Hiking and Camping in the National Grasslands

Pawnee Buttes – i found a page about this place in a book about best places to camp in Colorado. It was east, we never go east to camp, so figured why not try this place out.

I had originally gotten a campground reserved here 3 years ago in june. As we all know the hubby doesn’t like to potty anywhere but in a structure. Said structure can be over a hole in the ground, but it provides privacy. So i book most of our campsites between december and february for the summer. Unfortunately when things come up closer to… well, we’ll be camping..

That year hubby found out the WWDC ended the friday that we would have left to go camping. Since he puts on a separate conference in the same location, i figured he’d be tired. So i haraged a girlfriend to come with and we could do nature, no problem.

As time approached i received info from the camp host that the nearby reservoir had been too full so they released some water that flooded the campground, but they hoped it would dry up… hmmm…. The week prior we got another call that the water was somewhat receding but alas the standing water and drawn the mosquitos and that if we wished to cancel, we could do so with no reprise..  we did so!

Finally this was the year to try this place out! As the same girl friend and i were deciding on when we could camp (letting the hubby join in) we thought of this place! You can start camping in April cause it is towards Kansas and gets super hot faster than other locations.

Turns out it is only 1.5 hours from home to the campsite which is not actually in the grasslands but “close” (Crow Valley camp ground – on the left by briggsdale, buttes are in the middle)

As the years pass, we keep going bigger for camping! We upgraded to the family sleeping bag at christmas (thanks mom)! Queen sleeping bag on queen air mattress.

We als got a tent for the boys for christmas (thanks melissa), someplace they could go when the sun was out or they wanted a rest from the dirt. Paco immediately took to it after we set it up, in the house and was always in there, till we had to put it away, but winston wasn’t so sure. He’s not really a dirt kinda dog. But he did end up enjoying it while we spent the weekend camping!

 

Saturday was our day to hike the buttes! I was kind of excited, first hike of the season with an elevation gain of a mere 300 feet or so! Win!

It took 45 minutes on mostly terrible roads to get there,but we did it! Then it was off the explore nature

The trail is flat and pretty straight forward, there is a surprising bit of down to get into some of the valleys between, but not too terrible!

Suman took the lead with paco! He was raring to go! I was a bit concerned when i was chatting with the ranger and asking if there was anything particular i should look for and she said – “Watch out for snakes”. Oy. Thanks for that. We didn’t see any snakes – thank goodness, but i also kept the boys close!

We got out to almost the farthest butte when the boys decided the lack of shade and the nearly 3 miles one way was too much for their little selves! I knew we were probably getting into a pickles as they actually sat and asked for water along the way (winston generally refuses water – i provide them water by squeezing my camelback bite valve and they get a spray of water to partake)

We took it easy coming back, enjoyed the backside of the buttes and then took a break under a tree for a snack and some relaxing!

It’s a crazy landscape and such a weird thing to be out in the flat lands and then have pieces of land just jutt up and be there!

We almost made it back to the trail head before both boys completely boycotted and had to be carried back to the car! Of all the weekends to forget my baby bjorn… Turns out Winston had a cut in the middle of his paw, but i think paco being shorter was just tuckered out!

They and we relaxed the rest of the day, reading and enjoying the great campsite! Sunday was packed up, that was definitely a treat to try and figure out how to get the sleeping bag back into the sack… it took 2 of us! (Later at home, after letting it air out, i figure out the best way to stuff it in the sack was to unzip it all and stuff in in like a regular sleeping bag! Great way to start the camping season off!

Day trip to Fort Collins

For a while the hubby and I have been talking about a day trip up to Fort Collins, see some sights, drinks some beer, and relax in a different part of the state.

Ok, so it’s only an hour away, but it’s just far enough…

As we all know, road side america is a big thing for me, and I love seeing fun and stupid and weird thing all around!

To start our adventure, it was the Swetsville Zoo – i mean, seriously, a zoo of all metal animals, how could we not!

Bonus – it’s right off the highway and outside of town, so you can stop on the way in or the way out of town!

Next stop was one of the Mini Statue Of Liberties! We found these ladies on a previous trip east for christmas. I love these little ladies and it’s now a “thing” for me to see as many as i can in different locations!

This was a park in the middle of fort collins! There some other interesting things to see – like concrete frogs and plastic dinosaurs, we had a nice walk around the lake and enjoyed some fresh air!

We also meandered the city for other random sites! Good thing john is a good sport!

And then finally it was time for beer!

We stopped at a couple breweries downtown between the raindrops and then ended up at Coppersmith! We had been here ages ago and decided to see what we remembered! The food was good, the staff was good, and we also ended our stay with a Rootbeer and Cream Soda Float! Delicious and highly recommended.

The final stop and whole reason for coming up to Fort Collins was a Yelp event at New Belgium

We got a special tour, and then a special couple hours of free beer just for us – hello – i did indeed feel special! My favorite was the beer-rita – who knew it could be so good!

The tour itself was amazing, seeing all the vats and how it all works – and of course the slide at the end

All in all it was fabulous day and so glad we got to spend the day in a place we have been trying to enjoy for a bit!

 

Fun with Kim

When hubby travels for work, Kim comes to play!

Kim and i were trying to find a weekend to get together, and I saw on the calendar that Hubby was out of town for a conference, so I decided to have kim come play for the weekend. Not that she doesn’t like the hubby, but i don’t like to share, so i get more time with her, just for me! And we get to do stupid things we like that doesn’t include boys! Squee!

The day started with a thunderstorm, sigh. I was very hopeful her flight would not be diverted and it wasn’t, whew!

I were both starving so i brought her to My Brother’s Bar for some historic and delicious burgers! SLurp! We had the “new owner” as our waitress – Paula! We have known her son forever and it was a treat to meet her and to know that the restaurant was staying as a local owned establishment and that things would remain the same!

After we stuffed ourselves, we headed up the road for some some spice shopping – oh how i love Savory Spice Shop! I always get my spices there now, and they are super friendly, offer up suggestions and help me find exactly what i  need. Kim had fun and got to tickle her cooking fancy! Next up the street was Denver Beer Co – not my favorite, but she’s into beyond hoppy beers, so it was a treat for her! We chatted, stayed out of the rain and eased into our fun weekend!

Next up was home, seeing the boys, and relaxing! Eventually we were feeling a little hungry so we popped over to 10 Barrel to have the Pimento Cheese and Bacon Jam dip (because, why not, and it’s amazing – if you go, just start with an extra set of crisps). 10 Barrel used to be my favorite brewery, we would always hit them up when i was in Boise for business. Alas they have succumbed to the we are in colorado so we must only make hoppy beer and have discontinued my most favorite brew – Swill – a light, wheaty radler…  There is a sour – Cucumber sour that is light and drinkable, but if i go to a brewery, i don’t want there to be only 1 thing i like and they pour it from a can…  sigh. I digress, Kim has a number of options and we pleased with their hoppiness!

Saturday the weather was still not cooperating, so we decided to head up north to my favorite Thrift Boutique – Queen Esters (all profits go to providing water wells in 3rd world countries).

After that we had a lunch of cheese, dips and some meet from my “meat box” from the Carnivore Club – it is so much fun to get a box of meat in the mail… just saying.

The weather broke, so we decided to pop over to the botanical gardens for a walk and more chatting! It’s now a standing joke that Kim has yet to see the gardens in bloom…  Every time she visits and we take her, they are mostly dead. This time there was a bit more and we popped into the Rain Forest (saw a blue poisonous tree frog – he so didn’t look real, but then he moved) and Orchid area to see some of those things as well!

 

Next up was more relaxing on the couch, and then off to one of my favorite places to eat – Cho 77, and then down the street to Adrift Tiki Bar for mai thai’s – cause why not on a cold rainy saturday! We got Suman to come along for the evening fun too!

Cho 77 – how we found this place is a funny story – hubby and i were in the area a couple years ago for a music festival that lasts 4 days. We were looking for a bite and this place seemed interesting. We nearly died when we tasted the Pork Belly, Bok Choy Noodle dish. First time, we shared it – i ate the bok choy, he the noodles and we shared the pork belly. Since then, we have not branched out! He orders his with no bok choy, i order my with no noodles and extra bok choy and we slurp this dish up like nobodies business! That weekend we ate every dinner at this place and were beyond happy! It was a treat to share it with Kim and Suman.

As for Adrift Tiki BAr – it’s been on my list to try – we won a Drink Passport one year and this place was to be the end location, but work or something got in the way and the passport expired and I never got here. But it;s been in my head forever and when we were going to be down there, i decided it was an excellent gal’s place! And it was!

We stayed out pretty late for me, but still early enough for it not to be too crazy of a night!

Next up was our final day together – boo…

Sunday it was finally sunny and a nice temperature! Our day started with Rosenbergs for lox and bagel sandwich! Delish!

Next up was some random sight seeing!

First up – Mother Cabrini Shrine! I have seen the sign for this place for all the years we have driven to and from the mountains and always thought it might be interesting to stop. And Then i found out there were stairs to climb! Squee!

Kim being the good sport came along. There is a cute museum about the life of this nun, a place to get holy water from a spring she “found under a rock”, and then of course the 360 stairs to see the statue. What was funny, was i thought the statue would be of mother cabrini… nope, it’s a giant jesus… Well there you go, now i know what i’m looking at from the I-70!

Our next stop was the “buffalo” that live along the  I-70 in a preserve, but they were hiding… so it was a very quick drive by. We had a still a couple hours to spend before i had to return Kim to the airport, so i offered up a “chuck wagon” option for lunch. She was totally in! It was another – on my list to try eventually, so i was happy to get there! Definitely hearty portions, quick delivery, pretty sure most of the staff has been there forever, and know their craft! Definitely will be hitting this place up after hiking this summer!

Final stop was a little downtown that is just too far from downtown to get to very often. My main plan was to hit up The Chocolate Therapist – a shop i had found as a chocolate festival! I stocked up and then we returned to the house to relax on the deck chairs before the final trip to the airport.

All in all a fabulous weekend with kim and i’m so glad she could come out to play!

Morro Bay Adventure

Man have i been remiss on my blog here!

I started a new adventure – LazyBearFoods.com – a place where i am trying to help those that kind of like to cook be able to make healthy meals during the week with a couple hours of prep on the weekend. (And of course i throw in some DIY recipes for cleaning and some dog treats!)

But i digress…  This post is about where i spent my weekend!

My client is currently in San Luis Obispo, so i decided to extend my stay through the weekend and have the hubby fly out for a fun weekend!

I was able to skip out “early” on friday when most of the rest of the team flew home.

Hubby and I enjoyed some local brew at a speakeasy – they store their beer behind a cool bookcase/door! And it’s down stairs, as in underground. No sun, no windows, but still cute and fun!

Next up head out to Morro Bay… to our first ever Air B-n-B. I’ve been having trouble trying to reserve one in Germany for our next “big” trip so figured some history might help. Of course by the time we booked this one, i gave up on them completely and decided to just go with a hotel!

As far as how i like Air B-n-B… meh. It’s stressful. So many people “sneak” having one, so we felt like a criminal the whole time. The gps map didn’t work, so we had to follow the specific instructions that were bag on the listing… ugh. Then we weren’t allowed to use the front door since the key only worked on the back… Yikes. Besides all that, the carpet was phenomenal on my toesies and the bed was super comfortable. But no tp… hmmmm…  And no points… All in all, i think this mode of booking a room might just not be for me/us

Our first night – we started downtown Morro Bay at Libertine Brewery – perfect for me – tons of sours. But also some other good taking brews! And fried food. Mmm!

Saturday morning started with Road Side America for our route…

First – The Elfin Forest

Definitely in the better than advertised category! I mean the description was a – we have to stop – type of thing, but then meandering the wooden boardwalk and feeling contained in all the trees, it was a hoot. Sights were great and scenery wonderful!

Second – Dinosaur Caves

This just had such a great tag line – “Defunct tourist attraction site is public park with a playground. Kayaks visit the sea caves below.”

Sadly none of the cool stuff – like the hole that people accidentally fell in  – is gone. But there are dino eggs and one of the random painted cows and beautiful views. So it was a nice stop!

Next quick stop was the stairway to nowhere, but it has sadly been dismantles and now is jus a lonely pole…

And the clamshell animals. They were decorated for the Monarch Butterflies, and i didn’t snag any photos…

Final stop before lunch – Monarch Butterfly at Pismo Start Park! Squee! So cool!

Basically where the butterflies winter, so amazing to see so many just floating around ot gathering in clumps! Official website and info here.  In the middle photo all those little specs of orange and gray are butterflies! Amazing! (It’s really only a 20 min stop max, so don’t go out of your way to go here…)

After that we returned to Morro Bay for some lunch, some Jerky, and a walk out and about at the rock!

Time for a nap, some amazing thai food and some chilaxin with CNN “The 80’s”

Sunday we got up a little later, cruise Cayucos (pretty quick trip) – but the pier was fun to walk down, the surfers were fun to watch get smooshed by the waves and then cheer when they road one! And we stopped at the Brown Butter Cookie Company. OMG – the espresso ones…  i almost ate the whole bag of those we brought home!

We cruised SLO the rest of the day for some beer at Central Coast Brewing – hello chai ale and coconut schwartz, and the Fromage store – best snack on the plane!

Fabulous little adventure weekend with the hubby!

Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spent a wonderful weekend with the hubby at Rocky Mountain National Park!

Us at the campsite

I traded a work trip on sunday for more of friday to play! We were able to hit the road by 10, 10:30 am! We arrived in Estes in time for lunch! Enjoy a great meal, a great temp, and a great view! Right on the river!

Great camp site

We headed into the park in time to check in and set up our tent! I had plans that we would pop over the Bear Lake area and get in a hike. Alas the crazy thunderstorms prevented that – so relaxing and beer at the campsite it was!

Beers at the site

We enjoyed the quiet and views, until….  Apparently national parks are now where large groups and families that cannot control themselves, their children or their talking volumes go…

We had a pretty great dinner – i recently discovered tater tots in foil on the fire! A-Mazing!

The next morning we headed for our hike – i had one in mind, but the ranger and the super crowded buses made me re-think my decision to a different on – Emerald Lake

The end

There were definitely a lot of people on the trail, but the views and the hike was wonderful!

I am still taking care with my knee, so i chose one with only 600 foot elevation gain, but goodness did it seem like more!

Lake Emerald Hike

Starting the hike!

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First Lake – Nymph Lake

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Then onto Dream Lake and the River that connects them!

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Finally onto Emerald Lake – a pretty pretty place to spend a little time sitting and enjoying nature – and all the rest of the people that were there as well!

The end

It took 1 hour up and less down! Took longer to take the bus from the camp ground, to the carpool lot, to the bus to Bear Lake. Definitely get up early and take a nap later!!

We enjoyed a great afternoon reading and relaxing, and snacking! So quiet when the annoying families are away for the day!

The other bummer on our campsite – i picked on that was uphill from the rest room. Like a kick your pants to return to the campsite after you pee!

But all in all our quiet time relaxing and not worrying about the monkeys was fabulous!

Reynolds Park Open Space – Eagles View Hike

It appears i have been remiss on documenting my hikes! Last year was a slow year and not many were done, but this year i hope to rectify that!

 

We celebrated the boys’ birthday in the normal fashion of a hike! I’ve had some knee issues and only have gotten in 1 hike so far this season, so we decided to go light on the mileage. Thought we were also going light on the elevation gain as well… but I don’t think so!

We had done this hike before, but I can’t remember which route we did. This time we decided to go right. Had I read some of the remarks on this site, i might have shifted the route a bit and skipped the hot and steep up hill part on Raven’s Roost.

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We took the

  • Right arm of the Elkhorn,
  • Right at the Raven’s roost intersection,
  • Right onto the Eagle’s View Trail,
  • connecting back at Oxen Drive – go right, and then the
  • second Elkhorn to return to the parking lot.

According to the comments on the other site, to avoid the steep, hot up hill, do this instead:

  • Left arm of Elkhorn
  • Right onto Oxen Draw
  • Right onto Raven’s Roost
  • Left onto Eagle’s View Trail
  • Reconnect at Oxen Draw and repeat your steps back to the car.

OR

  • Left arm of Elkhorn
  • Right onto Oxen Draw
  • Left onto Eagle’s View Trail
  • Right at Raven’s Roost
  • Reconnect at Oxen Draw and repeat your steps back to the car.

Length: For once, the book, and online matched the GPS! I was little worried when the Eagle’s View portion said 2.3 miles, but the other parts line up nicely

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Difficulty: I can say it’s isn’t easy, but i can’t say it’s super strenuous. We took our time, plodded up the uphills and made it to the view in about an hour.

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Time:We got a late start since I knew we were going to “altitude” and i didn’t want to rush the morning. We arrived at the parking lot around 10:15, and were on the trail by 10:30. Completed by 12:30.

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Rating:

I enjoyed this hike and it was a good 10-15 degrees cooler than it was in Denver, so that was a treat as well.  You definitely sweat it up, but the views are worth it!

The wildflowers were out in force and all that made me smile!

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There were also a ton of butterflies of all different kinds. It was great! Hubby tried to capture a mating ritual on film… but all you can see is little blurs…

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There is not real “top”, there is a ridge that you arrive at. From the right route, you arrive out of the trees to an amazing view, you continue to enjoy that view along the .25/.5 portion until you head back down into the trees!

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Sugar Cookies – blast from the past

My pops is in the hospital/nursing home and is having trouble holding things. So i was trying to think of a large cookie that could celebrate halloween…  So i went through my giant book of cookie recipes. My normal has a frosting that is just meh, so i wanted something better…

Came across the generic sugar cookie. And wow, with crisco do these things get big! And at first i tried just putting the “colored sugar” on top hoping it would melt… nope. Then i put it on the dough and rolled it in…  Then i finally put all the rest of the sugar into the dough and needed it, creating an orange dough, taking me back to child hood when my mom would do this! I think it was a ploy to keep sugar from getting all over her floor!

Orange sugar

Orange sugar

Cut Out Sugar Cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter flavor crisco
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbl vanilla
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preparation

  1. Combine sugar and 1 cup shortening in a mixer. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, syrup and vanilla. Beat until well blended and fluffy
  2. Combine 3 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add gradually to shortening mixture at low speed. Mix until well blended.
  3. Divide dough into 4 quarters. Wrap each quarter of the dough with plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  4. Heat oven to 375. Place sheets of foil on counter for cooking cookies
  5. Updated plan – make colored sugar – 1/2 cup and 6 drops made a light color. Add 1/4 of that sugar to the dough. Roll out as described below. This keeps the sugar from falling off…
  6. Spread 1 tbl flour on sheet of way paper. Place 1 peice of dough on floured paper. Flatten slightly with hands. Turn dough over and cover with another sheet. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick.Remove top layer and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookies sheet (or silpat). Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. Bake one baking sheet at a time at 375 for 5-9 minutes. 9 minutes for halloween cuts outs 3 inches or so. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to foil and cool completely.
  8. Frost or decorate if so desiredIMG_0345These cookies were attempt 1 with sugar on top…

Denver Energy Challenge – suggested qualified contractor list

Got the following list from Denver Energy

We were looking for insulation and air sealing

Spent Grain – Coconut and Pecan Cookies

Still have a ton of spent grain in the fridge and the clock is ticking on it’s viability. Use it, toast it or freeze it. Since i didn’t have 4 hours to toast, i decided to find something that used wet grains!

I found this wonderful recipe on Brooklyn Brew Shop

I can’t wait to do the options of add ins!

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of Spent Grain Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups wet spent grain
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped (used mini chop bowl from food processor)
  • 1 cup coconut flakes

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine.

3. In a small bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in wet spent grain, pecans, and coconut flakes.

4. Scoop cookies onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Let cool. Enjoy.

Modifications:

I only cooked it for 15 min. I  did the first batch and flattened them, i think i like that version best. Also best to let them sit for 2 min, they pop off the silpat like a snap! I didn’t have allspice, so i skipped it.

Spent Grain – White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies

My neighbor has started brewing his own beer, which means – spent grain for me!

It’s definitely a learning process, like how to get the grain dried. Which at this point i’ve kind of left to the side and am trying to find recipes that use it wet!

This one is a combo of it all – dry the grains, process to flour, and then wet grains as well

I found it on Deschutes Brewery web site and it was definitely a keeper

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 C butter, softened
  • 2/3 C brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ C spent grain
  • 1 ½ C flour
  • 1 Tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  • 2/3 C white chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well, Combine grain, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate medium mixing bowl. Add this dry mixture to to wet mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips. Drop spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Makes approximately 2 ½ dozen cookies.

I used the med scooper and go 3 and 1/2 dozen

Vedict:

OMG! Amazing!