Wondertwins Go West: Day Four

120+ miles (480+ miles trip total)

Though the trip had a magical sense of slow time, eventually Tuesday morning rolled around and we had to say goodbye to our jungle/aquarium hideaway of an AirBnb. After the late night in Boulder, we didn’t wake up with the sun, but it we were still on the road by 09:30. ‘Twas then that we spotted our first large animals…COWS! Cait and Mom love their bovine as much as I love the Octopuses, so a quick stop for a shouted hello and photos was needed. After a quick road side stop to take a picture of our coordinating jacket/backpack combinations (totally unplanned!) with the beautiful mountains behind us, we put Golden behind us and set off toward Denver.

One of Cait’s only destination requests was Voodoo Doughnut in Denver. Based out of Portland, Oregon, the Denver location was the first one outside of its home state and is (thus far) only one of four to open beyond the Beaver State. Easily recognizable with their bright pink boxes, Voodoo Doughnut serves up eclectic options such as “The Loop” featuring Fruit Loops (Cait pulled a page from my book and demolished hers before offering to share…), the “Oh Captain, My Captain” featuring (you guessed it) Cap’n Crunch, the playful looking “Voodoo Doll”, and the extra dense “Memphis Mafia”. Consisting of fried dough covered in banana and cinnamon, with chocolate and peanut butter drizzle, along with chocolate chips and peanuts on top…you’d better believe that was the option I went for (it took me like four mornings to consume the whole thing…). Fun fact: Cait was wondering if you could get a doughnut through TSA. The answer (at least in my case) is in fact yes, you can take a doughnut through TSA…I forgot I had a half of it stashed away in my backpack and it came all the way home with me. lol.

Then we were off to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We only had an hour before we needed to return the car/get Cait to the airport, so it was a little bit of a whirlwind – but we made it work! After excitedly posing with the T-Rex (cuz hello…dinos are our thing), we made our way to the Gem and Minerals exhibit. Designed to look like an underground mine, it was a super neat exhibit. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Cait and I enjoyed the displays more than the bagillion children that seemed to be flooding the tunnels, but I could be wrong. 😛

It’s definitely a different game to visit a museum as an adult, even more so when you’re with someone who loves museums even more than you do…even if they like children even less than you do. I only got one weird look as one of the chaperones was doing their headcounts…so that has to count for something!

Colorado’s State Gem

Aquamarine (fun fact: it means water of the sea) is the state gem of Colorado. The region of Mount Antero has one of the highest concentrations of the gemstone in the US. Colorado has several different gemstones and minerals that have historically been mined (it once held the only diamond mine in the US). The state mineral is Rhodochrosite, which is a beautiful red color. The Alma King Rhodochrosite, the largest known crystal of its caliber, is on display at the museum; it came from the Sweet Home Mine, a failed silver mine that opened in the late 1800s. Another fun fact: Rhodochrosite became the state mineral in 2002 after an Earth Science class realized Colorado didn’t have one – owning to the fact that it is a red color and Colorado literally means red colored they wrote a letter to their State Representative who got the legislation passed. I didn’t take a picture of the Alma King, but I did take a picture of the Crystal Wall – it’s a 7×8’ wall designed to look like a natural pocket of crystals.

Rhodochrosite Crystal Wall

And since we’ve covered the gem and mineral, might as well include the state stone, right? Yule Marble became the official state rock in 2004 after a Girl Scout group petition. And everyone knows what this looks like…it was the stone chosen not only for the Washington Monument, but also for the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. *insertthemoreyouknowsong*

We then headed over to the Wildlife Halls – featuring dioramas that range from the Arctic to Australia (and everything in between) they had some super cool and detailed setups. I didn’t realize how intensive it is to set up a diorama such as those – though I guess it makes total sense.

We blazed through the Egyptian Mummies display – featuring two actual mummies it was a cool, yet weird experience. The two mummies are females purchased by one of the wealthy men of Colorado in 1905…because apparently back then it was all the rage to buy mummies and bring them home to show off to your other wealthy friends. The interesting part of the whole deal is how they are using modern technology such as CT scans and isotope analysis to learn things about the women. Both were around or younger than their 30s…which apparently was considered quite old for the time. Crazy to think how my life as a 30-year-old and theirs are so vastly different.

So close, yet so far…

Then we hit the road to the airport. And got stuck 15 minutes away. On an on ramp. WHAT IN THE WORLD. Haha. I originally had the rental for my full stay, but Pete offered to drive me about – however in order to get a full two-days refund on my rental, I had to get it there by 13:00…and at 12:30 we were still stuck. And at 12:40 we were still stuck. Then MIRACULOUSLY the construction trucks blocking the ramp moved and off we went. PHEW. After that it was easy peasy to return the car and take the shuttle over to the airport. Then off Cait went to the snaking line of security and I hoped into Pete’s truck. Such ended the wondertwin portion of the trip.

As this whole trip went, it was a little over an hour from DIA to Joan’s (Pete’s mom) house. We stopped for food at Freddy’s where we enjoyed steak sandwiches and THE CUTEST little fries. I should also note that they were also perfectly crispy, not just cute. Haha. Surprisingly, the first photo from the house isn’t of the two dogs, Zoe + Cricket (more on them later), but of a chilly, but fun ride about in Tim’s Jeep. The sun was setting, but it was still relatively warm. But considering there are no doors or roof to speak of, it wasn’t a warm ride. 😛 But it did provide some BEAUTIFUL views. Driving the last few days was equally as pretty, but it’s a different experience when you get to just soak it all in versus having to ensure you get to your destination safely. I 100% understood Cait’s desire to be glued to the glass as we were tooling about.

Then we hung out with the dogs (still didn’t take any pictures of them…) and went on a sweet night walk. It’s hard to appreciate the stars until you get out into the wilderness. It wasn’t on the level of being out in the middle of the Atlantic (that BY FAR is still the most awe-inspiring night sky views I’ve ever seen), but the stars put on quite a show for a bit. Then some cloud cover rolled in (as the mountain areas do) and we headed back to warm up by the fire.

Up Next: the start of outdoor adventures in Colorado with PHB

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