Monday, October 24, 2011

Colorado vacation: Golden

 For years, my sister and I have talked about going on a vacation together. But school and work (and our finances) got in the way. Now that my sister has finished school and has a great job as a dental hygienist, I asked her to join me on a trip to Colorado this fall.  What can I say?  I love Iowa, but every once and a while a girl wants to see the mountains.

It was a quick weekend trip.  We flew out of Des Moines on Thursday and came back on Sunday.  We decided to fly rather than drive to maximize our short time there.  But we left wishing that we stayed an extra day.  There was so much to see!

We started our trip in Golden, Colo., with a visit to the Coors Brewery.  It was a terrific tour -- and it was all free, including the beer samples!

Glad we hopped on the tour bus early, because there was quite a line when we were finished.

Here I am, standing in front of the "crystal clear waters" of Coors.

My sister, taking pictures of the copper kettles that start the brewing process.

Tried our first pumpkin beer at the Coors brewery tour.  They offered us each three free samples!
 What I loved about Colorado -- other than the mountains, of course -- were all the bikes on the street  There was even a bike lane on the highway to and from the Denver airport!  Maybe someday Iowa will be this bike friendly.  My sister noticed that it seemed like everyone in Colorado was in good shape (i.e., they weren't packing any extra pounds.)  We saw lots of people enjoying the outdoors -- jogging, biking and kayaking.

I'm so used to seeing "road" bikes in Iowa, it was cool to see all the mountain bikes in Colorado.

As recommended by our Coors tour guide, we stopped at a local bar (I think it was called Buffalo Rose) for lunch.  Honestly, it was kind of a dive bar, with a lot of greasy food on the menu.  But I did get a kick out of the Iowa Pork Fritter on the menu!

I had a craving for a Reuben sandwich, so I order it with a side of onion rings.  (Why not? I'm on vacation.) The onion rings turned out to be gigantic!  They were each the size of half an onion!  So good.

We then attempted to walk off the fried food and beer with a stroll along the trail.  We couldn't get over how clear the water was. Absolutely beautiful.

Also I loved the public art in Golden.  They embrace their western roots.

 Before we left for the day, we drove up to nearby Red Rocks Amphitheater, an outdoor concert venue built into the rocky landscape.  We couldn't stay long, however, because they were setting up for a Grateful Dead concert that night.  There were already several "Deadheads" camped out, waiting for the concert to begin. They were quite a colorful group of folks, to say the least.

Smoggy view of the Denver skyline.
My sister and I wrapped up our day with a trip to the coolest outlet mall we've ever seen.  We wished we had more room in our suitcases for all the cute clothes we wanted to buy!  And it seems like Colorado was  more fashion-forward than Iowa.  (I've heard that Iowa is about two years behind all the trends on the East Coast.)  Someday, I'm coming back to Denver just for the shopping!

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