25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #1: Be a Part of a Feature Film!

#1: Be a Part of Our Feature Film!

There is no doubt that the number one thing to do in Colorado while you’re at the National Show is BE IN OUR FILM!

You’ve worked hard getting all the way to National’s and you should be proud of all your efforts.  Show your goats off!  Tell us why you love them.  What is challenging about raising dairy goats?  What is rewarding?  What is the best breed?  Who makes the best cheese? How do you make goat milk soap?  How did you get started in dairy goats?  What is your favorite thing about showmanship?  Teach us how to show a goat!  How was your trip to National’s?  What are your tips for new goat owners?  Do you milk your goats by hand or by machine?  Why?  What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you in the show ring?

We want to know everything about you and your goats!  Don’t be camera shy – we are all friendly, easy to talk to people and we’re interested in YOU!  It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!

We greatly appreciate your participation in this film.

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25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #3: Rocky Mountain National Park

#3: Visit Rocky Mountain National Park!

Rocky Mountain National Park consists of 415 square miles of land on the Colorado Front Range.  The park is divided by the continental divide – all water to the east of the continental divide flows to the Atlantic Ocean, all water to the west of the continental divide flows to the Pacific ocean.  RMNP has over 300 miles of hiking trails, lakes, glaciers, mountain peaks and PLENTY of wildlife.

The easiest way to get to RMNK from the Ranch is through Estes Park.  From there you can enjoy Trail Ridge Road, a 48 mile road that starts in Estes Park and ends in Grand Lake.  Trail Ridge Road is known for amazing views and TONS of wildlife.  Every time I’ve been up there, there have been at least a dozen elk, not more than 100 feet from the road.  http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/trail_ridge_road.htm  The Old Fall River Road is another great scenic option and consists mainly of gravel and switchbacks (unlike the smooth sailing Trail Ridge Road).  http://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/old_fall_river_road.htm  The Peak to Peak Scenic Byway goes South toward Denver and Boulder and also offers incredible views.  http://estes-park.com/peak-peak-scenic-byway  All of these roads are easily accessible from Estes Park.

Bear Lake (pictured above) and Sprague Lake are great places to hang out with your family and have a picnic!  Both are within reasonable driving distance of Estes Park.

I can’t even begin to list the millions of things to do in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  The 5 listed above are popular options that aren’t too far from the Ranch.  For more information and ideas for your RMNP trip, check out their website:  http://www.nps.gov/romo/

Sleepy Elk 🙂  I was literally less than 20 feet away from it when I took this picture!!

25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #4: Rocky Mountain Oysters

#4: Indulge in Some Rocky Mountain Oysters!

But Colorado is landlocked!  *Sigh* I’ll explain if I must.  Kids, cover your ears.  Rocky Mountain Oysters are… fried bull testicles.  Black Hills Oysters are fried buffalo testicles.  Rocky Mountain Oysters certainly aren’t popular in Colorado, but they’re definitely famous.  Many Coloradoans giggle and admit that yes, they tried them once.  Bruce’s Bar in Severance is the go-to place for Rocky Mountain Oysters, so if you’re culinarily adventurous or lost a bet, this is your place!  Don’t worry – they do serve “normal” food too, so if bull testicles isn’t your thing there are still options.

Bruce’s Bar is 13 miles from the Ranch: 123 1st Street, Severance, CO 80546.  Check out their website: http://brucesbar123.com/

They also have great artwork 🙂

25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #5: A Colorado Springs Day Trip!

#5: Take a Day Trip to Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is definitely at the top of my list when we have out-of-town visitors.  Unfortunately, it is a 3 hour drive from the Ranch.  But you know I wouldn’t list something that far away unless it was REALLY good – and it is!  My two favorite attractions there are the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

There’s a good reason Katherine Lee Bates composed America the Beautiful at the top of Pikes Peak – she was sitting in one of the most beautiful spots in the country!  The view from Pikes Peak (pictured above) is stunning and you can LITERALLY see 5 different states from the top on a clear day (CO, NM, UT, KN, OK – if I remember correctly).  Pikes Peak is the #1 visited mountain peak in the U.S. and the #2 in the world (after Mt. Fuji).

My favorite way to experience the peak is via the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the highest railroad in the U.S. and the highest cog railway in the world!  (http://www.cograilway.com/)  The 10 mile trip takes about 3 hours (they let you out at the top to roam around).  You get AWESOME views of the Peak all the way up and the tour guides / train conductors are full of interesting Pikes Peak stories and historical information.  Don’t forget your cameras!

LISTEN UP!  Here are two things you MUST remember if you’re going to the top of Pikes Peak:

BRING WARM CLOTHING!!!  It is 30 degrees COLDER at the top of the peak than the bottom.  I’ve brought friends to Colorado Springs in 80-90 degree weather and they insist on wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt up to the Peak.  Ignoring my advice, they were miserable and violently shivering at the top!  Do not make this mistake just because it is hot at the bottom of the peak.  Bring layers and wear jeans and closed-toe shoes if you want to get the most of your time at the top.

GET A DONUT AT THE TOP OF THE PEAK!!!  Even if you’re on a diet.  Do it.  Pikes Peak is known for its DELICIOUS donuts (I recommend the chocolate frosted ones).  They’re made fresh around the clock and to die for!  Their super-high-altitude donut recipe makes them one-of-a-kind.  (The shop claims that the high-altitude donuts shrink slightly when you return to the bottom of the peak – but I’ve always been too hungry and excited to test this…)

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (http://www.cmzoo.org/) is by far one of the best I’ve ever visited (and as the daughter of two veterinarians, I’ve seen a LOT of zoos).  Located on the side of a mountain, CMZ is a beautiful habitat for the animals, a beautiful place to visit AND a great way to get a lot of exercise while having fun.  My favorite exhibit is the giraffes (see adorable face pictured below).  Get this- at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo you get to feed the giraffes!  The last time I was there (2010), you got a huge handful of giraffe crackers for $3 and the gentle giants would crane their necks over the fence to slurp the crackers out of your hand.  If you’re afraid of wiggly giraffe tongues, fuzzy giraffe lips or giraffe slobber – don’t say I didn’t warn you! – but I’ve never heard of anyone getting bitten whilst feeding the giraffes.  The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is tons of fun and super popular with the kids.  In all my travels, domestic and foreign, the only zoo I’ve visited that rivals Cheyenne Mountain is the San Diego Zoo, often claimed to the best in the U.S. and possibly the world!

25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #6: Trail Riding

#6: Trail Riding!

I’m sure many of you are way too skilled in the horse department for an easy-going trail ride, but its a fun, relaxing way to get out and see Colorado.  There are plenty of stables near Fort Collins, but I will stick to Estes Park listings because, as you know, the High Park Fire has probably closed most Fort Collins-area trail rides.  Here are several different horseback riding opportunities in beautiful Estes Park, the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Forest.  Estes Park is less than an hour from The Ranch!

Sombrero Ranches: http://www.sombrero.com/

SK HORSES: http://www.skhorses.com/

O’Dells Horseback Riding at Elkhorn Lodge: http://www.estesparkhorseback.com/

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch (on the way up to Estes Park): http://www.sylvandale.com/adventure-vacation-destination-outdoor-adventures/colorado-horseback-riding-vacations.html

Jackson Stables & Livery: http://jacksonstables.com/

25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #7: Swetsville Zoo

#7: The Swetsville Zoo

Pack a picnic and bring your family to The Swetsville Zoo!  Once a farmer, Bill Swets decided his efforts were better spent in zookeeping- but not the kind you’re thinking of.  Starting in 1985, Swets began using old farm machinery, car parts, scrap metal and appliances to create HUGE metal sculptures – mostly goofy looking people or animals.  100 of Bill’s creations are still housed on his farm (8 miles North of the Ranch).  Enjoy a picnic at this free “zoo,” which is open every day during daylight hours.  The Swetsville Zoo is across from the Walmart Supercenter at the Harmony Exit of I-25.

25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #8: Fly Fishing!

#8: Go Fly Fishing

Listen up boys!  While your wives are out fabric shopping, the river is where it’s at!  (Ladies, that doesn’t mean I’m discouraging you from going fishing too!)  Unfortunately, the status of the Cache la Poudre River, one of NoCo’s most popular fly fishing rivers, is questionable right now because of the fire.  But there are still plenty of excellent fishing opportunities!  Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before – pictured above is Arcangelo Cella, my Italian best friend from Boston, who’d never fished a day in his life before vacationing with me in Colorado.  He was a fly fishing pro in no time!

Keep in mind that if you’re over 16, you need to get a Colorado fishing license (available for 1 day, 5 days or more!).  Do not fret – Sportsman’s Warehouse is just THREE MILES from the Ranch and is on your way to either The Big Thompson or St. Vrain Rivers (listed below).  Sportsman’s Warehouse sells fishing licenses at their customer services counter: 1675 Rocky Mountain Avenue, Loveland, CO 80538.  As you get closer to the foothills, there are also several mom n’ pop type fishing shops that sell licenses.

Anyway, The Big Thompson River and St. Vrain Rivers are two of your best fishing options within reasonable driving distance of The Ranch:

The Big Thompson River (West of Loveland) is closest to The Ranch.  The Big Thompson starts in Rocky Mountain National Park and flows into the Estes Park Dam.  Once through the dam, it maneuvers through Big Thompson canyon down to Loveland.  Check out this great blog on fishing The Big Thompson: http://coloradoflyfishingreports.blogspot.com/2011/05/big-thompson-river-colorado.html

The St. Vrain River (West of Lyons) is another very popular option.  Check out this link for more information: http://www.coloradofishing.net/ft_ffish1.htm

Here are some helpful links on Fishing in Colorado:

http://wildlife.state.co.us/fishing/Pages/Fishing.aspx

http://coloradofishing.net/

And if you want to be a total geek (like my dad), check out the fishing reports before you go:

http://coloradofishing.net/reports.htm

Finally, let me recommend Jax Outdoor, a favorite of many Colorado outdoors-men & -women 🙂  It has stores in Loveland and Fort Collins!  This is also a great place for good quality Coloradoy food (elk jerky, buffalo jerky, deer jerky, steak rubs, CO based food products, etc.) and souvenirs if you’re interested.

http://www.jaxmercantile.com/

25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #9: Benson Sculpture Garden

#9: The Benson Sculpture Garden

Art lovers, look no further than the Benson Sculpture Garden, one of Loveland’s favorite public displays of art.  Benson Sculpture is a 10 acres park with over 135 beautiful sculptures located at 2908 Aspen Drive in Loveland, Colorado (10 miles from The Ranch).  It’s a great place to take a peaceful stroll or enjoy a picnic!

Check out this great site if you’re interested in further exploring the public art of Loveland!  http://www.colo-news.com/art_of_loveland/

25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #10: Mexican Food & Salsa Dancing at the Rio

#10: Mexican Food, Margaritas & Salsa Dancing at The Rio

Are you salivating yet?  I thought so.  One of the most popular restaurants in Fort Collins is The Rio, known for its delicious food, enormous margaritas and salsa dancing.  The Rio is about 16 miles (25 minutes) from The Ranch and is a great way to celebrate your national’s success! (or drown your sorrows in delicious margaritas)  http://www.riograndemexican.com/fort-collins

Check out their happy hour specials (Monday – Friday 3-6 PM):

  • $1 off Rio margaritas
  • $1 off Big Tex margaritas
  • $3 drafts
  • $3 tacos
  • $5 guacamole, chile con queso, and queso deluxe

From 8-10 PM on Wednesday, Margaritas are $5!

The Rio is also known for its salsa dancing every Tuesday.  Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before!  They offer lessons for $3!  Can’t beat that.  Lessons start at 7:30 PM, open dancing from 8 – 10 PM.

Check out this article from The Denver Post on the origins and success of The Rio.  It even has recipes!  http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_19802315

Please drink responsibly and always have a designated driver!

25 Fun Things to Do During the National Show! #11: Quilting Shops!

#11: Go Shopping for Quilting Supplies!

A little known fact about me- I love to quilt!  My mom and I quilted day in and day out when I was in middle school and high school.  I first learned to quilt by hand and later moved on to machine quilting.  I love batiks, applique, strips and curves, convergence quilts and McKenna Ryan Quilts (pictured above).  My mom still belongs to a local quilting club that meets every week.  Thus, I understand the joys and pleasures of scouting out new quilting shops when traveling.  A quilting stash is never complete. There are always more fabrics and more patterns to be found (despite what your husband may think…)  Lucky for you, there are tons of great quilting shops in the area!

Here is a list of some quilting shops in Northern Colorado, listed in order of distance from The Ranch.  My personal favorites are The Fig Leaf, Quilting Hands, The Quilted Corner and Quilter’s Stash.  NoCo readers, if you have opinions about these shops or know of other good ones, please respond as well!

Quilter’s Stash (6.5 Miles)
1180 West Ash Street #100, Windsor, CO 80550
970-686-5657
http://www.quilterstash.com/

The Little Wool Shoppe (7 Miles)
429 Main Street, Windsor, CO 80550
970-686-5642
http://www.thelittlewoolshoppe.com/

Sweetheart Quilt Shoppe (7 Miles)
517 Denver Avenue, Loveland, CO 80537
970-461-3452

The Fig Leaf (14 Miles)
2700 South College Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80525
970-495-1773
http://www.thefigleafquilting.com/

Laughing Ladies Quilting (16 Miles)
349 Massachusetts Avenue, Berthoud, Colorado 80513
970-532-2130
http://www.laughingladiesquilting.com/

Wild N’ Wooly (17.5 Miles)
2030 35th Ave # A, Greeley, CO 80634
970-356-0335

The Quilter’s Studio (28 Miles)
364 Main St. Longmont, CO 80501
303-776-6444
http://www.thequiltersstudio.com/

Quilting Hands (33 Miles)
424 Main, Lyons, CO 80540
303-823-6067
http://www.quiltinghandsshop.com/

The Quilted Corner (52 Miles)
309 West Lincolnway, Cheyenne, WY 82001
307-638-2002
If you’re interested in making a day trip out of this, Trevor was so kind to put a set of directions on Google Maps that includes 7 of the 9 shops listed above (Wild N’ Wooly and The Quilted Corner didn’t quite fit in, but feel free to add them to your tour!).  Find it here:  http://goo.gl/maps/e0bA