Boulder, 2008

Cris and I were celebrating our 5th anniversary of dating, and decided that in return for my buying a "free" ticket for us to go to Toronto this summer, he'd get us "free" tickets to someplace for this trip. The restrictions on international travel (ie need way too many airmiles) restricted us to the continental USA, and we decided that Boulder sounded good. We both were interested in trying out mountain biking, and Boulder offers lots of options.

Fri Nov 21/08

I took the T from work, beating rush hour by leaving at around 3pm, so I had no problems with my small suitcase. Cris had checked us in the night before, so I sat with my book near the security gate and waited for him. The line moved fairly slowly, but we got through with plenty of time before our flight. A bit of confusion over which gate, and then a delay as the inbound plane was delayed. The staff kept hectoring us about how to line up, get out of the way, store our baggage in order to help them reduce the turn around time, it felt like being in primary school. I ended up taking them up on their offer to check my suitcase for free so that I didn't have to worry about finding space in the overhead bin for it. We were at least half an hour late, and lots of people were worrying about their tight connections in Denver. This reinforced my policy of not connecting through there, esp. not with less than an hour between flights. I'd picked up a second sandwich from Panera when I went there for lunch, and ate it in the departure lounge when the delays were announced. My throat was parched on the plane, it was insanely dry. I read, watched Journey to the Center of the Earth (my geeky seat mate was animatedly upset with how bad it was, but I found it entertaining once I gave up on the science). I was pretty tired, and had no problem staying seated to let people out before us. I was frankly amazed to see other people doing the same, usually that never happens, guess the lectures worked. :/

Cris went to find the Enterprise counter, and I went to find my checked bag on the carousel. I met up with him and we went outside to find the rental car shuttle. We just missed one bus, and on ours, we were packed in with lots of ski gates and poles and bags and early 20's skiers. They were told there wasn't much snow on the mountains, I hope that they had a decent time. My plan of sitting next to the door paid off as we were near the front of the long rental car line once we got inside. For once, we got the car we'd reserved, a Kia Sportage. Cris put his GPS on and I checked the map to give us some context as we drove north west to Boulder. We were sent via a toll highway, $6.50 to drive for less than half an hour, on a suddenly explicably empty road. We had called ahead to get the door code for the Bradley and let ourselves in. The lobby is huge, lots of wood and art. Up the grand staircase to our room, to find a carved wooden cat sitting on the end of the bed. :) I unpacked a bit, and went down to the kitchen to get some free bottles of water, bliss. I drew a bath in the big jacuzzi tub and threw in a Lush blackberry bomb and did some hard core relaxing. In bed and asleep just before midnight. The time change to Mountain time didn't really affect us, thank goodness, it was a short enough trip as it was.

Sat Nov 22/08

We got up at around 7:30am and went down for breakfast. French toast casserole, yoghurt parfait, toast and tea set me up for the day. I filled up my camelbak from a couple of bottles of water. We drove north of Boulder and hiked the Mesa trail. We hadn't been able to find detailed maps before setting out, but the sign posts looked easy to follow and we had a line outline of the trail. Unfortuantely, the mesa trail just kept going, and our map didn't list trail names, we were supposed to double back to the parking lot at some point, and luckily stopped to ask a guy and he directed us back along the trail a little bit to the Bluestem trail which quickly led us back to near where we started. Lots of dogs out walking with people. It was a lovely day, if warmer than we expected, so we kept shedding layers. Seeing the Flatirons up close was really neat. I fell back into my Kili trekking pace, pole pole.

We drove back into Boulder, washed up, and then went next door to Leaf vegetarian restaurant for lunch. Service was a bit slow, they share bathroom facilities with Aji next door, but the food was quite good (esp. the samosas!). We popped into the army/navy surplus store on the corner to get a tarp for the back of the SUV, then drove up to the University area to Full Cycle. But it turned out that it was the wrong one, this location didn't rent bikes. The clerk gave us some tips on where to ride, but I was getting antsy as the afternoon was running out and the sun was going to set at 4:30. We headed back to 2 blocks from our BNB and foudn the larger location and got our mountain bikes, named after cereals. It was close to 3:30 now, we quickly headed back toward where we'd been hiking in the morning and biked the mesa bike trail and community ditch. It was really rocky to start, but it's wonderful how well the bigger tires and front suspension handle that kind of terrain. Lots of gates to open and close, climbing up was fun, then riding along the flat ditch path. Lots of dogs again, one puppy jumped up on my leg and licked my hands when we stopped to let them by. The sun was about to set as we headed back downtown, it was just past 4pm.

I tried on a lot of stuff at the Title Nine store, but I needed a small on top and a medium on the bottom in the one dress style that was calling to me. Cris got his bike's water bottle cage replaced at Full Cycle across the street. I also tried stuff on in Common Era, tonnes of cute clothes (and some sexy ones!), but nothing that fit perfectly. Cris sat on a stool and read a magazine and gave me second opinions. :) We meandered over to Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. Lovely grounds, with Boulder Creek running right next to the outdoor garden patio. I had a balck tea with almond and blueberry (a bit too much going on). Cris got a Campfire: lapsang souchong + a shot of smoky scotch. I was saving myself for a cocktail with dinner, but the earl grey + gin + lemon was really tempting. We shared samosas again. Our table was right next to the central fountain, we had a nice view of all the amazing architectural detail and colours around us. We strolled back to the Bradley, where I showered and changed for dinner.

Dinner at The Black Cat was inspired by seeing a link to the Boulder First Bites event and the map showing where all the participating restaurants were located. Cris and I were giggling over the overly pretentious menu (foam! juxtaposition of duck!), but the price was right ($26 for three courses) and we were able to snag an 8:45pm reservation on the one night we had to do dinner in Boulder. We walked over from the tea house a bit early, and sat at the bar to order a cocktail, having been tempted by the online cocktail list (that I can't find now...). I had a very good gin, St. Germaine and lemon cocktail, but almost as soon as it was set down before me, we were informed that our table was ready. I very slowly and carefully carried the martini glass to our table for two and managed to set it down without spilling it. The one drawback to our table was that it was right next to the open kitchen, and the clear barrier stopped just at the edge of the table where I was sitting, so the left side of my face was blasted with heat from the multi burner oven just over the wall. It was chilly outside, so it wasn't too bad, but yeah, not the best table. I could also see where they had the wine stored, on an open suspended wooden platform above the bar, right next to the kitchen. I didn't order any wine with dinner. I went with the First Bites menu, starting with the apple and lovage soup with duck confit, and it was amazing and delicious, a rich creamy soup with duck that somehow managed to stay crispy in the liquid. My main course, "crisp potato rosti with spaghetti squash, apples and riesling", was just okay, though, and the pear bread pudding with caramel sauce was okay as well. I did take note of the hand soap in the bathroom, Pangea Organics in the Canadian Pine with white sage scent, it was lovely and I'm hoping to track down a bottle for home. I was so full once dinner was done, despite reasonable seeming portion sizes, I felt like I was rolling out of there. We walked back to the BNB and I conked right out, not even the prospect of a hot tub bath enough to keep me awake.

Sun Nov 23/08

The alarm went off at 6:30am. Whee, vacation! :) We had our continental breakfast (half a bagel, yoghurt, tea), and watched the woman setting up the breakfast dishes for the later risers. We were in the car around 7:30am, finding that the rear hatch hadn't latched last night - oops, but the bikes were fine. We took off out of Boulder proper into the foothills, winding along a 2 lane highway to Nederland and turning there to get to Mud Lake (missing it at first as it was a different thing on the sign, past the Mud Lake parking lot). The mining museum in Nederland looked neat, but no time to stop. We were unexpectedly high up, near 8600 feet or so. We put the wheels on the bikes and took off on a couple of awesome beginner trails, looping around the lake and up to a lookout. We only saw one other mountain biker, and a woman running with dogs. We had time to do one loop twice which was good, as I was really tentative the first time around and the second time was more fun as I trusted that there wouldn't be any massive drop offs. We were a bit breathless due to altitude, but it was an awesome morning. We saw lots of what we finally figured out was bear spoor, as well as some stripped bones (elk?) when we stopped at a bench. The titular lake was coated with ice, frozen down a few inches, but I didn't risk taking a walk on it.

We headed back at around 9 or 9:30am, stopping briefly to check out a promised waterfall, but it was up a side trail. It was too early to return the bikes when we got back into town, Full Cycle opened at 11am. But we were in time for the tail end of breakfast, arriving at the Bradley just after 10am, so we had more food. :) I took a quick shower, packed up, and we were out. We returned the bikes, paying less than expected as we pretty much just did an over night rental. Street parking was free, so we left the truck there and walked over to a deli listed on the tourist map, but it wasn't open. Cris was fine to drive, so we headed back to Denver, and found The Tattered Cover, then doubled back to eat at Annie's Cafe. We were able to get a seat at the bar right away, despite a crowd at the door. My blueberry pancake wasn't very good. We browsed at the book store for an hour, and then got tea and coffee at the cafe inside it. I didn't end up buying anything, but I had fun browsing, it's a nice relaxing space, with arm chairs and tables where you can read for a while. We filled up the SUV at a gas station there, and then Gineane called me, they were at the airport right then and heading to get their luggage and rental car (not where we were returning ours), so we missed each other again. Returning the SUV went quickly, and we caught a quick shuttle back to the terminal. I dropped my bag at the online check in drop (not much faster than just checking in on the spot). There was a short security line, but Cris got delayed for a longer search. We had a bit of time before our flight boarded, so I got some soup from Wolfgang Puck's stand, and a smoothie. I also filled our water bottles, I'd kept them from the BNB. The flight was a bit bumpy, but uneventful, and we split a cab when we got to Logan to get home quickly.


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