Camping on the Poudre

Yup – it looks french, but here in Colorado we call it – the “Pooder”

Whatever you call it, it’s a great river that runs from the rockies out toward Fort Collins and Beyond.

We have camped at different places over the years and this year I decided to get us closer to a hike I wanted – Gray Mountain. So I picked a spot that had just a few spots and a walk in site to use our new fold up cart! It was early august and our official last camping for the season.

This thing was amazing! We watched families take about 85 trips back and forth to their cars, we took, maybe 4! Woot! And putting away things at the end of the day – food smells etc – was def easier too!

We got to our campsite early enough, and got everything set up and had time to relax and enjoy my new fav beverage cherry rum and coke!

The view was toward the rest room, but if you overlooked that, being in a canyon was pretty cool. We couldn’t really the see the river, but we were close enough to hear the roar and relax.

The camp hosts stopped by, they were located 5 miles the other direction down the road, and that is where the camp fire wood was. And they were kind enough to let us know that this camp ground was known to have rattle snakes. WTF? So i spent a bit of time watching the boys on their tethers and being worried about them finding one! Arg!

Our dinner was another attempt at the “pizza roll”. It was slightly more successful but still not a keeper as far as camping cuisine goes. This time it did not stick to the foil, but it also was raw in the middle and burned on the outside. Boo.

I like the idea, but think pocket pies or calzones are going to be more successful!

Next day was an attempt to climb Mt Greylock. It was not successful. I always forget how hot that valley is. I (probably not we) shall return in the fall and do a successful summit!

Pro tip:

There is a parking lot across the road, but you can also park on the road in a pullout that puts you on the same side of the road as the beginning of the hike.

There  is a switchback early on that can be missed and you can end up scrambling to find the trail, when you think you lost the trail, you probably did! Look behind you!

After that failure, we took the rest of the day to relax, enjoy the campsite, rest and read!

 

The final day hubby finally got his camping pancakes. I hate pancakes because they are so messy, but i was reminded we have 2 furry roombas to take care of the plates prior to packing them!

The morning was a little lazy and slow, but eventually we did as winston wanted and left the dirt and grime behind and headed on home!

Definitely an interesting camp site. Not sure if we would want to be close to the water, people tended to stop at this camp ground even though the signs said no day use, they would meander through the camp sites closer to the water, and either hang out or meander back. We liked where we were, we had shade and close enough to the rest room and our car!

Kilimanjaro Feasibility Weekend

Suman and I have decided that  2020 will be the year that we hike Kilimanjaro

To determine if we can actually accomplish this great feat, we had decided to do a couple hikes at altitude in one weekend. Based on work, sick dogs and more… we only accomplished 1 hike, but we had fun.

This one was St James Peak. You start on St Mary’s Glacier and keep going.

Pro tip – just bring yak trax or some manner or snow walking geer, totally worth it for the way down. We didn’t do it and snap, that was terrible!

  

After we reached the end of the galcier, we thought it was a straight shot…  Instructions seemsed ok.

“Though the trail disappears once over the road, a number of trail markers about 75 yards away – clearly visible in the open tundra – will connect you back to it.”

Alas, we went the wrong direction, never reach a peak, but did get in our miles, our altitude and some quality time together. Next time, we shall do better!

  

 

Cow Creek South 4th Annual Camping Trip

There was shift in participants this year, some of the original crew and some new attendees!

A great time was had mostly by all!

We seem to have been remiss in taking photos, but we have a couple!

The campground seems to be getting popular and it was hard to get our double site, but we did ok with just half! Filled it with 10 people and 4 tents!

The boy are getting better at relaxing on our drives to camping.

Although paco seems to think he really should be the navigator!

We arrived friday just in time to set up the tent and then hide inside while it poured!

The rest of the crew arrived between 6 and dark. We enjoyed the fire and some mac n cheese on the campfire!

The next day our friends Pam and Mike cooked up some bacon, sausage and eggs! Omg delicous!

Next up we all went on our separate adventures! Some went fishing, we went hiking, and a couple others enjoyed the quiet at the campground without everyone!

Hiking – Angler Mountain

We let the pregnant participant choose the hike so that she would feel comfortable! I know she did tons better than myself and winston!

As the hike started, it pitched up hill quite fast, we did get into some trees and the first couple miles does have plaques for the types of plants and trees. We anticipate this portion of the trail getting overtaken by all the new construction, and that the trail head will be further up.

Once you pass through the forest you arrive at a gigantic power plant and then any idea of having shade disappears! It got a bit toasty for myself as well as winston. So he enjoyed a less strenuous hike, and i added some to mine! But i did find that putting him into the baby bjorn sideways works way better and he falls over less!

It was a wonderful view, we just started a smidge to late, so i’d suggest getting an earlier start on a hot day for anyone choosing this hike. Also the top is kind of less climactic, so perhaps a bit more research to find a better place to stop “at the top”.

After we got back the boys enjoy some well deserved rest in their tent!

Sunday we got a little lazy, and then slowly broke camp and headed back to civilization! After another wonderful breakfast cooked by Mike!

Another great year! Less mosquitos this year! And our special less bad spray worked great!

Paco and mom hike Maxwell Falls

The sunday before the 4th, i decided I needed to get outdoors and enjoy the day, but it had to be early, so we didn’t die in the heat!

I got up/woke up around 6 and left winston to sleep with Dad while Paco and I snuck off to hike Maxwell Falls.  This is a hike we are familiar with because it is close to denver, shaded for most of the trail, has water (river and the falls) and just around 4 miles. More specifics on the hike are here in a previous post.

Paco loves the car and dirt, winston loves sleeping and the couch, so really it was no brainer on who to take out that morning!

We got out there early enough to be the second car in the parking lot! So we knew we would have the trail to ourselves for at least a little bit!

Paco got to scare a “herd” of deer, and he was pretty pumped from that!

We picked a different way back and I am pretty sure it was up hill the entire way, but we got some new and fun sights!

It was a really great morning, enjoying the sights, so many wild flowers!

It was great way to kick off our sunday! Paco said he had a great time!

 

Camping at Lake Granby

One of things i do when picking camping locations is to find some place we have not ventured to or somewhere where the hike i want it would be a 2 hour or more drive to get there and then back.

This time it was the fact that we have never been up the 40 past Berthoud Pass. So i found a camp site, at the end of a lake and booked it!

It was a long and windy drive over the pass… winston and I were a little green!

Then apple maps brought us to the wrong location and with no signal to really figure out where we needed to be, so that was a fun marriage test…

Finally we found where we needed to be and set up camp, all before 5pm!

The views were pretty amazing, the restroom was close, but not close enough for people to meander through our site, and we could see the sun set! It was a great site! We also decided that even though we didn’t overlook the water, it was better, as the we were slightly down an incline and protected from the wind! Win win!

Saturday brought a chilly morning, as the sun didn’t crest the campsite until 7 or 8am. So that was kind of a treat! We relaxed and enjoyed the day as i didn’t have an exact hike on deck!

We finally decided to get moving around 11am and do a lake hike! It was a pretty nice hike, more hills than expected but a nice 4 mile hike!

After that it was time for lunch and snacks and a nap and finally some time sitting by the lake…

 

And of course the boys were not interested in playing in the water, they wanted to sit with us with their dirty paws….  Oh monkies…

 

There was definitely some experimenting with recipes for using ones we generally do at home!

Friday was our new mac n cheese – we overdid the time in the fire… But still mostly edible!

Saturday was korean chicken with tater tots  packets in the coals!

     

 

Sunday was another lazy day, we waiting for the sun to crest the hill and warm up the tent before we started moving. Eventually winston was adamant that we leave this place and get on home!

 Poor little princess hates to be dirty!

It was a really nice site, decent size! Good location to the rest room, not surrounded by other sites, and a good view of the sunset! A would do again!

On the drive home, paco decided he needed to be the navigator! He stood on the center console for nearly an hour over the pass and back to the 70, then when traffic hit, he took a little rest!

Alamosa Weekend for Rails and Ales

For a couple years i’ve been trying to get a trip down to Alamosa for Rails and Ales. Basically a long drive, for a train ride to the middle of nowhere, for beer, enh food, and hill billy music! Sounds fab, eh? I thought so! And it was!!! Can’t wait to do it again!

Basically every year we don’t know when WWDC (the big apple event) will be until april. Sadly sometimes this event can sell out prior to that. This year, it did not, and WWDC was earlier than normal! Woot!

We had enough miles to stay at the newish Farfield Inn, so that was a bonus.

Sadly, work made it so leaving early was a no go, so we had to leave at 4ish… that put us into town, tired, and close to 9. Ugh.

The next morning was the main event – see my blog post on that here.

I had a fabulous time, perhaps due to my expectations being pretty low – beer, nowhere, train… so i received all 3 of those and more! Like i said, can’t wait to go again next year!

We got back to town close to 6pm, chowed on some delicious thai food and then tried to stay awake long enough to go to bed like grownups… Y’know… 9pm.

I feel we had enough water so the next day was not too terrible (i even got in a good workout at the gym) and i could convince the hubby to take some crazy side trips on our way home!

First up was Gator Land – i mean seriously – how could you not? Gators/Colorado – they don’t really go, so we had to stop to see how they did. Bonus points – the hotel had a brochure with a coupon for a bucket of free gator food! OMG-  yes! Thank you road side america for showing me this gem and my hairdresser for going there years prior!

There is a cute history on this place – it used to be a tilapia farm and they got a couple gators to clean up the dead fish etc…  this lead to people breaking in, to see them and due to the warm thermal water the growth rate was crazy! Then lots of people would just drop off exotic animals for them to take care of, so you have gator land!

 

Definitely was a hoot to see all the gators and their stories and all the other random animals wandering around!

You do get to hold a gator – a baby one – upon entry – for their “head count” – we declined… but were able to get our photo with the helper fella… we did not pay for any of those photos… (Use your imagination – john pushing me closer, me leaning back…)

It was kinda hard to use up all the bucket of gator food… some were not that interested, some just had too many people also tossing food their way. But i am not sad i had it, but, be warned – we smelled like that stuff for the rest of the day, no matter how many times we washed our hands!

We did spend an inordinate amount of time at the last tub which was all turtles and baby gators. So fun to watch them all!

Next up on our adventure was the UFO viewing platform… cause… why not…

Notice a significant lack of another person in these photos?

Definitely worth a drop in! Walk the crazy vortex area just to view things people have left if not try and feel some energy!

And the viewing platform – such a great place to view the valley and the dunes! Next nightime event (halley’s comet comes back soon right?), i think we might need to get a camp sit and enjoy the views after dark

 

  

Worth the $2 per person donation! And i picked up a cute pin to keep on my hiking backpack!

After that is was a meandering route home with a stop at one of the breweries we found over the weekend in Salida! Coconut Milk Stout – omg – like ice cream in your mouth – but beer…

Awesome weekend with the hubby doing crazy things!

Rails and Ales

What a beyond super duper fun event! I had heard about this event a couple years ago. Coloradotrain.com is where to get the info. Obviously the event just happened, so i can’t get a link in there right now – but here is the FAQ

Basically – train to no where, beer and music. Um, hello, yes please!

I’m writing this post because there was not enough fine print information to know all you needed to know about the event!

Tickets:

There are 3 different levels

  • Standard – we call that the poor people and that is where we sat! ($59)
  • First class – this is the domed glass roof cars ($99)
  • Diamond Class – this is a private car where you get very fancy seats and access to the band ($125)

Opinion on tickets – standard class was fine, regular every day seats, windows open, bar service

The glass domed car- super cool and a table to hold your snacks, and card games along the way, and the bar is in your car.

The diamond class- i’m thinking if you are really into comfort and having someone wait on you and access to people in the band…  go for it. They don’t play as far as i know. (I mistakenly wandered into that car…  they don’t like peons in there….)

Add ons – get the lunch ticket. It’s easier than bringing cash for when you get there. It’s not an amazing meal, but it’s food, in the middle of nowhere…

Getting your tickets:

We received an email indicating that we could retrieve our tickets up until 9pm friday night before the saturday event. We raced down from Denver, didn’t eat, didn’t pee, didn’t gas up…

Arrived at 8:20pm….  Closed up tight.

Apparently there was a disconnect between those that sent the email and those that worked the booth to give out the tickets. Le sigh.

Next up, the email said, starting at 7am we could get our tickets

I called the number at 7:15am confirming this was still the case. The person on the ticket line wasn’t sure, attempted calling, and ended with – “they should be there”… to which i replied, they should have been there last night as well.

So info point here – be sure to confirm when they will be really getting there or staying until, and plan accordingly for your travel to and fro.

Arriving to board the train:

Parking: You can park across from the depot, diagonal from the depot, and to the left of the depot in the gravel lot.

You can start getting your id checked, your waiver signed and your glass retrieved around 8:30 or so. So get there early.

The sometimes check your bag, sometimes don’t, so no weapons… *shrug* (FYI – they hire a good amount of gun tottin’ sherrifs from a nearby town, so don’t be stupid)

For the standard seats – Be aware – one way in the train you will be facing forward and the other backward. Being a motion sensitive individual, i spent a bit of my time sitting on the arm rest sideways so as to alleviate my discomfort. I tried the motion sickness gum – nope… I forgot to bring my ginger pills, maybe next time.

 

What to bring:

Chairs – bring your collapsable chairs, and put a phone number on the outside. We chose to do it with duct tape for removal later if we so chose. (there are over head luggage places in standard, other “special locations for items” on others)

Water – there is water on the train, but i like to not loose my expensive lunch from too much beer and heat – so having a camelback for easy access between adult beverages.

Hat – bring a bold old floppy hat and plenty of sun block!

Hand Sanitizer – the bathroom are limited in their accoutrements, both on the train and off.

Snacks – they say only pretzel necklaces – but you get snacky on the way out unless you over do the breakfast buffet at the hotel. So stash a couple things in your back pack! (the people in the glass domes cars certainly did!)

BTW – the trip out is 1.5 hours, back it seems closer 2

Where to sit:

This is a tough one. Will you generally just be meanding around getting tastes of beer, so it really doesn’t matter?

Did you want to see/hear the band – sit straight out and in line of site – to the sides, the sound dims

Shade – basically there isn’t any, except a picnic table area, get to the right side facing the stage and claim your spot. You will be very very close to all your neighbors…

We chose a spot, kind of in the pathway of the first row of beer, but near the stairs down, that was great for us. We would probably choose to the left of the stage next time.

What to wear:

It’s 9000 feet. The temps can be boiling or cooler.

Layers people, layers. Unless you are there to attract a man, be comfortable, closed toe shoes for both the train and then tromping around in the “grass” which is really a whole lot of dust.

I chose a tank for the the inevitable “missed sunscreen spot” so i could even out other missed spots. It was a warm day with an amazing breeze. I carried my sweatshirt most of the time.

Post event:

Rubi Slipper was the suggested location for a post event burger. The wait was 1.5 hours. No matter how good that burger was, i really don’t think so. Obviously this location is the closest to the depot. If you really want that, make a reservation when the you get signal again on the way back, about 20 min out.

We ended up at the thai restaurant, one more block up. Very tasty, very friendly and very big servings.

Other tidbits:

There is a lot of beer. A lot. Pace yourself. Don’t be “that guy”.

As the day wanes on, they start pouring more into your glass. Squee –  but dangerous…

Bring a koozie to keep your beer cool in your cup, or your hand from heating it up.

Do a lap with your first pour, so you can get the lay of the land and pick your next selection.

The food is at the top of the hill. Think about getting it earlier, rather than after you have had a few…  as in, you don’t navigate the stairs as well.

Cash – if you want to tip your car manager (the fella that brings you booze or water on the way to the event and leaves you a cute snack and another bottle of water on the way home), or want to buy anything on site, you need cold hard cash.

Take a picture of the logo of the beer you like. There is no signal for untapped, etc to save your favorites! And you won’t remember otherwise…  promise.

Make a friend. Hubby and i went solo (as in, all our other friends couldn’t figure out how to commit to get a ticket before it sold out) so we shared our 4 seater with a lovely couple from broomfield. It was super fun and we’ll be enjoying pizza and beer soon! You never know who you’ll meet! Also chat in line, you might get a good tip on a beer you haven’t tried yet!

It sells out. For real.

Other info links:

 

A graduation and a wedding

This last may was a celebration of Emma! My niece.

She graduated college, with super duper honors, commissioned into the navy and then just for fun, also got married!

VMI where she graduated from does a huge pomp and circumstance for the event, 4 days of events, parades, concerts and more! I didn’t take many pictures there mainly because my sister is the trigger finger there!

After that it was a smidge of down time as miss emma was made to stay on campus as she had not received her orders, so hubby arrived in town and we went down to Fairfax to stay with a friend and spend a day in DC

First stop, obviously – the carousel! I picked the dragon! There was only 1 wee one in front of us in line, so i was pretty certain i could get it!  Hubby being the good sport came along!

After that was the Newseum (pro tip – get your tickets on line and save 15%)

This was an amazing museum! 6 floors of stuff! Oh my goodness! We spent over 3 hours there, which for me is A-Maz-ing! o much to see, learn and do! Definitely a museum worth taking some time for! And the views from the top floor – wow!

We left there and enjoyed a nice lunch at Plan B b the naval memorial and then walked back through the sculpture garden and a detour through the Pollinator trail!

Great way to spent a 100 degree day!  We did end with an amazing meal with our friends at n all you can eat Korean BBQ!! So amazing!

Finally the main event! Emma’s wedding!

Friday she and I went and got our nails done, cause, ya’ gotta! We had some starbucks and then a “healthy” lunch at paneara to round out the afternoon!

While the fam and bridal party went off to the rehearsal, hubby and I got to see Guardian’s of the Galaxy! A pretty good flick! I laughed, i teared up, i really liked it!

Then it was time! First up was emma’s hair! So much of it, so many things to do with it!

The makeup, getting dressed and the final event!

Wonderful ceremony, fun reception, beautiful couple!

The weekend rounded out with a brunch, saving a frog from the pool and enjoying the back yard

Congrats to my niece in all she achieved and accomplished!

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!