Colorado Vacation (Part 2): Estes Park and Denver

Miss Part 1 about our stay at the Stanley Hotel? Catch up here.

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Rocky Mountain National Park

When we had first arrived in Denver on Thursday, we made it a priority to get (second) breakfast before heading up to Estes Park. I’d heard good things about Snooze, a local brunch chain. We typically try to avoid chains, but it seemed to be frequently recommended, so we decided to check it out. I’m so glad we did! The food was awesome. I’m vegan and my husband isn’t, so it can be hard to find breakfast options that we both enjoy when traveling. In Colorado, we ate awesome breakfasts during our entire trip. Since breakfast is probably my favorite meal, I was more than satisfied.

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Veggie hash with soyrizo, green chili, and avocado at Snooze

The day of the concert, we spent the day exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was maybe in the high 30s and relatively sunny. Considering it was January, there wasn’t much snow. Some of the shadier areas felt cool, but overall, we were pretty comfortable hiking around.

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Gazing out at the mountains
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Insane beauty

Several roads were closed for the season (I guess I didn’t realize that January was offseason), but there was still enough open to spend the day at the park. We’d drive a bit, get out, take pictures, walk around, and repeat. At one point we encountered a busier area with folks sledding, which looked like a blast.

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The pictures don’t do it justice. Everything was so gorgeous. We kept stopping just to take it all in. We both took a crazy amount of pictures on our phones, as well as almost three rolls of film.

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Frozen lake – people were playing ice hockey on it, but I was too nervous to walk out on it

There were several rockier areas where you could climb up, but I’m a baby when it comes to that stuff. My husband is pretty fearless, so I’d just sit and panic and take his picture.

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My mountain man

The morning after the concert, I was moving a little slowly. Let’s just say we may have had a few too many Redrum Ales at the show. Once I finally got dressed, we went to breakfast at the Notchtop Bakery and Cafe and took some time to explore Estes Park before heading back to Denver. Estes Park was a really cute town and I’d love to go back (when it’s a little warmer and I’m less hungover). It seems like it’d be beautiful in the fall!

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Veggie burrito with tofu at the Notchtop Cafe

Saturday was mostly a travel day, as we drove back to Denver, returned our car at the airport, and then made our way to the hotel. We did ride a train for the first time, from the airport to downtown.

Around 5 pm or so, we finally made it to our room at the Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon the Curtis, but when I discovered they had themed rooms, we decided to go all out with this trip. What would be a better complement to a stay at the Stanley than a night in a Ghostbusters-themed room on the 13th floor of the hotel?

I’ll tell you: nothing.

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Photo via the Curtis Hotel

We LOVED this room. All of the details were so fun, from the gigantic Vigo poster in the bathroom to the framed photo of Sigourney Weaver on the desk. This was a big splurge for us compared to the hotels we usually book, so we decided to just pick up some takeout and stay in all night. Totally worth it. We grabbed some subs from our favorite west coast chain, Cheba Hut, and headed back to the room.

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We don’t have these in the Midwest!

Another reason we didn’t mind staying in was that we had a late flight on Sunday, so we knew we’d have time to explore. Once we checked out on Sunday morning, we walked over to City O’ City, a vegetarian restaurant. There was a bit of a wait, but we didn’t mind–we stood outside, taking advantage of the sunshine.

My meal was phenomenal. I got the fried “chicken” (cauliflower) and waffles, with a bloody mary on the side. When we left, I noticed the dessert case and had to grab something to go … any time I get the option for a vegan Hostess-style cupcake, I have to take it.

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Fried “chicken” (cauliflower) and waffles at City O’ City

We wandered around the 16th Street Mall for a while and picked up some souvenirs. Eventually, we stopped at a bar for a drink–I had a raspberry sour porter that was really good–and then got ready to head to the airport.

We had a late flight and didn’t get home until closer to 1 am, with both of us having to work in the morning. Totally worth it, though.

All in all, we loved Colorado and can’t wait to go back!

Tell me: Have you been to Colorado? Where did you stay? What did you eat?

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Perspective

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Photo by ara ghafoory on Unsplash

A family member of mine was involved in a terrible tragedy this weekend.

I didn’t know her well–in fact, I only met her once, so I can’t claim any sort of grief in the traditional sense. The news though, coupled with the recent Florida shooting, has been weighing heavy on my mind.

Looking in the mirror this morning, I thought about what I consider to be my “problems.” My acne. The fact that I can’t stop eating chocolate sometimes, especially when I’m sad. I often feel ignored. I don’t have many close friends. I go through periods where I don’t want to leave the house. There’s a general sense of dissatisfaction in my everyday life that I can’t always shake.

These are real concerns to me, and most days they feel important. Valid. Sometimes things happen though that put these in perspective.

I’m alive. I have a steady job that allows me to afford a home, food, clothing, and other luxuries. I have a wonderful husband who I’ve known for 15 years. I have two cats who are basically my children. I’m healthy. I’m generally happy. For these things and more, I am grateful.

There’s a lot of darkness in this world. Sometimes we feel upset for reasons we can’t quite identify, or for reasons others might think of as unimportant. These feelings are valid and I am not discounting them. More often than not, though, we still have reasons to feel thankful–even if those too seem small. Think about them. Count them. Say them out loud. Kiss the ones you love and try to let things go. It’s not easy and it won’t happen overnight, but slowly, little by little, the good things will start to take root in the front of your mind.

Give yourself permission to feel grateful and focus on the things that make you happy. We’re all in this together.

Monday Meal Plan (Week of February 19)

I love reading recipe blogs and perusing Pinterest for meal ideas–but the act of meal planning? Not so much. I know it can be hard to come up with (and stick to!) a menu for the week, so I thought I’d share my weekly menus. I tend to shop on Mondays, so my meal plans run Monday-Sunday.

This week I plan to make:

Monday: Leftover Avocado Black Bean Burgers from Hummusapien (they were delicious).

Tuesday:
I’m craving these Vegan Meatloaf Cupcakes (recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie) and am planning to serve with these Garlic Roasted Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes by Connoisseurus Veg (the tahini cheese sauce is on point!).

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meatloaf cupcakes with potatoes and green beans // follow my plant-based journey on instagram @herbivorean

Wednesday: This Slow Cooker Mexican Chili from Plant Based Detroit sounds awesome.

Thursday: Leftovers (my favorite)!

Friday: I love an easy crockpot meal, so I’m going to make these Spicy Citrus Black Beans with rice by Delightful-Delicious-Delovely.

Saturday: Leftovers.

Sunday: I was looking for another crockpot meal, and I landed on these Slow Cooker Steak Fajitas from Simply Scratch. I’m going to sub in soy curls for the steak, so hopefully it turns out OK–wish me luck!

Tell me: What are you making this week?

Cover image photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Saturday Six: Sweet Dreams

Each weekend, I’ll share six cool finds. Some links may be referral/curator links.

I need a new comforter for our bedroom. I know–boring. I still need one. We originally went with a yellow/gray/white theme for the room, but I just realized that the only yellow item is the comforter, so I think it’s safe to say we can go in any direction with the color scheme.

I want something fun and inviting that makes me happy to get into bed each night (more so than I already am). Something that summons thoughts of vacation and relaxation.

Side note: What’s the difference between a comforter and a duvet? Do I need to care?

Here are some fun options I’ve found while persuing the interwebs (and some sheets, too–let’s get crazy with it).

 

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Maybe not very exciting, but I like the simplicity of this rose comforter by PBteen.

 

comforter with pink and green flowers
While searching, I realized I was subtly channeling Blanche’s bedroom in Golden Girls. Lots of pink and green, like this comforter set from Target.

 

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Speaking of Target, do you think my husband will let me get away with buying these ice cream sheets? The epitome of sweet dreams. Have you looked at their Pillowfort collection? Sure, it’s for kids, but they come in adult sizes, so I’m taking that as permission to buy. Target even has Stranger Things sheets!

 

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This comforter captures two of my favorite things: Halloween and cats. From Naranja on Society6.

 

white comforter with butts
Feeling cheeky? Let it out with this comforter from Julia Heffernan on Society6.

 

pink comforter with green palm fronds
I think this one is truly my favorite, and it brings us back to those Miami beach house vibes. By Anita’s & Bella’s Art on Society6.

Now to find Blanche’s wallpaper…

Tell me: What’s your bedroom theme? Know of any other sites selling cute comforters? What is the difference between a comforter and a duvet?

Couch Life (or, what we’ve been watching lately)

I watch a lot of TV. It’s funny, because I never used to consider myself someone that even liked TV that much. I am not the type to turn it on just to “see what’s on” or have it going in the background while I’m doing other things. Ironically, I actually started watching a lot more TV once my husband and I got rid of cable several years ago. Now, we purposely select what to watch. With more and more streaming services like Netflix offering original content and abandoning the week-to-week episodic model, it’s easier to get sucked in–and with Michigan getting repeatedly pounded by snow this winter, we’ve been staying inside as much as possible.

Here are a few shows we’ve enjoyed recently:

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Image via Vice.com

The End of the F***ing World.  Netflix recently added this short British series, based on a graphic novel of the same name. The six episodes each average 20-minutes in length, so we blew through this in a day. It’s a dark coming-of-age story about two misfit teens trying to find a connection: Alyssa wants to be loved, James wants to kill someone. It was funny, heart-wrenching, and endearing–and the soundtrack is awesome.

Recommended if you like: Teen angst, British TV, dark comedies, Dexter

 

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Image via CinemaBlend

The Shannara Chronicles, Season 2. My husband and I had been anxiously awaiting the release of the second season of Shannara Chronicles on Netflix. When we discovered it on a Friday, we quickly cancelled our (nonexistent) weekend plans and settled in. Based on a book series, Shannara covers a fantasy world of elves, druids, trolls, gnomes, and more, who are trying to keep the peace after years of war. I’m convinced the lack of success for this is show is solely due to its being on the wrong networks. The first season aired on MTV, with the second season moving to Spike. It looks like the third season is in jeopardy, with Spike switching to a new network. I was skeptical of an MTV show when watching the first season, but my doubts were quickly assuaged. This show is quality. If you can deal with a few cheesy teen drama moments scattered throughout, you’ll be rewarded in full.

Recommended if you like:
 Fantasy, role-playing games, Manu Bennett, Middle Earth, Game of Thrones

 

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Image via Omega Underground

Altered Carbon. Yet another literary adaptation, Altered Carbon is a sci-fi series set in a future where human consciousness is essentially stored in (high-tech) flash drives (“stacks”). Those who can afford it can see themselves live on forever by transferring their consciousness to other bodies (“sleeves”), often clones. The main character, Takeshi Kovach, is brought back 250 years after his death and stuck in a new body to solve the murder of one of the richest men on Earth (who is still alive). Does your head hurt yet? It honestly took me a while to get into this show, but by the end, I really liked it–although I feel like I need to watch it a few more times to fully understand it.

Recommended if you like:
Sci-fi, Joel Kinnaman, pondering what makes us human, excessive nudity, existential crises

 

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Image via Nerdist

Channel Zero: Candle Cove. I have to admit that I’ve been sleeping on the SyFy network. I typically associated the folks that brought us Sharknado with bad acting and even worse special effects, but after hearing a friend mention Channel Zero several times, I finally gave it a shot. An anthology-style series, each season tells a different “creepypasta”-based story with a new cast. We watched season one in a day. While I don’t recommend doing that if you want to fall sleep at night, I definitely recommend giving the SyFy channel another chance.

Recommended if you like: Horror anthologies, having nightmares, the guy from the first two seasons of Parks & Rec that no one remembers

Tell me: What have you been watching lately?