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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Breckenridge and Denver, CO Mini-Vacay Recap

Hello, hello! How’s your week going so far? Today is rainy and gray here in Athens, GA, but it’s creating a spooky feel to the day that I love. Summer rain and thunderstorms always make me want to either curl up on the couch and watch horror movies or sit on the porch with a good book and watch the storm roll in. Unfortunately, I’m stuck at the office today, but you better believe there will be some porch-sitting and horror-movie-watching later this evening.

Anyhow, today I’m giving a recap of my (too short) trip to Breckenridge and Denver, CO at the beginning of April. My good friend/old roomie Lonna, who now lives in Louisiana,  convinced me to meet her in Denver to catch up with some of our good Athens ex-pat friends. We ended up having a super fun and relaxing time and it was refreshing to be around old friends again. I’m already dreaming of going back in the fall next year to explore a little more.

Check out my overly detailed three-day trip recap below:

DAY 1: BRECKENRIDGE [or the cool people say]

We didn’t get any decent amount of snow this past winter in Georgia so it was nice to see the huge snowdrifts and snow-covered mountains. We took a beautiful walk around the neighborhood with Charles & Olivia’s new pup, Bubs. Then we went into town for lunch. The little town of Breckenridge is a typical ski town with little colorful chalet-style businesses and beautiful mountain views at every turn. We ended up eating at Rita’s, a super chill, basement margarita and taco bar, which is a little less touristy than most of the restaurants downtown. We tried out three different salsas and they were all delicious: mango, salsa verde, and habanero corn. The habanero corn was the hands-down favorite with the mango a close second, but they were all good. I ordered the fish burrito, medianna style (it comes with refried beans, spanish rice, green chilis, corn salsa & cheese) which was also yummy and a tequila sunrise (the drink special that day).

After lunch, we decided to go on a distillery tour. We went to the Breckenridge Distillery (the world’s highest distillery), which offers a free tour. We were expecting a taste or two of some high-quality spirits but NO. They gave us at least 5 or 6 substantial samples of different varieties of bourbon, spiced rum, vodka and bitters. I would DEFINITELY recommend sharing tastes, as we did. The tour was really interesting. I especially liked the barrel room because it smelled like a hardware store. My favorite of the spirits that we tasted was their Chili Chile Vodka. YUM. It would be perfection in a bloody mary.

We took a little walk around downtown to sober up a bit clear our heads and get some coffee. Charles and Olivia took us to one of their favorite in town coffee spots, the Cabin Coffee Co. They have white coffee there, which I had never seen or heard of, but it was SO good, with a slightly nutty flavor. It supposedly has extra high caffeine content, too, but I couldn’t tell. I ordered a drink called the Tumbleweed, which is made with the white coffee plus salted caramel and whipped cream and other indulgent, unhealthy things that made it extra delicious. No joke, I still dream about and crave that coffee drink ALL THE TIME.

After coffee, we went on a free gondola ride on the BreckConnect Gondola. We just rode it for the views (no skiing on this trip) and it was about 15-20 minutes, round-trip. I got a little motion sick, as I am wont to do, but other than that it was gorgeous and another really fun FREE activity. After the gondola ride, we were tired and the high altitude was getting to me and Lonna so we went back to the cabin for snack night and a screening of Clueless (classic).

MORE after the jump...


We slept in pretty late so we went straight into town for lunch. We were all craving something a little healthier after our snacks for dinner the night before, so we went to a natural foods place called Amazing Grace. I had the hummus sandwich (YUM) and a blood orange San Pellegrino (my fave!).

Lonna was looking for souvenirs for her hubby and baby back home and I was looking for some much-needed sunnies (I left mine at home) so we walked around all the little shops. We also HAD to stop at Cabin Coffee Co. again to get some more white coffee. It literally looks like a cup of milk. But it’s not. It’s coffee. I wish I could find this in Georgia. If anybody knows a guy...lemme know, please.

And that concluded our time in Breckenridge. On to Denver! Olivia took the scenic drive back to Denver, which is only about 30 minutes longer and worth every minute. The views were breathtaking. I had never been in the Rocky Mountains before so it was nice to see such tall, jagged peaks. I’m used to the soft, rounded hills of the Appalachians, where I lived during my high school years. On our drive to Denver, we stopped at Hoosier Pass, which is located on the Continental Divide. We also drove through Fairplay, CO, which is the model for the town of South Park in the cartoon, and Alma, CO, which is the highest altitude town in the United States.

Once we got to Charles and Olivia’s cute house in the Baker neighborhood of Denver, we ordered pizza from the Walnut Room, which was SO good. We shared a goat cheese, spinach and black olive pizza with olive oil garlic sauce. HEAVEN. We also went to a craft party at our friend Katy’s fun house and got to meet some of her roomies and do some watercolor painting.


Charles and Olivia had to work today so Lonna and I met up with Katy for breakfast at City O City. This place was vegetarian/vegan and hip. It reminded me a lot of the Grit back home in Athens. The food was really good and the waitresses were super nice. I had the tempeh bacon hash and shared a french press with Lonna.

Next, Katy took us on a tour of one of the places she works, the Children’s Museum of Denver. Normally adults aren’t allowed to take the tour unless they have kids with them so we were feeling pretty lucky. Katy works in the Teaching Kitchen at the museum (can you say dream job?!). We got to see so many fun things like a wall of whoopy cushions and an area where you can make vapor filled bubbles. We had a very cool time.

After our tour, we walked around the Baker area of Denver on S. Broadway and window-shopped at all the adorable shops. We stopped by Katy’s other place of work, Fancy Tiger Crafts (she teaches knitting classes there). We also stopped in at the Buffalo Exchange to look at clothes. My favorite store was Ironwood, which was full of fun succulents and cacti mixed with vintage medical posters and Warhol works (pictured below). Too cool. We also got coffee at a hip little coffee joint called Europa.

We took a little break from being out and about to make surprise cookies at Katy’s house for Olivia’s birthday (which would be the next day). Then we met up with Charles and Olivia at the Buckhorn Exchange Saloon for happy hour snacks and drinks. It’s a national historic monument and was decorated in the most crazy way, with stuffed animal heads on every inch of the wallpapered walls and lots of Victorian-ish furniture. The bathroom even had wild-west style saloon doors on it. It was a very interesting interior with a kitschy but fun vibe. Apparently, Buffalo Bill used to hang out there, so there’s that, too.

Next we headed over to Ratio Beerworks which is a brewery and bar with an emo music theme. It was right up my high-school self’s alley. The beers are named after different albums and songs by bands like Fugazi and Cursive. They have a really nice outdoor area with picnic tables and cute string lights. Also, it’s dog-friendly, which is always a plus in my book.

Our last stop for the night was at a DIY venue called Juice Church to see a punk show. We only stayed for one band, but I really liked them. The venue brought back memories from my early days in Athens in 2004-2007, when I used to go to see shows at Tight Pockets, Ultra Mod and the Secret Squirrel. It was a very nostalgic and happy feeling. After the show, we were all pretty tired so we headed back to Charles & Olivia’s for takeout and Gilmore Girls reruns.

The next morning, Lonna, Katy and I met Katy’s roommates at Waffle Up for breakfast. Lonna and I decided to split two waffles (they’re actually pretty small and I was hungry enough that I could have eaten two on my own) so we could taste a savory and a sweet waffle. We got the salted caramel & banana waffle and the apple butter & brie waffle. Both were SO fantastic, I couldn’t even choose a favorite. After breakfast, we said our goodbyes and Katy took me to the infamous Denver airport to fly home to Athens.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip full of good food, good views, good coffee and good friends. I definitely recommend checking out Denver and Breckenridge, even if you only have three full days to do it.

Hope you enjoyed my trip recap! XOXO

P.S. This completes #6 on the Honey and Smoke Spring To Do List!

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