FORT COLLINS. COLORADO
“This Is Where History Becomes Fun!”
By Glenn Arnette, lll
For some reason I think I have been turning the wrong way when landing at the Denver International Airport in Colorado. It has always been Interstate 70 for me heading toward, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek. Well, that has changed! I have discovered Fort Collins, Colorado, a City alive with excitement, fantastic restaurants, fun people and great beer! This City is young, aggressive and can make any older person feel like one of the gang. There is no pretense and you can enjoy life and all the offerings this world can offer. It is the City of bicycles and bells!
Thanks to the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau I was invited to experience all the wonders of their community. You can check their website at www.ftcollins.com or call them for information at 970-232-3846. Cathy Jones, the Tourism Marketing Manager, arranged one of the most adventurous and precise travel trips I have ever taken, and in doing so, she has convienced me that Fort Collins is the place to be.
The community is almost like a pre Disney village, as Disney stole the feelings of this community by copying some of the towns architectural charm. The tree lined streets with the quaint shops and restaurants are something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
On my arrival I was greeted by a wonderful new friend, Sandy Sanland, the Office Manager of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, whose smile added to my already anticipated excitement. She took me directly to Enzio’s Restaurant where Steve Taylor entertained us with a fantastic meal and superb hospitality. You can Google: Enzio’s Restaurant, Fort Collins, Colorado or phone number 970-484-8466. It was a moment of meeting and greeting some of the nice people of Fort Collins, especially Ben Manvel of the Fort Collins City Council and his lovely wife, Ann. along with Brianne Rudeen who runs the downtown Information Center, Jim Clark, President and CEO of the Tourism Board, Tyler James, the Senior Sales Manager of Tourism and Katy Herman who heads up the Membership and Guest Services at the Bureau. This is a wonderful establishment for dining and certainly one of the most popular stops in the heart of Old Town. After a long flight and delay in Atlanta (on Delta) I was glad to rest my bones and relax the night at the Marriott Hotel just beyond the Colorado State University. Believe me, my room was large, spotless and inviting. So without delay, I took advantage of my nice king bed and had one of the best sleeps in months. Thank Goodness! Google: Marriott Hotel, Fort Collins, Colorado or phone for reservations 970-226-5200.
Not knowing what was about to happen to me for the next few days, it was up and in the lobby of the hotel at 8 AM to meet Cathy Jones of the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau. Little did I know that she had this day jam packed with adventure. It was off to Vern’s Place. I loved it!
Located just outside of the town, it was the breakfast stop before departing on my 3 hour raft trip down the Poudre River. Vern’s is one of those places that you read about or see in a movie. It is the hangout for the hearty breakfast eaters and it certainly fit the bill for all of us getting ready to put our life on the line floating and paddling down the river. Google: Vern’s Restaurant, Colorado. Call 970-482-5511.
With my wetsuit on, helmet and paddle in hand, I locked my foot under the seat of the rubber raft with six other hearty souls and off we went. The rushing water was at its peak with deep drops, whirlpools and crushing rocks, we braved the waters and high fived ourselves many times down the river as we were successful in all of the challenges.
I would say Bob Klein, the Manager of a Wanderlust Adventure and our personal guide, kept us alive. He yelled and threatened us with death if we did not follow his instructions. Believe me, we did everything he said. With that water you had no choice. I can truly say, after it was over, it is one of the best things I have ever done. Thanks, Bob! You are the man! This certainly changed my thoughts regarding the Colorado River. That Poudre is the real thing and I have bruises to prove it. Google: A Wanderlust Adventure or call them at 800-745-7238. After returning to the hotel to rest, if was time to head for the exciting Plank Restaurant.
The Plank Restaurant located right in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins is new to the area. Greeted by Patrick Laguenes, owner / chef and the Production Process Analyst with New Belgium Brewing, we settled into an evening of gourmet foods paired with some on the best beer in this country. Yes, food paired with beer! It is the thing! New Belgium Brewing Beer, brewed right in Fort Collins is dynamic and enjoyed with the foods from The Plank made the perfect evening as you would only read about in Gourmet Magazine. After four hours of nonstop food and beer, with time to relax and chat, we headed back to the Marriott for another night of rest. www.plankrestaurant.com or phone for reservations 970-484-0297.
The following morning it was up and ready by 7:45 to have delicious coffee and muffins at the Café Ardour and meet Joe Bagley with New World Sports where we started our “cruiser tour”. www.newworldsportsLLC.com or phone 970-224-5857.
That means a bike tour with shock absorbers and tiny racing seats. My “butt” never had it so bad! I use to ride a few miles years ago and decided that the seats were not big enough back then. This time, I had no choice and for 15 miles I was rubbed, bounced and bruised and loved every minute of this cruise. The stop for a picnic lunch was so “Colorado” and it gave me time to rest. Fort Collins is a bicycle dream. You can go anywhere and they have bike trails through the woods, across the campus of the Colorado State University, from Old Town to the city parks.
What an experience! We ended up at the
New Belgium Brewery and I had to take on a little extra fuel to regain my composure. This is where you “park you bike and crack open a Fat Tire”. This is the home of beer-loving, bike-loving, earth-loving citizens of Fort Collins. www.newbelgium.com or call 888-NBB-4044.
Let it be said, “I made it!”
With aching legs and a thankful heart our evening was packed with fun! We attended the Taste of Fort Collins where the entire City turns out for sampling food from some of the Fort Collins best restaurants, art show and craft fair. The evening was highlighted by the live entertainment from Lifehouse. With thousands attending it was the perfect ending to a wonderful visit. I not only “left my heart” in Fort Collins, I left my friends. I will return and bring others with me.
As we left this quaint and wonderful area of Colorado, we departed for the Cache La Poudre Canyon and were given a historical drive with Wayne Sundberg, a historian and author of many great books. He certainly filled us in on many of the sights along the way to Grand Lake, Colorado.
Next week, I will be telling you about Grand Lake, Colorado, the Drowsy Waters Dude Ranch and the C Lazy U Ranch. Talk about experiencing the real outdoors and the old West, You certainly don’t want to miss this one.