Fort Collins Trip 2014

Dave and I drove to Fort Collins last week ostensibly to attend his niece’s high school graduation. But we turned it into a much-needed mini vacation for us. We were there for almost three days and it went by so fast.

The first day I was so lucky that I got to go fabric shopping at Mama Said Sew. In fact, that just happened to be our first stop when we got into town. That store is fabulous. It’s the only store I’ve ever been to that has fabric by Suzuko Koseki. I’ve always had to order it online, so that was a rare treat. Angela, the owner was super nice. And when I told her I was meeting my online quilting pen pal for lunch for the first time (whom she happened to know because they’re in the local Modern Quilt Guild together), she recommended a couple places to meet for lunch.

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After fabric shopping I got to meet my pen pal Jennifer in person. We have been writing to each other for four years. We found each other through Jen at Indie Fixx back when she started the Pen Pal Project in 2010 and asked if people wanted pen pals. Jennifer and I had very similar interests, so we started writing each other. We did a doll quilt swap last year. I never thought we’d meet but when this trip came up, it just seemed fortuitous because she lives in Cheyenne which is only an hour away from Fort Collins.

Jennifer

It was so fun meeting Jennifer. She was just as I imagined she would be. She cracked me up with stories of her husband who is an air force colonel. She even kept Dave amused. It turns out her husband and Dave share an interest in watching TV shows about Sasquatch, flying planes and shooting guns. We were having such a great time talking and catching up that we stayed in the restaurant past closing time and they practically had to kick us out. It was really hard for us to say goodbye. I can’t wait to come back again soon so we can meet up again. Next time we’ll have to meet in Cheyenne.

We didn’t get to spend a lot of time doing as much stuff as we would have liked because we did come to Fort Collins for Dave’s niece’s graduation after all. We also had to go to the graduation party and spend time with Dave’s sister’s family. It was funny seeing his niece Ava all grown up and graduated, ready to go off to college. She was the cute, little flower girl at our wedding 10 years ago.

AvaAlexaDave’s nieces Alexa and Ava (the graduate)

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We did find time to take a tour at New Belgium Brewery which was great, and I’m not even a drinker. It’s definitely a fun place to work. I could tell everyone there really enjoys their jobs. When you work there for a year, you get a specially designed New Belgium bike. After five years, you get a free trip to Belgium. After ten years you get a month off from work, plus a share in the company. Dave was trying to figure out how he could get a job there. The tour was really interesting and they weren’t stingy with their beer samples, either. Dave got six good-sized samples of their different beers, plus a free can of Fat Tire beer for helping to pour beer during the tour.

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We also drove down to Denver our last day because I begged Dave, even though he didn’t want to do a lot of driving around during this trip. I really wanted to stop at Fancy Tiger Crafts. I’ve always wanted to shop here and never dreamed that I would, and we were so close. What’s an hour of driving time, right? I kept dangling the flagship REI store there to entice him. It was a win-win for both of us.

Fancy Tiger was great but I was hoping they would have more Japanese fabrics than what they had. An employee said they would be getting more soon. I did find a few cute Japanese prints I hadn’t seen before, so it was worth the trip. And they had more Liberty of London fabrics than I’ve ever seen at any other fabric store. The store was really cool and I liked the fun vibe of the store. If I lived in Denver, I’d love to work there. They also had lots of yarn and patterns. There seemed to be something for everyone.

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We liked Denver but we didn’t get to spend much time there. We only spent four-and-a-half hours there because we had to get back to Fort Collins to go to church and then go to the graduation ceremony. We’d like to come back again when we have more time to spend there. We’re thinking of coming back next summer when the USA Pro Cycling Challenge goes through there. The weather will be better then, too. It was a little rainy during our trip.

Colorado is still one of our favorite places to visit and if we could manage it, we’d move there in a heartbeat. Their winters are milder and there’s no humidity. After the long winter we had, I’m ready to move anywhere where there’s no winter or where it doesn’t drag on forever. And I’m kind of getting tired of our humid summers. But I’ll tell you one thing Des Moines has over Fort Collins: great Asian restaurants. We couldn’t find any good sushi or Chinese restaurants while we were there. The one Chinese restaurant we ate at had us sorely missing Cafe Su. Dave’s sister said we probably weren’t going to find anything like that there. I guess you have to go to Boulder or Denver for that.

It was still a fun trip, but next time we’ll go just for ourselves when we can just relax and travel at our own pace. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you have to rush around and always have to be somewhere at a certain time.

Colorado Trip 2012

Dave and I just got home Sunday after spending five days in Colorado. We spent two days in Rocky Mountain National Park and three days in Boulder. I had never been to Colorado before, so it was a totally new experience for me being near the mountains. Immediately I noticed how much different the air was there. It was so crisp and cool and there wasn’t a trace of humidity. I could really get used to that. Dave has always been in love with the mountains and he’s been jonesing pretty badly to see them again since it’s been almost 20 years since he last saw them. He was all smiles the whole time we were there. He was even trying to think of a way that we could move there.

Driving up to Rocky Mountain National Park, I was truly amazed. I feel like there are no words to adequately describe the beauty and majesty of the mountains. To say that they are amazing doesn’t even seem to do them justice. I tried to get photos of them from the car, but none of them quite captured how beautiful they really were.

I’m not an outdoor person, so I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Dave on the hikes up the mountain trails with the extremely high altitudes. On our first day in the mountains, it was very cold, gray and windy. It even started to rain and sleet a little. It was kind of miserable. I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I did get winded and a little lightheaded on some of the trails. My heart and lungs felt like they were going to explode at times. But I sucked it up and managed to hike on three short trails. I was proud of myself for sticking it out.

Our second day of hiking was much better. It was sunnier, warmer and didn’t rain until after we finished our hike. We hiked up to Bear Lake and went on four trails. The views were much better. Unfortunately, since the weather was better, there were a lot of people hiking, so we didn’t have the trails to ourselves. We vowed we would come earlier on our next visit to avoid the crowds.

In Boulder, we hiked one of the trails at the base of the Flatirons. It was a lot different than the trails at Rocky Mountain National Park. For one, it was right in the city, and it was much hotter. I think I like the cooler mountain air at RMNP better. Plus, it wasn’t as scenic. But it was nice to be able to go not too far in the city to hike on some trails if you wanted to. And we discovered there are cottages you can rent by the night not too far from the Flatirons. We’re planning on doing that on our next trip to Boulder.

And what trip would be complete without a visit to fabric shop? You didn’t think I’d forget about that, did you? Of course not! I was pretty disappointed with the number of fabric/quilt shops in the Boulder area. I only found one good one worth mentioning called Fabricate. It’s definitely my type of fabric shop. It’s small but has lots of cute patterns, books, ribbons and hard-to-find fabrics. They have classes and the owner was super friendly. I think living in the Midwest, I’m really spoiled because we have a lot of great quilt shops here, that I just expect the same wherever I go.

We also planned our visit to coincide with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge going on in Colorado last week. We wanted to catch stage 6 going through Boulder on Saturday. Dave is an extreme biking enthusiast, so he was really excited to see the professional cyclists and all the bike manufacturers and vendors selling their products. It was a lot of fun and I’m not even into biking. It was also thrilling to see the cyclists racing through town. These are the same guys who raced in the Tour de France. They rode by so fast, though, so it was hard to make out their faces as they sped by.

It was a fun trip, but it’s good to be home. Dave is ready to move to Boulder, but I think I’ll stay in Des Moines. It has everything I want and need. Boulder has awesome weather and the biking culture that Dave loves and craves, but I’m a Midwestern girl. There’s something so familiar about the Midwest to me. I’m sure if I moved to Boulder, I would get used to it eventually, but the Midwest will always feel like home.