Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Colorado Vacation 2009

Homebase for our Colorado vacation was a wonderful cabin called the Royal Roost; nestled between Mts. Rosalie and Logan at 9,200 feet elevation near Bailey, Colorado.

A true mountain cabin, our little home for the week was located behind a locked gate inside the Pike National Forest, surrounded by conifers, aspens, granite outcroppings, and a brisk, bubbling creek right outside the door.

The location was so peaceful and secluded that it took no time at all to decompress and get into a vacation frame of mind. After unloading the car, we lit the fireplace, cracked the window open, and in poured the bustling creek sound that would lull us to sleep all week. Oh yeah, we also opened up a nice Port to enjoy by the firelight.

The next day we ventured out to explore the creek, the woods, the trail that led up into the moutains, and to start to get used to the elevation! Those first few days, we were sucking the air for every molecule of oxgen we could get.

Well, two of us were ... baby girl turned out to be a natural-born, sure-footed mountain goat (or perhaps, lamb.) She ran and jumped and explored the area all around our little cabin. We had a hard time keeping up with her.

We want to thank our great hosts, Tom and Judy Jeute, owners of Royal Ranch, Llama Adventures, and the Royal Roost. Check out more pics and info at: http://www.royalranch.net/ and http://www.vrbo.com/211164

They welcomed us when we first arrived in the rain with a huge umbrella, took us to the cabin and showed us around, and helped us during the week with local info. And the breakfasts ... oh those wonderful breakfasts!!! The cabin was already stocked when we arrived with coffee, hearty homemade breakfast burritos, and yummy chocolate muffins. They turned a great location into the perfect place to make our Colorado vacation special.

Thanks Tom and Judy ! ! !

We arrived in Colorado with a list of things we wanted to do in Denver and the surrounding area, but after we settled in at the cabin, we slashed that list WAY down. It was just too much fun to explore the woods around the cabin.

Our first must-do list item was to take baby girl to the Denver Zoo. Her favorite animals were ones she knew from the Wonder Pets; for you non-toddler parents, click here. So, in review; ducks, turtles, fish, kangaroos, and cute little animals are good; big, scary animals are bad. In all, it was a good outing, plus daddy and daughter got to wail on some cool drums!

Thursday was the best day of our week.

After coffee and another hearty breakfast, we started hiking up the mountain along Deer Creek. It was in the mid-fifties and the sun was shining. We explored the pine-needle-padded twisting trail as it meandered through the woods. Obstacles turned into opportunities as we navigated felled trees, roots, rocks, and boulders. All sorts of fungi, moss, and lichen colored the detritus on the forest floor.

We took a break on a small island carved by a fork in the creek. Celia sat under a tree and looked at pine cones, twigs, and rocks while we enjoyed the sounds of a small waterfall tumbling into a pool.

Back down the trail and nearing our cabin, we got another taste of the rapid weather changes we’d been observing all week. Clouds began to fill in the sunny sky and the temperature dropped 15 degrees. Not quite sleet; not quite hail; what can best be described as tiny soft-packed snowballs began to drop on the final steps of our wonderful two hour morning hike.

After a being foiled in our attempt to take a well deserved nap by our rambunctious toddler, we went into Denver for our, now traditional, vacation wine-pairing-dining splurge.

The restaurant we chose was Rioja, named for a Spanish wine region.


We started off with a flight of artisan goat cheese paired with a Spanish white wine. Main course choices were: Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Risotta and heirloom tomato-tarragon salad; and Hawaiian Blue Prawns with Crispy Pork Belly, and green papaya salad with peanut sauce. Each dish was paired with a red this time ... because we like red. Both dishes were amazing. But, dessert took the cake :-)

We ordered two desserts: a warm cashew tart, with chocolate and espresso custard, toasted cashews, and vanilla bean ice cream with Hawaiian sea salted caramel; and beignets made with sweet goat cheese and black mission fig filled pastries, and a ruby port wine reduction. These were paired with a white and a rose champagne. Best beignets we have ever had ... period. When our waiter picked up the very empty plates, I asked him if it was uncouth to lick the plates ... he said he would not tell anyone!

We also got a compliment on our "very well behaved chaperone." If only she was like that every time we went out!

One more night of wine by firelight and one more day of hiking and playing in the woods, and it was time for the long drive home. Why does the drive home always seem twice as long as the drive to your vacation? ? ?