Touristy Tuesday: Boulder, Colorado Edition (And a little LA adventures for good measure)

Finally – we had our long-awaited trip out to Colorado! I’m especially excited to write a recap of this last week for Touristy Tuesday because I got to spend it in the Boulder and Estes Park areas! Not only are those absolutely awesome cities, but that also means quality time with my family!

We made it to Boulder Sunday after quite the drive in from Salt Lake City. While we didn’t stop anywhere cool, like the Middle of Nowhere from last week, we did have a good time.

Abe and I played 20-questions (with no question limit – haha) but we played it with characters from the road. I write on this blog about all the new friends we’ve made, so you can tell that we have quite a few people who play with, but we also included literally every single person who has made an impression on us. Funny bartenders, quirky consumers – you name it, we made each other guess them! For TWO. HOURS. It was actually a great way to look back and reflect on all the cool people we’ve met on the road though!

 

Because we got into town so late I decided to stay in Boulder and leave the trip to Estes for the next day. So glad I did. Abe and I went to Pearl Street (it’s Boulder – of course!) and went to the Mountain Sun bar, which has live music every Sunday. It was packed! Not only was the music great, but the people were awesome too. Being Boulder, I knew the sundresses could probably stay packed, but even my jeans and tank top were dressier than most of the people in this place! Everyone was so laid back – such a nice break from California.

Naturally, Abe and I left with a cohort of new friends, including one guy who does market research for a Boulder company. Yep – that’s right – market research in Boulder. Basically my dream job! Of course I had to be best friends with this guy! When we swapped numbers at the end of the night I put him in my phone as “Future Co-CEO” so you know it’s going to be a promising friendship!

The next day, or rather 5 hours later, I got up and did a run, rounding out 50 miles for the week. Then after sweating out all the white wine from the night before, I hit the road and headed up to Estes Park to see my family!

My aunt and grandma both live in Estes and I was lucky enough to see them pretty recently when I came out for the Bolder Boulder in May. This trip though I took the company car and headed up the canyon where it fared quite well actually! When I got into Estes I took it right down Main Street to the arts and crafts fair that was going on downtown to meet my Aunt Karla. Talk about a warm welcome – the whole town was there to greet me!

My aunt, grandma, and I all headed to lunch at their favorite Estes establishment – the Mountain Home Cafe. If you ever find yourself in Estes make sure to check this place out – a really nice local family owns it and the food is great! The rest of the day we spent surprising various friends of theirs around town with the Wienermobile, which was a blast.

Of course one of the best parts of seeing family (besides of course seeing your awesome family) is the food! My aunt made all my favorites – granola and chips and salsa! (Not to be eaten together of course!) The next best thing – pets! My aunt got a little kitten in May and I got to see little Earnie again on this trip!

The rest of my time in Estes Park was low key and just hanging out – a much needed break! Before I left back to Boulder I had breakfast with my grandma (Mountain Home Cafe – I’m telling you, yumm!) and gave her a Facebooking 101 tutorial along with teaching a course on the Art of Copy and Paste.

Wednesday night I went out with the Future Co-CEO. I love seeing a town with the locals because they always know the best places to go! We went to this Pearl Street bar with Big Jenga. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like – Jenga with enormous blocks.

The best part of Big Jenga though is that each block has been graffitied on so when they fall and you’re picking them up it’s basically like that magnetic poetry on the fridge – they form a story… a very drunk, vulgar, and incoherent story, but a story none the less!

 

After Jenga we picked up some paddles and played some ping-pong, only to be challenged by another couple. The Future Co-CEO had casually mentioned having won two tournaments in his day, so there was no saying no when they challenged us. Now, you think your odds are pretty good at winning when one of the two players on a team has won a ping-pong championship right? Well the guy on our opposing team was on his college team! What are the chances??

As the night went on it turned out that the couple we had been playing against met through Mensa. Yes, that’s the genius society. When it came to playing Big Jenga with them they certainly had an unfair advantage – actually commenting on the different properties of each block choice. WAY. TOO. SERIOUS. Just kidding though because they were actually absolutely awesome and a ton of fun to hang out with!

I imagine this is how they play Jenga at home…!

Eventually we decided we should probably actually get to work, so the extra-curricular fun slowed down a bit. I did do some running while in Boulder though. It’s crazy – there are just so many bike paths! They’re all connected too, which actually overwhelmed me. I like to just get on a trail and zone out, the options made me have to think too much about my route.

Friday we headed to Colorado Springs for an event at the Fort Carson military base. I was super excited about this trip, having lived in Colorado Springs when I was younger! After work we went and scoped out my old stomping grounds. What a trip down memory lane.

The company car in front of my old apartment building back in Colorado Springs!

Of course the number one thing I had to show Abe was Garden of the Gods. It was just as spectacular as I remember. I can’t believe I used to walk there every morning with my mom – how lucky we were!

We made it back to Boulder after a long drive, but it was Friday night and there was no calling it an early night. It’s the SW team – choose your own adventure, but always choose an adventure!

Abe and I met up with Traci (akaTaligatin’ Traci) a former Hotdogger, and her boyfriend. We had a total blast barhopping on Pearl Street with them! There was some deal going on in Boulder where if you wore a mask bars would give you certain specials. While we didn’t participate, the number of costumes and masquerade masks made for great people watching.

At one bar we got to chatting with the guy who was responsible for $7 worth of the jukebox  music. That led to us sticking around to give him the thumbs up/down for each song! He had 6/7 thumbs up – not bad!

We ended the evening the way a Hotdogger reunion should end – with hot dogs from a hot dog stand! Somehow I was convinced into ordering an Elk Dog, which was SPICY!!! When in Rome though… I mean, how do you not go to Colorado and get Elk? Haha!

We took off from Colorado on Sunday, California bound! After spending a few weeks out of the Golden State it was a little weird to go back, but we did, with 16+ hours of driving ahead of us. Day one of driving was a blast. Of course, Abe got a chili dog on the way, what is now becoming a drive day tradition for him!

We also made a stop along the way at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Featured on a majority of the Utah state license plates, this was one National Park that I HAD to see!

It lived up to its license plate infamy and was absolutely stunning. We were able to drive through almost the entire park, which was breathtaking.

Not only was I able to cross one more National Park off my bucketlist, but I was also able to proudly get another stamp IN my National Park Passport. That’s right, not FOR it, but actually IN it! I’ve got about 6 little slips of stamped paper just waiting to be cut and pasted into my passport because I always forget it. This time I actually remembered! It’s pretty ridiculous how much joy this $11 book brings me!

After our scenic detour we headed to Richfield, Utah – almost the exact halfway point between Denver and LA. The next day we were hoping to make another detour to the Hoover Dam outside Vegas, but after 15 hours of driving we just weren’t up to it. We will have to revisit that when we actually come out to Vegas next month.

We probably didn’t need to rush into town though, because when we finally did make it to San Bernardino we didn’t exactly receive the warmest of welcomes. First, while entering LA, we were cut off by this madman driver who was driving dangerously aggressively. I was so concerned I actually called the cops and it was sweet victory when we saw him pulled over 10 minutes later! Making magic, saving lives! Our second welcome came when we were approaching our hotel and at the street corner there were three cop cars and a fire truck simultaneously arresting/bandaging this guy. Oh California, it’s so good to be back!

Despite the cornerside commotion, we were undeterred and eagerly checked into our hotel for the week – the Route 66 Wigwam Motel. We were supposed to be staying in TeePees for the week! What an iconic place – Americana at its finest – I mean, it was featured in cars!

The motel itself was very charming and peaceful. Each room was a separate Wigwam and they were adorable. The area surrounding the hotel was another story. It was the absolute ghetto! So scary that I didn’t even want to leave the Wigwam compound on my own.

We made it one night in the TeePees, but after that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to last six more days. A fun novelty, but the unsafe neighborhood and sketchy Wigwam bathrooms were enough for me. Luckily, I managed to get rate at a Hilton Garden Inn. Hello hotel points, fluffy towels, and continental breakfast!

We washed off the long double-day drive with a few beers and margaritas at a local dive. That was pretty much the highlight of the week.

San Bernardino proved to be one of the calmer places we’ve been. That was fine though because with 100+ degree weather and the great hotel, we were fine just relaxing by the pool! Although we didn’t go out too much, I did make some good progress on the latest book I’m reading “When Everything Changed” which chronicles the women’s movement from 1960 to the present. My grandma got it for me while in Estes and now I’m on this big women’s liberation kick, having also just ordered a few more books, including “The Feminine Mystique.”

Our week in San Bernardino was spent at the Route 66 Rendevouz, which was actually a pretty fun place to work. We met a TON of crazies (one guy said that downloading images online would lead to people not buying groceries) and the corn-on-the-cob guy hooked me up with free corn every day, so the Iowa girl in me loved it!

While we were leaving the festival we did have one other fun story, which was when a fireman stopped us at the gas station and had us come take a picture at the station. Normally we relish these opportunities because it means a free carwash for the company car, but because we were putting it up for storage we knew we wouldn’t be able to take advantage of it. Turned out to be worth it though – they gave us a great tour of their facility and let us explore the whole place! Our tour guide went to Nebraska, so, while I’m not a big fan of his school, he had that Midwestern charm and friendliness that I crave whenever we’re in California!

That’s about it for Boulder and San Bernardino! This last week we spent in Madison, WI for our Hotdogger Fall Staff Meeting and the 25th Class Reunion of Hotdoggers. Now THAT will be an exciting blog! As for now, we’re currently in sunny San Diego and as always, if you know anything to do, anyone to meet, or anywhere to go – make sure to let us know!

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Belated Touristy Tuesday: Return to SLC Edition

Touristy Tuesday is just a LITTLE late this week! Whoops – at least I got around to it eventually. This week we headed back to Salt Lake City, Utah to pick up where we left off two weeks earlier!

Our drive down from Boise was pretty uneventful, until we found ourselves in the Middle of Nowhere – literally.

The gas station owner definitely had a sense of humor at this place!

This place was part gas station, part “history” museum, and part petting zoo!

Just like the last time we pulled into Salt Lake City, we had a friend waiting for us. Matt, a character you might remember from Fresno, had flown out to meet up with us for a few days while he was on vacation.

Our first day off in Salt Lake City we checked something that off the Bucket List that we’ve been waiting to do for quite some time. Being in the Southwest, we often hear people say, “Ooh! The Wienerschnitzel car is here!” WRONG!! NO. NO. NO! And as much as we pridefully defend Oscar Mayer and the Wienermobile, a small part inside Abe and I has been secretly wanting to find out what these Wienerschnitzel wieners are all about! So with the Wienermobile off the hot dog highways for a bit, we walked on over to the nearby Wienershnitzel.

Stripped of all company apparel, we covertly ordered. Abe got the Junkyard Dog – complete with just about everything on the menu, which was delicious.

Yes – those are french fries loaded on top of an already loaded hot dog!

When I started Hotdogging and had to pick my nickname, I originally wanted to be Corndog Kelly – you know, because I like to ham it up! Legal turned me down though and so I was dubbed Cookout Kelly. On our undercover trip to Wienerschnitzel I figured why not be a real rebel, and ordered a corndog after my wishful namesake.

The friendly Wienerschnitzel employees had me try it with four different types of sauces too – ketchup, mustard, BBQ, and fry sauce. I can now report that if I’m going to eat a corndog, I’m going to dip it in BBQ! Fun fact though – most corndog enthusiasts actually choose mustard! (Who does that?!)

Once we had our fill of the competition, we braved SLC public transportation. Let me tell you, those Mormons may be classy, but public transportation is pretty scary no matter what city you’re in. The three girls surrounding us openly debated the benefits of “having a number” and going to prison over doing the time in a county jail.

We were dropped off downtown after our fun-filled bus trip and walked down to Temple Square. Finally!

We went into the visitor’s center, where we spoke to several missionaries, all women, That was pretty interesting.

We weren’t allowed in the temple since we didn’t have the necessary ‘Temple Recommend’

I really like Mormon’s – they’re so darn friendly and really not judgmental for being so zealous in their own religion. Plus, the first girl didn’t blush a bit when I asked about the special underwear! I did ask about their beliefs on homosexuality and another girl said that they are raised that it is corrupt outside influences that cause those feelings. She said SHE went through a stage when she was younger but her family and church helped her change. Then I abruptly, quite admittedly awkwardly and inexcusably forwardly, asked, “So are you attracted to men now?” Well, let’s just put it this way, she didn’t exactly say yes. So yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have asked such an overly personal question, but honestly I’m glad I did! haha!

While downtown we also walked around the City Center shopping area – where we stumbled upon a really neat, modern looking two story Harmond’s grocery store. Now one time Abe said to me, “Asking me to go grocery shopping with you is like asking me to go to hell.” If that doesn’t capture how much he hates grocery stores, I don’t know what does! But luckily it was 2-to-1 with Matt in the picture, and Matt and I went off to explore with shared enthusiasm.

It turns out that this grocery store actually has a cooking school on the second level and they had a class that very evening! I was THRILLED – what a fun thing to do! I really enjoy cooking but am not that great at it, plus the course was based on using herbs and spices – something I know nothing about.

Later that evening I returned and joined about 10 others for the class. it was really neat – there was a newlywed couple, a mother and daughter duo, an older married couple, and one other single girl. We spent the first half of the class learning about the differences between fresh and dried spices. Chef Adalberto was from Cuba and absolutely hilarious – he made the class that much more fun. “There’s a time and place for dried herbs,” he said, “the least amount of the time!”

After the group lesson we broke into smaller groups and each helped cook part of the menu for the evening. Fresh herb dressings to go on spring salads, smoke paprika chicken and garbanzo salad, and a marinated fruit salad with sorbet!

I even learned how to supreme and orange, which is like cutting it up grapefruit style – which I was terrible at!

The best part of the evening was eating, of course! Tyler was Chef Adalberto’s assistant and it was his last day because he was returning to school for vocal performance. He serenaded us over dessert with an opera song!

Talk about dinner and a show! They were both absolutely charming and I had a total blast on my single-gal night out!

Day two off in SLC we made the mistake of going to check out the Great Salt Lake AGAIN. You think we would have learned our lesson from our first visit, but nope! This time Abe, Matt and I ventured to Antelope Island, a state park that promised a great beach for lake swimming. When we arrived we were just thrillllled to hear from a family, “You’re in for one disgusting treat! There are a foot of flies out there!” Not deterred, we braved the sand barefoot. I’m not sure which was a worse choice, deciding to go out to the water in the first place or going out barefoot.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

We returned disgusted as promised, they were accurate with the foot of flies comment, and with sore feet. What a bust! On the plus side, I acquired one more stamp for the Park Passport. Naturally, I forgot it again and this one was on a post-it!

This is how we felt about the “Great” Salt Lake

That evening we continued to be tourists and went to the Tabernacle Choir Rehearsal at the Tabernacle in Temple Square. The organs and the choir were equally impressive!

Friday and Saturday were both busy work days for us, so we didn’t do too much adventuring after that, which was fine by me. I’ll be honest, Salt Lake has been fun to visit, but after two trips I’ve decided it’s not somewhere I’m dying to go back to – ESPECIALLY if you’re talking about the Great Salt Lake!

Sunday we took off to Boulder, Colorado, which I’ll blog about in the next Touristy Tuesday!

7 Days, 3 States and 50 MILES!!!

That’s right – GOAL. ACHIEVED! I finally had my first 50 mile week! Whoo!

The week started out in the great state of Idaho, where I did my 20 mile run before our drive that day. It was such a good run that I wanted to run my final mile sub 8:00. Didn’t quite make it, but I’ll take an 8:00 exact mile any day!

I did the 20 miles on the Greenbelt River Trail. I was only supposed to do 19 miles, but I just love that trail and was feeling good about it. Finished it off with a well-earned chocolate milk!

Work and Reward

That same day we drove into Salt Lake City, Utah –  we were back again for some absolutely stunning views!

Then, yesterday we rolled into Boulder, Colorado where I had the chance to finish out my miles for the week.

FIFTY FREAKING MILES!! Whoo!!

I celebrated with plenty of carbs throughout the week – both bread and beer! More on the rest of the adventures from the last seven days in tomorrow’s Touristy Tuesday post!

Touristy Tuesday: Salt Lake City, UT Edition

I already blogged about the most exciting part of my week in Salt Lake City – the Porter’s Half Marathon! Although that was certainly the highlight of the week, we still did some pretty fun things in the area. That being said, I’m grateful we’ll be back to Salt Lake because there are still lots of things on my bucket list for the area!

Our trip to Salt Lake City started off with a bang on that first day rafting and exploring! After that, we spent quite a bit of the week hanging out and just taking it easy. Recovering, if you will, from having so much fun the week before!

This week at work provided plenty of entertainment though. We were kept busy handing out whistles to the ample amounts of children present at all of our events – talk about some extensive families! (And I thought those families in the latino districts were big!)

Here’s what I can say about the people of Salt Lake City – they are unbelievably friendly and unbelievably blonde. I really just can’t get over how NICE everyone in this town is! And here I thought the Midwest was home to the most neighborly people.

It only took two days in town before I got my first Book of Mormon. The lady who gave it to me was a total sweetheart! She answered a lot of questions I had about Mormonism, some answers of which were quite shocking. For example, I asked if girls ever went on their own missions. She said they aren’t allowed to until they’re 21 and when I asked why she said they prefer the women to stay home and get married! Hey, at least she was honest. But that certainly explains why I kept seeing girls that looked my age stop by with 3 or more kids! I couldn’t get over how many children all these young couples have! There was definitely some culture shock there. What’s funny is that I grew up in a high school where all the teenage girls had kids, so this really shouldn’t seem that surprising. Just different contexts I suppose.

Thursday night we went out to dinner with Abe’s cousin, Rueben. He’s a professional soccer player. (Yeah, what?! No big deal!) He was in town with FC Dallas for their game against Real Salt Lake and we headed downtown to the new City Center shopping district for dinner. It seems like a pretty good shopping area, but I had already stocked up on all the sundresses I’d ever need in Fresno. It was pretty cool though to hear about Rueben’s life with soccer and traveling on the road.

Rueben also hooked Abe and I up with tickets to the game that weekend. It was my first MLS game, but really my first soccer game of any kind. Surprisingly, it was pretty fun – especially for not knowing any of the rules besides no hands! Haha!

The stadium definitely had a different feel to it than the football or baseball games I’ve been to. There was an entire drum section that kept the mood lively the entire game. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much without those beats! We were in the minority, cheering for FC Dallas, but it was pretty exciting because they won!

Choreographed halftime routine of hundreds of high school dance girls. It was pretty impressive actually!

Saturday morning was the big Porter’s Half Marathon, which was definitely the highlight of the week for me. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – I freaking love the running community. They are some of the coolest people you’ll meet! That’s why I love racing – it’s 100% concentrated with awesome people.

Sunday we just took it easy and packed up for the drive to Boise, which is where we are this week. I can already tell you this next week is going to be a good one! Look forward to some great running posts, a post about … CROSSFIT, and hopefully some fun touristy trips and nights out on the town. Rumor has it there is a club that has both a comedy show and dueling pianos afterward!

As always, any suggestions on where to go in Boise, what to eat, and who to meet up with while we’re in town?