Colorado and Fort Collins Photolog: My Healthy Roadtrip Days 4-7

Colorado and Fort Collins Photolog: My Healthy Roadtrip Days 4-7

Here’s part three of my 6-week North American road trip. I’ll share how the outdoorsy atmosphere of Fort Collins made it easy to stay active, how I made a simple fruit breakfast while camping, and my favorite Colorado vegan restaurant.

Past road trip days:
Days 1-3 in Arizona
Days 3-4 in New Mexico

Santa Fe was beautiful and we enjoyed our time there, but we were really excited to get up to Fort Collins, Colorado, one of our favorite healthy cities. You know how you sometimes find yourself vacationing to the same places over and over again because you just love being there? This trip was our fourth time there in the last few years. I’ll talk more about why the city is so healthy a little later in this post.

Camping on Fruit

6. Colorado camping tent
Tent camping in middle-of-nowhere Colorado near Salida. Woke up in the middle of the night to go pee and was rewarded by the most intense view of the stars. Right down to the milky way.

In the interest of budgeting our trip, we brought a 2-person tent along for those travel days where all we need is somewhere to sleep for the night. Traveling between Santa Fe and Fort Collins, we had an opportunity to use it. I find that high raw healthy eating while camping is just as easy as with any other method of lodging. All you need to do is plan ahead with your food, something not unique to vegan campers.

Fruit in particular is very simple to bring along while camping as it doesn’t have to be chilled. Jay and I have even entertained doing a banana island (only eating ripe bananas) for a future camping trip. Now that would be easy eating!

I did more high raw camping during the Trans-Canada Highway portion of my trip, so look for that photolog in the future.

6. Colorado camping driving breakfast cantaloupe
If you have a picnic table, knife, cutting board, and bowl, you can bring a melon and cut it up for breakfast.
6. Colorado camping driving breakfast cantaloupe and green smoothie
Jay had a green smoothie made in advance. I just cut up my cantaloupe. Both of these were perfect for breakfast on the road.

The one drawback of fruit is that it can be a little cold for eating out in the brisk morning air at a picnic table. To avoid shivering over your morning meal, eat fruit at room temp, not fruit kept in the cooler overnight. I ate melon, but denser, heartier fruits like bananas might feel better on a chilly morning. And there is no rule that says you have to eat raw! If you are cold and have a portable cooker, heat up some oatmeal. I normally travel with rolled oats, cinnamon, and vanilla as a just-in-case backup.

Fort Collins = easy(ier) to be healthy

We stayed with good friends for a few days once we reached Fort Collins. This is a total generalization, but every time we go there we immediately feel like we fit in – then we realize that’s because we’re walking around inside a REI catalog (it’s a recreation equipment store, and if you’ve ever met us, you know that’s just our style – and our favorite place to be consumers!).

IMG_1851

It’s obvious if you are observant that people are more fit in Fort Collins. Mainly because this city prioritizes being outdoors and being active. The roughly 150,000 residents actually vote to include and fund the city’s open space, and the city and county have tons of nature trails. Add this to all the federal parks surrounding the area, each with a multitude of hikes, and you’ve got a sporty, outdoorsy culture.

On top of that, the city has a robust biking system, so much so that it’s a common method of transportation. Our hosts routinely ride their bikes to work, and they say there are people (crazy people!) who do this year-round even in the cold, icy Colorado winters.

When we stay in the area, we usually “check out” bikes from the Bike Library downtown, but this time our hosts lent us their extra bikes for transportation during our stay.

In addition to being totally bike-friendly, the Old Town (downtown) area of Fort Collins is wonderful to walk around in because it has a more local vibe than that of a tourist destination.

7. Colorado Fort Collins old town square
Old Town Square had a live concert going on. They have these pianos painted by different artists stationed all over Old Town.
7. Colorado Fort Collins old town alley
There are tons of interesting alleyways to explore, many with murals like this one.
6. Colorado Fort Collins condo veggie garden
Here’s our hosts’ veggie garden where I got to pick yummy tomatoes for my salads. Their plants were way more productive than mine right now in the 110 degree Vegas summer!

Although the Fort is pretty liberal for Colorado, it doesn’t seem to have as developed a vegan community as, dare I say it, Las Vegas. Please correct me if I’m wrong! And point me towards some good resources. Next time I visit, maybe I’ll try to find a vegan meetup.

For food, it does have one of my favorite vegan restaurants, though. Tasty Harmony – probably my favorite name! You can also easily make your own healthy eats with ingredients from the local Whole Foods, Sprouts Market, or the little grocery Co-op downtown. Since it’s a somewhat agricultural area, there are also great farmers markets with local produce. And if you want to shop at an extra amazing farmers market, you can take Saturday morning and venture an hour south to Boulder, Colorado. While you are there, check out the clothing at Prana, Gaiam, or Patagonia – affectionately termed Patagucci – in the downtown Pearl Street Mall.

6. Colorado Tasty Harmony Jackfruit Tacos Special
Of course we had to visit the local vegan restaurant, Tasty Harmony. I’ll do a spotlight on it in another article, but here’s the photo of their delish barbeque jackfruit tacos with cashew sour cream.

When we weren’t at Tasty Harmony (and we did visit them twice), we were able to maintain our normal eating habits by utilizing our hosts’ fridge and kitchen. We stationed our vitamix on the counter and made them green smoothies every morning in exchange for room and board. 🙂

7. Colorado green smoothie bowl breakfast
Here is my breakfast to give me the energy for a long day of hiking. A banana-kale green smoothie in a bowl.

Staying fit in the Fort

  • Group classes

    This city has a 24-Hour Fitness gym location, and I have a membership. So I did two group workout classes while I was there. The first was the dance-inspired “Willpower and Grace”. It was my first time trying that, but it was really cool cross-training because we were barefoot and focused on landing light and gripping the floor with our feet. Then, a couple of days later, I went to my usual BodyPump weight lifting class.

    When I was talking with the really well-defined Pump instructor about my fitness routine, she said that diversifying with some low rep, heavy weights one day a week would help me to get better definition and take my fitness to the next level. This wasn’t news to me since I came to that conclusion myself before and did just that for several months last year. But I slowly fell back into the familiar pattern of 3-day-a-week BodyPump classes simply because it’s easier to just show up and not have to create my own routine and motivation.

    As I brainstorm ways to stay fit during my longer stay in Toronto, I may incorporate this. Maybe I’ll spring for a few personal training (or group) sessions to help me develop a good individual strength routine? Any ideas or advice?

  • Biking as transportation

    Do as the locals do. The bike trails are extensive, and everyone bikes here. You can get just about everywhere by bike. Loved ditching the car.

  • Hiking

    It’s easy to hike every day around Fort Collins because there are so many locations near the city – even open space and trails inside the city boundaries. We were lucky to have a super-knowledgeable host who hikes every week, and we had a blast exploring the hikes she planned for us.

6. Colorado hike Devil's Backbone
Here is the start of the Devil’s Backbone hike that we did as a warm up. I love the end-of-summer yellow grass. The skies were cloudy making for a nice cool hike, and it eventually rained on us.

Fort Collins is on the front range of the Colorado Rockies, north of Denver. Thus, it has both prairie land to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west, making for a variety of awesome hikes.

6. Colorado hike Gem Lake
Taking a break to snack on some apples by Gem Lake in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
6. Colorado hike Gem Lake foraging
We couldn’t help but forage as we hiked since there were wild raspberries and currants temping us.

6. Colorado hike pondos

7. Colorado hike last day overlooking Horsetooth reservior
A final hike, this time in the foothills overlooking Horsetooth Reservoir.

If I were to live somewhere during the summer to avoid the Vegas heat, it would be Fort Collins. It’s the perfect example of a city that actually makes it easier to be healthy.

I left the Fort feeling really toned and in even better health that at home. All in all, for the two and a half days I was there, I fit in 2 hours strength training, 8 hours hiking, 10 miles bike riding, and a little walking. I also ate really healthy – even with two meals at Tasty Harmony. I mostly prepared my own food, and, since I was so busy, I rarely ate out of boredom and didn’t have any evening snacks after my dinner.

The next photolog will cover my drive up through the remote but beautiful countryside of Eastern Wyoming and Montana and my “border crossing” into Canada.

Know Fort Collins? Share your favorite Colorado healthy or vegan resources in the comments below. Or how you eat when you camp.

This is another What I Ate Wednesday.

More Unforgettable Insight

6 Responses to Colorado and Fort Collins Photolog: My Healthy Roadtrip Days 4-7

  1. I’m happy to have my garden featured! One thing that your readers might like to know is that you and Jay inspire those of us who do not have a vegan diet. You certainly had me thinking of alternatives to my diet and did so in a very positive, non-pushy sort of way. Please come back anytime to the Fort!!

    • Thanks for sharing Christina! I’m so happy to hear that we could make a positive, non-pushy impact on you guys!!! That’s probably the nicest thing you could say to me since that is my #1 goal. And proof that leading by example is a powerful thing. And don’t worry, we had such a great time that we will definitely be returning!

  2. I’m happy to have my garden featured! One thing that your readers might like to know is that you and Jay inspire those of us who do not have a vegan diet. You certainly had me thinking of alternatives to my diet and did so in a very positive, non-pushy sort of way. Please come back anytime to the Fort!!

    • Thanks for sharing Christina! I’m so happy to hear that we could make a positive, non-pushy impact on you guys!!! That’s probably the nicest thing you could say to me since that is my #1 goal. And proof that leading by example is a powerful thing. And don’t worry, we had such a great time that we will definitely be returning!

  3. Sounds like a wonderful trip, Adria! My husband and I will be moving to NM, hopefully next year…we’ll be visiting in about 3 weeks. We’ll be in Silver City in the southwestern portion of the state. It is so beautiful! We visited Colorado Springs two years ago it it was a great place. The West is just so beautiful in general. I know what you mean about the sky and actually being able to see the Milky Way. We live in NJ right now and you can see a few stars but mostly you see haze. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful trip, Adria! My husband and I will be moving to NM, hopefully next year…we’ll be visiting in about 3 weeks. We’ll be in Silver City in the southwestern portion of the state. It is so beautiful! We visited Colorado Springs two years ago it it was a great place. The West is just so beautiful in general. I know what you mean about the sky and actually being able to see the Milky Way. We live in NJ right now and you can see a few stars but mostly you see haze. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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