In March we embarked on our first road trip together, making the 7.5hr drive all the way from Omaha to Denver. I really enjoy researching all of the cool things to do and eat when I go new places, so I am kind of a nerd, even with vacations 🙂 PC is a bit more go-with-the-flow so we get along well. By the time we got checked in to the hotel it was about 9PM but we were really hungry so we walked all the way over to the Capital Hill neighborhood where we got what PC said was “the best grilled cheese of his life” when we wandered into a completely random bar. After that we met a friend who is from the area at a Tiki bar called Adrift. We got some big fru-fru drinks – PC didn’t love it but it the drinks were fancy and tropical and they fully committed to the tropical theme.
We woke up fairly the next morning and drove about 40 minutes out to Garden of the Gods. We picked up some delicious pumpkin muffins to eat in the car on the way (I love muffins, they might be my favorite food!).
First we went to the visitor center and got instructions from a very cool old British man who works there.
Then we drove over to the park itself and wandered around the trails for an hour or two. It was fun to walk around and take in the giant rock formations that look like they are from another planet.
There are multiple different cool rock formations you should stop and see while you are in the park. This one with PC in front of it is called “Three Graces”
The sky was very blue so it made everything look extra beautiful. Here you can see us with Pike’s in the background, through a hole in a rock formation called “Key Hole Window”.
After the Garden of the Gods we drove 10 minutes to the town of Manitou Springs with the intention doing Manitou Incline, a 0.9 mile staircase going up the mountainside. My first impression of Manitou Springs is that it was a creepy little town that got left behind in time. That ended up pretty much being my overall impression… But the experience and the incline was worth it! Standing at the bottom of the incline was pretty intimidating but I said “Let’s make it to the top without stopping!”.
I had to eat my words. About half way up I struggling, my legs were burning and the worst part is when we reached what was I thought was the top, it was only about 60% of the way and it got even steeper! PC was a total champ and helped me finish it seven steps at a time (I have to do all exercises in multiples of seven). As we were reaching the top some snowflakes started to fall. MVP of the day was a woman who was carrying her child up the incline.
We had to take a brief nap after all of our activities and then we headed to The Great Divide Brewery where we enjoyed some beer samplers while playing rummy. PC and I are strong believers in the samplers/flights and order those whenever we go to a new place. The brewery was a bit tiny and crowded but the beer was good and I always enjoy kicking PC’s butt at rummy 😉 I don’t know why more people don’t play cards in bars. On the plus side I didn’t notice any people giving us weird looks. I’m always a fan of the dark beers, especially in the cold weather. After enjoying our beer we trekked across the river to go to Linger for dinner. Linger is a restaurant in an old mortuary that serves street food from all over the world. Linger is a pretty hot spot so it would be best to have a reservation. We got tacos, dumplings of some sort and ribs all of which was very tasty! We topped off the night with ice cream from Little Man Creamery, a local ice cream joint that is located in a giant milk tin just outside Linger. The ice cream was very good and they have very generous servings for cheep. Then we caught a Lyft back to the hotel and called it a night. We were super stuffed and it was the weirdest thing, both of our mouths turned into the Sahara desert and we could not drink enough water; I’m not sure what caused it but I suspect it was the ribs!
Saturday morning we woke up and went for a run on the Cherry Creek trail. We are fairly avid exercises. While we do enjoy being active I think it is also largely done to alleviate our guilt about eating so much food! After our run we went to pick up my cousins who go to school in Denver and we went to Biker Jim’s for lunch. Biker Jim’s is famous for making hot dogs out of weird meats such as rattlesnake. Unfortunately they were out of rattlesnake so we tried the reindeer and venison dogs (as I type this I’m starting to feel a little guilty about eating a reindeer…).
Anyhow, the hot dogs were pretty good but they didn’t measure up to Seattle dogs (all beef frank on a bun with grilled onions and cream cheese – the absolute best thing to eat after you’ve had a few drinks). I think the best part about Biker Jim’s is that afterwards you can tell your friends you’ve eaten something weird like a rattlesnake.
Next we all went to Union Station which is a pretty cool place, and as I was told by locals, it really does have a European feel. You can get a coffee or baked goods there and browse in several different shops. After walking around the station we had enough room for dessert so we went to D Bar where we order the cake and shake (it was a malt actually), which was decadent and delicious. It was a very cute little robbin’s-egg-blue-painted cafe that I would recommend and go back to since they had tons of other delicious looking things on the menu.
Feeling adventurous on a snowy Saturday we braved the elements and ventured out along the Cherry Creek Trail. We were vaguely familiar with the route cause we ran along it the opposite way the previous morning. Anyway, cause deep down she’s a photographer at heart, Bae stopped me and had me pose next to this sweet mural. Notice the bolo, never leave home without it (for the kids at home, hands in pockets is always a safe move when taking a photo, at Manitou Incline I failed to remember this and have the claw gripping my quad – not my best look).
If you’re even a little bit observant you’ll notice my wardrobe change. That would be because we made a pit stop in REI on our way to drinks. We popped in, Bae found this colorful jacket (she’s slowly pulling me away from all my black, grey, and dark blue clothes), and we both spotted this sweet button down (it was navy blue, I couldn’t stray too far) and it was a wrap (I wear both constantly). No brainer pickups.
Next stop – drinks and charcuterie (we are obsessed with charcuterie). We felt the need to check out Williams & Graham after all the detailed research we (Bae) did. It was basically like a top secret exclusive bar that was in a 1950’s atmosphere hidden behind a book shelf. Seriously, I highly recommend you attempt to get in. We were greeted by name (well, we told them our names and then we were constantly referred to by name thereafter) and served up a random tasty made up cocktail as soon as we saddled up at the bar. What followed was continued tasty cocktails and delicious charcuterie. Safe to say Williams and Graham lived up to the hype. Plus plus service and establishment.
On Sunday we woke up early and went for a run to meet friends for brunch at Snooze (@ Union Station). Sunday started out a bit rocky. First, we ran to the wrong Snooze. Next, I may or may not have had my love embarrassingly rejected in a large public forum (one lady and 3 dogs; side note – I respect that ratio). To top it off, our initial plan was to run, go back to the hotel, shower, and then meet up for brunch, but that didn’t happen – it was only fitting that in Denver we audible’d (s/o to Peyton) and decided to run straight to breakfast. Bae looked good, but I wasn’t looking my most photogenic at the moment. Once we got there though, all our troubles were behind us and we were just excited to eat. Snooze was at the top of the “must do” list entering the trip. As is our MO, I ordered savory and Bae order sweet and we divided and conquered our meal. We will easily be stopping in at least once when we make our triumphant return to Denver.
One quick semi-quick stop at Whole Foods to get snacks for the way home, and as quick as we arrived, we were on our way back home to Omaha. There was a little detour due to an accident so we drove through corn fields and made like George Jones and swerved through dirt roads to avoid the mess. Neither of us minded because we’re weird and enjoy long car rides together. Our final stop came at Walgreen’s where we picked up pasta and sauce to go home and make spaghetti for dinner. It was the perfect cap to our first road trip.
Overall Rating: PC: A-, Bae: A