Even though we’ve lived here for more than three years now, it’s still weird to think we can just hop in the car and find ourselves in Colorado a few hours later. But we can. And we did.
Fort Collins is an easy five-hour drive from Rapid City. Easy but boring: let’s just say there isn’t a lot to see driving across the Wyoming plains. But the weather, at least, kept things interesting.
We set out mid-afternoon on Friday and narrowly dodged thunderstorms the entire way. But then the clouds magically parted, and we arrived just as the sun was setting over the Rocky Mountains.
You could practically hear the ghost of John Denver crooning songs about Colorado. “I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky” was never more apropos.
The reason for our getaway, by the way, was to stock up on essentials from Trader Joe’s. The closest location is Fort Collins, so we like to get down there once or twice a year to fill the pantry and freezer with essentials. Like steel cut oatmeal and chile lime chicken burgers and dark chocolate peanut butter cups and pork shu mai.
What can I say? It’s an eclectic shopping list.
The fact that this was a three-day holiday weekend was a bonus. Gives us an extra day at home to relax and recover.
Saturday was spent driving and exploring. We took Highway 34 from Loveland to Estes Park, through Big Thompson Canyon. We didn’t hit Rocky Mountain National Park because they are limiting the number of visitors. Reservations were required for timed entrances, and we were just kind of winging it. Not that we were lacking in scenery.
Then, we hit Highways 7 to 72 to 119 (are you keeping track?) down to Boulder, with a pit stop in a charming mountain town called Nederland for cocktails and a plate of nachos.
I was excited to check out Boulder. Located in the foothills of the Flatirons, it’s known for its scenery, liberalism, and mix of galleries, brewpubs, cafes, and boutiques. A major scene in my novel, No Time for Kings, takes place in Boulder…even though I’d never been. You know what else is in Boulder? The house from Mork & Mindy.
I loved that show growing up. So much that I had a plastic yellow Mork & Mindy lunch box I used to haul to school every day. Not to mention trading cards and stickers. It was pretty exciting to see it in person.
What can I say? I’m easily amused.
Sure enough, Boulder was a pretty interesting place. We wandered the Pearl Street Mall for a couple of hours. The people-watching (a fave pastime) was great, as was the entertainment. We ducked into a pub for a couple of drinks before heading back to Loveland. Boulder reminded me a bit of Portland…but the Portland of a dozen years ago, before it all went to hell.
We grabbed dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery just a stone’s throw from our hotel in Loveland before calling it a night.
Sunday, after breakfast, we hit up Trader Joe’s and a couple of liquor stores before returning home. The drive back was uneventful; we got home around 5:30 and had a chill evening.
Today, we’re just hanging around the house. Going to grill some baby back ribs and try to stay cool (mid-90s expected).
Happy Labor Day to those not laboring!