Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Boulder drive-by

Technically I spent two days in Boulder, but time has a way of flying by when I'm there, leaving me feeling like I never quite settled in.  As usual, it was a weekend full of reunions, a time to reconnect with friends and family between their many adventures.  I also belatedly realized that I could have had more time there, had I done something as simple as look at a calendar before leaving.  With plans of arriving back in Maryland in time for my anniversary, and mistakenly having it in my head that the 9th was on a Wednesday, I only realized once Boulder was a good ten hours away that I could have left a day later.

After a great morning with my mom and Emily on Mt. Chapin, we all drove down from Estes Park to Boulder and got my mom checked into her hotel before going to pick up my sister Becca for a trip to the Upslope Brewing Company.  As if the thought of a good beer sampler weren't enough, the brewery was also the current location of Verde, the food truck that Becca had been working on for a while.  Such a delicious afternoon!  Of the eight beers we tried, I think the brown ale was my favorite, even next to the whiskey-aged brown ale that I thought I would like better.  On the food end, Becca suggested that we try one of the meat tacos (machaca if I recall), and we also tried a fried cheese taco.  Both were incredible, and reasonably sized for the price.  Definitely somewhere I'd eat more often if I lived in the area!

The tacos were just a warm-up though, as Emily and I then drove east to Lafayette to stay with James (whose new hiking guide is coming out soon) and Sheila, two of our favorite people.  More appetizers and beer were already waiting for us as James and Sheila worked their grill magic on an impressive selection of kebabs, followed by fruit topped with coconut whipped cream that another couple had brought to share.  Going to bed pleasantly full, we had probably the best night of sleep of the entire trip.

In the morning we drove up for a hike in the Green Mountain area, picking up new friend Paul along the way and meeting old friend Lisa at the trailhead.  Although Lisa had taken up temporary residence with us in Maryland as our "basement troll," we hadn't seen her since her relocation to Durango in June, and were excited for the chance to catch up.  The hike itself was a beautiful walk up through pine trees and tempting red rocks, and the occasional views back over town were more than worth the walk even though our tight schedule prevented us from going as far as the actual summit.  But with my main goal being to take a nice walk with friends rather than push on to an arbitrary stopping point, I think I actually enjoyed the scenery even more in the process.

Unfortunately Emily had to be in denver by 2:30 for a flight back to Maryland, but not before we all stopped at Wahoo's for a quick lunch on the patio.  Somehow I had never managed to make it there before, and despite being a chain, their fish tacos would be worth going back for.

After dropping Emily off, we all headed over for a bit of climbing at Movement, Boulder's newest climbing gym.  I only toproped while I was there, and while most of the routes I did felt a bit on the easy side, I found the route setting to be creative and enjoyable.  The hand crack was also one of the best I've seen, and I would gladly have climbed it a few more times if we'd been there for longer.  In addition to the fun climbing, the place had a friendly vibe, making me instantly comfortable despite unfamiliar surrounds.  I also found myself a bit jealous of their hours, with doors opening on weekdays at 6 a.m.  Not that I'd wish the early hours on my friends who work at our own gym, but some occasional pre-work climbing would be great!

While James and Sheila headed home to get ready for an early morning, Lisa and my mom and I went to meet Becca for a last Boulder dinner at Rueben's.  One of my favorite restaurants, with some of the best mussels I've ever had, I always enjoy their selection of both local and Belgian beer.  They also have a great burger menu, which I actually got to try this time since we arrived just after the last of the mussels had been sold.  The one I had at our server's recommendation, called The Hampsten, was covered in sprouts, arugula, mashed avocado, cucumber, and pumpkin seeds, with avocado ranch on top.  Perfect for convincing yourself that a burger is actually health food!

With that, it was one more great night of sleep, and my time in Boulder had come to a close.  As I got on the road, excited for another trip across the plains and a visit with my grandparents in Kansas, I found myself without the usual sadness that comes as I watch the mountains disappear from view.  Guess that just means I'll be seeing them again soon!

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