Without doubt, we currently live in a polluted information environment. And sometimes that information is actually environmental.
When I left the polluted, gray, ash-infused skies of California, my good fortune prevailed as blue skies and sunshine accompanied me for several days. Intending to head to a northern Colorado dude ranch to revisit horsemanship skills first learned in Colorado back when dinosaurs roamed the planet, my luck ran out. Fires swept certain areas requiring voluntary evacuation and naturally, a last-minute plan change.
If I learned nothing else road tripping several thousand miles with Rerun, flexibility and a healthy dose of good humor were key to trip happiness.
Fortunately my 2021 Volvo XC90, dubbed Vivian Valet, was an excellent travel partner. Vivian’s all-wheel drive with instant traction and advanced electronic stability control, coupled with Rerun’s Volvo-manufactured and installed rear condo and memory foam mattress, meant the ride was so smooth and so comfortable, she usually had to be woken up to exit.
Vivian averaged a combined 22 miles per gallon. With low gas prices averaging $1.95 (outside of high tax California), the drive was economical. Given Vivian’s spaciousness, work-horse capabilities and high-tech Pilot Assist driver assistance program and blind spot information system, driving was a cinch. The 12.3-inch digital driver display, 9-inch vertical infotainment touchscreen and 14 Harman Kardon speakers made the road bliss. Volvocars.com
Spreading the love and art in Loveland
Heading away from the fires, I decided art was in order and headed to Loveland. Known for its authentic arts community, two of its treasures are outdoors, walkable and pet-friendly.
Loveland’s lesser-known Chapungu Sculpture Park, close to Loveland’s 35-foot red LOVE sculpture, spans 26 acres and hosts over 80 enormous Zimbabwean stone sculptures, many reflecting social elements. It’s the largest outdoor art center devoted to this genre in the U.S. and a marvelous place to stroll amid natural and manmade beauty.
Nearby, 170 sculptures grace Benson Sculpture Garden’s 10-acre park. Every August, a Sculpture in the Park show and sale are held, becoming the country’s largest, outdoor juried sculpture show.
Towards Boulder is Hygiene, Colo., although named for an entirely different public health peril than the current pandemic.
In the late 1870s, Reverend Jacob S. Flory, his wife and eight children moved to the area, known then as Pella. In 1881, Flory opened the 35-room Hygiene Home Sanitarium so tuberculosis sufferers could take advantage of Colorado’s clean air, high elevation and low humidity. Today it’s a cool little town great for bike riding.
Beautiful, eclectic Boulder
In Boulder I checked into centrally located Hotel Boulderado. Opened in 1909, the Victorian-style structure has both Italian Renaissance and Spanish Revival features. The historic wing has dramatic period furnishings and the pet-friendly north wing is strategically located feet from grass-curbed street. boulderado.com
Close by Pearl Street is home to several bookstores, cafés, and Rerun’s favorite shop, Farfel’s Farm & Rescue, where she got treats and a stylish new collar. Outdoor patios now line this pedestrian street housing several restaurants and the all-important Ben& Jerry’s.
With Green Mountain as its backdrop, University of Colorado’s Boulder campus is arguably one of the nation’s prettiest, though it was eerily quiet as most students were on lockdown resulting from another COVID outbreak. Rerun happily ran herself silly across its verdant grassy knolls.
Another Boulder haven is its Central Park. At one corner is the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House. Its pan-Asian décor and large, breezy patio complemented its matcha pancakes and excellent coffee. At Boulder’s small Museum of Contemporary Art, artist John Torreano’s colorful panels reflect the universe as his muse aided by Hubble Space telescope images.
Three times the size of Boulder proper, Chautauqua Park has 73 square miles of protected space. One could easily walkabout here for days. Hiking the dog-friendly, far from flat, 2.5-mile Flatirons Loop trail, Rerun fell amorously in love with a liver Dalmatian. After hiking we devoured an excellent Euro-inspired charcuterie picnic thoughtfully prepared by Cured grocery store. curedboulder.com The tuna with bok choy and tender rib-eye at Spruce Farm & Fish were perfect. And if you eat nothing else at all in Boulder, chef Mike Thom’s cheesecake and key lime pie – I devoured both – will cause you to weep with joy. spruceboulderado.com
A classy jailhouse joint in Pueblo
In Colorado Springs, the towering red rock formations of every conceivable shape at Garden of the Gods were mind-boggling. That some were actually climbing what appeared to be precarious formations perhaps even more so. Given to Colorado Springs by Charles Elliott Perkins’ children, it became a U.S. National Natural Landmark in 1971.
As a lawyer, I’ve seen jail cells before, but checking into “cell 6” at the pet-friendly Station on the Riverwalk was something else entirely. Once Pueblo’s police station and jail, the Station’s seven cells were meticulously repurposed by local artisans into a delightfully hip, uber-comfortable boutique hotel while maintaining original steel door fixtures. Here, incarceration was pleasurable. stationontheriverwalk.com
Naturally the adjacent bar is aptly called The Clink. And at Brues Alehouse downstairs, craft cocktails had names such as Hot Pursuit, Rap Sheet and Search Warrant. The lettuce-wrapped, Grand Marnier-glazed blackened shrimp tacos were divine. Bruesalehouse.com
Historically, Pueblo was known for its steel mills and relied on immigrant labor, turning the town into a western melting pot of Slovenians, Greeks, Jews, Japanese and African-Americans. Today, its beautifully illuminated, vibrant Riverwalk boasts restaurants, bars and music embracing its unique cultural past while united by Pueblo’s love of Chile.
Since Vivian Valet Volvo had so much space, I was able to load up on fiery hot sauce for my husband, Jalapeno jams and all manner of Chile for me at Pueblo’s annual Chile & Frijoles Festival.
Next up: A food frenzy in Santa Fe, N.M. and the walkable charm of Austin, Texas.
Julie L. Kessler is a journalist, attorney and legal columnist and the author of the award-winning travel memoir “Fifty-Fifty: The Clarity of Hindsight.” She can be reached at vagabondlawyer.com. Some vendors hosted the writer, however content was not reviewed by them prior to publication and is solely the writer’s opinion.