Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

The Mile High City June 18, 2014

The Mile High city of Denver was my home over the weekend. Matt and I flew in to visit fellow Uncharted author Sarah. We had a “loose” itinerary for our visit. Meaning, we had a few things we’d like to do but we didn’t have to do all of them.

Denver Capitol building

Denver Capitol building

Sarah picked us up from the airport and we headed straight for the Capitol building tour. The free tour explained the history about Denver as well as fun facts about the beautiful building. One fun fact is that the building is the only one in the world with beautiful rose onyx. Why? Because the quarry was wiped out to use all the onyx for the Capitol building!

Keeping with the tour theme, our next stop was Stranahan’s distillery tour. Once again we learned a lot of fun facts that none of us knew about whiskey. For example, did you know that to be considered an American whiskey, the distillery must use virgin American white oak barrels? And they can only be used once. Our tour guide was awesome and explained their process as well as how to properly taste whiskey. I learned with a little drop of water I can actually tolerate it!

Where whiskey is made

Where whiskey is made

Running ahead of schedule, we stopped in at Breckenridge Brewery for a few beers and to catch up. Before we knew it, dinner time arrived. We headed to the heart of downtown Denver, Larimer Square. My sister-in-law recommended Bistro Vendome from a previous trip. The French style restaurant was amazing! Our waitress was very knowledgeable and made recommendations for our meal. My favorite part of dinner was not only the incredible food but our adorable table location right on the patio under the Italian style lights.

Friday was hike day in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes, Colorado. Everyone had a blast exploring different paths, bouldering and climbing over snow paths. Pretty quickly I found out it’s time to invest in some hiking shoes and not just gym shoes, at least if I wanted to play in the snow and not get my feet wet. The views were breathtaking at every turn. From seeing the mountain peaks to roaring falls you were not disappointed. We completed two hikes and then Sarah drove us up 12,000 feet to one of the highest peaks in the park. We were able to walk around despite the crazy wind and even caught a glimpse of a marmont.

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

Mountains!

Mountains!

Saturday we took it easy and hit up a few local breweries. On the brew stop list included Crooked Stave, a brewery known for its sour beer. The tap room is in The Source, a recently renovated building featuring restaurants, a florist, baker, cheese and sausage shop as well as a wine store and art gallery. We grabbed a few snacks from the bakery and cheese and sausage shop to enjoy with our beer while watching the World Cup. Our next brew stop was Prost. The German style brewery offered a great selection of beer as well as delicious warm pretzels with mustard horseradish. I almost forgot to mention their outdoor patio is dog friendly and has spectacular views of downtown Denver.

Beer anyone?

Beer anyone?

2nd brew stop

2nd brew stop

Pretty soon it was time to head over to the Red Rocks to enjoy the sounds of Phillip Phillips and O.A.R. The venue was AMAZING and so was the show. I kept looking around at scenery. From jagged stones leaping out of the ground to cute little valley towns off in the distance. The best was watching the sunset hit the rocks and turn them purple, amber, yellow and orange. Once darkness fell, it was beautiful to see an almost full-moon rising and the glow of the towns in the distance. If you head out to Denver, definitely try to catch a show!

The Red Rocks Venue

The Red Rocks Venue

Sunday was organize day. It was time to repack and of course go to brunch. Fellow Uncharted author Kelly visited Sarah and recommended going to Jelly. After a 50 minute wait we understood why so many people would put up with an hour wait. What helped was getting fresh donuts. We picked out maple bacon and lemon curd flavors. The donuts were warm and melted in your mouth. I had to hold back from ordering more! Once inside, I ordered an eggs benedict with spinach and turkey over artisan bread. It was scrumptious! My favorite part of the meal was the homefries served with a side of sour cream and chives. With a full belly it was time to say goodbye to Denver.

Brunch!

Brunch!

We accomplished a lot but we didn’t get to do everything on our itinerary which is a great reason to visit again!

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Denver Recap October 11, 2011

I had such a lovely trip to Denver!  I just came back today and wanted to share some of my adventures.  For starters I have to give my thanks to Karla and her trusty dude/valet for providing me with a ride {and luggage service} to the airport.  They were so kind to do it, especially when we saw the traffic they’d have to endure on the way home.  Thanks again guys!  I arrived in Denver kinda late on Thursday night and Sarah & Jon picked me up.  On the way back to their place I got to see the red eyed evil Bronco who killed its creator and some fun purple clouds too.  We arrived back at their new home and I got to check out their new place {okay well new to me at least}.  It is a really nice place and I even got my own bed to sleep in!   The next day we {when I say we I mean Sarah} packed for a hike and headed out:

We were going to see Rocky Mountain National Park, but first we stopped off at Celestial Seasonings up near Boulder, CO {thanks for the suggestion Lei!}.  For those of you who don’t know, it is a tea company {the logo is a sleeping bear}.  We got to tour the tea factory, which was really interesting {so were the hairnets we had to wear}.  My favorite part is The Mint Room.  It clears your sinuses it is so strong smelling in there.  They actually have to keep the peppermint leaves in their own room so they don’t contaminate the other flavors of tea they make.  We also had some lunch, sampled some teas, and of course headed over to the gift shop where I bought a few things:

We left before we could buy anymore stuff and drove more North.  I was snapping pictures like a crazy lady because even the scenery on the drive was breathtaking.  Sarah warned me that I would find even better views in the park, but I didn’t believe her til I saw it with my own eyes!  Here are just a few because I didn’t want to overwhelm…it’s already going to be a long post!

That night Sarah and I went to dinner at a delicious restaurant called Lala’s we drank wine and had pizza and then met up with Jon and some of their CO friends.  We all had a good time and then went home to get some rest for the next day.  Saturday we met up with some friends for brunch that I know from back home.  It was awesome to get to see them again and all hang out together.  After a delish breakfast of cheesy grits we made our way to the Chatfield branch of the Denver Botanic Gardens for a fun day at the pumpkin patch.  At first it was raining, but eventually the sun came out and we found really good pumpkins for everyone.  I just loved the fact that we were in a pumpkin patch, but there were mountains in the background!

After the patch we bid our friends goodbye and went home to bum around a bit.  Then they told me they were taking me to Le Central which is an adorable French Restaurant.  I tried mussels for the first time and they were delicious.  On Sunday we enjoyed a homemade breakfast made by Sarah and Jon and then Sarah and I went out for more hiking.  We made it out to the Red Rocks Park which was beautiful and reminded me a lot of AZ.  It’s so unique because not only is the natural part amazing, but seeing all the artists that have performed there is pretty cool too {I learned that Mr. James Taylor has performed there numerous times!}  After we hiked one of the trails we continued on to Mount Falcon which was much more foresty and ended up having an awesome view of the city.

That night we went more into the city to a section called LoDo or Lower Downtown which seemed pretty lively for a Sunday night.  We ate at a place called The Market and I enjoyed THE best chicken salad and minestrone soup I’ve ever ate!  It was a Mediterranean chicken salad and I have to try and make it myself…just delicious!

Monday was my last full day in Denver and Sarah and I used it to do a bit of shopping.  We checked out a couple of shops on Broadway and stepped into an ice cream shop called Sweet Action which turned out to be really sweet.  If you are ever in town I would really recommend you check out this cute area.  The shops are very unique…one place felt like we were in a mad scientists office and another place felt like we jumped back in time with each furniture arrangement we saw.  We wrapped up the trip with a trip to the local ‘Chicago bar’ called Wyman’s and unfortunately watched Da Bears lose.  No matter!  It reminded me that no matter where in the world my friends might be living we will always be Chicagoans at heart.  And if my friends have to be living in a different city than me, at least they live in a cool one that I can come visit!  Thanks again Sarah & Jon for hosting me…I can’t wait to visit again!

 

Jumping out of my comfort zone… September 1, 2011

…in terms of crafting and art, which you all know is hard for me since I have tried just about all types of crafts there are to get ones feet wet in.  But this past weekend I tried my hand at painting.  That’s right, not just painting solid colors or polka dots on all types of surfaces, but REAL painting…on canvas like my dear friend, Lei.

My friend Krista invited me to an event in Denver called Canvas and Cocktails.  You get to drink wine and paint a picture that they guide you through step by step.  I was in once the wine half was mentioned.  When we got there, a wide range of people were in attendance: from young to old, females and males (though I will say, the amount of straight males in the room was probably lacking haha).  Then I saw our picture.  It was a picture of Red Rocks amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado.  Jonathan and I went to a concert there a few weeks ago, and I will tell you from firsthand experience that the place is absolutely breathtaking.  I was thinking to myself that there was absolutely positutely NO way I was going to be able to paint it.

Out instructor got up on this little podium stage and started giving us some direction about where to start.  She put on some dancy music, we enjoyed our wine, and started painting!  I had a few glitches along the way, but usually I found there’s a way to fix them (one thing I enjoyed discovering, since this is why I was always afraid to try real painting, for fear that I’d mess it up, have wasted a nice canvas, a bunch of pricey paint, and hours of valuable time only to have to start over!).  Before I knew it, 2 and a half hours had passed and I had a painting of Red Rocks staring me straight in the face.  And actually for someone who’s never painted before, I think it turned out pretty good (or at least, sort of looks like the original example). 

The moral of the story is: don’t be afraid to push your limits and go outside your comfort zone.  You may end up with a really beautiful product (plus a tipsy spirit and some new friends, in my case).  

Krista and I with our finished products

 

 
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