Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best of Denver's Brunch Scene

Top Picks for Denver's Brunch Scene:

1) Sassafras American Eatery

Sassafras is a Southern Cajun delight! Nestled in a cozy brick house with a myriad of comfort food brunch ideas; your lips will smack and your taste buds will thank you. Oh, and did I mention they have grit sticks?! So yummy and paired with New Orleans style jumbo shrimp! Get ready for some decadent and quaint down home goodness!

2) Snooze; An AM Eatery

There's a reason this place is so popular; its got everything--ambiance, wide variety of menu choices, creative and scrumptious pancake flavors, and booze. 'Nuff said. Try 'em--you'll love Snooze...well, you'll love everything except the waiting list.

3) Jelly Cafe

The Jelly Cafe has an 80's and modern hipster vibe to it. For an artsy and unique brunch experience step inside Jelly Cafe and try their Salmon Eggs Benedict or their different array of doughnut bites! With a wholesome variety of egg scrambles, pancakes, french toast and benedicts--you are sure to find something to your liking!

4) Annie's Cafe and Bar

Annie's is a cozy cafe with a lot of neighborhood flavor. A wide ranging menu and cozy ambiance makes Annie's a comfy place to return to again and again. I personally love the lunch boxes from the 1980's that hang near the bar area. I've seen them a million times but every visit I recall them each again. So grab a cup of coffee and relax at this local favorite.

5) Racines Restaurant

Racine's is my "go to" place--for any meal--the ambiance is always cozy and satisfying and the food is always tasty. Whether it is breakfast or dinner--they have a menu guaranteed to please everyone. I like that it can be a casual or fancy affair; depending on what kind of experience you want to make it. It is a place that is like a home away from home for those who frequent this lovely local hot spot. And congratulations on being in business for 30 years this year!

6) Cake Crumbs Bakery

Some friends recently introduced me to Cake Crumbs. This little-known bakery sits back in the historic Park Hill neighborhood. They feature cake, cupcakes, fresh baked goods and warm breakfast items. This place is perfect for when you wake up on a Sunday morning and want to grab some coffee and breakfast and experience the freshness of a new day; and of being alive. Check 'em out.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Camping Along Guanella Pass


I have written previously about exploring Guanella Pass during the fall season. It is a beautiful drive to tour the aspen leaves amidst a mountainous backdrop. In addition, Guanella Pass is also home to many popular camping spots and hiking destinations. Guanella Pass runs between I-70 (at Georgetown, CO) and US-285 (at Grant, CO). During the winter months, the road is not always open all of the way through so be sure to check the road conditions online at CDOT.

There are various camping locations all along Guanella Pass (also known as HWY 62, or Guanella Pass Scenic Byway).

Along the pass there are some first come, first served "unofficial" camping spots. Also, there are several designated campsites where you are allowed to have a fire (inside the designated fire ring), pit toilets, and picnic tables. And there are dispersed camping sights (please check the rules and regulations for dispersed camping).

Also, something else to know is that camping along Guanella Pass is near Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans. So, if you want to camp and get up early to hike a 14er (what we Coloradoans refer to as mountains that surpass 14,000 feet) this area is ideal for such a venture.

For designated campsites check out (click on the links below):

Guanella Pass Campground

Clear Lake Campground

Burning Bear Campground

For a complete list of campgrounds located along Guanella Pass check out Pike National Forest Campgrounds website.

Dispersed Camping Guidelines

Mt. Bierstadt Info:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

St. Mary's Glacier

Hard to believe that barely an hour drive from Denver and you can hike up to a glacier. St. Mary's Glacier is one of the first attractions I visited when I first moved here to Colorado. It is so close town and just off of I-70 (well, just about twenty minutes from I-70). Heading west out of Denver take exit 238 which is the next exit after Idaho Springs...and is marked: St. Mary's/Alice. Follow this road (Fall River Road) passed the town of Alice just a little ways and you will see a parking lot on the left for the glacier hike. The first couple of times I went it was free to park on the side of the road....however, I recently went last weekend and found out it now costs $5.00 to park (but there is a vault toilet now).

Anyway, it is mostly an inclined hike 3/4 of a mile to the base of the glacier. I like it because it gets my heart rate up but isn't too strenuous. Then once you get to the base you can explore and even continue further up the face of the glacier. The trees are reminiscent of Lord of the Rings; as they are bent, blown, and partially barren from the wind.

I really enjoy visiting St. Mary's in the winter as it makes for an excellent snowshoeing experience. During the other seasons, the terrain is pretty rocky on the initial ascent. Folks also ski, sled, and slide down the glacier but be careful and use caution as always.

So, if you want an easy day hike with excellent views and a great excuse to eat at Beaujo's in Idaho Springs afterwards...check out St. Mary's glacier!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Four Mile Historic Park; Home to the Oldest House in Denver

Back in the old days people heading west into Denver would find several "mile" houses along the various stagecoach trails (e.g. Smoky Hill Trail, Cherokee Trail, etc.). Each house represented the number of miles to the city center. For instance the Four Mile House was four miles from downtown and the Nine Mile House was nine miles out...and so on. Only two of these mile houses are still standing in Colorado today; the Four Mile House and the Seventeen Mile House.

The Four Mile House came into existence in 1858, when two brothers with the last name Brantner built a log house that became a popular stagecoach stop on the way into Denver. Eventually the brothers sold the house to a business savvy widow named Mary Cawker, who became the first to run the place as a sort of hotel for those traveling west. She and her teenage kids would hang out in the parlor while the men would drink and play cards in the tavern. After the Cherry Creek flooded in 1864, Cawker sold the property to an up and coming couple, Levi and Millie Booth. The Booth's added a brick addition onto the log house along with finely furnished Victorian era furniture (which is currently on display at the Four Mile House). The Four Mile House is exactly four miles away from downtown Denver, from the intersection of Colfax and Broadway. Folks would head into town to gather supplies and then head further west in search of gold!

Nowadays, the Four Mile House is a part of the Four Mile Historic Park and is open to the public for house tours, cultural history education, and Colorado heritage education. The park makes for a nice family outing, school field trip, photography session, scenic special event host, and overall fun learning experience.

So, get in touch with your pioneer spirit and come take a tour of the oldest house in Denver!

Four Mile Historic Park Hours

April-Sept. (Wed-Fri 12-4, Sat and Sun 10-4)

Oct-Mar (Wed-Sun 12-4)

Every First Friday of the month is FREE!

Call ahead to find out if wagon rides are available for the day you want to visit.

Home Page:

(Sources: Information contained in this blog entry is taken from information dispersed from FMHP. Photos taken are property of this blog writer.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Barr Lake State Park; A Bird Watcher's Paradise.

Colorado is home to several pairs of bald eagles that stay year round. However, the primary viewing season for bald eagles is January through April. Around mid-February the eagles start to lay their eggs and guard their nests for their eaglets.

One place that I enjoy watching bald eagles perch, nest and soar is Barr Lake State Park. Within the park is a wildlife refuge where many species of birds and wildlife are thriving. Be aware that separate rules govern the refuge area (e.g. dogs are prohibited within this part of the park, etc.). Barr Lake State Park is a bird watchers paradise! During the appropriate times of year you can expect to find eagles, hawks, great horned owls, and even osprey!

(Above: Two bald eagles sit atop a cottonwood tree)

From May to September the Eagle Express can carry up to 13 passengers on a naturalist guided tour of the refuge. Make your reservations today! Or plan to come and trek around on your own. Don't forget your binoculars and camera's for some spectacular wildlife viewing!

(Above: hawk feeding on carrion. Below: hundreds of Canadian Geese fly from one side of the lake to another.)
(Below: a creative way to display some hay.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lily Lake and Lily Mountain Trail

Upon a recent visit to Estes Park, a local referred me to Lily Mountain Trailhead. This mountain hike borders Rocky Mountain National Park and is right next to Lily Lake (located within the NPS borders). One of the many great things about this hike is that it is dog friendly...although your dog must remain on the leash (according to the sign). [Sidenote: I recently bought a dog and have since realized that there are not any National Parks (that I know of) where dogs are welcome due to trying to preserve the land and the safety of wildlife. So, the fact that I can hike right next to the NPS with my dog was a HUGE delight!]. Anyway, the Lily Mountain trail meanders up and around to a beautiful panoramic view of Estes Park. There are many rock outcrops and beautiful evergreen trees along the way. After you hike enjoy a picnic at Lily Lake!

Last year, 2012, Rocky Mountain National Park partnered with National Geographic for the annual Bioblitz. Lily Lake was one of the lakes sampled for aquatic macroinvertebrates. And of course, plenty of lively creatures thrive in this pristine lake....which makes for great fly fishing if you are interested! Apparently, the more diverse sample of aquatic species indicates the level of health of an area. Conclusion: the Lily Lake area is thriving with healthy wildlife--nature that is seen and even unseen with the naked eye.

So, the next time you visit the Estes Park area check out Lily Lake and Lily Mountain Trail.

Estes Park; My Home Away From Home.

I never get tired of visiting Estes Park. It is the first place I longed to visit when I first moved to Denver ten years ago. And it is the place where I continue to return.

 My fascination with Estes (the nickname used by many Coloradoans) began when my parents shared that it was a camping spot they used on their first road trip together back in the 70's. As a child of divorce, I treasure tiny nuggets of my parents lost nostalgia...and therefore believe I was drawn to Rocky Mountain National Park like a lost camper retracing their steps.

Nowadays, I come back month after month simply to be, to rest, to play. It is a familiar stomping ground of which I have grown quite fond of its beauty, wildlife, and amenities.

There are alot of other places in Colorado I still want to explore. But when I need a quick, refreshing, intimate getaway I continue to return to Estes Park.

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