Sunday, January 11, 2015

Trip Recap: Colorado * VERY PIC HEAVY *

As I mentioned in my last post, it's been quite busy over here. I visited my boyfriend in Colorado (remember from this post he moved there for 6 months for work) and we had such a great time! We crammed so much into my 7 days there and I am so pleased with all the memories we were able to create from our adventures. I wanted to share a couple of them here on The Files so grab some popcorn and have a seat...this post will take a while!

First, I am one of those airplane passengers who ADORES cloud photography. I take a photo of the clouds in almost every daylight flight I take. I saw the beautiful pinks in the sky and the formation of the clouds and knew I wanted to take a photo.

The flight out wasn't so bad -- there were no turbulence or scary oxygen mask dropping -- but I was unlucky enough to have a rather large man sit in the middle between me and the other man in our row. I'm not joking when I say his elbows were basically touching my ribcage the whole time. Good thing I was able to scooch over toward the window to give him some more room.

Anyway, the flight was about 4 hours and I spent it watching movies and shows I had loaded on my tablet (remember my Nexus 10 tablet nails). I also brought my cross stitch stocking to work on. You are allowed to bring sewing needles on a plane, who knew??



Once I arrived, Andrew started to show me around for the first couple of days. This was his view from his office:
Not a bad view am I right? I could get used to that!

We hiked through the Rocky Mountain National Park, which was neat because it was during its 100th Anniversary. The views were fantastic. I have never been up on a mountain side with such an incredible view. It was truly breathtaking and sharing it with Andrew made it doubly special.
We even saw an elk! He was just chillin and was unimpressed by all of us gawking at it. He eventually got up and walked away, but not before I could snap a few photos!
I apologize for the poor quality photo -- I had to zoom in a lot and it was on my camera phone! Funny story, while we were in the park I managed to crack the screen on my phone. Okay, not so funny. Then as we were leaving the park we saw even more elk! A whole group of them!

We also spent some time touring the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. You know from my Olympic nails (2012 and 2014) that I am obsessed with the Olympic Games so I was almost literally jumping up and down when we were able to fit this in. It was only $5 for the tour and they give you swag when you leave. Our group was given super cute Olympic scarves and beanies. They have the Olympic rings on them and everything so I definitely will be wearing them ASAP and pretending I went to the Olympics. Sorry not sorry. It was really spectacular to see where many of the olympians train. Andrew also bought me a Team USA water bottle that I will be using when I watch the Olympic. EVERY.single.time.

Next, we walked around the Denver Botanical Gardens and the Denver Zoo. Unfortunately, I do not have any pics of the Denver Zoo which is disappointing because it was Lights at the Zoo... all decorated for Christmas! Anyway, back to the Denver Botanical Gardens. The exhibit featured while we were there was glass work by artist Dale Chihuly. So on top of the gardens being beautiful in general, they were even more beautiful because they had all these stunning and vibrant glass designs placed throughout. How amazing are these photos? They are all colored and handmade glass:
Fun trivia fact: The last picture reminded me that I have seen work by Dale Chihuly before. He has a couple pieces at the Borgata in Atlantic City, which Andrew took me to for the weekend to celebrate my 21st birthday.

We also spent some time in downtown Denver walking around the Denver Art Museum. Although the DAM had 7 floors of mindblowing art, artifacts, and pottery from all different places (Asia, Middle East, Americas, etc), I was most blown away by the Cartier exhibit! It was called Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century and it was STUNNING. There were original pieces from Maharajahs, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and Maria Felix.

For a short clip about the exhibit check out this CBS Sunday Morning clip (once you get past the engagement part it is really fascinating):

We also spent some time walking around downtown Denver because there was an open air market/festival going on. We walked our way to the Colorado State Capitol building with the gold dome and decided to self-guide a little tour of the building. Luckily, it is open to the public! The building was so ornate both inside and out and we overheard an interesting story about some of the building material used in the Capitol. The Capitol includes an extremely rare material, Colorado Rose Onyx (Beulah Red Marble). Story went that the builders used all the known marble in the building and therefore it cannot ever be replaced. The Capitol building took six years to install and polish the marble. It was completed in the year 1900. So there you go, a little bit of history!
While walking through downtown we came upon these lovely little gigantic cows. It had rained recently so the grass was too muddy for me to walk on -- otherwise the photo would have had me climbing on them!

We also ate at the Buckhorn Exchange....which doesn't sound overly interesting. However, what if I told you that the inside of the place looked like this: 
Yep, the walls were COVERED in taxidermy animals. I ordered the buffalo Prime Rib and Andre I think got the Elk or Bison rib eye. Both were so delicious but I couldn't get over all the animals watching us eat. Talk about feeling guilty for eating meet!!

Okay, back to Rocky Mountain National Park for a sec! If you've been there you know that you will likely pass the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, on your way to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Does that hotel ring a bell for you by any chance? Does this photo remind you of something?
Yes, that is the hotel that inspired Stephen King's The Shining and the movie starring Jack Nicholson. You know, "HEEEEEERE'S JOHNNY" and all that creepy *isht. The hotel is for guests only (or so they want you to believe) but we went in anyway to investigate the place. Downstairs they had a bunch of photos and items from the movie, including this:
The plaque on the post to the right of the dollhouse states, "This Doll House was featured in Stephen King's The Shining -- an ABC miniseries that aired in 1997. This was filmed on location at the Stanley Hotel. It was located in the front of the Overlook Hotel and was part of the playground that was surrounded by the hedge bushes that come to life.

We also stopped by Room 217, the room that Stephen King stayed in when he was inspired to write The Shining. The hotel televisions have The Shining playing nonstop on one channel. Creepy.

Enough of that. Our last adventure was to Pike's Peak, one of the 14,000 foot elevation mountains in Colorado. No I wasn't out there schlepping myself and Andrew up the side of a mountain. Pike's Peak uses a Cog train to ascend and descend the mountain. You can drive if you want but that road looked like DEATH so I'm glad we chose the train option. Plus, how cute are these little train cars?
The train is the highest train in the United States and climbs an impressive 14,115 feet in about an hour or so. On the way there you are told all kinds of neat facts. For example, the panoramic view from Pike's Peak inspired the song America the Beautiful. The views at the summit were breathtaking but so were the various views you get while you're on the Cog. They keep you posted on your elevation with signs like this:
Once you get to the summit they have a restaurant and gift shop...where they made doughnuts! Yes, I've eaten doughnuts at 14,115 feet elevation and they were pretty damn tasty. We took a quick shot at the summit:
And then took in the incredible views.
You only get to stay up there for about 30-45 minutes since the temperature drops so much. We were bundled up because we knew that was going to happen but some people didn't and they were freezing by the time we boarded the train. Two neat things happened while we were up there: (1) we watched a couple get engaged and (2) it started hailing! We stopped in the store for a bit and I saw this hilarious bumper sticker:
 No, I didn't get it but it's worth a laugh or two!

I think that sums up the trip! I'm impressed if you read this whole thing! If you did, you earned a cookie!

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