We’ve been to Garden of the Gods a number of times (like here, with my bestie), but yesterday was magnificent. The weather — while windy — was remarkable in all her fall glory, and we got there basically as the park opened to avoid the (always) crowds.
After Garden of the Gods, we hopped back in the car and drove 10 minutes to our Cave of the Winds cave tour. It was about 45 minutes long and the girls were so great during it! I definitely think there were moments that were scary/hard for Grace (like when they turned the lights completely off and we were plunged into darkness — to show us what the cave used to be like before they added electricity — or some spots that were slick to walk in), but she was such a champ, and I was so proud. They both asked awesome questions (Lotte about stalagmites and G about bats) and, I think, had a really fun time.
It’s hard to take a ton of photos in a dark cave, as you can imagine, but here’s what I did get:
And that was that, my friends! A successful birthday trip all around, made all the more fun by the tons of leftover birthday treats we had to bring home 😉
I mean … G is barely even in this photo, but you get the gist — Colorado is amazing in the summer, and summer is right around the corner! I mean, it’s pretty amazing all of the time, but the summer is a great time to check out the mountains, lakes, hikes, breweries … and everything in between.
To help you out if you happen to be in the hood, here are a few of our fave hangouts when the weather gets warmer:
Well friends, just like that our little Lotte is one. Chris & I cannot believe it. Just yesterday we were bringing home our six-pound ball of love, and today she’s standing, taking steps, saying words and basically charming us (and amazing us) every single minute. To celebrate our Little’s birthday, my dad, stepmom and stepdad flew out, and we loaded on the activities. We visited the Red Rocks, tried out the Arvada Splash Pad (an A+, by the way!), had lunch in Olde Town and ice cream at Scrumptious, followed at birthday cake (called a Strawberry Charlotte from the La Patisserie Francaise bakery … how could we resist!) and opened lots and lots of presents. On Friday we checked out the Garden of the Gods, and then Saturday was the MS Hike at Keystone. Although it rained the entire event, we still had an amazing time honoring my mom.
The grandparents were all gone by late Sunday morning, but I’m hoping we made memories for everyone that will never fade. I think Lotte had a fabulous week of birthday celebrations (including her birthday shindig in New York last Sunday). I know for my part I’ve loved celebrating this little one and the amazing little girl she’s becoming. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.
^^ Lotte’s an old hat at touring people around Red Rocks. In fact, this was the first-ever place she visited (besides the doctor) after she was born!
^^ One of Lotte’s favorite games while my Dad was here was pointing at him to get his attention, and it was kind of adorable.
^^ The group of us squired Lotte around the block in her Radio Flyer, a birthday gift from my aunt and uncle. How fun is that?!
^^ Facetiming with Aussie Nan & Papa (who couldn’t be here in person, for obvious reasons) on the morning of Lotte’s birthday to open her presents from them was also a highlight!
^^ This. Smiling. Face!!! Oh, and by the way, it’s true – I am pregnant again 😉 New Baby Connor will be making his or her arrival in mid-December … wahoo!
^^ Flying high as a one-year-old 😉
^^ How adorable is the Arvada Splash Pad?! We will absolutely be back here.
^^ As long as there is a television around to watch, Lotte is happy 😉
^^ This car from Mommom & Papa was a big hit, as was the play kitchen my sisters and parents chipped in to get her. Everyone hit it out of the park with gifts for this girl!
^^ My nickname for Lotte is pumpkin (“puntin,” actually, don’t ask me why!), and Chris calls her monkey, so we compromised for her birthday cake. Plus the candles (which we were never able to find a lighter to light … oops!) came all the way from Australia!
^^ It’s always fun to play with birthday noise makers 😉
^^ Lotte may have only had a few bites of her cake, but the adults couldn’t get enough. So good!
Lotte’s birthday was Thursday, and Friday we checked out Garden of the Gods, then on Saturday we headed into the mountains to do the MS Hike at Keystone.
^^ Lotte’s U.S. grandparents in full force 😉
^^ This busy bee has had quite the couple of weeks, so she snoozed on the way to the hike to Keystone.
^^ A little rain couldn’t keep us away!
^^ This little face. Boy I sure do love her.
I can’t stop thinking about how many people made Lotte’s first birthday so special. From everyone who made last weekend’s party possible to my dad & stepmom & stepdad for coming out this week, it just felt like such a special time for us, and I know Lotte felt so loved.
To be one … it’s a pretty special thing, isn’t it?
I’m back today with the final two days of Lisa’s visits, which were filled with quintessentially amazing Coloradoan vistas, Bloody Marys and, of course, more Mexican food.
Here’s what we got up to:
Monday: The start of Monday saw us heading to The Delectable Egg, which has slowly become one of my favorite breakfast places in Denver. Afterwards we headed out to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, and then into Manitou Springs — the cute little old-fashioned town right outside of the Garden of the Gods park — for a Mexican lunch at The Loop Restaurant, which happens to sit at the foot of Pikes Peak. Pikes Peak is a 14,115 ft fourteener—”fourteener” being the nickname given to mountains exceeding 14,000 ft above sea level in the area.
Tuesday: Since Tuesday would be Lisa’s last full day, I had tried to find something fun that we could do around Denver that would be somewhat different. In the past, it has sort of become a tradition for Lisa and I to find a spot to kayak on trips we’ve taken together, and I wanted this trip to be the same. Unfortunately the past months’-worth of rainy days made it dangerous to do so in an actual lake, and when we finally did arrive at City Park (the alternative I came up with), we decided to rent paddle boats from Wheel Fun Rentals, instead. The park turned out to be very nice, actually (I had never been before) and the paddle boating was super fun! There was even a patch of land in the middle of the lake with tons of birds, most of whom were nesting or had just had their babies, so that was fun to see, as well.
We started the day with Bloody Marys at Terminal Bar in Union Station (naturally), and went for lunch at Acorn in The Source after paddle boating, as well. I’d never been to The Source or Acorn before, either, and I’m glad we made it here because it had been on my list of places I really wanted to show Lisa, and it turned out to be just as cute as I’ve heard. (Beer and fried pickles helped make it worth the visit, as well.)
^^ Post Bloody Marys.
^^ Look at these ladies … they sure do love an adventure 😉
^^ Ahh … beer and fried pickles. Is there anything better?
Dinner Tuesday night was — can you guess it? — Rio for Mexican again, of course! What can I say, we are creatures of habit.
Anyway, friends, that was Lisa’s trip in a nutshell. I had an amazing time with her here, and I really think I’m starting to get it down in terms of showing people around this town. There’s no end to the number of things you can do with people here, whether it’s food, drinking, hiking, walking, snowboarding or skiing — there’s pretty much something for everyone in good ole’ Denver.
^^ This weekend was pretty fun, friends. For starters, Chris and I tried out a new amazing restaurant — Stoic and Genuine — on Friday (see the delicious oysters above as proof … yum!), Chris tried out A-Basin for the first time on Saturday to snowboard and on Sunday we headed to Colorado Springs to check out the Garden of the Gods national park. I’ll be blogging more about everything tomorrow, but for now, feast your eyes on the seafood above and, if you live in Denver, make a reservation ASAP to head over to Stoic and Genuine! You seriously won’t regret it!
So this week started out pretty rough for us, to say the least, but we’re looking forward to some fun times (and hopefully better weather!) when my mom and stepdad come to town tomorrow. Before that happens, though, I wanted to go ahead and post a bit more info about our hangings-out from last weekend. As you can see from the photo above, one of our first stops was an amazing seafood restaurants that specializes in seafood, and specifically oysters. Ooh lala 😉
The restaurant is called Stoic and Genuine, and it’s in Union Station, which makes it all the more fun. Here’s what we tried (and we shared everything, which turned out to be just the right amount of food for two):
Big Eye Tuna Tartare pumpernickel crumb, lemon, tarragon, buttered radish
George’s Bank Scallop coconut-lemongrass panna cotta, Thai curry and kaffir lime vinaigrette, plantain crisps, pineapple compote Octopus dill pistachio pesto, pickled onion, candied lemon
Oysters (2 of each of the following): Stoic plump, briny, vegetal flavor, large from Long Island Genuine rich, briny, medium from Totten, WA Oakland Bay luscious fruity flavor, small from S. Puget Sound, WA
^^ This was my drink, the Take a Hike with Mell vodka, Pimms, lemon, mint simple and cucumber-tarragon granita. To. Die. For. ^^ Our fried oyster sandwich. After everything we had for appetizers, splitting this bad boy was the right decision! ^^ Of course there’s always room for dessert.
If you like seafood, I would highly recommend hitting up this place — it’s a Denver must-do. Saturday Chris headed to A-Basin for the first time to snowboard, and he said it was pretty much one big party, with music playing everywhere and a really relaxed, friendly environment. We’ll be back the weekend after this one for a birthday party, so I’ll finally get to experience this ‘spring skiing’ I keep hearing him talk about 😉
Sunday was another day of exploration for us, as we headed to Colorado Springs to check out Garden of the Gods and have breakfast at Adam’s Mountain Cafe in Manitou Springs, which is about a 10 minute drive from Garden of the Gods. If you’re heading to Garden of the Gods anyway, I would highly recommend checking out Manitou Springs, since it’s so close. It’s this small, funky little town (which actually reminded me a bit of Phoenicia, if you’ll recall when Chris took me there for a short day visit) with a gorgeous, mountainous backdrop, and if you happen to find yourself at Adam’s Mountain Cafe, as well, the homemade cinnamon bun is a must!
^^ See what I mean ?!
So a little bit about Garden of the Gods. Basically the park is made up of red rock formations that were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. According to archeologists, evidence of prehistoric people visiting this area dates back to about 1330 BC. At first the area was called Red Rock Corral (makes sense), but in August of 1859, two surveyors who were helping to set up Colorado City came upon the site and one, M.S. Beach, said that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden.” The other, Rufus Cable, allegedly replied: “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.”
Charles Elliott Perkins purchased 480 acres of land in 1879, a portion of which included the Garden of the Gods. When he died, his family gave the land to the city of Colorado Springs, with the stipulation that Garden of the Gods forever and always remain a free park open to the public.
And so it is to this day, my friends.
^^ You can’t tell from this photo, but that plaque basically explains why the park will always be open and free to the public (thanks Charles Elliott Perkins!). ^^ You can really get lost hiking around this place! The visitor center has maps that I highly recommend taking (plus the visitor’s center is just cool to check out, as well), and you can rock climb, too!
We had a good two hours at the park before it started raining, so I think we got a good idea of what it’s all about. Of course we’ll definitely go back some day and hike around a bit more, but for now it was a nice little introduction.
And that was our weekend, friends. We’ve got lots planned for when my mom and stepdad are here the next few days — so please just say a prayer for us that the weather holds out, because why come to Colorado if you can’t go outside!
Bis bald, friends.
** This post is dedicated to my brave little bun bun, Nugget, who Chris and I lost this past Monday. He was the strongest little four-pound creature I’ve ever known, and we will miss him terribly forever and always.