Rainbow, Ft Collins, CO

I was introduced to a well-known breakfast place in Ft. Collins recently, Rainbow.

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Went  after a morning run, which meant refueling was in order.

We sat at an outside table, which was awesome. Good mix of sun and shade. A few of us were waiting for the rest of the group to arrive and as we surveyed the menu we had to order the first round, aka Bloody Mary’s, in a pitcher. When that pitcher came out, oh wow. Not too spicy and great taste. And the glasses that we got to pour them into had great adornments – olives, pickle, celery, lemon.

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It took me awhile to decide what to get after going over and over the menu. Finally chose the Avocado Smash (a staff favorite) — Freshly baked wheat toast topped with avocado, smokey chili marash & lime. Served with one egg, any style. $7.95. (With smoked salmon $10.95) — totally went with the salmon option!

When it came out I was drooling.

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So much to dig into. Cut into the bread and made sure to get the guac and salmon in the same bite – delicious. The egg was great and the fruit on the plate (unexpected) was nice and fresh – and you don’t get kiwi that often, so I was thrilled.

I see why Rainbow is well known and loved in the community. Check it out if you haven’t been or go back if you’re a regular. I was told a lady eats breakfast there everyday, and I see why.

 

Devils Tower

The Devil went up to Wyoming, not down to Georgia…

Continuing on my trip in South Dakota, had some time to kill. Devils Tower is an hour+ from Deadwood, SD (love the 80mph speed limit!).  So it’s another landmark to visit while in the general vicinity.

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Drove out there and after getting off the interstate, the general landscape is just breathtaking – reminds me why I left the East Coast for good, I love it out West. We were on this road for about half an hour. I kept pulling over to take pictures of the tower and surroundings. Of course, I would be right at the base before I knew it. Pulled up to the entry gate and love having a National Park Pass – ‘free’ entry!

Wasn’t too busy as I got there around 5:30pm. And, since this was in the summer, the sun wasn’t setting for several hours. There is a footpath around the base of the tower and staring at it is breathtaking. Devils Tower is 867 feet tall. It stands 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River and is 5,112 feet above sea level (thanks for the state NPS!). I kept wondering if any pieces of rock might fall while taking the stroll.

Some little tidbits about this magnificent location:

  • The name Devils Tower originated in 1875 during an expedition led by Colonel Richard Irving Dodge, when his interpreter reportedly misinterpreted a native name to mean “Bad God’s Tower”.
  • The movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind used Devils Tower during the shooting.
  • The magma which formed Devils Tower cooled and crystallized into a rock type known as phonolite porphyry. It is a light to dark-gray or greenish-gray igneous rock with conspicuous crystals of white feldspar.

And you can find more random stuff on Wikipedia (some of the above isn’t from there).

I have a cousin who is a rock climber and her husband is a hard core climber. I asked them about Devils Tower, and they have both climbed it. Dang! That thing is sheer vertical drop. I admire them and all climbers.

And more great pictures…

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An amazing sight to see if you’re in the SD/WY area. Note: Devils Towers is in the Eastern Edge of WY, it’s not in SD.

Badlands, SD

On my South Dakota roadtrip (this was to run a marathon in Deadwood), specifically took the road/route to drive through the Badlands in South Dakota.

Stopped at the very little (aka not really known) visitors center at the south end of the park. The view in this area is fascinating…just out there, the land goes into nowhere.

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Just thinking of how people might have navigated through this land to make their way across the country to settle. I completely, absolutely admire them! Based on that, a nice tidbit of info I found during research, according to us-parks.comTrappers and traders regularly traveled the 300 miles from Fort Pierre to Fort Laramie along a path which skirted the edge of what is now Badlands National Park.

In addition to the great Parks site, more little tidbits about the area can of course be found at the endless info site of Wikipedia. What would we do without it?

A video of some views

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To me, though, pictures speak 1,000 words. Would love to check out some of the hiking trails there sometime.

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Mount Rushmore

During my road trip to South Dakota, of course I had to visit Mt. Rushmore. Hadn’t been there since I was about 4 so had to check it out in a time I could truly appreciate it.

Didn’t do an official tour but just checked it out on my own. They have a great museum where you can take in so much information on your own at the pace you’d like to absorb it. In some of the information in the museum, it was amazing to learn how Mt. Rushmore was built — the climbing that was done, how the workers hung from the rocks to make it happen, the blasting, and the time they spent.

Outside of the museum, they also have a path to walk around on to see Mt. Rushmore and the presidents from different angles. Unfortunately part of the footpath was closed so not all of it could be taken it. However, it was all absolutely amazing and I was so lucky because it was a clear, sunny day. Pictures barely do this justice.

 

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Carhenge, Nebraska

Was on a road trip to South Dakota and taking the scenic way. As I was driving through Nebraska, I suddenly saw a sign for Carhenge (in Alliance, NE). I remember hearing about this, threw on the brakes and turned my car to check this place out.

Carhenge is a structure that replicates Stonehenge, just with the use of cars:

“Thirty-nine automobiles were placed to assume the same proportions as Stonehenge with the circle measuring approximately 96 feet (29m) in diameter. Some autos are held upright in pits five feet deep, trunk end down, while other cars are placed to form the arches and welded in place. All are covered with gray spray paint. The honor of depicting the heel stone goes to a 1962 Caddy.”

More on their site.

It was such a cool thing to walk around. So many cars, the perfect layout to appear just like Stonehenge, but with a little bit different feel. They they also have other cars they’ve added to the collection for different displays. Great way to get a break on a road trip and see something totally out of the ordinary.

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My favorite soup

Summer means cold refreshing food. That means I can load up on my favorite soup…Gazpacho. The best recipe I have found for it comes from a chef from Food Network. It’s so quick, easy and delicious, I can’t get enough of it.

Macho Gazpacho

Ingredients

2 (32-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in puree
1/4 cup cayenne pepper sauce (for mild heat use 2 tablespoons) — aka Tabasco, Cholula, etc. — I’m a heat wimp, so I only use a couple splashes
1/2 European seedless cucumber, cut into chunks
1 small red onion, cut into chunks — I use whatever I have on hand
2 jalapenos or serranos, seeded and coarsely chopped — again, I’m a heat wimp so I don’t even use these
2 ribs celery, from the heart of the bunch, chunked
Handful fresh cilantro leaves
1 lemon or lime, juiced
Coarse salt and black pepper
Lemon or lime wedges, for garnish

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Directions

Working in batches, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse grind into a thick soup. Adjust seasonings. Pour soup into a thermos and chill until ready to serve. Serve in chilled glasses with wedges of lime or lemon for garnish.

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So quick, so easy, so good. Sometimes I add more or less of some of the veggies. It makes a good amount of soup, too. I can easily cut the recipe in half, or I know I get several days out of it. It’s great served with some grilled fish.

Addictive Watermelon Salad

Was going to a potluck event a couple weeks ago. Wanted to take something different than normal. People tend to bring hummus, guac, etc. It’s summer so watermelon popped into my head. I also didn’t want it to be just basic watermelon. So I started googling some recipes and many came up. I’d had some with balsamic before but wanted a change. Then I found a perfect one for a warm summer afternoon.

Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 8 lb. whole seedless watermelon, chilled (about 12 cups of cubed fruit)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 whole limes, juiced — used bottled
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (sheep’s milk feta preferred) — I used crumbled goat because it’s what I found when shopping

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InstructionsNote: This salad is best made just prior to serving. Prepare one hour or less before your meal.

1) Cut rind from  watermelon, then chop the fruit into 1 inch chunks. Place chunks in a colander to drain as you chop.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt, and black pepper to create a dressing.

3) Place watermelon in a large salad bowl. Pour dressing and chopped mint over the watermelon and toss gently to coat. Pour the crumbled feta into the salad bowl and stir gently to integrate the cheese into the salad. Serve.

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This was delicious. I have made this 5 times in 3 weeks already. So refreshing, light and easy to make. Definitely a keeper.

Aspen Food & Wine Classic

Aspen – many times I only correlate that name with skiing. But every once in a while something else gets partnered with the name. For me this time it was the Aspen Food & Wine Classic. I had heard about it awhile back and it sounded amazing. But when I glimpsed at the ticket price I had no interest in going; costs a little shy of $2,000 to attend.

But this year a company that I work for reached out because they needed some help at their table. So, that meant free entry. Bring it on! I got to experience this at no cost.

This festival is amazing. While I didn’t get to take part in most of the seminars or do as much wine tasting as I would have liked, I still got a feel for all of it. Was able to get some quick sips of wine here and there, little nibbles of during prep time and meet lots of folks. Many regions of the world are represented, so many varietals of wine, so many cultures, so much fun. And you get to see the town all around you. These pictures are just a tidbit of it.

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I found out that volunteers at the event get a one day free pass. Going to consider doing that next year…help out the amazing event then enjoy it, too.

Cheers!

Goose Ridge Orchards, Woodinville, WA

In Woodinville, in the same room as the canned wine, there are also hard ciders. Goose Ridge Winery is very much expanding! These are their Goose Ridge Orchards. And, since I love hard cider, when I have the opportunity to try a new cidery’s ‘apple juice’ I can’t turn it down.

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The background of this cidery —

“The Monson family has been growing apples in the Yakima Valley since the 1950s. They are well-regarded for their modern growing techniques and high quality fruit. Careful attention to natural resources and the seasonal growing conditions (much in the same way grapes are treated) allows for maximum production of exceptional fruit every year.”

Their ciders are bottled in champagne bottles with the same great corks. This is done because of the champagne yeast they use in production.  Not something I’ve seen before, so interesting to see something different, and find out why it’s done.

The tasting was $8 and included the four ciders they produce:

Perry Pear – 6% ABV, $12/bottle

Our Perry Pear cider, light in color with subtle flavors of fresh cut pears and hints of citrus. Whispers of tannins are followed by a slight sweetness for a cider that is artfully balanced.

-Dry. Not much taste, but very refreshing.

Dry Apple – 6% ABV, not available in bottles, only Growler fills ($18)

Made in a refreshing, balance style this versatile cider is bubble and effervescent with flavors of fresh pineapple and citrus notes with a crisp finish.

-Not as dry as expected, and had some sweetness

Passionfruit – 6% ABV, $12/bottle

Absolutely explodes out of the glass with aromas of bright tangerines and passionfruit, followed by tropical fruit flavors and a dry snappy finish. The perfect welcome to spring!

-Sweet, but not too syrupy. Had a good fruit taste.

Berry – 6% ABV, $12/bottle

Tart and juicy aromas of blueberry, raspberry and blackberry, finishing with the slightest hint of sweetness. An incredible compliment to grilled pork chops with a cherry demi-glace.

-Yea, berries were totally there. Didn’t taste like cider at all. Pretty dry, too.

Rankings-wise for my preference I would go:

  1. Passionfruit
  2. Perry Pear
  3. Dry Apple
  4. Berry

Love seeing that more and more cideries are coming about. Will be interesting to see what their seasonal ones are and/or what others they produce for their regular menu.

Cheers.

Cascadian Outfitters, Woodinville, WA – get canned

Checked out Cascadian Outfitters when I was in Woodinville. Now, they do have their traditional wine (Goose Ridge), but then they have their other stuff. And what is that? Canned wine! I totally had to do that tasting. Why stick to the norm? Canned wine is becoming more common and it’s great for if you’re going tailgating, camping or doing anything else where you don’t want a heavy, fragile bottle.

Stats…according to an article on Vine Pair, numbers they had from Business Insider mentioned that canned wine jumped from generating $1.9 million in 2012, to $6.4 million in 2016.

 

So, back to the tasting; at Cascadian Outfitters their tagline is ‘Wine is a can? You bet! Because our adventurous drinkers like to take it along on hikes, picnics, bike rides and beach days. Cascadian outfitters is the “can-do” fit for everyday life!”

They have three wines available in cans:

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2016 Rose – 13.4% ABV

Enjoy the fresh red fruit flavors of strawberry and citrus with hints of tropical mangos and pineapple. A fun and expressive palate of bright and juicy fruit with a refreshing spritz, finish with intense red fruit flavors. This Rose is crisp, bright and more expressive than the view from any summit you club! Cascadian Outfitters is committed to being your leading outdoor essential. Not matter your adventure, take it with a can.

-Perfect for summer, medium dry, so great for a rose.

2016 Chardonnay – 13.7% ABV

This Chardonnay had expressive white floral aromas with subtle notes of orange zest. On the palate it’s fresh and lively with a refreshing spritz, and bright fruit flavors of grapefruit and lemon finish with a subtle hint of spiced pears. This Chardonnay explores bright and fresh notes that hit even the highest of peaks.

-Light on the oak, so for me, not bad for a Chard.

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2016 Red Blend – 13.8% ABV

Our Red Blend has rich red fruit flavors of plum and cherry mixed with toasted notes of spice and caramel. This wine places a big footprint onto your palate with savory spices and bold fruit!

-Pretty light for a red, so especially good for summer heat. Nice balanced blend.

The one problem with these wines is that you couldn’t buy them individually, it had to be by the 6 pack ($30). I was only in town for the weekend and then was flying back home. I wanted to grab a can or two to take back to my friends’ place. And, I didn’t want to check a bag to take them home with me, even though I was flying SW.

But, regardless, it was so much fun to try these out! Love seeing how this part of the wine industry is growing.

 

Cheers!