Based in Houston, Texas, GEV is a blog by The GreenEyed Venuist. Her posts explore travel and photography through her green eyes.

Labor Day Weekend in Denver Part 1

Did you know that if you're really, really nice to the rental car people they'll give you an upgrade? To a Tahoe? For free? When you originally rented a mid-sized car? and over Labor Day weekend? Kira and I must have been killing this dude with kindness. He skipped to the computer and promptly handed us the keys. As it turns out, a Tahoe is not the best vehicle to drive up the extremely steep and narrow roads of Rocky Mountain National Park...who knew?
Kira and I have been best buds since college. We both love to travel but never traveled together. So last year, we planned a trip to Denver over Labor Day weekend.
We spent days coming up with the perfect itinerary (which I still have and am willing to share), including a centrally located hotel, places to eat and things we would do during the day. What you don't know is that Kira and I both suffer from a severe case of "I can't decided what to eat"- itis. Lunch time is the worst time of day for us both. In fact, I dread it...I know she does We struggle daily with deciding what to eat until we finally frustrate ourselves into selecting something we didn't really want. If I don't prepare a lunch for myself before work (which I rarely do), then I am completely lost. I usually end up wandering around HEB for 30 mins hoping that something will catch my attention. It doesn't help that we both try to maintain some semblance of a healthy lifestyle. I'm sure we're not the only ones who suffer from this affliction. 
We finally decided (yay us!).

We flew in Saturday, for cheaper ticket prices and because we had an extra off that Monday. From the airport, we would spend the afternoon in Boulder. 
Our first stop, the Boulder Creek Winery. I've decided that I love going to wineries and not just for the tastings. (hehe) I especially love the smaller, unassuming wineries like Boulder Creek. Kira and I arrived according to the Google Map directions and were confused. The winery is located among what seem to be several warehouses and is a little difficult to find. When you walk inside, you're encouraged to take a self guided tour lead by footprints on the floor and arrows on the walls. All the information about the winery is right there for you to review at your leisure. I'm used to the tours lead by guide in Napa Valley wineries, but I appreciated this non-pretentious approach as well. It makes for a more personal experience. You get to walk thru and read all about how and where the wine is made....pretty cool stuff. Like I didn't know cork came from a cork tree...did you? These aren't the best pictures but you get the idea.

I've got a good friend who lives in Denver who joined us, on crutches, at the winery (bless his heart). After a few tastings, we purchased bottles of our favorites and made our way to dinner. So, you know how you spend time creating itineraries but something happens and you have to deviate? Well, here's the first deviation. We were scheduled to go to The Kitchen for dinner but that plan fell through. There's a lesson in this though, don't become so overly attached to the itinerary that you are unwilling to try out other things. My friend made another suggestion for dinner and we listened, obviously. He's a native of Denver so we were in for a local treat. He didn't disappoint. We went to The Med Boulder, a sweet little Mediterranean style tapas restaurant in Downtown Boulder near The Pearl Street Mall. The food, drinks and service were all great. Kira and I both highly recommend it. This place was a nice differentiation from the norm Spanish style tapas.

After dinner, we drove up a mountain to take in a view of the city at night. The city from this aspect was beyond spectacular. But it wasn't until I looked up into the night sky that I was truly impressed. I had never seen so many stars so up close and personally. It was as if I could reach out and touch them. Anyone who knows me know I love stars like a fat kid loves cake. This sky was like none I had ever seen. Again, God is good. I wont even disrespect you by adding a picture right here. My camera sufficiently failed in its attempt to capture it all.   
We checked into the aloft Broomfield. I am here for all things aloft. This location, like the others I've stay in, was just what we needed. It was located right in the middle of everything we would be doing that weekend. It had free wifi, gave us each a free bottle of water every day, which we needed desperately after days filled with hiking and high altitude. We arrived later than we anticipated but the front desk clerk was helpful and cheery. 
The next morning (Sunday) we scheduled an early wake up and drive to Estes Park where we would ride the Aerial Tram.  
Pause: Did I mention we also stopped at The Stanley Hotel? You know the one I'm talking about. The one that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining? And where the television mini-series, The Shining, was filmed? Yeah...The Shining. You know what that movie is about right? Not sunshine and rainbows, I'll tell you that. The hotel itself is beautiful and it has all this awesome history but its creepy and believed to be haunted (I don't believe in that sorta thing but I do believe I felt highly disturbed the whole time we were walking thru).

Anyway, the Aerial Tram costs $12 per person and my suggestion is that you arrive early. This is a highly visited attraction. It even warns on the website to ride early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds, get better pics and calmer weather - and we appreciate calm weather when we're inside a small cable car hanging from a string between two mountain...yikes. 

Oh yeah, if you survive the tram ride, you get to see this:

The hike in Estes Park deserves a post of its own. So does our journey through the Rocky Mountain National Park. You know what....I'll tell you abou tthe Red Rocks Park in a separate post too! This is so exciting! Now that I'm writing all these adventures down I'm realizing that Kira and I got ALOT accomplished in 3 days in Denver. It was all incredible too. Later for now!

You know the phrase...say it with me. There's no where to go but get going! ~The Green Eyed Venuist

Estes Park...and the Chipmunks

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