Thoughts On An Early Morning Hike in the Mountains

Dog and I went camping again yesterday in the mountains (where else?).  I am normally and early riser anyway, but especially when I am camping and haven’t slept too well anyway.  I am excited to see the morning after a long night in the tent.  I was much warmer on this trip (thanks to a better sleeping bag, kindly lent by my roommate), and extra blankets.  Dog was perfectly comfortable, sans blanket.  Still, when I woke up and saw sun creeping across the sky and heard the birds chirping away in the cheerful morning chatter I was glad.  The air outside the tent was coooooold and I regretted my decision to leave my blanket nest, but Dog was ready to go so I didn’t have much of a choice.  April in the city of Denver is much warmer than April in mountains, and the air had a special spring chill.  Refreshing and sweet, but cold.   Anyway, I layered up, and after a hasty breakfast Dog and I set off on the trail.  Here are some reflections on early morning hiking.

1) You will meet a whole different set of birds.  I WISH I WISH I WISH I hadn’t left my new Rocky Mountain Bird identification book at home, but I could tell even without it that the birds I was seeing and hearing in the morning were different from the ones I encountered in the day and evening.  For one thing, the woodpeckers- a species different from the kind I was used to in Wisco- were voracious, and their pecking echoed all around the forest.  Dog and I had a good time watching all the early morning birds swoop around and call to one another.

This woodpecker was attacking the phone poll.

2) If you prefer the trail to yourself, you’ll have it.  I did see two trail runners go past, but apart from that we had what felt like the whole mountain to ourselves.  Most of the other campers were still asleep, and the day trippers weren’t in the park yet.  The stunning views of Panorama Point were OURS, muahahaha.  I also felt less inhibited about sitting down in sunny patches to catch my breath or to snag a snack.

A blurry goofy picture of me playing around with the self timer on my camera near Panorama Point.

3) The freshness of the air and the sun coming up behind peaks and trees is unbeatable.  Yeah, I’m sure the air is always fresh up there, but something about the brisk temps and bird chatter just made the scent of the trees and chipper mountain streams fresher.  It was a joy just to breath.  Stopping to take great big lungfulls of air I was also in awe of the views of the sun rising from behind forested peaks.  It wasn’t dark when we set out from camp, but there was definitely a sharp contrast between the places on the trail where tendrils of sunlight had sneaked in and where it hadn’t.

The change of night to day.

4) The feeling of accomplishment when you saunter back into camp having completed a somewhat grueling hike while everyone else is just starting their day.  I took a one hour victory nap in my tent to celebrate.  So did Dog.

Cafe Life: Boulder, CO

I drove up to Boulder, CO today to do a little thrifting and hole up at a cafe.  I found Laughing Goat Cafe on Pearl Street and I’m enjoying the warm spring afternoon at a table outside with an IPA next to me.  This area is clearly geared towards tourists, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exciting little boutiques, cafes, and eateries here.  I stopped in nearby Red Letter Books (used books crammed floor to ceiling with only the barest hint of organization), found some comfy pants at Common Threads, and picked up a birthday gift for a friend at a boutique called Bliss.

But back to Laughing Goat-

It is very lively here, even though it’s a Monday afternoon and ostensibly most people are at work or school.  Inside the cafe most tables are full and everyone seems to be working on their laptops.  I guess I fit right in.  The vibe is cozy pub and their selection on coffees is impressive.  They keep two beers on tap (both are IPA), and have a long list of bakery and sandwiches.  I saw about half a dozen different kinds of kombucha in their refrigerator and my mouth fairly watered.  One was called ‘Rowdy Mermaid’ and I nearly bought it just based on the name.  The crowd looks to be mostly young professionals and students, but sitting nearby is a woman and two young girls practicing their reading.  

I’m not sure if this cafe could accurately be called a neighborhood spot, since Pearl Street is not exactly a neighborhood street, but there is an eclectic mix of clientele, as well as a variety of food and drink options that could keep just about anyone happy.  Boulder is a popular spot for visitors due to it’s reputation for ritzy mountain living.  Let’s just say Whole Foods is big here.  It’s a bit of a haul from Denver, but perfect for daytrips.  Plus, you can’t beat the thrifting options at Common Threads.  I like this cafe, and even though I don’t spend a whole heck of a lot of time in Boulder, I would come back again.  

Solo Camping Is A Practice in Meditation

It’s gotta be about 30 degrees inside the tent and even though I’m swaddled inside blankets, a sleeping bag, sweatpants, a woolen shirt, a sweatshirt, thick socks, and a hat I’m too cold to sleep.  Dog is snuggled up by my feet and appears to be impervious to the cold.  I don’t know what time it is (there is no way I am reaching my arm out of my cocoon to check my phone) but outside the night is very very dark.  At this point I hear soft and deliberate footfalls outside my tent.  They stop near my head and I hear sniffing.  What the hell is that?  I locked all the food in a cooler in my car and was careful not to leave any wrappers in the tent with me.  Whatever it is it isn’t human, that’s for sure.  It is also sniffing around inches from my head, separated from me by just the thin wall of my tent.  Dog hasn’t noticed anything and is still asleep.  I can’t decide if this is good or bad.  The list of suspects for my visitor includes raccoon, squirrel, fox, deer, mountain lion, and bear.  The footsteps circle the tent and come back to sniff near my head again.  I am completely still and thinking irrationally what if it is trying to smell me?

Flash back to fourteen hours earlier and I am standing in the Denver flagship REI staring at a display labeled “Bear Protection”.  There are all kinds of air horns, sprays, bear-proof canisters, bells, and whistles.  Bears were never a big deal back in Wisconsin.  Out here though, I am knowingly camping in bear territory, and even though it’s still early spring I’m not sure if the bears are still hibernating or not.  What if one of them woke up early and is hungry?  I ended up leaving with just some small and necessary purchases (headlamp, camp soap, socks) but I was still thinking about wildlife as I drove away.

I borrowed a tent and a sleeping pad from my roommates and loaded up the car with gear, food, and the dog.  We were headed to Golden Gate Canyon which is not too far from Denver, but which feels remote due to it’s vastness.  There are a handful of year round tent sites up on Reverend’s Ridge which are available on a first come first served basis.  Since it was a Sunday I was hopeful that there would be a site available for us.  Up a 19% grade and through some dizzying switchbacks we drove before we got to Reverend’s Ridge.  We lucked out and got one of the last sites.  The whole area was in a forest of aspens with views of snowcapped mountain peaks visible between the trees.  The air was cool, crisp, and clean.  There was a fire ban in effect so most of the other campers were off hiking or taking in the sights instead of sitting around a campfire.  As soon as the tent was set up and the sleeping gear was inside Dog and I set off to find a trailhead.  Nearby was the Racoon Trail, which was deceptively listed as being only a little over two miles.  With the hike from the campsite, it was more than three and included grueling uphill climbs, stunning panoramic views, and tough rocky descents.  Since it was a looped trail it deposited us back at camp tired, exhilarated, and hungry.

Camp was a little busier as people got down to business eating dinner and cracking open beers.  Dog and I ate our dinner and then headed out to explore the area.  Most of the camping loops were closed for the season so the landscape was peaceful and populated mostly by noisy little birds.  The sun was beginning to set and Dog and I decided to do a little night time walking in the woods…mostly so that I could try out my new headlamp. The temperature was dropping, but I was feeling snug and smug in my warm clothes.  *Side note* I have felt plenty of disdain for girls who wear nothing but their identical outfits of Northface fleece, leggings, and Uggs/moccasins, but I wore my newly thrifted Northface pullover jacket and was nothing but impressed with the warmth and comfort.  I think I might live in it forever.

Camping alone is a kind of meditation.  When you are out there with friends, a partner, or family members you play games, you cook meals together, there is often beer; all in all it is a rambunctious social event.  When solo, you are silent and thoughtful.  You fall into rhythm with the daylight, the cold and the warmth, the wind, and the animal sounds.

With no campfires allowed (I probably couldn’t have made a decent one on my own anyway) the campsites were all fairly dark.  Here and there larger groups had multiple lanterns or kept their car lights on.  I had Dog decked out like a Christmas tree between her light up red collar and green harness light.  For myself, I wore my headlamp.  I got Dog and I packed us up cozily inside the tent and spent some time reading.  It was the last time until daylight that I would feel comfortable.

Back to where I began.  I lay awake listening to the animal outside my tent and tried to think rationally.  This was difficult because I was sleep deprived, cold, and afraid.  The foot steps were too delicate to be a waddling raccoon, and too heavy to be a squirrel.  I doubted a bear could walk with that much grace either (phew).  The only things that I could think of as being an attractant (besides my tasty human self) was the dog water dish, which I had left outside.  In that case, perhaps my visitor was only thirsty?  A thirsty little fox even?  This was a comforting thought.  My visitor returned to circle and sniff three more times.  Later, I would look for footprints and find none.

The rest of the night was sleepless, but uneventful.  I was glad to see the run come up and decided to get out and hike around a bit to get the blood flowing and thaw.  Dog and I found a place to watch the sun come up.  It was dazzling and made up for the cold night.  I tried and failed to take a nice photo with Dog, so it’s just a picture of me.

As the sun came up the morning began to warm up too.  Dog and I returned to camp for some breakfast and I re-cocooned myself in the tent to read and wait for the air to warm up even more.  Around the camp people were beginning to stir.  My neighbors had left sometime in the night, but everyone else was making breakfast and sleeping, or packing up their sites.  We played a game of fetch and then decided to go on one last hike before heading out.

The last hike was on Mule Deer Trail, which proved to be just the right combination of hot and dry and steep to be utterly exhausting.  Instead of hiking along forest trails and dodging patches of snow we were exposed to the wind and sun (not quite strong) in a huge open meadow.  The trail skirted small streams and wound down and then up, up, and away into the foothills.  It seemed like rattlesnake country.  I was constantly dry mouthed and Dog was panting.  The sites were beautiful, but we needed to make it back to camp in time before our parks pass expired.  At the snail paced we were going, it was going to take a long time.  That hike took a lot out of me.  It might have been rewarding under different circumstances, but I was just tired and thirsty.  I was so happy when we finally made it back to the car.  Leaving a good campsite is always bittersweet.  We waved goodbye to our little spot and began the descent back down.  The temperature rose and the cheese its ran out.  Finally back at home I was sore and tired and so was Dog.  We both took long naps.

That was our adventure.  Next time I will bring more blankets.


It’s beautiful outside today!  The sun is shining, the snow is gone, and the weather is about 70 degrees.  In other words, it is a glorious day to be outside exploring some new terrain.  I, however, am not outside, because I am on the cusp of what feels like a cold and I am trying to stay low-key enough to beat it.  I put together some of my favorite snaps from my hiking trips in my post today as I daydream about them inside with my mug of tea.

Rocky Mountain National Park…the dark clouds heralded snow.
My first ever trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. We saw plenty of the famous elk!

This view is thanks to Eldorado Canyon State Park.
Dog and I stumbled across a herd of deer at Red Rocks.

Eldorado Canyon State Park
Roxborough State Park

Things I Learned Hiking With A Dog

I love dogs (and cats.  I’m adamantly both a dog and a cat person) and I work with them every day.  Growing up my parents constantly adopted rescued dachshunds who had various scars and sad stories, but who turned into cuddle bugs and snuggle monsters.  I worked in shelters consistantly after graduating college, as well as being a dog walker and a receptionist at a vet clinic.  Yeah, I’ve seen some dogs.

It wasn’t until recently, however, that I lived with a dog who is- shall we say more a dog in the traditional sense of the word?  I refer to her as Dog on social media, where she has been cropping up a lot lately, and she receives a fair amount of attention.  Dog looks like a big black German Shepherd and she loves people, she loves adventure, and she loves exercise.  My roommates say that Dog doesn’t sleep, she waits.  Waits to play or run or explore.  She just waits.  Dog comes to work with me a couple of times a week, but on my days off I have started taking her out on hiking adventures.  This is Colorado, after all, where both dogs and adventures are the lifestyle.  Hiking with just a dog and no other human companions has taught me a thing or two.

1) You WILL become tired long before the dog and she WILL constantly look back at you with a disappointed look on her face.  Bless Dog’s heart, she always waits for me…except for yesterday we we descended a trail on a mountain side that was coated with ice and snow.  I ended up “surfing” part of the way down as Dog pulled and I clung to the leash, unwilling to let go.

2) No matter how sociable dogs are when in the dog park/doggie day care/a friend’s house/the neighborhood, etc meeting another dog on leash can be stressful.  The dogs might be tired or on edge from the hike, or picking up on whatever it is you the leash-holder are struggling with.  They don’t necessarily want to become friends with every other pup on the trail, so just greet the other hikers politely and move on.

3)I hope you packed dog-appropriate snacks!  If you didn’t pack some specifically for Fido then at least did you bring some that are safe to share?  I fully expected that half of my little Baybels cheese wheel would disappear into Dog’s maw and I’m okay with that.  Of course, the car was also stocked with a variety of treats so Dog could have a little power snack to reboot after the hike.

4) Dogs don’t chatter and they don’t get bossy about which trails to hike.  Well, maybe some dogs do…I enjoy hiking with friends too, but there is something wonderful about the peacefulness that comes from taking in a breathtaking view in silence with your canine by your side.  Dog is very good natured and listens pretty well (my roommates trained her well) so no matter how exciting or dull the trail I pick it, she’s enthusiastic about it.  That’s rare in a friend.

5) Don’t be a douche- bring plastic bags and throw away your dog’s waste!  Do not just leave it hanging from trail signs.  That is disgusting and lazy and hello!  Part of bringing the dog means taking responsibility for them!  Ugh, rant over, just pick up your dog’s poo please.

If you’re inspired to take your adorable canine for an adventure be sure to check if your intended destination allows dogs on the trail.  The rules can be kind of convoluted (like that many state and national parks allow dogs in campsites and anywhere cars go, but not on hiking trails).  Make sure you leash Fido too, because no matter how well behaved she is, there are bears and shit out there, so watch out.

Also, shout out to the Alt National Park Service for their bravery  and dedication to science and truth.  If you appreciate their work follow the link and show your support.  Follow them on Facebook or Twitter as AltNationalParkService.  Don’t forget Rogue NASA!

Check Out My Work on Travelettes!

The Travelettes have once again featured a guest article I wrote on their wonderful site!  You can find it Here.  This site is a resource that any and all female (actually anybody) travelers should check out whether they’re planning a trip, daydreaming about where to go next, or just looking for cool articles to read from the comfort of home.  The women who run this site are true travel gurus and are a gold mine of information and dead-useful tips and tricks.  Last fall I wrote about my solo trip to San Francisco.  Find that piece Here.  If you’re not too busy reading and rereading (ha) my articles, get lost in some truly fabulous posts about exotic locations you’ve only ever dreamed of.  Have fun!

Look, it’s me!

Kicking Off the New Year With A Mighty Mountain Adventure

New Year’s Eve was pretty quiet at my house.  We had a few people over and a few drinks, but it was a far cry from some of the NYE’s in years past, particularly the one’s spent in a cabin on Lake Michigan.  Thus when January 1st dawned we were reasonably up and alert.  We decided to drive to a nearby state park called Golden Gate Canyon (I previously wrote about a solo adventure I took there in early November) for a brisk hike.  The weather was positively warm and sunny in our neighborhood and- maybe because we were giddy with sunshine and holiday cheer- no one really bothered to think about what the weather in the mountains might be.  We packed snacks, baby gear, and hiking poles, and set off.  I threw on my denim jacket, which is comfy and full of pockets, but decidedly lacking in warmth unless it’s a balmy spring/autumn day.  

It took only half an hour to reach our destination, but a good half of that was spent on snakey, wending, twisty roads that went up and up.  So, for the second time in my life, I actually got car sick.  Not pleasant.  I sobered up, so to speak, when we got out of the car at the visitor center and felt the cold wind.  Yikes, I did not dress appropriately!  Luckily Ben was able to lend me his camo blanket, which I fashioned into a scarf.  That, along with his deer-hide mittens, kept me fairly toasty.  Oh yeah- and oh-so fashionable.  Inside the center Bekky and I found a list of wildlife sightings from other hikers, along with the trails they were spotted on.  “Bull moose!  Coyotes!  Foxes!  Mountain lions!”  They all listed the trail called Mountain Lion and so, with very little actual consideration for why that trail had so much wildlife (read: it was a remote and rarely hiked trail, due to it’s length and difficulty.  The ranger even politely pointed this out.  We missed the hint).

Out of the three adults on this hike, I was easily the most novice.  My roommates were better hikers than me even before they moved to odor ado five-going-on-six years ago, and by now they are even better.  It might be more accurate to describe my hiking style as “wandering around the woods, exploring aimlessly, and looking for animals”.  Thus while we were all having a good time, I was pretty sure I would not make the whole 8 mile loop and live to tell the tale.  The trail was gorgeous, alternating between views of the sit ant peaks and valleys, and winter woodland scenes, complete with little mouse trails in the snow.  Some parts of the trail were covered in a thick sheet of ice where snowmelt had frozen rather suddenly.  We did a lot of vertical hiking as the trail went up and and up towards Windy Peak.  A ways in I finally begged for mercy and we agreed to cut some mileage off our total hike.  It was getting later in the day and we began to o worry about losing the light.  In the mountains, once the sun goes behind a peak it gets dark much faster than on flat land.  It was also getting colder and *most* of us were tired (Ben seemed fine).  I have never used ski poles (if that’s the right word for these.  Like I said, novice) but was quite glad that Bena nod Bekky had brought them along.  When you are sore and exhausted and going up or down steep grades they are a lifesaver.

It was quiet, oh so quiet on our hike.  Apart from all the noise we made, of course.  There was light snow over on the ground, but also plenty of just dirt.  A few birds trilled warnings to each other as we went by.  The air smelled delightfully clean and crisp and of fir trees.  When we finally reached the top of Windy Peak the sun was setting, so the view was even more stunning than I would have guessed. The sky was a vivid pink and orange, and it threw the surrounding peaks into sharp relief.  As the name implied, it was pretty windy, so we didn’t spend too much time oohing and awwing over the view.  We did take turns climbing onto a rocky outcropping that dropped off steeply on all sides so that we could properly take in the view that we had hiked so far (it felt like) for.  However, since we were a the top of Windy Peak at sunset it meant that we really were in a race against time to get to the service road at the bottom before full darkness.  The way down went much faster, thanks to gravity, and a small amount of panic.  Well, urgency is probably a better word.  Again, those ski poles came in handy.  At this point the baby, who had been cheerful the whole way, began to get cold and hungry and generally fed up with the whole thing, so the trails were silent except for our huffing and puffing the thababy’s wails.  Bekky and Ben had headlamps which they broke out all too soon as the sun really and truly set and darkness set in.  I’m sure that all the wildlife for miles around was sitting tight and listening to us careening our way down the mountain.  We finally reached the bottom and…the sign, which should have pointed the way towards the parking lot where our car was, pointed back the way we had just come. SHIT.  It was dark, cold, and windy.  The baby was wailing and freezing.  We were exhausted and confused.  A decision had to be made and fast, so we decided to heed the signpost and had back up the trail.  It didn’t feel like the right way, but who were we to doubt the freakin’ signs?  Luckily we saw flashlights coming our way.  Two tired but friendly hunters (with enchanting Southern accents) appeared and told us that they were also heading to their car, which was parked in the same lot as outs.  Hallelujah!  Saved.  It turns out that the service road we had just been on had in fact been the correct way and that we did not need to head back up the mountain.  Another in saving grace.  It was a little disconcerting to me to be walking in the darkness with two people carrying rifles.  They told us that they heard the baby’s wails from way off and we afraid a panther had gotten someone.  If that statement doesn’t give you chills in the dark and cold I don’t know what will.  

We reached the car without incident and said goodbye to our deus ex machina friends.  We left the park, the baby fell asleep in the car almost immediately, and we rewarded ourselves with pizza on the way home.  In retrospect, in the warmth  and comfort of this coffee shop (aka my office) it was a might adventure and an excellent way to kick off 2017.  I’m not sure I want to do it again though.  Next time, I vow to plan ahead.

Cafe Life: Carbondale, Co

It’s the weekend before my birthday I and decided to drive three hours straight west into the mountains to spend time with an old friend.  She lives in a picturesque little town called Carbondale.  The Crystal River flows nearby, the mountains surround us, and the downtown is only one street.  I’m sipping my cappuccino in a cafe called Bonfire.  The drink is good, and since it’s late in the afternoon the place is nearly empty.  There’s me of course, writing, and a small group of baby boomer’s discussing things like the con-artistry of Costco, and raising kids.  Outside the temperature hovers just above freezing and the sleet turned to snow.  In Carbondale the trees all have Christmas lights and the bars have outdoor fireplaces for people to enjoy both the the scenery and beer.

I can’t say this is cafe is entirely my style but the scone I ate was delicious and the cappuccino is doing it’s job of perking me up and keeping my productive.  In between writing this I’m adding the finishing touches to another travel piece for a different blog.  I have a book too (of course), and the pressure is on to finish the last hundred plus pages before it’s due at the library on Monday.

Solo Hike On A Snowy Day in the Rockies

I really enjoy hiking, but let me just say here and now that my version of hiking isn’t the REI version: expensive gear compacted into a tiny backpack, grueling treks laid out, trails that take all day or several…no.  I like to pack plenty of snacks -yes, those are healthy, so REI would be proud of me there-, comfy clothes, and my trusty Duluth Pack filled with a book or two.  I bring my Nikon and I prepare to wander.

It was just me on this trip as all my housemates are out of town.  The snow began in little flurries as I drove through Roosevelt National Forest.  I grabbed a map from the visitors center of Rocky Mountain National Park and showed the lady at the info desk that I had sensible footwear (Sorel snow boots).  She told me about a couple of trails I might try and I was off.  Of course I got lost.  I had a scenic drive and turned around a couple of times before I saw the signs for the trail head.  I saw no elk, either, which was disappointing.  Lots of people come to this park just to see the elk that roam around here!

I stopped for photos next to small creek.  Since the water had a solid covering of ice I crossed it and started heading to a rocky outcropping across a big open plain.  The scenery was stunning even if the weather wasn’t.  The temperature was bitter and the wind was picking up, bring more snow with it.  The higher peaks were completely obscured, but here and there where they did emerge they were ghostly and a little shocking.  Image if you thought you were looking at plain sky…but actually there was a mountain there.  Anyway, I was crossing this plain.  I started noticing plenty of elk scat.  PLENTY.  It began to occur to me that I was not on a trail.  I was where people were not meant to go.  I was were elk/bear/mountain lions/goodness-knows-what-else goes.  I stopped taking pictures and turned back to the trail.

Back on the actual trail I met a few hikers (they looked like the very serious REI kind) coming back.  As I walked the trail hugged a hill filled with boulders and trees on one side, and the big open plain on the other.  The mountains loomed all around.  It was very quiet.  I stopped and listened for bird song, or even the sound of other hikers.  It was eerily silent.  Eventually though, the birds did start up, and it was the chickadee warning cry that sounded first.  I suppose they were warning each other about me, but they got over it soon enough.  The trail headed into the woods and towards a slope.  The snow fell heavier.  I met a few hikers going each way.  I wasn’t as alone as I thought.  I took the opportunity to stand on a large boulder and catch snow on my tongue.  There was a small brook that was flowing alongside the trail and for the lie of me I can’t even figure some of the places it must have flowed through.  I mean, I looked, and there was no sign of water, but I could always hear it.  Underground, perhaps?  I followed the trails for a little over two hours as it started to climb.  There was a lot more snow and some very fierce squirrels.  In some places it was clear that the trail was normally the bed of the brook or creek in warmer months because it was pure ice now.

When I estimated I had just enough time to double back and reach the car before dark, I headed back.  My legs were pretty sore and the temperature had dropped, so I kept up a pretty brisk pace on the way back.  At the trail head I snapped a photo of the map of the place I had hiked.  My Nikon had run out of battery by this time, so some of the photos are from my phone.

Back at the visitors center I stopped to use the restroom before making the 70 mile or so drive home.  I hear this odd trumpety-squeak sound, which I initially ignored.  Was it some weird bird?  Something mechanical?  I happened to look across the road and see a huge herd of elk.  That’s where they all were!  There must have been around 100!  It was impressive and not a little intimidating.  Check out the quick video I took Here.  From what I could make out, the younger elk were making the odd sounds as the ran around the larger group.  The herd was moving along right up next to some cabins.  I can only hope the inhabitants were inside enjoying the view.
That was my solo hiking adventure!  This was my second visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, and quite different from the first.  I’m not sure what future visits will be like as winter progresses, but I promise to keep you informed.

Louisville Adventure

No, not Loo-UH-vol, Lew-is-vill.  I found myself in small-town Colorado today, and it was just dripping with charm.  Louisville is near Boulder, so the backdrop is a fantastic mountain view.  The main road through town kicks off his the historical museum and segues into restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and boutiques.  I visited not one but two book shops within one block.  I had a cappuccino (my usual) and an egg bagel at a small cafe named Bittersweet.  BIttersweet it was not!  

After my refreshment (read: second breakfast) I hit the sidewalk in search of see what was to see.  Picture a quiet mountain town, sidewalks full of passerby, but very little actual noise.  There were few vehicles on the road also.  The streets off-shooting the main drag were mostly residential and full of cute houses.  It also happened to be Small Business Saturday, and since this area seemed to be 90% small businesses, there was quite a bit going on.  My treasures for the day included a small animality pig from a fair trade shop, and an intriguing mystery novel set in New Orleans from a used book shop.  And the coffee of course!

In high school I had a similar pig animalito that I carried in my coat pocket for years. It was finally stolen (on my birthday) my freshman year of college. This little guy reminded me of my stolen friend!

I had been feeling pretty down lately about working so much that I didn’t have time to have any new Colorado adventures.  What a delightful surprise to have a little adventure practically fall into my lap!