Sunday, March 7, 2010

SPRING BREAK !@@$#$ (Part 2)

Denver really wasn't what I expected--it was kind of old and people just schlep around in beanies, fleeces and brown floppy shoes. I thought everyone would be eating granola and sipping on wheat grass smoothies, but actually there were lots of beer and burger joints. I guess that's what happens in a city nicknamed "Menville" that is home to more "dispensaries" (that's medicinal marijuana shops) than Starbucks. NEVERTHELESS, Colorado is beautiful and I was so grateful to get the chance to get away from here. We were surrounded by beautiful scenery, fresh air and great food.

So begins the recap...

The first night we arrived we had dinner with friends at the Cherry Cricket because we saw it on Man vs Food. Great burgers with allll kind of toppings. I had cream cheese, green chili strips and bacon.
I kept waiting for the altitude sickness to
kick in, but surprisingly I was A-OK. Tuesday morning we took a tour at the US Mint, where they "don't give free samples," hardy har. We like to do at least one educational event on each vacation, but this was actually more humorous. We had to have reservations and we weren't allowed to bring purses or cameras. We had to go through serious security with metal detectors and x ray machines. Do they really think someone's going to run off carrying 40 lb bags of pennies?? Anyway we later drove out to Boulder to see the sights and get our hike on. Above is a view of the mountains on the drive.

We had lunch at The Kitchen, which was suggested to us by my travel book and a valet guy. I loved the decor--a contrast between rustic and elegant with lots of sunlight. Excellent humus and slow roasted pork sandwiches. The restaurant was on Pearl street which is the main shopping strip through the college town.

After we ate we drove up to Chautauqua park to get our hike on. I love hiking because, as I say, it's just walking. We got great views of the mountains and threw snowballs.
This is my friend Aliza who was our tour guide and was gracious enough to let us use her house and car!

After the park we went back down to the city to sip on some suds at The Sink. We enjoyed chips, salsa and trivia and lost track of time--resulting in an overdue meter and subsequent parking ticket--woops.

As if we didn't have enough liquids in our body after The Sink and the gallons of water we were all drinking to prevent altitude sickness, we went to the Dushanbe Teahouse for their famous Chai. Tajikstan is apparently a sister city and all these hand painted tiles were sent over and reassembled in Boulder as a teahouse.

That night we got to visit Safeway and King Soopers to get ingredients for our home made Spring rolls. Maybe it's just me, but I loooove visiting grocery stores in other cities, so that was cool. (We also visited Wild Oats in Boulder).
Very glad I now know how to make spring rolls. We used cucumber, fresh mint, noodles, shrimp, peanut sauce, and bean sprouts. The trick is to be able to find these noodle wrappers that look like Vietnamese tortillas. They start out stiff and flaky until you dip them in water and they become sticky and malleable.
Since Aliza had to go back to work
on Wednesday, we were on our own. I was super sad because the place where I wanted to eat breakfast, Bump and Grind, a restaurant where drag queens serve you waffles, was out of business! doh! Not to worry though, Snooze was amazing. Snooze was definitely a must-eat. I had the Barbacoa Benny and the flavors were incredible. Both savory and spicy.

After breakfast we drove to the Cherry Creek shopping area to rent bikes. Unfortunately, the only bikes available for rent were road bikes--which I had never used before. We had a nice ride up by Cherry Creek through some residential areas to Washington Park.
Biking is a great way to get a feel for a city and I actually love looking at houses. It's nice to see how people really live. Wash Park is apparently the place to be and we had amazing weather. Unfortunately on the way back to Cherry Creek Ben got a flat tire! We were able to miraculously change the tire (it only took an hour) by watching an instructional video on YouTube from Ben's phone. Point: iPhone.

Wednesday night was one of our most fun events--the Nuggets game!! (On the way there we stopped on Larimer Street to eat at Corridor 44. It was truly delicious and we enjoyed Smoked Salmon w/ Caviar Potato Chips, Salad, Roasted Chicken, Seared Ahi Tuna--YUM.) The technology in ticket handling alone is a enough to be impressed. I purchased the tickets online weeks ago and all we needed to do was bring the credit card to the game. The ticket collector swiped our credit card on a machine attached to her belt and out printed our tickets right there! (The next day Aliza realized she lost a hat at the arena and a live person actually called her back in response to the message she left on the lost and found hotline).

We had the most fun taking pictures in these mannequins set up to make you look like Nuggets and Avalanche players. It was truly hilarious and really brought lots of strangers together pointing and laughing. Before catching the bus back home we walked through LoDo, the 16th street Mall and had some Blue Moon at LoDo Bar and Grill.

Thursday was the best outdoor activity day. The Coors brewery tour in Golden was truly informative and enjoyable! The tour was free and provided a bus ride through the town of Golden from the parking lot to the Coors plant. We had individual head sets that gave us history of the company and an explanation of how beer is brewed. Here are some pictures from inside the factory.

We walked through Golden after the tour and had lunch at Woody's Pizza.

And now for the big Thursday Finale.........RED ROCKS AMPHITHEATER. This place is so gorgeous and was teeming with people--some exploring, some exercising. There was even a bridal photo shoot going on. We walked down to the stage where the Beatles, Dave Mathews and other Jam Bands have performed and then walked up the 70 steps back to the top. I was very disappointed that the visitor center closed at 4 so I could not get the full history but I was able to use Ben's phone to read the Wikipedia page for Red Rocks. Another point: iPhone.

After the wonder that was Red Rocks we drove back to Denver and visited the gargantuan flagship REI store. This complex included a bike shop, ski shop and every camping gadget you could ask for. I got a new water bottle and a pair of running shorts for my mom (surprise!). Ben got a sweet new ski jacket way on sale. On the way out of REI we spotted a grocery store called Vitamin Cottage. I had seen one earlier in the day, but didn't have the chance to stop so I was so stoked.
Here is the loot I scored from Vitamin Cottage. It's pretty much a smorgasbord of vegan-gluten free-organic-hemp yada yada --awesome. We were so exhausted from our outdoor adventures that Thursday night we stayed in to eat this food and watch the Real Housewives of New York premiere. This should be another post in itself, but I was so disappointed! They are all going nuts and I can't handle Jill & Bethenny not being friends. The jury is still out on whose side I might be on.

I read about the Museum of Contemporary Arts and was really impressed with their concept. The museum ended up being alright but my favorite part was actually the rooftop garden and cafe. Friday was spent mostly driving around exploring different parts of Denver by car. We saw Centennial and the neighborhoods around University of Denver. Tried to eat at restaurants we had heard about-- Sushi Tazu and Fruition, but they were both closed at the time we visited! Hapa ended up serving us well.

Friday night we had an amazing time at the First Friday Art Walk in the Santa Fe arts district. We went into so many galleries and enjoyed complimentary snacks and drinks. Another perfect weather night and we finished it out with Ethiopian food. I had tasted this food once before, but had never been to an Ethiopian restaurant. It was Ben's first time to experience this cuisine and he really enjoyed it.

I don't remember the name of the place, but it was on Colfax and run by a lovely husband and wife duo.

Are you kidding me?!?!?! We stepped out of the apartment we were staying at one morning, looked across the street and this is what we saw. Why can't I ever escape dental school?

Saturday morning we cleaned up, packed and ate the best sandwiches at Snarf. They had great bread and a special spicy pickled veggie spread. We took a driving tour of the new health science center in Aurora before we headed for the airport.

Great trip! Too bad I didn't get to visit D Bar Desserts, but I will definitely be back. If for nothing else, but to see a concert at Red Rocks.....oh yeah and maybe try skiing.


Christi W said...

Looks like you had a great week! Thanks for sharing all your photos

j's mom said...

Thanks for the shorts!!