I got to visit Cheyenne, one of my best friends whom I met in college, in her home state, Colorado. Backstory: During my junior year, we were in the same dance piece and we ended up banding together since we were majoring in different fields (Chemistry and Computer Science). However, we both had a competition dance background pre-college and even had some of the same dance choreographers. During those dance rehearsals, I found out that she is also an amazing lighting designer (and stage manager - how cool is that?) which has led to her being the designer for all of my solos that I've performed at ASU. As a Colorado native, she would mention all of these cool activities to do in Colorado including the Avalanche hockey team to the point where I just had to make a trip out there.
Getting to Colorado: I haven't flown anywhere by myself so I was nervous and anxious navigating my way through the DIA. However, with the huge signs, I was able to get on the train and make it to baggage claim. With Cheyenne's directions, I got my suitcase and was ready to see what Colorado is all about.
The Original Pancake House DTC: The first thing we did after I arrived was get breakfast at The Original Pancake House DTC. I devoured their Traditional Eggs Benedict and it hit the spot. It was also neat to see the companies and startups currently call Denver Tech Center home as we were driving by.
Adventure Golf & Raceway: We wanted to go mini golfing since we enjoyed Glow Putt Mini Golf back in AZ. Cheyenne, her cousins, and I went to Adventure Golf & Raceway in Westminster. The place offers three Adventure golf courses: Buccaneer Bay, Adventure Cove, and The Lost Continent. This place was so much fun that we spent three hours there doing all three courses!
Butterfield's Ice Cream: Cheyenne wanted to show me this place as it's her family's favorite place to go for ice cream - and let me tell you, this place lived up to the hype. Butterfield's Ice Cream is a family owned and operated enterprise located in Parker. I got Salted Caramel and Caramel Oreo and the best part was that I got to enjoy it all throughout my stay!
Overcooked 2: I got to introduce Cheyenne's cousins and friends to Overcooked 2 on the Nintendo Switch as that was another fun game we played with friends in AZ! In this game, up to 4 people take on the roles of chopping vegetables/meat/fish, cooking rice/noodles, assembling food to satisfy the Onion king and his dog, Kevin, and avoiding health codes all together. This game oddly combines stress and fun but in the end, it's so addicting and we all had fun working together to earn stars - we even got 3 stars on some of the levels!
Sunrise at Red Rocks Amphitheater
Cheyenne, her cousins, and I got there around 5:20am and walked up what felt like 13+ flights of stairs to see the first part of the sunrise where you can only see the glow of the sun. It was beautiful to gaze at all of the rock formations and hear the birds chirping. We went up a few more flights and sat in the bleachers to watch the rest of the sunrise. As we were enjoying the sunrise, I saw people jogging back and forth between the bleachers and along the stair steps. It was an inspiring moment to see the work that these joggers were doing for their health and/or simply because they love jogging. It again reinforced what I love about the sunrise:
Sunrises are my favorite thing about nature as can also depict my relationship with God. If something means so much to you, you will make it a priority and you will wake up for it - literally or figuratively. In this case, it was literal. However, like God, the sunrise is always there every day for us to start our day with and appreciate.
Exploring Downtown Parker
We ate lunch at Parker Garage, a chef driven culinary inspired restaurant that has been designated as a Parker landmark. It was restored back to its original state in 2014. I also got to check out Fika Coffee house, a Swedish American Coffee house located on Mainstreet. I had just visited Stockholm so it was quite cool to a bit of Sweden transported to downtown Parker.
Can you tell we like playing on the Nintendo Switch?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: During our last semester of college, Cheyenne and I would play team battles 2v2 and 2v4 along with Adventure mode and unlock characters. One time, we even played for 6 hours straight! We, along with her friends, had played so much that we challenged all of the characters but weren't able to KO some of them. At 3am in the morning, we decided to take the Challenger’s Approach route and unlock the last 10+ characters!
Exploring Downtown Denver
Wynkoop Brewing Company: We started the day with having lunch and tried out this place since Cheyenne knows her beer and we both love beer. The beer and the food were so good that I was in a food coma. Afterwards, we got to see Union Station and then continued making our way to 16th street mall, which is a mile-long pedestrian promenade.
Tattered Cover Bookstore: Along the way, we made a stop at Cheyenne's favorite book store. I have to say, that one could easily spend a whole day at this place reading and sipping coffee in addition to buying good reads. This modern indie local bookstore has every genre along with recommendations from the staff. In addition to getting the Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies book, I also got a Tattered Cover Bookstore shirt because even their merchandise is cool.
Federal Reserve Bank: Cheyenne and I did the self-guided tour of the Money Museum. There's a security checkpoint at the entrance to check ID and bags. There were a lot of cool facts about how the dollars are made, budgeting, and the current economy. You could spend about 30-1 hr here depending on how much you read about each small exhibit.
Tea Cloud: On our way back from checking out a number of shops on 16th street mall, we were both needing a drink which made the perfect opportunity to try out this bubble tea place. I got the Flying Dragon (Strawberry, Pineapple + Rose Petal, Hibiscus + Jasmine) with Strawberry Popping Boba and it was satisfying.
Cranelli's Italian Restaurant: We ended the day with eating dinner at Cranelli’s Italian Restaurant with her parents. The awesome thing about getting to spend the week with Colorado natives is that they know where all of the best local mom and pop restaurants are. This place is quality and the best part is that every time you bring in a new person, you get free garlic knots!
Snooze an A.M. Eatery: One of my favorite memories while at ASU was having breakfast or lunch with Cheyenne and friends from dance at the Snooze on the Tempe campus. When her mom suggested Snooze for lunch, it was a no brainer. While the food was delicious, I also thoroughly enjoyed the scenic view!
Breckenridge Brewery: The brewery was hosting a beer fest with local artisans selling their works. We got to walk around and look at all of the local art while sipping beer which made this local event an even greater experience. We also stopped by their photo booth and took some pics!
Patty Ann’s Cafe: This place was another wonderful local restaurant located in Kiowa that we ate at for breakfast/lunch. I had buttermilk pancakes topped with Cinnamon apples - I practically inhaled them.
Exploring Castle Rock: We browsed the shops at Castle Rock and walking along the park that was a nearby. I also got to see the rock formation as we were driving by. Having taken a couple geology courses, it was cool to imagine how it formed and what it was made of.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Cheyenne, her cousins, cousin's friend, and I chose to hike the Deer Mountain Trail based off of previous reviews that mentioned a stunning panoramic view at the top. The hike was 6.2 miles, round trip, with a lower elevation gain in comparison to the other trails.
We got to the trail around 7am which was the perfect time since there were only a few people hiking along the trail. As we were hiking up, the elevation change gave us an opportunity to stop and take pictures/videos along the way. The last 0.2 miles on the way up were all stair steps yet the panoramic view at the top was absolutely worth it. In fact, all of the stairs made our hike back down the trail a fun run.
After a long morning of hiking, we rewarded ourselves with ice cream from Hayley's. I got a chocolate dipped cone with a double scoop of Sea Salt Caramel and Orange Sherbet. There were so many different cone flavors that it was hard to choose! Both flavors hit the spot along with the cone. Afterwards, we walked around the shops and looked for a snow globe to add to my collection. The mission was a success and I was able to add a snow globe that encompassed our hike as well as the essence of Colorado! Also, while we were walking around, the weather changed from sprinkling to hailing to nothing and for a brief moment, I understood what these Colorado natives experience daily - an umbrella is too extra.
Exploring Downtown Boulder
Pearl Street Mall: We ate a late lunch at Eureka! and then dessert at Le Pops. It was fun to check out some more shops in Downtown Boulder before getting on the road again. In reflection of this place, there is also a lot of history behind Pearl Street Mall.
Star Kitchen: One of Cheyenne and I's favorite lunch outings was dim sum at Mekong Palace so we just had to try a dim sum place in Denver. Her best friend, Allie, joined us and we got the usual har gow, siu mei, shrimp cheung fun, doong (sticky rice), booloo bao (pineapple bun), don tot (egg custard tart), and xiao long bao dumplings.
Mission Escapes: During our last year of college, we along with a group of friends did about four Escape rooms in Scottsdale and Gilbert. When thinking of a fun thing we could with Cheyenne's family, we thought it would be fun to try the Lunar Escape room at Mission Escapes in Aurora. To not give any secrets away, the puzzles were very clever and we had unlimited hints. In the end, we escaped with 4 mins to spare and we had a fun time! Our GM was very helpful and it'd be fun to go back and try the other escape room when I visit next!
The Rundown -> Colorado, you are beautiful.
Cheyenne drove over a gazillion miles but it was totally worth it because every place we went to and everything we did was a blast. I even got to cuddle with her cute puppers, Mikko and Tyson, and her cat, Moxie. From singing at the top of our lungs with the windows down and the night sky to running up the stairs of Red Rocks to running up even more stairs at Rocky Mountain National Park, this was a trip that I will never forget. What's even more awesome is that I got to see Colorado through Cheyenne's experiences and perspective as you only get glimpses of a person's life in a college setting. I am truly grateful that college has blessed me with such an awesomely talented and intelligent friend who has so much depth and can do anything she puts her mind to - she literally weaved through a laser maze that wasn't even on the easy setting! Plus, she always has my back. That being said, I will definitely have to make a trip out to Colorado again!