I was finally able to get to know Rhett’s fiancé, Haley, during our week-long stay in Colorado Springs. It felt like a vacation from a vacation staying at their home. They have spent so much time painting and updating it since they purchased it last year, and the time has paid off. We felt cozy and welcomed the entire time we were in their home. They showed us around their city, fed us delicious Gyros, taught us to play Sequence, and cooked us yummy meals – all while celebrating the upcoming arrival of their baby! Chase loved wrestling with their two dogs, Panic and Wookie. I think I finally met two individuals with more energy than Chase! We hiked a few trails while we were exploring the area, each of which made us love Colorado a little bit more. 

After an incredible week, we left Colorado Springs and headed North to Denver. The night before, we had watched Bizarre Foods: Denver with Andrew Zimmerman and he had gushed over the authentic Mexican restaurant, Chubby’s for their infamous green-chili smothered burritos. We took it as a sign that we were meant to dine at Chubby’s and sat down with hungry bellies. Now, the green chili sauce was okay, but the overall burrito experience was nothing like Mr. Zimmerman promised. The sauce tasted thick with flour and the bean burrito was salty as the sea.

Our time in Denver greatly improved after the burrito as we wandered through the art museum and the gardens that surround the capital. With our parking meter ticking away, we visited our friend Laura at Wazee and 16th to check out frames on the Warby Parker school bus. As we all know, the world is incredibly small and I had actually seen the founder of Warby Parker, Neil Blumenthal, speak at the Chicago Innovation Fair in 2012. I was able to briefly speak with him after the presentation and was motivated by his drive for the type of success which is defined by both financial and social profits. He wants to make money and he wants to do good in the world. His company, Warby Parker, designs and sells prescription glasses through their online store. For every pair that is sold, Warby Parker works with non-profits across the developing world to fit blurry-visioned individuals with proper eyewear. Warby Parker has also differentiated itself in the eyewear industry with their $95 price point – which includes both frames and lenses. Yes, you read that right, I did not miss a 3, 4, or 5 in front of the $95. The prices of eyewear have been artificially high for years, edged upward by the almost monopolistic grasp that the company Luxottica has on the industry. Luxottica manufactures almost all eyewear available on the market, then slaps one of their many brands on the frame – Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue to name a few. They also own the distribution channels –LensCrafter and Pearl Vision, as well as the insurance company EyeMed.
Warby Parker’s classic frames are well-made pieces of art that have been gracing the faces of the trendy New York crowd for years. The cross-country bus tour that is sweeping the nation promises to expand their market and ease the pocketbooks of all who step out of their comfort zone and make the switch to buying glasses online. I know it sounds strange at first, but Warby Parker makes the process as painless as possible. After entering the website, you simply select a few pairs of frames that you might like and the next thing you know they arrive at your door ready for you to try on in the comfort of your home. Warby Parker covers the shipping costs and you are under no obligation to purchase the frames  – just make sure you remember to return them. When you do find a pair that makes you look great, Warby Parker works with your eye doctor to ensure the proper prescription and fit. All of this for only $95! For a girl who has worn glasses since first grade, which were splattered with a pastel rainbow of ugly colors, paying $95 for glasses is a savings of over $200. Hopefully that didn’t sound too much like a commercial. We just had the best time trying on frames and taking pictures in the Warby Parker bus and I want you all to save money! The bus will be rolling through Uptown in Minneapolis August 9 – September 2.

Chase’s good friend from Brainerd, John, lives in Denver with his wonderful wife, Brittany. They recently purchased a home just 10 minutes from downtown Denver and they asked Chase to make a new piece of art for their new walls. We delivered the artwork and went to a local bar in the Highlands neighborhood for good beer and even better company. They opened their home to us for the night and we were honored to be the first guests to sleep in their guestroom. Knowing that such a great couple lives in Denver makes us love the city even more – we are keeping it on our short list of places to live in the future.

Early the next morning, we said goodbye to our friends and drove towards Morrison, CO to see the Red Rocks Amphitheater in all it’s geological glory. We have not yet been able to catch a concert here, but Chase did try to test the acoustics of the place with his flute, only to be told that no one can perform on the stage unless you are asked to perform. Such a setback did nothing to diminish the awe of Red Rocks and only made us want to return and witness a concert in such a magical setting.

Our next stop of the day was the city which is now on the top of our “next home” list – Boulder. We have come to the conclusion that we do not want to live in too big of a city, but we do realize that jobs are more plentiful in cities and Boulder’s population of 100,000 seems just right. We meandered down Pearl Street, wishing we had just a little more than nothing in disposable income, but were entertained by the handful of musicians, magicians, and robots that performed for audiences up and down the street. In fact, as many times as we wish we could buy some artwork or cute clothes, we know that if we had the money to buy these things, we probably wouldn’t have the time that we have to just see everything and anything we want. The rain seemed to hit all Boulder-ites with surprise and we realized how rare a heavy rainstorm is in this part of the country. One little boy seemed outraged when his parents wanted him to walk home in the “cold, wet rain!” Next, we met up with a fellow “Girl’s Weekend Out” friend, Blair, who works at a wonderfully progressive advertising agency in Boulder. She served us beers from the company bar and we caught up with one another in oversized, plush couches that are meant for employees to brainstorm in.

You would think our day might be complete, but alas we were only just beginning. After spending a few hours in Boulder we continued north to the town of Estes Park, which borders the Rocky Mountain National Park. We didn’t have a clue where we were going to sleep the night and every place we drove through was full. Finally, with the sun close to setting and the cold beginning to creep in, we found a small campsite at the end of road. Literally, the road felt like a highway until it abruptly ended at the campsite. It was approaching 9:00pm when we finally found a campsite and began to get organized. Our growling stomachs someone managed to set up the tent and get dinner started. This campsite is the first where bears have been a concern and I wasn’t taking any chances. Chase loves his late night snacks and when I saw him going in for the granola, I couldn’t help but worry that he was going to be some lucky bears snack in the middle of the night. So, he cleaned up the crumbs as best he could and we slept with bear spray next to us all night. As we climbed into our tent, we could see our breath, white and cold, and I hoped my sleeping bag would keep me warm throughout the night. This was the first night that we had actually worried about being too cold and I wasn’t ready to let the cold win. I layered on two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, two long-sleeve shirts, a fleece jacket, a hat tied tight on my head and snuggled into my sleeping bag. Since I tend to be uniquely week when it comes to cold, I did wake up shivering a few times but managed to get back to sleep quickly after cuddling up with Chase. However, he informed me this morning that all of the times I thought I was cuddling up with him, I was really pushing him off of the air mattress and onto the cold, hard ground.

This morning Chase crawled out of the tent, while I was still trying to open my eyes, and told me to get up and out of the tent fast – there was something incredible for me to see. Just behind our tent, only 5 feet from where we were standing, was the biggest, most beautiful buck deer I had ever seen. His antlers were wide, covered in velvet and he was happily munching on the grass that surrounded our campsite. After we took all the pictures we thought we could take, a doe and her two fawns emerged from the woods. We could almost touch their noses we were so close and they just kept eating grass and looking up at us if we made too much noise. Our welcome to the Rocky Mountain National Park could not have been more stunning and as we leave our campsite today, we are sad to say goodbye to our lovely deer family. 

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