12 September 2011

Boulder Wrap-Up

After writing about hiking, botanic garden-strolling, green living, vegetable gardening, beekeeping, and nerding it up in and around Boulder, you'd think I'd be ready to accept that the vacation is over. And yet I'm not. I could use every byte of space Blogger will allow me to extol the wonders of that Utopian town...but I won't. So in this post I will try, briefly, to touch on some other highlights of our trip.

We had planned to run and swim and generally keep up our exercise routines while we were there (despite knowing how hard it is to exert ourselves at a mile above sea level). But the fun (and hiking exhaustion, and sometimes sheer laziness) tended to get in the way.

And the food. When we weren't eating my aunt Patti and uncle Robin's fantastic meals, we were stuffing our faces around town. One morning we tried the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse, which was a gift to the town of Boulder from its Soviet (now Tajikistani) sister city in the late 1980s (piece by piece, in a series of crates). While I was growing up, there was a lot of discussion about this incredible gift Dushanbe was sending to Boulder -- and where the heck they were going to put it. Well, twenty years later, it's in the perfect spot right next to the Farmers' Market), and the building is breathtaking.

And while I suspect my orange focaccia French toast wasn't technically an authentic Tajikistani dish, it was delicious nevertheless.

Our teahouse breakfast led into the laziest day of our trip. The details are fuzzy, but I recall a lot of reading, a world-class nap, and another sandwich from the vegetable garden. We did finally make it out for a swim -- around four in the afternoon. At Robin's suggestion, we tried the Eldorado Springs Pool, which neither of us had ever been to...and WOW was it an experience. It wasn't a lap pool -- in fact, I'm not sure we ever put our heads underwater -- but it felt like we had swum right back to 1968. The pool is set among some buildings that seemed untouched by time (among them I think are guest rooms at the least resort-y resort I've ever seen).

(Eldorado Springs pool pictures from

Did I mention that the pool is set right up against a mountain backdrop? So cool.

The pool is spring-fed, so it was chilly (although not nearly as cold as Austin's Barton Springs), but after a little while we had both made our way in and were enjoying the trip back in time.

Further proof that this pool had not found its way into the 21st century -- a slide that no code official (or, probably, insurance company) would sign off on.

It actually wasn't the slide that was so dangerous -- although it discharged into water that couldn't have been more than three feet deep -- but rather the steep, steep ladder and minimal handrail. Scary. But fun.

Then there was the day we drove up to Vail for some mountain biking. We did this once before, several years ago, and as we planned that adventure, I thought it would be no big deal -- I grew up riding a mountain bike around town. But riding a mountain bike on roads and paved paths is 100% different from riding a mountain bike on a mountain. I fell on a particularly tricky part of a trail and ended up with a series of chainring-shaped puncture wounds in my calf. Somehow I let myself be talked into mountain biking on a mountain a second time, and I certainly haven't gotten any better.

I love any excuse to go to Vail. That's why agreed to give mountain biking another try. I spent a summer there between finishing college and moving to Texas for grad school, and it's pretty much perfection -- quaint, gorgeous in every direction, still temperate on days when it's just a little too hot down in Boulder. It's too rich for our blood, though, so we just take day trips, but the hotels are gorgeous:

Anything that isn't naturally beautiful is made so with picture-perfect landscaping, like this bed full of gaura:

I'd love to know how many separate gaura plants this is. We have two in the bed behind the guest room, and they currently have two of those butterfly-like flowers between them. How many plants would I need to add to have this kind of showing, I wonder.

But now I'm stalling (just like I did after we got our bikes and were on our way to certain death...by which I mean up the mountain to the trails). The way mountain biking works at Vail is that you rent the bikes (right there at the resort, from the same little shops where you would get skis during the winter) and buy a lift pass for the gondola. (Four hours of bike rental and an all-day lift pass cost us about $60 each.) We went on Friday because they have a band and food and stuff at the summit on Friday afternoons, and the lift pass is good for that, too. But since the forecast indicated rainstorms in the afternoon, we ended up going first thing in the morning and finished our four hours long before the festivities got started (without a drop of rain in sight, by the way). But our four hours were enough for four trips up in the gondola (which you can see in this picture) and four white-knuckled trips down the trails (which criss-crossed the slopes):

And one fall by yours truly. It was both not as bad and way worse than this picture suggests:

I'm not too sure what happened, but I lost a shoe, and the bike ended up on top of me. ON TOP OF ME. That's a sure sign that something bad went down. But I was able to get right up without more than some scrapes and bruises (and a hole in my favorite bike shorts -- sad face), so I guess we can call it a successful day...?

Our trip included a lot more good times that weren't captured on film, but I'll wrap up with this picture of the Flatirons that I took the morning before we left Boulder:

The Flatirons are always majestic -- and Boulder is always pretty much my favorite place in the world to be -- but I definitely prefer this sunny vista over the cloudy, snowy view I captured during my trip last November:

Can't wait for the next trip back. In the meantime, though...lots to do (and write about) at the house.

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