Author Note: I wanted to entitled this post, “Learning about trees & squirrels in Breckenridge,” but that’s a terrible SEO title and I try to pay a little attention to SEO, so I went with a much more basic (and boring) title.

On our recent trip to Breckenridge during the International Snow Sculpting Championships, we decided to dust off our snowshoes for an afternoon outing at the Breckenridge Nordic Center.

Breckenridge Nordic Center snowshoe outing.

The Nordic Center is a beautiful, nearly brand new facility. Last year, I cross country skied there and it was an awesome, snowy outing. The trails are groomed meticulously even when the snow is coming down in bucket loads.

Ryan and I were signed up for a guided snowshoe trek with JD. We’d been on one other guided snowshoe trek and it was a delightful way to experience nature and this outing was no different.

JD was a nice and knowledgeable guide who knew more about trees than my woodworker husband. We wound our way through trees and awkwardly made our way over the cross country ski trails being careful not to step on any ski tracks. Our destination was Josie’s Cabin, an authentic miner’s home where Josie, her husband and four boys lived in the late 1800s.

There are three historic cabins on the Breckenridge Nordic Center Trail system that serve as warming huts for the skiers and snowshoe trekkers. They do not have electricity or running water, but are an excellent spot to stop for lunch or for a brief rest. There’s even wood that you can use to start a fire in the stove if you need a little warmth.

Josie's Cabin at Breckenridge Nordic Center.

Josie’s Cabin at Breckenridge Nordic Center.

In addition to tree knowledge, JD also knows a lot about animal tracks. We saw snowshoe hare tracks, but no snowshoe hares. No one ever sees this elusive creature, in part because this big “rabbit” turns white during the winter and blends into its environment and also because they are mostly nocturnal.

According to, “They are separate species – and hares are bigger, have longer ears, and are less social than bunnies.”

So now you (and I) know.

We saw a very posh squirrel nest; we assume he was a neat and tidy kind of guy. Usually theses nests are just a mess of twigs and branches. I had seen these nests before, but had no idea that they were squirrel homes.

JD also pointed out signs of porcupines, beavers and moose. All three species leave their marks on the trees and shrubs around the Nordic center.

JD our snowshoe guide at Breckenridge Nordic Center points out moose activity.

JD points out where the moose have recently eaten the tops off these bushes.

After our excursion we had a lunch of hot turkey chili in the cozy Breckenridge Nordic Center. Ryan also ordered a brat, which he said was exceptionally delicious.

This guided snow shoe trek is not strenuous and would be perfect for families with kids. Visit the Nordic center online at

Thank you to GoBreck for hosting us on this trip.

When you think of Southeast Colorado, what comes to mind? I’ll admit that for years I thought it was flat, brown ranch land punctuated by the occasional cantaloupe and watermelon farm, and it was not high on my must-visit list.

I had heard about the High Plains Snow Goose Festival, and the bird nerd in me was intrigued, but my overdo visit to the southeast still didn’t happen until last week when we made a trip to attend the snow goose festival.

snow geese at awkward angles in the sky.

Snow geese outside of Lamar, Colorado.

We quickly discovered that we had been very wrong about Southeastern, Colorado. It is a flat brown landscape during this time of year, but the massive amount of history and nature here turns this seemingly desolate place into a cornucopia of hidden treasures; from fascinating little museums to fantastic nature trails to some world class historical sites.

On our quick, one night trip to the area our biggest realization was that we were going to have to come back.

When we arrive in town, we at lunch at Thai Spicy Basil and then moseyed over to the Colorado Visitor’s Center inside Lamar’s historic train depot. The friendly visitor’s center volunteer told me that Lamar is the hottest spot in Colorado (winter and summer) and lamented the fact that many Front Range folks don’t know the town exists because the Denver weathermen and women always stand in front of Lamar when giving the weather.

Welcome to Lamar, Colorado.

The Enchanted Forest next to the Colorado Visitor’s Center inside the Lamar train depot.

This next morning, as we were watching the Denver news in our hotel room, we noted that she was indeed correct. The weatherman stood directly in front of Lamar on the map.

While Denver’s weather people may be unknowingly keeping southeastern Colorado out of the public eye, I will do my best as the Mayor of HeidiTown to be its newest champion.

Southeast Colorado is for history lovers

A wide range of history can be studied in this area, from prehistoric art to a Japanese internment camp. There’s a great little museum in Lamar. When you visit find staffer Caroline Hedge (she also works at the awesome downtown bookstore, the Lamar Book Depot). Caroline, a fourth generation Coloradan, knows a lot about everything in the museum and touring the museum with her adds a lot of value to the visit.

Big Timbers Museum in Lamar, Colorado.  Online at

Big Timbers Museum in Lamar, Colorado.

This is the only history-related stop we made on this trip, but we are definitely going back to do some historical digging in this area. On the top our list is Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site in La Junta. There are too many historical sites in Southeast Colorado to list them all here, but take my word for it, there are a lot.

Southeast Colorado is for nature lovers

While this area is paradise for birders, you don’t have to be a bird nerd to enjoy nature in Southeast Colorado. Hikers, bikers and horseback riders will find miles of wild area to explore, fisherman will find reservoirs to fish and photographers will find breathtaking landscapes & sky-scapes to photograph.

I plan on writing much more about this area, but in the meantime I have found a website that may help you learn more:

Birders can visit for Colorado birding information. Also, I have compiled a list of Colorado birding festivals here in

A preview of the High Plains Snow Goose Festival, Feb. 20-22, 2015.

This weekend I’m heading to Southeast Colorado for the first time. Why am I heading into the vast and desolate plains you ask? Well, for one thing, this area isn’t desolate – far from it. While the human population may be small, the bird population in Southeast Colorado is large. During this time of year about 30,000 snow geese take a break from their migration to hangout in the area around Lamar, Colorado and birders flock to the area to celebrate the High Plains Snow Goose Festival.

13thanniversary snow goose festival pic

And now for a confession; while I love birds of all kinds, I have a lifelong obsession with geese. This prevalent bird simply fascinates me, much to the amusement of my husband, family and friends. I am captivated in the way they communicate, on the ground and in flight, and how they adapt to so many environments (this is especially true of Canadian geese, which have been common to every region in which I have lived).

I have been known to stop while walking my dog and gaze skyward as a flock of Canadian Geese fly overhead. I have attempted many times to analyze their flight patterns. I also wish that I spoke goose in order to know what they honk to each other about.

I have a strong belief that should humans somehow erase themselves from the face of the planet through wars or environmental disaster the earth will still be home to geese (and probably seagulls).

This is my way of explaining why, when I received an invite to cover the High Plains Snow Goose Festival in Lamar, Colorado, my answering was a resounding YES.

Snow Geese on SWA-reitz

Photo from

This event is in its 13th year and is an opportunity for bird nerds and bird nerd wannabes like me to come together and celebrate our feathery friends. There’s no registration fee for this three-day event that includes guided birding excursions with pros, a nature and crafts fair, a small film festival, a Dutch oven demo, a banquet and other opportunities to gather with other birders.

The festival’s website lists all the activities available, so I won’t go into details here. I can only spend one night in Lamar, but I plan to do a birding outing with Jim Pfitzer at Lamar’s Willow Creek when I get into town on Friday. I will also take part in the Breakfast Raptor Tour on Saturday morning with Jim Pfitzer. Raptors are yet another bird species that I see on a regular basis and find mesmerizing.

I am taking along my husband, even though he laughs at me. I’m excited for him to be exposed to other folks who are as captivated by birds as I am. Plus, he is a useful camera equipment Sherpa.

Snow-Geese-2 from the festival page

That’s a lotta geese! Photo from

To learn more about the High Plains Snow Goose Festival visit their informative website at

Interested in other birding festivals around Colorado? Check out my list here.

Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh…

This delightful scene isn’t reserved solely for songs, television commercials and movies, you can make it a reality in Breckenridge, Colorado.

a romantic sleigh ride in Breckenridge Colorado.

Photo by Travis Konkle of Dramatic Focal Point.

Nordic Sleigh Rides is located just outside of Breckenridge, and whether you are looking for a romantic outing or you wish to recreate the “over the river and through the woods ” song with your family, this place has got you covered.

Last month we were treated to an “exclusive ride,” meaning that we went out in a beautiful one-horse open sleigh pulled by a magnificent Percheron named King. These large horses were originally bred as war horses for knights and they must have been very intimidating to unmounted armies during Medieval times.

Heather runs the horse teams at Nordic Sleigh Rides and she’s a wealth of knowledge about horses. I enjoyed chatting with her about the various types of draft horse breeds and their varying personalities.

Photographer Travis Konkle of Dramatic Focal Point also joined us on the excursion, as well as Heather’s energetic 2-year-old cattle dog.

This winter, Travis has been capturing wedding proposals that happen during Nordic Sleigh Ride outings. He’s usually hired by men who want to surprise their girlfriends with a mountain proposal.  Travis hides out at the proposal site and shoots the entire scene without the knowledge of the girlfriend. It’s a charming and brilliant idea. Much better than the, “so you wanna get married?” proposal that I’ve frequently heard about.

A sleigh ride in Breckenridge Colorado. Marriage proposal with Dramatic Focal Point Photography

Photo by Travis Konkle of Dramatic Focal Point.

A sleigh ride in Breckenridge Colorado. Marriage proposal with Dramatic Focal Point Photography

Photo by Travis Konkle of Dramatic Focal Point

Ryan and I have been married for a decade now, so Travis wasn’t shooting any surprise proposals, but he did take some photographs of Ryan and I having fun during our outing.

We swished through the forest in the late afternoon; the bells on King’s harness jingling merrily. The area is a winter wonderland during this time of year. Sunlight filtered through the trees as our cattle dog companion happily ran alongside of the sleigh. It really was like something out of a romantic movie.

Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer & Ryan Schlaefer at Nordic Sleigh Rides in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Heidi & Ryan. Photo by Travis Konkle of Dramatic Focal Point.

The day was sunny, but chilly and we were grateful for the warm blanket that covered our laps and toes.

Our cheeks glowed red as King plodded along, occasionally breaking into a trot, which is exhilarating. The scenery (and company) was wonderful and it’s an experience I won’t soon forget.

Our outing was an exclusive, but they also have family sleigh rides available and dinner theater. That’s right, you and the family ride on the sleigh to a real Miner’s Cabin where you eat dinner while being entertained by mountain men, dance hall girls and more.

If you’ve been looking for a Colorado sleigh ride, check out Nordic Sleigh Rides online at

Nordic Sleigh Rides cattle dog.

Our canine companion.

If you’d like Travis to capture your special engagement moment or vow renewal or you’d just like a sleigh ride photo session, check out his website at

Thank you to Nordic Sleigh Rides for hosting us on this outing.

Thank you to Dramatic Focal Point Photography for shooting us on this outing.

When I visit a town, I really like to get to know it. That’s why I enjoy a three-night stay when visiting a new location; it gives me time to soak in the ambiance and savor the flavor of a place.

How does one really get to know a town? I find that knowing a town’s history is one very effective way to get to know a place, so when I travel, I almost always visit the local history museum.

In January, while attending the Telluride Fire Festival, I spent an afternoon browsing the Telluride Historical Museum. I enjoyed the flow of this museum as I walked through each room the town’s story unfolded, right up to modern day.

Telluride Museum. Telluride Historical Museum.

Telluride Historical Museum, Telluride, Colorado.

This beautiful, Smithsonian affiliated museum is located at the top of Fir Street inside the former Miner’s Hospital that operated into the 1960s.

While most of Colorado’s mountain towns developed around the mining industry, each has a unique story to tell. Telluride’s unique story is electric, literally. In 1891, Telluride became the world’s first city to be electrically lit – they even beat Paris, the City of Lights.

However, just because the town was electrified doesn’t mean it was gentrified. It was a rough and tumble town that was without a church until 1887. Before then a weekly church service had been held at a local saloon. A funny quote from a local newspaper in 1887 says it all: “Ouray has 4 churches and 14 saloons. Telluride has 10 saloons and plans for a church.”

Should you go bar hopping while visiting Telluride, you’ll be participating in a longtime town tradition.

Upstairs you’ll find the history of Telluride’s tourism economy. One 1950s promotional ad read:

“Cool summers, wonderful scenery, fine people, swell visitors, good stories too!”

After our three-night stay in January, I’d say that six decades later, those words still apply to Telluride.

Plan your visit to the Telluride Historical Museum by visiting

Some other posts like this one:

Hotel de Paris, a gem hidden in plain sight (Georgetown)

Museum Monday: The Agricultural Heritage Center (Lyons/Longmont)

In honor of Black History Month: Barney Ford Museum (Breckenridge)

American Mountaineering Museum (Golden)

A tour of the Timberlane Farm Museum (Loveland)

Ghost Hunting at the Colorado Prison Museum (Canon City)




The burger at the buck snort. The best burger I ever ate in Colorado.

The Forest Fire at The Bucksnort Saloon in Pine, Colorado.

The best burger I ever ate was at The Bucksnort Saloon in Pine, Colorado. I always get the Forest Fire, a buck burger with a thick smear of cream cheese and piled high with jalapenos. It’s the perfect amount of juicy and creamy with just a bit of heat. It pairs nicely with a light lager.

You go here for a burger, but The Bucksnort is a legendary Colorado saloon. The historic building oozes mountain charm. The floor is a little slanted, so that you feel as though you’ve had one-too-many even if you haven’t had any. Literally perched above Elk Creek, if the place was ever quiet enough, which it isn’t, you could probably hear the sounds of splashing water over well-worn river rocks.

The Bucksnort Saloon is located off of Hwy 285 between Denver and Fairplay. Visit their website for directions at

There are two runners up for the “best burger I ever ate in Colorado,” and most recently a burger I devoured in Telluride gets second place.

The 7X Ground Colorado Wagyu Burger at Palmyra at The Peaks Resort & Spa is one of the best burgers I have ever wrapped my lips around. This perfectly cooked burger is served with white cheddar cheese, pork belly, jam, red onion, arugula and a fried egg. At $26, this isn’t a cheap burger, but it’s totally worth it.

I ate half and then ate the second half as a late night snack. Even reheated in the microwave, this burger melted in my mouth.

When we first moved to Denver, more than 14 years ago, a friend took us to a place he called “his brother’s bar.” I really thought that this was his brother’s bar, until I realized that the name of the place was My Brother’s Bar, and then I felt pretty silly.

My Brother’s Bar is one of Denver’s oldest bars, but you don’t go here for a history lesson. You go for a burger and a beer. Served in a basket, this isn’t a fancy burger, but it’s delicious. I’ve been to My Brother’s Bar a number of times over the years and I always get the burger with cream cheese and jalapenos, obviously I tend to stick to my traditions.

There’s no sign at My Brothers Bar, but it’s located on the corner of 15th Street and Platte Street and you shouldn’t have trouble finding it.

Do you have a favorite Colorado burger? Please tell me about it in the comment section!

Addendum: Last night, 4/5, we ate at Boulder’s newest hot spot, Blackbelly Market. My husband, Ryan, had their burger. He said is was the best he’d eaten in recent memory and that the bacon was the best he’d ever had on a burger – three cheers for Blackbelly!

Ryan and I travel all over the state, thanks to my job as Mayor of HeidiTown, and we’ve discovered some of the best places to steal a kiss on Valentine’s Day, or any other day, in Colorado.

Top 10 places to steal a kiss on Valentine’s Day in Colorado. Dramatic Focal Point Photography

At Nordic Sleigh Rides in Breckenridge, Colorado. Photo by Travis Konkle, of Dramatic Focal Point Photography,

1. On the gondola in Telluride, Colorado. If you and your sweetie find yourselves all alone on the gondola, which happens frequently, the 15 trip between Mountain Village and the Town of Telluride can be a very romantic trip.

2. At Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland, Colorado. Stroll this Northern Colorado gem hand in hand, pausing occasionally to sneak kisses in the shadow of stunning bronze creations.

3. In a hot springs pool. We have so many wonderful hot spring destinations in Colorado. From Pagosa Springs to Ouray to Glenwood Springs to Steamboat Springs, each has its own unique ambiance.

4. At Union Station in Denver, Colorado. What’s more romantic than a train station? The newly remodeled station in Denver inspires feelings of love and nostalgia.

5. On a sleigh ride in Breckenridge, Colorado. A one-horse open sleigh ride doesn’t just occur on commercials and on film, you can make it a reality at Nordic Sleigh Rides. It doesn’t get much more romantic than this.

6. Aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Durango, Colorado. This comfy and scenic ride will create memories that will last a lifetime.

7. The Whiskey Bar at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. A trip to this place is sure to warm your heart and inspired a sugary bourbon kiss.

8. On a scenic snowshoe trek in Rocky Mountain National Park. The quiet of a snowy forest is a sweet escape from the hustle and bustle of life, making you open to experiencing love more deeply. And let’s face it, selfies in the snow are the best.

9. At the Mountain Top Picnic at Taste of Vail. Wine, incredible food and a view that puts all others to shame – what’s not to love about stealing a kiss on the mountain top in Vail?

10. While stuck in ski traffic on I70. Make the most of your winter weekend warrior woes and remember, if you are lucky enough to be in Colorado – even stuck on the freeway – you’re lucky enough.

My Big Date logoValentine’s Day is two weeks away and I’ve got the perfect outing for you and your honey – especially if you like beer and food.

Valentine’s Day in Loveland, My Big Date, lets participants experience Loveland, Colorado’s coffee, brewery, distillery and foodie scene. The Brewery & Spirits Tour package sold out quickly, and there are only seats left on our Brunch & Brew Tour. I am one of your My Big Date hosts and I guarantee that it’s like nothing else you have ever experienced.

You and your mate will board the NOCO Short Bus Tours bus at The Promenade Shops at Centerra in East Loveland. The bus will transport you to beautiful downtown Loveland where you will start your morning with a coffee tasting at Loco Artisan Coffeehouse. Owner, Tom Helm, is pairing three of his handcrafted, locally roasted coffees with a savory treat for our guests.

The next stop is Loveland Aleworks where you’ll be greeted with one of Aleworks’ famous beermosas. Next up is a four-course brunch that has been expertly paired with four different beers. Loveland catering company, Taste, worked with Aleworks to create these unique brunch items. See brunch menu here.

My Big Date, Valentines Day in Loveland,

Once you’re happily full of beer and good food, your group will be guided down 4th Street to witness Loveland Fire & Ice Festival, taking place on Feb. 13 and 14. Read all about this event here. This festival includes the annual Loveland Snow Sculpture competition that features 12 snow sculpture teams. While Sunday will be a quieter day, the sculptures will still be lined up along 4th Street for viewing.

My Big Date, Valentine's Day in Loveland. Loveland Fire & Ice Festival. Snow Sculpture.

Your downtown stroll will end at Crow Hop Brewing where you will enjoy a cupcake and beer pairing. Dana of B. Sweet Cupcakes developed specialty beer cupcakes just for My Big Date. You can wash down these tasty creations with a tasting flight of Crow Hop’s award winning beers.

Once you’re finished you will be transported via the NOCO Short Bus back to The Promenade Shops at Centerra, but not before receiving a special gift bag filled with Loveland swag, such as free beer tokens, two for one ice skating coupons, chocolate, dinner discounts and more. In fact, our drop off location is right next to the ice rink at The Promenade Shops, so  you can, if you wish, get off the bus and go straight to the rink for a twirl on the ice with your sweetheart.

Ice skates. My Big Date, Valentine's Day in Loveland.

There are Brunch & Brew tours available on February 14 and 15, 2015 with limited seating available. This exclusive tour is available for purchase at

My Big Date is brought to you by, My Big Day, LLC and NOCO Short Bus Tours.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival LogoThe “Sweetheart City” is whooping it up this Valentine’s Day weekend with a brand new festival.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival is an extravaganza of lights, fire, ice and snow that will surely warm up your February.

For a handful of years, Loveland has hosted a sanctioned snow sculpting event; the winning team goes on to represent Colorado at the US National Snow Sculpting Competition. That sculpture competition is now part of Loveland Fire & Ice.

Snow Sculpture in the Dark 26.

This wooly mammoth, by Team Breck, was also a crowd favorite and 3rd place winner overall at Loveland Snow Sculpture 2013.

This year, in addition to the 10 snow sculpting teams from around the state, downtown Loveland will be alive with the sound of music, fireworks and laughter.

UPDATE: Due to unseasonably warm weather along Colorado’s Front Range, the snow sculpture part of this event has been cancelled and replaced with an ice sculpting contest. As of today (Feb. 10, 2015) six of the snow sculpting teams have signed on to carve ice instead of snow.

Music is a big part of the two-day event that kicks off at 3 p.m. on Friday, February 13 and runs late into the evening on Saturday. There will be three stages in downtown, with the Grimm Brothers Brewhouse Main Stage on 4th and Railroad. Musicians include everyone from a techno DJ to singer songwriters to a soul/funk band. There will even be a fire performer who will wow audiences with her fire art talents. The musicians will play throughout the festival, keeping downtown’s ambiance fun and energetic.

A fire performer at Telluride Fire Festival. Loveland Fire & Ice, Colorado.

Fire performing is becoming popular across Colorado. Here’s a performer at Telluride Fire Festival 2015.

Loveland-based business Blazen Illuminations is going to light up downtown’s buildings like Disneyland. The company is responsible for many amazing light displays around Colorado (and beyond), including the Denver City building’s holiday lights.

Blazen’s pyrotechnic team has some other exciting plans up their sleeve, including working with the bands to provide pyrotechnic effects during some of the musical performances.

Blazen Illuminations the denver city building. Loveland Fire & Ice Festival.

The Denver City building lit by Blazen Illuminations.

A fantastic fireworks and light show is scheduled to take place on both nights of the festival. This huge display will be set to music, so bring along the kiddos and get ready to be dazzled.

Be sure to pick up a Loveland Fire & Ice wristband available the clearly marked table inside the festival area. Wear your wristband to get specials at various retail outlets and restaurants on the weekend of the event.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival 

Valentine’s Day Weekend 2015

February 13 from 3 to 10 p.m. & February 14 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Downtown Loveland, Colorado (along 4th Street & Railroad Avenue)

Admission: FREE

Join Loveland Fire & Ice Festival on Facebook

Follow Loveland Fire & Ice Festival on Twitter @LovelandFireIce


I’ll see you there!


Featured Festival spots on are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email

I have a confession. I’m a bit of a bird nerd.  I’ve always been fascinated in nature and birds are one of my favorite parts of the natural world.

Colorado’s varied landscape is home to more than 450 species of birds making it a great state for birders. There are even 27 designating birding trails, but you don’t need to go to a designated area to spot birds. In my neighborhood, not a day goes by when I don’t see several types of bird species in my yard and at least one raptor.

Hawk at Fossil Creek Resevoir. Birding festivals in Colorado.

If you’d like a guarantee of some birding action, check out one of the state’s many birding festivals. The bird nerd in me decided to research where and when these festivals take place and I’ve compiled a list. I’m sure that I have missed some, so please leave a message if you know of another bird festival that takes place in Colorado and I will add it to this list.


Bald Eagle Festival, Barr Lake State Park, Brighton (early/mid-February)

This event often coincides with Valentine’s Day. See the Barr Lake page for details or follow them here on Facebook.

Lake Pueblo Eagle Days – Pueblo (early Feb)

Includes viewing opportunities, programs, presentations, kid’s activities and a photo contest. Learn more at Lake Pueblo State Park and the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo.

High Plain Snow Goose Festival, Lamar (Feb. 20-22)

This is an opportunity to see thousands of these beautiful birds. The event offers tours, educational programs, presentations, arts and crafts and a banquet. Learn more at Continue Reading…