Go West

I’m in route (literally writing above the clouds!) on the way back east from a great vacation in Colorado. Outside of missing Winston, it will be hard to return to reality tomorrow. As I told a girlfriend last night over email – – detox + diet = no fun.

The stars aligned with this trip as my friends Tommy and Michael from San Francisco met me in Denver for an adventure – to see my sister in Denver and celebrate our friend Rachel’s wedding in Breckenridge. We met last Wednesday and spent a couple days in the city enjoying coffee, food and drinks. Yes, you guessed it.

After chasing my sister’s dog down the street (see above), we enjoyed an arrival happy hour at Pinche Tacos in Denver. Pinche was recently nominated for one of the best new restaurants by Bon Appetit. They deserve their recent rap as they have killer margaritas for a great price. I recommend their happy hour and a variety of tacos – including the pork belly with candied garlic. Our knowledgable and super friendly bartender gave us the run down on his preferences on tequila and made some mean drinks throughout the evening – including an awesome horse-feather  (bourbon, bitters and ginger beer). Special thanks to the folks at Pinche for treating us so well.

Thanks to my sister’s recommendation, we also hit up two great coffee shops – Crema Coffee (which also has amazing breakfast burritos) and Happy Coffee.

In honor of Tommy’s belated birthday, we made the epic purchase of Debbie the Dragon, an ennormous pinata, at an amazing fiesta store on Federal. Debbie became our mascot throughout the trip. She made dinner, had cocktails, went on our weekend trip and became the center of attention in the wedding photobooth. Follow me on Instagram to see all her adventures (@modonmendenhall).

We spent Friday driving through the mountains and arrived at Mount Princeton Hot Springs for a good soak and picnic with the most awesome views. The water was naturally 103 degrees and we made made our own tubs moving giant granite rocks. A picnic of roast chicken, granny smith apple and brie sandwiches hit the spot – with plenty of grapes and potato chips. After the springs, we took the most ridiculous side trip to visit the chipmunks in St. Elmo – a tiny ghost town. The chipmunks were a highlight of the trip despite how squeamish I was when they jumped on my shoulders.

We spent two nights in Breckenridge celebrating the nuptials of my great friend Rachel and her new husband, Drake. The Fall views in Breckenridge were breath-taking. The stay, ceremony and celebration at the Lodge at Breckenridge was the perfect get-way and setting. Many congrats to Rachel, Drake and their families – and a big thank you for the hospitality and mayhem! Rachel and Drake served local bourbon drinks at their wedding from the highest distillery in the world! I highly recommend grabbing a couple bottles of Breckenridge Bourbon for your next trip out West. Be careful, that altitude can catch up with you. Michael can give you testimony to this too (wink).

After a slow Sunday morning (hello mountain hangover) we met my sister, Maggie, at her cyclocross race in the quaint city of Golden. We found Maggie and her friends hanging out under a tent watching bicyclists compete through an obstacle course – all while drinking beer and frying local Tender Belly bacon. Oh how sisters can be so different, yet the same.

Golden is home to Coors Brewery and the Colorado School of the Mines – and it also has a great little downtown with shops, restaurants, thoughtful streetscaping and a beautiful greenway along the river. We can only dream of going tubing along our new Downtown Greenway in Greensboro! Oh, and a slide.

After a quick Pho dinner and a trip to my sister’s bike shop, I crash in preparation for my return east. It was a wonderfully wild trip to the wild wild west but there is no place like home.

PS: I hated to miss the Spring Garden Food Truck Fesitval! But, looking forward to the pilot program downtown starting next week!

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