The Best Things About Being Home (Briefly)

As summer winds down it turns out a lot of people are taking trips.  I guess I was always under the assumption that as September rolls around and fall starts to settle in people hunker down.  I was wrong!  I have been delightfully busy house sitting for some of my favorite Colorado dog owners.  While this means that I get to cuddle and play with some wonderful pups, it also means that I haven’t been home much.  My cats are feeling a bit neglected!  While I was home for a few days this week I feel back into my Capitol Hill routine.  There are some great things to do if you ever find yourself in this part of Denver, so here are a few of my favorites.

The street art around here never fails to disappoint

Pizza at Benny Blancos.  This is truly a hole in the wall establishment, as it is a narrow shop nestled in between bigger and louder buildings.  I literally walked right past it twice!  Different people had recommended this place for a slice of New York style pizza and they knew what they were talking about!  For $2.50 you can get an enormous slice of pizza. You can add just about any topping your heart desires for a little more (something like .50).  Be warned, only about three or four people can fit inside at any given time, so you might end up standing on the sidewalk outside while you wait!

Drinks at City O City.  This place is mainly known for it’s tasty vegetarian fare (wohoo!) but I actually end up coming here more often to grab a cup of coffee or to take advantage of their great Happy Hour specials.  Happy Hour takes place for several hours at a time, two times a day!  They serve craft cocktails, a selection of beer and cider, great coffee, and even house made kombucha.  Not to mention the artwork you can take in inside the building is gorgeous, OR you can sit outside and sip your libation in few of the golden capitol building.
Relaxing at Cheeseman Park or City Park.  I know I’ve written about the parks in this neighborhood before, but I just can’t praise them enough.  As if the colorful history weren’t enough (haunted parks!) both feature plenty of shady space to relax, open grass for dogs to play, and playgrounds for kids or adults-who-just-want-to-swing.  I like to bring a blanket, thermos of beer or coffee, and my ipad or a book to kick back for a few hours.

The Denver Art Museum Is just down the street from me.  You can’t miss the iconic chrome structure gleaming in the sun!  Not to mention all the crazy sculptures out front.  This place has plenty of cool exhibits on display, plus the architecture itself makes for a very trippy experience just walking around.  Plus, the first Saturday of every month is a free day!

Voodoo Doughnut Is another place I write/talk about frequently.  Yes it is a bit of a tourist attraction, but for a good reason.  This place has the perfect quirky downtown vibe that I love and the donut selection is pretty magical.  I have my favorites, but whenever I bring friends here I try to think outside the box and try a new creation!  Creation, not flavor, is the right word since some of these donuts looks like pieces of delicious art piles high with peanut butter, cereal, marshmallows, coconut flakes, frostings- you get the picture.  There are even vegan donuts available! Plus, since this joint is open 24 hours, there is no wrong time for dessert.

So yeah…those are a few of my favorite things.  I have could go on- there are tons of tiny cafes, restaurants, and bars around here but I think I would run out of battery life before I got done trying to type it all up!  If you ever find yourself in Denver head towards the golden dome of the capitol building and spend some time in Capitol Hill.

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Summer Roadtrip: Denver to Duluth

I have never taken a solo road trip before. There was always a parent driving, or in the case of my African road trip adventures, a friend behind the wheel. Last Friday, however, I packed a copious amount of snacks, cleaned the car out, and prepared to drive from my home in Denver, Colorado, to my grandmother’s apartment in Duluth, Minnesota. Denver to Duluth. It has a nice ring.

The western part of Colorado gets all the glory, but the eastern part has it’s own beauty too
  According to google the trip would take sixteen hours (if I was good and kept to a tight schedule) and take me through eastern Colorado, all of Nebraska, cut across Iowa, and then north through Minnesota. Duluth is on the tip of Lake Superior in the northern part of the state. I slept very little the night before I left since that cats and the bunny were all staying at friends’ places and the apartment was a little too quiet for my liking. I finally had the car packed and was on the road at about 5:30. The sun wasn’t even up yet and there was a light drizzle. This cleared into a haze by the time the sun started to come up and made for a spectacular sunrise as I drove through the hilly prairie-like land in the eastern part of the state. I was so tempted to stop and get out of my car and take photos! I didn’t, and I regret it now.  

Nebraska seemed to take a very long time to drive though (not a suprise). I began to feel really tired on this part of the trip. I used a variety of tricks to keep myself alert. The old blast-the-music-and-sing-along. I will post a link to the Boss Lady Roadtrippin’ playlist, via Spotify. I also drank a thermos full of coffee in addition to a bottle of kombucha. Water was a great pick-me-up also. Finally I had to admit that I needed an actual rest. Somewhere near the eastern border of Nebraska I pulled into a pretty and shaded little rest stop to take a 45 minute catnap. I’m not sure what the elderly tourists walking in and out of the restrooms thought of a person just snoozing in their car, but no one bothered me.  

The sun was getting much lower in the sky as I passed in Iowa, and what a welcome relief it was to see pretty rolling hills and sunny forests instead of endless flat and dull landscapes. Iowa passed by uneventfully and it was almost dark by the time I crossed the state border into Minnesota (at last!). I could tell I was there even before the robotic google maps voice said ‘Welcome to Minnesota’ because fir trees replaced the maple and ash trees. The landscape was distinctly more north-woodsy. I pulled off into a small town to grab a bean burrito for dinner and was charmed by the Minnesota accent, which was always there, but which I never noticed much before. Or maybe it was just this one small town.  

It was late at night and very dark as I drove through heavily forested roads in the northern part of the state. There weren’t too many other cars. I was about twenty minutes outside of Duluth when I saw a wolf run into the road. Luckily I was not going fast, and since my brights were on I saw the wolf with plenty of time to slow down. Luckily he or she thought better of crossing the road and turned and ran back into the trees. Given how thick the trees were and how late at night it was I’m surprised that I didn’t see more animals on the road, but the rest of the drive was uneventful.
Around midnight I finally pulled into the parking lot of the apartment homes where my grandmother lives. My parents were both there to greet me. It was wonderful to have finally made it! 

Want to check out my custom-made Boss Lady Roadtrippin’ playlist?  Find it Here!

City Places: Cheeseman Park

I want to write about city places, by which I mean particular places of interest within the city. I don’t mean tourist traps, and I don’t mean entire neighborhoods. Right now I am sitting in Cheeseman Park in Denver, Co, with a thermos of cold beer, a book, this tablet, and a Turkish towel to sit on. The light is fading and somewhere nearby someone is lighting off intermittent fireworks. I can hear a fountain some ways behind me, but more immediately I hear dogs, people having picnics, and laughter from from friends sunning themselves on their towels as they trade stories. There are plenty of people in Cheeseman Park tonight, which isn’t surprising as this sprawling green space in the middle of the city is a popular escape for those in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.  Cheeseman Park used to be a cemetery. That fact is interesting enough on it’s own, but coupled with the fact that when the city officially moved it’s cemetery somewhere else around 2,000 bodies were left unclaimed is even more interesting. This park is beautiful, but I think part of the draw is also all the ghost stories. Plenty of locals who have lived in the area for years will talk about “the regulars”, or ghosts that everybody talks about. Other people report feeling negative [read: bitchy] for no reason. I can’t speak for any of that, although my friends and I did detect a funny smell when we visited one afternoon…
This park seems to be a hub for twenty-somethings to play frisbee or have a cookout, or for people to let their dogs run free for some sunny exercise. The people/dog watching opportunities are excellent. Bordering this park is the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood and it’s hard not to walk along the streets with your mouth hanging open over all of the big brick mansions. A city hotspot, Voodoo Doughnuts, is less than a ten minute walk away. In my book that’s a major bonus.
If you find yourself in Denver, or in Colorado for that matter, this park deserves some attention. Sure it’s not a mountain to climb, or a canyon to raft through, but there’s more to Colorado than just geology!

A Solo Roadtrip

This is the Tiffany’s necklace, the LBD, the sweet vermouth, the ice cream on a hot day, the- you get it.  This is the thing for travelers that you need to have under your belt.  This is the solo roadtrip.  I’m planning mine for August.

Alright, so my roadtrip will be less of a meander and more of straight shot towards an end destination, but I’m nervous and excited for it all the same.  The starting point will be Denver, CO and the end point will be Duluth, MN.  My mother’s side of the family is from Duluth so we tend to gather there every summer.  I’ve missed a few trips to Duluth here and there and summer just never feels complete!  This is the city on the Big Lake, a city of gentrified industry, great fish, great beers, great people, and a beautiful mix of the outdoors and a city lifestyle.  The “Minnesota nice” adage is alive and well in Duluth.  The drive should take me about fifteen hours, give or take, and I plan to make the drive in one day.  Since my work days are about that long it’s not exactly unusual to find me on the move that long of a time period, although I’ll admit I have never driven for that long in one go before.  When Mom and I roadtripped out to Colorado last October we split the drive into two days (we had my two cats and my two rabbits with us and those babies needed a break!).

I’m looking forward to powering through Nebraska and then having some more fun in Iowa and Minnesota.  My little Diana F+ camera will make a great companion to help document (as well as my trusty Nikon).  What things do you need for long road trips?  What secrets have you discovered for making a long trip a success?  I’ve written about this in previous posts, but here are a few of my favorite road trip items.

1) Coffee and water and snacks (duh).

2) Harry Potter OR Outlander novels on audiobook.

3) That said, I also need a sweet roadtrip playlist.  Sometime you just gotta blast that Florence + The Machine.

4) A comfy tee and shorts combo to throw on but still feel stylin’ in.  I’m ogling some great adventure tanks on Etsy right now…

5) My Nikon and my Diana F+ to document!

6) Great friends to text you and make sure you’re still in one piece!  This is a bit of a joke, but it’s also nice to be able to reach out and share things digitally when you are alone.

I’d love to hear what other people like to bring on their trips.  Maybe I can get some inspiration for mine! 

Cafe Life: Denver, CO


I think that this post will be the first in a series about different cafes.  [“Way to play into a stereotype, you crazy millennial kid you,” is what you must be thinking]

I love visiting cafes when I am in new cities.  Or cities that I visit, love, but don’t live in.  This past summer I wrote a little bit about some great coffee shops I checked out in Duluth, MN, and San Francisco, CA.  Hopefully this January I can visit Seattle, WA and experience that famed Seattle coffee culture.  Not only is coffee delicious (there is a distinctive cappuccino happy dance that happens in my head when I see that tiny mug with the fern patterned foam coming at me.  Yeah, I look normal on the outside, but…), but I feel like setting up camp in a cafe lets you get to know the neighborhood and city at a leisurely pace.  Plus, it is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for some kind of guided tour.  Not to sound terrible but…when you flock with other tourists, you tend to get only a very skewed glimpse of a place.

Back to coffee: I’m sitting in Little Owl Coffee on Blake St in downtown Denver.  Even though I’ve spent the past three weeks working in Denver I haven’t had a chance to explore it properly yet.  I left my car near the Park N Ride (parking near it instead of in it= freeeeeee), took the train, then the free mall ride bus for about two blocks and then BAM! Coffee time.  I did some research last night looking at some of the best- or highest rated- cafes in Denver.  There were a lot to choose from, and all looked pretty tempting, but Little Owl had the highest praise, so I thought I’d start here.  It’s exterior is pretty unassuming: a sleek black exterior with glass door printed with the the name + an owl.  Of course!  Inside it’s very modern looking with the back wall made entirely of a white marble.  The counter tops at the bar are also marble, but the few tables in here are made of some kind of beautiful wood.  The stools are also wooden, with slim wire legs or just glass.  Behind the coffee bar is a shelf full of interesting-looking glass cups, decanters, and goblets.  Those little glass globes with living succulents in them are peppered around the cafe.  There is a door that leads to what looks like an art gallery.  I’m still savoring my cappuccino (served up in less than 5 minutes, so yay for quick service) so I haven’t gone over there yet.  There are a few people sitting outside and in.  Two business-y looking men are having an animated discussion at the long wooden table in the middle of the cafe, another business guy is sitting next to me on his laptop, and a very chic looking woman is keeping to herself across the cafe.  I am very much in love with her boots.

The cappuccino is delicious.  I must learn some coffee jargon so that I can accurately describe what I am tasting.  All I can say right now is that I am happily engaged with this tiny mug and it’s foamy contents.

Fast forward a couple of hours.  I fell in love with Tattered Cover book store.  I visited City Stacks also, and was very impressed with the selection.  It seems like a bookstore just for young women, but maybe I just happen to like every book they had on display.  Now I am grabbing a bite to eat before I catch the train home.  I am at another cafe that was very highly rated: Amante Coffee.  It’s on 17th St, right across from Union Station if you care to visit.  I got a cup of black coffee and added a little cream, cocoa, and cinnamon.  I got pain au chocolat to compliment.  The coffee is delicious (and not just because of the stuff I added).  I had a Lorelai Gilmore moment when I took my first sip- this must be what Luke’s coffee tastes like.  Too bad there is no Luke behind the counter.  The vibe here is a little more relaxed and a little more touristy.  The inside looks chic, and alternative music is playing at a soothing volume, but there is also a flatscreen with whatever football game is on mixing with the coffee shop vibes.  This cafe shares the bottom floor with what looks like a salon and hotel, so there is a small amount of confused foot traffic.  Next to me two women who look about my age are discussing efficient ways to manage small business.  A couple of tourists look lost at a table across from me.  The barista is friendly, attentive, and capable.  There is a fair variety of beer and wine available also.  I have my eye on the sweet Amante coffee stickers near the register.

What’s the Deal With Altitude Sickness?


Altitude sickness (or to use the more quaint term- “mountain sickness”) occurs when you ascend to an altitude level where the oxygen is thinner.  It can be pretty serious when you are actually climbing mountains- yes, when I looked it up there was a horrible picture of a dead goat that succumbed to it- but when you are just adjusting to the Mile HIgh City (Denver) it is much milder.  In fact, some people aren’t affected at all!  I, unfortunately, am not one of those people.

Common symptoms are:

-Shortness of breath

-Lack of appetite

-Headaches

-Inability to sleep properly

I’ve got the lack of appetite and restlessness in spades.  I checked out a site put out by Denver’s tourism board and read that since there is much less moisture in the air the sun is more powerful.  I knew that it was sunnier here than back in Wisco (apparently Denver receives more sun that San Diego and Miami!), and I certainly noticed the drier air, but I guess I hadn’t put the reason behind these things together.  This also means that exercise goes a lot further than in lower altitude places- wohoo!  It makes the rather brief run I took around the neighborhood yesterday seem more impressive.  If you are interested in reading more about this you can check out the Denver site Here