One thing I love about Colorado is that if you head an hour in any direction you'll find yourself in a drastically different environment from where you started, both ecologically and culturally. On our early May travel to Denver, which I wrote about here, we couldn't resist taking day trips to two of our favorite and varied spots: Boulder and Summit County.
Boulder sits at the base of the Flatirons (above from Chautauqua) and is quite a lovely little place. We started our morning with a trip to the Boulder Farmers' Market, which was packed with organic produce, dairy, flowers, coffee and baked goods (naturally we made a beeline for the baked goods).
How I love some Colorado blue columbine.
Next we headed to Chautauqua for a short hike—the only type we can manage with the littles at this stage, since one of them is walking and gets easily distracted by things like streams and flowers. Chautauqua has a fascinating history (check out the website) and serves as a gateway to the Flatirons. As you begin your hike, you get an incredible view of the mountains. (Thanks to my sister, Mari, for taking the photo below of Nora and me on Nora's birthday hike.)
When you turn around, you're in for a nice surprise: the entire city of Boulder laid out before you.
After our hike, we headed to Mountain Sun for lunch, then wandered around the downtown Pearl Street Mall. By that point, it was time to eat again. So we wandered over to one of the most fabulous places in Colorado for some birthday high tea: The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. As usual, it was divine.
Really, the Dushanbe is a must when in Boulder. (Here's a detail of the ceiling.)
And with that, we were too stuffed full of pastries and unusual teas to do anything but pile into the car and head back to Denver to go to bed.
Another day, we headed west along I-70 about 90 minutes into the mountains to our old stomping ground of Summit County, home to five famous ski resorts. We've spent several seasons and many weekend trips there, but it was our first visit since the summer of 2011.
The approach is both stunning (below you see the Gore Range with Buffalo Mountain on the left and Red Peak on the right) and death defying (do you know what a runaway truck ramp is?).
On the drive, we set a personal best for animal sightings, including a flock of bighorn sheep (below), two herds of elk and the Denver buffalo herd.
First we stopped in Frisco at our favorite lunch spot, Butterhorn Bakery, then crossed the street to browse the cutest shop in the county, The Next Page Bookstore & Tea Bar. Both places are just down Main Street from the Summit Daily News, where I worked during the summer of 2008. (You can find a few of my favorite stories from that summer here.)
There was still a fair amount of snow in the mountains, which isn't unusual in early May at the valley's elevation of 9,200 feet. Hiking was out of the question and we weren't prepared to ski with the girls, so we made just one more stop before heading back to Denver: the Dillon Marina playground. Not a bad view for a playground. Just don't forget your sunscreen.
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I'm Julia Soplop, writer and photographer. I believe there is something profound in bearing witness to moments of joy and pain in others’ lives. My husband, three girls and I live outside of Chapel Hill, NC. You can read more about me here.
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