How do we love thee, Colorado? Let us count the ways…Sunsets over mountain peaks, pints on patios, camping under brilliant skies. This feisty minx of a state has wooed many, and we couldn’t help but gush over life a mile high in pure purple prose. Here, our romance novelettes pay homage to our one and only, our Colorado.
1. 4th of July
Jill had never been one for nationalistic aggrandizement. In fact, she considered herself something of a turncoat. But once a year, on the fourth day of the seventh month, Jill had a love affair with Uncle Sam. To her, the Fourth of July was a masterful seducer. The fireworks would begin and she would feel patriotism exploding around her. She loved it…and the barbecues and potato salad and children playing with fire and, yes, even the excessive use of the national anthem and Yankee Doodle Dandy. She loved it all. When the band played, Jill couldn’t help but smile, thinking to herself, “God Bless America.”
2. Shopping in air-conditioned malls: flatironcrossing.com
3. Renaissance Fest: dates vary; coloradorenaissance.com
5. Aspen and the Maroon Bells
6. Gambling Towns: coloradocasinos.net
7. Art fairs
9. People watching
10. Going greener: Check out YS’s July issue
11. Monolith Festival: Sept. 12–13; Follow @MonolithFest on Twitter for updates
12. Life on the fringe: Fringe Fest; Aug. 12–23
13. The rise of urban chickens
15. Off the Map
The Best in Tent Camping: Colorado; amazon.com, $14.95
Ever since Mike had left her for Rebecca, Stephanie knew she needed to get out of Dodge. Colorado—wild and wooly with brawny terrain and miles of rugged beauty—would do her body oh-so good. She packed a tent and her hiking boots and left her maps at home, following only her raw instincts. As she pulled up to a campsite next to a dancing river, she noticed a mannish figure building a fire. “Oh,” Stephanie thought, “I think I’ll be warm tonight.”
16. Motorcycle rides: lets-ride.com
17. Denver Oyster Urban Adventure Race: Aug. 15; oysterracingseries.com
18. Ride the Rockies: June 14-19; see listing
19. Rodeos: Nothing says summer in Colorado like Wranglers and the smell of manure
20. Red Rocks: see listings for shows; redrocksonline.com
22. Planet Bluegrass:bluegrass.com; see RockyGrass, Folks Fest and Telluride Bluegrass in listings.
23. Great Divide: See the Great Divide entry on Wikipedia
24. It’s fun to stay at the YMCA: ymca.net
25. Mile High Music Festival
July 18 & 19
The hot air encircles our tired bodies as we move to the surging melodies and the thumping beats. We are exhausted from hours of dancing in the sunlight—a day of nothing but music and heat—and weaving from stage to stage. We keep on going, though; we have been romanced by the instruments and the bands and amplified voices and we cannot stop now. Paolo Nutini. Ben Harper. Gogol Bordello. 3OH!3. No rest for the weary when music is your muse.
26. Water Sports: Boulder Reservoir
Faun nervously tugged her life vest until the straps were taut. She had spent most of her life on shore, metaphorically and literally speaking, but just this once she wanted to get wet, to jump in. The cold lake welcomed her and she was at once comfortable in its deep embrace. The boat driver, a chiseled young man with a captain’s hat, hollered to her, “Are you ready?” She prepared herself. “Oh son, you have no idea.”
27. Sharing the Road
The bicycle safety bill will go into effect Aug. 5; bicyclecolo.org
Kirsten never thought she could date a man who wore Spandex or spent his lunch hour pedaling through the roads of East County. But Kirsten had to admit that Gustoff made Spandex look good. Any road he’s on she wouldn’t mind sharing.
28. Whitewater Rafting
“Go, go, go,” the guide screams over the thunder of rapids. John does—he digs his oar in the water with all his power. He feels like a rag doll in a washing machine; it’s a frenzy of arms and oars and water merging together in a violent dance. “GOooooo,” the guide howls. Then, everything goes out of control—and John feels his body tossed over, being sucked into a mosh pit of water and rock. In the chaos, something touches his hand and he grabs hold; he clings to the rope as he’s pulled out of the soup. When the boat is in calm water, John soon realizes who’s on the other end of the rope: an athletic-looking redhead. Now, it’s his heart that’s going rapid.
29. Denver Zoo
Mary felt Erik slip his well-muscled arm around her waist as they stood gazing at the lions in their enclosure at the Denver Zoo. The male shook his golden mane and yawned languorously as his lioness arched her back affectionately against him. “You know,” Erik whispered into Mary’s ear, “you and me, baby, ain’t nothing but mammals…”
30. Air conditioning is a luxury, not a necessity
31. Because the Flatirons only get prettier in the summer
32. Dogs: A Coloradan without a dog is practically a Texan; coloradodogparks.com
33. Riverwalks and creek paths
34. Blues/jazz festivals: Evergreen Jazz Festival, July 24–26, evergreenjazz.org; Fort Collins
Jazz experience, July 9–11, beetstreet.org/jazz; Telluride Blues & Brews, Sept. 18–20, tellurideblues.com
35. Wildflowers: crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com
36. Elitch’s: elitchgardens.com
37. Chautauqua: chautauqua.com
Jennie sighed and leaned against the cool wood of the bar. She adjusted her Cubs cap, well aware that it was probably the main reason she was given such a wide berth in the sea of purple and white. It was less than an hour to the first pitch and she was alone again—alone, even in the noise, the heat, the mass of fans pressed into the bar. She grabbed her beer for a cool sip, wishing for a glimpse of red, a hint that she might find someone here to share the game with.
39. Regatta Sailing
Dillon Open: dillonopen.com
Muffy lay prone on the deck of Tad’s vessel, glad for the warmth of the sun against the strong breeze pushing them across the open water. Today was just a leisurely jaunt, but as she watched Tad’s strong, tanned arms working to keep the broad sails taught, she knew his thoughts were weeks away, at the Dillon Open. At more than 9,000 feet, it was the highest regatta in the world. She adjusted her sunglasses with a sigh. Highest, fastest, richest, boldest; Tad only ever wanted
40. Perfect Skateboard Weather
Trinidad Skate Park: trinidadco.com
Brock knew he was about to slam when he tweaked his board in the middle of a 180 frontside ollie. He smacked the ground hard to the sound of laughter. Grimacing as he stood, he tried to identify the source of the sound when he saw her: the light glinted off her slick as she screamed from ramp, to funbox, to rails, executing a phat handplant before jumping a two kink rail to finish. Before he could even catch his breath, Brock was in love.
Mount Lindsey was one peak Dave wouldn’t mind climbing. In fact, he had summitted all of Colorado’s 14ers—but her. He had tried before, countless times, but circumstances were never right. She had become his unicorn. Lindsey was a tall figure, beautiful as a picture and not easy, but he was ready. This summer, he was going to approach Mount Lindsey smoothly and mightily, and conquer her.
Clothes: Jenny is wearing The North Face Mira Vapor Wick tank top, The North Face Paramount capris, a Prana chalk bag and a Meteor helmet. Will is wearing an REI Sahara Tech Tee, an Arc’Teryx chalk bag and a Black Diamond Half Dome helmet.
42. You’re Closer to the Stars
It was under the stars when Zack loved her most. It was a ceiling of pure, luxurious black painted with sparkling diamonds—only found far from city lights and highway stretches—that made her more radiant, more vibrant, more everything. Zack would always love her, but he loved her most under the stars.
43. Live music: The guy who plays Jack Johnson around the campfire always gets the girl
44. Spelunking: coloradocaving.com
45. La Piazza dell’Arte, Italian chalk art festival: larimerarts.org
46. Balloon Festivals: blastvalve.com
47. Cool mornings and afternoon showers
48. Vitamin D
49. Cruiser rides: denvercruisers.com
51. Wildlife: coloradowildlife.org
52. Mile High Flea Market: milehighfleamarket.com
53. The college kids go home!!!
With patios like these, who needs things like ceilings or walls? Truly, patios are our raison d’etre come summer. Check out these al fresco destinations…and don’t forget the sunscreen.
54. O’s Restaurant
Westin, 10600 Westminster Blvd., Westminster. 303.410.5000
The sun set hours ago, and it’s chilly. The server brings the cigars, Scotch and a flute of champagne. “What are you celebrating?” she asks. We look at each other, not really knowing what to say. “Friday?” we suggest. On the other end of the fire, a family makes s’mores, and they offer me one. I sit back in the Adirondack chair and take a puff of the cigar. The small lake glistens with the reflections of nearby neon lights, and couples stroll across a boardwalk. This patio is a destination—something not really on the way or not necessarily nearby, but something worthy of a trip. Take your time, pick your poison (cigars or s’mores) and find something to celebrate.
55. Chautauqua Dining Hall
900 Baseline Rd., Boulder, 303.440.3776
I think for a second, is this being staged? A light breeze whips through the deck, lovingly playing with anything not weighted down. Birds chirp. Flowers bloom. Sun shines. Mountains disappear to the north. A family basks in the afternoon beauty: the father breaks out a guitar and begins to serenade his wife and child, their dogs dance, friends join in. Though I am not near enough to hear, I guess it’s “Sweet Baby James.” What else would it be? The scene is farcically picturesque—charming to the point of ridiculousness. I’m tempted to pinch myself, but if this is a dream, I hope to sleep forever.
56. The Rib House
1920 S. Coffman St.,
It’s lunch and spring has just punched me in the face. A bit of hay fever tugs at my nose as we settle in on The Rib House’s patio. The kitschy homes of Longmont’s Prospect give the ambience a funky yet suburban feel. And it’s likely not a view you’ll find from most barbecue joints: a beautiful Victorian replica across the street with a dog digging in the manicured front yard; a line of European-inspired row houses; and a glimpse of the Flatirons basking in the sunshine. The patio is not overly crowded—large groups of what seem to be entire offices take up multiple tables, and families or couples fill a few others. The barbecue arrives, delivered by a friendly server: mine a pile of meat, juicy and tender, spicy sauce on the side; my friend’s a pork sandwich and a side of fried okra. The Rib House’s patio is solid—but it’s made deluxe by the food. Barbecue is best enjoyed outside in the summer and with good people.
57. Martini’s Bistro
543 Terry St.,
“It’s a good day for a patio,” an older man, clean cut and lean, says as he and his date settle down in the next table. We all nod our heads, and look around, soaking in the subtle perfection of the day. Martini’s is to patios what Blackberries are to phones. It’s just a step ahead of the crowd—not overtly grandiose but lovely and filled with amenities. It’s less of a seasonal feature and more of a main attraction at this Longmont home-turned-restaurant-and-martini-stop. All romancing aside, it’s just a beautiful place, and, yes, when it’s a good day for a patio, this is the kind of patio that pulls one in. It’s an attraction and people driving by look at us jealously. And we look back, gloating.
58. Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant
1101 Walnut St.
The wind is blowing. Not just a light breeze to lift our hair off our shoulders, but rolling gusts that send napkins flying and cause large objects on wheels to hurtle toward us. Still, life and lunch on Rio’s rooftop patio is not all airborne chips and splattered salsa. In fact, the wind is only a freckle on Rio’s smooth complexion. Our late lunch is served quickly, and nearby tables fill with young men playing hooky from work, drinking margaritas. The view is not perfect—buildings block the looming Flatirons—but it still offers golden glimpses of Boulder and some mountains views. For those who could lounge for hours, having long talks about life, love and what not, sipping Mexican beer or, even better, margs, this patio will leave you satisfied, floating on a cloud of tequila…and possibly windblown.
59. Harvest Festivals
palisadepeachfest.com, strawberrydaysfestival.com, olathesweetcornfest.com
He watched the sweet juices dripping from her ruby lips, glistening on her chin as she gorged herself on the bounty of nature and wondered if there were anything more beautiful than the sight of a ripe Palisade peach, warm from the sun, pressed to his lover’s lips. His breathing rapid and shallow, he quickly booked hotel rooms for the Palisade Peach Festival, Glenwood Springs Strawberry Days and the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival. Who knew harvest festivals could be this tantalizing?
Clothes: Jenny is wearing a Horny Toad Mali dress. Will is wearing a Columbia Sport Destination shirt and REI Sahara Convertable shorts.
60. South Fork Logger Days Festival: July 18–19; see listing
61. Cattlemen’s Days: July 10–19; see listing
62. Colorado State Gold Panning Championships: July 31–Aug. 02; see listing
63. Greeley Stampede: June 25–July 5; see listing
64. Leadville Boom Day: Aug. 7–9; see listing
65. Capital Hill People’s Fair: June 6–7; see listing
66. Appreciating the automobile before fuel-efficiency standards: carshownews.com
67. Colorado Shakespeare Festival: July 1–Aug. 15
68. Colorado State Fair: Aug. 28–Sept. 7; see listing
69. Hot Springs
The gentle babble of the bubbling water soothed Julie’s frayed nerves. She sighed and closed her eyes as she sunk deeper into the calming pulse of the hot spring. This was exactly what she needed: a few hours of relaxation to forget all about her troubled past. A splash nearby caused her to gasp, and her eyelids fluttered open as a deep voice asked, “May I join you?”
Kyle checked his rib eye on the grill. The steak was almost ready; Sally’s veggie burger was as good as it was going to get. “I don’t understand how anyone can deny their carnivore urges,” he says. She smiled, exposing a pair of perfect dimples. “Oh, don’t even talk about my urges,” she replied. The air smelled of fresh cut grass and the comfortable, quieting scent of smoke, mesquite and well-cooked beef. He happily pulled his rib eye off the grill, almost forgetting her puny Boca. “Sure you don’t want some of this?”
71. Drinking at Altitude
She had been warned, but Shana was never one to heed warnings unnecessarily. “One drink at altitude is like three at sea level,” her friends had told her, but it hadn’t stopped her ordering her usual cosmos at the bar. It wasn’t until she almost fell into the bonfire on the patio at the Ritz Carlton—and instead fell into the arms of a concerned-looking waiter named Rico—that Shana thought at least her tab would be lighter…
72. Steamboat Wine Festival: July 30–Aug. 2; see listing
74. Calling in sick to play golf: golfcolorado.com
75. Sports are better accompanied by hot dogs, beer and sun shine: See listing for Rockies’ schedule; colorado.rockies.mlb.com
76. Tour de Fat: newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat
77. Stanley Hotel: stanleyhotel.com
78. Gold mines
79. Scenic and historic byways: coloradobyways.org
80. Royal Gorge: royalgorgebridge.com
81. World-Class Museums
Jim moved the charcoal across his paper in broad strokes with practiced ease, the effortless beauty of a female nude emerging on the page as he sketched the classical sculpture before him. He worked quickly, taking advantage of every second; as a truly starving artist, he could only afford to come to the Denver Art Museum on the free nights. But she wasn’t moving him, that cold beauty. He knew his heart yearned for a new muse, but he knew not where to find one. “That’s very good,” a soft voice said from over his shoulder, and Jim turned to see his prayers had been answered.
82. Water World
Shavonne didn’t realize that her top was gone until boys began to stare. She looked down and began to panic. Frantically diving into the water, she searched for the pink bikini. There were legs and toes and arms, but no top. But then a hand grabbed her shoulder and pulled her out of the water so fast she at first didn’t notice the feeling of warm, dry towel wrapped around her and the thick, tanned arms that were guiding her out of the pool.
I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You…
Your guide to North Metro’s screamingly good ice cream shops.
86. Powell’s Sweet Shoppe
1200 Pearl St., Boulder
July of 2007 found me on the Pearl Street Mall, outside the Boulder Bookstore with throngs of people dressed in wizards’ robes for the release of the seventh Harry Potter book. Whiling away the hours until midnight, we wandered into Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, at which point I turned to my husband and squealed, “It’s just like Honeyduke’s!” Aside from the penny candy and the flat-screen TV that constantly plays the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, our favorite thing about Powell’s is the gelato counter. Each diminutive scoop comes served in a brightly colored bowl with a tiny plastic spoon and a Pirouette cookie. If there’s anything more perfect than that, I don’t know what it is.
83.Paulie’s Italian Ice
906 Main St., Louisville
Conveniently located in Louisville’s adorable Old Town, the best thing about Paulie’s (apart from the frozen desserts, of course) is the wall of photos. Two entire walls of the little shop are plastered with photographs of happy people (mostly kids) enjoying a frozen treat. The Italian ices are like the love child of a slurpee and a snow cone—but so much better. We tried the lime and cherry, with flavors so intense it was like eating straight frozen fruit. Perfect for the lactose-averse crowd. And the gelatos are creamy and smooth, with a gloriously indulgent taste and silky feel, despite being lower in fat than traditional ice cream. Try the tiramisu or any of the other flavors, all lovingly made by Chris in her laboritorio.
85. Glacier Homemade Ice Cream
Locations along the Front Range
Glacier Ice Cream shops are the ice cream of the crop. Between the ice cream, gelato, sorbet and low-fat yogurts, Glacier offers nearly 250 flavors of tasty frozen goodness. Each store carries up to 80 varieties at a time. Why settle for 31 when you could have 80? But don’t think their menu stops at scoops; milkshakes, malts, hot fudge sundaes, banana splits, root beer floats and customized ice cream cakes, more than 20 smoothies including 10 non-dairy, Amante Coffee & Espresso, Tea Spot teas, and Chocolove chocolate bars. That’s a whole lotta summer lovin’. Ask for a taste of anything and your friendly server is happy to oblige.
84. Mickey C’s Bagels
637 S. Broadway, Boulder
This cute and kitschy bagel shop might seem an unlikely place for indulgent ice cream treats, but Mickey C’s is one of the several locations around town selling all-natural Boulder Ice Cream, made right here at the foot of the Flatirons. We swooned over the Kahlua White Chocolate and the Mocha Chocolate Chip, but Boulder Ice Cream makes more than 100 fun flavors including unique tastes like Pearl Street Malt, Mexican Chocolate and Jack Daniels. Check bouldericecream.com for more locations, or pick up a pint at your local Whole Foods or Safeway.
88. Resorts in the off-season: resortsandlodges.com
89. Sunshine: weather.noaa.gov
90. Because getting a little tipsy for free is pretty sweet: tasting rooms
91. Taste of Colorado
92. Eating local: 100-mile diet
93. Farmer’s Markets: coloradofarmers.org
94. Colorado lamb: hihosheep.com
95. Rocky Mountain National Park…because who doesn’t love moose? rmnp.com
96. Trail Ridge Road: rmnp.com
Michael was on pace. His legs were in good shape and his form felt prime. He had just passed a group of runners when he noticed someone on his heels. He upped his pace—his long, toned legs stretching further and further. He could hear the runner’s steps hasten too. He went faster and faster until his breath got heavy and his heart raced. He moved to the side and slowed. Like a filly taking the lead at the Kentucky Derby, a petite figure passed. She looked over her shoulder and gave Michael a smile. “Nice kick,” he heard her say as she pushed forward.
Clothes: Jenny is wearing Danskin Triathlon shorts and a Danskin Triathlon tank. Will is wearing an REI OXT Tech shirt and REI OXT Agility shorts.
98. Grass Volleyball Tournaments
Aspen’s Motherlode Tournament; motherlodevolleyball.com
Greg had a great serve and good hands. Alexis watched as he leaped and punched the ball with all his strength. She had always appreciated volleyball players—tall, tan and broad-shouldered—and loved how the good ones seemed to dance, their movements so precise and poetic. Greg dove, pancaking his hand between the ball and the ground, and leaped up just in time to hit his partner’s set to an open spot cross court. Wow, Alexis thought, this guy rips.
99. Tourist Traps
a la casabonitadenver.com
Shane couldn’t help but watch her, the beautiful cliff diver on the afternoon shift, but what would a graceful artist like her ever see in a guy in a monkey suit?