Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park in the Fall.

Skittle-colored aspen leaves splashed amidst the evergreens. 

Elk bugles and mating rituals.

Somber. Spiritual. Reflective. 

I love Rocky Mountain National Park in the Fall. 

(photos taken 10/7/15)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Denver's Best Burger of 2015--Humboldt: Farm Fish and Wine

I finally had the chance to experience Denver's Humboldt burger! Literally from the very first bite I knew this burger was THE ONE. The flavor of the beef combined with the smoky bacon vibe was the first noticeable taste to my palate. Soon after the initial taste the other flavors from their specialty sweet onion jam (I do not usually like onions but this jam is incredible) blended in as well. And my mouth was in heaven. On this particular evening the meat was cooked right at about medium (which is also not usually my preference but I told the server to bring it out however the chef recommended). Dang it, it was such a perfect burger! I have seriously never tasted a burger so flavorful and delicious.

They offer the Humboldt burger everyday, including during happy hour. If you go during happy hour it is $6 bucks cheaper than usual. But  even the non-happy hour price of $16 is worth it!!

Speaking of Humboldt Happy Hour, they have one of the best happy hours in town for the quality of their menu. So, come try out the Humboldt burger or try out some fresh oysters!

But, seriously, come check this place out! Even former President Clinton and U2's Bono dined here recently!



1700 Humboldt St.
Denver, CO 80218

Open everyday at 11am.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Byers-Evans House Museum; A Peek at Prominent Life in Early Denver

I recently toured the Byers-Evans House Museum. It is located adjacent to the Denver Art Museum, at 13th and Bannock. The large, Italianate style house was built in 1883 by Denver's first newspaper publisher, William Byers of the Rocky Mountain News.

The house was later sold to William Evans in 1889. He was the son of John Evans, the 2nd Territorial Governor of Colorado. His family and descendants would go on to occupy the house for over 90 years. I was fascinated by his daughter, Josephine's room which displayed her hand-carved leather works among other interesting items.

The house is quite large and lovely. The wallpaper that lines the mainroom downstairs and up to the second floor is unique and beautiful. It almost looks like wood sketches. You can tell the family was well educated as there are book cases in almost every room and artifacts from their various travels.

The house has been restored and focuses on an interpretive era from 1912-1924. According to my friendly tour guide (named Angela) over 90% of the furnishings inside belonged to the Evans family.

It was fun and intriguing to peer back in time...to catch a glimpse of what life was like as a wealthy family in early Denver.

(This is the view of the original entrance. The window to the left had a bullet hole in it...apparently someone wasn't too thrilled with the Evan's family at one time....I remember the tour guide saying something about voting issues....and the Tramway....anyway...)

                       (The conservatory)                             (View of one of the parlors)


Tour times:
May-August there is an additional tour at

Friday, April 24, 2015

Riverside Cemetery; Denver's Oldest Cemetery

I recently toured  Riverside Cemetery, Denver's oldest cemetery founded in 1876. Plenty of history and interesting sights abound in this park. It is referred to as Denver's Pioneer Cemetery. As you walk around and notice the dates on the headstones, as well as, many familiar last names (if you know your Colorado history) you can see why.

Riverside is home to three early governors and many other public figures. One thing about Colorado history is that if you are familiar with Colorado's topography and names of it's famous mountain peaks...then you already know many of Colorado's famous figures. And many of these famous people are buried in Riverside Cemetery. When approaching Samuel Elbert's headstone, I remarked to my professor (my tour guide), "Hey, is that the Mt. Elbert guy?" To which she replied with lack of amusement but slight smirk, "yes."

As my professor was eager to point out, cemeteries offer a slice of community history. Riverside offers a demographic tour of the cultures represented in early Denver. In one corner are buried Denver's first Japanese individuals, a community of Russian Orthodox in another, also African American, Italian, and several other ethnic communities represented.

There is also a large military section dating back to the civil war era. One of my personal favorite military persons in history is Silas Soule, who refused to take part in the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864. He is buried in Riverside.

So, if you like history, photography, or old cemeteries come visit Riverside.

The cemetery sits amidst a dense industrial area of Denver. The cemetery has been in decline since its loss of water rights and the focus turned toward the more upscale Fairmount Cemetery (Denver's 2nd oldest cemetery).

(This is the headstone of Denver's first known Japanese resident; Tadaatsu Matsudaira, 1855-1888.)

(Vines growing on the outside of what was John Evan's mausoleum)

(Russian orthodox area)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Denver; The Mile High City (and a funny story of inaccurate surveying)

Downtown Denver is a popular place for locals as it seems there is always a festival, concert, new restaurant or cultural event going on. Not to mention the art museum, history museum and central library are all located nearby as well.

Recently, as I was working on a history project, I needed to locate a specific monument designating the end of one of the old pioneer trails (the Smoky Hill trail marker at Colfax and Broadway), I remembered that on the steps of the Capitol building is the survey marker designating that you are standing officially one mile above sea level. So, I headed up to get some pics. The original engraving that says "one mile above sea level" was etched in 1947  on the 15th step of the Capitol (etched  because people kept taking the sign). However, in 1969 people determined that the 18th step was in deed the accurate elevation....Well....guess what....in 2003 the marker was moved again to the 13th step. (Apparently, land surveying is not always easy to decipher). At any rate if you stand at or near one of these markers you are standing pretty much officially at one mile above sea level.

As you stand on the steps and face west, you can see Denver's courthouse across the lawn, and beyond that the mountains or front range as we say here in Denver.

So, if you are downtown and want a quick, fun photo op--walk up the west side of the Capitol steps and pick a survey marker.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's That Time Again; Aspen Leaf Viewing!

Upon moving to Colorado I began to experience life amidst four seasons (although I will admit the Fall season is seemingly quite short here compared to the other three). There is something about the changing of the seasons that speaks to the soul. Obviously change is a natural part of life. But the way we are able to enter into each season.... and then to see it fade away....and the process in between...there is something about those transition points where you start to notice, for instance, the nights becoming cooler....or the sun going down earlier....the wildlife changing their routines...or the leaves changing their colors....perhaps it makes me feel a part of something greater than myself...and encourages me to be conscious of the world around me...in any case, I have come to love the four seasons (though I still am making peace with winter driving).

 My favorite season, that of fall, encourages me to look for the glorious beauty all around...to enjoy the moment for soon it will pass....as the golden, quaking aspen trees do their annual turning....in this often times dry, arid climate the splash of yellow, orange and lime are not unlike masterpieces to behold. Soon winter will be here...and the colors more monotonous...but for about 5 weeks in September/October we have the chance to witness nature at its peak color spectrum.

So, get out and let nature brighten up your soul!

I have posted before on popular places and sites: here and here.

And I will also list more of the same below:

(in no particular order...most of the locals know of these.....and basically if you notice that most of them are pass roads...therefore, if you basically just drive in the freakin' mountains right now you're going to see some awesome colors....)

1) Guanella Pass
2)Kenosha Pass
3) Kebler Pass
4) Boreas Pass
5) Peak to Peak Highway
6) Maroon Bells
7) Rocky Mountain National Park
8) Independence Pass
and many others....these are just my favorites but also popular one's

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Denver Biscuit Company; So Good You'll Think They Stole Your Granny's Recipe!


The Denver Biscuit Company takes the Southern, backwoods breakfast biscuit and introduces it to the neon lights of the urban city! Mmmmm...mmm...mmm...you wont believe you're not in the south as the fresh, hearty biscuit flakes off into your mouth...only to make way for the juicy goodness that is to come; whether it be sausage, fried chicken or catfish!

I sampled the Dahlia; according to their menu it consists of: housemade sausage patty, apple butter, fried egg, and maple syrup (the only thing I would have added was a slice of cheddar cheese). It was almost as if I was sitting in my Granny's kitchen. It doesn't get any better than that folks.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Walking in the Footsteps of the Ute at 11,000 feet

I have long been fascinated with the various Native American tribes that first inhabited the Colorado territory. Upon learning that the Ute tribe frequented the area now known as Rocky Mountain National Park, I have been fascinated to retrace their steps and to try to see through their eyes. Just this week I finally got the chance to walk along the Ute Trail, which traverses heights of  over 11,000 feet. I pondered the view as if I lived in the 1800's (or beyond) and marveled that I was seeing the very same view that the Ute's saw as they hunted in this area during summer time. The hike was more of a stroll and at times I was actually being pushed along by the forceful winds that frequently blow through the high elevations. Situated off of Trail Ridge Road, the views are astounding! I will always remember this hike as I felt connected to nature and to history.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gunnison KOA

Are you looking for a family-friendly place to camp or lodge while in the Gunnison area? Then look no further than KOA Gunnison.
With clean restrooms, hot showers, pool tables, shuffleboard and paddle boats this place makes for a great family getaway.

I will say that it did look crowded in the RV area and several of the deluxe cabins face the RV area....so I would definitely recommend the A-frame cabins as they are on the other side of the lake and all to themselves. They are small; comfortable enough for two and very basic. I found it very peaceful and cozy.

**Do bring bug spray as the mosquitoes have been active

(The A-frame cabins)

The atmosphere was one of a satisfying summer evening...as folks grilled out, children rode their bikes, others lounged in their camp chairs, and I stared at the reflection of the sky splashed across the pond....

I would definitely recommend this place for families, couples or individuals who want a few amenities while enjoying an outdoorsy getaway.

**There is also a fenced dog-off-leash area where you can play fetch with your canine family member. Also, the staff were very friendly and the property was clean and well-maintained.

(View from inside A-frame cabin looking across the pond)

There are several places to visit nearby (of which I have written about previously). Click on the links for more information.

KOA Gunnison information:
click here for their website

105 County Road 50
Gunnison, CO 81230
Reserve: 800-562-1248
Info: 970-641-1358

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Curecanti National Recreation Area

In the heart of Colorado, along the edges of ruggedly beautiful mesas and where the Gunnison River once flowed freely, sits the Curecanti National Recreation Area.  Now three dams (Blue Mesa, Morrow Point and Crystal) form a more tame waterway and beckon outdoorsy folk to come and play. This area is perfect for all kinds of water sports (motorboats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing,etc.), fishing, hiking, camping, picnicking and best of all--nurturing your wild spirit. 

Managed by the National Park Service, there are a couple of NPS staffed visitor centers where you can learn more about the landscape and context of the region....or where you can simply stop for refreshments or to check your map. The Elk Creek Visitor Center is along Hwy 50, about 16 miles outside of Gunnison. The Cimarron Visitor Center is along Hwy 50 near the town of Cimarron. Stop in for more information. You can also sign up for a National Park Service guided pontoon boat tour!


Recreational Activities Abound!

There are several marinas in the area where you can rent pontoon boats, kayaks and fishing gear. I stopped at the Elk Creek Marina (pictured below) and rented a kayak for a half day. They also have paddleboards available for rent.

There are ten official campgrounds in the Curecanti Recreation Area. Several of them are available by reservation while others are not. Also, due to the arid climate many of the campsites do not provide shade. However, the Dry Gulch Campground (9 sites), Red Creek Campground (group site), East Elk Creek Campground (group site) do have some shade available. For sites that take reservations, you may book online here.

The view as you drive along hwy 50 is refreshing; nothing but mesas, vistas and buttes almost as far as you can see.

Should you decide to get out of your car and hike or picnic, there are many trails and resting points nearby. 

For a list of hiking trails click here.

Also, if you have time remaining, be sure to check out the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park just a few miles to the west.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your friends and go for a float, a swim, a boat ride, a hike, a picnic....or just a good ol' fashioned drive! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Thrill of the Chase; The Forrest Fenn Treasure

 Whether in romance or treasure hunting there is definitely something found in the thrill of the chase. 

          Forrest Fenn, a retired Airforce pilot turned art and relic collector, surely thinks so. Likened to a modern day Indiana Jones, Mr. Fenn, developed a strategy to be able to leave a part of himself tied to this earth perhaps forever--or at least until some brave, lucky human finds his treasure. Yes, there is literally a treasure chest (an ancient bronzed 10x5 box) buried somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. The chest contains gold nuggets, double eagle coins, ancient relics, Forrest's autobiography, and even reportedly a piece or two of his own hair...among other items. 

          Forrest wrote a book titled, The Thrill of the Chase, wherein he shares a poem he wrote that includes nine clues that if followed "precisely" can lead anyone to the treasure. He also states in his book that when he buried it (don't get hung up on the word buried, for apparently the box may be "exposed to the elements") he intended  the search to be "difficult though not impossible." Forrest has shared in television interviews, as well as, in his book that he wants to encourage people to get outside and to explore in nature. Forrest has seen his share of adventures; having spent his early years visiting Yellowstone National Park, fighting in combat zones, exploring Native American sites (he actually owns his own archaeological site, even though some might say is controversial) and has battled with and beaten cancer. Oh, and without even a college degree was able to start from scratch his own art gallery in the heart of Sante Fe....and became virtually a self-made millionaire. Yep, indeed, quite a life he is leading!

       Now, at 84, I wonder if he really wants his treasure to be found in his lifetime....or if he would rather the satisfaction of it being discovered centuries from now.....

In any case, the treasure is out there. 

And many have been searching since 2010 to find it. 

The internet is full of blogs and stories of people getting out into the streams, mountains, valleys and highways. Exploring. Searching. Enjoying the thrill of the chase.

Could the treasure be in Colorado? Let's go find out!

 Additional Information:

Here is the poem containing the 9 clues (taken from The Thrill of the Chase by Forrest Fenn):

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it's no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There'll be no paddle of your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you've been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
and leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers, I already know,
I've done it tired, and now I'm weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

Forrest's Website (The Old Sante Fe Trading Co)

Dal Neitzel (The "official" blogger for Forrest)

One of the various TV interviews with Forrest 
Other blogs involved in the chase:

A Gypsy's Kiss
Chase Chat
Mysterious Writings
Mountain Walk
Up A Cold Creek With No Paddle

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Denver Places to Swim and Cool Off

With the steady sizzling heat here in Denver, I thought a list of swimming holes might be appropriate...most of these places require a fee but to beat the heat...why not? Also, you can check out Denver Parks and Recreation for a list of local rec center pools.

(Disclaimer: Please always use caution and awareness when swimming in rivers/creeks; check that it is safe)

Apex Park and Recreation Facilities

Aurora Reservoir

Bear Creek Lake Park

Boulder Reservoir

Boulder Creek(you can tube down this section also...but beware of unpleasant butt bruises! A lot of rocks. :)

Cherry Creek State Park

Chatfield State Park

Confluence Park
(this seems to be more of an unofficial swimming hole but there are usually people kayaking and playing in the water here, behind REI. However, I don't know how clean the water is here....)

Elitch Gardens

Pirates Cove

Water World

Your local Recreation Center!

(original post: 8/1/08; updated on 7/5/14)

Banjo Billy's Bus Tours

For my 34th birthday I went on a fun, historical tour of Denver. It was a lot of fun learning about the history surrounding me! And Banjo Billy's Bus Tour was not disappointing! The tour guy was very knowledgeable and witty. The bus was decked out like a gypsy's home on wheels as we traveled back in time to the 1800's and the founding of Denver. We learned of gold prospectors, Molly Brown's home (whom apparently would not be too thrilled that everyone these days calls her Molly), brothels across from the Brown Palace, sacred Native American burial sites, and various other tidbits. It was a very interesting and fun time! Also, I highly recommend reservations if you are going in the summer.

For more information:

Banjo Billy Bus Tour

They also do tours in Boulder, as well as, Brewery and private tours.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Best of Denver 2014

 best veggie burger sliders: Jonesy's (during happy hour only)

best burger: Park Burger

best brunch: Sassafrass; An American Eatery

best cake shop: Cake Crumbs

best Mexican restaurant: Benny's Restaurant and Tequila Bar

best Mexican burrito:  Benny's or Hacienda Colorado 

best pad thai: Tommy's Thai

best southern BBQ: Moe's Original BBQ

best locals favorite restaurant: Racine's

best doughnut shop: Voodoo Doughnuts

best happy hour: Euclid Hall

best cocktail: Steuben's

best specialty happy hour: Park Tavern-- $2 You Call It Tuesdays

best local brew and food: Oskar Blues (Lyons and Longmont)

best rooftop bar: Linger

best place to hike nearby: Roxborough State Park

best place to swim: Bear Creek Lake Park

best little known town: Crested Butte

best dogpark: Chatfield State Park off-leash dog park

best place to see wildlife: Mt Evans or Rocky Mountain National Park

best place for a date night: Sante Fe Art District on First Friday
or the new RiNo Art District on First Friday

best coffee shop ambiance: Tattered Cover (downtown location)

best museum experience: History Colorado Center

best antique store: Rockin' Horse Antiques (Golden,CO)

best place to play games: Punch Bowl Social Club or 1UP

best movie theatre overall: Landmark Greenwood Village

best movie and dinner theatre: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

best place to chill with your dog and drink on the town: Bark Bar or the Watering Bowl

best make-out spot: along Lookout Mountain

best festivals: Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Planet Bluegrass Folk Festival

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Favorite Colorado Hot Springs

Colorado is fortunate to have at least about a dozen popular hot springs...as well as some that are off the beaten path. I thought I would list my favorites for you and also a few that I am hoping to check out in the near future.

Favorite Colorado Hot Springs:
(Click on the underlined title's for links to the websites)

1. Strawberry Hot Springs
(Located in Steamboat Springs)
This place is awesome! I love the way they have kept the natural look and feel. They also have several small but cozy and rustic camping concoctions. Also, be advised that after dark is "clothing optional" soaking.

2. Mt. Princeton Hot Springs
(Located in Nathrop...between Salida and Buena Vista)
I enjoy these springs because they are in one of my favorite areas in Colorado. After a fun day of camping, hiking, rafting, or four-wheeling this is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon or evening. Also, they have a couple of big pools but the coolest part is being able to find a few of the completely natural hot spots on the bank of the river (when the water is not too high0--right next to the commercialized pools.As of 2013, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs is now more of a resort-with an additional lodging facility and private pool for those staying in the lodge.

3. Hot Sulphur Springs
(Located near Granby)
What I like about this place is that there are around a dozen individual pools...some smaller and bigger than others. This can make for a cozy atmosphere if there aren't that many other guests. However, if the place is packed...then it could feel like alot of sardines in a can....but usually you can find a nice little pool for yourself and friends.

4. Indian Hot Springs
(Located in Idaho Springs)
This is probably the closest hot springs from Denver. It is a quick relaxing getaway located in the old mining town of Idaho Springs. One of the cool features of this resort is their Geothermal Caves. Guests can sit in an actual pool inside of a cave. However, one thing to know is that the caves are divided among genders...so...husbands and wives would not be able to go into the caves together...and note that bathing suits are optional (it used to be mandatory NO bathing suits; glad that has changed).. There are private pools and there is also a main pool.

5. Glenwood Springs Hot Springs
(Located in Glenwood Springs)
This resort is one of the main attractions to the town of Glenwood Springs. It lies right in the heart of town and can often be seen full of happy guests and swimmers. This is one HUGE hot spring pool! This offers more of a communal and open space for children and swimmers.There are actually two large pools that from a distance look like one large pool; one averages around 90 degrees (more of the swimming/active pool) and the other is around 102 degrees. Also, nearby is the Yampah Vapor Caves where you can also spend a day relaxing and steaming.

6. Cottonwood Hot Springs
This is a small but cute commercial hot spring with a handful of pools. A nice quaint oasis near Buena Vista and Cottonwood Pass. As of 2014, they have added some additional lodging facilities.

A few that I want to eventually check out:

7. Pagosa Hot Springs
(Pagosa Springs)

8. Orvis Hot Springs

9. Conundrum Natural Hot Spring
(off the beaten path hike near Aspen)

For some other hot springs that I have not mentioned, check out the Colorado Hot Springs Enthusiast Blog here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Palisade; Colorado's Wine Country

When you think of Colorado you probably don't immediately envision images of grapes on the vine or peach orchards. But in Palisade, Colorado that is exactly what you can find. Although there are small vineyards sprinkled throughout Colorado, the major concentration are in the sun-kissed valley of Palisade. Surrounded by mesas, in what is known as Grand Valley, Palisade is a quaint and savory experience.

Whether you are a wine connoisseur or simply want something to do this weekend, there is pleasure for all in this valley of produce. Palisade, is home to many annual festivals: music festivals, bike tours, and of course their famous peach festival.

A sample of  Palisade wineries:

Maison La Belle Vie

Garfield Estates Vineyards

Canyon Wind Cellars

Meadery of the Rockies

Palisade Brewery Company

Grand River Vineyards

Colorado Cellars Vineyards

DeBeque Canyon

There are a few places to lodge in the area but even more lodging options about ten minutes away in Grand Junction. For nearby lodging:

Wine Country Inn

A Divine Thyme Bed and Breakfast

Vistas and Vineyards Bed and Breakfast

I loved the Vin De Peche sampling at this lovely French winery. It was like drinking a refreshing taste of summer.

Palisade; a beautiful outdoor experience.

Enjoyed the V2 sampling at Garfield Estates.