If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you may have noticed that I have a certain fondness for the state of Colorado. Alright, I’ll admit it: I’M OBSESSED!
As you read this, I should be out hiking at Loveland Pass or riding bikes in Breckenridge (at least that was our plan for today!). One of the great things that I love most about traveling to Colorado with Greg is that we usually have no plan. We have an idea of a few places that we want to go, but just kind of see what we feel like doing each day. And for this type-A planner, that’s a good thing.
I wanted to take a few moments to share some photos from my past trips to Colorado and explain just why I love it so much. It’s funny, because my Aunt and Uncle moved to Colorado in the late 80s, but I never once had a desire to go visit them out there (not because of them- I love them! I just never really wanted to go to Colorado). It wasn’t until around 2005 when I started hiking with a co-worker and mentioned that I had family out there that I had any desire to go. Even then, I really didn’t care either way. And then I saw the movie Catch and Release, which was supposed to take place in Boulder. I don’t know why, but that made me really want to go (and work for Celestial Seasonings like Kevin Smith’s character).
When I met Greg in 2007, he told me that he wanted to ultimately live in Colorado one day. I told him that I had family out there, but wouldn’t want to live there because I’m not crazy about cold weather and snow. And then he explained to me that Colorado is not all about cold and snow. In fact, the weather in Denver is almost the same as it is here in Maryland- only they don’t have the insane humidity that we get in the summer! I also learned that Colorado has something like 300 days of sunshine a year!
Two years later, we finally took our first trip to Colorado. I watched Catch and Release the night before to get all geeked up (which has become a pre-Colorado tradition). We stayed with my Aunt and Uncle, who live right outside of Denver. I hadn’t really done much research, and Greg had really only been out to Colorado for skiing and snowboarding, so we asked my family for advice on where to go to hike. They have us some GREAT suggestions!
One thing I noticed right away in Colorado is that people just seemed… weird. And then I realized- they’re not weird- they’re happy! It’s WEIRD to be around people who are so happy and laid-back; you just don’t get that around DC. Even in Wal-mart (where we went to get a replacement camera for Greg that first day) people shopping were happy. It was odd- but extremely refreshing!
On our first full day, we headed out west to Loveland Pass. While we were driving along 70, I was just in awe (this was also the first time in my life that I had seen snow-capped mountains). I couldn’t even blink- I didn’t want to miss anything! And when we got to the parking lot for Loveland Pass, I was just at a loss for words. I’m pretty sure I cried- everything was so beautiful. We hiked up the hill (which is freakin’ STEEP) and took in the view…
And I found this awesome “rock bowl” to sit in. It’s right around 13,000 feet up there.
I was completely exhilarated by the time I reached the bottom!
After we hiked up Loveland Pass, we went to Breckenridge and enjoyed some beers at Breckenridge brewery and shopped around the town. I fell in love with this little shop called Magical Scraps, where I have since bought way too many things.
Over the next few days, we went to Boulder and stayed in an awesome B&B that was run by a Buddhist monk (and had the best tea in the world!) and hiked the Flat Irons.
We also hiking at Rocky Mountain National Park (near Estes Park).
And on our last day, we saw the Garden of the Gods, which was phenomenal!
When we left Colorado, we flew out to San Francisco for four more days and stayed with my cousin. We had a great time touring the city, drinking wine in Sonoma and hiking at Mt. Tam… but I just kept thinking about how amazing Colorado was- I couldn’t wait to go back.
We planned another week-long trip to Colorado the following June. It turned out that the Red Sox were playing the Rockies that June, so of course… we planned the trip around that. We went to the game on our first night there, but got in early enough to hike at Golden Gate Canyon.
And after that, we toured the Coors Brewery. Greg and I are both total beer snobs- but this tour was awesome! And at the end, you get to taste a lot of great beers (that are not just Coors Light)! I had no idea that Coors made Blue Moon before we went on the tour.
The next day, we went back to Loveland Pass.
I couldn’t wait to see that Rock Bowl again!
Driving out on 70, we saw Buffalo Bill’s grave, and a whole herd of bison (or are they buffalo…??)
We also went back to Boulder and hiked the Flat Irons
And another day, we hiked at El Dorado Canyon. I loved this hike!
On another day, we hiked partially up Long’s Peak…
We didn’t reach the summit though- you really have to plan ahead (and start early) for that hike. We’ll do it one day though! Where we did climb to on that hike had a pretty awesome view anyway.
Although each day of this trip was great, our last day in Colorado was the most memorable. We rented bikes in Breckenridge and were driven up to Vail Pass and dropped off. When you’re dropped off, you ride 25 miles to get back to Breckenridge.
We stopped off in Frisco, ate lunch and rented some kayaks. We stopped at a little island and Greg proposed (in this very spot!)
You can read more details about our engagement story here (which also includes a lot of the pictures and gushing about Colorado that I wrote about in this post).
So yeah… if I thought I loved Colorado before, I really loved it after that trip!
I couldn’t wait to get back out there again. Luckily, my cousin Seth (who lives in Denver) had also recently gotten engaged, and planned his wedding for the following June! What a great excuse for Greg and I to plan another trip!
So we were back again, for the third summer in a row, visiting some of our favorite places, like Loveland Pass:
There had been a lot of snow that winter, and a lot of the mountain was still covered!
On another day, we drove back out to Breck and Frisco. I asked some of the locals about hiking in Frisco, and one guy suggested going to Mount Royal. This hike was SO steep, and the view from the top was scary- I actually felt nervous looking over the edge!
I think I was holding on to Greg for dear life here.
We also went back to Golden Gate Canyon, and did two different trails.
There was only one day that we weren’t wearing hiking clothes (we had to get cleaned up for the wedding)!
The wedding was at a beautiful country club in Thornton. We danced all night, but kept the drinking to a minimum so that there would be no next-day hangover- we had trails to hike! The next morning, we woke up bright and early and headed to Red Rocks! We had heard about a trail there that was a pretty cool hike- but the first part was super steep. When we came back down to the bottom, we had to slide on our butts quite a bit so that wouldn’t fall. But it was worth it to get that view!
And of course, before we left, we had to spend a day in Boulder and go back to the Flat Irons!
We’ve established our own traditions in Colorado- things that we like to do each time we visit. I always want to go to Celestial Seasonings (we’ve done the tour twice- and you should do it too!) to load up on tea and skincare/beauty products (the gift shop is amazing). I love walking around the shopping areas of Breck, Frisco and Pearl Street in Boulder (and smiling at the hippie kids). We also go to Whole Foods every morning for breakfast before hiking- where I get toast with almond butter, banana and honey and Greg gets a breakfast burrito. We hit up a few breweries all over the place, and of course, go back to some of our favorite hikes. But with each trip, we definitely like to discover new places, hikes, foods and friends!
I can’t wait to add more photos to my collection from the trip I’m on right now!
If all the stars aligned, Greg and I would be living in Colorado by next week. But, there are just a few things like houses and jobs that are kind of standing in the way right now. I’m convinced that everything will work out and we’ll be back out there soon… for good. People have said to me “of course you like it – you’re on vacation!” True- but I’ve liked a lot of places that I’ve traveled to in my life, but have never wanted to move to any of them. Something about Colorado just feels like home. I feel like it’s where I’m meant to be- where I belong.
For now, I’ll just be thankful that I do get to travel out there each year (and twice this year- we’re going back for a week in July!) and cherish every single second that I’m staring out those mountains.
Is there a place that you’ve traveled that you would seriously considering moving to?