Category Archives: Colorado

USA ROAD TRIP, Video and concluding remarks

Video from the trip is done! Check out some of the highlights from the trip in this video.

Huge props to my mate Jesse Nanton for going through all of the GoPro footage and composing an awesome original song to go with the video footage of this trip.

It was one hell of a trip. The grandiose plan was devised on a regular night while Mikey and I were hanging out. We decided to follow through and now have some memories that will last a lifetime. The final itinerary looks like this.

March 10: New Jersey. Cherokee, NC. Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg, TN
March 11: Knoxville, TN. Nashville, TN
March 12: Memphis, TN
March 13: New Orleans, LA
March 14: Houston, TX. Austin, TX
March 15: Austin, TX
March 16: San Antonio, TX. Roswell, NM
March 17: White Sands National Monument. Albuquerque, NM. Santa Fe, NM
March 18: Denver, CO, Lafayette, CO.
March 19: Rocky Mountain National Park
March 20: Boulder, CO. Lawrence, KS. Kansas City, MO
March 21: St Louis, MO
March 22: Louisville, KY. Magnolia, KY
March 23: Home

Rough route that we took
Rough route that we took

14 days
17 states (NJ, PA, MD, VA, TN, NC, MS, LA, TX, NM, CO, KS, MO, IL, IN, KY, WV)
6020.9 miles

6020.9 miles
6020.9 miles

A lot of time people hear of a trip like this and they think it’s impossible for them to do it because of time or money constraints. Sure getting two weeks off can be a little rough, but in half that time Mikey and I were able to make it from New Jersey all the way out to Roswell, New Mexico. And in only three days we were able to make it from Kansas City all the way back to New Jersey. You can definitely make time for an awesome adventure so don’t let that keep you cooped up.

As for the money, it didn’t end up costing a tremendous amount for what we were able to see and do. In the 14 days we slept in the car 4 times, stayed with people we knew three times, and checked out reviews online to get good deals on cheap places. Most were from $40-60 a night with only Austin and New Orleans being outside of that price. Gas is reasonable considering the cost of alternative travel options. If you don’t have a car you can score a cheap car rental price with unlimited miles. Grabbing a cooler and buying a bunch of good healthy food at the supermarket was great in many ways other than the low cost. It was fast and kept us fueled up. The hotels and motels always offered free ice to keep our stuff cool. When we went out to eat we usually went out for an awesome dinner. There’s a ton of great stuff to see in this country and a lot of it’s free or really cheap. The price break down looked something like this.

Gas: $630
Places to stay: $570
Food/Drink: $1100
Supermarket: $150
Admission/Misc: $300

Total: $2750

Per person: $1375
Per person per day: $98

I overestimated on most things because I’m too lazy to go through all of the receipts. You could definitely take this same trip spending a ton more or a ton less money depending on what you do or don’t do. Adding some more travelers would let you chop away some of those costs as well. I’d think the price is fair for a once in a lifetime trip that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will follow up with the answer. Let me know about what adventures you have planned. Best of luck!

USA ROAD TRIP, PART 4 OF 5 Denver, Lafayette, Rocky Mountain National Park, Boulder Colorado

Woke up in Santa Fe and had some dreadful coffee which was complimentary to the Motel 6 we were staying at. I couldn’t finish drinking it. But no worries, we were off to Colorado! We were thinking about maybe checking out Pike’s Peak or Garden of the Gods on the way up but it looked like we wouldn’t have time. The first place we stopped was Denver. We made our way over to Great Divide Brewing Company. Had to dodge a bum fight on the way there, but we got there safely.

Colorado has the best beer in the country
Colorado has the best beer in the country

Great Divide throws down with the beer that they make there. If you get a chance to have some, I recommend it. You just can’t beat the intense freshness and quality of a beer poured from a tap at the brewery where it was conceived.

Great Divide throws down
Great Divide throws down

Great Divide is my favorite brewery so I was pretty pumped to go through the samples with Mikey. His favorite was the Claymore Scotch Ale and mine was the Espresso Oak Aged Yeti.

Much beer, very Colorado
Much beer, very Colorado

After our quick stop in Denver, we were off to meet up with the family in Lafayette. They let us crash and provided great hospitality as always.

True champions
True champions

We went out and grabbed some grub at The Post Brewing Company (there are breweries everywhere in Colorado). It was nice to catch up with everyone but we had to get to bed a little early because everyone had work the next day.

When Mikey and I woke up the next morning we decided to check out Rocky Mountain National Park. But first I had to get a cup of coffee. Colorado throws down with their coffees so I knew I would be able to get that dreadful motel coffee taste out of my mouth. Upon recommendation from a local coffee expert (thanks Meliss!) we went to Proper Grounds Coffee Roasters. There’s a reason why this new shop has a 5.0 rating.

Fresh bean
Fresh bean

The beans are sourced from a variety of farms all around the world. Then they are roasted in house. Then they are crafted into whatever fine drink you like. I opted for a large coffee and a homemade pastry. Mikey skipped the coffee (for shame) but also went with a delicious bite. We discussed our plans to go into the Rockies over these delicious treats.

The shop is very open and creatively stimulating
The shop is very open and creatively stimulating

Before we bounced out of Proper Grounds, I fueled up on another cup for the road. There are a lot of places that we could have checked out but Rocky Mountain National Park is pretty unbeatable for a quick trip to the Denver/Boulder area. We ran into a little traffic on the roads because they were removing rocks and working on the roads that were damaged from the floods. We drove through Estes Park but didn’t have time to stop. We drove into Rocky Mountain National Park and were blown away. It was in beautiful form.

Hashtag no filter
Hashtag no filter

The park offers some amazing views, but catching a herd of grazing elk is tremendous. They don’t mind the cars or the camera. We could have stayed around and watched them for as long as we wanted to.

Beautiful creatures
Beautiful creatures

Onwards we went. Upwards we climbed. Stunning views greet you at every turn. Rocky Mountain National Park is small enough that you can see it in a day, but also big enough that you can get lost in it and explore new parts if you have more time to spend here.

About as high up as we could go
About as high up as we could go

The road was closed off at the top so we had to turn around, but even with the road closure you can still get pretty high up. The views are just great up there.

We had to get out of the park because we had a kickball date for later on that night. After having a rough couple seasons, the team started off the year with a couple wins. It was up to Mikey and I to keep the team undefeated. Road closures slowed us down a little but we got to the house on time. It’s a drinking league which means you can drink beers in the dugout, so we stopped at Avery Brewing Company to grab a bite and a brew before the game. Had a banh mi sandwich which was delicious and a sampler of a few beers. The Chocolate Mint Stout is worth a sip and the Eremita VI is worth a glass. Game time was approaching so we got out of Avery and went to the field.

Mikey and I were pumped for this game ever since we heard about it back when we were in Austin. Finally we were here, ready to keep the undefeated streak alive. The game was close. Hits and runs were hard to come by. 1-0. 1-1. Then we went down 2-1. You had to fight for everything. Everyone on our team was kicking ass and making great plays though.

What a catch cousin Amy
What a catch cousin Amy

Eventually we tied it 2-2. Extra innings. Then another inning. Things getting sticky. Getting out of sticky situations. Yeesh. Bottom of the 9th (game was only supposed to go to 6) and we have a runner on 3rd. A little dribbler is hit and our guy sprints for home. Play at the plate. And he’s safe! We finally were able to taste that sweet, sweet victory in extra innings and won 3-2.

I was surprised at how well setup the league was. There was an ump and a scoreboard and everything. But mostly the league is about having fun. Co-ed drinking kickball is something that is very Colorado and I was happy to experience it.

We got back to the house and hung out for a little bit. Mikey and I said our goodbyes to everyone that night before we went to bed since they all had to be up early for work the next morning. We would be heading due east the next morning as our trip slowly was starting to wind down.

Before we left the next morning, we stopped in Boulder to hang out at the Pearl Street Mall. We grabbed some delicious Colorado coffee and checked out the shops. We took part in a silent disco at University of Colorado (you put earphones on and listen to whatever music you want to and dance in an open field on the campus). Stuff like this happened.

Probably should have picked this up
Probably should have picked this up

Some of the shops out here are tremendous. I was pretty tempted to buy a magic wand. The craftsmanship on these wands is great. They are all individually made. Seemed like a good deal to be able to use magical powers in exchange for $200 but I couldn’t justify it and kept the money in my wallet.

The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter
The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter

And like that, we were off. Eastward we went. Slowly making our way home.

Colorado New Year’s 2014

Colorado is an awesome place. The place has everything you could want in a place to live. Awesome nature, great food and local beers, lots of friendly young people, delicious coffee, a health conscious community, a thriving tech community, an affordable cost of living, and a million other things. It’s easy to see why part of my girlfriend’s family moved out there. And I’m happy they did because it gave me the chance to visit this beautiful state. This was my third time out to Colorado and the trip was as awesome as always.

Hiking the range near Boulder
Hiking the range near Boulder

Hiking and getting into the mountains in Colorado is a must. The Rockies are beautiful. A quick drive can often get you to one of the many gorgeous trails. It’s nice to venture into the woods and take in the beautiful scenery.

Hiking in the Rockies
Hiking in the Rockies

Stopped by the National Center for Atmospheric Research just to check it out. The weather exhibits were pretty fun but the supercomputer setup they have there is remarkable. It was nice to see the gear humming along. I saw this signed photo which was tremendous.

Seymour Cray, the father of supercomputing
Seymour Cray, the father of supercomputing

So far we saw some tech, some nature and hung out with some cool people. But we were in need of some delicious local brews. They were provided by Front Range Brewing Company, a quick walk from the house in Lafayette. The sampler is recommended. Eight small samples packed with flavor. Then we went off to Odd13 Brewing for more bites of Colorado food and local brewed beers.

One of the many awesome breweries in Colorado
One of the many awesome breweries in Colorado

The next day included some frisbee golf. Frisbee golf is an activity that is very Colorado. It’s slightly different than what you might be used to. It’s outdoors. It’s a bunch of fun. Frisbee golf is just regular like golf. You start far away. Then you toss your frisbee and try to get it into the basket in the fewest throws. I witnessed a tremendous attempt from B-Large. He’s standing to the left of the next picture and threw it all the way to basket on the right of the picture. It hit the basket but didn’t stay in.

B-Large is a wizard of the disc
B-Large is a wizard of the disc

After frisbee golf we had to make a quick stop at Left Hand Brewing. The Nitro Milk Stout is one of my favorites, so I was pumped to grab this in person. It’s amazing how much better beer is when you get it at the brewery that it was brewed at. Many times better than when you get it at your local liquor store.

Nothing beats a beer at the brewery
Nothing beats a beer at the brewery

I decided to show my thanks to my girlfriend’s family by cooking up some of my signature cioppino. It’s kind of hard to beat an assortment of scallops, king crab, shrimp, clams and mussels in a spicy tomato broth with a nice piece or two of garlic bread.

Cookin up some cioppino
Cookin up some cioppino

The next day we went off to Steamboat Springs. The ride out there was gorgeous. I was pretty happy to grab this shot of a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep that was chowing down right along the road.

Sweet Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
Sweet Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep

The ride offers stunning landscapes.

I heard about plateaus but never seen one before
I heard about plateaus but never seen one before

Eventually we made our way to the town of Steamboat Springs. It looks like a great place to carve up the fresh powder, but we spent our time checking out the shops in town. We actually grabbed some po’ boys at a New Orleans restaurant called Sunpie’s Bistro which was an unexpected surprise. We spent the day strolling through town.

My love and I
My love and I

After we were done strolling through Steamboat Springs we went to Strawberry Park Hot Springs. The hot springs provide quite the experience. Strip down in the freezing cold into your bathing suit and hop into the pools of hot water. It’s interesting because if you dip your head under water and then keep it above water for a short period of time, the water on your hair will freeze due to the below freezing temperature of the outside air. There is a really hot pool and a lukewarm pool, and another pool that is has incredibly cold water.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs
Strawberry Park Hot Springs

After the hot springs we freshened up for a night out. The rest of the night was spent trying to keep warm, hustling around Steamboat Springs from place to place. Supposedly we just missed the guys from Duck Dynasty who visited a liquor store a couple minutes before us which made sense because they were in Steamboat Springs at the time.

The next morning we woke up, grabbed some good breakfast, strolled some more of the town, and then hopped in the car for our return back to Lafayette. The drive was once again beautiful, with gorgeous scenery along the way.

Back to Lafayette we go
Back to Lafayette we go

The rest of the night was spent hanging out at the house getting ready for our trip to Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the New Year’s Eve festivities. Red Rocks is open for visitors for free at any time when there is no concert. A lot of people use the steps for various exercises, which as I would imagine is very effective.

Center stage at Red Rocks
Center stage at Red Rocks

The top of Red Rocks provides a nice view of Colorado. You can see the tall buildings of Denver in the distance. Looking out from the top will provide you will a stunning view. The red rock provides a beautiful contrast to the blue sky, the white snow, the dark pines, and the faded grass.

From the top of Red Rocks
From the top of Red Rocks

The area around Red Rocks has some beautiful trails which are worth the trek. The scenery around Red Rocks is gorgeous.

Even without a concert it's worth a visit
Even without a concert it’s worth a visit

New Year’s Eve was spent in several places. Stopped by a friend’s house party. Then went off to a place in search of food. None of the restaurants/bars were serving food on New Year’s Eve so we had to score some Chinese food from Double Happy. Met back up with everyone with just a couple minutes to spare. Toasted to the New Year. After our celebrations we woke up and headed to the airport for our return back to New Jersey. As always, it was a great time in Colorado.