Empower

Hiking in Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful, Colorado

Every summer, we take a family vacation. Well, we’re basically family after living on the same floor of a Loyola residence hall in 2014-2015. Garett, Marc, Kylie, and I have traveled to Las Vegas and Toronto, and this year we’re visiting Colorado!

Garett’s mom lives in Fort Collins, a suburb an hour north of Denver. We flew into Denver and took a bus to get to Fort Collins, which made for a very long day. We passed out.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Andrea’s house was gorgeous, custom built last year to be as environmentally friendly as possible. With straw bale insulation, no heating or air conditioning is necessary. We woke up to this beautiful view, too.

After breakfast, we went hiking at Arthur’s Rock, a famous trail in Fort Collins. It was a little under four miles, and as Garett so eloquently put it, “This is like a freaking Windows XP desktop wallpaper!”

After cleaning up, we headed to Social in Old Town for happy hour. This speakeasy-like restaurant was so cool. Since I was back on antibiotics, I was nervous about drinking. Even though my drink was dry, it was still delicious.

We walked around the downtown area that I would equate to Evanston, and we ate at the Kitchen, a local farm-to-table restaurant. I had the pasta bolognese.

We had ice cream at Walrus. I had cookie butter, and everyone else had cappuccino with cinnamon.

We were more than satisfied, and we took an Uber truck home. A Chevy Silverado Uber… there is a first time for everything.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

On Saturday, we were up early to drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. It was only about an hour away, but the views were incredible the entire time.

We made it up to the peak, and it was very difficult to breathe. It makes me so grateful I’m traveling now while I’m young. I’m in possibly the best shape of my life and it was still challenging!

After driving in the mountains, we had lunch at Jim & Bird. This adorable restaurant had some great local fare. I had a salmon BLT. Oh, and this was the view behind me.

Our hike of the day was Gem Lake at Estes Park. This was a lot different with the many rock formations, but the view at the top was ridiculous. Like, EW. How can nature be so stunning?

We got back to the house, still waking up from our post-hike naps, and Kevin had margaritas waiting for us. We drank so many (so much for those antibiotics), and we ate so many chips and guac, and Kevin grilled out, too. Our dinner was all from scratch — wild rice and bison patties, yelloweye rockfish and cod that he caught in Alaska, salad, and the rest of the wild rice that he farmed from Minnesota. It was so good. After dinner, we were up until 2am playing cards, eating chocolate and edibles, and eventually, we got Garett’s mom to swipe on Tinder for him. We laughed so hard had such a fun last night in Fort Collins.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

For our final morning in Fort Collins, we hiked Devil’s Backbone. The easiest hike of our trip was nice to relax and really soak in the views. It was hot, but without humidity, it felt sooo good.

Garett’s mom drove us to Denver for our last night in Colorado. We stayed in an Airbnb in the Highlands neighborhood. We walked around and explored, and we got dinner at a rooftop called Linger. We all got sliders, both meat and vegetarian, and soaked in the views.

We heard we had to get ice cream nearby at Little Man. There was a huge line around the corner, so obviously it would be worth the 30-minute wait. We’re already an indecisive bunch, and decision fatigue hit hard when we’re trying so many flavors. I ended up getting Space Junkie, which I expected to be like Blue Moon, but it was actually blackberry with marshmallow and brownie batter. Awesome.

We walked around some more before watching Netflix at the Airbnb. We watched To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and yes, I too want Peter Kavinsky. But damnit, he should’ve taken that scrunchie off her wrist!!

Monday, August 27, 2018

I woke up early to take a 5am class at ENRGi in Westminster. I’ve been at ENRGi for the last three years, and since they just opened their second location, I had to check it out! It’s seriously gorgeous. Very similar equipment to the playground that’s like my second home, but it’s all in one studio. I had a great class with Dawn, and we got to chat about fitness and life. I love how you can find community anywhere in the country!

Marc brought a random cat into our Airbnb. His name is Gonzo, and his tag had his Instagram handle. So, there’s that.

We packed up at our Airbnb, and we checked our bags with LUGDEN. For $10 a bag, we could check our big ass backpacks with a truck so we could explore freely for the day. Noice.

We ate brunch at Snooze, a western chain. I ate there in Phoenix and loved it, so I was happy to try again. We shared a pancake flight, and the sweet potato pancakes were definitely my favorite. My entree was a quinoa power bowl, and it felt great to get some real nutrients into my body.

We covered lots of ground throughout the day, and we planned a pit stop at Voodoo Doughnuts. I wish I could have tried one of all of these creative flavors, but I was happy with my “Maple Blazer Blunt” — no substances involved, just brown sugar, maple icing, and sprinkles. Garett’s “Dirty Bastard” was peanut butter Oreo overload, Kylie stuck with her favorite strawberry, and Marc got “Grape Ape” which was sugar overload and awesome. We ate them in a park and were happy campers admiring all of the dogs of Denver. Seriously, so many dogs!!!

Then we had an impromptu photoshoot with Kylie’s phone in portrait mode.

We explored the Denver Botanic Gardens, which I highly recommend. Everything was so beautiful!

All weekend, I was happy to have no service. Then when I got to Denver, I couldn’t resist checking email. Lots of scheduling conflicts arose in a short amount of time, and my anxiety couldn’t resist. Damnit. Sorry friends!

We took a Lyft to Larimer Square to explore more before getting our bags and taking the rail to the airport. We were sweaty, tired, and probably a little smelly. We were ready.

Denver and Colorado were amazing, and we had such a fun trip full of belly laughs as always. Beautiful by Bazzi was already one of my most played songs of 2018, and Garett sang it literally every five minutes, so that’s our theme song of the weekend.

I may or may not have had an existential crisis regarding living in Chicago. It’s not that I was like, “OMG I need to live in Denver!” It’s just after visiting Boston and Denver two weeks in a row, I know that I want to live in another city in the next five years. I know how quickly that’ll fly by, so I need to start seriously thinking about which city I’ll choose. For now, until I make that decision, I’ll keep visiting friends around the world and enjoy exploring.

Have you been to Colorado? What were your favorite places and things to do? Where should I explore next? 🙂

xoxo,

++ Mary K

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