The first thing we noticed about Colorado was something we hadn’t seen in a week: GREEN.

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After seeing nothing but red dirt and feeling dry heat all week, the humidity and isolated sprinkles was refreshing!

Visiting Elliot was a lot of fun. I hadn’t visited him since he moved there several years ago. Both Cobalt and I felt bad for being so pooped but were glad to still enjoy some quality time with my brother, eating out at a local Boulder restaurant, grocery/beer shopping, hiking up the Rockies, making homemade food, and watching a movie together. Elliot was a good travel guide, showing us around the hot spots of town.

Saturday night we arrived at his apartment around 6pm so we all decided to eat out for dinner. The place Elliot had in mind was close enough to walk, so we traveled a few blocks to Mountain Sun. There Cobalt and I each ordered a half sandwich and cup of soup while Elliot ordered a burger. All was incredibly delicious — on the list of the best foods we’ve had this whole trip (others is Granny’s Closet, mentioned in this post). We also ordered a couple of beers, Apricot Wheat and Old School Nitro Stout (more about the foods we ate on our trip on my foodblog!).

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With some daylight left, Elliot walked us down the “pedestrian only” street (Pearl St.) of Boulder after dinner. There we walked into a candy store called Rocket Fizz that displayed strange and popular candies and sodas, both old-fashioned and modern. We also people watched, observing the seemingly not-consistent clothing style of the town (it’s a mixture of college, tourist and workout styles). Finally, we stopped to watch a street performer, whom I will call “The Zipcode Juggler Man.”


The Zipcode Juggler Man is a famous icon of Pearl St. He always begins his show with a juggling act, both with balls and with plastic neon-colored bowling pins. He impresses his onlookers with juggling seven balls high up in the air; and four pins both in front and behind his back. Then, he suddenly switches his act.

He continues to catch the audience’s attention by juggling, but interrupts himself to ask individuals a question:

“Tell me your zipcode and I’ll tell you where you live!”

This not only includes the United States but other countries as well! At the end of the show, Mr. Zipcode Juggling Man asked about 15 observers their zipcodes and — without the participants telling him their states — he placed them on their state on a USA map he had outlined with a long, white chain. Cobalt volunteered :) Then, Mr. ZJM repeated each of the individuals zipcodes (from memory!!) and created a story to incorporate each one’s city (note: he had placed them in the STATE of their zipcode but had yet revealed their city until now!). Only a few cities did he get wrong but that didn’t matter because he got enough right to perk everyone’s interest. Many people tossed bills in his hat after the show.

Nearing 10 o’ clock, we walked back to Elliot’s apartment to play Chrononauts before hitting the hay.

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The next morning we all slept in til nearly 10am. But having no milk for the cereal Cobalt and I had brought, Elliot drove us to the grocery store, showing us more of Boulder along the way. On the way home we stopped by one of the coolest stores Cobalt and I have ever been to: Hazel’s Beverage World. The yellow-and-teal-accented building was about the size of a regular local grocery store but was HUGE for a liquor store! Since it was the style of an airplane hanger, it had cement floors and a tall ceiling. There was even a World War II airplane suspended above us with plenty of room to spare for several more. Though fascinated by the large selection, we just bee-lined to the beers to “choose our own six pack.” Afterwards, we browsed some other aisles just for funsies.

Getting hungry, we headed back to the apartment to eat breakfast/lunch. While we ate, rain began sprinkling in the gardens outside the window. Elliot looked at the day’s forecast and reported that it would be this way all day; but since it rarely pours in Boulder, outside adventure would not be ruined by a light shower.

So we decided to go hiking in the Rockies.

The hiking trail we chose was at a nearby recreation area, free to the public. Here Cobalt and I discovered that the Rocky Mountains are indeed rocky!

We began our walk on a gravel trail on an open, grassy field. Not too difficult, only a little slippery because of the incline and rounded pebbles from frequent hikers. I was distracted, however, by the beautiful meadow, sprinkled with pink, purple, blue and yellow flowers and the biggest dandelions we’d ever seen.


When holding one it filled up our entire palm!

Spying a trail map ahead, we studied it and decided to hike to an overlook of Boulder. Soon the path changed to a rocky, inclinous (i.e. increasingly difficult incline) trail in an evergreen forest. This was a little more difficult for me, considering I wasn’t wearing the bestest shoes (they have traction but not much support for climbing on sandy rock). I was also very tired from traveling and huffing and puffing from the lower oxygen level. But the two men I was walking with motivated me to keep going. :)

While on this section we stopped for about 10 minutes; Elliot and Cobalt to briefly check out a rock climbing trail to our right and I to rest. While sitting on a rock to recollect my breath, I observed a woodpecker pecking away on a fallen log. I wondered how he/she didn’t have a headache because he was banging his beak pretty hard against the bark! Soon, I also saw two chipmunks scampering across some rocks near Woody (as I shall call the woodpecker). I can’t remember the last time I’d seen a chipmunk in my life, so this was special. A couple of times Woody got mad at them for coming to close to his bubble; he kind of jumped at them a bit! For that the two white and black striped rodents left him alone.

We continued walking for about 10 more minutes until the path opened to the strangest trail I’ve ever seen: pure rocks about one foot square all around us. It looked like there had been a rock slide at one point in time because the mountain’s side was literally covered with sharp grey rocks like debris after a storm. Somehow the park rangers (or whomever is responsible for making paths) had actually etched out a trail in these rocks so that peds could maneuver to the other side. I was impressed that it was even possible!



As soon as we entered this section, the sounds changed around us. To understand what we heard, let me further explain our surroundings.

So you already know the we were in the middle of a rocky field. But imagine this: semi-circled around us were tall evergreens, filled with hundreds of cicadas. The location of these trees consequently created a “surround sound” effect that grabbed our attention. To our surprise, the cicadas were not annoying at all but very quiet. Instead of squawking, they sung a soft, clicking sound. The best way I can describe it (for it’s rather hard to do) is the sound of snap, crackle and pop of Krispy Rice in a bowl of freshly poured milk. Can’t you just hear this gentle, soothing sound echoing around us like a chorus? Nothing like the cicadas in Huntsville, Texas or Tennessee!

Further we pressed, the rocky inclines becoming harder to climb. But finally, about 20 more minutes later, we reached an overlook that made us catch our breath (though we were really trying to recover it!). The overlook showed us the majority of Boulder, plus a smidge of Denver on the horizon.

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No matter how many overlooks I see, I am always humbled by the opportunity to experience this point of view. In addition, after viewing nothing but desert overlooks for the past week, this one was comforting. I had to be careful looking out, though, because I was balancing on a rock and breathing hard at the same time. At one point I was slightly afraid of falling (fatigue often makes me over exaggerate my emotions…) but sitting down on a rock helped me regain my composure.

We stayed at the overlook for 15 or 20 minutes to rest, take pictures and just take in the amazing scene.

Something we already knew but got to notice from this bird’s eye view was that all of the buildings are about the same size because Boulder enforces a high restriction. Only Denver seemed to have skyscrapers…Can you see how there aren’t any tall buildings in these pictures above?

Since the area provided only 3 rocks to stand on, it was a bit small; so we eventually moved so other hikers could see, too.

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Brother and Sister picture :)

Getting down the mountain was incredibly easier, as gravity merely carried us down the sharp declines. Instead of taking the gravel road back to the parking lot, we chose the dirt one (I was glad because slipping on gravel wouldn’t have been too fun…). At one point we heard some funny bird calls and wondered where they were coming from! No sooner did we hear this call did we see one flying from left to right, from one tree to another. Approaching the sky creature, Cobalt thought it was a blue jay because of a blue sheen in it’s feathers. But on second look we all realized it was black and white.

A black and white bird? I thought only penguins were this color combination!

We continued to observe this bird and several more which had gathered ahead of us at a trail map. We concluded that two of them were young because they were chirping obnoxiously away at another one, probably the mother. Seemingly the mother was teaching the babies to hunt for food in the grass…

(I just looked up a picture on Google and the birds might have been magpies…)

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When returning to the car, Cobalt expressed interest in checking out an orange building he had seen on the overlook. Elliot said it was NCAR, an atmosphere researching center. (You can read more about it here.) Sadly it had closed two hours before we arrived; but we saw some windows in the front that we peeked through to check out the inside of the building. The wall posters and diagrams describing atmospheric effects (clouds, tornadoes, rain, etc.) were cool but seemed like it was more geared towards kids and anyone looking to have a career there. ‘Twas not all in vain, though, for the view at the top of this building (where the entrance is) was nice!

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That night I made homemade burritos/fajitas for the guys and we drank some of our beers we’d picked out and watched Rango. It was a relaxing evening; and to my surprise I really enjoyed being indoors for once!