I am slipping back into normal after a solid vacation. The family & I visited some friends in Rapid City, SD; went and visited my sister in the Boulder, CO area; and went to visit my old college roommate in the Denver, CO area. Along the way, I spent a great deal more time with my wife and kids than during the typical work week and was pleased to find that – contra the norms set by the modern sitcom family – my wife & I seem to really like each other, and my kids seem to be developing into remarkable people. We managed 7 hiking days which the kids definitely enjoyed:
Poet’s Table near Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park, South Dakota. A little detour off the trail to Little Devil’s Tower. Apparently in 1969, some hippies hauled a table up to a little alcove in the rocks. We had a picnic up there and the kids (with some assistance from me) left a poem as is the custom of the place.
Jewel Cave National Monument. My daughter really likes caves, so this third longest cave system in the world seemed to fit the bill. We had been to Wind Cave in the area a few years ago. There are also some trails outside the cave which we hiked on to kill time before the cave tour.
Red Rocks Trail near Pearl Street in Boulder. A nice trail that gives you a great view of Boulder.
Rocky Mountain National Park – the winds were out of hand. We’ll call it a hike, but it was really maybe a half mile walk around a water fall.
Eldorado Canyon State Park near Boulder – this was a really neat place, maybe my favorite trail of the vacation. The Fowler Trail has some neat views of the canyon and then opens up into a great view of the plains heading out from the front range.
Lair O’ the Bear trail west of Denver. For us, the most notable part about this outing was less about the trail and more about this cool tree near the trail head. It had branches that demanded climbing. And, so, we did. It’s been a long time since I climbed a tree!
Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. This area is just stunning. We actually managed to get off the more traveled paths and maybe got just the tiniest bit lost for about 15 minutes. It’s nice to get lost every so often.
In addition to the hiking, I also got to become familiar with some craft beers of the Front Range. In particular, I can’t speak highly enough of the Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery. This is on Pearl Street. The beer was great and the service was even better. The staff was so friendly to the kids. (Not necessarily what you expect at a brewery). They seem to have a restaurant brewery model – I didn’t see much distribution of their beer in the area, but maybe I missed it.
The Oskar Blues Brewery is definitely and up and comer. I saw their beers all over, and actually ended up at their bar in Lyons, CO, between Estes Park and Boulder. The bar is kind of a neat place with two stories, a significant band presence, and a video game room featuring some old school games — I haven’t seen Defender in forever. I had the Dale’s Pale Ale a few times and the Old Chub Scotch Ale there at the bar. I’ve been told they are in discussions to distribute in Indiana.
My buddy was a big fan of the Dry Dock Brewery in Aurora and we went there for a pint and to fill up some growlers. Their stuff is definitely good, but I suppose I enjoyed the other two breweries’ offerings a little better.
And, just for good measure, one night I had the Bridal Veil Rye Pale Ale from the Telluride Brewing Company. A couple of other notes on beer: macro-brews have their uses too. Pabst is a fine thing to drink when you are spending several hours in the sun tending to a smoker, and Coors really does taste better near Golden.