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.

JJ Madwell’s Italian Food in Conifer, Colorado

JJ Madwell’s is an Italian Restaurant in the town of Confier, Colorado.  If you blink you will miss it.  This would be very sad because it is so good.  A totally random Italian establishment in little ole Conifer.  However, JJ Madwell’s is BIG on taste.  We have been quite a few times since we have lived in Colorado.  If you happen to be on 285 I highly suggest a stop at JJ Madwell’s.  I will apologize once again for the pictures.  I forget to take pictures until I take a bite or two of my food.  This is why the plates look messy.  I try to rearrange them to no avail.  This is a sure sign the food is delicious.  We have never ordered anything that we didn’t like at JJ Madwell’s.

This is where the problems start.  They serve fresh, hot, super scrumptious bread with marinara sauce.  Then they have the nerve to offer a refill on the bread and marinara.  Each meal comes with your choice of soup or salad.  I ordered the salad with blue cheese dressing and my husband ordered the Italian wedding soup.

On to the entrees…..I ordered the Capellini Pomodoro
(a fabulous vegetarian option)
Sautéed capers, kalamata olives & marinated Tomatoes in a
spicy marinara over capellini. No anchovy paste.  $10.95
My husband ordered the Linguini and Clams
½ lb. whole cherry stone clams sautéed in a spicy red or white
wine garlic sauce over linguini.  $17.95
Finally, dessert.  Tiramisu.  This piece of Tiramisu was huge.  We took half of it home.
Please make a stop at JJ Madwell’s. 
Buccelli’s JJ Madwell’s
26412 Main Street

Conifer, CO   80433
(303) 838-1440

Colorado Fall Foliage

It is that time of year again, FALL.  My favorite season!  We took the Guanella Pass scenic drive today.  We discovered a surprise along this beautiful scenic byway.  I truly didn’t realize that AUTUMN was here.  It is hard to tell in the city.  But, tucked away along the windy road that leads up to the Guanella Pass Summit is a hidden treasure.  Aspen trees line the winding road.  Bright yellow pops appear out of nowhere.  So many Aspen trees gleaming with yellow dance along the road.  If you are lucky you can catch a glimpse of Aspens that actually look orange.  Along the green mountainsides, tucked quietly and almost secretively are the quintessential Aspens that truly define a Colorado AutumnFall in Colorado is a little bit different than let’s say Fall in the Northeast.  The Rocky Mountains display an unimaginable beauty during the Fall.  The sweet golden yellow that subtly protrudes through the massive green forests is breathtaking.  Beautiful Aspens line pathways and lead visitors to tranquility.  The air is crisp and quiet.Even the sky seems happier peering down on the beautiful Aspen trees.Tall, thin, and statuesque, Apsen trees stand with authority.

Winter will come quickly in Colorado.  Now is the time to load the car and take a road trip to see the beautiful Aspen trees in all of their glory.  I suggest taking the Guanella Pass scenic byway.  There are lots of places to pull the car over and take breathtaking pictures.Past posts about Guanella Pass and Colorado Fall foliage:

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/colorado-scenic-drives/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/guanella-pass-road/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/guanella-pass-scenic-drive-in-colorado/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/aspen-fall-foliage/

The View at the Top of Pikes Peak

The drive up to Pikes Peak encompasses so much beauty and awe inspiring views that I had to break up the posts into several different topics.  This post is dedicated to the view at the top of Pikes Peak.  I can’t even begin to describe how gorgeous and breathless (literally) the view leaves you.  I joked with my husband and said that we are so close to the sky that I can actually see flight attendants serving drinks in the airplanes above!  This is the second 14er that we have had the opportunity to experience.  Granted we didn’t hike the 14ers but we still made it to the top (in a car).  I recommend a drive up to Pikes Peak immediately.  You can experience all of Colorado‘s glory in one drive.  Weather changes, varying landscape, the Rocky Mountains, and of course cooler temperatures.  For more information on Pikes Peak please visit–http://www.pikes-peak.com/

I like the picture above because you can really see the treeline.  I never knew what a treeline was until we moved here.  A treeline can be roughly defined as the “elevation where tree density declines or drops to zero.”

In this picture (above) you can see lots of green.  In the picture below all rocks!I can’t lie, on this particular trip I was feeling a little breathless and anxious.  I do have to admit that I drank a little too much coffee on the way to Pikes Peak and we didn’t eat.  Thank goodness they have a little cafe at the top.  Next time we will have to come better prepared.  I usually pack food but didn’t this time.  Note to self:  pack food and water whenever we take a drive.