7. Back In My Happy Place…July/August

day 21…8.4
Moving on to Plan B….The skies were sooooo overcast & everything was wet.  If it wasn’t raining now, it would be soon.  We drove into town, bought coffee & three of the ‘special’ donuts from Third Bowl & spent a little time plugged in at Rumors Coffee House.  The forecast was for rain for the next few days….looks like we won’t be finding Virginia Basin anytime soon.  We decided to head back to camp, pack up all the wet gear (not a favorite thing to do) & leave.  My heart’s always heavy as I drive the rocky 7 mile dirt road back to “home"…camp…knowing I may not be here again until next year.  The inside of the 4Runner would be a messy mix of piled high wet stuff, unused firewood, etc. until we could dry out, spread out & re-organize (this makes me a little crazy as I’m an organized-fruitcake & hate having everything in shambles….but, that’s the way this soggy cookie-crumbles!)  I said good bye to my perfect but soaking wet, sunless campsite & we headed out.  

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I decided to take the long way over Kebler Pass—Danny hadn’t seen it yet this year—& then up to I-70 since we were headed north.  This was against the way Google had said to go, & in hindsight, it probably added about an hour to our drive, not to mention driving crazy, nutso, I-70…& most of the way in a downpour.  Danny had his head in his phone the whole time, trying to find a hotel for us stay at tonight…a rare occurrence for us.  Our motto…when it downpours & you can’t go hiking, find some good places to drink awesome beer…or something like that.  We made it to Boulder, without knowing where we were going to spend the night.  Danny would have happily forked over the $150 or more for a hotel, but not me.  Actually, it would be closer to $200 but most every place we called was full.  We decided to go ahead with the drinking plan for now & put off the lodging mess until later.  Danny had never been to the new Avery brewery before, so that’s where we were headed for the evening & dinner.  We love their big beers! 

We ate dinner & tried beer & took a self guided tour of the brewery.  What I didn’t do was take any photos!  So, you’ll just have to picture, 30 beers on tap & a happy Danny sitting across from me!  The other errand we did before calling it a night was to head to Hazels…a super cool liquor store in Boulder.  We’ve been here several times before & know they have a great selection of beer.  We friended a young girl…super knowledgeable about their beer & ended up being there about 45 minutes & leaving with lots & lots of good stuff (I got their last 6 pack of Cucumber Crush that was hiding in the back room!)  She’d been so helpful, I asked her if she knew of any dispersed camping (we weren’t going to set up the still-wet tent, just sleep in the car…kind of crazy considering it’s so filled to the brim).  She did!  I’ve tried to find some dirtbag camping before here in Boulder & taken some crazy back roads, but this was a new one.  It’s called Magnolia Drive…just off Boulder Canyon road.  It was super late by now…around 11 when we closed up the liquor store & drove out of town.  We found a pullout about 3+ miles straight UP the steep road & decided it would do.  We moved all the crap around in the dark & damp 4Runner, until we uncovered my bed…now stacked up high with all the sleeping mats & bags—super comfy!  I knew Danny would like it!  I slept in the front seat, sitting up all night…serves me right for being so stubborn about the hotel (I hate dragging stuff in & out of hotels & I can do a lot of traveling for one night in a hotel!).  

day 22…8.5
Happy Birthday to Danny!  He turns 45 todayor so we wish!  Wish today was a retirement birthday!  Wishes & dreamsIll never stop having them!

It rained all night & was a light mist by morning.  We drove back into Boulder, got coffee & took off towards Rocky Mountain National Park.  I still have a valid park pass from my spring trip & although we neither one of us thought we’d hike, we wanted to spend part of the day at least ‘seeing’ more nature.  We were leary  driving in…concerned about seeing the ‘mass of humanity’ also in the park on a Friday; maybe it was the rain, but we were pleasantly surprised of the absence of very many people!  We drove all around the park & did a couple of little walks.


We drove up & down all the little roads (most I’ve been on before….I’ve done a lot of hiking in this park!) but enjoyed our morning together. I wanted to have a special lunch for Danny’s birthday, & remembered a little Italian place in Estes we’d been to for an anniversary trip one time.  But when we got into Estes, we quickly discovered this was where all the people were….shopping, eating, licking ice cream cones, eating fudge….YIIKES!  Our quaint little Italian place had moved across the street into a huge place.  We parked & checked out their menu, but Danny was feeling the hoards around him, & decided moving on was a better choice.  We drove up Thompson Canyon…spotting a few more elk along the way & into Ft. Collins & headed straight to New Belgium Brewery.  

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They’ve made a ton of changes since the first time we were here…& they didn’t seem to have quite as many unique beers on tap as before.  We knew they didn’t serve food, but had a food truck available & welcomed patrons to bring the food inside (which was a good thing since it was sprinkling on & off).  The food was YUMMY!!!  Danny’s shrimp & sausage Po’Boy was super good!

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Our next stop was Ft. Collins brewery & Danny was looking for a Wheat Wine we’d bought here several years ago.  They don’t make it anymore, but he bought a few bottles of good stuff to go, we tried a couple of samples (I wasn’t crazy about any of them) & the bartender treated Danny to a free pint.  Happy Birthday!

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Conveniently, next door is O’dells brewery.  The one thing I remember about being here a few years ago, is the flights are pre-picked.  You have three choices, but not total free-choice (the way I like my life!)  So, we each bought a full glass (they also don’t offer samples to buy like MOST breweries…grrrr!!!)  We sat outside, until the rain started again..(Danny was trying to FaceTime Claire, but they were busy….sad face for us).

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I was trying to find a hotel for us for the night, somewhere between here & Denver while he was doing most of the drinking.  I didn’t mind one night in a hotel, & after all it was his birthday & WE BOTH NEEDED A SHOWER (yes…I was deducting the price of showers, campground fees, etc in my cheap little head).  I found one in Westminster that would dojust in a regular suburb of Denver.boy, I am NOT READY TO HEAD BACK TO THE REAL WORLD (chain restaurants, big box stores, stuff stuff & more stuff & not so awesome scenic outdoor life).  Not too far down the road would be our last & 4th brew stop of the day.Funkwerks.  The beer was pretty good & I love all the pairings they suggest on their bottles & menu…pretty funny (you’ll just have to drink some & read the labels!)

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We found our way to the Doubletree before dark & checked in…both taking minimal stuff with us (I LOVE TO SEE HOW LITTLE I CAN ACTUALLY TAKE INTO A HOTEL ROOM).  We both showered & fell into bed…OK…it was nice to be super sweet smelling clean & in a bed with sheets & fluffy pillows…my first in three weeks…but I will probably always resist this way of lodging.

day 23…8.6
Our last day in my lovely, beautiful, wonderful Colorado for the summer (super, super sad face, although it was more sad to leave CBjust in case you had ANY doubt.)  We still had a couple of ideas to conclude our trip & to continue celebrating Dannys birthday (because why not?)

But our first order of business, that we both agreed on, was to clean out the 4Runner.  We moved it to a secluded part of the lot, with a big sunny grassy space (hopefully its not where everyone takes their dogs to pee & poop) & unloaded EVERYTHING.  Were both pretty good about maximizing space & organizing.so, for about 45 minutes thats what we did.  Sleeping bags & tent in stuff sacks, both back seats up so Danny could lay his seat back on the drive home, all trash thrown out.just my perfect little 4Runner back without the chaos.

I wanted to take him to a little brewery Id discovered last year in the small town of Louisville, just short drive north of where we were.  They make all Belgian Ales…sooooo freakin’ good!  It’s called 12 degree Brewing. We needed coffee first!  The brewery wasn’t opening for another two hours when we got to Louisville, but we found a cute little bakery called Moxie & had some good coffee & super fantastic yummy croissant filled with egg, spinach & chiles…so good!  We then killed some time at the Farmers Market, & a little artists gallery.  That turned out to be a real hoot!  First the artist working the place told us all about his computer aided artvery interestingalthough I think we disagreed on one point.  He seemed to think since heformally trained that that makes his art better (a lot of artists & buyers feel this way) even though I’m sure “formally trained’ artists that still create their art to look like the Old Masters art, think his computer aided art is not Fine Art….see how this argument goes round & round?  I think art & music & writing & all those wonderfully creative sparkly magical things in our world shouldn’t be labeled ‘fine art’ or ‘good art’ or whatever…it’s what YOU like…it’s what the ARTIST wants to create…stop labeling it like one is ‘right’ & another way is ‘wrong’….it’s art!  There.  I’m done.  Anyway…his art was cool.  

But just as we were leaving & getting on the sidewalk, Danny strolled over to check out a classic car (I don’t remember what it was …he said it was a working man’s car……not a uber expensive showy sports car) & was taking a great interest in it.  Little did we know the owner was standing right there & thrilled that Danny was interested in his car & MAINLY because Danny was totally ignoring the car parked right behind it…a Maserati (which since I don’t know squat about anything not 4Runner, I’m guessing it IS an uber expensive showy rich-man’s car).  Well, this interaction launched us into the next 40 minutes of visiting with the owner, an artist from New Mexico.  He had us come back into the gallery to show us all of his stuff & tell us in detail about his trip to Italy where he painted some of the artwork we were looking at.  It was a really interesting & funny way start to the day!  By the time we pulled ourselves back out of the gallery, the brewery was open.

We split a flight (this was going to be a super long day) & enjoyed the quietness of the place.

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Our next stop would take us into Denver, but a part of town I really like & cant wait to explore more of it when I have time.  Its called Tennyson street & I wanted to take Danny to Hops & Piea place Idiscovered last year.  I was here last week & had the BEST CUBAN SANDWICH of my life…plus they have an amazing selection of beer! (I somehow didn’t get a pic of the place.)  We sat at the bar & Danny had the special of the day….3 pints & two slices of pizza.  I had the Cuban (again…it was so delicious!) & a couple of small pours.  The staff was super friendly & the same two were working the bar last week….and then we met the Russian guy…Konstantine.  Wow…did that whole conversation get interesting.  He was 34…from Russia to living 10 years in South Beach as a bartender (yes…the top few buttons of his shirt were undone) then transplanted himself to Colorado for the past  year & a half & still isn’t sure what’s hit him!  A totally different lifestyle from South Beach.  But he was pretty funny, very chatty & super nice. Danny really enjoyed his 3 beers, but both the staff & Konstantine suggested to we add one more brewery on our list before calling it a done trip.

Little Machine was a tiny little brewery only about 10 minutes from Hops & Pie.  I had AN AMAZING BARREL AGED WHEAT WINE & seriously thought about buying a screamer to bring some home (crazy expensive & we dont need anymore growlersno matter what size.  Danny has a really cool stainless steel growler that Sara bought himbut he didnt bring it with him.  New Rulealways pack the growler!!!)

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After our fun new little find of Little Machine, we topped off the tank & made our last stop for the trip…a giant liquor store called Argonauts.  This is our traditional ‘last stop; whenever we leave Denver.  Last year, my ‘last stop’ was at the same moment as the Great American Beer Festival…& the beer aisles were practically empty!  But, not so today!

We always ask if they have Dogfish Head & Russian River beers…this usually leads someone to the ‘back room’, but today they told us they’d just run out a couple hours ago of Pliney that was delivered yesterday.  We both kept strolling around, looking at all the various kinds of beer, I was checking my list I’d had going for a couple of months & THEN WE MADE A NEW FRIEND.  An employee named Shannon, took an interest in us after we’d asked for about 4 different kinds of beer.  He could tell we were true beer geeks…& his trips to the back room began!  He was great!  He ‘found’ two bottles of Pliney the Elder along with several more bottles of new things for us to try.  After about 45 minutes, our cart was FULL.  This was going to be an expensive friendship!  

We loaded up the car & headed east.  Danny snoozing in the passenger seat & me blaring my music for long, boring, rainy, dreaded trip back to Kansas.  I’m always a snot when it comes to driving back…it’s just better when Danny sleeps & fill my brain with music…it’s my source of peace & calm when I can’t be somewhere beautiful!

We made it home around 3am & both headed to bed….but I couldn’t sleep.  (More on that story in the rAnDoM! section.)

My one week vacation with Danny was almost over.  I’d be spending tomorrow unpacking, cleaning all the gear, giving the 4Runner a super good cleaning & getting everything back in it’s ‘storage’ place…(sad face…gear likes being ‘used’…not ‘stored’).

rAnDoM tHoUgHtS….

Once again, I am so grateful for this trip, for all my travels this year, & spending this precious time with Danny…we don’t get much time traveling together, just the two of us.  Also, for all my old friends I got to hang with in CB & for the new friends I’ve met while on this trip…so, very very grateful!

Danny’s talked me into to just ‘looking’ at a Toyota truck…the 1st generation of Tundra’s.  I’ve been on a search for a twin of my 4Runner for the past few months & I’m not convinced I want the truck, but will to keep my options open.  So, I’m headed off to drive one on Tuesday…verdict is still out.

I’m obsessed with truck campers!  The study begins…..

It was a hoot hiking with Jill’s brother in laws!  They are funny guys & I realize I’d make a good hiking guide in Crested Butte…until you want to discuss anything OTHER than CB.  I don’t talk politics, guns, religion or TV…but I can tell you so much about this fantastic area!  So, while not well rounded in current topics (I don’t care to be), I can take you to some awesome places!

Flies…miserable little biting creatures…I never get used to them…still have bite marks…grrr.

As usual when I come home, I’m sunburned, chapped lipped, bitten, have a giant scabbed wound on my leg, I haven’t worn make up since April & my hair is an unruly UNCOLORED mess…& I’m so very, very happy that way! Poor Danny…but he seems to keep on loving me anyway!

When we got home & tucked into bed on Sunday at about 4am, I couldn’t go to sleep.  I started Googling “off road truck campers’.  I found a site that talks about a certain RV show just for those types of campers, which led me a couple of blogs. I scanned over the first one then onto the second one (I wasn’t giving sleep a chance!)  As I was reading, the blog was about a guy named Tom & written by his wife an ER nurse…Holy Cow…I was reading about the couple I’d camped with & been soooooo very impressed with!  Tom had emailed me they had a blog, but never gave me the name of it.  I scrolled down to find a picture & there was Tom.  I FORCED myself to stop reading, turn off my phone, & try to stop my mind for a few hours.  I always unpack, clean, put everything away the day I get home, so I FORCED myself to NOT read it on Sunday. I waited until Monday morning….Danny was gone to work & I had a hot cup of coffee in hand, my reading glasses on & the computer in front of me.  I was in HEAVEN reading from their first post to their last! (This is a two year habit now…last year I came home & found Talie’s blog & spent my WHOLE first day home reading & loving her adventures!) Wow…what a cool & evolving life story they have & they are still creating it everyday!  Tom & Kelly have been in touch by email a couple of times since they left Crested Butte…I can’t wait to follow their adventures & certainly hope we cross paths again.

I’ve become an expert at making s’mores….wonder if that would be a good addition to my resume? (what resume? you say)

Have I mentioned that everytime I’m in Crested Butte, walking down the street & hear someone yell my name, wave or stop to visit, my little old heart just leaps for joy?  (I’ve mentioned this to Danny a whole bunch & he’s witnessed it too…such a Happy CB-wanna-be!)

I was careful as we packed up camp to scour, once again, the ground for my necklace.  I was just as careful as we cleaned out the car in the parking lot to look for it secretly hiding in a random sleeping bag or something.  I was super diligent while cleaning out the car…my last chance to find my necklace.  No go.  It was nowhere to be found…I’d kept my hopes up.  However, right before we drove away from Crested Butte on Thursday, Danny took my hand & said he had one last errand to run.  He took me to Zachariah Zypps…the place they make the lapis mountain pendants.  I was overwhelmed that he’d buy me a second one…I was so thankful, touched & excited for the first one, but felt so bad it had fallen off.  I wasn’t sure at first…it just felt wasteful to me to spend so much on another pendant, & I’d had hopes it would show up when I unpacked at home.  But then the jeweler told me he had the place & all it’s contents up for sale.  Unsure if they would still be available next year, I carefully chose another pendant….so grateful to Danny for his sweet & loving generosity.  So, I can’t wait to put it on…I just haven’t decided what kind of cord I want.  I definitely don’t want to lose this second one…but I’m thrilled to have one to wear!!! 

We are ready for the end of summer, fall & a long winter of tasting good beer.  We came back with more beer than ever!

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That’s all for now.  No upcoming definite travel plans…but I have some very un-definite ones racing through my head!

And last but not least…SiLLy SeLfiEs

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