Ryan and my Mom came to visit recently, and needless to say, we had a blast. From touring Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park, I could never grow tired of these very special places. It’s only been a year, and I’m already so fond of everything Colorado has to offer.

First, Ryan spent half his weekend with us and the other half with his Mom in Southern Colorado. We explored the Rockies on a Friday as I practiced the art of living in the present moment. Less time on my phone, more attention to our surroundings. Sure I still took a few pictures, but Dream Lake in particular is very aesthetically pleasing. The steep climb is worth the views.

Afterwards, Ryan talked us into a steak house (we’re not huge on red meat), and I’m so glad he did. Cattleman’s in Greeley served up the best steak I’ve had in years. Their food is nothing short of amazing.

We took to Fort Collins the following morning. From bar hopping near the reservoir to showing Ryan around Old Town, we probably could’ve done without the booze at Wiley Roots with Ben and Amanda. But you only live once, right?

By Sunday, we finally made it to the “big city”. Denver Biscuit Company’s wait was outlandish, hence, we grabbed a booth down the block at Annie’s cafe, yet another impressive establishment that was new to me. Their retro, authentic decor felt like we landed in the 1950’s. And to top off the weekend, we met Kooch for drinks at 3 Margarita’s and talked about life in general. Why can’t every day be the weekend?

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Our loose itinerary
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Sunset at the bark park the night before Ryan arrived

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My favorite lake in the park, for now.
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Ryan chillin near Rock Cut and Iceberg Pass
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Peppercorn steak–super yum.

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Beer at Canyon Grill
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Always a good time at Syntax
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Drinks at Annie’s–love mixing coffee with booze.
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3 Margaritas

Next comes my Madre’s vaca. We hadn’t seen each other in like 9 months, so I might’ve been more excited for her trip than she was. Unlike Ryan’s itinerary, Mom’s was almost according to plan. We didn’t make it to Devil’s Backbone or Wiley Roots, but we did pop in on Nuance next to Welsh Rabbit, plus the Ginn Mill in Denver.

We kicked off last Thursday with the Human Bean, Infinite Wellness and a trip to our old house in Fort Collins. I also showed Mom our former neighborhood and the park Buddy enjoyed so much. Next we drove to the Trial Gardens, but that’s a post unto itself. I’ll post flower pics in a day or two. The gardens are so beautiful–it’s a shame we don’t have something similar in Greeley.

Once we left the gardens, we landed a window seat at the Welsh Rabbit, followed by a Nuance detour.  I saved my Spicy Red Chile Truffle for the highest point on Trail Ridge Road at Rocky Mountain National Park, and boy was it delicious. Next thing you know, we’re leaving Fort Collins approaching an unexpected cool-front with lightning, thunder and a chilly, steady drizzle of rain.

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Welsh Rabbit Menu: Decadence at it’s finest.

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Taking bruschetta to a whole nother level
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That duck was to die for!

The weather wasn’t great as we rolled into the park. As a result, Old Fall River Road was slightly muddy, but once you’re on the road, you can’t get off. It’s one way and incredibly narrow, causing my Mom to nearly suffer a heart attack as we gradually climbed the daunting mountain. I was secretly nervous myself, wondering how the fuck my car would survive the pot-hole-ridden switch-backs accumulating water, but alas we made it to the top without any problems whatsoever.

After our courageous and slightly nerve-wracking expedition, we carefully drove down Trail Ridge Road and headed towards camp. Come to find out, it’s not too difficult to secure a spot in this beautiful park in August. That’s because, at night, it gets down in the 40’s and by 10:30 or so, I was freezing my ass off. I drank an extra rum/OJ/grenadine concoction to put me out and went to bed.

The warm sun greeted us Friday morning with not a cloud in the sky. Breakfast might have been my favorite thing about our trip: Between the bacon, eggs, roasted potatoes, toast and fruit, we certainly didn’t go hungry. We broke down our site and headed to Bear Lake. Unfortunately, the parking lot was full, so we booked it to Sprague Lake instead.

Talk about a blessing in disguise–my Mom agreed to walk the lake with me, which I hadn’t done before. Last summer, Keegan and I hopped out for a quick glance before traveling elsewhere. Little did we know, if we had walked the loop, we would’ve caught some epic views. Instead, I shared this moment of surprise with my Mom.

By the end of our stroll, it was time to go home. But I would highly recommend camping at Moraine Park! I’ve already warned my husband it’s a “must-do” next summer. The campground remained relatively quiet with partying kept to a minimum, which made for a perfect, peaceful evening. High elevation camping totes rocked my socks.

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Lightning could never deterred us from camping.
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Guarding our food against the Pikas and the Bears

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The view we saw last year
The view we saw last year
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Isn’t this one so much better? Same lake, different side.
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Falling in love with Sprague Lake

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Once we made it home, I had some pasta salad and passed out. Keegan got off work and we all headed to JBs in Greeley for dinner. It’s neat how you order using a phone inside, as if the drive-in feel wasn’t cool enough. This could very well be my new favorite burger joint in Colorado.

The following morning, we took my Mom to Denver just like Ryan and Tika, hitting up the usual spots. But this time, 16th Street Mall was more crowded than usual thanks to a Bronco’s game, some other game and Journey playing a show down town. This didn’t deter us from Mile High Distillery, the Ginn Mill or High Point Creamery, but the hustle and bustle of 16th Street Mall was a little more excitement than what we bargained for. On the plus side, we just so happened to catch a glimpse of dozens of protestors marching against the Dakota Access Pipeline as we enjoyed our afternoon snacks on Cheesecake Factory’s patio. It really put things in perspective: Here we are, privileged, getting day drunk on 16th Street while other people are marching many miles in an effort to protect our sacred planet. I know I keep using my internship as an excuse to remain stagnant regarding certain issues of which I am very passionate about, but trust me: Next year it is on like Donkey Kong.

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When you and your Mom coincidently have the same exact lighter lol
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Beautiful sunrise following my Mom’s departure from Denver.

This month has been wonderful so far. It’s sad to see Ryan and my Mom go, but I’m so appreciative of the time spent with them. Thank goodness for a three-day weekend, 4 day weekend and a random “mental health” day last week. There’s so much to be grateful for: My co-worker’s bridal shower (planned by yours truly), relocating offices to where all my friends are stationed, two weeks internship-free and our upcoming company picnic, plus Unknown Mortal Orchestra in Denver this weekend. Whew! Life is good.