Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Mini Break - a hike, a bike, and voracious amounts of food.

First, eat something. Trust me on this one.

You're going to need nourishment to sustain you.

This past weekend, I went to Boulder, Colorado, to visit my brother Osman, and his wife - Dallice. Here they are looking all cute.

I left the kids at home to be well cared for by Monkey Sr., Grandma H, and Michael. The odds were in favor of the grownups given the numbers, but ya never know..

Flying into Denver involved a short 4-hour plane ride. It's amazing how quickly the time passes when you have nothing better to do than read your Kindle and order drinks. So peaceful. So calm. So quiet.

The view. Can't you just smell that fresh, mountain air?

Upon arriving, Osman and Dallice were kind enough to pick me up and drive me to town.

First stop - lunch at the Boulder Teahouse. I was too busy scarfing down my food to get up and take pictures of this lovely little gem of a restaurant. So, I borrowed a pic from their website. Dallice tells me the restaurant itself was a gift from Boulder's sister-city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Not a bad gift from a sister huh?

In similar fashion, I brought Osman some New Jersey soap.

And a birdhouse.

I had to pack light. It was pretty soap though. "Masala" - guaranteed to make you smell more desi.


Following a hearty lunch, Dallice and I treated ourselves to a well-deserved afternoon at the Essentiels Spa, just around the corner from my hotel. It was very, very nice.

You see?

A wonderful lady with big, strong hands, gave me a soothing massage - complete with luxurious aromatherapy oils to soothe my body. I returned the favor by immediately falling asleep on the table and waking up with major pillow face. Who knows what she did, but I felt well-rested.

I dropped my stuff off at the hotel. The view was so pretty.

And because the afternoon had been so taxing, we decided to venture downtown and commence the cocktail hour and dining hour.

Something minty was in order.

Boulder is a young town - meaning there's a lot of young 'uns scampering about attending the University and aquiring useful life skills that will translate into meaningful employment and deep, introspective futures ahead of them. When they aren't too busy doing that, however, they frequent some of the same watering holes we visited. Thus, I was shocked and awed when the barkeep across the way demanded to see my ID.

"What?" I said, over the music.

"I.D." she mouthed, and flashed me a square-symbol with her hands, which I assume meant license, and not "square" as in - well, me. At that point, I giggled. What a great vacation!!

We had a delicious dinner, eaten under an open sky on the rooftop, In the distance, I could see the Rockies and feel myself get more light headed with each passing sip. Something about the high altitude apparently. I switched to water.

Off to Salsa!

and hula-hoop!

Because they just go together like that! And this is why Boulderites are so skinny, methinks. Every burst of food is followed by a round of something active before the calories ever get a chance to settle on your hips. Did you know Boulder is the skinniest small city in the country? Yes. I can vouch for this. The only fat people there are the tourists.

They can be found at places like this store:

At Powell's Sweet Shoppe, one can feast her eyes on an assortment of candy to make even Willy Wonka grow envious.

Some of his buddies even left behind souveniers.

And the candy...

loads of that...

With some old favorites you just don't see around anymore. Remember this classic?

On that note, we headed home and I passed out. But, keep in mind there's a two hour time difference. I hoped to sleep in late. And I did!

At 6:30 Boulder time, I woke up - refreshed and ready to go. I reminded myself I was still operating under NJ time, which meant it was 9:30 in my neck of the woods. That's a very late morning for me.

Knowing what lay ahead, I decided to get some exercise in before breakfast.

Armed with a map, and my keen sense of direction (Bwaahh!), I went for an nice, long run. That just means I was out running at snail pace for about an hour with no sense of distance. I did find a lovely running/biking trail that stretched along a creek. Surprisingly enough, there were tons of people out there running, biking, walking, pushing strollers, and even enjoying a casual cannabis smoke by the water. Boulderites are active people, it seems. And did I mention how skinny they are?

This might have something to do with it. They bike a lot. Osman and Dallice were kind enough to bring an extra bike over to the hotel for me to ride that morning. We decided to bike to our breakfast location.

Let me introduce you to a fine, li'l lady, known as Lucile. Lucile will treat you right.

Osman has told me that this place beats Bubby's hands-down for brunch. He wasn't kidding.

We started with some beignets. That's them there under the confectioner's sugar.

And a dee-li-ci-ous buttery, biscuit. This portion you see here is just a third of the actual biscuit. We split it between the three of us. Lucile's also makes its own jam - mine was strawberry-rhubarb. I bought a small jar of it, and the nice people from airport security have been enjoying it with their morning toast since Sunday.

I digress..

Eggs Pardou for Dallice.

Eggs Jennifer for me. Because I couldn't decide whether to go with the grits or the potatoes, I got to pick the "li'l bitta both" option. Sweet.

And because I was too busy stuffing my face, I couldn't take a picture of what Osman ate, but it looked real good.

We biked to our next stop - the farmer's market. This cruiser was so cute! And the rooty-toot horn was the best part. I might have to dig out my mountain bike for those short trips to CVS, instead of driving in my car. Not sure where I'd stick Mina and Jordan though.

Beautiful stuff at the market. This, dear readers, is what real strawberries are supposed to look like. Not like those behemouth, tasteless orbs they sell you from Driscoll's.

More pretty reds. You can't hear it, but in the background there was a Zimbabwean musical festival filling the market with sounds from another land. Pretty music on a pretty beautiful morning.

We biked back to Osman and Dallice's house for a quick pit stop. While they got ready for a hike, I checked my email and discovered I was apparently scheduled for a job interview on Monday. Whoops. We'll talk about that later. Let's stick to fun things.

Like our hike!

Refreshed, we grabbed their dog, Marley, and headed to the mountains.

First, a view from Flagstaff Summitt:

And then, the work begins.

"Two roads diverged in the woods; and I... I chose the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference," Robert Frost said.

We chose the stairmaster one. You probably never heard about that one. It looks like this.

"Let's do a nice, relaxing trail," I suggested, when Osman asked me what I was in the mood for that morning.

"You know... something easy, and light..."

"Nothing too taxing.."

The best part about spending the afternoon hiking, was knowing what came next..

Nachos at Southern Sun!! Because nothing says healthy living like a big, heaping plate of cheesy, beany goodness.

Oh boy. They were good. And that's all I have to say about that.

A quick shower later... (I'm going to spare you the details of the conversation regarding personal hygeine habits of Boulderites, because I think my brother is speaking only for himself here. He is under the impression that Boulderites don't feel the need to shower after a hard day of exercise. One shower a day is enough for them, regardless of sweat output. His wife Dallice, disagreed vehemently, and I am more inclined to take her opinion on this. Boulderites, be assured, I know you are clean people.)

And we headed off to the Boulder Outdoor Cinema showing of "Monty Python's the Search for the Holy Grail."

This was a super-fun, summery thing to do. Sitting below the stars, watching a great movie outdoors - BYOB and all the food and pillows you could haul in. Some of us made it to the end of the movie...

And some of us didn't.

I didn't either, but I made it longer than him, so I win.

And just when it seemed like the mini-vacation was over, Osman and Dallice pulled out ALL the stops and took me out for brunch on Sunday to the most amazing place in the world.

The Brown Palace.

Here, I was treated to the most sumptuous buffet of food I could imagine. It was almost like being at a full-scale wedding cocktail hour. There were four tables spread out across the width of the hotel ballroom. Off to the side, a piano player and jazz band performed for our amusement while an intricately carved ice sculpture gently melted under the twinkling lights.

Oh, and there was food.

A lot of food.

Oh wait. I forgot to mention the best part.... there was a DESSERT BAR!!!

Happy-happy! Joy! Joy!

Bring on the pictures, baby.

And that is what is known as saving the best for last.

Boulder is an amazing place. And I got to experience it in the best of company. Thanks Dallice and Osman for sharing your home with me and helping me see the best of the best. I had such a fun time!

I might consider bringing the rest of the fam next time. I know Jordan would have made himself at home at the dessert bar.
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