While in Cripple Creek I was incarcerated and lost some money, but I’d still go back. We arrived in Cripple Creek on a cloudy Friday afternoon. I had been invited to be a guest at the brand new Rush Casino, formerly the Gold Rush. The building had been shuttered for three years before the new owners bought it, renovated the place and opened in August 2012.
I had never been to Cripple Creek before, and I can’t say that about many Colorado towns, so I was extra excited as we past Manitou Springs and then Woodland Park. As we neared our destination we were greeted by this view, just outside of Cripple Creek.
When we arrived in town I was quite delighted by the look of the place. Cripple Creek is an authentic mining town, all red brick and Victorian charm. While they legalized gambling in the early 1990s, the town has managed to retain its historical appeal.
At The Rush we found a open-plan casino, with extra high, golden ceilings and lots of elbow room. I dislike feeling pinned in at a casino, so this was a pleasant surprise. Apparently every guest at The Rush receives a mini-bar gift basket, a practice I would encourage every hotel to establish. At check in we were asked what we would like in our gift basket and given a list of items we could choose from.
While the casino at The Rush has been fully remodeled, the boutique hotel upstairs hasn’t receive as much attention, but there is a fresh coat of paint and upscale amenities like flat screen televisions and high end bath products. Our large room overlooked Bennett Avenue and included a nice view of the vintage Gold Rush sign.
We spent the first night gambling at The Rush, and winning at everything with the exception of three-card poker. I had very good luck at the Elvis game; the King and I got on famously. I enjoy these new games that include a chair with surround sound. At this game you rock out to famous Elvis tunes while trying to hunt down the rabbit in the Hound Dog Hunt. It’s seriously fun.
In addition to your mini-bar gift basket, guests at The Rush get free “bottomless” breakfast at the casino’s restaurant. I really enjoyed the breakfasts during our stay, especially the fresh jalapenos in my omelet, and you can’t beat the $1.50 bloody Mary.
We spent the morning of our second day exploring Bennett Avenue. As we scouted out the other casinos and did some shopping at the boutiques along the northeast side town, it began to snow. The town was quickly blanketed in white and with the twinkling Christmas lights, it felt very much like an old-fashion kind of holiday.
There are some cute shops in Cripple Creek, including a candy store that we stopped at every day during our stay and 9494, my favorite store in town where I bought an adorable hat. The General Store is over 40 years old and squished between two casinos on the south side of Bennett. It is an entertaining place to shop and includes lot of stuff for kids.
Back at the casino we met up with my in-laws who had arrived from Denver. Lunch at The Rush got fairly high marks from our group, especially the chicken wrap. After lunch, we left my mother-in-law at the slot machines and took my father-in-law with us to get into some trouble – and we succeeded, as the photos prove.
As you can tell, we had a good laugh at the Outlaw & Lawmen Jail Museum.
That evening we spent time gambling at The Rush, and my husband had too much fun at the Monopoly slot machine and the black jack tables. Every Saturday night the casino brings in a DJ who takes requests and keeps things festive. The drinks and fun flowed, and despite not winning the hourly cash prize of $100, we had another great night.
I’m very excited about the future of The Rush Casino in Cripple Creek. The Palladium is a 900-seat outdoor auditorium directly behind the casino and the owners plan to renovate it starting this spring. It should be open for summer concerts in 2013 – more than enough reason to go back and stay at The Rush again.
PLEASE NOTE: The Rush Casino unexpectedly closed on Friday, January 4, 2013. I still highly recommend a trip to Cripple Creek, Colorado.
It has been an AMAZING year here in HeidiTown…
and 2013 is going to be even better.
I have so many great memories from this past year, like emceeing a freezing/cold/snowy Berthoud Oktoberfest, attending the Great American Beer Festival for the first time and speaking multiple times at Metropolitan State University. There were some real standout moments however, so without further ado, here are my Top 10 Memories from the Mayor of HeidiTown, Colorado for 2012 (in pictures):
March – MyHandleBar HeidiTown ride in Fort Collins, Colorado
May – The HeidiTown banners are revealed
June – Champagne in the gondola & dining at the top of Keystone Resort during TBEX
June – Being a judge at the kick-off of Loveland Loves BBQ , Bands & Brews
July – Gorging ourselves on food cart delights & wine at Unwined Denver
July – Enjoying a really big pretzel and German dancing with my main squeeze at the Biergarten Festival
August – My first hot air balloon ride at Sweetheart Balloon Rally in Loveland
August – Ziplining at Copper Mountain & riding the chairlift with beers
October – Staying at One Steamboat Place for the Governor’s Tourism Conference in Steamboat Springs (via Moving Mountains Chalet)
December – Laughing our butts off at the Cripple Creek Jail Museum & winning on Elvis at The Rush Casino
Thank you to everyone who has helped make this year so special & now? Bring on 2013!
P.S. A special thank you to my husband, Ryan, the person I most enjoy taking adventures with – now and always!
It’s October and that means Halloween. It just so happens that I am a big scaredy cat, however, I do love a good ghost tour and I share some Colorado ghost tour information in this week’s radio segment. There’s also a nod to dead people and zombies in this show – you have been warned!
So without further ado, LISTEN HERE if you dare.
Note: Each Monday I upload my KRFC 88.9 FM segment to HeidiTown. You can here it on the radio on Wednesdays at noonish and Fridays at 5:30 p.m.
I am a museum junkie, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is one of my favorites. I love the smell of a museum, the lighting, and the sense that I am learning something new just by being in the building.
Ancient history has never had a big draw for me, so I wasn’t particularly overjoyed to hear that the Pompeii exhibition was coming to Denver. But, of course, I had to see it, and in doing so I have developed a new fascination with ancient history.
“A Day in Pompeii” takes the visitor on a trip through the ancient city of Pompeii, a city of 20,000 that was covered in volcanic ash in AD 79. Ninety percent of the population was able to make it out of the city, but 10 percent were not, and the thick, wet ash from Mount Vesuvius encased them where they stood, sat or lay.
As a writer, I truly appreciate how the story of Pompeii unfolds as you walk through the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s newest exhibit.
First, you meet the people of Pompeii and discover how they worked, shopped and played. You get to know them, through high resolution videos that take you through their homes, through the numerous artifacts on display and through the historical re-enactors that stroll through the exhibit, ready to impart the story of their daily life with you.
The beginning of the exhibition is cheerful and there’s a sense that life in Pompeii was pretty good, and although these people lived thousands of years ago, we have much in common. The Pompeiians loved creature comforts, enjoyed the theater, and would grab food from a street vendor and meet friends at a local bar where they played dice games.
As I walked through the exhibit with my husband, a furniture designer and builder, it occurred to us that the Romans may have discovered interior design. Their frescos and highly ornate furniture could have graced the pages of Roman Fine Living, if such a magazine existed in the early part of the 1st Century. Check out the pair of ornate curtain tie backs on display and you will truly understand our train of thought.
“A Day in Pompeii takes a 21st Century approach to the 1st Century,” says Dr. Steve Nash, exhibit curator.
Ancient Greece has influenced today’s culture in many ways, and it’s interesting to keep this in mind as you walk through “A Day in Pompeii.” From architecture to everyday living, many things in the exhibition feel strangely familiar.
Once you get to know Pompeii and its people, things get somber. You learn how the Roman’s worshipped, how they buried and honored their dead, and then the volcano erupts. Don’t miss the five minute video of the eruption in the room right before the part of the exhibition that houses the body casts from Pompeii. This sets the scene in a sobering fashion.
The body casts are probably the most famous artifacts from this exhibit, and most of us have seen photos of them at some point in our lives. As people huddled in their homes, or tried to outrun this natural disaster at the last moment, they were covered by volcanic ash. Over time, the bodies disintegrated leaving an empty cavity for archÃ¦ologists to find centuries upon centuries later. In 1860, archÃ¦ologist Guiseppe Fiiorelli poured plaster into these cavities, creating the first versions of the casts.
Ironically, seeing these body casts in person made these people even more real to me. The poses are so human; hands to the mouth, an arm covering a lovers head, friends (possibly sisters) in an embrace.
I left “A Day in Pompeii” with a newly sparked interested in ancient Roman history, and I think that’s the best review a museum exhibition could receive.
This exhibit opened at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on September 14 and leaves on January 13, 2012. There are programs and events planned for both adults and children around “A Day in Pompeii” – see the list here.
Go to DMNS.org for ticket information.
Between freelance writing and blogging I bounce between fun topics like Colorado travel, and not so fun topics like cancer. Sometimes I get severe writer’s block, and this week I found my writing brain seriously obstructed.
So I opted to write a top 5 list and share the reasons I love Colorado – this blog post nearly wrote itself.
Please feel free to comment & let me know why YOU love Colorado.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, which means I never take for granted Colorado’s 300 plus days of sunshine every year. The brightness of the sun makes Coloradans happy and active.
The Rocky Mountains are the biggest gems in Colorado’s crown. They provide a never ending list of recreational activities, offer up towns full of character and history, and provide a beautiful backdrop to the Front Range.
Colorado is a sports-lovers dream. From professional teams in every major sport to kayaking, rock climbing and cycling, this state is full of enthusiastic fans of sports, as well as athletes of every kind. The best part, in my opinion, is that no matter where you travel in Colorado, you can always find a place to watch the Broncos with fellow supporters.
4. State & National Park System
Colorado has 42 state parks with 4,376 campsites. The state is also home to four national parks, including Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. What I love about our national parks is that each is unique and offers different landscapes and activities.
I haven’t done any scientific research on this topic, but I think Colorado is one of the most dog-friendly states in the union. It’s not unusual for Coloradans to own several dogs, and they take them everywhere – from the sidewalks of Denver to the Rocky Mountain backcountry. As a lifelong dog person, I appreciate living in a dog-loving state.
So there you have it, the top five reasons I love Colorado.
Why do you love Colorado?
Summer is quickly coming to a close and you may be thinking about one last trip to the Colorado mountains before the kids head back to school.
This week’s radio segment on KRFC 88.9 FM, Fort Collins public radio, highlights some of the late summer music festivals happening across the Rocky Mountains. From soul music in Vail to jazz in Copper, the hills are alive with the sound of music.
Listen to this week’s segment HERE.
My parents met while singing in a traveling church band in the 70s, and on many childhood nights I fell asleep listening to my dad strumming his guitar downstairs. My mom, who is an accomplished pianist, laughingly used to accuse my dad of hugging his guitar more than her.
Obviously, I was born into a musical family, and I have an honest appreciation of musicians and live music. Unfortunately, I rarely write about music festivals on HeidiTown, in part because there are so many. I could start a blog dedicated entirely to Colorado music fests and never run out of material.
Earlier this year, I was lucky to be assigned to write about Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest by an editor in my freelance life. During the assignment I had the opportunity to meet many of the people behind the event and some of the musicians who are playing this year.
I have always thought Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest was a cool event, but after getting a glimpse behind the curtain, I am convinced it’s one of the best, if not the best, music fest in the state of Colorado.
So what makes Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest so great?
There are several reasons this fest rates so high in my mind. First, there’s the location. It takes a lot of strategic planning and cooperation between many organizations and the City of Fort Collins to put on a large, free festival in the heart of downtown. Most music festivals occur in a stadium or a farmer’s field, but this event takes place in Old Town Fort Collins. The location gives it a community vibe, and Old Town provides a lovely backdrop.
Another reason this festival is special is its longevity. This is the 24th year of this event that was originally just “NewWestFest” – a celebration of Fort Collins’ birthday. This summer the city turns 139, and she’s looking pretty good for her age.
The third and final reason this is a truly outstanding festival is that it is not only one of the largest, if not largest, gatherings of Colorado bands in the state, but it’s a chance for emerging artists to connect with new fans.
The event organizers spend hundreds of hours putting together a lineup that will please the crowds at Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, but will also surprise them. They deliberately do not have music-specific stages. In other words, you will not find a “Bluegrass Stage” or “Jazz Stage.” They want to expose music-lovers to bands they might not have otherwise discovered, and to give bands a chance to strut their stuff in front on a big stage.
For years now, Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest has been attracting nationally recognized headliners and this year is no exception. Michael Franti and Spearhead, Alison Krauss & Union Station with Jerry Douglas and the Gipsy Kings will play the main stage on Mountain Avenue during this three-day event.
I’m very excited to see these amazing headliners (for free), but I am also looking forward to hearing local bands like The Patti Fiasco. I interviewed the band’s front woman, Alysia Kraft, and she is a gifted singer/songwriter and performer. The Patti Fiasco plays the Library Stage on Friday, August 10 at 5 p.m.
Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest runs Friday, August 10 through Sunday, August 12. Around 100 bands are scheduled to play over the three days on six music stages. There are also two entertainment stages, lots of arts, crafts and food vendors, and of course, beer gardens.
I have a lot of readers in the Denver area, and I promise you, Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest is worth the drive to Fort Collins. Yes, it will be crowded, and yes, it’s almost always hot, but if you visit with an open mind and the goal of discovering a new and exciting band, you will not be disappointed.
For more information:
Ten years ago, if you asked a Coloradan where Loveland was they’d point to the mountains. This is because, for many years, Loveland Ski Area was better known than the city with the same name, but that has changed.
The City of Loveland is working hard to make sure everyone knows that they are open for business, and last week I had the opportunity to attend the unveiling of Loveland’s new tourism branding and billboard on I25.
So why should you visit Loveland, Colorado?
Loveland is located just 40 miles north of Denver, and has a renowned reputation as a sculpture community. On the second weekend of August in Loveland, there’s a huge, international celebration of the city’s most well-known commodity – sculpture. I’ve written a post about the festival here.
Benson Sculpture Garden, located near Lake Loveland, is a park where you can see many sculptures year round. Go here to see a photo gallery of pictures I took on a trip to the garden this past spring. The streets of downtown Loveland are also lined with sculptures.
Beer & Spirit Lovers
Northern Colorado is often referred to as the Napa Valley of Beer, but most people automatically think of Fort Collins when they plan a visit to the area’s breweries. Loveland, however, has its fair share of outstanding microbreweries, including Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, Big Beaver Brewing Company, Loveland Aleworks, and Verboten Brewing, set to open in about four months.
For more information read my post, A Beer Lovers Guide to Hidden Gems in Northern Colorado.
In addition to sculpture show weekend, Loveland has an impressive lineup of festivals throughout the year. Loveland Loves BBQ, Bands & Brews, previously blogged about here, has become a well-attended regional event.
On the first weekend in August, hot air balloons take to the sky during the Sweetheart Balloon Rally & Airstream Show at The Ranch, and at the end of August, Loveland throws the corniest event in Northern Colorado. While Loveland may not officially be a “small town” anymore, the Old Fashion Corn Roast Festival captures that small town, Americana-feel with a parade, corn shucking contest, family-friendly fun and more.
The Larimer County Fair is held in Loveland and features the Gnarly Barley Festival, a beer event being held this year on Saturday, August 4. In September, Loveland throws another festival embracing their beer and distillery culture with Spirits at Sunset.
During the winter months, Loveland hosts a wildly popular snow sculpture event that will be sanctioned for the first time this year. Stay tuned to HeidiTown for details on the 2012 event, and read a previous post about the 2011 event here.
So there you have it, just a few of many, many reasons to visit Loveland, Colorado. As the city’s new tagline states, “it’s everything you love.”
If you haven’t been to the Denver Zoo in a while, it’s a great time to go. The new Toyota Elephant Passage has opened and being a huge fan of the zoo, I had to go and check it out for myself, and for my HeidiTown citizens, of course.
I borrowed a friend’s 10-year-old so I didn’t look like the crazy kid-less lady at the zoo. I chose to take a kid who is as wild about wildlife as I am; and I’m not kidding, this girl reads animal encyclopedias for fun and she knew more about apes then one of the zoo volunteers we ran into.
Our smartest decision was to go first thing in the morning. Arriving at the zoo early is probably the best piece of advice you are going to get from reading this blog post. We arrived at the zoo as it opened at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday, and made our way straight to the Elephant Passage. This exhibit is so popular right now that they do timed entries so that they can keep the crowds manageable.
Due to our intelligent decision to arrive early, there were no crowds at Elephant Passage at 9:20 a.m. and we were able to leisurely stroll through the massive exhibit. It feels as though you are walking through an Asian village, complete with a real rickshaw and other props that transport you to the other side of the globe.
Another good reason to get to the zoo early is that the animals tend to be more active in the morning. Later in the day they head to their dens and under shrubberies to escape the noonday sun. As we entered the Elephant Passage at the Village Outpost we spied some young, spunky clouded leopards that were interacting with zoo keepers.
As we worked our way through the exhibit, there seemed to be elephants every which way we turned, as well as water. I love all the water features in the Elephant Passage and so do the geese that seem to think this is the perfect place in which to bring up their offspring – much to my delight there were baby goslings everywhere.
The Schoelzel Family Village is the hub of Elephant Passage, and has a fascinating flying fox exhibit. Did you know that the wing span of a flying fox can be six feet? Inside this indoor exhibit you can also see Asian small clawed otters, always a hit with the spectators, and fishing cats, although these guys were hiding out while we were there.
Our favorite part of Elephant Passage was the Chang Pa Wildlife Preserve. I liked it because it was fantastically photographable and my companion liked it because of the gibbons. These members of the ape family can swing right over visitors’ heads from “island” to “island” in the Chang Pa Wildlife Preserve. They were more interested in picking fleas off of each other while we were watching.
Since both of us had visited the Denver Zoo a number of times, the Elephant Passage was the highlight of this trip, although we toured most of the other parts of the zoo as well. The most exciting part of our day, however, was getting a glimpse of the baby Amur leopard, Makar.
The day before our visit, the eight-week-old cub was introduced for the first time to visitors at the zoo. Curled up with his mother right in front of the viewing area, it was hard to see where the baby leopard ended and where his mother began; those spots work well to camouflage the little guy. Due to poaching, loss of habitat and trophy hunting, less than 40 of these leopards remain in the wilds of Eastern Russia. It’s incredible that this critically endangered species has successfully reproduced at the Denver Zoo.
The Denver Zoo is open every day of the year. Summer hours (March 1 – October 31) are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the grounds officially closing daily at 6 p.m. During winter the zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $8 to $15, depending on season and age of the visitor. The best deal is to become a member at DenverZoo.org.
See more pictures we took at the Denver Zoo on HeidiTown’s Facebook page.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend TBEX, a travel blogger, writer and photographer conference that just happened to be held in Keystone, Colorado this year. TBEX attracts attendees from around the globe, and this was a chance for Colorado to show off – and it did just that.
On the first evening, we drank champagne aboard gondolas that transported us to a five-star experience on top of Keystone Resort. A Taste of Vail Resorts treated us to a variety of delectable food choices in a world-class setting. The dessert tent had such an array of culinary delights that the guests weren’t sure whether to eat these amazing creations or just take photographs.
The second night, Expedia.com threw a cowboy style shindig at Keystone Stables, complete with a country band, line dancing, a mechanical bull, local beer and barbecue. As the sun set, the mountains glowed, and crowd went “oooh” and “ahhhh.”
Throughout the weekend we were transported around Keystone on their free shuttle service. You simply call them from your condo, the restaurant, a shop, and they come and pick you up and drop you off anywhere in Keystone. I never waited longer than five minutes for a shuttle.
It was a remarkable experience, and not just because of the connections that I made, but also because it was a chance to see my state through new eyes. There were the expected grievances about altitude and dryness, but the attendees who hailed from New York, Los Angeles, Maine, Florida, Denmark, Germany and beyond, were in awe of the beauty of Colorado.
I heard lots of comments about the sunshine, and I think many of the conference goers expected the weather to be colder and more arctic-like. After all, when I moved here thirteen years ago, I’m pretty sure my parents thought I would be living in an igloo. Folks outside of Colorado have no idea that we get over 300 days of sunshine every year.
While the visitors did blame everything from sore feet to fatigue on the altitude (much to my amusement), overall Colorado shone during TBEX, and I was proud to call myself a Coloradan at the event.
As Coloradans, we generally wake up to sunshine every morning, and most of us experience the majesty of the Rocky Mountains every day without giving it much thought. Seeing Colorado through new eyes was something I will cherish and remember for a long time, and the feeling of pride I had during and after TBEX is something I will carry with me forever.