You ever have those trips that you wish could last just a few more days? Just so you could squeeze in a little more time with people you love or places you want to adventure?
That was my trip to Colorado last weekend. A too-short, but entirely wonderful weekend in the mountains with my family and good friends.
Our purpose for the trip? A wedding. For two of my favorite people in the world. The bride is practically my cousin – our moms have been best friends since they were 13 and though we grew up states away from each other, Hilary and I spent our visits riding horses, playing dress up, singing showtunes, girl scout camping, and snowboarding… among a great many other things. Now, we’re lucky enough to live about 20 mins apart – and we do our best to see each other as often as we can. In living so close, I’ve gotten to know (her now husband) Duncan really well over the last five years, too.
When we found out their wedding was going to be in Colorado, Clay and I knew we had to make the trip – but it was pure luck that Clay’s work schedule allowed him to go. Approved-then un-approved-then conditionally re-approved leave and a canceled gig later meant that he could travel over the weekend, something we didn’t know for sure until the week before we were supposed to leave. WHEW!
But, our last minute scrambling for a suit and a dress worked out (I went with an option from Rent the Runway, which is kind of my favorite way to find dresses for special occasions), and we left for Denver early Friday morning. When I say early, I mean EARLY – we left the house around 3am and arrived in Colorado around 6:30am. But, that worked to our advantage, because we arrived about five hours ahead of my family, so we were able to go in to the city, grab some breakfast and groceries, before doing a little sight-seeing.
Our first stop was Denver Biscuit Company where we ate the most ginormous cinnamon roll I’ve ever seen.
In addition to that cinnamon roll, I had shrimp and grits that were so, so good – being the first real meal I’ve had out in months, it was a real treat to have something so yummy.
After walking off breakfast and heading to the grocery store to get some provisions for the weekend (you can’t have a road trip – no matter how short – without snacks), we decided to check out the Denver Zoo since we had a couple hours until we needed to be back at the airport to pick up the rest of the crew.
While we were there, the weather got a little stormy and the animals were all worked up about it. This Rhino was blustering about and pacing, the Tapir was squeeling (or whatever you call that high pitched sound it makes), and the birds were going bonkers. We sort of sped-walked the last half of the exhibits, but the animals we did get to see were pretty amazing. I always feel kinda sketchy about zoos (animals in captivity and whatnot), but the Denver Zoo is pretty clear about their conservation work and the efforts they make to ensure the animals’ enclosures are large and similar to their home environments. I would love to go back and see more!
Once we found the rest of my family, we headed up into the mountains to Estes Park – a small mountain town about two hours northwest of Denver. Situated just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes sits in a valley and is surrounded by some of the most gorgeous vistas you can imagine. Our first evening in town was pretty low-key. We checked out a brewery for dinner and spent an hour or so exploring the downtown area. Saturday, though, we hit the ground running. Clay and I wanted to get some fitnessing in, so we dropped in to CrossFit Estes Park for a WOD before meeting back up with my family to head in to RMNP for a hike. We headed to the Upper Beaver Meadows Trailhead and found a 2.5 mile loop that suited us perfectly. It was a gorgeous morning to get out and see the mountains and all the Park had to offer. It probably goes without saying that post-hike we were all very sweaty, a little dirty, and pretty hungry. We found some eats at Smokin’ Daves BBQ and then worked on getting gussied up for the weekend’s main event. The wedding was taking place at The Stanley Hotel – made famous as the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining, and complete with an actual hedge maze. Though Jack Torrance isn’t chasing anyone through this one.
Hilary and Duncan were married on Long’s Peak Lawn, overlooking the valley and the weather was absolutely perfect for their ceremony. It was remarkably beautiful and the rest of the evening was a wonderful party with delicious food, lots of dancing, and plenty of cake. I did my due diligence and tried all the desserts: almond cake with raspberry filling (I think?), banana cake with a chocolate ganache filling (omg you guys, I need more of this in my life immediately) and lemon bars. I could have had like, five of those.
By the end of the night, I realized I hadn’t gotten a picture of the bride and groom, so I remedied that the next morning before we headed back down the mountains to grab lunch in Boulder before heading to the airport to go home.
It wasn’t a long trip, and by the time we got home we were completely exhausted, but I would do it all over in a heartbeat. I’m already looking forward to our next opportunity to get the whole family together in a beautiful place to celebrate something as big as love.