August 18th — 20th, 2016: Colorado
I’ve been writing online for along time. When I started writing, it was always personal. Over time it shifted into a mix of personal/professional, and then to almost purely professional.
I miss writing about other things. Part of why I work for Lola is that I love to travel, and it’s a huge part of my life. I’m going to start sharing my trips again.
I’d never been to Colorado (or any of the mountain states!) before.
- I was surprised by how dry it was. That was a totally new climate for me.
- The altitude was both better & worse than expected. Drinking a ton of water definitely helped.
- Obvious, but the outdoors was breathtaking. I highly recommend running, hiking, walking, whatever you can do to be outside.
- I wasn’t expecting such a great food scene. Food was one of the highlights of trip.
Day 1 — August 18th — Denver
Morning — Running: I’m in the midst of training for the Cambridge Half Marathon, so I had to get a run in. Luckily, Denver was a good place for it. I was supposed to train on hills, but I decided that the lack of oxygen at 5000' as just as good, and went for a 5k run along the river. I was staying in the Lohi neighborhood, so ran along the South Platte River — Cherry Creek was also a good option. The city itself is also very walkable and a run is a good quick way to see a bunch of the areas.
Afternoon — Mt. Evans: After getting back, my friend Hillary (my host for the trip!) recommended that we drive and check out Mt. Evans. It’s one of the 14ers — the 53 peaks in Colorado with a height of more than 14,000'.
We drove out (stopping for an excellent apple bacon grilled cheese at a deli on the way). Lucky for me, Mt. Evans is one of two 14ers where you can drive almost all the way to the top, so that’s what we did. I don’t think I could have handled a hike at that altitude! We did walk the last little bit to the top. The views were extraordinary.
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to get to know others who do Product. I find that every city has a little bit of it’s own perspective, and it’s nice to get outside your bubble. This time around, I coordinated with Catherine Shyu and she invited me to speak at Colorado Product.
The other nice thing about doing casual speaking is it’s a good chance to try out a new talk with a welcoming audience. I wrote a new talk based on something I’ve always wondered: of “how do you know if you’re a good Product Manager?” Blog post forthcoming :)
After the talk, I got the chance to catch up with some of my friends from HBS over dinner at Rootdown. Rootdown is part of a series of restaurants that take over old spaces and build thematic restaurants (for example — their sister restaurant, Linger Meatuaries, used to be Olinger Mortuaries and still uses the same sign). The menu focused on local, seasonal ingredients. I had the sorrel gnocchi.
Day 2— August 19th — Boulder
Morning — Boulder Downtown: I decided to take the bus over to Boulder from Union Station. It costs the same amount to buy a day pass ($9) as two regional tickets. You can buy a day pass from the machine, but if you only want to go one way you should talk to the person selling tickets. The FF1 bus comes every 15 minutes and is very comfortable.
I was amazed by the sense of humor in Colorado. I cannot imagine another transportation center that would be okay with a joke about hand grenades.
One of my favorite things about traveling alone is that nearly everyone mistakes you for a local. When I was on the bus multiple people joked with me about how none of the students knew where the bus stop was and stood up way too early. While I had no idea where the bus stop was, I somehow managed to get off at the right place.
Downtown Boulder reminded me a lot of cute, suburban downtowns. Like Birmingham where I grew up, or like Palo Alto. I explored Pearl St for a little while before sitting down to read a book on a bench.
Afternoon- Boulder Continued: Around lunchtime, I headed over to Twitter Boulder (formerly Gnip) for their last week in the old office. We had a roundtable discussion about career and product.
After lunch, I decided to go for a walk along the river trail (yes, this trip was full of me walking on river trails).
In Michigan, rain during sun is called “the Devil is beating his wife” and where Tom grew up, it’s just “a sun shower.” We once looked up a whole list of ways different people communicate this, and far and away, my favorite is the Netherlands expression — “a chicken carnival.” So Boulder is basically a regular chicken carnival.
To get out of the rain I decided to drop by The Kitchen, a restaurant owned by Elon Musk’s brother. I had a Grey Gardens Cocktail — gin, lemon, creme de violette, and lavender, and the beet hummus.
Evening — The Pig and The Sprout: Eventually I headed back to Denver for a dinner. It’s a recently opened place known for cocktails and for their split menu — half the menu focuses on heartier, meat based dishes, and the other tends to be lighter veggie and fish fare.
We had the poutine, roasted sunchokes, and then I had the brisket for dinner. I also heard great things about the meatballs but didn’t get a chance to sample.
Worth noting: for a place that’s known for beer, I didn’t have a single beer while I was in Colorado. All of the restaurants I ended up at had a heavy focus on craft cocktails. At least I left something to do next time!
Day 3— August 20th —Red Rocks
Morning — Hiking: I knew I wanted to spend a fair amount of time outside when I was in Colorado. I’d heard great things about the hiking around Red Rocks, so for my last day I headed over with a couple friends. We did a seven mile loop that took most of the morning, and it was definitely worth it.
Afternoon — Relaxing: After all that hiking I took a little time off in the afternoon. I also got my friend Cate’s travel newsletter (which partially prompted me wanting to blog about travel again). It turned out she’d just landed in Denver, so we got together while she had a late lunch.
Evening — Dinner and Ice Cream: After leaving Cate, I headed to Thai Monkey Club for Thai food for dinner with my brother (who had somehow managed to plan a trip the same weekend — by coincidence!) and his friends. The pad se-ew was delicious and a generous portion.
After dinner we ended up back in LoHi to try Little Man Ice Cream. On Puja’s recommendation I had the vegan chocolate salty Oreo. It gave my all-time favorite (Toscanini’s B³) a run for it’s money. The line gets long, so check the “express” lane to see if the flavor you want is there before signing up for the long wait.
I’m hoping to get back to Colorado soon to do some more hikes and try some of the beer. In the meantime, next week Tom and I are headed to Western Mass to stay at Brandt House and eat at the Farm Table at Kringle Candle.