Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Our Colorado Adventure, Day Three: Fort Collins

This week's travel post is a continuation of a series of our May adventure to Colorado.  If you missed any of the posts, you can catch up by just scrolling in the Blog Archive of my side bar and clicking on the Colorado Adventure titles.  If you need to start from the very beginning, go HERE.

Our third day in Colorado was a very relaxing, almost uneventful one (at least until the end of day, which will be explained at the end of this post).  But, we needed a more relaxing day after spending the day hiking in the snow and cold in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Probably one of my most favorite things about visiting Colorado is that you really don't have to go anywhere to see nature's beauty.  It is everywhere!  I swear, there isn't a spot anywhere in this state that isn't absolutely gorgeous (well, except for the Nebraska side.  JK!  Nebraska has it's own unique beauty).  All the roads, even the major highways, have gorgeous mountain views.  I wanted to stop every twenty feet just to take a picture, but if I did that we would never get anywhere.

But we did stop on this road between Estes Park and Ft. Collins.  This gorgeous river was just too tempting.

 When planning my trip I included Ft. Collins as one of our stops because my niece recommended shopping in downtown Ft. Collins and visiting Horsetooth Reservoir.   We never made it to the Reservoir because I think we were both ready for just a day in a city and didn't care to spend anymore time on hiking trails.  We love nature, hiking, and visiting National and State Parks while on vacations, but we also always enjoy visiting cities and quaint small towns;  so we try to combine a little bit of both on our vacations.

I had read about Ft. Collins Old Town Square and I was very excited to see all the historic buildings.  However, when we got there the entire square was under construction.  I was so disappointed I could have cried because this was the entire reason I came to Ft. Collins in the first place…to see the square.  The stores and restaurants were all still open, but the streets and sidewalks were all torn up and filled with construction workers making deafening noises with their equipment.  It was not the environment I was expecting.

They had signs and pictures up explaining the project they were doing, and what it would like when they were done.  They are renovating the entire square, and the finished project in the pictures looked beautiful, but it won't be finished to fall.

Because of the construction, I took few pictures of Ft. Collins.  And unfortunately, the few pictures I do have are not the best quality because I left my DSLR camera in the car.  Neither one of us wanted to carry it all day, so I  only had my IPhone with me.

Although the town square was all torn up, the rest of downtown Ft. Collins was not.  It's actually a very impressive downtown.  There is a university nearby, which always helps increase downtown traffic in my opinion.  And there are a lot of interesting shops and restaurants, not just your usual over-priced touristy shops that most downtowns have.

One of our favorite shops was Mary's Mountain Cookies.  This is the cutest cookie shop ever!  And very popular too by the number of people coming in to buy cookies.  They sell HUGE cookies (I don't even want to think about how many calories are in one cookie) and every flavor you can imagine.
 My husband and I each chose a turtle cookie.  It costs over $3.00 for one cookie, but it was worth it!
 I love street murals, and Ft. Collins had a couple of real nice ones.  They also had painted upright pianos scattered about the city.  Each piano was painted in a different design.  It was fun seeing all the different ways they could paint a piano.
If I learned anything on this trip, it was that the zoom lens on my IPhone doesn't work very well.  The pictures turned out very grainy.  But I wanted to share them with you anyway so you could see some of the historic buildings. 

 This is a famous old advertisement from 1958 that the city restored.  They call it a ghost sign, you can read more about that HERE if your interested..
 My favorite mural in Ft. Collins was this Jazz mural.  It was fun recognizing all the famous musicians.  I love the color in this mural.

The city of Ft. Collins is filled with beautiful paved streets and gorgeous planters.
 After walking around downtown for awhile, we then got back in the car to check out their city park.  There were many lovely homes in the neighborhood.  Pictured below are two of my favorites.

 There wasn't much to see at the city park, it was just lawns and playground equipment with a small body of water that the ducks gathered around.  We sat at a picnic table and watched the ducks for awhile, then we got out our map and started to search for what else might be of interest in the area.

I always love to visit botanical gardens when we travel, so I googled botanical gardens and discovered there was one only a few miles from where we were.  So we hopped back in the car to check it out.  But we ended up driving around in circles and couldn't find the place for anything.  Finally I used the google maps app on my IPhone (my husband hates taking directions from 'The Lady' (what we call the voice on the phone) so we only use this app as a last resort.) and she took us to the city arboretum, which was just a place where they store the city's trees before they are ready to be planted.  We were getting very frustrated.  Eventually, we found the right name and location of the gardens we were looking for, and 'The Lady' took us right there with no more incidents.  Ah yes, finding away around while traveling can be challenging!

"The Gardens on Spring Creek" is a small community botanic garden, but it is really worth a stop if your ever in Ft. Collins, and especially if you have small children for they have the cutest children's garden I have seen.  There is no fee to get into this attraction, it is by donation only.

Our first stop once inside was the children's garden.  Oh, what a fun place this was!  We loved the giant sprinkling can that you had to pump to get water out of.

Once the water came out of the spout, you could watch it move in all these pretty swirling directions on this concrete block.
 The children's garden is filled with stops to explore and learn, and lots of fun buildings, but also pretty flowers like these white iris to keep the adults interested.

 I loved the beautiful blooms of this purple onion.
 One of the cutest attractions in the children's garden was the outdoor train set.  The miniature plants they used for landscaping was so pretty!  We loved watching the train and ski lift too!

 We stopped briefly to sit awhile and just enjoy the beautiful, warm weather and sun.  After being in 'winter weather' up in the Rocky Mountains only yesterday, to experience almost eighty degree weather and sunshine the next day was mind-boggling!

As we were soaking up the sun, my husband and I started to notice a wonderful scent perfuming the air.  We then realized we were seated to a cluster of lilac bushes!  Ah!  Heaven!
 There was this cute little statue of Gandi in the children's area. I wonder if it's life-size?  He would have been a very small man if it was considering my husband is 5'10.
 The Gardens on Spring Creek contain a Visitor's Center which houses a gift shop, indoor classroom, and a greenhouse, an Outdoor Teaching Kitchen (boy, would I love to have that kitchen on my patio!), a Timber frame Outdoor Classroom (pictured above with Gandi), a demonstration garden, a sustainable backyard exhibit, a "Garden of Eatin'", a rock garden, community gardens, and a wetland demonstration.   That's quite an impressive list considering what a small botanical gardens this place is.  But everything was very well done and very well taken care of.

After visiting the Children's Garden, and briefly walking through the outdoor kitchen and 'Garden of Eaten', we headed for my favorite garden:  The Rock Garden.

To get there you have to cross a bridge over Spring Creek, but you get to say 'Hi!' to the geese first.

I love rock gardens and although I have a lot of retaining walls on my own property, I don't have anything I could call an official rock garden.  I have many slopes in my yard which would be perfect for turning into rock gardens with a  dry river bed.  I would love to do that someday, but it would be a lot of back breaking work unless I hire a landscaper.

The rock gardens at Spring Creek were gorgeous, absolute perfection!  They showcased all the  perennials and evergreens that enjoy the rocky mountain climate. 

Hens and Chicks mixed with flowering ground covers.

 Beautiful paved walkways meander amongst the rocky plantations.
 The view surrounding the rock garden.  The bridge over the creek is the one we walked over to get to the rock garden.
When we were done touring the rock garden, we decided to find our hotel and check in before dinner.  We saw a local steak house was right next to our hotel, so we were able to walk there and eat.  The Charco Broiler is one of those dated, run-down old restaurants that doesn't have much for ambiance, but the food is second to none!  This place is a local favorite and is known for it's great steaks.  My husband and I both ordered ground sirloin, and it was absolutely delicious.  We wanted to try one of their home made pies too, but we were just too full.

After dinner, we wanted to walk a bit to work off our meal so we decided to head back downtown to hike the river walk.  And that was where our adventure began!  You see, due to all the spring rain, most of Colorado was experiencing flooding issues.  We started to hike the Poudre trail but it was partially closed because the river over flooded the trail.  So we turned around and hiked the opposite direction.

 It was a beautiful city trail that hugged the river and the back side of downtown Ft. Collins.  We stopped briefly along several points to look at the rushing water, and also to watch some amazing kids do their stunts on skate boards and street bikes at a skate board park.  I could have sat and watched them all night if comfortable viewing seating was available!  But eventually, we kept walking until we realized how long this trail was and how late it was getting.  So, we decided to walk across a bridge and take a short cut through a heavily wooded and isolated park instead of turning around and going back in the direction we came.

Well, it was starting to get a little dark (at least it appeared so in the woods), and all the homeless people were starting to enter the park to bed down for the night.  There were a few by a public outhouse, and some even started fires and were camping by the river.  I was starting to get a bit on edge and began to wonder if this short cut was such a good idea.  I suggested we turn back, but my husband said that he was sure there was another bridge we could cross over not that far up ahead.

Well, he was right, there was another bridge but it was for trains only.  I wanted to turn back, but I was afraid of walking through the park in the dark again, so he pressured me to walk across the bridge.  Now besides being a train bridge and having to worry about a train coming any moment and running us over, the only thing to walk on was the train tracks themselves or these planks on either side of the track that had one foot openings to the raging river below.  To say I was terrified would be an understatement.  I walked behind my husband as fast as I could saying "Go faster, go faster" over and over again.  I don't know what I was afraid of more, being hit by a train or falling into the river below.

Well, we eventually crossed to the other side of the river but now guess what?  The area surrounding the tracks was fenced in so we couldn't get back down.  My husband found an opening through the fence that the locals must have cut.  So now in addition to climbing up a hill to get to the tracks, illegally walking across a train bridge,  I was now crawling through a hole in a fence.  I felt like such a hooligan.  This was way too much of an adventure for a fifty two year old.  But, when it was all over, I loved it.  And I knew I would have quite the story to tell.

 The train bridge above the flooded river.

After we got back onto the trail on the other side of the flooded river, it was just a short hike to our car.  I had enough adventure for one day, and I definitely worked off my dinner meal, so I was now ready for a good night's sleep.

Tomorrow Golden, Colorado!

Until next week's travel post,

Have a great day!  Amy


  1. Looks like a great adventure, beautiful pictures thanks for sharing :)

  2. Colorado is just gorgeous!
    And turtle cookies- YUM!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  3. Colorado is just gorgeous!
    And turtle cookies- YUM!

    Le Stylo Rouge


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