Maaike in the States, Season 2012, Episode 3 (in English, Nederlands staat hierbovenl!)

Hi everybody, it’s time for some stories again! You’ve seen the photos, now the tales! Just before I left Fort Collins for Denver I had a nice lunch with Michelle at Coopersmith. I had a yummie chicken-brie on croissant. Michelle’s friend Julie had to go to Denver that Sunday anyway, so I could hitch a ride with her. That saved me a bus fare! And it was much nicer to chat on the way back to Denver. The hostel in Downtown Denver was easy to find and Julie gave me a couple of tips so I immediately knew where to go. The receptionist at the hostel was a bit of a strange old guy with scratches in his face, but very friendly and helpful. I first walked over to 16th Street Mall, browsed around in the shops for a bit and had dinner at a Noodles restaurant. I had nice noodles with peanut sauce, but it was a bit spicy though.

The following morning I did my laundry while I was getting breakfast (everything in the washing machine) and eating it (everything in the dryer). Then I walked to Cheesman Park and the Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens were unfortunately closed, they were probably getting it ready for Spring or so. But the Park was also nice to walk around and had a great view of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. There were some funny squirrels that weren’t shy at all. Some even came on the table where I was sitting at and looked at me like: ‘Well, ma’am, aren’t you going to give me some food?’ Hihi! Then I walked over to the house of the Unsinkable Molly Brown (an American socialite, philanthropist, and activist who became famous due to her survival in 1912 of the Titanic) to take a few photos of it. It was also here unfortunate for me that this museum was closed on Mondays. But next to it was a very nice place to have some lunch, Perk on Penn. I had a nice bagel with salmon and cream cheese and a cup of coffee. Then I continued my walk to 16th Street Mall again, after taking a photo of the Mile High step at the stairs of the Denver Capitol building. That is exactly 1 mile above sea level. Then I did some more walking around and took the free hybrid bus on 16th Street. I went for a quick manicure at a nice spa salon to have a bit of an indulgent relax moment for myself and the lady who did my nails was soooooo friendly! She was from Vietnam (I’ve been there in 2006) so we had plenty to talk about. She loved my accent and said that I was such a happy cheerful person. I told her my hands were dry and she gave me a sample of some hand cream. It looks a bit like a little tub of mayonnaise, but it works really well and was of course very nice of her! I picked up a sandwich at Subway and ate in my room while planning my upcoming road trip.

On the 20th I checked out of my hostel in Denver and made my way over to the airport. I had booked a Compact car (just one above the smallest category), but because of snowy conditions and mountains, the lady behind the counter advised me to get a bigger car, like one class up. For an extra $ 200. I said I couldn’t afford that because of my budget. Okay, $ 140 then… I’m still not sure… Okay, for $ 140 two classes up. Okay, that’s good. J Then I got to pick a car at the parking lot from another lady and I think that the big ass Mazda CX9 I got to choose is actually 3 classes up… not bad a deal! My first stop of my road trip was at Golden, a cute little town just before the mountains. I stopped there for an ice cream and walked around a little bit. The weather was very nice, it was a bit cold but the sun was shining, Then I continued to Boulder, a student town, where I had some lunch. I drove up a mountain to get a view of the city and then left Boulder via the Canyon Drive along the Boulder creek and Boulder Falls. I couldn’t walk to the Falls since the walking trail was closed for the winter, but I still got to see a bit of the waterfalls from the road. The Canyon Drive took me to Nederland. Haha! Yes, it’s really called Nederland and written like that! Of course I had to take a photo of the entrance sign. Then I drove through to Black Hawk, which was a town filled with casino’s. It was funny to bump into that in the middle of the mountains! My last stop for the day was at Idaho Springs, a nice little town between the mountains, where I checked into the first motel I found.

Wednesday I went out for breakfast. I first went to a local restaurant, just to check out the culture a bit, instead of going to an international well known chain. As I wait for a waiter or waitress who can get me seated, a hillbilly stares me up and down and immediately grabs his phone to call his buddy. Okay, I thought, never mind about the cultural experience, and I went next door: hello Starbucks! After a stare-free breakfast at the always good Starbucks I checked out of the motel and drove into the center of Idaho Springs to walk around a little. Then my trip continued to Silverthorne where I went to see the Ice Castles. They are manmade, but very beautifully made out of icicles that they ‘grow’ overnight by dripping water down as it freezes. You can walk between the huge walls of ice and there is even a throne. With the light of the sun (even at noon when the sun is harsh and not golden), it’s a magical place to walk around, very pretty! Then I had a nice lunch in Frisco at Butterhorn. The place was suggested to me by a man on the streets who just started chatting to me as I took some photos. I asked him for advice on somewhere  to lunch and he suggested this. They had great food, I took the vegetable soup, hummus and toasted bagel, yummie. The decorations in the place were very funny too. All the tables had a different set of salt and pepper shakers. And out of the roof there was a bear falling ‘into the restaurant’ on ski’s… After lunch I drove to Breckenridge, where I found a B&B (Fireside Inn) via my navi. Run by a very friendly couple who gave me lots of information and warnings (being on 3km above sea level needs a bit of adjustment for a girl from a country that is below sea level!). The Fireside Inn was a very nice place to stay and I slept in the dorm room. Then I took the last free bus of the day to Beaver Run, just to take a look at the slope. Unfortunately there was nobody skiing or snowboarding anymore that time of day. Then I walked through the town with all the shops and bars. On recommendation I went to have dinner at Fatty’s, which was a very busy place, so after waiting for 20 minutes I got a seat and enjoyed a delicious pizza. Then back to my room, where I had a hot shower (it was pretty damn cold there!) and relaxed. On the main street I had seen a sign for dog sledding in Breckenridge so I went 2 messages to Good Times Adventures about it, and hoped to get in for the following morning. I chatted for a bit with Jeff from Florida who had the bed next to me.

As I woke up that following morning I immediately checked my e-mail and… yes! I had mail from Good Times: there was exactly 1 spot available! I quickly phoned them to secure that spot. They tell me to bring my own goggles or sunglasses and gloves. As I hang up I realize that I didn’t bring gloves on this trip. Ah well, I didn’t worry, I could always buy some. Then Jeff offers me his gloves, since he brought two pairs, and of course he doesn’t need both pairs at the same time. I can drop them off again after the sledding. Great! So very nice of him! I have breakfast at a small bakery and then drive to the end of Tiger Road. I get boots and a snow suit from Good Times, so I’m ready to go! Outside I get to meet the guide, Valerie, and the family I’ll be joining for the tour: Jim and Cathy, their daughters Michelle and Christine and son-in-law Ryan, all from Florida as well. Valerie introduces us to all the dogs and gives us the instructions on how to drive the sled. Like how to stand, how to slow down and how to make a full stop. The dogs will pretty much follow the snow mobile anyway, but you have to know how to stop, because the dogs will want keep on running. Only 2 people can go on the sled (one sitting and the other one standing), and the other four sit on a trailer behind the snow mobile of Valerie. The sitting on the sled behind the snowmobile is great to take photos from anyway.  After Jim and Michelle take turns, it time for me and Cathy. It goes really well and it’s so much fun! I really love it! It’s just great to be outdoors, with the dogs in their element (running in the snow), enjoying nature. After us it’s time for Christine and Ryan to have a go. When we get to the top of the mountain, we all get to go one more time on our way down. The first hill down goes really fast and Jim and Michelle lose control and fall off the sled. No injuries, the snow was soft enough. But the guide had to quickly jump on the sled to stop, since the dogs kept on running. Hihi! Afterwards we took a few more photos and then it was time to say goodbye and thank all the dogs personally. Such lovely dogs, really an amazing and wonderful experience! A must-do! Then I dropped the gloves back off at the Fireside Inn and drove via Frisco, where I got a sandwich at an organic place, back to the Interstate Highway 70. I went off the highway for a little detour at Eagle, so I could get some coffee and a delicious red velvet muffin and did a bit of sightseeing. Then through Vail, but that place was even too expensive for me to get out of the car😉 At Glenwood Springs I found a motel for the night.

Friday the 23rd I started with a relaxed morning, and I of course had a chat with my Mom who turned 60 that day. Then I drove over the highway to Grand Junction. I stopped at Rifle Falls State Park for a little walk around waterfalls, and at Colorado River State Park. At Grand Junction I went to see Colorado National Monument, which is a huge national park with canyons and has a beautiful scenic road along the Rim Rock Drive. Along this drive I saw such amazing canyons and great views. After all this sightseeing in Colorado I crossed the state border to go into Utah. I stayed in Moab for 2 nights and that was the start of some amazing National Parks. Those stories will follow the next time though!

 

Lots of love,

Maaike

About Maaike

Besides my travelblog on https://maaikie14.wordpress.com, I have another website with various articles on http://thecuriousbutterfly.com. See you on either one or both of them!
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