While the rain continued in Atlanta for the entire week after our wedding, Michael and I got to run away to beautiful Colorado for the week to celebrate our honeymoon. The weather there was absolutely perfect – brilliant azure skies, fluffy white clouds, and just enough fall briskness in the air.
We spent most of the day on Monday traveling – to the Atlanta airport, flying to Denver, and then driving out to Steamboat Springs, which is about 3.5 hours northwest of Denver. Mostly by luck, and because I was craving pizza, we happened upon an amazing pizza place called BeauJoe’s about halfway between Denver and Steamboat Springs. They pride themselves on their “Colorado-style pizza”…I didn’t even know that was a thing, but apparently it means thick artisan braided crust, over which local honey is drizzled before eating. Never in a million years would I have thought to put honey on pizza, but it was really tasty!
Michael had the whole week planned out, with just enough activity each day to keep us entertained but relaxed and not stressed out. It was perfect. We started out on Tuesday with breakfast at the Creekside Cafe, a little restaurant that came highly rated by friends and the internet alike. Its fame was well-earned. They had the most delicious sausage gravy and flaky biscuits I’ve ever had in my entire life – we liked it so much that we made a point to go back again before we left Steamboat Springs. If you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods, get the Barn Burner – well worth the $12 a plate price tag!
After breakfast, we got a couple’s massage. The price tag was a bit steep, but the masseuses were excellent, and we both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was a nice relaxing start to the week. The rest of the day was spent exploring the quaint, picturesque town. It’s definitely a seasonal tourist town, with a small concentrated city center and super friendly locals…visiting in the off season meant that we got to enjoy all of Steamboat’s charm without any of the crowds. The best of both worlds! I particularly enjoyed the hours posted on the shops in the downtown area – they said things like “10:00-ish to 5:00-ish, except when the fishing is good”, “probably not open on Saturdays, unless we are,” or “by appointment only, unless you’re lucky.” Quite a character-filled little town.
Wednesday was probably the highlight of the trip – a hot air balloon ride over the city. We got to do something that neither of us had experienced before – quite a feat considering our adventurous pasts! I was a little nervous because I’m so uncomfortable around heights, but it was a fairly calm day and not really scary at all. The only time I got queasy was when I decided to look straight down from 2,000 feet above the ground. That probably wasn’t the best idea. But we did get to see a moose from the air, which is apparently quite rare! It was fun to see the town from a completely different view. Watching the pilot wrangle the enormous balloon into a tiny little basket after we landed was rather amusing, too. We celebrated our successful flight with a champagne toast in little paper cups. Apparently that is a tradition that was started after the first successful hot air balloon ride (in a balloon made of paper!!), which was commissioned by the French king in the 1700’s (you know the French love their champagne! ;]). Incidentally, the first person to fly in this monstrous paper contraption was named Pilatre de Rozier, which is where our modern term “pilot” comes from.
After the hot air balloon we grabbed an early dinner during happy hour at the local steakhouse, E3. (By the way, eating during happy hour is a great way to get fantastic food at a fraction of the cost. This is true across the country, not just in Steamboat Springs). We had a local beer, lobster macaroni and cheese, a huge hamburger, loaded potato wedges, and a delicious been bourbon soup…all for about $30. And with leftovers to spare! We definitely ate well in Steamboat :D.
We also took a trip up to the famous Strawberry Park Hot Springs on Wednesday. The hot springs are natural, although the pools and paths have been built up by humans…they’ve created quite a pleasant, relaxing hot springs experience, with differing temperatures in the various pools and lovely walkways and waterfalls and gardens throughout. It was wonderful! We met this young guy there with his friend who was such a hoot. As soon as he found out that we were on our honeymoon, he became our biggest fan – taking pictures of us, asking us about our plans, even kicking people out of the private 2-person pool so we could have it. It made me want to say we’re on our honeymoon every time we travel, lol.
Thursday was our last full day in Steamboat. We decided to spend it following the advice of some locals and checking out some local haunts. There are 2 lakes, Pearl Lake and Steamboat Lake, about a 30-45 minute drive north of the city that are also state parks. We spent the day exploring them both. On the way up we stopped at a popular general store, Clarke’s, which serves as the tiny town of Clarke’s general store, post office, local restaurant, bank, and tourist office. We grabbed some lunch there, and then took it to Pearl Lake to eat. We had the lake pretty much to ourselves (another benefit of visiting in the off season), so we lay on the ground to enjoy the view for a while. But pretty soon the pebbly ground started hurting, so we went in search of Steamboat lake. That one is much bigger and surrounded by nature walks, so we picked one of the shorter ones and took our time walking it. Highlight of the walk was definitely the many deer we saw within a stones throw of the path! Made me realize just how sick and malnourished the deer at Berry are, lol…
That evening, to celebrate our last night in Steamboat, we had a nice dinner in, making a yummy chicken marsala with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. I love having a partner in the kitchen! 🙂 And then we were off, heading back to Denver. Our flight didn’t leave for a few more days still, but Michael had a surprise planned the next day, so we had to get back a little earlier. On our way out of town we swung by Fish Creek Falls for a little while, a popular local attraction. We got into town in Denver just in time for their monthly “Friday night art walk,” so we went out and casually checked it out. The art walk is just an opportunity for local artists to exhibit their work and meet some new people. I enjoyed seeing the artwork, we met some interesting new people…but the highlight for me was definitely the grown-up coloring book that one of the artists had out! I liked it so much that Michael bought me my own when we got back to Atlanta :).
Saturday was it – the day of Michael’s big surprise! It turned out to be a scavenger hunt, similar to what we’ve done in the past. But the twist here was that there was a plot and props and real actors that you interacted with as you progressed through the hunt. It was set around a famous robbery of the Denver mint that happened in the 1920’s – we were supposed to help one of the thieves recover their share of the loot, since they had to lay low and avoid the cops. It was, admittedly, slightly cheesy, but I enjoyed the interaction with the actors and the code words and phrases that they made us give before they’d give us our next clue. Michael’s very good at picking surprises that I will like.
We had another treat in store for us that evening. Shiloh, a friend of mine that I met at Rachel’s wedding in Wyoming 3 years ago, lives about 45 minutes north of Denver, so he drove down and met us in town for dinner. It was good to catch up with him, and I always enjoy introducing my friends to Michael.
The next day we went to a church that we had found online, Faith Mountain church. They were very friendly and the message was very challenging. I’m glad we went. We didn’t do much the rest of the day, though…and then, just like that, we were on our way back home! Back to the real world of full-time jobs and house cleaning and settling in from the wedding. Considering the whirlwind our lives have been over the past year, a break with nothing to do was just what we needed, even if it only lasted 1 week! 🙂