Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1000 Words: Tap Rooms

Its interesting to learn about the different ways beers are created. Generally, brewers are even more interesting. Which makes their tap rooms very interesting. Visit them. Often. (Ft. Collins Brew Tour post coming soon...)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

1000 Words: Happy Father's Day

"Every time the rain comes out but the sun still wants to shout, that's when I know you're around..."
- Donovan Frankenreiter, Swing On Down

Friday, June 17, 2011

1000 Words: Open the Door

A little inspiration on a Friday: You don't know what's on the other side of that door until you open it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's Good: Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

Summer and hotdogs go together like rye and bitters. You typically don't have one without the other. Typically this means gathering with friends for a backyard BBQ, packing a few Plumpers on the camping trip, or grabbing a Rocky Dog while being consistently mesmerized by Tulo. But a few months ago, Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs moved into my 'hood, and now I'll never look at hotdogs the same way.

Biker Jim's has "gourmet" in the title for good reason, but let's be honest - its a hotdog joint. So I appreciate the Easy Rider meets Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas logo on the wall and the fact that every dog has the option of cream cheese - applied by a caulk gun. The ambiance is a feel-good mix of exposed brick, brushed metal and tattoos. I liked the place before I tasted anything.

The menu goes from the exotic (Alaskan Reindeer, Pheasant, Wild Boar) to the more mainstream (all-natural beef, the Perfect Italian), and includes comfort-style sides like mac 'n cheese and fried green tomatoes. They also have a "Something Different" section on the menu that includes not-so-frequent options like the Wiener Wellington and the Yak Dog. Looking a little closer at the website you'll find that nearly all of their dogs are locally raised and produced, without hormones, antibiotics, nitrates or nitrites. And the buns are baked locally. Seriously cool. This ain't your grandfather's hotdog stand...

I'm a huge fan of condiments, and that was where things went from "really good" to "I'll be back." The option of sauteed onions comes with every dog, and a Taj Majal of toppings awaits you once the flame cooked dog is in hand. Multiple mustards, multiple kechups, banana peppers, onions, jalepenos...just about anything you'd ever want, short of Gummy Bears. They had me at "multiple kechups." My original voyage included a Perfect Italian dog with sauteed onions, some type of peppery ketchup, dijon mustard and banana peppers.

Imagine going your whole life watching old school antenna-based analogue TV, and then stumbling upon the Super Bowl playing on a 70-inch HDTV. That's the best way to describe my hotdog experience at Biker Jim's. Hotdogs done amazingly well, lots of options, made by some pretty cool people, and the only cream cheese caulking gun in Colorado. I think I know what I'm doing for lunch tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1000 Words: Denver. Yeah, it really is that good.

Just when you thought winter was the best season to be in Denver, spring came along. And then summer. And then fall...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Do Something: Teva Mountain Games

One of my favorite things about Colorado is that there isn't really a bad season. I come from an area where the summers are hot and humid and the winters are cold and cloudy, so the fact that Colorado goes from sunny and warm to sunny and cool to sunny and snowy on a ski hill is something that I always appreciate. And every year when the slopes start to close and the Rockies start playing, I get the Summer Mountain Itch. Hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking, climbing...you name it. That's what makes the Teva Mountain Games worth visiting.

For five years I've wanted to check out the Games and finally made the trip up to Vail to see it this past weekend (its the first weekend in June each summer). Not knowing what to expect other than some amazing bouldering and kayaking competitions I'd seen covered in past years on 9News, I was pleasantly surprised when we parked the car and immediately stumbled upon the Eukanuba Dockdog long jump competition. Dogs jumping 18-25 feet into water? Yes, please.

After trekking down Vail's path through town we came to the Village - filled with climbing walls, food vendors, outdoor sports brands handing out schwag and selling products and a variety of competitions going on in and around town. We stopped to see the kayak freestyle event (guys and gals "surfing," Colorado-style) before grabbing a beer and finding a variety of things I didn't know I needed until I saw them. Some new Teva "Mush" kicks, a portable iPod speaker from Goal Zero, and a new neck gaiter for the 2011-12 snowboarding season - all at discounted rates.

The rest of the afternoon involved a fly-fishing spot casting competition, the bouldering World Cup (always amazing), mountain biking races, and a very entertaining Mud Run - all in 70+ degree mountain weather. Finally, the day ended with something I never knew existed - the Extreme Vertical Dog Competition, essentially a high jump for dogs off a dock into water. As I sat there in the sun with a mountain view watching a newcomer named "Jackson" start at 4'6" and take over the crowd as he made it all the way past the six-foot mark, and then witnessed a new world record (eight feet...the Craig's List dog jumped eight feet vertically!) I thought to myself, "Why am I not staying here tonight with my mutt, and when should I book my hotel for next year?"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

1000 Words: 14,000 Feet

Summer in the mountains is highly underrated. Get up there and explore - its why you live/visit here.