Colorado: Day Three

Today the weather forecast said afternoon rain, though it didn’t seem heavy. I decided to head down toward Red Rocks Amphitheater for our Sunday, also because I figure it’ll be more relaxing to do Chautauqua Park on a weekday. In hindsight, I made the right decision – it really didn’t rain very hard on Red Rocks day, plus saving Chautauqua Park for a weekday was perfect because there’s parking fees on weekends, and it was easier to find alternative-Boulder-centered events on Monday when it rained harder.

Hiking in Red Rocks Amphitheater

We started off the morning with our Hampton Inn breakfast (as we would every morning). I always overeat on carbs here – toast is my favorite thing here. They have the kind of toasters where it’s a conveyer belt toaster oven, which always reminds me of Berkeley. I love me some toast with a little single serving of butter, so I always get that. Then Hampton Inns always have waffle batter, so I always make a waffle for everyone to share (even though I don’t care THAT much about it). The oranges here are REALLY good too – we got so many and I actually felt fairly nutritious during the trip, despite eating quite a bit of fast food.

For most of the trip, I think I was pretty much awake around 6:30am, which means 5:30am in CA!!! My parents use the restroom first, then I’ll eventually get up and by the time we leave for breakfast it’s 8am. My parents are VERY slow in the bathroom, which is great because then I can lie in the bed longer. Despite them waking up SO early, it takes SO long for them to even be able to get out of the room because they end up spending SO much time reorganizing their bags every morning … EVEN THOUGH WE’RE NOT LEAVING YET! Even after breakfast they’ll somehow find reason to reorganize before we head out for the day. I’m trying to learn for myself that I should anticipate this buffer time, and just manage my time around it.

Today I decided we’d go to Matthews Winters Park for a ~5.1mi loop, then drive four minutes down the road to explore Red Rocks Amphitheater. I had a backup park, Eldorado Canyon State Park, but didn’t end up having to go because we took SO long at Red Rocks. I’m pretty happy with how our day turned out though.

I was worried, but parking at Matthews Winters wasn’t bad at all – I think we arrived around 10:15am so several early birds were just pulling out. The trail here is pretty much three connecting loop trails. What I didn’t think about until I started driving to this park was that I’d never checked the trail conditions (other than easy vs moderate vs strenuous) and I realized that it was really likely that all the trails in Boulder that I had found were not shaded, which my mom HATES. There was a ranger/volunteer at Matthews Winters and when I asked if the hike was pretty shaded, he responded “NOT AT ALL! It’s not shaded ONE BIT!” and I went “…oh…”

Look at my mom trying to shield herself from the sun

My mom looked pretty peeved when I told her, but we’d just driven 40 minutes to get here, so she didn’t say anything. We started walking, and it was truly very unshaded – like walking around a ranch. The sun was shining and my mom was very quiet … but luckily in the near distance there was a HUGE storm cloud headed our way. It gloriously covered the sun about 15 minutes into our hike and it didn’t really rain until like 30 minutes later, and even then, it was only a drizzle. It did however, thunder very loudly, which made my parents eager to head back. We ended up going pretty far on the hike and hit a portion of the last loop before we turned around, because we’d reached a pretty steep downhill and it was starting to actually rain. We returned to the previous trail junction and I told my dad he could walk straight back to the car but suggested that my mom and I continue on the trail, because I suspected the rain was not going to hit us since I couldn’t hear thunder anymore. Turns out, this was the right decision! It might have sprinkled just a tiny bit, but my mom and I were able to see some pretty interesting rock formations, get some good incline, and get more steps in. Meanwhile, my dad was pretty delighted to get to return to the car. All in all, positive outcomes for everyone!

Some views at Matthew Winters

By the time my mom and I returned to the trailhead, my dad had been there for about thirty minutes, and had just spent his time walking around that front area, and he seemed very pleased. I told my parents we’d just be eating snacks for lunch today, and we’d eat a heavy hamburger meal for dinner. This delighted everyone because my mom had collected all these pastries from Hampton Inn, plus she’d brought snacks from home that were never eaten, and this was the opportunity to clear it all out! So we had our picnic of snacks by the trail entrance, which conveniently had a picnic table near a small creek. By then, the thunderclouds had scared off most people, so we didn’t see very many people and the parking lot was only about 1/5 full. Even the rangers/volunteers seemed long gone, so it was quiet and felt like we had the place to ourselves.

Off to Red Rocks!

It was about 1:30pm when we left, and from here, I drove us four minutes down the road to  Red Rocks Amphitheater. I honestly thought we’d spend max 1 hour here, since my parents don’t care about live music anyway. What I didn’t account for was how long it takes to actually walk from the parking lots to the top of the amphitheater, and I forgot about the 1.8mi Trading Post Trail. I think we ended up spending close to 3.5 hours here. They loved the amphitheater! They were even somewhat interested by the exhibits in the visitors center, because they both knew who John Denver was. We took quite a long time just exploring the amphitheater and we still hadn’t even done the Trading Post Trail! My dad didn’t go with us on the Trading Post Trail and opted to just wait in the Trading Post shop. I’m glad – honestly that trail felt MUCH longer than 1.8 miles, and at some point, even my mom got tired, so there’s no way my dad would have enjoyed it. But it was a REALLY nice hike – I think from the name I assumed it’d be a nothing hike, but there were really great views of crazy rock formations and panoramic views and nice, gradual inclines. We even saw deer!

View just from the theater entrance!

We finally got back in the car around 5pm and headed straight to Mountain Sun in Boulder for burgers. This is the one restaurant I really remember liking from my first trip here …  but my parents thought it was just ok. It is truly VERY salty – something I didn’t really remember from the first time I ate there. The best thing about this restaurant was that there was ZERO wait because we got there at 6pm, and this is the kind of place that is open till 1am. Turns out my parents’ favorite meal of the trip was the Goodtimes burger place where we got a huge meal for three people for $20. Guess where we’ll be going back to tomorrow?

Post meal, we were all STUFFED and my mom now wanted to do another walk around town. Meanwhile, my dad was super annoyed because we’d previously said we’d head back to the hotel after dinner, and now something was standing in his way of relaxing in the hotel hot tub. I personally was exhausted but also thought it was a bit early to head back to the hotel. I decided we’d drive to 0.4mi away from the restaurant and repark at the main parking lot for the Boulder Creek Path – something I’ve wanted to do since Day 1 but we kept putting off because the sun kept setting before we could do so. I’m really glad we finally did it today – it was really quiet at the time, the sun was just setting and it had just rained, and there wasn’t another good day to do it. We didn’t walk far but we did take a TON of photos. We discovered the Boulder Central Library and it is a truly BEAUTIFUL library.

Front of the library
Boulder Creek Path

From here I decided I wanted to try an ice cream spot – I am glad I tried it because it was DELICIOUS but it did generate a lot of tension between EVERYONE in my family, because my dad was getting more upset about the hot tub delay. I can’t say I really regret it though, because I loved the ice cream SO MUCH and I got to eat there twice! The place is called Sweet Cow and it’s seriously tastier than a lot of ice cream places in  the Bay Area, even though the design makes it look like it should be on par with a Coldstone Creamery. I got a honey mint scoop and a Ozo coffee scoop (Ozo is the name of some coffee place). UGH so good! Ok tomorrow, is going to be a “best of Boulder” day where my parents and I are going to have Goodtime burger and Sweet Cow again.

Final view of the Red Rocks Trail at the amphitheater

We finally got back to the hotel around 8pm – probably the earliest this trip (usually we do 8:30pm or 9:00pm). Everyone sat in the room quietly because tensions were STILL HIGH. My parents went to the hot tub at separate times and not a single other guest came into the jacuzzi that entire night – this hotel is even emptier than ever!!! I love it but it does seem … odd. There’s honestly probably only like 5 cars here for other guests.

OK I can feel the wave of exhaustion hitting me now. GOOD NIGHT. We’ll see how much I can recollect of Day 2 when I eventually write that post.

I must include this photo of the beautiful library!



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