February 2, 2018

Weekend Recap: Big Bro Visits Boulder

Last weekend was a pretty exciting one for me – my brother Erik came to visit Colorado for the first time since I moved!

Friday started out as a really fun day at work. We had our national all-hands event, and I led the planning of the in-person portion for our Denver office. After a delicious lunch buffet, we watched a live webcast from Dallas. At the end of the webcast, we were treated to the news that our Denver office had won a national challenge and all of us were leaving the event with Amazon Echo Dots and Apple Airpods! I was pretty psyched for these gadgets, and have already put my Echo Dot to good use by putting it in my bedroom and linking it to my night light, so I can turn out the lights when I go to bed just by talking rather than groping for the switch. Obviously, a necessity.

But before I went home, we had an office connectivity event that I had organized: a Chopped-style cooking and mixology competition! We divided into teams, and were tasked with creating a mocktail and cocktail for the first round of judging, then a savory crepe for the second round of judging, and a sweet crepe for the finale. My team’s savory crepe was sauteed shallots and matsutaki mushrooms with basil infused goat cheese and a fig glaze; our sweet crepe was caramelized bananas and dried cherries with a ginger-chocolate-hazelnut sauce. I was really proud of how my team’s crepes came out, even though they didn’t win a prize – they were delicious!

Judging of the sweet crepes. We got to try bites after the judges, and they were all awesome!

My brother arrived at Denver Airport in the late afternoon, and was able to take the airport train downtown to meet me at the Sheraton just as my event was wrapping up. From there, we headed back to my house to drop off his stuff and let him get settled, and then headed out to dinner in Louisville at one of my favorite restaurants, Empire Lounge.

Erik posted this pic on Instagram, and soon was contacted by an old friend he hadn’t seen in years who now lives in Louisville! This ended up being the theme of the weekend – it seemed like he had more friends in Colorado than I do 😉

The next morning, we headed up to Boulder to go exploring – and quickly ended up at Ku Cha Tea House on Pearl Street. Turns out, Erik and I share a love for tea, so we had a great time chatting with the staff, exploring all the different flavors, and even doing a green tea tasting. We both got steaming cups of delicious teas (mine: vanilla rooibos) to go while we walked around the chilly and still-quiet downtown mall.

The official tasting wasn’t till afternoon, but the staffer who was leading it said she would love to practice on us. It was great!

I’ve strolled the mall a lot, but it had been a while since I’d explore some of the shops. It was really fun to see things through Erik’s eyes, and we went into a few places I’d never before checked out that had some really interesting wares. Eventually, though, we got hungry – and since we were on our way back to my place anyway, we decided to head to Huckleberry Cafe in Louisville for brunch.

I’m usually more of a savory than a sweet person for breakfast, but: This. Was. Amazing.

Post-brunch, Erik checked in with his friend Nikki (the one who had contacted him that she lives in Louisville), and we ended up going to meet her and her family a few doors down at Twelve Degrees. Twelve Degrees is probably my favorite brewery in Colorado (it’s all Belgian-style!), but the beers can be strong, and I didn’t do myself any favors by picking two that were 9.8% and 9.6% alcohol, respectively 😉 So that became the end of my drinking for the day, even though we were going out later that night.

After a quick nap at home, it was back up to Boulder to meet up with another old friend of Erik’s. We started the night at the St. Julien Hotel (where I couldn’t resist their Beetnik cocktail, which is my favorite cocktail of all time – beet juice, vodka, and a sprig of rosemary), and ended it with dinner at The Kitchen Upstairs. The Kitchen has three restaurants all next to each other – the main restaurant, which is a little fancier; the Kitchen Next Door, which has a casual brewpub feels; and the Kitchen Upstairs, which is a trendy lounge. I had never before been to the Kitchen Upstairs, and it ended up being a neat hangout spot.

No photos from the Kitchen Next Door, but here’s the Beetnik cocktail from the St. Julien.

Sunday started out a little bit slow due to the late night Saturday, but I used the time to take care of a whole bunch of stuff around the house – cleaning, setting up my new gadgets, and getting Erik’s help labeling all the breakers on my electrical panel. So exciting, I know 😉 After that, though, we were ready to rumble – and our stomachs were rumbling too. We decided to head back up to Boulder for brunch at Snooze, and definitely didn’t regret that decision.

The pancake was “to share”, but I ate pretty much all of it… including that awesome homemade marshmallow on the top.

We ended up taking some more downtime after brunch (especially since we didn’t go eat till 1pm), and it was in this time period that I made a game-changing decision. Earlier in the week, I had been really sick – both literally, and also with worry about my townhouse in New York, which sustained tens of thousands of dollars of water damage from freezing / burst pipes. Insurance was threatening to deny the claim, and I was panicking over the thought of having to come up with that money on my own. My week had been really crappy and miserable up until Friday, but even Saturday and Sunday had a bit of stress to them. And partially due to the stress and partially due to my sickness / lack of sleep, I had abandoned my run streak and not really had a solid workout since the 19th.

But while browsing Facebook on Sunday, feeling like I hadn’t done much with my day, I saw that my friend Cathryn had posted about her day, which included both skiing and a 2 mile walk with her husband. (Plus a lot of other activities besides.) That inspired me to drag myself up off the couch and out for a three mile run around my neighborhood. Although I wasn’t looking forward to it, when I actually got out there, I was surprised by how easy it felt. I wasn’t going at a particularly fast pace, but I wasn’t running slowly either, and I felt fantastic. My 2018 honestly hadn’t been going very well, and on the run, I just kept thinking how I was now taking the reins into my own hands and making good things happen.

This is one of my favorite views from my now-standard 3 mile neighborhood loop – I lov the juxtaposition of the neighborhood and the mountains.

After the run, it was time for a quick shower, and then Erik and I headed the opposite direction, down to Denver for an indie concert my brother was excited about. We saw Mapache at The Globe downtown, and I had a blast! I really enjoy going to concerts, but I never know what to see, which means I rarely end up going. With my big brother being really into the music scene, it was great to follow his lead and see a really neat group.

Photo credit for this goes to my brother – how awesome is it that we were this close because it was such a small venue?? I’m going to ask him to recommend more groups as they come to the area, too – I’d love to do this again!

And even though it was Sunday night, my weekend still wasn’t over. After some meeting cancellations at work, I decided to take Monday as a vacation day to spend a bit more time with Erik. Our destination? Breckenridge! Erik wasn’t supposed to ski due to a motorcycle accident this summer, but he still wanted to see what all the mountain fuss was about. Plus, after I headed to work in Florida, he was going to stay with friends in Vail the rest of the week anyway. So off to Breck it was!

The snow was decent (at least, decent for this year, which isn’t very good) but the trails weren’t crowded – so that was a big plus.

I was able to get a few runs in to start my day, then I headed back down to the gondola so I could take a conference call from my car and get a few emails out. On my way back up the gondola, though, I got the best call ever – my insurance adjuster calling to let me know that they are going to pay out my claim for the damage to my townhouse! As I mentioned earlier, that situation has had me sleepless for weeks with worry, so this was the biggest load off my mind ever that insurance was going to cover the (tens of thousands of dollars of) damage. And I ended up in such a great mood that I allowed myself to be talked into taking the Imperial Express Super Chair up to the top of Peak 8, in order to ski the double diamond back bowls.

The group assured me they wouldn’t take me on a trail I couldn’t handle, and it would be fine… but then they spent most of the two chair lifts to get there telling me about the steep ridgeline we’d traverse to get to the bowl, and then all about how to drop off the cornice to get into the bowl. Both of those made me really nervous – I had never skied a ridgeline before, and I also had never dropped in from any kind of cliff! When we finally made it to the top (at 12,998 feet, it’s the highest lift in North America), we sidestepped our way up part of the way to the summit, then headed down Whale’s Tail, a narrow traverse across the ridgeline to get over to the Y-Chute trail we planned to ski down.

Whale’s Tail was pretty scary – it was really narrow (maybe about 6 feet wide), really windy, and the bowl below it was closed, so I was pretty terrified I was going to accidentally lose my edge and slip into terrain that even experts weren’t supposed to do. (Here’s a video of what Whale’s Tail looks like on a normal day, when the bowl below it is open and the trail itself is significantly wider.) I was panicking the entire time, but when we finally got over to Y-Chute, I felt better – it looked much more doable. I slipped in sideways so I didn’t have to worry as much about the cornice, and then it was glorious and I was loving it!

…until halfway down, when the snow gave way to a field of grass and rocks. Really careful skiing was needed to avoid those obstacles, but I lucked out and got through it without a fall – and then it was one more glorious (and steep) run back down to the T-Bar. How fun! I really enjoyed the actual bowl skiing, but I will also admit that the ridgeline traverse to get there has me thinking twice about doing it again 😉 Not to mention that my legs were toast at this point!

I was really proud of myself that I tried such a tough trail… maybe I’ll be a real Colorado skier yet! We’ll see this weekend, as I try to get back to the mountains again.

Happy Friday!


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