In contrast to our time in Denver, which I must say was quite gourmet, the rest of our trip was more about simple meals & simple pleasures.
On our drive to Estes Park, we took the long way from Denver to include a brief stop in Boulder, CO. So many natural foods products I typically purchase seem to have Boulder, CO printed on the label, so I thought Boulder might be a Natural Foods mecca of sorts. Maybe it actually is, but from what I saw, it just looked like a college town with a very Bike-Friendly (and beautiful) campus and several upscale strip malls. If you’ve been to Boulder (or live there), please let me know what I missed! I’m sure I barely grazed the surface of this town in the couple hours I spent there.
While we didn’t do anything too exciting, we did enjoy our time in Boulder which included a walk around campus, a visit to Rush for my first ever Acai-Bowl, a trip to REI to pick out new hats for hiking, and best of all, a visit to the Boulder Whole Foods Market to stock up on groceries before heading to our cabin in Estes Park, about an hour away.
At Whole Foods, I had fun making a personalized bowl at the Greens, Beans & Grains station though it was so difficult to decide which combination to choose. I wound up going for Kale with Chickpea Tagine and Quinoa, topped with a Cashew Cream Sauce.
Our visit to the Boulder Whole Foods was quite an epic shopping trip – with all the hiking we’d be doing, I knew we’d be eating a lot! With 4 people plus all of our luggage in the car, we didn’t have enough space for the food we purchased, and everyone but the driver was buried in brown-paper bags filled with food.
Now, I need to admit that I haven’t been actual TENT camping in well over a decade. I felt so outdoorsy renting a “Cabin” more than an HOUR from the nearest Whole Foods Market. Gasp!
I joke, but really, we weren’t sure what to expect. We did not realize that Estes Park has a full-sized Supermarket in town or that our cabin would be equipped with everything a modern cook might want (including pretty serving dishes). Maybe the fact that our Cabin’s advertisement mentioned Wi-Fi, a Jacuzzi, a Sauna, a Steam Shower, and a Pool Table should have clued us in? They even had a fully stocked cabinet full of board games!
Like I said, we weren’t sure what the food & kitchen situation would be when we went shopping, so despite our posh surroundings, all our meals would have been right at home in a bare-bones cabin.
Aside from our salads (made from a tub of pre-washed greens) and our canned beans (which we warmed in the kitchen, but could have easily been made over a camp-stove), the rest of our dinners were entirely prepared on the Grill (thanks to Chef Nick!). Hiral and I enjoyed meals alternating between Tofurkey Beer Brats and WFM’s Spicy Southwestern Veggie Burgers. We also had a rotating assortment of veggies ranging from peppers & onions and sweet potatoes grilled in foil, and grilled corn.
I don’t know why I don’t make meals like this at home more often. It was so EASY and SO GOOD! I especially enjoyed a very comforting meal I made one night of Beanie Weenies using the Beer Brats!
Every night before bed, I prepared food for the next day’s breakfast, lunch and snacks.
Since we had early morning wake-ups, I had Overnight Oats ready and waiting for me each morning. I mashed a banana, added oats & chia seeds (from the WFM bulk bins), soy milk, and frozen blueberries (no need to defrost) and placed it in the fridge overnight. The bowl below was topped with Pepitas.
Everyone who knows me knows that I eat A LOT. So much, in fact, that I was actually nervous about hiking. What if I got hungry while out on the trail? Hangry + Hiking = Potentially Dangerous Circumstances.
Just in case, every day, Mike and I packed a FEAST in our backpacks. The bottom right corner is everything we brought for just the two of us for ONE day. Many of the bars & snack foods carried over to the next day, but we each devoured two sandwiches a day – one Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich and a Spicy Hummus Wrap. I cut the sandwiches into halves, and every hour or so, Mike and I would share a half to stay consistently fueled.
I need to give a shout out to Blue Moose of Boulder for their Spicy Chipotle Hummus. Every day, I couldn’t WAIT to tear into our simple wraps of just hummus in a whole wheat tortilla. They were SO good, and yep, very spicy.
I’ll talk more about our hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park (the main highlight of our trip) in an upcoming post, but first let me share more about our beautiful cabin (and no, this is not a paid review – just a heartfelt recollection). As much as we loved hiking, we equally looked forward to coming home to our cabin every evening to relax. This was my first time staying in a rental property instead of a hotel, and we got so much more value for what we paid. Getting this posh cabin for 4 of us didn’t cost much more per night than the combined total of our 2 hotel rooms in Denver.
As long as you’re not scared of heights, I’d highly recommend our cabin (Miller North – a Windcliff Rental) to anyone looking for a nature-filled vacation. The windy road to get there was pretty scary, but it was absolutely worth it since our cabin overlooked a beautiful mountain valley.
Our first night at the cabin, we all took a walk after dinner through our “back yard”. There was so much natural beauty to soak in!
Another night, we spotted a family of deer off of our deck after dinner.
And the warm, cozy living spaces were perfect for relaxing after our very active days.
This was practically my dream cabin
….except for one thing…
Too much Antler!
I’d love to hear from you!
Have you ever stayed in a Rental property?
What are your favorite camping or hiking meals?