Running from the Law: Anniversary Trip - Denver & Vail

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Anniversary Trip - Denver & Vail

Last month Ryan and I celebrated our one year anniversary by taking a little weekend trip to Vail.  I'd never been to Vail and we were absolutely craving the mountains.  Ideally we would have loved to go back to Jackson Hole where we got married, but that's quite a trip and hard to do with only a few days.  Colorado is much closer, easier and still gorgeous.  They've got mountains there too, so we were fine!

We left STL on a Thursday afternoon and got into Denver a little behind schedule due to a storm in the area.  We had plans to meet up with Ann (Alice's sister) and her husband Ed for drinks before dinner and we were cutting it close on time.  Upon arrival we immediately went to the rental car place to pick up our SUV, only to find out that Priceline had booked us on June 8th instead of July 8th.  And they had no more cars available...the couple in front of us got the last one.  Needless to say, we were furious.  We'd already paid for the rental car and knew there was some mistake - we would never have rented a car from a Tuesday though Friday in June.  Did not make sense.  Of course, we couldn't get anyone from Priceline on the phone and there was nothing the rental car place could do except look upon us with pity.  We were screwed.  I was in shock.  I'd never had a problem with Priceline before and was so disappointed.  Plus, I booked the whole trip through Priceline and was now terrified that our reservations for the entire weekend were screwed up.  Cue tears and a panic attack. 

Luckily my husband is not a drama queen like me and has an uncanny ability to completely ignore my irrational behavior and figures out what to do.  We're miles from the airport on Rental Car Row, so naturally, we begin dragging our luggage (and there was a LOT - we do not pack light) half a mile down the highway to the next rental car place, Hertz.  We reach the counter out of breath and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  Cue the choirs of angels - they had a car available!  They were so nice and helpful and felt so horrible for us they gave us an upgrade to to a nice SUV.  They even beat the price I got on Priceline.  Thank you HERTZ!  I'll be using you exclusively from now on. 

Finally, we were on the road to our hotel.  Stuck in traffic.  Seriously...what else could go wrong?   Was the whole weekend going to be like this?!  Urgh!! 

Forty minutes later, after a few wrong turns and missed exits, we made it to the hotel.  And we had a reservation for the right weekend!  Thank goodness, I don't know how much more I could take!  We ran upstairs, dropped our bags off, changed clothes and booked it three blocks away to Osteria Marco for drinks with Ann and Ed.  We were a little late, but they were so sweet about the whole thing and absolutely lovely.  I felt like I'd known Ann for years.  We chatted away about books and blogging, weddings and babies, Missouri and Colorado while the guys bonded over their mutual love of fly fishing, hiking and hunting.  Ryan and I were both completely smitten and were seriously considering moving to Denver by dinnertime!  We had a few delicious drinks and all of a sudden it was time to go.  Unfortunately, I left the camera at the hotel, so I didn't take any pictures of us all.  Doh!

Ryan and I had a dinner reservation at Rioja that evening for our romantic anniversary celebration dinner.  We reluctantly left Ann and Ed to make our reservation next door, only to find out that we both wished we would have asked them to join us!  Ann, we have to do it again sometime soon!  With dinner this time.

Dinner at Rioja was fantastic.  We started off with an appetizer of tuna sashimi and tuna tartare.  I never get to eat tuna so this was a real treat for me.  We both thought the sashimi had a little too much sauce/dressing on it, but the tartare was amazing!  For dinner, I had the Muscovy duck breast with Leopold’s liqueur macerated cherries, honey-almond beans, lemon-mascarpone polenta, cocoa nib port reduction.  It was out of this world!  I think I made "yummy-noises" with every single bite I took.  Ryan had the Colorado lamb two ways - grilled t-bone and house made lamb merguez sausage with crisp couscous pillows, caramelized fennel, tomato coulis and preserved lemon yogurt.  He was reluctant willing to share a small bite and it was also pretty damn good.  Sorry I didn't take any pictures!

After dinner we took our time walking back to our hotel through downtown Denver.  I have to admit I fell in love with this city!  It is so stinking cute!  Again, I'm bummed I didn't take any pictures at night because the streets are lined with white lights and trees and it was so romantic and beautiful.  There are wide sidewalks along the avenues perfect for walking hand-in-hand (Ryan will only hold hands in public if we're on vacation).  And there's even a trolley that runs through the streets.  So great!  I could definitely handle living there.
We made it back to the hotel, had a nightcap at the bar and then crashed.  Altitude makes me so tired!  The next morning we spent a few minutes hanging out in the hotel lobby, enjoying a steaming cup of coffee before hitting the road.  We stayed at the Hotel Monaco, downtown Denver.  The hotel is art deco inspired and so bright and colorful.  The staff was beyond nice and really helpful.  I grabbed a few pictures on our way out the door.
Before we hit the road, we stopped at The Market at Larimer Square for coffee and breakfast.  We ordered the most amazing (and biggest) veggie breakfast burritos I've ever had.  Ohmygoodness, they were killer.  The Market is really adorable too - it has the feel of an old-time grocery/deli with all kinds of amazing baked goods and coffees. 

Finally, we were on the road.  We missed all the traffic, so the drive from Denver to Vail only took about 1.5 hours, which was not bad at all.  Although a little cloudy in Denver, we drove through the Eisenhower Tunnel and had bright blue skies and gorgeous views for the rest of the day.
We got to Vail pretty early and had lots of time to look around.  We couldn't check into the hotel until 4 (which is crazy late, in my opinion), so we spent a hour walking around town before heading into the mountains for a hike.  Here are some pictures of Vail.
Skier statue at the Colorado Ski Museum.
Even the bus stops are colorful and pretty.
Gore Creek runs right through town (and right behind our hotel and is fishable - Ryan was in heaven).
Everything in Vail was bright and clean and colorful.  The whole place looked brand spanking new.  It was really pretty.  It felt very rich and elegant.  I loved it, but I have to admit that I kind of missed the rugged and authentic feel of being the mountains (or maybe I just missed Jackson Hole). 
And did I mention the gorgeous flowers that were everywhere?! 
So pretty.

Stay tuned for more posts on fishing, hiking, dining, etc...

Have any of you been to Vail? 


  1. Wow, that looks like an awesome vacation - Vail looks beautiful - great pictures! I would have handled the rental car situation the same way you did. :-) Sounds like you had a great time other than that.

  2. The photos are so pretty. I love Denver but have never been to Vail. A friend of mine takes a girls trip there every year though for "All Female Vail" - which makes me laugh. Looks like you had a great time - minus the rental car chaos.

  3. what a great post! i am from CO and your photos make me homesick! looks like you had a wonderful time!

  4. i went to denver just a couple of weekends ago! i LOVE that street with all the lights - i would love to do that on my patio. we actually ate dinner at osteria marco and it was amazing. next time you go back, go for dinner, too!

  5. Gorgeous pics - I've been to Vail a couple times, but never in the summer it looks awesome. I agree it doesn't feel rugged or like the traditional American mountain town. It feels more like you're in Europe... but you don't need a passport & can handle your booze. ;)

  6. What an amazing trip! So many pretty places. My little brother went to school in Colorado, and really enjoyed living there :) Happy Belated Anniversary!

  7. Sigh. I'm always so jealous of all your travels! It looks and sounds like a lovely trip!! Looking forward to more pictures;)

  8. Beautiful pics! It looks like you had a great trip.

  9. So gorgeous- what a fun way to spend your anniversary! The both look gorgeous- I need to make a trip out to the real mountains.

    P.S.- my hubs will never ever hold hands with me he hates PDA so you're not alone, sometimes I can convince him on vacation :)

  10. Yay! So happy you're finally writing about the big CO trip! We had so much fun with you guys at Osteria Marco and we went home that night talking about how much we hope you guys decide to move to Denver! Ha. Anyway can't wait to hear more about the fishing... Ed is also known to read the blog when you post about fishing!

  11. I've never been to Vail, but, I adore Colorado in general.

    That's it, I suggest we move there!

  12. Oh my goodness - the gorgeousness is too much to handle! I haven't been to Vail before, but it is definitely on my to-do list, especially after seeing your photos!

  13. Sounds like a GREAT trip. I've never been to Vail, but I'm ready to put it on my "to-visit" list after this post.

  14. We went to CO for our honeymoon. I want to go back so bad. It is just beautiful there.