Monday, September 12, 2011

I already have a post entitled Rocky Mountain High, so... take two!

To make the most of the long Labor Day weekend, E and I hightailed it to Estes Park, CO to enjoy some hiking, relaxation, and, most importantly, cool weather!  A little categorical recap...

views from our balcony
Friday morning's breakfast
sexy bed bears... rawr

We fell in love with Taharaa {and with Estes in general} last year at H & M's wedding.  It's the quintessential mountain lodge {see needlepoint bears above} with a bed and breakfast twist.  All rooms feature balconies, fireplaces, DVD players, and jacuzzi tubs.  A gourmet breakfast every morning, complimentary Happy Hour every day at 5, and the friendliest staff you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting... 4 stars for Taharaa!  {The only items in the Needs Improvement Category? The bed and bath linens... I think I prefer the ones at the Residence Inn!}


Right off the bat, I'd like to proclaim that hiking whilst preggers?  A-W-E-S-O-M-E.  You know all those times you're hiking and you really want to stop and take a breather, but it's only been about 4 minutes since your last breather and you don't want everyone to make fun of your wussiness?  Yeah, well, when you're with child, stopping every 50 yards is not only tolerated but encouraged.  See Also: Husband Carries the Pack... Even When the "Pack" is a Mustard Colored Longchamp Because Your Pregnancy Brain Forgot the Actual, Legit Hiking Day Pack.

So, yeah, if you're a hiking fan, take the ol' fetus for a jaunt in the wilderness.  You won't be sorry.

Note: All our hikes were enjoyed in Rocky Mountain National Park

Day 1: Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake & Emerald Lake

{5.2 miles round trip; trail begins at the Bear Lake Trail Head}

An Easy to Moderate hike {probably our easiest overall}, this route was recommended by both my parents and Amanda, and for good reason - apparently it was just voted one of the best hikes in Colorado.  We could see why - you're rewarded with a gorgeous lake about every half mile!  

Bear Lake...

{when will I learn that no makeup does not a Christmas card make? grrrr}
{E said "look pensive"... mmmkay}

Nymph Lake...

{so began a series of self-timer photos to varying degrees of success}
{Rocky Mountain Prom}
{looking down on Nymph Lake}

Dream Lake...


Emerald Lake...


Day 2: Alberta Falls & Mills Lake

{5.6 miles; Glacier Gorge Junction Trail Head}

A Moderate to Slightly Strenuous hike, this trail was the most crowded... Lots of families and lots of really fratastic college students. {If I saw one more pair of neon wayfarers, I swear to you...}  While the falls and Mills Lake were both gorgeous, I think this was our least favorite of our hikes, scenery-wise... there just wasn't a ton of jaw-dropping views in between the falls and lake.  Still a great hike, though! 

{Alberta Falls}
{there's one of those breathers we were discussing earlier}
{Mills Lake}

Day 3: Calypso Cascades & Ouzel Falls

{5.4 miles roundtrip; Wild Basin Trail Head}

A gorgeous, Moderate hike -- you can hear or see running water nearly 100% of the time.  The only downside of this trail was that you have to share with horseback riders... slightly annoying.  

This is the day I awoke to discover E had swallowed my contacts whilst getting a late-night drink of water.  100% my fault {I forgot my contact case and put them in a water glass and subsequently forgot to cover said water glass or move it away from the sink... duh}.  Happily, E had "potato skin eggs hollandaise" {OH YES} to wash down my eye gunk, and was left in a benevolent mood - offering up his eyeglasses so I could see the sites!  Husband of the Year, y'all.  


The Grub...

Estes Park is not a culinary capitol.  The majority of our meals were "pretty alright," as E would say.  Those meals were... 
  • Mary's Lake Lodge Tavern {American / Continental} 
  • Dunraven Inn {Italian}
  • Local's Grill {American / Continental}
  • Wapati Pub {American / Continental}
Out of the four, Wapati is an easy favorite.  We lunched here during our last Estes stay and it was good enough for a return.  Excellent sweet potato fries, chili, ruebens, and a very extensive beer-on-tap list. 

{brew in a boot at Wapiti Pub}

Apparently, there are 2 Thai restaurants in Estes.  My parents rave about "the one near the post office."  They do not lie.  The Thai Place Near the Post Office was simply outstanding, furthering my theory that the best Thai food is always found in the randomest towns {Waco's Bangkok Royal 4-Eva}.  

We {well, E} also enjoyed a big glass of wine one evening at a local "winery"... It's in town, by the river, and has a bunch of Adirondack chairs in which to relax. 

Day-Trippin': Boulder

After our Mills Lake hike on Sunday, we decided we'd take a little day-trip to Boulder.  We took advantage of the daylight and decided on the scenic route on the way up to Boulder... the Peak to Peak Byway through Nederland.  The views were stunning and it's easy to see how this route is one of the Top 10 Scenic Drives in the USA.  

After arriving in Boulder {about a 1.5 hour drive}, we were immediately smitten with the town's charm.  We explored Pearl Street for a few hours, stopping for some patio-sitting and a nice long jaunt through Peppercorn, a/k/a: Kate's Personal Mecca.  I'd move to Boulder just to shop here for all my culinary needs.  

E pretended to be very interested in grilling cookbooks as I geeked out with my camera. 

Peppercorn in Boulder

Drooling yet? 

Having worked up quite the appetite on our morning hike and afternoon stroll, we partook {?} in a ridiculously delicious "linner" at The Med.  Hummus trios, homemade ravioli in vodka sauce and meatball pizzas... oh my!  We can definitely attest that Boulder made up for Estes' culinary shortcomings!  

{HUGE THANKS to Amanda for all her Boulder recs! Next time, we're rocking Pasta Jay's, fo sho!}

Stuffed to the gills, we rolled on back to the Taharaa {opting for the more direct, 45 minute route this time} and selected Cider House Rules from the DVD library to enjoy fireside.  

A perfect end to a perfect summer getaway!   

What's your favorite dog day destination to beat the summer heat?  


  1. Really glad you guys had an amazing time! Next time in Estes, Dave's BBQ (I think that's it) right outside the entrance to RMNP was delish BBQ.

  2. Looks like a fabulous little vacay!

  3. You guys took some great pictures!!

  4. How much did you love Peppercorn? I used to work just a few blocks away from there. It's pretty much impossible to leave without buying something. Glad you had a good vacation!

  5. HOW FUN!!!! What a great getaway and beautiful pics :)

  6. WOW! So gorgeous! I haven't been to CO since I was a little girl, but I really want to check it out now!

  7. Such a relaxing retreat! So glad you and Evs got away for the long weekend.

  8. I really don't know why, but this post made me laugh so hard at your random jokes (drinking contacts haha!) that I started crying. I had a rough day and reading this definitely snapped me out of it, so thank you!

    All the kitchen stuff looks beautiful, as well as the hiking! Major jealous.

  9. Hello!

    I'm a new reader and so enjoying your blog!

    My Mom and Dad just visited Estes Park in June for the first time. Despite a little hiccup in their accommodations, they positively ADORED it.


  10. I LOVE the Peppercorn in Boulder. Anything especially cool and/or great quality in my kitchen is from there.

  11. Great pics--you look very cute in E's glasses!


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