Boulder, CO

Trip Start Jun 29, 2007
Trip End Jul 15, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Boulder...Where alpacas shed their fur (hair?) for all imaginable clothing items, where crystals find ready believers, and where all good hippies come to die.  Yes, granola is a guaranteed item on any menu in town, and more often than not you will see a pair of bare feet strolling down the street next to mud-crusted hiking boots.  Dreadlocks are haute couture (especially when paired with an organic alpaca shirt) and the smell of patchouli wafts from one store to the next.  We found that the laidback atmosphere ("sweet, man") of the hippie culture provided a refreshing counterpoint to the overeager outdoors enthusiasts ("so I biked, like, seventeen wicked trails today") that accounted for the other 50% of Boulder's indigenous and tourist populations.
We stayed at the Bradley Boulder Inn-highly recommended and a prime location for people-watching or shopping on Pearl Street.  Our friendly (and of course laidback) hostess provided us with some excellent recommendations that were a perfect composition for a day in Boulder.  We pass these on to you as tried and true adventures.
Adventure #1:  If you're the adventurous type, hike along Canyon Avenue to Boulder Falls.  For the not-quite-as-adventurous, drive along Canyon Avenue to Boulder Falls.  Just a short hike off of the road, you'll find Boulder Creek dashing over a plummet of thirty feet to continue careening toward town.  Two notes about this. 
First note:  I write "short hike", and really it could count as an easy walk.  I did see an eighty-year-old grandmother being directed along the path by her tourguide son ("Step there, mom.  The stone is level.").  However, it's impossible to avoid reading the numerous warnings of death posted along the path.  Rock climbers have died.  Waders have died.  People wandering ever so slightly off the path have died.  In fact, to quote one sign, "Waders are rarely given a second chance."  And if these doomsday admonitions weren't dire enough, someone felt the need to post actual newspaper articles detailing climbing deaths in recent months.  While I gratefully eavesdropped on and followed the octogenarian tourist's path, I noticed a pack of Asian kids splashing (dare I say, wading?) in a pool just feet from the thundering rapids.
Second note: When I wrote that Boulder creek is "careening toward town" the word careening popped into my head the second I saw Boulder creek.  The word was invented, I'm sure, by someone observing this creek.  The water seems to be headstrong and purposeful-at once playfully picking its way among the boulders and then dashing itself suicidally against the rocks.  Just watching the water is to experience the brutal force and beauty of nature.  I would suggest experiencing the creek firsthand nearer to town where the water has exhausted some of its exuberant energy and consents to tamer swirls and smaller rapids.  To find the spot, follow the throngs of half-clad people tugging enormous black intertubes toward the water.  Note to self: when returning to Boulder in 90-degree heat, pack a swimsuit and the intertube.
Adventure #2: Chatauqua Park.  One of the amazing things about Boulder is that it is a town built to enjoy the wild.  Within minutes of walking, running, or driving out of the attractive main streets of town, the willing adventurist can find enjoyment to his or her heart's content.  While we opted for the car-option of seeing the Flatiron peaks around Boulder (please note the 95-degree weather and forgive our un-adventurous decision), the park itself seems to offer breathtaking open hikes.  Don't miss this area whether on foot or wheels.
Adventure #3: Stroll down Pearl Street as temperatures cool.  This is where you will find the crystals, alpaca furs (hairs?), and natural perfume stores sharing space with the hiking, camping, and biking gear stores.  Many great restaurants litter the blocks just off of the pedestrian-only area, so don't be afraid to keep wandering.  Our favorite sight on Pearl Street?  The grungy homeless man wearing an eye patch, a black three-cornered hat, and bearing a sign reading: "Ship Sunk". 
Adventure #4: The Dushanbe Tea House.  Boulder's sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan (bonus points for any geography buffs who can immediately point out that country) has erected a bona-fide tea house in the middle of Boulder.  The intricately patterned and vibrantly colored walls inside the house are interesting enough, but when the slow-moving, speech-slurring ("sweet, man") waitress plops the tea menu in front of you, the really interesting part begins.  Choosing a great wine from an extensive wine menu is difficult enough.  Now translate those same descriptions (nutty, with a maple-finish) to loose leaves sitting in hot water.  Not the easiest choice, but one worth forcing yourself to make.  (James went for the, of course, Earl Grey.  I can personally vouch for the House Green tea.  Just don't sniff the loose leaves-boiled spinach.)
Next Stop: Rio Grande National Forest
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