My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant

Friday, January 22, 2010

Boulder Part II - hops & hikes!

As I mentioned in my previous post, Joanne and I conducted quite a bit of in-depth research into some of Boulder's microbrews, which included a lengthy tour of the source of the appropriately named Boulder Beer, Colorado's first microbrewery...

(the bottling area)

The beginning of our tour, as our guide Frank (beer in hand) explains the purpose of the mash tun behind him where the grains are soaked, creating "wort," and the nearby brew kettle (not pictured but which looks similar) where the wort is - no surprise here - brewed. :-) (If you want to learn more about how they brew beer, you can take the virtual tour on their web site).

Frank was a very fun tour guide and a pretty amazing guy. He'd been a bartender at Boulder Beer, but lost his leg a few months earlier in a freak bicycle accident (which resulted in a train running over his leg!) and could no longer lift and carry the kegs. So he became a brewery tour guide and ours was his first solo tour. He told us the story of his accident after the tour while we all drank beer, and though no one could have blamed him if he'd suffered from self-pity or bitterness, he radiated nothing but joy and gratitude.

Cheers to you, Frank, you're an inspiration!

We enjoyed a generous sampling of Boulder Beer's finest.
The glasses were small, but we had full control of the pitchers!
I brought home a sample 6-pack for BW, who enjoyed them all.
(My personal favorite? "Sweaty Betty Blonde")

We also enjoyed some generous beer samples (the generosity of the samplings was key to the high quality of our research, dontcha know) with veggie wraps at the Southern Sun Brewery...

(My favorite in this group was the ginger beer).

No way were we going to visit Boulder without embarking on a good day hike. The problem was deciding which of the many hiking trails and scenic areas to choose! The staff at VG Burgers was helpful with this, as was our Boulder map, so we headed off to beautiful Chautauqua Park...

Joanne in a park within the Park. Surrounded by beautiful cottages, a restaurant, and even a concert hall where a symphony orchestra was rehearsing, it was also where we picked up the trailhead. Imagine setting off on a hike this beautiful accompanied by live classical music!
That's so Boulder. Boulder rocks! (Get it?) ;-)

One of the beautiful cottages, and though you can't see it,
that hillside below it was blanketed with wildflowers.

Not far into our hike we looked down and saw this house in a valley below. A lover of unique earthen homesI deployed my telephoto lens to get this picture. 
I think if a Hobbit married a Jetson, they'd live in this...

This was the beautiful area where we were hiking,
overlooking the Jetson-Hobbit house...

We hiked a while with a very nice couple from a nearby town, and before we headed off on different trails, they kindly offered to take our photo. People in Boulder were always doing that; we rarely had to ask!

More gorgeous scenery
(but take note of the pointy rock formation on the left)...

Here's a close-up of it...

Does that not look like the head of a Labrador Retriever?
(Realizing not everyone always sees what I see, 
I thought I'd better illustrate what I saw, even before drinking beer. LOL)

I asked a couple of local women we met on the trail what the name of it was. They didn't have a clue. So I said, "Does it not look like the head of a Labrador Retriever?"  And they said, "Wow, it does! We never noticed that!" (Hmmm). We never did learn if it had a name, so until we do, this peak shall be called Labrador Head Mountain. :-)

We hiked several miles of different trails that together made a big loop through a variety of landscapes, our main goal being Royal Arch. And the Royal Arch trail was long, high and very steep! It was whimsically labeled "moderate" by the adorable people of Boulder, many of whom, regardless of age, look like Olympic athletes in peak condition. Now, Jo works out all the time and I hike regularly at mile-high altitude. So we like to think we're in pretty darned good shape. But this hike had us dripping sweat and panting for air while various Boulderites, including gray-haired men and women, jogged past us. Some uphill.

Just when we thought we couldn't feel any more chagrined, we started running into people coming down the trail who said, "There's a pregnant woman up at the top!" "No way," we said, "how pregnant?" "Really pregnant," they chortled, "Like she could go into labor any minute!" "They're making it up," we said to each other, despite everyone descending reporting this pregnant woman's presence at the top of the trail.

Sure enough, when we finally reached Royal Arch, there was this very pregnant woman relaxing, chatting and laughing with her friends. She didn't even have the decency to look sweaty. I restrained myself from rubbing gravel in her perfectly-coifed hair, and told her she was a legend, stories about her traveling all up and down the mountain. (I expect her baby will grow up to be the next Ed Viesturs!)

Our destination, Royal Arch, framing the Flatirons behind us...

And the amazing view ahead of us that was our reward...

That's Boulder down below (the cluster of large, reddish buildings is the University of Colorado), and Golden, CO is in the distance. Had it been a clear day, we could have seen Denver. (See more really beautiful photos of this particular hike in the ProTrails Royal Arch photo gallery).

Keep close to Nature's heart,
and break clear away once in awhile,
and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.
Wash your spirit clean...
~John Muir

Some of you with astute powers of observation may have noticed from the dates on some of the photos that I've posted them in reverse order. Our hike came first, followed by our late, beer-soaked lunch at Southern Sun, and the Boulder Beer brewery tour was the following day. I wanted to start you off with some beer and leave the hike photos for last because they're more dramatic, so I took liberties with temporal reality. One of the things I love about blogging is the ability it gives me to bend time to my will. ;-)

And speaking of bending time, here's the Christmas gift Jo gave me in July. :-) Made by Laurie Adams of Mosaicmaus, Jo bought it at the Boulder ArtFair

I bought Jo a nice travel pack at REI, which was another fun place we shopped. She loves it and uses it all the time, but it's not as much fun to photograph - or display on a wall - as the mosaic she got me. ;-) Along with our photos, it's a lovely reminder of our fun Boulder adventure!


  1. You really weren't kidding about developing your beer drinking skills in college were you? ;) I never learned to love beer. However, the red Italian wine isn't safe around me.

    Boulder seems like a great place to visit. I love a good hike. However your story of the pregnant lady has me a little hiking intimidated in Boulder.

    Sounds like you had a great girl's vacation. Those can be the best kind.

    have a great day today,

  2. Me? Kid? ;-) Joanne and I went to the Univ. of NH, listed at the time in the Preppy Handbook as one of the Top 10 drinking colleges in the nation. (An achievement to be proud of - not). I was generally moderate in my consumption, except for one semester when I was pretty squishy. LOL The trouble really started when BW started making organic vegan homebrew several years ago! He hasn't brewed any in a year or so, and we've scaled our imbibing way back to an occasional treat. He plans to use his brewing and kegging equipment to make ginger beer, ginger ale, root beer, etc.

    Yeah, that pregnant lady (and some of the other hiking superheros we saw) was quite something! No wonder Colorado is always listed #1 in the nation for fittest population. They've got Boulder!

  3. The Preppy Handbook, I had not thought of that in years. But I had it too.

    My hubby was making wine at home until last year. So we would get a minimum of 5 cases a year out of his hobby. His wine is excellent. All our friends love it, including our very discriminating chef friend. However he hasn't made any this year since we have given up drinking for health reasons. I do still cook with it so we get the flavor but burn off most of the alcohol.

    The ginger ale and root beer sounds like a fun project. I hope you will share the details when it happens.

    talk to you later,

  4. Sounds like a fantastic experience...I was conjuring up a country tune with the brewery details! I'm always looking for new material for writing. Hope you've caught up on your energy levels & are ready for more adventures!

  5. Wow, that mosaic is gorgeous! The hike, too. I miss Boulder! We considered reserving a cabin in Chautauqua, but decided against it because of how much $$ we'd lose if we couldn't go. I'd like to stay in one eventually, though.

    I'm a teetotaler, but Mike loves beer. We might just have to stop by the brewery to get him some next time we're there. He's love that. :)

  6. happy sosososososo belated birthday! gosh, i'm so behind, guess i'm ahead for next year?

  7. It was so much fun to re-live our trip through your great photo story! It was kind of you not to mention how much of a lush I was when that pitcher of Porter made it's way to me at the Boulder Brewing Co.

    I developed my beer drinking skills in High School - that's why they're so developed!


  8. Alicia - Wow, a vintner too! Your DH really is a Renaissance Man! I'm hoping "Project Ginger Ale" will launch this summer, but I don't know. We have so many projects in the pipeline I'm not sure how we'll fit it in. But you can be sure I'll blog about it when we do! :-)

    Izzy - I'll be keeping an eye on YouTube for your Boulder Beer Brewery song! :-) As for our energy levels, they were restored after our veggie wraps and beer samples we enjoyed after our hike, and we were then off on our Historic Homes Walking Tour! (At least we didn't have any pregnant women sprint past us during that!) :-)

    Molly - Isn't it beautiful? It's even prettier in person, with the sunlight sparkling on it. Did you check out her web site? She's got some really gorgeous stuff. She had a mosaic at the ArtFair that featured The Mad Hatter's Tea Party (my favorite scene from one of my favorite books), and it even had a couple of tiny broken teacups in the mosaic, with their handles sticking out. Too cute! We had a hard time deciding between them, but eventually we both concluded that the Tree Spirit picture, with its copper highlights and earthy colors, was just too "me." :-)

    A stay in a Chautauqua cottage would be a phenomenal vacation! I hope you get to do it some time! Along with a brewery tour for Mike, of course. :-)

    Taza - Thanks, Taza! :-) You reminded me of a poster I had on my dorm room wall... it had a picture of a lone mountain goat on a rocky outcropping and it said, "I'm so far behind, I think I'm first!" :-) (That describes my blogging/commenting/emailing life, too!) You've covered this year and next year's birthdays, you can relax till Jan 2012 now. ;-)

    AdventureJo - Believe me, I had the same fun reliving our trip while I was sorting through the photos and writing the posts! (Boy, it was really hard to choose these relatively few pictures out of all the ones we both took!)

    As for your Porter gluttony, your secret was safe with me. But now that you've blabbed... you really did enjoy that pitcher, didn't you? (Seems to me the pitcher of Sweaty Betty pretty much stopped circulating once it arrived at my table setting, so I guess people drinking out of glass pitchers shouldn't throw steins. LOL!)

  9. You've really captured the beauty and fun of Boulder well! I'm totally out of shape so I was already impressed with your hiking skills, but the story of the pregnant lady just had me going, "Whoa!" Her kid is going to be born walking. ;-)

  10. No kidding, VW! Let's just hope for her sake that her baby wasn't born wearing a backpack and crampons! (Ew, owwwy!)

  11. Gorgeous! I can't wait to be in Colorado this spring. I am sad to be missing out on all the special west of the Mississippi beers, though.

  12. Mary - you'll have a blast, even without the beer (though I sympathize, that is a rotten deal!) ~ the dazzling scenery is sure to distract you! :-)


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"

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