A Writer At Home Travels to Boulder, Colorado

The rich true blue of a Colorado sky deserves its own paint chip.  Front Range Royal perhaps.  Or maybe New Denim Shirt.  Or maybe any attempt to evoke the exact shade through a glib name will fall short.  What do you think?

The best I can do with my words is tell you that I spent much of the warm, early spring weekend walking without looking where I was going.  My eyes kept wandering upward, following the rise of the mountains, drawn to this clear and breathtaking blue expanse of sky.

Fortunately, for my own safety and that of other pedestrians, we found lots to see at street level as well.  The primary reason for the visit to Boulder was to see the university, but experiencing Boulder’s food and culture came in at a close second.  Boulder is vibrant food city and its restaurants do about a million dollars’ worth of business each day of the year, according to our friendly and knowledgeable hotel manager at the Best Western.  He urged us to head downtown for some good food.  My son couldn’t have agreed more: after an early morning flight that was plagued with delays, lunch was long overdue and my son was hungry.  On the way to the Pearl Street Mall on Friday, we stopped at Tibet Kitchen on Arapahoe so that the 18-year-old could power up on some traditional Tibetan food.

While the young man ate, I spoke to the restaurant’s owner about Boulder, its actual and spiritual ties to Tibet and Nepal, and the food he prepares at his restaurant.

Mother and son full – me with information, him with Phing Sha – we set off to check out the shops, galleries, and restaurants that make up several blocks of downtown Boulder.

As we arrived at the pedestrian mall, the musician on the right wearing the knit cap was performing solo, but ballcap fellow stepped in shortly after to contribute a second guitar and his take on the CSN harmonies of Southern Cross.

A little whimsy and many welcome bursts of color on the mall.

After a couple of hours of exploring, we wound up at the Corner Bar in the Hotel Boulderado for dinner.  I promised my son no photos of dinner plates, but my salmon with lentils, green apple salad, and cider reduction was delicious, and he gave thumbs up to the burger even though it wasn’t the buffalo burger he had hoped for.

More sun arrived on Saturday, and we were up and out early for the campus visit and lunch at the newest university dining commons, the Center for Community.

Saturday was also opening day of the Boulder Farmers’ Market, and we left campus shortly after lunch to catch the last hour or so of the market stalls.  This largest, most robust outdoor market I have ever strolled filled several blocks of 13th Street and then some, even though growing season is not even close to being in full swing.  Vendors offered so many alternatives to fruits and vegetables that customers flocked for other local products and services.

Local meats, cheeses, and eggs from Windsor Dairy:

Samples of the very fine Noosa Finest Yoghurt:

Several wines from Bookcliff Vineyards:

Carton after carton of Hazel Dell mushrooms:

Pies and individual pastries from Shamane’s Bake Shoppe, wedding cake experts:

Knife sharpening:

Dried beans and bags of milled grains:

Potted plants and spring’s first pussywillows:

Have no cash in your wallet but would like to shop the stalls?  The Boulder County Farmers’ Markets folks have a way to help you and their vendors: Market Bucks.  At the organization’s stall, use your debit or credit cards to purchase vouchers that may be used in place of cash at the registers.  I’ve never seen this service offered at any other market; have you?

Nestled in the very heart of the market is Boulder’s Dushanbe Teahouse, a both indoor and outdoor oasis for lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner for the weary shopper or tourist.

The colorfully painted and ornately appointed Teahouse arrived in pieces as a gift from Tajikistan to be assembled on site in Boulder.

The last full day in the city, a last walk back to the hotel.

©2011  Jane A. Ward