Friday, November 6, 2009

Denver Trip Report

NoVA Travelers spent the last weekend in August in the Colorado Rockies. We hopped on the plane to Denver Friday night and settled into the Curtis hotel in the heart of downtown to get a good night's rest before we embarked on two full days in the outdoors. This was the 5th upgrade in a row for me on the Delta flight, so in keeping with my gift policy to the group I gave it away to one of the members who sat in first class in my place while I sat back in coach.

 
 

Sat morning we stopped off at a well known cajun café (Lucile's - 275 S Logan St) in Denver for breakfast on our drive out to Red Rocks State Park. The food was good, and the homemade biscuits were massive (very tasty smothered in spiced country gravy).

 
 

Arriving at Red Rocks we found that it was a special event day- some sort of hippie fest basically. This meant that in between our scenic hikes we were treated to seeing a lot of stoned college students peeing in the brush. Just an additional entertainment factor for us I suppose.

 
 

Our first hike was the 4 mile Morrison Slide Trail and the scenery was beautiful. We kept a slow but steady pace, documenting the hike with pictures along the way. All pictures have been posted to the meetup event page at http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/photos/703291/ so make sure to check them out! They're also in my Denver Album on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/jenniparks), so you can see them there as well. There were several families on the trail as well as a few mountain bikers. Between the fresh air we were breathing in and the glorious landscape we were eye witnessing there was a total calm and peace about us.

 
 

A couple of hours later, having finished the trail, we sat down for a leisurely picnic lunch under one of the pavilions before a couple of us returned to the wilderness trails to hike the Trading post loop (a little over a mile and a half). This short hike proved quite interested because by now the music from the hippie festival (reggae festival? Whatever…) had begun and the acoustics of the landscape led to the amplification of the sound all around us as we approached the natural amphitheater.

 
 

We made it back into Denver in time to get cleaned up and prepped for dinner downtown. We dropped in on a recommended Italian eatery - Osteria Marco - and while the food was good we didn't appreciate being seated at the stool table right by the entrance. Quick trajectory to a sore back that was…

 
 

Post dinner we finished off the night with a visit to a dueling Piano Bar called SingSing. I'd always wanted to check out one of these places since I love cabaret and piano bars but mixed in with all of the classy tunes were a lot of off-the-cuff impromptu raunchy songs sung to bachelorette party attendees that seemed totally unnecessary (I feel like the old guy now yelling you kids get off my lawn!)Still, overall it was a good time.

 
 

Sunday morning we treated ourselves to an absolutely fantastic breakfast at Snooze in downtown Denver (2262 Larimar St, get there just after opening to avoid the rush). This place has roughly 20 different kinds of pancakes and other delicious treats. I ordered the breakfast burrito but enjoyed a sample of the Hawaiian pancakes with macadamia nuts and coconut that the server brought around for us to try.

 
 

After breakfast most of the group gathered to head for Mount Evens while a few decided to enjoy a low key day exploring downtown Denver. The drive to the base of Mount Evans is very scenic in and of itself, but once you enter the Mount Evans area and begin to climb it is really spectacular. The first stop was Echo Lake, and as you will see from the pics we've uploaded to the meetup page, it's just lovely. Past the lake we made our way to the summit, stopping several places along the way to hike and/or take pictures. When we began at the bottom it was roughly 65 degrees and at the summit hovering around 35. As we were snapping photos of the mountain sheep and goats it began to snow. Snowfall in August! Simply amazing.

 
 

It took us literally all morning and most of the afternoon to explore Mount Evans and we did not get back to downtown Denver until early evening. At that point we walked the downtown mall and a few members made plans to visit the US Mint the next morning before we would rendezvous for the return to the airport.

 
 

You can read all the members' comments on the trip here: http://www.meetup.com/NoVA-Travelers/calendar/9819937/ Based on the great time that was had by all on this trip, I've decided to launch a series of National Park trips and am committed to visiting at least one or two parks for hiking and sightseeing per year. For 2010 we have Mt Rainier in Washington on the calendar and Denali Natl Park in Alaska. If you enjoy the outdoors, I hope you will be able to join us for either or both of these upcoming trips.

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