Homesick for Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

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It sure has been awhile since I have had time to blog. I am very fortunate to work at such a great place, but it also takes away a lot of my free time in the summer. So here I am with a Monday off, a little bit of rain in the forecast, and a little free time.

I took a little trip back to the place I grew up a couple months ago. We happened to have a long weekend and decided to make the trek down South from Denver. Pagosa Springs is about 5.5 hours South of Denver so it’s not a short drive. In my opinion, you need at least 2 full days in Pagosa to grasp all it’s small mountain town glory.

From Denver, I recommend taking Hwy 285. In my opinion it’s the fastest and prettiest drive to get here. Once you see signs for “The Overlook” when you are coming down Wolf Creek Pass, you have begun your journey!

  • Take a photo at the Overlook on your way into town(or out). It’s one of the prettiest views in Colorado in my opinion.
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The Overlook. See my Instagram at lindstagrams228
  • Get out and stretch your legs at Treasure Falls.  Just a couple miles from the Overlook you will find a huge waterfall with a small hike to get up to it. If you like waterfalls like I do, you will enjoy getting out of the car for a few minutes to check it out.

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    Treasure Falls
  • Find a Campsite. There are many camping options in the Pagosa Springs area, but I personally love Jackson Mountain. Another few miles down the pass heading into Pagosa Springs, you will see signs on the right for Jackson Mountain. Drive in a couple miles and you will start seeing areas to camp. Camping is a personal preference for me, but there are lots of hotel options in Pagosa Springs as well.
  • Grab a Beer! Anyone who knows me, knows that breweries are like a destination for me. I love to go new places and try new styles. Though Riff Raff Brewing is not new territory for me, it is a destination I try to stop at every time I am in town. This old Victorian house was a tea and brunch place for the longest time, and I am so happy that it is now a successful brewery owned by two of my local friends. The beer selection is amazing, and the food menu has a lot of great options for different tastes. My personal favorite beer that Riff Raff brews is Spruce Juice. It’s a lovely pale ale brewed with new growth from local spruce trees that has been featured at Great American Beer Festival here in Denver. Not your thing? You are still likely to find something you like on draft here from their brews or brews on their guest tap.
  • Do some shopping. Pagosa Springs is a small town, but you can expect to find a couple nice local shops. It was too early for dinner after our beer stop so we decided to look around at a couple of the places that were open. A lot of these are right downtown all within walking distance of Riff Raff Brewing, Pagosa Hot Springs, and restaurants.
  • Grab some food! Beer and food go hand in hand for me. If there is a restaurant that has good beer, and also good food then we have a winner! One of my personal favorites in Pagosa Springs is Kip’s Grill & Cantina . Expect a very quaint space inside, a fairly large outdoor patio, excellent margaritas, and Baja-style tacos. Though they only have three beers on tap(one of them is PBR, and that will never change due to local demand)you can expect to find one from Ska Brewing in Durango and usually one from Riff Raff Brewing across the street. The spicy shrimp tacos are amazing and fresh and go great with an order of the Jalapeno poppers or vegetarian green chile queso. Kip’s also makes a mean margarita and I highly recommend one. Look for the chile pepper sign!

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  • Visit the Hot Springs. There are two hot springs in Pagosa Springs and you can choose depending on your personal preference. There is the famous Pagosa Hot Springs along the San Juan River that is amazing in my opinion. Expect to pay around $30 to get in, so make a day of it if you can. I always recommend this one at least once just so you can experience it. There are many different pools with temps ranging from 80 to 115 degrees. This is a huge tourist destination so it can get very busy from time to time. The other option is the Overlook Hot Springs which I also really enjoy. It is right on the main strip downtown and has two indoor pools and a couple on the roof as well. You can also get a massage here if you are really interested in getting you full relax on. I recommend these in the evening when the weather is cooler.
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Overlooking the San Juan River. 
  • Toss some discs. I love disc golf and there is a really cool disc golf course on Putt Hill right in the middle of town. We chose to get a little extra exercise and climb to the top to play. You can drive up most of the way if you want to though. We played all 18 holes and it took a couple hours. It’s a great way to get outside and walk around. We brought Lucy up with us and she had just as much fun running around. The course is pretty covered with shade so you stay pretty cool. There are places to buy discs for disc golf in town if you don’t have some already.

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  • Eat breakfast at Pagosa Baking Co. Located right downtown, Pagosa Baking Co. offers an amazing selection of baked goods as well as breakfast burritos, quiche, and did I mention amazing coffee? Service comes with a smile and one of the local regulars will probably chat you up.
  • Play in the river. The San Juan River flows right through town and it is gorgeous. You can take a stroll along the river walk, stick your feet in and watch people on rafts and tubes float by. You can do these things yourself if you like playing in the water. Book a rafting trip with Pagosa Rafting when the water is high, rent tubes from the same place when the water is lower. Don’t forget…that water is freaking cold!

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  • Eat lunch at Farrago Market Cafe. This place is one of my favorites in Pagosa Springs. They have yummy vegetarian options, great pizza, beer on tap, and a great patio! What more could you ask for?
  • Hike one of the many, many surrounding trails. Some of these trails are a little bit of trek, but you are guaranteed to find some of the most beautiful parts of Colorado that you will ever see. You can even hike to some natural hot springs that dont cost anything to soak in. Just be aware, it is the middle of the woods and clothing is optional. Click here for a list of hiking trails in the area. http://pagosa.com/pagosa-hiking/
  • Visit Pagosa Brewing Company. The very first brewery to open in Pagosa. Also a brewery with great selection and yummy food. My favorite beers here are the Peachy Peach and the Chile Verde Cerveza. Both have won awards at Great American Beer Festival. This location is uptown with the grocery store and gas station I go to, it’s a good stop on the way out of town.

That is about two days worth of stuff to do in Pagosa to keep you busy. These are things I tend to do when I go back to visit the place I basically grew up. Pagosa Springs is a true gem of a mountain town in Southwestern Colorado that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Durango is also an hour away and offers a lot of great dining, craft beer, and activities for outdoor enthusiasts alike if you have more time to spend in the area. I feel homesick for Pagosa Springs sometimes, but I love my life in the big city. It’s nice knowing that it’s only a long weekend trip away.

The Beer Scene in Cheyenne, WY(maybe some hauntings?!)

I had a rare weekend off from work so we decided to take a mini road-trip to somewhere we have never been before. I had never been to Wyoming, Nate knows I love haunted stuff, and it was a few days after our 5 year anniversary. Why not!?

We were on our way to Cheyenne and we were to stay at the haunted Plains Hotel right smack in the middle of downtown. We were also going to “beer venture” around Fort Collins and Cheyenne.

On our way to Cheyenne, we stopped in Fort Collins for Totally 80’s Pizza! If you are near the Fort Collins, Colorado area you have to “totally” stop by this place! Unless you hate the 80’s, and in that case you may not love it so much. The pizza was great but the little mini 80’s museum was even better.

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After checking out this awesome place for lunch, we were off to our first brewery! Black Bottle Brewing is right around the corner from this place and they have a ton of options! Not only do they have a large selection of beers they have brewed in house, but they have a large list of visiting beers as well. I went with the Honey IPA and it was pretty good! It was a warm day and we were sitting on the patio in the sunshine. This beer was great for that! It was light and had all the hoppiness that an IPA should have. The honey finish was a nice touch since I’m a honey lover. 🙂 We also shared a Smoked Porter that may have been a little much for a warm day, but I was still a fan. I like smoky beers, though they may not be for everyone. They are definitely better in the winter or on colder days in my opinion, but to each their own. The brewery itself was cute, and definitely had something for everyone!

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We decided to hit up Arc for a quick treasure search and then we were off to Wyoming for the night. The drive was not long at all from Fort Collins and we saw lots of antelope and even some bison.

Of course I had to get a picture of the “Welcome to Wyoming” sign and also one of downtown Cheyenne. It’s not very big at all. but it has it’s own charm and old West feel. We arrived at our hotel and it was creepily empty. The lobby was really pretty and reminded me of something out of the past. Apparently the reason it’s haunted is a murder/suicide of some guests in the 1900’s. The guy was a scumbag and was found with another woman on their wedding night. The angry distraught newlywed wife killed her new husband and his mistress and herself not long after. Apparently something fell or was pushed from the 4th floor as well. (Not only do I like beer, but also have an interest in haunted stuff!)

Since Cheyenne is very small, things close kinda early so we had to get a move on. Our first order of business was a brewery called Danielmarks Brewing. It was in a old looking house and was very charming.

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photo cred to kgab

The inside is really cute as well, and it was starting to fill up as the wind and rain started up. We found two spots at the bar and ordered beers. I ordered a pale ale and Nate ordered the IPA they had. Both beers were pretty tasty and the brewery offered free popcorn! This brewery is still new to Cheyenne and they are working on some stuff still, but I thought it was great! I highly recommend it for it’s comfy atmosphere, good beer, and the friendly service. They have something that everyone would like! When in doubt, order a flight!

We took a dinner break and went to a really great Mexican restaurant that was a bit of a walk from Danielmarks, but well worth it. The restaurant was called Hacienda Guadalajara and did not disappoint. In the middle of our “beer venture” we decided to get Pomegranate margaritas. They were delicious and well worth it. The crab enchiladas and chips and salsa were enough to prepare us for our final brewery of the day. There are only two in Cheyenne, but with craft beer on the rise all over the country, I can foresee more in the future!

Freedom’s Edge was our last stop of the day and it was amazing! Definitely the highlight of Cheyenne for me. The space itself is really cute, and it was full of really friendly people. The beer list contains 8 beers that are all pretty different. The highlights for me were the strawberry mango wheat and the chili beer. I usually like the odd beers with enhanced flavors because I love to mix up my palate, especially when it comes to beer. We ordered a flight and tried them all. The chili beer had a little after kick, and is great for people who like spice.

After a flight and a game of Connect 4, we were off to “ghost hunt” which really ended up being us passing out. Nothing eventful happened in the way of hauntings during our stay in Cheyenne, but some great beer was had and it was a successful weekend!

Vegas Vacation!

Yes, it’s true.

I turned 30 a couple weeks ago and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.

My twenties were so good to me! They were full of fun times, travel, life lessons, and hundreds of new friends throughout the years. I think the older we get, the more sentimental we become. I decided that I wanted to be with my family on this special milestone of my life, and what better way to celebrate a milestone than a trip to Las Vegas. My sister(who was pregnant at the time of our vacation, but not when we made it an official plan to go), and Mom, and my Grandma were all officially coming with me. That means three generations all together on a girls trip!

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My sister wasn’t in Vegas yet! But we got this cute shot.

I could have had a “party hardy” Las Vegas trip, but I really wasn’t concerned with all those things like I used to be for every other birthday after I turned 21. All I wanted was some good food, good times, sunshine, and 5 days away from work and “life.”

I flew out of DIA on a Thursday morning and the wind was CRAZY! I’m not great at flying generally. I love to travel, but I always get a little nervous when it comes to heights and planes. The wind on this specific trip was not making it any easier on me. Lots of turbulence and a Dunkin Donut was probably not a great choice for breakfast(vacation, you know).

After a rough, scary landing, I navigated my way around the McCarren Airport to find my Mom and Grandma and we were off to Treasure Island. We used a shuttle service at the airport called Airline Shuttle that was $15 roundtrip that took you to the front door of your hotel and back to the airport, right to your airline. Just make sure to tip him a couple bucks. It’s a great way to avoid cabs and have some more money for the fun stuff. Speaking of cabs, I highly recommend downloading the Uber and/or Lyft app if you don’t have them on your phone already! They were a life saver. You can usually find a friend that has a code for a free ride or at least a percentage off of a ride. This was the only service we used for rides besides the shuttle.

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Outside of Treasure Island at night!

Treasure Island was not a bad option for our hotel room for the timing. We were there for Chinese New Year and it was a very busy time to go. Ideally, we wanted something not bad on the pocket book but also something that was central to other hotels and things to do. Plus, you don’t spend a lot of time in your room so I never go for a super expensive room when I travel. TI is definitely not the nicest place you will find in Vegas but it fit our criteria. We also got pretty lucky on the slot machines there, as my sister and I both won over $100. There is a free tram that takes you to the Mirage and you are closer to Harrah’s and other resorts if you like to explore like I do!

We were in Vegas for 3 nights and 4 days, and these are the activities we did in that short amount of time…

  • Explored surrounding hotels. We went to the Mirage(not much to it honestly, not my favorite but the volcano show was ok) The Bellagio(the fountain show is a must see, they also have a botanical garden inside that changes it’s theme frequently) The Venetian(one of my personal favorites! the gondola, architecture, decor, and everything is amazing! The Grand Luxe restaurant inside has amazing food for a great price. I highly recommend it!) and Caesar’s Palace(probably my favorite hotel in Vegas. The shopping center is huge with so many various shops and of course a Fat Tuesday alcoholic slushie stand!)
  •  Went to old town Las Vegas and Fremont Street. We started with an amazing brunch at a restaurant called eat. I ate a delicious breakfast sandwich and I had some bites of my mom’s pancakes that were served with all-natural maple syrup. So good! After brunch, we walked across the street and walked through Container Park and took some photos of the gigantic Praying Mantis and continued to walk around and explore all the old signs, original vintage Las Vegas casinos, street performers, and shops. Lots of diversity and fun! We went during the day, and it was pretty mellow on a Friday afternoon. I hear the crowd is more lively at night, and all the lights are much prettier obviously.
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This doesn’t even do this buffet justice. This was one of many plates.
  • Ate the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace. Yes, it’s on the pricier side but we went big since it was a celebration. The food was amazing and they offered so much variety. I think I ate my weight in crab legs. 😉  They offered Mexican food, Asian food, meat/cheese/olive/cracker platter choices, salad bar, and much much more. It’s in a very nice atmosphere. Did I mention a very large gourmet dessert section? Yummy

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  • Went and saw a Cirque du Soleil show and I highly recommend it to anyone. We saw the Mystere show that was at our hotel. There are other options, but this one was the first in Vegas and the performance was amazing. There is a bit of adult humor, but mostly just mind-blowing acts and people doing extreme things with their bodies. It blew all our minds and was probably our favorite thing that we did the whole time.

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  • Pool time is a must if the weather is right. I had a few hours before my flight after everyone else had left and wanted to relax and enjoy some “me-time” before I went back home. The weather was perfect and I was able to enjoy a mimosa and a pina colada by the pool and get a little bit of color.
  • Playing slots is always fun for me, but I make sure to play them right. I only put $5 in at a time and play slowly. This way the drink lady comes around and gives you a free drink(just make sure to tip) and you don’t blow all your money in seconds. I played the Ghostbuster and Game of Thrones slots the most. I always pick the ones with fun bonus game features. I always make sure to cash out while I’m ahead and give myself limits, or else I would be in trouble.

I had an absolute blast in Vegas, but after four days I was definitely ready to get away from all the bright lights and slot machine sounds. I will never forget the awesome time that my family and I had together. Thirty has been great so far!