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.

Summer Camping

I have found myself letting go of making plans lately. With my ACL injury, I’m not able to do much in the activity spectrum, so plans seem silly. So a few weekends ago, with Friday & Saturday stretching before me, I jumped for joy at the the last minute plan to camp near Leadville, in the San Isabel National Forest near the clear creek reservoir. A group of friends were heading to the sand dunes and wanted to break up the trip (it’s almost 5 hours to sand dune national park). Another friend planned to climb or hike. And Mike and I wanted to escape the city, head to the mountains and be amongst nature. Despite my knee injury keeping me on the Colorado activity sidelines, I couldn’t wait! It had been a full two months since I had ventured west, into the mountains so I was ready.

Friday afternoon, we packed up the car with our camping gear (including our big fancy chairs & extra blankets, as we were car camping) and hit the road. Because we didn’t have to hike in with our gear, we brought the big tent that could have easily fit 6 adults comfortably. Because we brought the big tent, we brought Winnie and Haley (our furry babies).

Driving westbound, away from the city, we left 80 degree weather and watched the temperature drop every 15 miles. Past the small mining towns that now were filled with craft beer and tourists, the road slicing into the rocky hills. The views of the mountains as we crested over the hills still took my breath away.

We stopped in the overflow parking lot at Copper Mountain so the dogs could run around. The sky shoots mocked me from across the street, taunting me to come avenge my ACL. Next year, next year I’ll be back.

A ways passed Copper, we drove by Mayflower Gulch where Mike and I headed several months earlier as part of our AIARE I certification. Memories of a 4 degree day came flooding back, where fresh powder stretched for miles, and we trudged up the gulch to practice digging out beacons in case of an avalanche. What a beautiful weekend that was!

Leadville came into site and after stopping for water at the grocery store, we headed to the local watering hole, Periodic Brewing. Boasting the highest craft brewery in the world (elevationly speaking) we drank out delicious barrel aged porters and cold crashed IPAs and reveled in the facts: great beer on the way to the mountains to camp with friends was an amazing start to the weekend.

Sufficiently watered, we headed to our camping destination, just passed clear creek reservoir. There were multiple dispersed sites and we found a large one that fit the bill: secluded, by a creek, view for days. Last summer, we headed up the same road to the Missouri Gulch trailhead that leads to Mr. Oxford & Mt. Belford. The camping scene was a bit different for that trip, my ACL being in tact, so we hiked in several miles to the camp site.

That evening, several friends joined us, and we sang, drank and cozied up be the fire. After the hustle bustle of city life, work life, daily life, the mountain escape is a much needed oasis.

 

This past Memorial Day Weekend 2017, we found ourselves planing another mountain getaway. The weather forecast for Denver looked bleak, so we postponed the BBQ we had planned & got out of dodge, heading to Salida, a mountain bike mountain town, full of heady people, great views of the Arkansas River, and great campsites.

Heading out on Friday afternoon, we found ourselves drawn to the mountains, going high up into the San Isabel National Forest to one of the most spectacular camping sites I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending time in. The views were spectacular and the dispersed camping was plenty. We pitched our tent, unfolded our car camping chairs and made a fire pit. Afterwards, we headed into town for some exploring, beer & grub. The town, situated on the Arkansas river, is full of boutique stores, cafes & restaurants with farm to table food & lots of bike friendly people!

We landed at Moonlight Pizza and brewpub, where the local beer flowed and veggie toppings were piled high. It hit the spot and we headed back up the gravel road to our campsite with full bellies and happy hearts. The sun was setting and the light was absolutely glorious.

Back at the campsite, we collected fallen sticks for the nights fire. It turned out to be a beautiful night, clear and exploding with stars. Around 9, we watched the embers burn out, climbed in our 2 person tent with an additional 2 fur babies, and snuggled into our sleeping bags.

It was a cold morning, so when Winnie woke me up, I resisted, wanting to stay in the snug cabin of the tent. But, alas I got up and started the morning ritual. Breakfast ended up being spectacular, an experiment with skillet cooked biscuits, peppers & onions, avocado & vegan cheese topping the mess. Holy cow it was delicious!

Post plant based breakfast feast, we took our babies for a walk around the campsite and surrounding area. The views were spectacular and I gave thanks to this beautiful place. After 3 1/2 years I’m still blown away by Colorados’ beauty.

Mike spent the day biking, while I read and soaked in the spectacular views. I drove the truck into town about an hour and a half after he left, met him down in the town of Salida for some refreshment and lunch at the Boathouse Cantina, a lovely restaurant Sitting on the bank of the Arkansas review. It was a perfect afternoon!

That evening a few more campers were around, but the views were definitely not compromised and the night was spectacular. A bit colder than Friday, our fire was the perfect end to a gorgeous day.

The next morning we woke after a cuddly night with the pups and made french press coffee.  There’s nothing quite like a cup of coffee, next to the love of your life, with views of the mountains.

With my bum leg (due to the ACL injury) I still wasn’t able to bike, so we decided to head into town for breakfast before Mike headed out on his mountain bike. We went to Amicas pizza & microbrewery where we had a delicious breakfast: avocado toast topped with arugula for me & a huge breakfast burrito. It was phenomenal.

Back to the campsite where Mike suited up for mountain biking and I packed up. The sun was absolutely glorious and I cranked the tunes while putting away our little tent. I soaked up one last view of the mountains and drove the truck down to meet Mike. I snatched him up, his bloody knee and all, and we headed to Soulcraft Brewing before hitting the road to home. It was a phenomenal ending to a glorious weekend.

Summer Time & this Salad’s Easy: Barley, Mint & Watermelon Salad

It’s officially summer here in Denver! That means lots of grilling, cold beer and outdoor fun (Mike and I went mountain biking at green mountain this past Saturday). It also means it’s too friggin hot to be cooped up too long cooking. Perfect time to get creative with your salads!

Summer Salads
Summer Salads

For the past two years, Mike and I have been on a pescatarian diet, consisting of about 80% plant-based diet, with occasional eggs, fish or cheese. It’s been awesome and definitely allows (if not forces you) to be creative….especially in the summer! Here’s a perfect summer salad for entertaining or just to have on a weeknight. Super easy, super delicious, super refreshing!

Veggie Goodness!
Veggie Goodness!

Barley, Mint & Watermelon Salad

1 cup of Barley (cook as directed – I love barley, so good & easy to cook! I use Bob’s Red Mill Barley)

pinch of salt

1/4 a watermelon, sliced into chunks

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 large fresh stalks of mint, stems discarded, chopped

Directions

Mix the cooked barley, salt and balsamic – refrigerate for 30 minutes

Add watermelon & mint in a bowl. Add to barley once chilled. Serve plain (vegan) or with crumbled feta.

Happy Summer

Enjoy!