked like before:

Photo_of_a_Manitou_Incline_Railway_box_car,_1908This is what Manitou Incline looks like now:

20130602_173826This incline is only 1 mile BUT climbs 2,00o vertical feet.  Please refer to http://www.manitouincline.com/ before setting out to hike Manitou Incline.

2.  Any Alpine Slide or Gondola.  We are on a mission to ride as many gondolas and alpine slides at the ski resorts this summer.  During the summer the resorts reopen and offer summer activities.  A few of the activities that we like to partake in are the alpine slide and riding the gondolas.  Why?  The views at the top of both of these attractions are unbelievable.  The alpine slide and gondola in Winter Park and Breckenridge are fantastic.  We did ride the gondola in Vail as well as Glenwood Springs (https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/glenwood-springs-gondola-7/).  Another plus, a lot of the gondolas are dog friendly.20130616_16165120130616_17254920130817_16292020130817_1355433.  Independence Pass.  This is a must….period.  One of the most spectacular drives in Colorado.  Words can’t always express the abundance of beauty that you will experience on this drive.  We took 70 to the Copper Mountain exit and followed signage.  We looped around into Aspen and I must say that this drive alone could easily sum up why we absolutely love living in Colorado.  Just remember to bring a coat and to fill up the gas tank before committing to the pass.  There are not a lot of gas stations along the way.  Also, bring a camera…any camera, but you must take pictures!  http://www.independencepass.org/20130630_17011120130630_16551920130630_164753I will try and post some more summer activities but in the meantime you can find me on Instagram under @lovelivingincolorado or Twitter @lovelivinginco.  I update these accounts regularly.  Happy summer!

Estes Park Recommendations

20140824_153730I recently asked our friend Erika to fill us in on all things Estes Park.  I looked to her for Estes Park recommendations because she grew up in Estes Park.  I therefore consider her an Estes Park authority!  She did not disappoint.  She sent me a wonderful list of Estes Park recommendations and I thought I would share the wealth (thank you Erika!).  Estes Park, Colorado is considered the “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.”

  1. Aerial Tramway (literally a red box that goes up and down Prospect Mountain).  At the top there are amazing views and hungry chipmunks (they sell peanuts at the top which you can feed them). There’s picnic tables and rock croppings to explore so it’s a great place for a snack and to take in some nature.   http://www.estestram.com/
  2. The View Restaurant at Crag’s Lodge.  It was built in 1914 and maintains its mountainous charm, and yes, the chairs are handmade from when the hotel was built.  Make a reservation for one of the balcony tables.  The views are absolutely stunning and you are basically eating in the trees.  The walnut crusted trout, brie chicken, and steaks are amazing. And who doesn’t love warm brie with berry couli as an appetizer with some wine or beer?  Also, they have live music some nights.  http://www.cragslodge.com/gallery.html
  3. Mary’s Lake Lodge.  This hotel/restaurant/venue is rustic and charming and is open late.  Which is hard to find in Estes.  They usually have live music and a popular bar/grill.  This is a wonderful late night spot with fun people in what seems like the middle of the wilderness.  Definitely worth checking out.  http://www.maryslakelodge.com/dining.htm
  4. Downtown strip (Elkhorn Ave) Now, if you want to do something fun go take an old time photo at one of the shops downtown.  It’s a blast and 100 percent worth the keepsake if you haven’t done it before.  There is a plethora of shops to wonder around and check out.  I always love getting a caramel apple at the ice cream/fudge shops. There’s also a glassblowing place that is fun to check out on the far west side of the downtown strip.  Also, check out the Stanley Hotel.  (the hotel in which Stephen King based his book “the Shining“) http://www.stanleyhotel.com/
  5. If you feel like succumbing to your inner child definitely buy a $1.00 ticket to slide down the Rainbow slides at Fun City.  Down the road a bit there is “Tiny Town Mini Golf” and it is by far the best mini golf course you will ever play.  http://www.funcityofestes.com/
  6. Definitely stop by the Estes Park Brewery and do some beer tasting. http://www.epbrewery.com/
  7. Also in town it’s worth going to the Marina and renting a boat for an hour or two. Delightful!  Or rent a few bikes and take an easy ride around Lake Estes, the entire loop will actually take you behind the dam and you can see the water being held and being released from the dam to the Big Thompson River.  The dog park is right off Lake Estes and you can let your dog go swimming and socialize with the other pups.  http://evrpd.com/marina/marina-info
  8. Other places to eat I would recommend would be “Nepal’s Cafe“, (on backside of downtown strip) they have the best lunch buffet with Naan, noodles, curry, potatoes, Masala, and Chai tea!
  9. Sweet Basilico, this is a little Italian restaurant that has an amazing dinner salad, pizza, and pasta for a very reasonable price.  Tasty! (located by Fun City and the Tramway)
  10. If BBQ is what you’re looking for Dave’s BBQ has some delicious pulled pork and burgers. (by Tiny Town Mini Golf)
  11. If it’s a steakhouse you are looking for, Hunter’s Steakhouse is right by the Marina and has great game.
  12. Also, the best breakfast place is “The Sundeck” which is near Mini Golf.  Their Chorizo, french toast, and strawberries and cream are delicious!
  13. As for the National Park you definitely want to check out, Sprague Lake, Bear Lake, Alberta Falls, and the Alluvial Fan.  All are not challenging hikes and are gorgeous.  Also, you definitely want to drive up Trail Ridge Road.  It’s an exhilarating, scenic drive with many pull offs along the way for photos and a gift shop at the top.  Bring a jacket! Even in the summer it can get chilly.  You can look these up on any RMNP map.
  14. If you want an easy hike off the beaten path check out Lily Lake and St. Malo’s Church (they are not in the same place). http://www.scenicusa.net/090210.html. Both are on the same road passing Mary’s Lake Lodge.  If you go to Lily Lake there is a wonderful picnic location.  http://www.rmnp.com/RMNP-Areas-LilyLake.HTML (on this map there is a trail on the south side of the lake that bubbles out, take this trail instead of the one that runs right along the lake and you will find a picnic table tucked in the woods that’s quiet and peaceful)
  15. There are many hotels that are dog friendly and that have private hot tubs.  Many of which are on Fall River Road.

Guess what we will be doing when the weather warms up–yes, finally taking a trip to discover, explore, and relish in the beauty of Estes Park, “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.”  Thank you so much Erika for the AWESOME recommendations!!

University of Denver

On January 31, 2013 we were lucky enough to attend a superb Beer Pairing Dinner at the University of Denver.  The dinner was held in the Joy Burns Center, Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management, Tuscan Wine Cellar!  Literally the best kept secret in Denver.  We were invited to this wonderful dinner by our dear friend and it was an absolutely wonderful night!  Before I show pictures of the wonderful food I feel like I should brag on the awesome students that orchestrated this wonderful evening.  The students were the master minds behind the Beer Pairing Dinner.  The evening was gorgeous.  Everything from the table decor to the ice sculpture to the signature cocktail.  Fabulous!  It was so wonderful that we felt like we were dining at a 5 star restaurant.  I will fully admit that I completely overindulged and I absolutely loved every minute of it!!  Bravo Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management I definitely see bright and successful futures for you all!

Now on to the 5 course dinner.  Each course had a beer pairing. The Chef would explain each course before we indulged and the Beer Aficionato would explain the beer accompaniment.  We started off with Cold Smoked Trout accompanied by greens, olive oil, toasted sesame and poppy seeds.  The beer pairing was New Belgium Trippel Belgium Syle Ale.IMG_20130201_122933The next course was Winter Squash Soup with roasted butternut squash, curried papitas, and a ciabatta crostini.  The beer pairing was Coors Blue Moon Belgian White.IMG_20130201_123003The third course was a Beet and Goat Cheese Salad topped with pine nuts and citrus basil dressing.  The beer pairing was Dry Dock Hefeweizen.IMG_20130201_123035The main course was Leek Ash Rubbed Venison with pureed leeks and matake mushrooms dressed with a red wine demi-glaze.  The beer pairing was Tommyknocker Butthead Doppelbock.IMG_20130201_123110Our palate cleanser was Oskar Blues Mama’s Little Yella Pils (by far the best canned beer I have ever tasted).IMG_20130201_123148The final course was a Chocolate Martini layered with bittersweet chocolate sauce, white chocolate mousse, and raspberry preserves.  The beer pairing was Dry Dock Vanilla Porter.IMG_20130201_181442Everything was divine.  My husband was in Heaven!  We literally wiped our plates clean.  What a spectacular display of talent at the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management.  By the way, the public is welcome to book events at this wonderful establishment–http://daniels.du.edu/academic-programs/hospitality-management/events-weddings/

The Signature Cocktail (served before the dinner) that I mentioned earlier was a mixture of Dry Dock Hefeweizen, St. Germain, Grand Marnier, and an orange slice.  It was so good…I drank 3 (I think).IMG_20130201_122516The next few pictures of are of the beautiful table settings and the menus.  The design of the Tuscan Wine Cellar is brilliant.  You can enter the room from up above and walk down a grand staircase.  As you walk down the stairs you have a birdseye view of the dining room and all its glory.  Perfect for parties and weddings!IMG_20130201_122627IMG_20130201_122710The ice sculpture of the Rocky Mountains was the Pièce de résistance!IMG_20130201_122828What a wonderful evening!  We love living in Colorado!  B thank you so much for the invite…we had the time of our lives…company, conversation, and good food!

Breckenridge, Colorado

 

My husband surprised me on my birthday with a trip to beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado.  We had never been to Breckenridge and to be totally honest, I wasn’t 100% sure where Breckenridge was located.  We have some very generous and caring friends that let us stay at their condo for the weekend.  We stayed two nights in lovely Breckenridge and even though there are 101 things to do in Breckenridge we did a whole lot of nothing and it was absolutely wonderful.  We ate, walked around Breckenridge, took our dog to the dog park, took our Christmas picture, took naps, and drank some wine.  I managed to take some pictures while we were in Breckenridge.  I can’t wait to go back and enjoy all of Breckenridge‘s splendid glory!  Thank you G.P., S.M., and B.L.P. for our amazing weekend.When we pulled up to the condo on Friday this fox was sitting below the balcony.  I put my longer lens on my camera to get a clear picture of the fox.  It didn’t even flinch when I was taking its picture.  It is almost as if the fox is greeting us.  Welcome to Breckenridge!  Enjoy your stay.This is the view walking into town.  Majestic beauty!This picture gives a nice view of the mountain range.This coffee shop is wonderful.  We got coffee here on Saturday and Sunday morning.A boulder in the Blue River with an intriguing past.The sky was so beautiful and blue and the Colorado flag was flowing perfectly in the wind.Breckenridge is a glorious town.  I forgot to mention that we did stop by the Breckenridge Distillery Tasting Room .  It is located at 137 Main Street in downtown Breckenridge.  We tried complimentary tastings of Bourbon Whiskey and Vodka.  It was so good we ended up buying a bottle of Breckenridge Vodka.

Happy Traveling!

Did you know that in 1898 “The Big Snow” comes to Breckenridge? Snow falls everyday from November through February, forcing residents to dig tunnels to travel through town and stopping all trains from visiting Breckenridge for months.