My first impression of Boulder is that it’s been overrun by the large mass of college-age kids and as a consequence is a town centered around two large shopping districts. It’s a pretty town though, and I do find some interesting things to do. For lunch I go to Dushanbe Tea House, a unique restaurant that was built by artisans in Boulder’s sister city of Dushanbe and shipped to the US. I have a delicious polenta cake topped with a spinach cream sauce, chicken and sundried tomatoes. The Ceylon tea I ordered was also very good, although I’m not sure that hot tea really matched well with the food. Then I continue my tea themed day by taking a tour of the Celestial Seasonings Factory. It was a pretty nice tour, with unlimited tea sampling and a walk through the spicy and fragrant factory. The original owner started the company in 1970 by collecting herbs and flora in the hills of Colorado to use in his teas. Now they order ingredients from all over the world to make their delicious herbal teas. I pick up a couple boxes of new varieties before I go.
I’ve seen a lot of beautiful mountains in Colorado, but I’m still pretty amazed when I see the rockies from Estes Park. They really deserve their National Park status. It’s the most beautiful and picturesque mountain range I’ve ever seen.
I reach the gates of the National Park with the understanding that the main road through the park will be closed for the season ten miles ahead, but that doesn’t make it any easier to take when I hit the “road closed” sign. It adds a lot of driving in order to detour around it, and the road seems to end just when the scenery really starts getting fantastic.
I hate to say it, but I decided to drive to the other side of the park before nightfall in order to make it to a hostel instead of dropping money on a hotel. As a result I didn’t get to hike on the eastern side of the park, but it appeared the trails were covered in snow anyway. The western side turned out to be much less jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I take a hike despite the snow. It’s a beautiful valley and the Colorado River runs right beside the trail (here it’s more like a creek). I’ve gotten used to hiking in snow. It adds a sense of excitement to it: you never know when you’re going to break through the surface and sink in. But I know that when my socks start to get soggy, it’s time to turn around.