I'm back in business. You can read about Day 1 of our trip here and now the story continues...and it's a long one...
Saturday, 7/27, we woke up in Denver with no true plans except that we had to be in Estes Park to drop B&B off at rehearsal dinner by 4pm. Given the fact that we crashed by 10pm the night before, we woke up and were ready to go by 9am, which mean we had time to seek out breakfast.
|On 16th Street|
We decided to walk the popular downtown 16th Street Pedastrian Mall and came across Cook's Fresh Market. It's more of a grocery store than a restaurant, although they do make food to order and order indoor and outdoor seating. I could have eaten everything at the counter. Their premade salads all looked amazing.
Instead, I settled for a breakfast burrito (the smallest I've seen in CO but the perfect portion for me) and Ben opted for the bacon croissant (looks amazing, right?)
Argonaut Liquors on our way out of town. We'd had such great luck in June that we hopped to find more Russian River beer but sadly there were out.
Instead, Ben put me to work calling possible vendors looking for a spot to purchase during the hour and a half drive to Estes Park. We ended up in Longmont, not for RR but because we'd remembered Oskar Blues was there. Chicago has just started carrying their beers (love Dale's Pale) in the past year or so, so to visit in person was something we all were excited for.
It turned out they have a new brew pub, Grill and Brew, which is ranked highly for it's food. However, when I put it into my phone, we were actually led to their brewing facility instead of the pub. We were skeptical at first, but this turned out to be an amazing alternative. Tasty Weasel is the tap room at the brewery. The bartender (are they still called that if they only serve beer and it's not a bar?) was very friendly and when we ordered flights, she ordered us some extra tasters.
They offer free tours, but sadly it was well before the 2pm tour time and we needed to keep moving on. Instead each couple split a flight and we entertained ourselves chatting with the beer girl (is that more appropriate) and playing their free Skeeball (told you this place is awesome).Left Hand Brewing since it was a mile down the street.
milk stout nitro with a pint glass; but you had to pour it yourself. If you recall, the guys did the Perfect Pour Challenge in Ireland at Guinness. But this pour was a little bit different because you want the bottle completely vertical when pouring.
my favorite mix I'd made for the trip. Leaving Denver area and heading northwest to Estes Park, the surroundings changed from dry, arid fields, to green, hilly forests. We got to our hotel, Rocky Mountain Park Inn, with just enough time for B&B to freshen up before needing to be at the rehearsal.
A few notes on the hotel itself: we stayed here because the bride and groom had recommended it and there was a shuttle provided to the ceremony site and from the after bar. The hotel was clean and surprisingly comfy, but it was a bit outdated. It's a convenient half mile walk to the main downtown strip. We decided to split a room with Blake and Breanne knowing that both nights we'd be out drinking and could really care less about personal space (I mean we did spent over 30 hours in the car together this trip). To book outright would have been around $430 for a double bed room and four occupants. Can you guess how we booked? Yep, Priceline Express deals took that price down to just $265 total for the two nights. Winning! (PS- Growing up my mother always said it was very middle class to discuss money with number values. I'm certainly not upper/first class, so yep, I'll share the numbers with you).
After dropping B&B off, Ben convinced me that we should spend some time in Rocky Mountain National Park. I wasn't entirely happy about this. I was exhausted and hungry, but nonetheless, I decided when in Rome and I'm so glad I did! The park entrance fee is $20/vehicle, but is valid for seven days. Upon entering the park I thought this was a jip, but now having been through, I'd pay $20 per person.
And now is where you finally get to see mountain views after all of the tasty brews pictures
park map here) and drove west along Trail Ridge Road.
75-300mm lens when I had "new lens" on my Christmas 2013 list. I had yet to use the lens (whoops), but was extremely happy to have remembered to bring it for this trip. It was perfect for animal close ups!
We came across an entire field full of cow elk grazing. It turned out that being there around 5pm was the perfect time to catch animals eating.
We continued to follow Trail Ridge Road and stopped off to stretch our legs at The Continental Divide, which is where the division of water/rain flow is for the east and west of the country.
At first it was clear where we needed to go. The surroundings were serene and we even came across a few cow elk having their dinner. But after a while the path became confusing and then I started having a little bit of a panic attack. We were in the middle of woods with wild animals and no one knew we were there.
At one point I told Ben, "Stop, we needed to have a serious conversation here. What do we do if we see a bear?" Lol, yeah, I was a bit freaked out (and by the way, you stand your ground and try to look as big and fierce as you can. Do not run. It's a good thing I asked because that would be my first inclination).
Lesson learned: if you want to see wildlife at RMNP, dusk seems to be a great time to drive through the park. And we did just that. We drove through the entire park and came out at Grand Lake. This is when we finally got back cell service (none the entire time we were in the park) and realized that according to GPS, the quickest way for us to get back to Estes Park was to turn around and drive back through, which would take about an hour and half.
At this point it was 7:30pm, I'd eaten a burrito and chex mix that day. I thought I was going to cry. Instead, we pulled over so I could search the car for food (Ben decided he'd rather drive back than look for a place to eat at Grand Lake) and happily found a container of salted almond and began our journey back.
Poppy's Pizza, mainly trying to track down Russian River beer; Poppy's typically has Pliney the Elder on tap. Of course, with our luck they did not, but at this point, with food in front of us, we truly didn't mind.
Estes Park Brewery, which was a HUGE let down. It was Saturday night and besides a few parties that seemed to be regulars, the place was empty. The beer was okay, but nothing special. From there we gladly went back to our hotel to catch up on our sleep.