Picks and Pans – Boulder and Lyons, CO

Boulder is a much talked about city with 90k people, only a 1/2 hour drive to Denver and minutes from the mountains and nature abound. We only got a 1 day run through, but were impressed with it’s many offerings – a contemporary arts museum, a good farmers market in the downtown, lots of bike riders and bike friendliness, and an OK music scene. The downtown walking area on Pearl Street is pretty heavy on the upscale tourism, and rent prices are, on average, higher than Denver. It’s hard to imagine at this point that we would choose to live in Boulder over Denver because we really like the vibrant culture (and children’s hospital for work) of bigger cities, but for a smaller city Boulder has a lot to offer.

Laughing Goat Coffee House in Boulder

The Laughing Goat is jam packed with tables, people on laptops sipping coffee and power strips..just our kind of place. We spent the better part of the day updating the blog, chatting online with our friend Margot and trying to decide which of our live music options we should check out later in the night. Turns out we ended up back at the coffee shop (which also serves beer and wine) later to listen to a local afro funk group called By All Means. The band seemed to still be coming into its own and the music was catchy, but not super compelling. We can’t really complain though, when there’s no cover. Seems like, after exploring our options, that Boulder has about as much live music on Saturday night as Denver did on Thursday…not bad given that Boulder is a relatively small town.

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

After our marathon internet session at the Laughing Goat we walked down Pearl Street to the Boulder MoCA. On our way we ran into a vintage bike swap and drooled over all the tempting bicycles (and I had another occasion to mourn the passing of my little pink banana seat bike, Daisy). We also found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a farmer’s market filled with some of the most beautiful produce I’ve seen in a while…baskets of fresh greens, golden rhubarb, piles of radishes, baskets of tiny fresh strawberries. I was seriously missing my kitchen and my big fridge (produce doesn’t last long in the cooler). And all that before we even got to the museum! The museum itself was small, but the exhibit Pure Pleasure was just what it promised. The artists involved were asked to explore their idea of visual pleasure/beauty in the piece created for the exhibit. I especially liked “The Only Real Umbrella Around” by Rebecca DiDomenico. It was a huge sphere consisting of embellished umbrellas….one with the fingers of knit gloves, one with ground spices, another with googly plastic eyeballs. It was eye candy in the extreme. There were also some great photos by Julie Blackmon. Considering the limited space in the museum, we saw a huge variety of art…and it was free since we went on a Saturday.

Mountain Sun Pub
in Boulder

Upon leaving the museum, we retreated through the rain back to the van for a nap, and when we woke up, we wanted food. So, we headed back down Pearl Street to the Mountain Sun Pub. It was packed full when we got there, but the friendly staff invited us back to the small bar to sample their wide array of beers brewed right there at the pub. Before we got a table, we had already tasted 6 different beers and couldn’t settle on which we wanted, so our waiter wisely suggested their 6 oz sampling menu. We highly recommend their ginger wheat, blackberry wheat and hummingbird mead. And their burgers were good too.

The Stone Cup in Lyons

The Stone Cup’s huge front porch was packed with bicyclers finished with their Sunday morning ride, families with small kids, and everyone else in Lyons who needed some coffee and yummy baked treats. We got both some coffee and a yummerific raspberry walnut scone before heading back into Denver for the RiNo Sunday morning studio tour.

Oskar Blues in Lyons

Since By All Means finished up their set at the Laughing Goat around 10:30, we decided we still had some energy and so we headed out to another nearby mountain town, Lyons, to a blues bar. When we pulled into town, we thought maybe we had made a wrong turn into a ghost town. The streets were empty, everything looked closed. It didn’t look good. We eventually found Oskar Blues, and even though it was 11pm, the door man still wanted to charge us the full cover charge. He made the compromise that we could get a beer, but then had to head straight to the back porch. How very gracious. Apparently the cover charge gives you the privelege of central heat. Out on the back porch, we found a pretty insular, local crowd, who were not too interested in engaging socially with out of towners. Needless to say, we didn’t stay long.
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