Buff in the Boat: A Steamboat extravaganza!

July in Colorado, especially in the Denver area, is typically dry, hot and a bit browned out. The past two weekends have been spent, in the heat, around Denver, so when I recently found this blog draft about our adventures last July, where we took to the mountains, I jumped on reliving our adventure.

Last July, we headed to Lake Dillon when my dad came to visit from Philadelphia, to play in the cooler air and boat on the lake….

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Swan Mountain, Breckenridge

Lake Dillon, Dillon Colorado

Boating on Lake Dillon!

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After our 18 mile bike ride – Broken Compass Brewery!

 

…then Crested Butte with friends, to bike and hike the heck out of this gorgeous area. I really feel we’ve made the most out of the summer months thus far, trying to experience different mountain towns and the unique beauty in all of them. The last weekend in July was meant to be spent in Salida, a beautiful town Mike and I had spent time in a few weeks prior, but rain threatened the areas in the southern mountain ranges….no bueno! When Steamboat Springs, 3 1/2 hours North West of Denver, was offered up by our crew, we immediately boarded the train to mountain town!

Our girlfriend Stacia is a teacher, so with school still out for the summer, her and two other friends set off early on Friday to set up shop on Buff pass, an area 20 minutes or so outside of Steamboat that boasted beautiful views and dispersed camping. Score!

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Buff pass, Steamboat Springs Colorado

 

Mike and I headed out on Friday, July 28th after work, pulling up to a pretty amazing view of the valley. These girls really knew how to scout a campsite! The area was crowded with campers, with cars rolling by our spot until late in the evening, so we thanked them profusely for reserving such a money location!

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Taking in the views on Buff Pass, Steamboat Colorado

 

After pitching tents and cracking beers, we decided to head into town for the free concert happening in town. The Wood Brothers were playing and we rolled into the festival after a bite to eat, ready to jam out. They were amazing, soulful and poetic with beautiful guitars that mesmerized our buddy McFadden, who had rolled into town a bit later and met us at the base of the mountain where the festival took place. It was a wonderful night!

Wood Brothers, Steamboat SpringsOur Crew at the Festival!

The rest of our crew, Nicole and Dusty, rolled up to the campsite around 10, after we had settled in from the show.  The campfire welcomed them with open arms.

The morning broke and Winnie and I were up early, wanting to explore. Ok, she wanted to explore and dragged my arse out of bed. Little Scallywag! After I made some coffee though, I was extremely pleased with the quiet morning that I was privy to, and we explored the area together, wandering through the wildflowers and down the Buff Trail. What a gift to be here in this beauty!

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Winnie and I exploring Buff Pass Trail

Wildflowers in Steamboat Colorado

The rest of the campers began to stir, so Winnie and I headed back to camp to start breakfast and decide the plan for the day. The boys (Dusty, Mike and McFadden) wanted to mountain bike, so the ladies decided to head out for a hike. But first, campfires and guitar solos…

Breakfast scramble: peppers, tofu, hashbrowns & veggie sausage!
Breakfast Scramble: Peppers, tofu, hash browns & veggie sausage!

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What a lovely, relaxed morning. Really, this is what the mornings on weekends should entail….great friends, beautiful views, exploring, soft guitar music strummed by McFadden, scrumptious breakfast!

But alas, it was time to make moves, so the guys headed out on bikes, the girls to the hills, with a plan to meet in town later. Two cars were driven down from the Buff, so guys had the luxury of taking the buff pass trail all the way into town. What service we provide!

The ladies headed to a popular spot, Fish Creek Falls, and when the parking lot was completely full, we had to make a game time decision to hike elsewhere. When in Steamboat in the summer, hike up the damn mountain!

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We parked & headed up to a glorious trail with a bit of everything: uphill climbs, aspen groves, great views and buena vistas, shots of the gondolas, shady groves to protect us from the beating sun….a great little 5 mile out and back trail that left us sweaty and satisfied.

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Hiking in Steamboat!
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Views of Steamboat
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Gondolas in Steamboat

Heading down the hill was a bit rough on my knee (since the ACL injury, I’ve had a tough time hiking, but trying to push it!) but we made it down and heard from the guys just as we got to the car. Perfect timing! They were headed into town for post post-biking beers, and our group was just as thirsty from the climb, so we headed into town.

The town of Steamboat sat right on the edge of the Yampa river, a beautiful backdrop to have lunch. The group decided on Sweet Pea Restaurant, the cutest little farm to table spot ya ever did see. Happy hour beers flowed, veggie goodness was ordered and we chowed down after a day of adventure!

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Steamboat crew!

 

Steamboats’ Strawberry hot springs were calling our name, but before we headed to steam, we popped into Sunpie’s Bistro, a super heady lunch spot right along the river. A perfect ending to our mountain activity.

Next stop: Strawberry Hot Springs! We soaked, we steamed, we waited in line quite a bit to get in and drank some tailgate beers. It was fabulous and such a relaxing afternoon. Heading back to the campsite that evening, we sang Kenny Loggins into the night.

The next day, we mountain biked our hearts out – Stacia and I heading down an easier trail, while the boys headed out for the harder one.

Flowing through aspens, gorgeous scenery, wildflowers, I had a smile plastered on my face for the whole downhill. Until I popped a tire….and didn’t have a spare tube. Huge lesson learned to never leave on a Colorado adventure without extra supplies!

A kind man and wife team stopped close to the entrance to the trail to lend me a tube, just in time to see Mike ride up from town with a fresh  tube to give back to the man.

Steamboat Gang

Kindness is all over the mountains. After a quick lunch, we headed on our way home, with lots of memories tucked away.

Happy Summer: Biking, Hiking & Coloradical Adventures

Summer has officially begun (June 21st was the summer solstice) and it’s already been an amazing start to the glorious season.

Early May, we headed to Buff Pass for some grueling uphill & fast, flowy downhill mountain biking. The loop I did was 15 miles, 1,369ft of vert – not a bad way to open up the season!

May 20th Mike and I headed to Loveland ski resort to get some off season skinning in. Anyone is able to head out on the mountain for uphill access & it was pretty fun to be at the resort post ski season, when no one else was on the mountain. The skin was a little over 1 1/2 miles, with almost 1,000 ft of vert gained, so not too strenuous, but my first time skinning a resort. Definitely going to be back at it next season!

Hike club has been in full affect since March, and I try to get out once a week, at least! We live in such a spectacular place, with glorious trails only 20-30 minutes from my house, so there’s no excuse not get out on them as much as possible.

I also joined a 100 hrs outside challenge this May, so have been extra motivated to prioritize my outside time. In May & June I’ve hiked the following:

  • North Table Mountain (did this multiple times cause its close, a beautiful loop & has New Terrain Brewing at the bottom!)
  • Berkley Park (not technically hiking, but counting it!)
  • Mt. Galbraith (In Golden)
  • Sloans Lake (more of a walk, but did 5 1/2 miles!)
  • Mt. Falcon (did the shorter loop once, and added the castle ruins on for another hike)
  • Apex (Enchanted forest trail with Winnie)
  • Chimney Gulch (in Golden)

Have also been on my bike more than ever before, which I’m really stoked about. We have even started an early morning bike club on Tuesday’s. Getting up at 5 AM to be pedaling by 6 is one of the best ways to start the day.

In the past two months, I’ve biked to Joyride Brewing & home for happy hour, biked to Berkeley Lake, biked to old town Arvada to hop on the G line then did a tour around the city to celebrate buddies who had run Colfax. On that jaunt, we biked to Briar commons brewery, then to Scratch burrito, then to Zuni Brewery. Over 8 miles, great beer and tons of fun!

And what better way to start or end your day than our in nature, out in the beautiful Colorado sunshine. Our crew headed to Waterton Canyon Trailhead for a Wednesday happy hour spin.

June came and up Mt. Bierstadt we went! It’s the latest I’ve ever skied (June 2nd) and the earliest I’ve ever climbed a 14’er. We slapped our skins on our skies and zipped up the mountain. Over 7 miles and 2,850 vertical feet. It was exhilarating, gorgeous an absolute breathtaking day, one I was extremely proud of myself for accomplishing.

After the 14’er we spent the afternoon meeting a new member of our family, baby girl Harper Weston. A gorgeous little peach!

Another big summer milestone has been the purchase of Happy Homes’ 6th investment property. The property is a mile from our home, so I’ve been able to bike or drive over after work many nights to help Mike. The project will provide countless summer memories.

Mike had a Colorado bachelor party the second weekend in June, so I had a glorious Denver Summer weekend, with brunch on a girlfriend’s rooftop followed by Brewfest, a festival down on Pearl Street with Bluegrass & good beers. Our gang showed up in full force!

Our first camping trip finally arrived, last weekend (June 14), and to Fruita we went, mountain bikes strapped to the back of our car. Three years ago, Mike and I headed to Glenwood Springs, but I had never been to Fruita. First stop: Outer Range (one of the best breweries ever!).

Our campground, NorthFruita Dessert, was off Road 18, with rolling trails right outside our tent. Friday night, we rolled into town pretty late & headed right for Hot Tomato, an amazing pizza joint right in town.

Full moons & fires that evening, followed by a morning of flowy single track on Joes’ run, followed by steep downs and some crazy hike a bike sections. All in all a great morning, although the heat had cranked up by the time we got back to our camp site.

What to do in a blazing hot dessert of a town after a big ride? Head to breweries! A few tasty brews (Suds Brothers Brewery & Copper Club Brewing) then back to camp (with another Hot Tomato pie in tow) for a happy hour ride on Joe’s run. Fruita, you are glorious!

If you’ve never experienced Colorado in the summer, I’d recommend you adding that to your bucket list. The sheer beauty of the trails, mountains, landscape will not disappoint.

Cheers to Colorado adventures! Where are you heading this summer?

The Kick Off to Summer

The days are longer, weather has warmed and the nights stretch beautifully on…it is summer in Colorado. It’s a magical season in the mountains, one that lasts a tad longer than most states, due to the arid environment. A friend recently reminded me that summer is only 13 weeks – which seems awfully short, especially as you get older. So, what do I want my next 13 weeks to look like? Last weekend,  Memorial Day weekend, I got a taste of what I’d like this summer to be flavored with: camping, good friends, scrumptious (mostly) healthy food, good beer, biking, and outdoor adventures.

Friday came fast after a busy week of investment property milestones (we passed our plumbing inspections & 2nd story structure inspection) and a crazy work week filled with back-to-back meetings and fire drills. We had been invited to head down south to Canyon City, about 40 miles south of Colorado Springs, to enjoy 30 acres of private land, complete with a disc golf course and mountain biking trails close by. You had me at 30 acres! Being almost 3 hours from Denver, after a severely hectic, but productive week, we left Arvada around 6, avoiding some Friday, Holiday traffic and stopped at Trinity Brewing. This brewery is one of my all-time favorites – an amazing beer selection, with barrel aged sours abound, and an extensive veggie/vegan menu to boot. Ordering the 7 day sour, some seitan vegan wings, and some veggie sammies (Mike tried a Beyond Meat burger and he is now obsessed!). It hit the spot!

Sufficiently fueled, we carried on our way, making the last two hours just as it got dark. The piece of property was quite a bit out there, and we were very thankful to have detailed directions from Anthony, the owner.

We arrived at the private gate that carried us up and around the bumpy, rocky road, coming to the shelf section that made my heart beat extremely fast….I literally leaned over towards Mike as if that would have any impact on balancing the truck! It was a no fall zone for sure, yet we made it to the top of the shelf unscathed, turning right at the big pile of rocks and coming to the big open parking space. It was rather dark, although we saw the light of the campfire and our crew, so we had arrived!

The set up was quite impressive, even in the dark! While they didn’t have running water or electricity, there was a whole sudo kitchen, complete with solar powered lights. After pitching our tent, with only the light from our headlamps to guide us, we joined the few who were still up for a celebratory beer (at that point it was close to 10). It was going to be a good weekend!

The morning brought campfire coffee (nothing beats that!) and bike plans. In the light, the property was even cooler, expansive, with tree coverage, designated areas for hanging, and a disc gulf course (that we would experience later that day). The day plan was set: some would bike Oil Well Flats, some would hike around the property, and we’d all meet back later.

The girls were going to do one trail (there were a ton to choose from) and the boys another. Our friend Janine had the most experience on us, so led the way.

In the arid climate, you have to ensure you have plenty of water and sun screen and probably should head out early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the heat….not 11am, in the thick of the day.

After several hours in the hot sun, one cliff dive, one cactus encounter, one lost biker, and almost seven miles….we finally all made it down to the car! It was a technical ride, one that I felt great on, although it was difficult, but not going to lie, we were all pumped to see the truck!!

 

The few beers at the car quenched our thirst just enough to make it down to Fourmile creek to soak in the river. It. Was. Magnificent. Cool water to soak our sore feet in, friends to rehash tales of the trail, and a beautiful day to enjoy. It sure was a fabulous Saturday.

The river had soaked into our bones sufficiently, so we headed up to the compound to decompress at camp. After eating some lunch (avocado and hummus sandwiches) we settled into camp. There were different areas to hang in….a Mala coloring book station, bean bags, a horseshoe pit…it was an adult playground! Cocktails were poured as well, a pineapple fizzy thing that was amazing and made from pineapple vinegar. Who knew!?

The games wound down and we all decided to head down to play some disc gulf. Anthony had made the course himself, including the baskets, made from old bicycle spokes. It was impressive, with undulating hills, barriers of trees to try to avoid, and wild flowers everywhere. The boys team went first (we let them, of course) followed by the girls.

Stepping up to each hole, whipping the Frisbee discs, having to hunt for discs among the trees and branches…it was really, really fun! Team girls only played 9 holes, but still had a blast. Wine was beckoning, so we headed back to the compound.

That night’s meal was a new favorite: stuffed peppers with chipotle black bean crumbles & brown rice. Anthony & Laura had grills and propane stove tops set up, so cooking was really easy.  After dinner, we went to watch the sun set, the light of dusk shedding a pink hue on everything. It was magical to be out here, and the beauty wasn’t lost on any of us.

We headed back to camp and sat around the fire, listening to good tunes, having smores and enjoying the Coloradical night.

The next day we packed up and headed home, but the weekend had kicked off the summer in the best possible way. It’s going to be a good summer!