Thursday, August 1, 2013

Colorado roadtrip 2013- Part 3 (Boulder)

With all of the travel we did around Colorado on this trip, Boulder ended up as one of the few constants. The first stop there was just lunch on the way to Estes, but we also came back for a couple days after leaving my brother's house, and my trip concluded with several days there staying first with Ben on Pearl Street and then with James and Sheila in Lafayette to the east.  A lot of my time there was just spent walking around and seeing the sights, but I also fit in plenty of eating, drinking, and climbing, a bit of tubing, and an impressive amount of classic video game playing.  James and I even found ourselves on an impromptu "swamp walk" with veteran mountain dogs Freemont and Mystic.

In the middle of the trip my mom and I spent most of a day up at Flagstaff, going to our usual spots around Monkey Traverse and the Ampitheater, but also checking out the Cloud Shadow area where we got on a fun traverse while the shade lasted.

                                                                                                Photo: Pennie Close
I also made it up Boulder Canyon one afternoon to check out The Citadel.  A couple of the holds were a little sharp, but the moves were all pretty easy with the right foot placement.  My only difficulty came when the foot I wanted to use (as in the video) for the move to the big sidepull put me off balance and I had to settle for a worse foot lower down that took me a few attempts to fully trust.  Aside from a little skin loss, it was a fun problem and I especially enjoyed hanging out by the river while I worked on it, especially considering how much cooler the weather felt compared to down below.

The next day I joined James and friends in Golden at North Table Mountain, taking in a scenic view of the Coors brewery as I finally used my year-old rope for something other than rapping down tall boulders.  It also nearly doubled my lifetime total of sport leads, going from five to an impressive eight! I have to admit it was fun.  Still not quite as comfortable as placing my own gear, but I'm looking forward to trying it again soon.  We talked about going back there the next night, but ended up going instead to Movement, which is quickly becoming my favorite gym in Boulder with its fun routesetting and laid back atmosphere.

That was it for the climbing, but as previously mentioned I spent a fair amount of time eating and drinking, and found several new favorite places in the process.  The first of our lunches there, and a place we visited twice more, was the West Flanders Brewing Company on Pearl Street.  The Belgian style beers were solid, and most of the food we had was outstanding.  I especially liked the pizza that used fig spread for sauce, and the poutine topped with a generous serving of mushrooms.  In fact, I like the poutine enough to have it on all three visits!

I was a slacker about bringing my camera into the other restaurants, but several others stood out:

Under the Sun- located underneath Southern Sun, with the same beer selection as there and Mountain Sun but a different food menu.  Great pizza, decent mussels, and we were especially lucky to get there on Monday when all of the food we wanted was part of the all day happy hour menu.

T/ACO- If I'm eating in Boulder on Tuesday, this is where I'll be.  Good guacamole, and even better tacos, which at $2 each on Tuesdays were enough to bring me there three times over the course of my visit.

Walnut Cafe- I'd been to one of their locations for breakfast before, but the soup and sandwich I had for lunch were just as good, and the pie for dessert was worth going for by itself.

Illegal Pete's- My favorite fish burritos ever.

Centro- We went there for a Monday night happy hour, and the avocado salsa was delicious.  Every time I mention it people think I mean guacamole.  Yes the ingredients are similar, but think big chunks of avocado, smoked peppers, etc.  Like guacamole, but way better.

West End Tavern- If I lived in Boulder, this would be my home bar.  Great smelling bbq, an impressive bourbon selection and intriguing menu of whiskey based cocktails, and a top quality beer lineup.  Add in the friendly bartenders and clientele, and my one beer turned into three very quickly.

Fate Brewing Company- The last dinner I had before heading back east, but quite possibly the best. Awesome smoked wings and portabella sandwich for food.  The beers we sampled, which weren't even half of what they made, were all outstanding.  My favorites were the coffee kolsch and the earl grey wheat.  My least favorite was the rye (roggenbier), and even that blew away any rye I've ever tasted!  For dessert we had the gingerbread s'more, which I can only describe as the taste of sitting around a campfire.  My only regret about the meal was not having known about it days earlier.

As I left dinner that night, the usual sadness I felt upon seeing the mountains in my rearview mirror was tempered by the bright double rainbow in the eastern sky ahead.  I remember thinking to myself how lucky I was to be on a road with such beauty in either direction, friends and family waiting for me at either end.  So after one more good breakfast with James and Sheila, I packed up and headed back east, stopping as usual for a homecoming session on the boulders at Coopers, and finally coming through my door to find a bear and a duck waiting on the couch with a beer.  Yeah, it's a damn good life.

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