Colorado was never on my proverbial radar. I never felt drawn to it, never had any real interest in it, never saw it as anything other than a state to drive through. The only reason I actually planned a stop in Denver was because one of my good college friends (Jeff) lives there. And thank goodness he does or I would have missed out!
Rather than simply zooming through the state as soon as I woke up (in Trinidad, CO, in honor of my friend Vanessa who is from the country Trinidad and who now informs me that the city I stayed in is the sex change capitol of the world – interesting), I knew I needed to find something to do on my way to Denver so I didn’t arrive too early. My aunt Judy had mentioned the Garden of the Gods, and Colorado Springs was directly in my path, so that seemed like a good stop. Then I found out you can actually go horseback riding in the Garden of the Gods – yes!
I haven’t been riding in at least 10 years. My best friend from when I was young got me into horseback riding in middle school. Horses were and are Melissa’s absolute passion – I couldn’t be more thrilled that she grew up to live her dream and now is happily married with a beautiful family and her own barn in Connecticut where she boards horses and gives lessons. It’s so awesome to see someone actually follow their dream and make it happen! Anyway, it felt so good to be back on a horse – it’s one of those things you don’t realize how much you miss until you do it again. And yes, it gave me another reason to put my cowboy boots on!
I was lucky that I showed up at the Academy Riding Stables in Colorado Springs on a slow afternoon – I got a private ride with Katie as my guide. Everyone at the stables is great, very friendly and helpful. And Katie is a fabulous guide; we had a great talk as we made our way through the Garden and I learned so much about the 1,400 acre park, the legends of the rock formations and the Ute Indians. Of course, I took pictures along the way – not easy on horseback, but certainly easier than trying to do it while driving!
I was exhilerated from the ride and the beautiful scenery all around me, and excited to see Jeff. From the moment I got there, it was like we were back at Dean and not a moment had gone by. We talked about old times with our friends Alicia and Tom, our lives today and everything inbetween. He has a great family, a wife who I know I’d be friends with if I lived here and funny, friendly sons. They love Colorado for so many reasons from the atmosphere and people to the sports and music scenes (which are both big out here). He’s really making the most of life and is another who likes to make things happen like his latest venture into the ticket agency world with www.skyboxtickets.com – use it if you need to see a show or go to a game!
The day ended with hockey practice (Jeff’s son’s team, which he coaches) at Denver University, followed by steak at John Elway’s restaurant – and my first taste of Buffalo. Jeff insists it’s way healthier than steak. It is good, but can’t say it will replace prime rib as my favorite. I also can’t help but picture all the Buffalo grazing on the prairie throughout the old, wild west…