As expected with us at this rate, things are always… complicated.
After our failed first attempt to find dispersed camping, we reserved a stay through Harvest Hosts at El Rancho Brewing Company.
We had looked at staying here before, but were hesitant because the hosts were exceptionally clear thatyou cannot have your RV in their parking lot from 5pm-8pm. When I called to make the last-minute reservation, the young girl on the other end of the phone reiterated this fact and explained there was a Walmart just across the street where we could wait in the meantime.
Finding a nearly empty parking lot around 2pm, we parked on the side just along the tree line, giving ourselves enough room to swing the rig around to leave.
The hostess inside gave us a welcome packet full of details on where to park after 8pm, rules and regulations for our stay, and a variety of coupons for the restaurant and bar!
Not wanting to tow the trailer all over town, we decided we’d make the best of the afternoon right there from camp. As we sat outside enjoying the cool weather from the rainy afternoon, we had an unexpected guest!
Before we knew it, it was 5 o’clock. We moved the car over to the Walmart parking lot, leaving the RV still hooked up to the car, and walked back over to the brewery for dinner. We asked to look at the Dinner menu when we first checked in and had a pretty good idea of what we wanted.
Here’s the full menu, but from just the appetizers only, what do you think we decided to try for the first time?
The Wild Game Board!!
These were things I have NEVER tried…
This sausage board included huckleberry venison, herbed duck, elk, and rattlesnake/rabbit with pretzel bites, queso, mustard and giardiniera (pickled vegetables).
I’ll be honest, Devon had to talk me into this one a little bit…
I will absolutely try elk, venison and duck again, but I can’t say the same about the rattlesnake/rabbit…
it was too…
for my taste.
butttt for the “When We Come Back” list, let’s go ahead and write…
Smoked Trout Dip and the Rancho Brisket Queso.
What can I say,
I love food…
Nay, I love to eat .
Anyways, we walked back to Walmart and waited the few more minutes for 8pm to move the RV back to the brewery. This was the spot we ended up with! One thing to note about our Harvest Host experience is we’ve always gone to sleep with other RVs parked around us, though they may not all be there by time we wake up. So in a way, it does make you feel a little safer knowing you’re not the only RV just randomly parked outside.
Since dispersed camping didn’t work out like we hoped, we decided we would try something else new:
While Harvest Hosts is a membership for camping at businesses (breweries, wineries, farm, etc.), the hosts for Boondockers Welcome are people who extend their hospitality for others to park at their homes (driveway, side yard, field, etc).
We woke up the next morning and made our way to our “Denver Suburban Stay with Max”, located only 15 minutes from downtown Denver. With this membership, you’re supposed to let the host know when you arrive and when you depart. Timing didn’t initially work out for us to meet him at his house, so we found something to do.
Fun fact for all: it’s $10/day for you to enter a CO state park. OR you can buy the annual pass and gain access to all CO state parks for $80. If you’re camping, you do still have to pay the daily rate, so depending on how long you’re in Colorado or if you’ll return within the year, it might make more sense to buy the Annual pass. We purchased the pass when we had our first stay in Boyd Lake, and that alone was a 4 day reservation.
With all of this in mind, we thought we’d put the pass to use once more and drove the 20 minutes south to Chatfield State Park. We pulled our bikes out of the trailer, made some lunch and figured we’d go for a ride around the park.
We had already been biking for awhile, but still we decided, “Just keep going, we’ll just go around the lake.”
and to our surprise, the lake just kept going and going…
What was supposed to have been, “Oh we’ll just get out stretch our legs and be back in 20,” turned into an hour and half bike ride around the lake. Could we have turned around? absolutely. Did I want to? absolutely.
No, I’m joking. 🙂
It was a beautiful bike ride.
It wasn’t necessarily hard, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little bit more mental preparation before you bike 12 miles, you know?
When we finally got back to the RV, we grabbed a drink from the fridge to help cool down and then made our way back to Max’s to check in for our first Boondockers Welcome stay.
We held our breaths pulling up to the house before a tall, grey-haired and mustached gentleman greeted us with a big smile.
Though Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome are partnered companies, one major difference is that the hosts for Boondockers typically offer electric hookups, and sometimes even water, at no extra cost.
It was a great feeling knowing we were parked somewhere safe and close to downtown Denver so we could do the last few things we wanted to in the area.
It was time to give Denver the opportunity to redeem itself.
We put our nicer clothes on, items of clothing that weren’t a t-shirt and shorts, and went into the city.
I looove a good arcade bar.
Get your ID checked and go down the stairs off Blake street, and you’ll find 1UP Arcade Bar.
Lined with all different kinds of arcade games,
From Pacman to Skee-ball….Mario Kart racing to a wall of pinball… we cashed in a $10 bill for quarters and ordered a drink.
When the fun ran out, I mean the quarters ran out, we circled the block, looking for the next place to go. In comparison to our last time in the city, we were happy to see less people on the ground keeled over, potentially on the verge of death.
Yes, it was that bad.
We cut through a street lined with metal restaurant tables and chair, every one of them occupied.
We rounded the corner and knew where we were going next.
The Denver Milk Market.
A host at the front door told to us to find a seat wherever we liked and to order whenever we ready. Therew was a large semicircular bar was in the center of the room, tables all around, and an ice creamery towards the back. The spot we chose to sit though, was a front-row seat to watch the the pizza makers (pizzaioli?). Everything was ordered from the QR code on your table and someone with a smile would bring your food around shortly thereafter. Only rule was to not move once you’ve ordered 🙂
After watching them make pizza after pizza, we ordered our dinner. Guess what we had?
MMM the grease…
but also the tomatoes and the basil and fresh mozzarella…
My mouth is watering just thinking about it again.
this pizza was SO good.
The chips and queso you see in the background was not… keep this in mind for later.
The next morning, we drove 15 minutes from our Boondockers Welcome to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. We went to hike but, “When We Come Back” we DEFINITELY want to see a concert.
Completely an open -air amphitheater, we found A LOT of people working out; running the stairs, doing push-ups on them, JUMPING them….
When you think about it, why wouldn’t you want to work out here? The view was awesome and we saw people doing all kinds of exercises and classes!
(After the pizza last night, we should have been one of them)
[[ Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to show of the amphitheater because I changed my picture setting on my camera and am still trying to figure out how to upload them… classic.
Like I said, things are ALWAYS complicated. ]]
It was hot and we were pretty sweaty already from walking up and down the amphitheater, but we are STRONG and decided to do the 1.4 mile Trading Post Trail loop as well.
It wasn’t an extremely difficult hike, but it was H O T hot and I was ready to get to the next plans we had for the day…
After we got home, cooled off and ate lunch, we put on our bathing suits and headed back into the city to visit one more of my friends, Hannah.
Hannah is the friend that makes you laugh until your sides hurt, loves to talk about anything, and most importantly, cue a little tear in the eye, she’s my little sister in my sorority.
And on this day in particular even MORE importantly, Hannah, my sweet sweet friend, had a pool at her apartment building :’-)
Hannah was the perfect last person to see.
There’s something about seeing people you know
in a place you don’t know,
but they do;
We’ve shared a LOT of laughs and probably an equal amount of tears together…
At one point, she was in Australia and I was in Italy and it still didn’t feel like she was any farther than just down the street.
Like Devon M. and Brandon, I didn’t realize it had been 4 years since we’d seen each other.
I gave her a HUGE squeeze, introduced Devon to her, and practically ran to the pool.
Again, too much fun to be had, no time for pictures…
Her apartment complex closely wrapped the pool with a surrounding sidewalk lined with lounge chairs,
so you felt like a little ant looking up to the top of the building.
Absolutely lovely on the designer’s part, there was a small wading area where a few tables and chairs sat in the water.
Hannah whipped out the alcoholic ice-pops and life was complete.
A couple hours later we were on the topic of queso. You know when you start talking about something and then there’s suddenly this overwhelmingfeeling of, “if I don’t eat that right now, I might not make it”? That kicked in real quick the more she talked about it. She recommended we try the queso at the Mexican restaurant, My Neighbor Felix, just down the street from where she lived.
My Neighbor Felix, here we come.
Bubbling hot, decorated with jalapenos… mmmmm
I love queso.
We said our goodbyes to Denver and drove back home for our last night at our Boondockers Welcome.
To check out in the morning, I sent Max a text letting him know we would be ready to go in the next 20 minutes and would love to hear any last recommendations he might have had for our trip.
A few minutes later he came outside, again with a smile, and showed me some spots on his map to visit as we would make our way through Southern Colorado. As kind as could be, he even gave us a sheet he put together for all of his guests with the travel apps he most recommended. We spent another hour talking about our shared experiences.
You know me, I’ll be honest with you; the Boondockers Welcome membership had me NERVOUS…
And, of course, I’ll always use good judgment to gauge each situation,
but so far, this membership really is a nice thing. It’s an easy check-in/check-out process, you don’t have to feel pressure to spend money like you do at Harvest Hosts businesses…
Sure, a little social pressure to interact, OH GOD SOCIAL INTERACTIONS (no, really, it does be like that sometimes), but overall, no complaints.
My first impression of the Boondockers Welcome membership is a good one. We’ll be staying at another one soon, but first, Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs!
The Colo-RAD-O saga continues with lots and lots and lots of hiking pics and stories to come as well. My legs are tired, y’all.
(Okay, maybe not THAT much hiking, but it’s been a lot if you’re an average Jo(rdan) like me).
Until next time,