Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Road Trip, Part 8: Montana

*Just a quick note - as the formatting on this blog keeps some of the photographs pretty small. You can click on any of the pictures to enter a slide show, which will allow you to see larger format photographs*

Day 34:

Grand Junction, CO to Butte, MT. 698 Miles, 10 Hours 7 Minutes. 

Approaching the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana
We noticed that the weather was clearing up a bit from the North to the South and then getting crappy again, so we made a plan to essentially flip our itinerary around and head straight to Glacier National Park, then back south through Yellowstone, The Tetons, and then to Salt Lake City. This required that we make a nice marathon drive from Grand Junction to Glacier, which we broke up into two days. Our destination for the night was a Walmart in Butte, Montana. It was a the coldest night yet.

Day 35: 
Butte, MT to Glacier National Park West Glacier, MT. 295 Miles, 5 hours, 14 minutes. 

We left Butte as early as possible, as we wanted to get to Glacier with some time to see some of the park before dark. We took a bit of a round about way to get there because we wanted to see Flathead Lake on the way, and I did not realize that the route we were taking would by-pass it. This added about a hour to the trip. We weren't sure of what would be available at or just outside of the park because it was the very end of the season there - so we made a pit stop at a Safeway in Missoula, which seemed like kind of a neat town. 

As we got to Glacier we decided we would drive as much of Going-The-Sun-Road as possible, knowing that it was closed somewhere along the way because of avalanche danger. The first stop was on the shore of Lake McDonald, which was the first of many breath-taking, dramatic landscapes we saw in the Park.
On the shore of Lake McDonald
The absolutely crystal clear water in Lake McDonald
The drive slowly ramps up, quite literally, starting through some dense forest, with Lake McDonald to one side. But quickly it begins to open up and suddenly you are switchbacking up the side of a mountain and peering down into glacial valleys below.

Notice the road in down the center of the valley
We drove about 33 miles to Logan's Pass, where there was a visitors center. The road was closed heading further east, so we stopped here for a minute to look around. There was a storm moving in and Rangers were asking people to head back down at this point.

At Logans Pass
It began to snow while we were at Logan's Pass - the first we experienced on the trip. We headed back into West Glacier, where we grabbed a nice dinner at the Belton Chalet. After dinner, rather than pay for a camp site in Glacier, we drove an hour west to Kalispell, MT where we spent the night in a Walmart parking lot. Before we went to sleep we thumbed through our Parks of the West book to figure out a list of things we wanted to do while in Glacier the next day.

One of the stunning views from Going-The-Sun-Road
Day 36:
I loved how different the forest here felt compared to what we were used to further south in the Rockies and in the Northeast. 
When we got up there was a dusting of snow on the ground, and we realized that our plans high in the mountains may change. As we got into the park there were signs up saying the road was closed only a few miles from the entrance. We were very lucky to have seen as much of the park as we did the night before, but now we had to reassess our plans for the day. We decided to make the 4.5 mile hike up to Avalanche Lake, as there wasn't really any snow at this elevation and the weather was actually quite nice considering a few miles up the road there was a foot of snow.

The start of the trail to Avalanche Lake.

We enjoyed the trail as we made our way up. It was pretty uncrowded, probably because of the weather. We encountered a few flurries on the way up, but didn't mind too much because we were sweating from the hike anyway.
Jill in front of a log jam at one end of Avalanche Lake.

Once we were done with the hike we ate some lunch in the car and, because so much of the park was closed, we decided to start heading to our next stop - Bozeman, MT.

West Glacier, MT to Bozeman, MT. 314 Miles, 5 Hours 29 Minutes.

It was after dark by the time we arrived in Bozeman, so we quickly found a Walmart and posted up for the night. It was very cold - just 19 degrees - and difficult to sleep soundly.

Day 37:

 We started the day off getting ready in the bathroom at Walmart. Once we were done we headed to the Fish Technology Center, which was a complete bust. As far as we could tell it was closed, maybe for the season. We walked around a bit on the trail surrounding the area, and then headed back into town. We liked the funky, modern, green-building looking neighborhood we drove through to get here.

Our next stop was the Emerson Center for the Arts. This is an arts community center that is housed in a former elementary school. Here we found many studios, shops, a cafe, and a performance space. We loved this concept, this place, and everything about it. 

Inside the Emerson, we found an Art-O-Mat - the first one either of us had seen - but not the last one we would see on the trip. This is where we bought our first piece of art on the trip. From the placard on the machine;

"Founded in 1997, Artists In Cellophane is an arts group that converts retired cigarette machines into fine art vending machines. Inside of this machine are original works of art, music, writings, conceptual thoughts and unique ideas"

After the Emerson, we were pretty hungry so we decided to check out the Co-Op. We were very impressed with their selection, cheap wine, and high quality hot prepared food & salad bar. We decided that rather than buying groceries and making lunch we would just get something from the hot bar. I noticed they were selling one of my favorites too!

Chicken Marbella!
We ate our lunch on the ground level, in the lovely court yard. It was fall, so the foliage was changing color and beautiful leaves were blowing around. There was a very active community board in the court yard - another plus about Bozeman. 

Notice the community board in the background. 
After lunch we headed a bit out of town to Neptune's Brewery, where we had a Groupon for a tasting. Neptune is in Livingston, MT - which is a pretty small town. We weren't really sure what to expect as we were driving into the area, but we were pleasantly surprised that we liked virtually all of the beers (and mead) we had there. This is one of those lucky, kind of rare Groupon's where you don't expect much and are really happy with what you get. 

Once we were back in Bozeman we went to the American Computer & Robotics Museum - mostly at my request. It was pretty much what it sounds like, and a fun place to waste an hour if you're at all interested in this kind of crap. 
This is what my basement looked like growing up. Without the iPad, of course. 
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking around main street and peaking out heads into some shops. We saw an ad for bingo in the local paper and decided that we would check it out. 

This was the first time I had played since I was a child. There was a lot of 20-somethings there, a lot of cheap booze - and the whole thing was a lot of fun. If we lived in Bozeman, this would be a regular thing for us.

After bingo we grabbed a late dinner at a restaurant called, 'Over the Tapas'. I think we grabbed a Living Social or Groupon for this place - and while I was pretty skeptical because of the stupid name, we both really enjoyed our meal here. 

Day 38:
We spent most of the day checking out little things here and there. We drove out to the Bridger Bowl Ski Resort for the Bridger Raptor Fest, which wound up being a pretty...kiddy thing. We checked out the Museum of the Rockies - it was a free day. I liked the museum a lot. We used another Groupon to goto a place called Grizzly Bear Encounters, which is a facility that rescues grizzly bears. Our last stop for the night was at Bozeman Hot Springs, which was a nice place to relax a bit and more importantly somewhere to use a shower! Once we were cleaned up we watched some TV on the iPad in the car and turned in for the night. We were leaving early the next day, on our way to Yellowstone National Park. 

From our book:
Pine Creek Falls MT - accessible from pine creek recreation area/pine creek campground. reduced services 9/1. campground closes 9/16. Not sure if there is trail access, may have to call or just visit (not far off our driving route)

  • Groupon
  • Montana Ale Works – Brew Pub, 4-11. 40 taps, extensive local & regional microbrew selection. Fair to average prices on food. Happy hour 4-6 & 9-11 . Daily specials.
    o 611 E Main St/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Watanabe Japanese – Chef from Japan, kinda expensive sushi, reasonable
    everything else. Mon-Sat 11-2:30 & 4:30-8:30 o 1234 W Main St/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Starkys Authentic Americana – Best happy hour in Bozeman (4-6). Lunch 11- 4, Dinner Tue-Sat 4-close.
    o 24 N Tracy Ave/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Pho Real Restaurant. 242 E Main St/Bozeman MT/59715

Free to do:
  • Altitude Gallery – Contemporary art gallery. Mon-Sat 10-5
    o 134 E Main St/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Emerson Center for the Arts – Exhibits, Galleries, Classes, Shops. Various

    hours, best time 11-5.
    o 111 S Grand Ave/Bozeman MT/59715

  • American Computer & Robotics Museum – Tue-Sun 12-4. Looks silly & fun. Evolution of the information age, from abacus to microchips
    o 2023 Stadium Dr #1A/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Bozeman Fish Technology Center – See people working on research of fish
    cultural techniques, fish disease, fish fed development & test, broodstock diet testing, and fishery management. Restoration of Pallid Sturgeon, Arctic Gralying, Cutthroat Trout. 1⁄2 mile nature loop along creek. 8-4.
    o 4050 Bridger Canyon Rd/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Bridger Raptor Festival – Oct 3-5, Free, Centered around largest Golden Eagle
    Migration in US. Bridgerraptorfest.org/current_events for schedule/info.
  • Palisades Falls – South on 19th st 5 miles to Haylite Canyon Rd, South of
    Hyalite Canyon Rd 20 miles to Forest Rd, Go west one mile to Palisades falls picnic area & trailhead. 1⁄2 mile trail, 80 foot waterfall. Volcanic cliffs. Hexagonal basalt columns.
  • Museum of the Rockies – Has a planetarium, living history farm, discovery
    center, dinosaur complex, history hall, etc. Mon-Sat 9-5, Sun 12-5. Adult $14 (good for 2 days).
    o 600 W Kagy Blvd/Bozeman MT/59717
  • Sacks of Bozeman – ‘best’ thrift store.
    o 138 W Mendenhall St/Bozeman MT/59715

  • Montana Grizzly Encounter – Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, see grizzly bears. 10-6, $7.
    o 80 Bozeman Hill Rd/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Gallatin History Museum – Tue-Sat 11-4. $5. Looks kinda dull.
    o 317 W Main St/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Bozeman Hot Springs Spa & Fitness – Hot Pools, check hours but generally

    6a-11p. $8.50
    o 81123 Gallatin Rd/Bozeman MT/59718

  • Chico Hot Springs – 8-11, $7.50
    o 163 Chico Rd/Pray MT/59065

  • Madison Buffalo Jump State Park - $5. Daylight hours. o 6990 Buffalo Jump Rd/Three Forks MT/59752
  • Norris Hot Springs – Food, beer, music Fri-Sun, Hot springs. Thu, Fri, Mon – 4-10, Sat-Sun, 12-10. $7 , $9 if music. All food sourced locally or grown in house. Affordable. Cool place.
    o Montana 84/Norris MT/59745

GLACIER NP. St Mary will be closed so enter from West Glacier. From Bozeman go 90W to 200Nto 93N to 35 N – to this allows to go along Flathead Lake. NO GAS IN PARK. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sans Gluten

So I've known Jan for a while now, and while I have always been aware of her dietary restrictions, it never really dawned on me just how bad they are until she came into Peck's for dinner a few weeks back.

 We deal with allergies, restrictions, and preferences on a daily basis but Jan's list is quite extensive. I spent a good part of my day working on several projects - from bread service to desserts - so that I could  have something to send her. Unfortunately most of these were failures and I was left in awe because... to be frank, I have a fair amount of knowledge and experience with baking and pastry and typically the things I make come out pretty well.  It became more and more apparent to me throughout the day how difficult something as simple as feeding yourself can be for some people. I remember listening to Nick and Matt (Chef & Sous) spitballing ideas back and forth about what food to cook for her and nearly everything ended with, 'Oh shit, she can't have _____ ingredient'. All in all, we came up with an inspired and fulfilling menu that she enjoyed and appreciated immensely (she was still talking about it yesterday when I saw her). When I visited her table towards the end of the meal, she was glowing, and so ecstatic.  It was overwhelmingly clear to me that eating out, and food in general , is something important and meaningful to her. And now with the progression of her intolerances, it has become increasingly difficult and strenuous to the point where it is just not worth the stress.

This whole experience kind of shifted my perspective a bit. I have always been sympathetic to people with food allergies and intolerances, but just like virtually every other chef and cook I have known - I have rolled my eyes and been frustrated by dietary requests on many occasions.

So often they seem to come off as people passing preferences off as more 'legitimate' restrictions. Guests who are on a date may say they have a garlic or onion allergy because they don't want it on their breath. Someone on a new diet may say they have a gluten allergy. And so on. Dominic talked a bit about the importance of the distinction in his, 'What Bugs The Kitchen' post - but to sum it up a true allergy requires that we sanitize our work space, our tools, use new, clean equipment, etc, etc.. and a preference simply means hold the garlic. Taking an allergy seriously requires a lot of extra attention and can very easily derail a smoothly running line.  Because people so often abuse this - flat out lying about having allergies - it has created this hostile attitude in kitchens towards these requests/restrictions and its not unusual to see cooks not taking them seriously. 

This sort of behavior is bullshit. On both sides. Guests should be forthcoming about preferences vs. allergies/intolerances, but its also not really up to us as chefs to decide what is legitimate and what isn't. Why someone does or doesn't want something is irrelevant - all that matters is that we do everything we can to oblige their request.

"... the customer could be my dad, it could be you. Who fucking cares? It could be anyone, and it’s not up to me or the waiter or the cook in the back to determine a legitimate reason for not drinking. So the restaurant establishment needs to show more empathy in general towards people’s individual needs." 
From Peter Meehan's interview of Fred Morin, 'The Art of (Gluten-Free) Living According to Joe Beef

In the past, I have always tried to have at least one gluten free option on my dessert menus - just to cover my bases. The idea was once I have an option on the menu for guests who can't have gluten on I wouldn't really have to 'deal with that again'. My only reason not to offer more gluten free options has always been that I don't want to compromise the quality of the desserts I am making in any way shape or form..and I have always left it at that. Recently it has come to me that in doing this, I am taking the easy route - because having this attitude says a lot more about me and my abilities than anything else. Only offering one gluten free option and thinking thats good enough is still singling out people with gluten intolerances. It says, 'Here is the one thing you can have, I don't care if you like it or not, because if you want a dessert you have to order this'. If I took that approach with my work in any other area or capacity - I would be out of a job very quickly. 

My menu format at Pecks is pretty straight forward. Everything is verbalized, allowing for a good amount of fluidity. I can change things out here and there, adjust things that work or don't work, etc. I am responsible for the following, among other things.

Bread service - this changes often and can be more-or-less anything I feel like making. Currently it is some sort of pizza/focaccia hybrid.
Core dessert menu - three options that stay the same for an undetermined amount of time. So far its been about 2 months between changes - with the option of changing more or less frequently. 
Vegan option - Pretty self explanatory. 
Features - Offered daily - always have one option, sometimes two. They typically hang out for one week, but if they're especially popular I will run them for two. 
Mignardises - One bite petit fours that are given with the check. If I have time, I make them. If I don't, I don't. Anything goes. Ive run various pate de fruit, different cookies, and confections. 

I am proud to say that currently all three of my offerings on my core dessert menu are gluten free. This is not by coincidence, but rather through educating myself and a bit of trial and error. I plan on maintaining this - so long as I am able to meet my standards for quality. While my bread service remains the same, I have added a gluten free option as well - currently gougères. Making an overhaul of my menu like this while doing something that I have pretty limited experience with is a process and adds a decent amount of work as well as difficulty to my job. I am in no way claiming that I am becoming a gluten free pastry kitchen - but I am going to do my best to offer as many high quality gluten free options as I am capable of without sacrificing any quality. All of this has not worked its way into the work I do at Lucas Confectionery Wine Bar or any of our other projects...yet. 
Gluten Free Gougeres
I also don't want to single out gluten. Its simply where I started. Many other restrictions can be accommodated on the fly - or better yet, with  24 + hours notice. My next goal is to have vegan option(s) always available. I have been tinkering with a vegan 'ice cream' recipe for a while now and I am making progress towards where I would like it to be - but currently that is the only vegan thing I always offer. Ideally, I will eventually have real, composed, dessert(s) to offer that can stand with anything else I do (with or without gluten). 

Long story short, tl;dr, whatever - Don't hide in your excuses. Don't look at restrictions as an annoyance, but rather as a challenge. Don't be complacent with what you do, or else you will never grow. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Road Trip, Part 7: Colorado, Part 2. Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Junction and A Few Day Trips

*Just a quick note - as the formatting on this blog keeps some of the photographs pretty small. You can click on any of the pictures to enter a slide show, which will allow you to see larger format photographs*

Boulder, CO to Rocky Mountain National Park via Estes Park, CO. 41 Miles, 1 Hour 2 Minutes.

Day 22
We got to Rocky Mountain National Park just as the sun was going down. We went straight to Moraine Park Campground to grab a site before dark. We landed site number 62 - and pitched the tent with the last minutes of daylight. We decided there wasn't a whole lot we could do in the park so we headed back into Estes Park - the closest town - to walk around and maybe get some groceries. The grocery store was...baron..so we wound up getting McDonalds for the first time on the trip. J regretted this decision more than I did. We walked up and down the main strip a bit and then headed back to our campsite where we bundled up and tried to make a plan of action for the next day. It became immediately apparent we were going to need to stay an extra day, so we decided to Jam as much of the eastern side of the park into tomorrow, while reserving the scenic Trail Ridge Road drive for the following day. 

Day 23
When we got up,  I walked down to the ranger station and found out the site we were currently in was reserved for the night but the 'Honeymoon Suite' was open if we didn't mind the very short hike in. We drove up to the new site to check it out, and quickly went back to the ranger station to book it. We then broken down our site, packed it away half assed, and moved everything up to the Honeymoon Suite.

The Honeymoon Suite, on the right, the rest of the campground on the left.

Once the campsite was set up, we were ready to go explore. Our first stop was to Wild Basin, which is located on the south eastern part of the park. You actually have to exit the park and head south from Estes Park to reach this area. We drove in a ways, walked around a bit, and decided that as nice as it was, our time would be better spent elsewhere. 

J, somewhere in Rocky Mountain National Park.
We backtracked a bit and headed down to Bear Lake. This was a very popular spot - judging by nearly full the parking lot and crowds of tourists. We decided to do the 2.2 mile hike up to Dream Lake - which quickly shed most of the crowds. We were NOT acclimated this altitude and what would have normally been a relatively easy hike was fairly strenuous. Once we got to Dream Lake we sat on a boulder and ate some peanut butter sandwiches and applesauce while trying to shoo away the chipmunks. We set up our tripod and snapped a quick picture.

Dream Lake. So dreamy. 
We had a bit of time we drove a bit further north and through the Fall River Entrance on our way back to Estes Park, where we picked up some essentials for dinner and drinks by campfire. What seems like a relatively simple day - when you account for how scenic this driving is and how often you have to pull over to gaze or take a picture...this ate up a ton of time. As we got back to the campground a rain shower was dying off in the distance and the sun was starting to set. We took a minute to take it in. 

Surreal moments like this are a dime a dozen in Rocky Mountain National Park
We built a fire and roasted some sausages, some canned vegetables and some boxed mac & cheese. Quite a meal.

Fine Dining.

Day 24 

Above the treeline
We packed up our tents and took Trail Ridge Road out of the park. This is easily one of the most scenic drives in the United States. 11 of the 48 miles that is Trail Ridge Road is above the treeline at 11,500 feet - and its high point crests at 12,183 feet. You can gain 4000 feet in just a matter of minutes. Needless to say its a pretty incredible drive, with plenty of stops and attractions along the way. 

Self explanatory 
We crossed the continental divide (for the first time on the trip) and stopped for a quick lunch. Our goal was to get to Grand Junction, clear on the other side of the state, before dark, so we were moving at a pretty fast pace. The entire drive across Colorado was pretty stunning - even being on i70 for the majority of it. Its pretty incredible going up and down through the mountains and eventually descending into the desert as you get further west. 

We found this guy at a thrift shop in Grand Junction.
We got to Grand Junction on time and met up with my grandparents, two aunts, cousin, his wife, and their baby - almost all of whom were visiting my grandparents at the same time (which is why we rushed to get there). We went out for dinner and caught up a bit before we went back to my aunts house, where we would be staying while in Grand Junction. This was our first night sleeping in a real bed (not a futon, couch, floor, car, etc..) since we were in Pittsburgh - on day 1 of the trip. We played with her cat, Cat, for a bit before falling asleep. 

Cat, my aunts lovely cat.

The next few days were all spent at a relatively slow pace (hanging out with a couple 90+ year old people as well as a toddler = not a lot happens). We went out to  eat a bit, had our fair share of drinks, and cooked a few meals. Once my cousin and his family left, we decided we planned a couple day trips. Grand Junction is located in a great place for day trips - not unlike Albany. Lots of really great stuff pretty close by.

Lovely breakfast at my Aunts.
Day 27
Grand Junction, CO to Colorado National Monument. 6 miles, 12 minutes.

Exploring at Colorado National Monument
We took a short drive to Colorado National Monument. This is a nice canyon-rim-drive-style park that is just outside of Grand Junction. We spent a few hours hiking in various parts of the park. We went off trail a bit while hiking in the Devil's Kitchen area and had to do some scrambling, but all in all it was a lot of fun. 
In the Devils Kitchen at Colorado National Monument
Some other highlights were Red Canyon, Ute Canyon, Coke Ovens, and Independence Monument.

Independence Monument at Colorado National Monument

Day 28
Grand Junction, CO to Arches National Park, UT. 102 Miles, 2 Hours 1 Minute.

We got up and headed out early so we would have as much in the park as we possibly could. We took i70 to Cisco (a little ghost town just off the highway). Here we caught route 128 which we took straight to Moab (which is a few minutes south of Arches). This wound up being one of my favorite drives on the whole trip. The only reason we went this way is because my grandfather, who has been driving on every back road in this part of the country for the past 40 years, wouldn't shut up about it and how great the drive was - 'Its better than Arches' he kept saying. I'm not sure I would say its better than Arches - but it is staggeringly beautiful and I cannot recommend it enough. 
Route 128 to Moab

We got to arches and right away we were both blown away by its beauty. It had been just under a decade since I was here last, and Jillian really had never seen anything quit like it. We spent a few hours driving around to most of the look outs and quick hikes, before we got to the delicate arch lookout. We immediately realized that the lookout was a joke - as we could barely see the arch - and that we would have to make the 3 mile hike up to it. While 3 miles isn't the longest hike by any means, it was definitely difficult. It was pushing 100 F, the sun was shining, and we are definitely not used to this sort of hiking. 

Delicate Arch

From the parks web site:
"Length: 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip
Time: 2 to 3 hours
Elevation change: 480 feet (146 meters)

Take at least 1 quart (1 liter) of water per person! There is no shade. Open slickrock with some exposure to heights. The first half-mile is a wide, well-defined trail. Upon reaching the slickrock, follow the rock cairns. The trail climbs gradually and levels out toward the top of this rock face. Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail goes along a rock ledge for about 200 yards."

A truly incredible hike, with enormous payoff. We couldn't spot the bottom lookout from the ledge - to put it in perspective how shitty the view is from the parking lot. 
After we left Arches we spent a little time hanging out in Moab, grabbed some dinner and drinks at Moab Brewery before heading back to Grand Junction.

Day 29
This was J's birthday. Our original plan was to be in Salt Lake City visiting her aunt by her birthday, but she was still on the east coast visiting family so we were buying time in Grand Junction until she got back to Salt Lake City. We decided to spend the day touring the many vineyards and wineries in Grand Junction and Palisade. Nearly all of them were...not for us. Our favorite of the lot was Two Rivers Winery. The bartender there was very friendly, offered a lot of advice for our trip and it was overall a nice experience. This was our first stop and we wound up returning at the end of the day to buy some wine. We made some dinner and hung out at my aunts house for the rest of the night.
Day 30
Scenic drive from Grand Junction, CO to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to Grand Mesa back to Grand Junction, CO. 322 Miles, 6 Hours, 44 Minutes. 
A bit of the 'Hanging Flume' on the canyon wall to the right. The Unaweep-Tabeguache Byway was pretty beautiful, with lots of varying terrane - from red rock canyons like this to lush rolling green hills and valleys. 
We decided to check off several things this day as we were itching to leave Grand Junction and still had some stuff we wanted to see. We got up as early as possible and started our day of scenic driving by taking the Unaweep-Tabeguache Byway all the way south, looping around close to Telluride and then back up to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. 

The first lookout at Black Canyon of the Gunnison
This is a pretty quick park to see - another canyon rim style but its more than worth checking out as it is really unlike any other canyon Ive seen. 
J at Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
The pictures do not do it justice. Very steep, jagged, sharp black rock. Very dramatic and beautiful. 

J and some Random perched at a lookout at Black Canyon of the Gunnison.
 Once we left Black Canyon we headed back to Grand Junction by way of Grand Mesa. This wasn't our favorite part of the drive, but mostly because it reminded us a lot of driving around back east. J mentioned how much the actual town reminded her of New Paltz.

Sun setting as we came off the Mesa.

Day 31
We planned on leaving Grand Junction this day but a very large storm system was developing over the majority of the Western United States - and because our plans for the next few days were all out doors - we decided to hole up in Grand Junction until the weather passed. This took a few days. 

Day 34
The weather was finally starting to normalize, but not completely. In order to avoid weather in Wyoming, as well as catch J's Aunt in Salt Lake City - we had to drive from Grand Junction, CO to Glacier National Park, then return south through Yellowstone, the Tetons, and then over to Salt Lake City. Not the most convenient itinerary - but the one that made the most sense. It also allowed us to see Boise, which we originally wanted to but had to take off the list because we were going to head west from Glacier National Park into Washington State. 

Next up:
Butte, Bozeman, Glacier & Yellowstone. 

From our book:
Rocky Mt National Park (Enter @ Estes Park) open 24/7. check road status online. 
  1. o campground closing dates/full price: aspenglen 9/28 $20, Glacier Basin 9/7 $20, Longs Peak 11/3 $20, Moraine Park 9/28 $20/$14 water off,Timber Creek 11/3 $20/$14 water off. Reservations online (reserveamerica.com/recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777
    Trail Ridge Road (Main road) closes Mid October
    Old Fall River Road - Closed, Endovalley Road - Closed

Free to do:
  • Colorado National Monument – 9-5
    o 1750 Rim Rock Dr/Fruita CO/81521
  • Farmers Market – Til 9/25 – Thursdays 5:30-8:30p
  • Walk along main street – over 100 sculptures.
  • Scenic Byways: ‘two of the most beautiful drives in the western US’
o Grand Mesa (hwy 65)* climbs canyon of plateau creek to evergreen forests, to grand mesa (worlds largest flat top mountain) – see view from lands end overlook. Over 300 lakes and ponds.
o Unaweep/Tabeguache – (hwy 141 & 145)
o Could do the two in a loop & add in black canyon of the Gunnison
national park (2 hour loop including stopping at overlooks) This would be a leave early return late kind of drive (7 hours or so/336miles) – route: 141S>145S>62E>550N>50E>347N>BCGNP LOOP>(return)347S>50W>50W/N>92E>65S>i70W>Grand Junction
  • Not too far from Glenwood Springs – Pool open daily 9-10, $15.25pp, 10.25
    from 9pm to 10pm
    o 415 E 6th St/Glenwood Springs CO/81602
  • Dinosaur Journey Museum – 9-5, $8.50 pp o 550 Jurassic Ct/Fruita CO/81521 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why I Didn't Debut A Spring Menu This Past Week and A Day In The Life Of A Pastry Chef

Why I didn't debut a Spring Menu this past week.

1 - It was snowing on the first day of Spring
2 - The ground is still frozen
3 - I live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 5b, and our area farms are located mostly in  Zones 5a, 6b, or 6a (conversely, many are located in 4b and 4a...the lower the number the shorter the growing season - Napa, for example, is in Zone 9a - their average extreme low temperature is 20-25 F - 25 F was our high temperature today. Zone 9a's last frost date is typically in the beginning of March. Ours is typically in mid to late May)
4 - I cannot goto the farmers market and pick up a quart of strawberries
5 - We are still getting in some incredible winter produce
6 - At the restaurant, we cannot leave the side door - located at the end of our kitchen's line - open all day without being too cold.
7 - Even though our purveyors taunt me with their spring produce (from who knows where) availability, I am trying to have a spine and wait until it is actually in season locally. 

I arrive typically between 7 and 8:30 in the morning, depending on my work load and what kind of bread I am going to make that day. By the time I arrive at work I am about to finish my second cup of coffee.  When I walk in the door the first thing I do is turn the hoods, ovens, and dishwasher on - and I fill the first sink with hot soapy water, in anticipation of dishes I will make that need soaking. I head down to the basement and put my jacket and bag away. I wipe down my station and go grab my dough. I keep my dough bin (tightly wrapped) in a soffit below the stairwell to the second floor cocktail lounge. This seems to be a good temperature for slow fermentation. If I keep it at my station in the basement, often times it will not ferment enough by the second day (it stays pretty fucking cold in the basement). Today I am making focaccia - and I prepped some toppings for it last night. I turn the dough out on my bench and scale it for 1/2 sheet pans. I pat it out, load it up with toppings (I recognize that the focaccia I make is...unusual in its quantity of toppings, but I want to have a lot of everything on my slice when I get some focaccia...so...load it up!), and throw them in the one oven I have not yet turned on. The pilot light provides enough heat to proof the bread in an hour or so. In that time I clean up my station (this dough is WET and STICKY and makes quite a mess) and then go into the walk in to count my desserts to get an idea of what I will be doing today. 

I hear someone shout 'Hello' from the first floor - so I head on up. Adventures in Food is here with our order. I check it over and then quickly put it away. Back to the walk in. Seems like I have enough cheesecake to get through tonight, but definitely not tomorrow. Since the recipe I use takes about 24 hours start to finish, I will have to make more today. The same seems to apply to the olive oil cake that I am featuring this week. Enough for today, but not tomorrow. This particular cake is better on the second day than the first - so on the prep list it goes. 

Something went wrong the the sheet of brownies I made yesterday, they are thinner than usual - but also taste better than usual. Im a bit dumbfounded by it - but do not want to waste the product (I use very nice, very expensive chocolate, so tossing these is not an option - even though I cannot use them on my brownie dessert). We just bought a batch freezer (aka ice cream machine) and these brownies are appropriately thin to make sandwiches with - so I will portion them, freeze them and test an ice cream sandwich when I spin some vanilla ice cream later this afternoon. Now I also have to make another tray of brownies, and take care that I don't fuck them up as I need them for tonight. I baked off a batch of Stick Toffee Pudding yesterday, so I have an okay supply of them, but I have a small amount of left over batter and they sell well - so if I have the time today I will also bake them off. 

Next I check garnishes to see if anything needs to be prepped. Most of my garnishes are what I would call 'pantry items' - candied nuts, crumbs, dehydrated things - all things that are fairly shelf stable. Today I am in good stock, so I will not have to make any garnishes. Time to take a look at any projects that I have kicking around. We had a brunch that requested strawberries (Yes I fully realize that I was criticizing using strawberries this time of year earlier in this post) and we had leftovers so I macerated them with sugar, bitters, and lime and then put them in the dehydrator, where they are currently. They are still a bit more moist that I would like, so I decide to let them stay in there for a while longer. 

I pull the cream cheese and chevre, for my cheesecakes, to temper a bit before I make the batter. I go upstairs because I hear a delivery coming in. Dole & Bailey are here - this is typically our largest order. I spend a bit of time checking it in and decide that because I don't have a huge prep day ahead of me I will put it away. I notice all the flours I ordered are in, so I can potentially make my gluten free flour blend today, also I have about 45 pounds more tapioca starch than I planned on - so I have to figure out what to do with the excess.

Once the order is put away my timer is going off - the bread is proofed. I season it and throw it in the hot oven - and then turn the oven it was proofing in on. My next task is to start my dough for tomorrow. The recipe I use requires 18-24 hours of fermentation (for it taste good, anyway) so its important that I start the dough early in the day. Once the dough is done I decide to take on a task that doesn't require the oven - as the bread is in the one that is hot, and it'll be a little while before the second oven is up to temperature. I also do not like baking in this oven as it is...not good at holding a steady temperature and often runs way too hot. So I pull the case of oranges out and start pressing them because I will need a quart or so of juice for the olive oil cake. By the time I am done with this, it is time to pull the focaccia out of the oven, transfer it to cooling racks, and put it out of the way in our garden patio (which is where I have taken to cooling the bread).

Back to my station to make the olive oil cake batter. The recipe I use always has some extra batter (its not formulated for the tiny molds I use, but rather a few cake pans) so I use the extra batter to bake some cakes in 8 oz mason jars, which I will sell as a dessert in the wine bar next door. My dishes are starting to pile up a bit so I take a few minutes to wash some of them. Once I am done, I load up the second oven with the last of my stick toffee pudding batter. Nick and Matt (Chef and Sous) are in now, so I spend a bit catching up with them. Timers going off for both the olive oil cakes and stick toffee pudding - so I pull all of them and go downstairs to finish the sticky toffee pudding. While it is hot I stab it a bunch of times with some skewers and then pour Port wine toffee sauce over them, which they soak up like sponges. This is why this dessert is so good. It is completely saturated with a sauce made with port wine, molasses, brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream. 

I make the cheesecake batter quickly - because it requires that I use the robot coup (food processor) for it - and it can be a fight to get my hands on it one the hot side guys are in production. I put the cheesecake batter in molds and then into the oven to bake. This takes two hours - during which the oven door cannot be opened. 

Jake (who has trickled in at some point) and Matt are now rearranging the units on our line. The kitchen seems like it was built around these units, so there is very little room to maneuver - and it requires some real Tetris-ing to do. I help them for a few minutes and then head back to my station in the basement, where I put together some brownie batter and then I bake them off. 

Now its time to start thinking about ice creams. I mentioned earlier that we have just bought a batch freezer - but I didn't mention that it hasn't arrived yet. Currently I am using a machine that is somewhere between a home ice cream machine and a batch freezer (what they use at real ice cream shops). So it takes about 20 minutes to spin a quart of ice cream - and currently I spin between 3 and 6 quarts a day just for the dessert menu (we do not sell it by the scoop or as an option on the menu - something that will change soon). So anyway, ice cream usually accounts for a good chunk of my afternoon, as it has to be in deep freeze for a bit before it is stable enough to use for service (if it is not in deep freeze long enough, it will be too warm and become too soft to scoop after pulling it out of the freezer a couple times). I turn on the ice cream machine and then I start adjust the consistency of the orange sorbet base that I am using with the olive oil cake feature. It seemed too thick before, and as best as I can tell this was causing the machine to work in too much air (or overrun, if you want to sound fancy) so my goal was to thin the base a little with fresh orange juice. Typically this is not how I would fiddle with ice cream or sorbet, to me it is a very meticulous thing that require precise formulation and just 'adding a little bit of this or that' to a base will pretty much always fuck it up big time. But this base was already fucked up so...what there to lose. Next I strain the mint and cocoa nibs from the base I made yesterday. I then scale 2 quarts of vanilla, 2 quarts of mint and 1 quart of orange sorbet - with 700 g of base in each quart - this is the maximum I like to spin at one time in this machine. 

While the ice cream is spinning, I pull the brownies from the oven and put a sheet tray with 75 or so cookies in for tonights mignardises - or little gifts to be given with our checks. Once the orange sorbet is done, I scoop off a little bit to taste. The consistency is much better now. I have this extra sorbet so I decide to play a bit. I fold in a little bit of Sriracha and give it a taste. Its not bad at all, and may be worth exploring a little bit. Im starting to get hungry now and I am finding it difficult to stop myself from grazing on Matt's Broccoli Rabe that he just finished prepping. 

I make some chocolate cake batter and throw it in the oven - I am baking this off for the chocolate mousse cake that I make for the wine bar. This is a dessert that I cannot seem to keep in stock. While the cake is baking, I start to check off the last few tasks I need to get done before service. The cookies has cooled to room temperature, so transfer them to a small container and put them up at the servers station. I take the cooled focaccia and portion it all, wrap it up on 1/2 sheet trays, and put it at our expeditors station/pass. I then un-mold and pack up the olive oil cakes I made earlier in the day, and do the same with the sticky toffee pudding. The cheesecakes are ready to come out of the oven, so I pull them and put them on the speed rack in the cooler. I cut the cheesecakes that I already had into the correct portions for the plated dessert. The brownies are cool enough to portion, which I do, and then I pack them up into a fish tub (these are plastic tupperware like tubs that fish is typically packed in when it is ordered for a restaurant, hence the name). 

I give my counts/numbers to our front of the house manager, Charlotte - and then head back to my station to refill my sauces and start to set up for service. To set up the station I take all my garnishes and sauces and keep all of them in order so that everything for this dessert is all together, and everything for that dessert is all together. I gather my tools and put them in a bain marie with hot water in it and give the station a quick wipe down. I then make some whipped cream and prep some toppings for tomorrows focaccia. My last tasks are to wrap up the chocolate cake and olive oil cakes that I made for the wine bar and put them in the cooler. Its now 5:00, the restaurant is open, and I am winding down for the day. I check with Matt & Nick to see if they need anything done before I head out, which they don't - and because it is my last early day for the week I leave for the night. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Road Trip, Part 6: Colorado, Part 1. Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder.

*Just a quick note - as the formatting on this blog keeps some of the photographs pretty small. You can click on any of the pictures to enter a slide show, which will allow you to see larger format photographs*

Hows that for a confusing title?

Scottsbluff, NE to Denver, CO.  198 Miles, 3 Hours 10 Minutes.

Bear peeking into the Colorado Convention Center
One of the most enjoyable and staggeringly beautiful (and desolate) drives I have ever taken was from Estes Park, CO to Rapid City, SD following route 85 through Wyoming. I was pretty excited to make the drive from Scottsbluff to Denver because it went along a bit of the same route - but for the most part it was a dull drive. We were both very excited to get to Denver, finally see some mountains, and to visit our first National Park together. 

We got into Denver in the early afternoon. The weather was dramatically different from what we experienced the night before in Nebraska. We were shedding layers throughout the drive and by the time we were in Denver we changed into shorts and t-shirts. We didn't really have much of a plan for our time so we just started chipping away at our list. 

Pink fountain at the Museum of Outdoor Arts
Our first stop was the Museum of Outdoor Arts. Immediately we were amused by its bright pink fountain (we found out it was dyed for breast cancer awareness). We strolled around inside for a bit - browsing the mostly contemporary mixed media collection in just under half an hour. 

Sculpture at the Museum of Outdoor Arts
We were getting kind of hungry so we stopped at Whole Foods to grab some food, which we took with us to Chessman Park. It was an unbelievably nice day out - and we were happy to see the park was popular, but not overcrowded. We took up post under a tree, had a picnic and took a short nap.

View when I woke up from the nap
We decided to check out the 16th street (pedestrian) mall, which was a total, complete waste of time. Nothing but touristy shops and restaurants. We were pretty off-put so we quickly decided to go find someplace to grab a drink. We decided on a hardcore/punk/metal microbrewery called TRVE (pronounced True). The bar was mostly populated by crust punks and metalheads, the music was good - and so was the beer. We liked it here and felt much more comfortable than we did at the mall.

In the bathroom at TRVE
It was approaching dinnertime, so we headed out to the outskirts of the city to cash in a groupon for some sushi at a place called Japon. No surprise, it was garbage.

We spent the night in a Walmart parking lot in Westminster, which was the first nice Walmart we came across on the trip. Colorado seems to have a lot of nice Walmarts...

This is what the bathroom at Walmart looked like. Seriously. 

The next morning we had breakfast in the parking lot and got ready at the Target down the street. We drove into the city and headed to the City Park Esplanade farmers market. We walked around a bit and grabbed a Palisade Peach, which wound up being one of the best we had all year. 

Panoramic in the Kirkland Museum
After the market we headed to the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. This place was really cool - just a house packed full of mid-century modern furniture and cool art. There were SO many cool chairs. Once we were done here we wanted to check out another microbrewery, so we headed to a place called Our Mutual Friend. It was OK at best. The silver lining - on our way to it, we passed a street festival - so we ditched the car and went it. It was some Mexican Street Fair, and it was WAY too crowded so we left pretty quickly...but on our way back to the car we found a woman selling elotes and churros out of a basket on the sidewalk. We bought a few and they were fantastic. 

Typical snack on our trip.
We spent the rest of the evening driving around in a futile attempt to find some food trucks to grab some dinner at. We wound up staying in the same Walmart Parking lot as the night before.

This cave was transplanted from somewhere in Mexico to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

The next day we were heading to Fort Collins in the afternoon to visit a friend, so we didnt really want to get into too much. We went to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and quickly realized it was an all day kind of place. We tore through the place, seeing everything we possibly could as quickly as possible before we had to leave for Fort Collins, as we had to catch our friend before she went into work.

Denver, CO to Fort Collins, CO. 65 miles, 1 hour 7 minutes.

We arrived at our friend Nicole's apartment about an hour before she had to leave for work. We settled in quickly and cleaned ourselves up (first shower in six days!). She left for work and we headed downtown. Fort Collins is a very charming town, not unlike Ballston Spa, New Paltz, or Saratoga. Its littered with bars, breweries, shops, and restaurants. We walked around for a few hours - grabbed a margarita somewhere in there - and eventually made our way back to Nicole's apartment. We spent the rest of the night by her fire pit, having drinks and eating pizza, and catching up.

Horsetooth Reservoir
The next day (day 20 of the trip) we woke up and did some laundry while we had breakfast. Nicole had the day off and was going to show us around. Our first stop was the Horsetooth Reservoir, which - as you can see - was quite nice.

Roadside Old West Town
We drove around  a bit by the reservoir, stopped at some random old west themed road side shop and then headed to New Belgium Brewery to try and hop on a tour. 

Kettles at New Belgium
Look who we found in the Mosaic
We put our names on a list and crossed our fingers and in 10 minutes or so we were on a tour. Ive never been a huge huge fan of New Belgium - its totally fine, but not anything crazy - but I totally fell in love with them after this tour. They are, I am convinced, the coolest company you could possibly work for (rock wall, ping pong table, slides - all in the brewery... a position called the director of fun, free bikes on your anniversary, paid trip to Belgium, etc..). We got to try some of their sour beer, which was pretty fantastic.

Neat tables at one of the many bars in the New Belgium Brewery
The appropriately named bottling room at New Belgium
The rest of our day in Fort Collins was spent bar hopping, trying various microbreweries, which was actually a pretty good time. Later on in the evening we made our way back to Nicoles and crashed hard. The next day we packed up and said our goodbyes. 

Paper hat at Hammonds
We headed back to Denver. Our first stop was at the Hammonds Candy Factory. This was a complete shit show. Our tour guide was incredibly unknowledgeable, the candy was gross, and all in all a big waste of time. From here we went to Dino Ridge for a hike but  by the time we got there it was pushing 100 F and we were a bit concerned about making the hike....so another waste of time. 

Very weird, giant (4 feet or so) lily pads at Hudson Gardens
Back into Denver, we stopped at Hudson Garden to eat lunch (sandwiches). This was really pleasant, but there was a group setting up for what looked to be a wedding. We wanted to check out happy hour at a place called Linger because we read about its rooftop bar and the great view of downtown. While the setting was nice, the happy hour sucked and there was either something wrong with their water or dishwasher because it tasted like shit (kind of like fryer oil). We were striking out so we decided that we were going to grab some ice cream at the giant milk jug next to the bar - at a place called Little Man Ice Cream. We actually really enjoyed the ice cream here, sampling about half a dozen flavors. 

Ice Cream! Well...sorbet!
It was approaching dinner time and we had one last groupon to cash in at a place called Sherpa House. The food here was pretty crappy, the service was truly awful - but the decor and setting were hard to beat. We tried Yak, a first for both of us. 

Inside Sherpa House
We headed towards Boulder CO after dinner, stopping at a Walmart along the way. We were woken in the middle of the night by some police at our window, letting us know that we were okay for the night but Walmart was changing its policy and would no longer allow overnight campers in their lots. We were pretty bummed out, but a bit skeptical. We checked on Walmart's corporate site and their policy had not changed - it was still up to individual store managers/local laws. Cops were likely just checking to make sure we weren't doing drugs...or each other. 

The next day we wanted to get to Rocky Mountain National Park with enough time to pitch a tent before dark - so we knew we didn't have a ton of time in Boulder...so what did we do?

Celestial Seasons!
Celestial Seasons Tour, of course! We actually had a pretty good time here, believe it or not. Our tour guide was awesome.

After drinking all that tea, we needed some alcohol. We stopped at Redstone Meadery for some mead. Much to our surprise, it was all pretty good - but we especially enjoyed the juniper and the boysenberry flavors. From here we walked around a bit and then made a stop at Boulder Creek Winery. The woman pouring our wines was great - talked to us about the park, Grand Junction (our next stop after the park) - as well as eastern Washington, where she was from. She told us we had to get dinner at Pizzeria Locale, so we did! 

Apps at Pizzeria Locale
We got there just as they were opening, and had a chance to try their happy hour menu, as well as order a pizza. This place was incredible. Everything was top notch. I still think about this pizza often!

Really exceptional budino at Pizzeria Locale

After we ate we high tailed it to Estes Park, where the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park is. We arrived just as the sun was setting - also a perfect time to see lots of Elk grazing in the tall grass along the road to the campsite. What a wonderful welcome.

Up next: A few days in Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Junction and many stops near it. 

From our book:
  • Watch sunset on rooftop patio @ Linger Restaurant. Great view. Happy hour Tue-Fri 4-6:30 ** o 2030 W 30th Ave/Denver CO/80211
  • Farmers Markets
Free to do:
  • Hudson Gardens - 9-5 o 6115 S Santa Fe Dr/Littleton CO/80120
  • Museum of Outdoor Arts – indoor gallery Tue-Thu 10-5, Fri 10-4, Sat 11-4 –
    outdoor hours – sunrise to sunset. o 1000 Englewood Pkwy #2-230/Englewood CO/80110
  • US Mint Tour – must make reservation online, usmint.gov/mint_tours/index.cfm?action=StartReservation then click on Denver> Create Reservation o 320 W Colfax Ave/Denver CO/80204
  • Coors Brewery Tour – Thu-Mon 10-4, Sun 12-4 o 13th Street & Ford Street/Golden CO/80401
  • Hammonds Candy Factory Tour – Mon-Fri 9-3, Sat 10-3. o 5735 Washington St/Denver CO/80216
  • Washington Park o 891 S Downing St/Denver CO/80209
  • Cheesman Park – Has Denver Botanic Gardens o 1007 York St/Denver CO/80206
  • Cherry Creek Trail – don’t go after dark o 4785 S Dayton St/Greenwood Village CO/80111
  • Sand Creek Region Greenway o 3018 Sable Blvd/Aurora CO/80011
  • 16th Street Mall – 1.7 Mile long outdoor promenade. Cafes, stores along sides. o 1001 16th Street Mall/Denver CO/80265
  • 40 foot tall blue bear ouside Denver Convention Center o 700 14th St/Denver CO/80202
  • Dinosaur Ridge Mon-Sat 9-5, Sun 10-5. o 16831 W Alameda Pkwy/Morrison CO/80465
  • Oktoberfest
  • Denver Museum of Contemporary Art - $5/student. Tue-Fri 12-9, Sat-Sun 10-
    5. o 1485 Delgany St/Denver CO/80202
  • Denver Art Museum - $10/students Tue-Sun 10-5, 8 on Friday o 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy/Denver CO/80204
  • Museum de las Américas = free 1st Fri 5-9 / $3 with i.d (Tue-Fri 10-5; Sat-Sun 12-5. Historical, cultural & visual arts from Latin America; educate via ancient & contemporary art o 861 Santa Fe Dr/Denver CO/80204
  • Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art - $6/Student. Tue-Sun 11-5.
    Museum is essentially a home décor museum. 2 Frank Lloyd Wright windows; arts & crafts; art noveau; bauhaus; art deco; CO painters/sculptors/ceramists/furniture designers o 1311 Pearl St/Denver CO/80203
  • Clyfford Still Museum - $6/Students. Tue-Sun 10-5, Fri to 8. o 1250 Bannock St/Denver CO/80204
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science = $8 (daily 9-5). One of the largest in US; health exhibits on how the body functions & changes; fossil lab on prehistoric journey with lights, sounds & vegetation; mummies; minerals; Native American culture; S Pacific Islands, Australia & Africa exhibits o 2001 Colorado Blvd/Denver CO/80205

  • Restaurante 100% Mexicano. Highly rated Mexican, happy hour daily 3-6 (til 9 Saturdays). Mon-Sat 10-9, Sun 10-6. o 2850 Iris Ave/Boulder CO/80301

Free to do:
  • Boulder Creek Winery (tastings Thur-Sun 1-5:30) tastings are $5 for 6 wine
    ($3 refunded on a bottle purchase) o 6440 Odell Pl/Boulder CO/80301
  • Boulder Beer Company Tour = free & 1st come 1st serve tours (Mon-Fri @2; Sat @2 & 4). CO 1st microbrewery; history & science behind beer making; samples o 2880 Wilderness Pl/Boulder CO/80301
  • UC Museum of Natural History - $3 suggested. Mon-Fri 9-5, Sat 9-4, Sun 10-4. o 1030 N Broadway St/Boulder CO/80309
  • Leanin Tree Museum & Sculpture Garden of Western Art – Mon-Fri 8-6, Sat 9-
    5, Sun 10-5. - paintings & bronze sculptures of landscapes, cowboys, Native Americans, wildlife of the West; outdoor sculpture garden o 6055 Longbow Dr/Boulder CO/80301
  • Celestial Seasonings Tea Tour – Mon-Sat 10-4, Sun 11-3. Artwork; marketing
    displays; tea tasting; production & packing tour; aromatic mint room; herb garden o 4600 Sleepytime Dr/Boulder CO/80301
  • Redstone Meadery – (free tasting Mon-Fri 12-6:30/ tours @ 1, 3; Sat 12-
    5/tours @ 12:30) o 4700 Pearl St #2A/Boulder CO/80301
  • Pearl Street Mall – ped mall o 1942 Broadway St #301/Boulder CO/80302
  • Tue & Thu 11-2 food trucks park in civic center

MoJeauxs – Wednesdays 2for1 burgers 5-9, $1 pints 9-12. , $2 wells & select
micros 4-7 every day. o 820 City Park Ave/Fort Collins CO/80521

Free to do:
  • Budweiser Tour, Thu-Mon 10-4. o 2351 Busch Dr/Fort Collins CO/80524
  • Little Thompson Observatory – Sept 19 7pm – Public Star Night – Use telescope, see presentation. o S 8th St/Berthoud CO/80513
Rocky Mt National Park (Enter @ Estes Park) open 24/7. check road status online. 
o campground closing dates/full price: aspenglen 9/28 $20, Glacier Basin 9/7 $20, Longs Peak 11/3 $20, Moraine Park 9/28 $20/$14 water off,Timber Creek 11/3 $20/$14 water off. Reservations online (reserveamerica.com/recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777
Trail Ridge Road (Main road) closes Mid October