July 2011


Black Forest Disappointment

Black Forest Exterior - B

I really, really wanted to like the Black Forest Restaurant in Nederland. Sadly, reality during a recent visit makes me admit that the food was a huge disappointment and both the service and ambience could use some spiffing up.

The Black Forest opened in the quiet mining town of Black Hawk in 1959 and successfully continued in that location for 42 years. When gambling arrived in Black Hawk the property gave way to a casino. Wilhelm Lorenz built a new restaurant 11 miles north in Nederland, the Black Forest home since 2000.

I think the large building has an Old World feel, as if picked up somewhere in the Alps and re-deposited in the Colorado Rockies. The Garden Room with an indoor waterfall and greenery looks toward the Continental Divide. With aspen trees immediately outside the Black Forest Waterfall - Bwindows the booths around the edge of the room almost feel like sitting in a tree house. The Hunting Room offers a more formal location for evening dining. The large Lounge must be a busy location after the nearby ski lifts close during the season.

We stopped for an early lunch the day after a busy holiday weekend; therefore, I will cut them a little slack. Some of my disappointment could be caused by shortages. Our waitress apologized for disappearing midway through our lunch saying, “They sent me to the store.” A waiter did pick up her duties while she was gone.

I ordered wiener schnitzel which the menu clearly states is a veal cutlet. I’m not an authority but would swear my blackened (not blackened in the Cajun sense but in the too long on the grill sense) meat was pork. I’ve never seen veal of that texture. The red cabbage could well have been out of a jar, nothing special or homemade in the taste. Ditto with the German potato salad, which was served cold. The bread was definitely a store bought multi-grain just like the loaf on our kitchen counter at home. Something’s wrong when the best dish of the meal is an iceberg lettuce salad with one cucumber slice and two grape tomatoes. The red onion vinaigrette dressing was nicely balanced.

Black Forest Interior - BBob found his sauerbraten acceptable. But, he’s pretty easily pleased. His potato pancake had been on the grill with my meat – too long. We had no complaints with the accompanying chunky applesauce. Bob ordered two servings of the “Homemade Ice Cream”. The molded dessert was so cold it was impossible to get more than a mere shaving at one time. While the chocolate bits added flavor there was no hint of creaminess. Our tab came to $40 + tip, too much for the quality and quantity.

Service was quirky. When we were seated the tables were set with silver pitchers of ice water. Halfway through the meal a waiter came by and picked up the pitcher – without a word and never to return. Why? This was not the case at any other table.

Much of the décor feels dated and well used. Near the door I couldn’t ignore the old movie screen and other items stowed behind a plant looking more discarded than stored. The open newspaper and glass of water on a bar table made me think the cook had probably been there only moments before. First impressions do make a difference.

When I Google “Black Forest Restaurant Nederland” I find their domain has expired. This seems indicative of the overall operation.

I do wish this Colorado tradition could live up to its potential. Soon!

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From Mt. Crested Butte - B

Colorado Weekend Twenty To Do

July 8 – 10, 2011

*Aspen Antiuqes & Fine Arts Fair – Aspen, July 1 – 10. International and national exhibitors  showcase fine antiques, paintings, jewelry and objets d’art at Aspen Ice Garden.

*Breck Bike WeekBreckenridge, July 6-10. All Breck Bike Week events are free. Join a wildflower ride, women’s skills clinic, yoga for bikers session,prime and paint your helmet. Numerous kids activities.

*Little Britches Rodeo & Parade – Cedaredge, July 8-10. Rodeo contestants range in age from 8-18, with mutton ‘bustin for ages 4-8. Saturday morning parade and evening street dance.

*Central City Opera – Central City, July 9 – August 6. Three more operas added to the season’s scheduled. Many special events including family-friendly focus.

Bear - A - B*Teddy Bear DaysColorado Springs, July 9-10. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo highlights grizzly and teddy bears. Discount rates for kids 12 and under accompanied by a teddy bear. Bear grotto and grizzly bear demonstrations and a teddy bear clinic for those need a bit of repair plus lots of TLC.

*Greenhorn Valley Arts & Music Festival – Colorado City, July 9-10. Dozens of groups play Root Music – Celtic harp to Western folk. Three dozen specialty artists – cut paper art to woodturning. Parents, check out “Circus in 60 Minutes” by The Salida Circus.

*Woodcarvers Rendezvous – Creede, July 9-15. 20th Annual gathering or carvers presents a multitude of classes for ability levels from beginners to advanced. A dozen non-carver glasses – pine needle baskets to art glass.

*Four Corners Gem & Mineral Show – Durango, July 8-10. Three days of lapidary demonstrations, jewelry, jewelry making equipment, gold panning, gems, minerals, fossils and beads.

*Music in the Mountains – Durango, July 9-31. The 25th Anniversary Celebration kicks off this weekend. More than 30 classic and world music concerts in the majestic San Juan Mountains.

*Grand Lake Antique Boat Show – Grand Lake, July 9. Enjoy the craftsmanship of historical boat building and see the classics.

*Cattlemen’s Days – Gunnison, June 8-17. Colorado’s oldest and longest running rodeo and horseshows. More than a week of dances, horse racing, parade, concert, carnival and BBQ in addition to rodeos and livestock shows.

Keystone Wine and Jazz Poster*2011 Wine & Jazz Festival – Keystone, July 9-10. Wine tastings, seminars including Up and Coming Varietals and Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles From Around the World, and lots of jazz – soulful bebop to smooth jazz by Dotsero.

*Colorado Irish Festival – Littleton, July 8-10. All things Irish at Clement Park – food, music, merchandise, dance, culture village and Gaelic sports.

*Summer Fest in the Rockies – Loveland, July 8-10. Loveland celebrates summer with events, events, events – Spirits at Sunset, class car show, fly fishing demos, kids sidewalk chalk contest, Loveland Loves Barbecue, Master’s of Magic, Saturday night fireworks, Sunday morning Songs of Joy.

*San Luis Valley Folk Arts and Fiber Festival – Monte Vista, July 8-10. Demonstrations, vendors, workshops and contest in celebration of handmade and traditional arts.

*Bluegrass in Paradise Mt. Crested Butte, July 9-10. The base area at Mt Crested Butte rings with hours of bluegrass music. Headliners include Gypsy Social Club, Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mountain Boys and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.

*Colorado Brewer’s Rendezvous – Salida, July 9. Specialty Colorado craft brewers at the 15th annual event in downtown Salida’s Riverside Park. Over 50 Colorado brews plus music and vendors, root beer for the kids and designated drivers.

*Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and Art in the Park – SteSteamboat Balloonsamboat Springs, July 9-10. Over 40 balloons launch each morning during the 31th annual balloon rodeo at Bald Eagle Lake. The 37th Art in the Park fills Lincoln Park, Steamboats largest art and craft festival.

*High Mountain Hay Fever Festival – Westcliffe, July 7-10. Festival hosts Sons and Brothers welcome more than a dozen bluegrass groups. Two full days of workshops including High Mountain Hay Seeds just for kids 12 and under.

*Insectival! – Westminister, July 9. The Butterfly Pavillion explores wonders and mysteries of the insect world. Bug hunt, magic shows, carnival games, bubble machine and butterfly encounter.

On Going Colorado Summer Events

*Aspen Music Festival – Aspen

*Theatre Aspen – Aspen

*Colorado Music Festival – Boulder

*Crested Butte Music Festival – Crested Butte

*Colorado Renaissance Festival – Larkspur

*Strings Music Festival – Steamboat Springs

*Bravo! – Vail

Top photo courtesy of Eric Yackel.

Stories from Big Boots

Boot - Old West Museum - B_thumb[1]

Eight-foot-tall cowboy boots dot the Cheyenne landscape. Created as a fundraiser for the Cheyenne Depot Museum Foundation in 2004, 19 boots were painted and decorated by local artists. Sponsorships and auction made nearly $100,000 for the museum. The boots are displayed throughout the community – parks, businesses, and public spaces to the local community college.Boot - Depot_thumb[12]

The project’s theme was “If this book could talk, what story would it tell?” Governors of Wyoming and Where the Deer and the Antelope Play appear fairly obvious. A free audio tour relates the story of each book in the artists’ own words. Simple to use, the tour is accessed by calling 307-316-0067 followed by an assigned boot number and the pound key. While the tour is free individual cell plan charges may apply.

Of the boots we visited my favorite was Licensed to Boot installed outside of the Wyoming State Museum. The top part of the boot is painted with scenes from past Wyoming state license plates. The toe of the boot is cover with a mosaic of pieces cut from actual license plates donated to the project. Upon investigation I discovered Licensed to Boot was an after school project of the Carey Junior High Art Club. A shout out to the students for their creative and accomplished Big Boot!

A free “These Boots are made for Talking!” brochure is available at the Cheyenne Visitor Information Center in the Depot.

Boot - State Museum - B_thumb[10]

Highlighting ”The Daddy of ‘em All

Bull RiderSculpture - N - B

The world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration captures Cheyenne’s essence each July. For 10 days there’s nothing quite like “The Daddy of ‘em All”. Year round, Cheyenne’s visitors can capture that Western tradition and spirit with a stop at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum & Store.

Permanent and changing exhibits demonstrate the multiple facets of the world famous event, saddle bronc riding to championship belt buckles, grand parades to rodeo queens. A current exhibit, “Bullfighters: The Risky Road to Glory!”, features not only the daring and determined bull riders but also the important role of rodeo clowns and legendary careers of Mr. T and Crooked Nose – bulls rarely successfully ridden.

B&N in Carriage - BThe museum houses a historic collection of horse-drawn carriages and wagons, many that make appearances in the Frontier Days parades. Visitors can climb aboard one designated carriage for a photo op complete with a “becoming” hat. “Hole in the Wall” is an interactive gallery giving kids an opportunity to practice roping and Western themed activities.

Shoppers find a plethora of Cheyenne Frontier Days branded merchandise in the Old West Museum store. Need a souvenir belt buckle, t-shirt or etched martini glass? You’ll find it here.

When You Go: The museum located at Frontier Park is open year round except major holidays, 9am-5pm weekdays, 10am-5pm weekends. Admission is $7/adult with children 12 and under free.

Red Wagon - B

Trolley Ride Through Cheyenne History

Trolley - B

On our first afternoon in Cheyenne we hop aboard the bright red and green Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley, an easy and relaxing intro to the city’s history and attractions. As our driver/guide Ron spins stories of a colorful past I make a list of locations I want to revisit, either to explore or take photographs.

As we pass the century-old Plains Hotel Ron explains the reasoning behind the smaller-than-average elevator. In the early 1900s when cowboys came to town to let off a little steam they would frequently ride their horses into bars and hotels. The Plains Hotel owner wanted an elevator that would hold only four men at a time – too small for a horse, effectively keeping horses out of the guest rooms. Later when we stopped by the Plains Hotel we watched four adults squeeze into the elevator that still keeps horses at bay.

The 90-minute trolley tours run daily from early May through September. For those wanting a car-free day passengers can stop at several attractions and join the next tour in 90 minutes. Weekday stops include The Nelson Museum of the West, the Wyoming State Capitol and Museum, the Frontier Days Old West Museum and Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, and the Historic Governor’s Mansion. Check the website for tour times and weekend tour details.

Tours cost $10/adult and $5/children 2-12. The Trolley Plus pass valid for two days includes admission to the Old West Museum, Nelson Museum and the Depot Museum, plus the trolley tour all for $15/adult.

Halloween Ghost Tours and Christmas Light Tours offered yearly.

Colorado Celebrates July 4th

2011

Fireworks

Wherever one finds themselves in Colorado on the 4th of July there’s a nearby celebration eager to welcome residents and travelers. Below is a list of 35 communities with planned events, by no means is this a complete list, there are many more. Be aware that  fireworks may be cancelled in areas where the fire danger is extreme.

AspenOld Fashioned 4th of July Celebration.

Boulder Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast – Community performances, sing-a-long, Ralphie (CU bison mascot) Run, color guard, fireworks at CU’s Folsom Stadium

Breckenridge 4th of July Celebration, 10k trail run, hometown parade on Main Street, concerts at Riverwalk Center.

Colorado SpringsFlyovers, games, food, music by the Air Force Academy Band and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, fireworks at the Air Force Academy football stadium.

Crested ButtePancake breakfast, fun and funky parade followed by a big water fight complete with fire truck, old-fashioned games, free patriotic concert, evening concert before the fireworks at the Crested Butte Mountain base area.

Cripple Creek – Live entertainment, beer garden and fireworks.

Dillon4th of July celebration at Town Park.

Durango – Breakfast and 5k at Rotary Park, 6pm parade, street dance on Main Avenue and fireworks.

Estes Park – Car show, cowboy sing-along, pancake breakfast, band concert and fireworks over Lake Estes.

Fort Collins – Daytime downtown live music, beer garden, pie eating contest, fireworks in City Park.

Georgetown Parade, 5k race, BBQ, bucket brigade race. Watch the fireworks from the Fireworks Train high up on the Devil’s Gate bridge.

Glenwood Springs4th of July Fanfare.Flag

Grand JunctionParade, 4th of July on the Monument (Colorado National Monument), fireworks.

Grand Lake Lakefront fireworks at dusk.

Highlands Ranch – Parade, run and celebration at Town Center, hot dog eating contest, fireman challenge, pet adoption fair, evening concert, fireworks.

Idaho Springs – Fireworks display over Bridal Veil Falls and Tayler Water Wheel.

Julesburg – Volunteer Fire Department fireworks display.

Keystone – Fishing derby, BBQ, live music, bike parade through the village, Kidtopia KidsFest, fireworks.

Lafayette Late afternoon and evening events a Wanaka Lake Park, food concessions, beer garden, kids’ activities, concert, pie-eating contest, fireworks.

Lake CityOld Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration, family entertainment, parade, Air Force fly over, races in the town park, street dance music, fireworks.

La JuntaOld Time Fourth of July Celebration at Bent’s Fort, fireworks at La Junta Rodeo Grounds.

Louisville Fireworks at the Coal Creek Golf Course, early evening kid activities, music by the Boulder Concert Band.

Loveland – Day long in North Lake Park, food, games, music, flag raising, fife & drum corps, largest fireworks in Northern Colorado.

Mancos – Potluck BBQ at the Bauer House, Fireworks at Boyle Park.

Montrose – All day event Cerise Park, fireworks.

Northglenn – Food booths, concert and fireworks at E.B. Rains, Jr. Memorial Park.

Ouray – Morning to night events starting with pancake breakfast, 10k run, parade, BBQ, water fight, kids games, music, fireworks.

Pagosa Springs Carnival, arts & crafts festival, parade, community picnic, live music, Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo and fireworks.

PuebloRollin’ on the Riverfront July 4 with the Pueblo Symphony.

Redstone – Bike decorating party, pie sale, food concessions, Air National Guard fly over salute, parade, water games.

Silver Plume – Ice cream social and baked goods in Dinger Park after the Georgetown BBQ.Fireworks 2

Steamboat SpringsPancake breakfast, parade, Art on the Mountain, block party with hot dogs and Routt (Routt County) beer floats, pro rodeo, fireworks over Howelsen Hill – also, cross country/Nordic combined roller ski race and Independence Day ski jumping extravaganza.

Telluride Firemen’s Fourth of July Parade, community picnic, games, fireworks.

VailAmerica Days Parade, picnic, patriotic concert, fireworks

Westcliffe – Parade, flea market, car and motorcycle show – fireworks have been canceled due to fire danger.

 

Happy and Safe July 4th to all.

Visit Cheyenne Info Center

Depot from the West - BWe made the info center in the restored Cheyenne Depot a first stop on our discovery trip to Wyoming’s capital city. Well stocked with printed info for all tourism interests, the selection covers all of the state not just Cheyenne. Staff gladly answers questions, offers suggestions and gives directions.

Purchase tickets for the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley tours. Or, pick up the free booklet for the Historic Downtown Cheyenne Walking Tour which covers 55 buildings along a 23-block stroll through the core of the city.

The information desk is open 8am-5pm Monday – Friday, open weekends with varying seasonal hours.

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