Adorable, Eclectic Boulder

Yesterday morning I was let loose in downtown Boulder. It was my first time exploring the city because when I was in the area in 2011, my family and I spent more time in the wonderful natural surroundings. 

Locating a Discovery Map of the city, I sat down and explored my options. I was dropped off near Pearl Street, which is the heart of Boulder. There were some other landmarks a little further away that intrigued me, but I had lunch plans with a friend and didn’t want to go too far. To the Pearl Street mall I went. 

Downtown Boulder is filled with little shops of eclectic and eccentric tastes, and most everything is rather pricey. There were shops for paper, shops for kites, shops for fabric, shops for fossils (yes, you read that right), shops outdoor and athletic clothing, shops for just about anything you could imagine. 

  
At first I couldn’t get in to any of these shops because it was too early in the day – most of these places didn’t open until 11am or noon. Talk about great work hours. But once they did open, it was a treat to explore and photograph their displays and products. Reminded me a lot of historic, downtown Ellicott City in Maryland before the floods that happened recently. 

   
 I’ll share more photos once I upload them to my computer. 

As I walked down Pearl Street, I realized I was getting closer and closer to the mountains. I love nature and felt like it was calling my name. Sadly, I didn’t make it all the way to the foot of the mountain because I went further than my free map displayed and my phone was dying, so I didn’t want to rely on it. 

Instead, I found an entrance to the Boulder Creek trail and noticed a bike share rack. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I never properly learned to ride a bike, but for whatever reason I felt compelled to give it a try. I mean, how will I get better without practice, right? The longest I managed to stay on at one point was probably. . . 15 seconds. 

  
I started and stopped several times, waited for people to go around me, and eventually got to the next bike share station. I docked the bike and walked the rest of the way. 

Even though I’m not that great at riding, I have to say that the bike share is an awesome idea and that Boulder is a great city to ride in. If you ever come by and don’t have your own bike, be sure to take advantage. 

After my little bike adventure, it was time to meet my friend for lunch. There is a wide variety of options in Boulder but some of the most popular are the true farm-to-table restaurants. Thankfully, Boulder is a very health conscious city, so there are many vegan/vegetarian options available. 

We decided on a place called Leaf at the corner of 16th and Pearl. Amazing food, gorgeous decorations, and very friendly staff. I highly suggest this place, regardless of whether you are vegetarian or not. 

For dessert, my friend and I walked up to a gelato place in the Pearl Street Mall. On their door they claimed their mission was to make the best gelato we had ever tasted. Having been to Italy twice, I knew I had to take the challenge. 

Let me tell you, that was the best gelato I’ve had in the states. Completely authentic. I felt like I was back in Italy for a moment. If you enjoy gelato, this is the place for you. 

  
There was so much more to explore, but they will have to wait until next time. But if you ever make it to Colorado, be sure to make Boulder a part of your visit. With it’s outdoor activity options and it’s adorable downtown, you’ll be delighted with Boulder. 

-Wandering Minstelette

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Sounds of Life

As I get older, I’ve noticed that I have become more aware of sound. Maybe it has something to do with being a musician? I’m not sure, but what I can tell you is that when you start opening your ears to the sounds that surround you, you begin to notice things you never did before. 

My mom, her two co-workers and I explored some more of 16th Street today in Denver and found four more painted pianos. Honestly, how cool is this project?

   
   
Sadly, most of them were really bad sounding but there was one piano, bright pink, that was in family good condition. When we came across it, a man was serenading a woman at her request and wow, was he good. 

  
Continuing down the street we came across a share a travel story campaign, and people were quietly writing and hanging their tales to twine hung between trees. The pages rustled in the wind, encouraging passersby to stop, read, and dwell on the stories they told.  

 

At one point contagious laughter filled the air as people sat in red chairs with bottoms shaped like tops (yes, I realize that is confusing) and going for a spin while trying not to fall off.  

 

People mingling, buses chiming, music playing – all these filled the senses as one walked through downtown Denver. 

The sounds didn’t stop there. My second cousin, who was the main reason I chose to visit Colorado, picked me up in the afternoon to take me to his home in Broomfield. 

His nearly four-year-old son warmed up to me very quickly and within a span of a few hours we had already been on so many adventures with our imaginations, one would think we had gone around the world and back. Hearing a child tell you a story, having them tell you about the world from their point of view, is so heart-warming and eye-opening.  

  

 We should all spend more time engaging with and listening to little children. They would teach us so much. 

The evening was filled with the melodies and rhythm of samba. My cousin is a Brazilian percussionist and teacher who specializes in samba. I had the privilege of attending one of his workshops and learning the basics of how to play pandeiro, tambourín, and other Brazilian percussion followed by a two hour battería (Brazilian marching band) rehearsal. Talk about a lot of sound! 

  

 
I know a lot of people who are not fans of percussion only ensembles, but I love them. I love how the sounds fill the room and the rhythms are so strong you feel them vibrate between your ribs. 
When you think about it, everything in life is about rhythm. Percussion ensembles are simply stripping away to the bare bones of the sounds of life. 

Finding your rhythm in the ensemble of life is what we are all called to do. Sometimes the patterns are more difficult, but if we keep at it and remain sensitive to the sounds around us, we will all eventually find our place in the band and together, we can produce some marvelous works. 

Here’s to you, reader. May you find your part in the ensemble if life. 

-Wanderjng Minstrelette

PS – If you are interested in hearing some of my cousin’s music, check out their website: http://gingaband.com

PPS – If you are interested in becoming a part of the Boulder Battería, please contact the community center they rehearse in: https://intercambio.org.

Colorado Adventures

Hi all,

It’s been a while, huh? Just a short post tonight. 

My mom is a forensic nurse (she deals with rape, domestic violence, and human traffiking victims) and was invited to come to an international forensic nurse convention in Denver, Colorado this week. I decided to join her. 🙂

  

Over this next week I’ll be posting about my adventures in the metro Denver area.  

  
Today we arrived in Denver about mid-afternoon and after settling in to our hotel, wandered along 16th street to enjoy the quaint atmosphere, the painted pianos, and some shopping. The discovery of the soup and salad shop, Zoup!, was a real treat.  

 
   
 

The greatest impression of the city, however, was not necessarily a positive one. 

There are tons of homeless people here. Many, many more congregated in sections and wandering around than I have ever seen in DC, NYC, LA, or even Niagara, NY, which looks much more destitute than Denver. Of course, there are many homeless people in these cities, but the sheer quantity of people we saw on the streets the moment we crossed into the border of Denver proper was shocking. 

If my mom wasn’t already going to have her days filled with events from the convention, I know she would be going around trying to see what she could do to help the homeless. It’s just… So sad to see so many people dealing with homelessness. 

-Wandering Minstrelette