Monday, May 13, 2013

Colorado Part Two - Zip Lining & Exploring the Red Rocks

In Part One I told you about our first afternoon in Denver so on to the next day! 

Saturday we started early with a 6:15am alarm.  We grabbed a quick breakfast at The Market in Larimer Square before hitting the road to make our way to Idaho Springs for a zip lining tour.  As we were riding down the highway more mountains came into view. It was beautiful.  

Mom and Andy had been zip lining before, but this was my first experience.  I suggested we go zip lining, but I was a bit nervous about the whole thing.  After checking in with the AVA Colorado Zip Line shop we got outfitted with a helmet, gloves, and harness with the other four people in our group and met our two guides Shane and Austin.  After a short demo about where to place our hands and what we would be doing we all piled into a van and took a short ride up to the side of nearby mountain.  

Once we reached the staring point the guides gave us some information about the area and pointed out to us a nearby gold mine and that the mountains we saw on our drive in were the Continental Divide - so cool!  

Being high up from the ground and knowing that I had to zip across to get down was a bit nerve racking.  I was the probably the fourth person to go across and as I got hooked up to the line my heart started to race a bit.  Shane gave me the go ahead and all of a sudden I was sliding off and zipping down the mountain.  It was exhilarating!  I was still a bit cautious and used my hand to break some so I wasn't going at full speed.  

We ended up zipping down six different lines to get to the bottom of the mountain.  I got more comfortable with each zip and ended up having a really good time.  Shane and Austin were really funny and joked around with us which made the experience even better.  The views zipping down the mountain were pretty too.  
Mom, me, & Andy
After our tour we headed to the downtown street of small Idaho Springs.  It was one road full of shops and small restaurants.  We walked down the street and stopped at the local Morning Gold Bakery and picked up some fresh doughnuts and a sausage breakfast pocket.  They were just made that morning and tasted so good.  
We moseyed down the street and checked out some other stores and spent some time looking around and chatting with the residents.  Everyone we met in this town were incredibly friendly and helpful.  Seriously, so, so nice.

I was interested in going for a hike so we decided to check out the nearby St. Mary's Mountain.  We slowly made our way up a winding mountain side road to reach 10,000 ft.  
So pretty!  Just behind us there is actually a frozen lake covered in snow.
It had snowed the day before so the hiking trail was covered in snow and since we weren't really prepared for that we stopped to enjoy the views at the mountain instead.  It was absolutely gorgeous!  

I got a few recommendation to check out the Red Rocks so we headed there next.  The Red Rocks are exactly what they sound like these huge red rocks just sticking out of the ground.  There is also a really awesome amphitheatre in the middle of the rocks were lots of famous people and bands have played.  There weren't any groups we were interested playing in town, but I bet it would be awesome to attend a concert there.  

We went midday and the park was pretty busy.  The amphitheatre was full of people exercising on the steps, in the stadium, and hiking the trails.  
At the top of the amphitheater.
We decided to take the Trading Post Trail to explore more of the rocks.  It was about a 1.4 mile hike through the rocks.  It may have only been a short distance but the combination of the terrain, steps, and altitude made for a pretty decent workout.  We had to climb the amphitheatre steps after the hike, which was a good challenge.  We even saw some Mule Deer up close and Magpie birds on our hike.  I loved hiking through such a pretty place.

After our exploring we were ready to eat some more good food and made our way back to the city and headed to Russell's Smokehouse for some barbecue.  We decided to split the baby back ribs, macaroni and cheese, spinach, and the combo plate of chicken, brisket, and pulled pork with dinner rolls.  All of their meat is slow roasted in the restaurant daily and the waitress informed us that they take pride in how flavorful their meat is.  

The combo plate was our favorite.  All three meats were perfectly cooked and very flavorful!  They didn't need any bbq sauce on them, but their house made sauces were too good, so I had a little bit with mine.  The ribs were ok, but could have been better.  

After our meal we stopped by the Tattered Cover Book Store in Historic LoDo.  This place is so wonderful.  It is in an historic two story brick building and full of books.  You could easily spend hours in this bookstore.  There were new books, used books, a coffee shop, nice kids section, and great book displays with recommendations from the staff.  
The place was pretty busy too.  Mom and I both wished there were more bookstores like this around. 
I love this Reader's Bill of Rights!
Our final stop for the evening was walk to Little Man Ice Cream.  

We had read some good reviews for this place online and knew we had to check it out.  It was a bit chilly outside, but we didn't care, and honestly neither did anyone else.  The shop is a giant milk can with little tables and chairs outside.  We sampled a few different flavors before each getting a small cup.  All of their ice cream is made in small batches and they source local ingredients to make their flavors.
Andy got Oatmeal Cookie and Chocolate, Mom got Salted Oreo and Chocolate, and I got Salted Oreo and Coconut Almond Fudge.  I loved all the flavors so it was really hard to choose.  The ice cream was nice and creamy.  It was a great way to end an awesome day!

Have you ever been zip lining?  Do you have a favorite local bookstore?  What's your favorite kind of ice cream?