and thennnnn….

Can we back up for a few minutes?  I know it’s Monday, but let’s pretend it’s Saturday.  Just for a few photos.

Saturday, we checked out of our hotel and made our way into Chicago for lunch.  We were about 1hr North of Chicago for our friend’s wedding.  We hit up The Chicago Diner, which gets amazing reviews as a veggie/vegan/gluten free friendly dining spot.  Their menu is extensive and they have an entire GF menu as well.  It’s always so nice when restaurants have a menu noting all of their GF options.

We thought the restaurant would be packed around the lunch hour, so we ordered it to-go, and thought we’d find a spot along the lake to stop and eat.

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Apparently I forgot we were in Chicago and the lake is about the most popular place to be on a Saturday. 

Getting through 1 mile of traffic to streets you could park on?  Nearly impossible! 

Finding a spot to park?  Impossible! 

We saw the lake + beach.  From the car. 

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We ended up driving around for 30 minutes, and found a “spot” to park in a loading zone.  Nothing like slamming cold + soggy food in your face, with your flashers ticking, looking behind you every 2 minutes to make sure you’re not being ticketed.  Extremely relaxing….

I can’t comment too much on the food, because we didn’t eat it right away.  I’m sure it would have been much better fresh from the kitchen, but we both thought the flavors of our meals were just okay.  I had the falafel burger and Chris had the seitan reuben. 

My idea for a lakeside lunch, was great in theory, but completely failed in execution.

And then… we “toured” the city = stop + go traffic on Lakeshore Blvd.

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And then… I finally got to meet Alice + Jared + baby Dylan, from Eat a Duck I Must, in person!  I first started talking to A + J about 1.5-2 years ago.  My friend Laura told me about their blog after meeting them at a wedding.  I’ve been obsessed a huge fan ever since!  They’ve both helped me with photography tips, inspired me behind the camera + in the kitchen, and Alice was a lifesaver when my blog crashed a few times recently.  We’ve become such good blog-friends, so it was nice to finally meet!  Their house is amazing, as I knew it would be.  Their decorating tastes are extremely similar to mine, so I was in awe being toured around their house.  Their dog [Chef!] is hilarious and super sweet and their son Dylan is extremely adorable.   

I hated to leave so soon!

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We made it back to Colorado around 10pm, and I was lights out by midnight. 

And then…

It was Sunday, and I was headed down to Boulder.

I met up with Heather + Anne for lunch and a hike.  They were both attending the FHBC this weekend.  Anne + I met briefly last year at the Foodbuzz festival, and Heather and I met when she moved to Denver last year.  It was great to catch up with them both!  Heather’s b/f Dustin, also joined us for lunch.

I of course suggested Mountain Sun Pub.  It’s one of the best spots to take out-of-towners.  [there are 2 Boulder locations + 1 in Denver]

The food is cheap.  The food is above average.  They brew their own beer.  The menu suites veggie/vegan/gf/carnivores.  They have a hummus of the day.  Need I say more? 

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Dressed + ready for our hike!

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I got the tempeh special and it was outstanding.   I’ve always loved their tempeh [they bake it in beer!], but today’s batch was the best!  It was almost tender, if that even makes sense.  Super soft + loaded with flavor.  I ordered it with gluten free bread, instead of the flour tortilla and it came with a salad on the side.  I devoured every single bite and was completely stuffed when we started our hike!

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It was a scorcher today.  Upper 90’s!  The nice thing about CO is that the summer days might be hot, but the nights are nice + cool.  We headed to Chautauqua Park for our hike. 

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The Flatirons, straight ahead!

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We chatted, while gasping for air, and hiking along for about 1.5hrs.  That elevation will get ya, even when you’ve lived here for awhile!

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Such a great way to spend Sunday afternoon.

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Friends, mountains, juicy nectarines…hard to top that!

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And then…

I headed home + worked on photo editing.

And then…

Chris + I headed out to anniversary dinner on my parents.  Thanks mom + dad!  We checked out Enzio’s tonight, which we’ve never eaten at before.  It’s an Italian restaurant, that makes their pasta fresh everyday!  Little did I know, they also make gluten free pizza!!

The crust was thin + crispy.  There was no distinct flavor that would have led you to believe it was gluten free.  We both really enjoyed this perfectly cheesy, lightly sauced, artichoke + thyme pizza.  I will be back for you again!!

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Dinner date.

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I never expected an Italian restaurant to have a separate gluten free menu, but they did!  Most things had meat or fish but there were a few veggie + gf options as well.  I decided on the pizza and a huge house salad, that was somehow only $5.  This was beastly, and filled with fresh parm, tomatoes, chickpeas [!!!], and red onion.

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It’s so hard to find a decent salad.  This exceeded my expectations.  Crunchy, fresh + filling!

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Chris loved their homemade pasta, and I drooled as he ate it!

And then… [are you sick of that yet?]

We went to Town Pump, to meet up with Kelsey + Eric for a drink.  This is one of my favorite bars in Fort Collins.  It’s the size of a shoe box, but has so much character and a great local beer selection.  They’ve been open for over 100 years!  Odell Brewing actually brews a beer specifically for this bar.

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And then…

We caught the first episode of the new season of True Blood!! 

And now…

I go to sleep!