Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Some like it Hot Hot Hot

With the changing seasons brings a chill to the air in Colorado and a tendency to want to migrate indoors...if only there weren't so many things to do outside. Between skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing and even hiking you'll never go bored in Colorado especially not during the long winter months. Sometimes though you just want to do some relaxing for the weekend in the mountains and there's no better place to do this than the Hot Sulphur Springs.

Colorado boasts a variety of hot springs which are located anywhere from Idaho Springs to Glenwood and even as far as Steamboat. While they are all beautiful, for the cheapest and the closest weekend getaway we like to venture to Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado. It's located one hour and 45 minutes northwest of Denver via I-70 to Highway 40 (and only 30 minutes west of Winter Park). Chad and I had first visited here in May about 2 years ago before we got married when I wanted to get away for my birthday but we had to pick someplace cheap to save money. I found this place on the internet and we decided to head west and check it out. We had such an entertaining weekend here we invited our friends Lyndee and Mark to join us again this past April.

There really isn't much to the town of Hot Sulpher Springs and even less was open when we went at the end of April. Because it's in the off season you can get great discounts but you must also be prepared that even less of the few restaurants that are in town will be closed. In fact a place called, The Glory Hole (I kid not here) which has the best french toast I've ever tasted was closed this time around as was the local hot dog and ice cream store. The springs are the heart of the town and it's a wonder anything else really survives up here. What makes the springs nice though as there are only a few tourists and locals in the off season meaning the pools are pretty empty.

While you can stay on site at the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa, we always opt to stay at the Canyon Motel. Lyndee and I were able to book adjoining rooms, which we realized upon arrival, were probably the smallest rooms there but we made it work.

(four is a bit of a crowd in one room here!)
I like the Canyon Motel because they allow dogs, they have lots of free samples in the lobby area as well as free cookies and coffee, they are friendly and inexpensive and they are within walking distance of the springs. They also feature room service which is really just some heated up burritos or DiGorino's pizzas but even a frozen pizza tastes good when someone else makes it and delivers it to your room!

(Lyndee with our pizzas)
The actual Sulphur Springs Spa doesn't allow dogs, being loud or alcohol either so that's another reason for the stay at the Canyon which also offers discounted hot springs tickets. A day pass is normally $17.50 a day (I believe it's $11 or so at the motel's price) which allows you access to the pools from 8am until 10pm and you can go in and out as many times as you like. There are 16 pools total and you can also rent a private bath or treat yourself to a massage or mineral scrub.

For those who prefer to camp there's sites available at this place:

We actually met some very nice, albeit a bit creepy redneck men camping here who were kind enough to share their beer with us but then followed us around the springs all night. The campsites aren't very private and there are train tracks that run alongside but the upside is the Colorado River runs parallel to the campsites so there's plenty of fishing for the avid outdoorsman (or woman). 20 minutes away is Grand Lake which is a much bigger town for restaurants and shopping as well as boat rentals. You can also cross country-ski, snowshoe, hike, golf, hunt, 4-wheel, dog sled, horse back or hot air balloon ride in the sulphur springs and surrounding areas.

The downside to the sulphur springs, is, well, you come out smelling like a rotten egg. The Strawberry Hot Springs in Steamboat are not sulphur based so you don't have any smell to you when you come out which makes them a nice alternative. Just remember to bring a bathing suit, towel, robe and clothes you don't mind smelling of sulphur for a few washes! Of course, the Hot Sulphur Springs have more variety of pools and more privacy than any I've ever been too. All of them fit at least 4 people and Lyndee, Mark, Chad and I could sit in a secluded one towards the back of the park and be as loud as we wanted with no one around for us to annoy. Children also aren't allowed except in 4 of the pools on site which makes it nice for those wanting a kid free relaxing vacay. Glenwood springs is practically overrun by children and I had a hard time swimming a few feet (their pools are indeed the size of a swimming pool) without one jumping on my back or splashing me in the face.

With the state of the economy I hope this tiny town survives long enough for my future (grown) children to visit. The last visit I noticed a lot more restaurants boarded up and I just hope the town succeeds well into the future. I know bigger hot springs in the area will be fine which is why I feel such a fondness for this area because I really like the small town vibe. With the winter fast approaching I hope we can make it up again sometime this year to experience the place with snow on the ground. Something about snow on the ground while sitting in hot water really makes for a relaxing stay-cation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rattlesnake Gulch

Last weekend my mom braved the world of airports, flying stand-by and flying solo to come visit Chad and I in Denver. She has come to visit quite a few times (most recently this past May for Mother's Day) so I try to vary our activities each time so she can experience all Denver and Colorado has to offer. This past summer, when she saw how into hiking 14ers I was, she expressed interest in hiking with me. She even bought some hiking shoes and did a few hikes in Birmingham to prepare. Timing was not on our side, however, and the snow came to the mountains covering any hopes of hiking Mt. Sherman - our intended 14er. The weather was still nice in the foothills so I picked a shorter day hike for us to do during her visit: the rattlesnake gulch trail in Eldorado Canyon.

(mom at the beginning of the trail)

The Rattlesnake Gulch trail is one of my favorites to take my visitors who want a good day hike. It's about 3.5 miles round trip and follows an old wagon road known as 'Crags Boulevard' up the south wall of Eldorado Canyon to what remains of the Crags Hotel which stood there from 1908 until 1913 when it burned down. The starting elevation is about 6,087 feet and the max gain if you do the whole loop is 7,080 which makes it perfect for visitors who haven't acclimated to the altitude. Chad had taken me on this trail when we first started dating, then I had taken my friend Casey and her now husband Ross and our friend Jason a few summers ago. The trail seemed a lot longer and more challenging then, probably due to the fact I now hike much greater distances with higher elevation gains and it wasn't the dead of summer. My mom did an excellent job hiking, even with her asthma and the altitude and we made it to the hotel site in about half an hour.

(My mom with the only standing structure left ironically, the fireplace)

After you reach the hotel site you can either turn around or keep going another 10 minutes or so to the Continental Divide overlook. Since there was snow on the mountains I thought we would have an especially nice view of the divide this time of year and I wasn't disappointed.

Even though I'd rather be hiking those peaks than looking at them, they are still a breathtaking site.

From the top of the Continental Divide overlook you also get a nice view of a rock wall which is popular with climbers in the area. On a clear day you can see the Denver skyline as well.

(Mom and I at the overlook)

(enjoying the view)

There is a nice bench at the top too where you can sit for awhile if you want but we decided after about 10 minutes of enjoying the sites to head back down. This is a popular trail, especially on the weekend, and the lookout gets a little crowded for my liking. I've learned in Colorado week day hiking is best if you want peace and quiet or the ability to let your dog run off leash without being yelled at. This hike attracts all ability levels though from little kids to grandparents and even though the $6 parking fee seems a bit much for the time you spend there, I highly recommend this trail for beginner hikers.

I was glad to have been able to take my mom out for a hike and even more aware that taking her up Mt. Sherman probably wouldn't have been a great idea. While I'm sure she could do it at some point, it's difficult for someone to come from sea level who hasn't spent a lot of time outdoors doing strenuous activities to just come out and hike a 14er. I know I have taken some beginners up the mountain and it can be done, but those friends have lived here and acclimated and tend to be pretty active in their lifestyle as well. Hopefully next summer my mom could come out for longer and camp at a higher altitude and give herself time to adjust to the thinner air if she still wanted to try for a 14er.

Hiking in Boulder also reminded me that while 14er season may be over for me there are still some great hikes in the foothills to discover. Chad and I once hiked almost every other weekend and it was a great free outdoors activity that kept us in shape. While the views might not be quite as spectacular it is nice to be able to spend only an hour or two hiking as opposed to 4-10. My hope is to find some great snow shoe trails this winter so that we can enjoy the snow and I can keep my thirst for hiking satisfied until next summer!

And there's always rock climbing as well!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An E.P.I.C. ski party

A few years ago I bought a ski pass so I could learn to ski here in Colorado. Ever since then, I've been on an email list where I occasionally receive information about events around Colorado. I usually delete these emails but the one I received on October 1st made me take note, the headline: The 80's Ski Party is Back.

Anyone that knows me knows I love the 80s. The movies, the music, pretty much anything except the outfits mostly because I hate looking back on pictures of myself wearing the most hideous things from that decade. The theme for this party was 80s ski wear so of course I was intrigued as this presented a great costume challenge. I sent my best friend (and fellow costume loving party girl) Malia the link to the website detailing all the information for the event. As predicted, she didn't hesitate to go with me.

This was the 7th year for the 80s Ski Party but my first time going. Although the price tag was steep, $40 for tickets, I felt it was for a worthy cause. You see, all the proceeds from the party benefited First Descents courtesy of the E.P.I.C. foundation. E.P.I.C. stands for the Endeavor for Physical and Intellectual Challenges for those in financial need. The corporation was created to provide funds to charitable causes, organizations and foundations. First Descents is committed to curing young adults of the emotional effects of cancer and empowering them to regain control of their lives by experiencing whitewater kayaking and other challenging sports in a safe, fun and supportive environment. They have 9 programs in 6 different states and served over 140 adults this past summer. Being an avid outdoor enthusiast and knowing people my age that have had cancer, I felt this foundation is doing a great service to the community. I think everyone should get to enjoy the great outdoors, especially those who have had such a life changing event as a battle with cancer.

As much as I promoted the event, no one but Malia and I ended up buying tickets. Well let me just say, everyone else out there missed a great party! Just waiting in line at the Mile High Station to get our wristbands we couldn't help laughing at the site of all the men in one piece dayglo 80s ski suites. This was one costume party where I feel the men far exceeded the women in their choice of amazing outfits. Once in the door we were greeted to the sounds of a live 80s cover band, The Champions. There was free alcohol all night which included Effen Vodka, Jim Bean and Tequila as well as beer. Food was also sponsored by Evol burritos and The Cheesesteak Connection so there were plenty of sandwiches to eat whenever you needed a break from dancing. One of the bars even featured an ice luge and a shot ski for those that seriously wanted to get the party started. 80s ski movies were playing on giant screens hanging from the upstairs balcony and when you got tired of watching that there were plenty of people to watch. You had to wear 80s attire to get in the door so the whole venue was lit up with neon pinks, greens and yellow's and you had never seen so many bad outfits in one place in all your life.

Malia and I stayed until about midnight and had the best time at this event. It turned out great that it was just the two of us because we ended up going around talking to people all night long. Everyone there was so friendly and just having a great time so the atmosphere was very relaxed. Just a bunch of people dancing on the dance floor, enjoying themselves while supporting a great cause.

While Malia and I did not go as "all out" in our costumes as we could have, we are already looking forward to next year and vow to not be outdone! This was the second time I have attended an event at the Mile High Station and I have to say it's a great location. I believe the Winter Brew Fest will be held there sometime in January. It's not a costume party so while it won't be as crazy people watching, that also means less stress on how to dress.

Some pictures from our night:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hartman's, Absinthe, Burley's, and Sherlock's

This past Friday Chad and I packed up the car and headed up to Gunnison and Crested Butte to spend the weekend. The plan was to stay with his brother Tyler and his girlfriend Brandi Friday night, hike Wetterhorn on Saturday with Meghan and Neil and stay in Crested Butte with them that night. Unfortunately, nature has a funny way of interrupting plans. Despite the fact Chad warned me there might be snow up on the mountains, I went ahead and rented a helmet in anticipation of my first class 3 climb. I wasn't going to be deterred. On the drive up, however, passing through Fairplay we saw that the Kite Lake 14ers (Demorcate, Lincoln and Bross) were covered with snow and low laying clouds. Then we reached the Collegiate Peaks in the Buena Vista area and this is what we were greeted with:

I believe I was in denial about the season. I just haven't been ready to give up my summer and 14er hiking. Coupled with the fact I was seeing this snow with my own eyes was the responses I was getting on 14ers.com about the conditions of Wetterhorn and how the way to learn how to climb a class 3 is not in mixed conditions. I felt defeated by the weather. I texted Meghan to tell her about the mountains and she said the Elk range was covered in snow too and that it looked like Wetterhorn would have to wait until next year. After all if every other 14er was covered in snow I'm sure Wetterhorn was too and with it being October, this snow wasn't going anywhere.
Weather wasn't going to put a damper on my weekend and I still knew with the abundance of things to do in Gunnison and Crested Butte plus great friends and family to see that we wouldn't go bored. After arriving in town Friday afternoon and meeting Chad's brother Tyler at his house in Gunnison, we walked over to the Turquoise Junction where Brandi works. Chad still owed me a piece of jewelry for our wedding anniversary so Brandi helped me select an awesome pale blue turquoise bracelet for which I can't remember the name of but it's one they are going to stop mining soon so it will increase in value. If you love turquoise or native American pottery and jewelry this place is worth stopping in and it's on the main street in town so it's hard to miss.
Friday night Neil and Meghan drove into town and we all went to dinner at The Trough. For how small Gunnison is, I still haven't experienced all of it's eateries or shops so I always like to eat someplace new when I visit. The Trough is a little outside of town on highway 50 and serves steaks and seafood as well as family style rolls and salad. They have everything from prime rib and lobster to chicken fried steak and scallops. I had the salmon which came, as all the entree's do with my choice of side so I had the baked potato. Coupled with the bread and salad it was almost too much to eat and I would say, well worth the $20 price tag. It's likely the most expensive restaurant in town (that I've ever seen at least) but the food is really good and the staff more than accommodating. Afterward we went to the Sonic for dessert where Chad's brother is the kitchen manager. You can't beat sonic for milkshakes!

Since we were not hiking on Saturday I was hell bent on doing something outdoors. I left it up to Neil and Tyler to come up with a perfect activity to which they suggested we head out to Hartman Rocks.

Hartman Rocks is open year round with the summer season extending from April to October. You can hike, rock climb, horse back ride, ski, snowshoe or (most popular) mountain bike through the single and double track trails. There are more than 20 trails on 8,000 acres of public land making possibilities for fun out here (as well as getting lost!) endless. Located just south of Gunnison, it's a high mountain dessert which is blessed, like much of Colorado, with 300 days of sunshine a year. Due to the fact there are no trees in the area, it was indeed very warm and made for perfect rock climbing weather - our goal for the day. There are an assortment of large boulders for the very popular "bouldering"- free climbing without rope and just a crash pad, but we opted for one of the many climbing routes. We were going to attempt Buddha's Belly but when we got there saw people on the route so we headed over to Beginner's Slab. If you head out here I'd definitely recommend getting a map or going with someone who knows the area because it would be easy to get lost out here and it's not like the climbing routes are advertised. Luckily I was with locals who not only knew the routes but how to belay and set up ropes as well!

Neil took me to the top of the route and showed me how to hang the rope into the bolts which are secured deep inside the rock. Then we went down to the bottom where he set up the belay and Tyler volunteered to go first. After seeing his attempt and some coaching from Meghan, I felt confident enough to go second.

Here I am getting my climbing harness checked. Meghan explained you always want your climbing buddy to check and make sure your harness straps are double looped. Then Neil and Tyler showed me how to tie my figure eight into the rope on my harness which would keep me secure. Note, I did not have to wear a helmet but since I rented one for the weekend I was determined to get my $11 worth!
Honestly, I wasn't sure how far I'd make it. I had just watched Tyler and he had gotten stuck right after this little ledge here:
You can't tell so much because it's a photograph of course but after that ledge there really aren't any hand or foot holds to speak of. So I took a break and assessed my situation:

I believe rock climbing, like yoga or hiking 14ers, is 90% mental and 10% physical. So I faced the rock and pretended like I was hiking a 14er. I told myself, "How are you going to hike the Maroon Bells if you can't even get up this?" That Dr. Suess quote began playing in my mind:
"When things start to happen
don't worry, don't stew
Just go right along,
you'll start happening too"
And you know what, it worked. I just started moving my legs, listening to my cheering partners below and things started to happen. Before I knew it I reached the top:

Or my top anyways. I could not find a solid hold past that crack and work my way up the overhang. Maybe with a little more practice I'll be able to do it someday.
Chad took his turn after me and did very well for someone who is self professed, "Out of shape.
Since Chad went to Western State he is very familiar with Hartman Rocks and spent a lot of time out here in his college days. He hasn't climbed in probably just as many years as I haven't. I was so proud to see him make in his element and he in fact made it farther than I did - he got his feet in that crack but still couldn't make it over the hump to top out. It would take Meghan to finally prove that reaching the top could in fact be done. She is a natural climber and was scrambling up the rocks on her turn before we could blink our eyes. She told me her first date with her now husband Neil he took her rock climbing so it's as embedded in their relationship as hiking is to Chad and I's.

Here we are in awe at how far she made it so quickly:

And here is my favorite photo of the weekend taken right before Meghan reached the top. Don't they make a great husband and wife team?:

There was a lot of encouraging going on here because she wasn't sure of her footing and there's basically nowhere to put your feet or your hands but somehow she made it and we were all so proud.
I think everyone should go rock climbing at some point with their significant other. It teaches you a lot about strength and trust, especially when your partner is the one belaying you. I also realized through rock climbing that sometimes you can't always see where you are going but that doesn't mean you aren't headed in the right direction. Trust your instincts and don't give up and you may surprise yourself. I can't wait to enjoy this activity more in the future and as a bonus my pecs and lat muscles are still sore.

After a full day outside we decided to head indoors to the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin in Crested Butte. I mentioned this place in my last post and it did not disappoint. Being that it's that awkward time in mountain towns between summer and winter seasons we learned the Dogwood was about to be closed for the next 6 weeks after Saturday night. This meant they were out of a lot of signature cocktails, however, they were practically giving the martini's away at $6 which is $4 off the regular price (you can still catch this deal during happy hour when they reopen after Thanksgiving). We chose to start off the night here because their cocktails are so delicious we wanted to actually taste and remember them before the real drinking of the night began.

If you like, or have ever wanted to try absinthe this is the place to do so. The cocktail in the champagne glass that I had is Ernest Hemingway's drink called, "Death in the afternoon." it's absinthe, champagne and lemon and it was amazing.

Here's Chad and I with our martini's. I don't remember exactly what was in mine except it was infused with habanero which sounds disgusting but actually gave the drink a nice firey tang to it - perfect for cold winter nights in Crested Butte.

After a few cocktails we walked down the street (I love how you can walk anywhere in town here) to the Secret Stash. While I have had and enjoyed (obviously) their pizza before, Neil turned me on to the locals favorite: the Sherlock. It's not on the menu of course, but you order a Sherlock pie from the waitress which is basically chef's choice. We also ordered an, "Everything but..." which was a vegetarian's delight complete with truffle oil and tons of mushrooms (which I hate but the pizza was good anyways). I must admit with it's variety of dipping sauces it was served with and the combo of sweet and spicy, the Sherlock was my favorite:

After a night out on the town the best part of waking up on Sunday was the promise of breakfast from the Gas Cafe. Another favorite that I mentioned from my earlier post, it just wouldn't be a complete trip to CB without breakfast from here. It's a little bit of a longer walk from N&M's house and it was chilly out so we opted for the most popular transportation in town - biking!

N&M were kind enough to let us ride their tandem bike while they rode their cruisers. This is the same bike they rode down the mountain into town on their wedding day. Yes, Meghan rode a bike in the freezing rain on her wedding day, she's a trooper! I have to say, I have never rode a bike like this before and always wanted too so check that off the bucket list. It's a little tricky to balance the weight but once you get going it's so much fun. Chad is always ahead of me biking so if we had one of these we could always be right together and it makes talking to each other easier. I am definitely adding one of these to my Christmas list!
Meghan and I went shopping around town while the boys watched football where I bought some Red Lady Tibetan prayer flags. If you are familiar with Crested Butte there's a big issue going on with Red Lady and the people who want to mine the mountain vs. everyone else who doesn't want to see it destroyed. I've always wanted some Tibetan prayer flags and these are authentic and the proceeds benefit saving Red Lady. I bought mine at the Crested Butte history museum right on main street but I am sure other stores in town sell them as well. A great cause and souvenir from the area.
Just when the weekend began it seemed it was over and time to go home. I know we will be spending a lot more time in Gunnison and Crested Butte in the future as Chad and I will be an aunt and uncle soon and we will definitely want to be back to visit our soon to be born nephew. I'm so thankful for our friendship with Neil and Meghan too and though I'm sad they live far away, I'm so happy they live in such an amazing place we get to go visit. Denver is great but I hope to be a part of the mountain lifestyle in the future. All the mountain needs is snow now in Crested Butte and our new activity will be going down instead of up!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gunnison and Crested Butte

This weekend Chad and I are headed to one of my favorite destinations in Colorado - Gunnison and Crested Butte. N&M live in CB and Chad's brother Tyler lives in Gunnison (the cities are about half an hour or so apart) so not only will we be able to see everyone on our visit, N&M and I will also be able to check another 14er, Wetterhorn, off our list. Chad isn't too keen on hiking so it works out perfect that he can visit with Tyler all day in our absence. Since Chad went to college at Western State, which is in Gunnison, he is very familiar with the area and it is of course, a trip down memory lane for him. While we could fly directly from Denver, our dog Bebe is making the trip with us so we are opting to drive. In the pre-winter months the trek isn't too horrible from Denver and usually takes us about 4 hours.

I was first introduced to Gunnison and Crested Butte last February when Chad and I went for his Alumni Weekend. Every year, usually the second or third weekend of February, alumni's are offered discount lift tickets to Crested Butte and Monarch mtn. and given a chance to socialize at a BBQ. We stayed with his brother and his girlfriend Brandi in Gunnison where they live, then drove over to Crested Butte to ski that Saturday. I was instantly charmed with both towns. While Gunnison tends to get less snow on average, the streets of CB were lined with snow packs taller than me. I marveled at how, even in winter, people choose to bike everywhere over driving. Crested Butte is definitely a ski town but it's not hokey like Vail or Keystone where the main streets are lined with condo's and t-shirt shops. It snowed all day when we skied, and the terrain was challenging with the flat light (compounded by the fact I didn't know the mountain at all). However, most of the runs were practically empty and I was impressed by how short the lift lines were. Unique to CB was also the fact that they had an Ice Bar situated on the mountain where you could sit and drink and watch the snow fall.

Talking with the bartender at the ice bar I got a sense that mostly locals ski and board this mountain and they didn't have to deal with as many tourists as the other areas in Colorado. Crested Butte also didn't seem as wrapped up in the corporate world money making business that skiing has become. Just visit this mountain after visiting Vail, Keystone or Breckenridge and you will see what I mean.

(just look at those empty runs! On a SATURDAY!)

Crested Butte is also home to many other new favorite places of mine which can only be found in this tiny paradise of Colorado. One of those places is the Secret Stash. It's a gourmet pizza place with a Buddhist theme where Om symbols and Ganesh's line the walls and certain tables have you seated on pillows at floor level. The wait is extremely long in the tourist season (aka winter) but they are so nice they'll jot your cell phone number down and call you when your table is ready. The drinks are amazing and so is the pizza which makes it worth the wait (which you can spend at the Eldo bar next door which has even cheaper beer prices).

After dining at the Secret Stash walked over to an old miner's shack which had been converted into the Dogwood Cocktail Cabin. Since we were only visiting for apres dinner drinks we were seated in the back of the restaurant in a comfortable open booth where we had the whole area to ourselves. The walls were painted pink and had dogwoods painted all over them and there was nothing but dim candlelight illuminating the restaurant. While the cocktail cabin has everything from ice cream sandwiches (almond butter cookies, vanilla bean and sea salt ice cream and lavender caramel sauce) to a Tijuana speedball (tequil, kahula, baileys and espresso) on the menu we opted for the Absineth.

If you have never ordered Absinthe before it's quite the production. The waitress brings out the reservoir glasses filled with the spirit with absinthe spoons resting on top of them and a sugar cube on top of that. As you'll notice in the picture above there's also a large water container with four spigots. You place the glass underneath the spigot and turn on the water so it is at a constant drip over the sugar cube to dissolve it into the absinthe. The reason for this is that absinthe is not bottled with added sugar (therefor not classified as a liqueur) and though it is a high proof it is normally diluted with water in this way. Once the sugar has melted you remove the spoon and drink. The taste is almost that of black liquorish. While I didn't taste any of the food here last time, I am sure to return this visit even if it's just for signature cocktails and fondue.

My favorite breakfast eatery is at an unlikely spot - a gas station. Whenever I had heard Chad or his friends talk about "the gasser" or the Gas cafe I just thought that's what it was called. I didn't actually think the food source would be inside a gas station. Of course this is no ordinary gas station. They have tables and booths set up inside and stickers and magazine clippings all over the walls. A sign warns you not to stare at the cook unless you want to tip more (hey I wouldn't want to be treated like a circus animal either). The breakfast sandwiches are a favorite, and the place is almost always busy being a one stop shop (eat food, get gas is their moto) so it's best to call in your order ahead of time for pickup. After all they only have one cook running the show. I was turned on to the Burley by Chad which is Bacon, egg, cheese, and a hashbrown sandwiched between an english muffin. A surley is the same thing only instead of bacon it's sausage and a Hurley has ham instead. Get it? While it's certainly not healthy for you, it's great to eat before a day of skiing as it is the cheapest thing you'll find to buy and eat in town (there's no fast food joints anywhere to be seen).

If you like good coffee you won't find any place better than Camp4 which is a small license plate covered building in town. Like most of the establishments here, it tends to draw the crowds but I attribute this also to the fact that they hand press and grind their own beans prior to every order so each coffee is like a work of art. No rushing you in and out like Starbucks here. They also sell their coffee (buy the whole bean in a brown bag if you want the freshest stuff) and my personal favorite is the Sledgehammer. For a coffee that will keep you awake all day, this one delivers. My friend Malia just brought me back some Art of Darkness coffee from there and I have to say it's amazing as well. Just as good as sledgehammer but not as strong (which is a blessing because sometimes the sledgehammer is too much for me). On the cover of the bags you'll see Al, the guy who owns the place and who you might just see in the store running around as well.

I am beyond excited to spend the weekend there and feel so fortunate to have friends and family that live in such an amazing spot. We usually only make it to Gunnison/CB about once or twice a year but I hope to spend many more days there this winter. Besides skiing there is plenty to do there from snow shoeing to snowmobiling not to mention all the boutique shopping and the restaurants. I only hope that the snow hasn't come too soon and we will be able to summit Wetterhorn without any issues!