A Beer and Biking Journey Through Fruita and Palisade, Colorado

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RAIF on 18 Road

A recent beer and biking journey through Fruita and Palisade taught us how to connect our past with our present, and why it’s so important to connect those dots along the way.  This is our story.

Life, especially RV life is about connections.  We connect with the land, our rigs, places, food, drinks, animals, and most importantly other people.  Of course everyone makes these connections. They don’t solely belong to RV life, but what makes RV life different in its connections to all these things, is that it is constantly changing.

Some might be energized by that thought, but many are terrified of that idea.  It’s what I call being comfortable with the uncomfortable, with the unknown and uncertainties that come with travel.  And while almost everyone can grasp that concept, not everyone understands how that constant influx can invigorate a soul, and make it come alive again.

Ken and Ape at Declaration Denver

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Now I’m not saying that everyone needs to drop what they are doing and move into an RV or choose the nomadic lifestyle. What I am saying is to be brave, change it up a bit every once in awhile.  Take a spur of the moment trip, even if it is just hiking a different trail or trying out a new coffee shop, or especially a new craft brewery.  It doesn’t have to be life altering to be soul altering.  Say hi to a stranger while sipping on your favorite beverage, read a different perspective, put on some flip flops if you always wear tennis shoes, read a love story if you always read nonfiction, go for a hike instead of a bike ride, pet a cat instead of a dog.  Move into an RV instead of staying in your house. You get the picture.

We, as most of you know, chose the latter, and as a result, are creating connections we never thought existed.

Denver – Our Home Town

Aurora and Dan Declaration DenverIt’s hard to say goodbye, yet harder not to.  We’ve only just begun this RV life, and our plans have allowed us to constantly return to our home base, so much so, that it feels as though we haven’t yet left.  Just a short while ago, we were in Denver at one of our favorite breweries, Declaration, where we have made a few connections with people in a home brew club, so while hanging with friends new and old, the RV life forgotten for a moment as we returned to a place of comfort and familiarity, we reverted to our old selves, thinking, if only for a moment, should we stay?

But then in this place of comfort, we saw something new, yeast!  Wait! What?  Yes, yeast. Declaration is one of the rare craft breweries in the country that has its own yeast lab (they grow their own yeast to make their beer), and let me tell you that little lab is better equipped than most high school science labs.  And something as simple as touring a brewery and learning about their innovative work in beer yeasts instantly brought back that thrill of traveling on those roads that lead to the unknown, those dark, desert highways.

Ken and Ape 18 Road Fruita Mountain Biking

Beer and Biking – Fruita and Palisade

The ones with the cool wind in your hair and the shimmering lights in the distance. Not knowing what is ahead is often times the best part of living in an RV.  That is how we felt when we left Denver for the unknowns of Fruita, Colorado and 18 Road, a popular mountain biking destination, except not usually in the midst of summer.  It is, after all, a desert. But us RV lifer’s and mountain bikers are in it for the unknown, so Ken and I spent three intensely hot days in the middle of nowhere with only the sun, the moon, and the stars to keep us company.

This time the connection was about place, and oh what a beautifully deserted place to connect to, the bumps and rollers and exposed drop offs and wide open desert expanses glowing pink and purple in the Palisade Brewing Companysetting sun.  The connection here was imminent, while fiery hot at 100-plus degrees, the climbing and well earned downhill screamed for the cold craft beers that our palates have come to love including Palisade’s own, Dirty Hippie Dark Wheat and Living the Dream Ice Climber Imperial IPA to name just a couple.

After three days of screaming intense quiet, my nature, fitting well with RV life, screamed for new connections, actual ones including electricity and water, but more meaningful ones including people and new beers and wines.  We were, after all, in Colorado wine country.

Wine, Oh Sweet Wine

While Fruita was quite the mountain biking town, Palisade, less than 30 miles away heading east on I-70,  was calling our names. We were excited to check out our first Harvest Host (a network of wineries and farms that offer unique overnight stays, and if you click on the link and join, you get a discount), a winery in Palisade, Grande River Vineyards, where we met wonderful people. People such as Randy from Grande River, our gracious Harvest Host host.  While it was his job to offer us wine tastings, he did not have to listen to our silly ramblings about wine (of which we know little), nor did he have to take the time out of his day to give us a very informative and entertaining tour of the winery Winery tour Grande River Palisadeitself.  And just that brought back connections from family in Denver, memories of years of laughter, tears, fights, kisses, travels, all over glasses of wine and food lovingly made in kitchens where we have spent years together, creating memories, as our kids grew up together, as we grew up together, building connections stronger than the strongest rope used to climb Everest.  You see, we may leave, yet we never truly leave.  That vineyard, while feeding our souls with new connections, nourished it with cherished ones as well.

It also nourished our taste buds with hints of chocolate, fruits, and of course grapes.  Their notable reds that we recommend are the 2015 Heritage Red and the 2015 Syrah. Not only did we walk away with a bit more knowledge of how wine is made, but we also walked away with a beautiful bottle of their Ruby Port with plans to share with my family on our South Dakota farm while sitting around a campfire watching the lightning bugs, swatting away mosquitoes, and laughing away the night.  New places, new people, new wines, old loves, always reconnecting. RV living can do this to you.

Peaches and Distilleries

April Peach Street Distillers PalisadePalisade…it makes you think of peaches, right?  And oh, the fresh farmers’ stalls are everywhere, just like you would imagine, from fresh peaches to plums, to pickles, to jams, jellies, oils, and even lavender.  Just wander anywhere for about 20 minutes whether strolling along on casual walk or riding a bike with a basket to gather all the newfound goodies.  You could even catch a ride from a horse-drawn carriage.  But you needn’t wander too far until you come upon Palisade’s very own distillery, Peach Street Distillers,  with vodka, whiskey, gin, and more, bringing back fond memories of friends moved on to their own adventures, their own tales to tell, yet connections still made to keep us forever linked to the places we’ve called home. I wonder, will these new places become caught up in our souls, too?

Peach Street Distillers Palisade

So, while the distilleries visited on a walking tour in Denver delivered wondrous flavors of whiskey, Peach Street Distillers created a painter’s palate of cocktail concoctions to match anyone’s desire.  But, we are adventurous RV’ers, so true to the
spirit, we try something that makes us a bit uncomfortable, maybe a bit too excited for just a cocktail.  But, oh, this Bloody Mary, is nothing ordinary to the senses.  We cannot help but stare as others imbibe them. Vibrant colors of reds and greens, it’s not just a drink, it’s a full on salad, and as recommended, we tried the spicy pepper vodka to add to the intensity.  Maybe it was the young man that had just smoothly made his way next to me at the bar, generously offering to pay for my drink without making a move on me, maybe it was the unique ambience of that just right dark combined with light wood, maybe it was the company I kept, my soulmate of 26 years, but that was the best damned Bloody Mary this side of Texas.  Or maybe it was just that good.

It is Always About the Beer

But everything good has to come to an end, and we are beer drinkers, not cocktail sippers.  It was time to move on to the brewery, Palisade Brewing Company, to be exact.  Could it offer the same connections to our memories and home as the winery and distillery had?

Palisade Brewing April

It did. One of the reasons we named our company Living a Stout Life was because of the connections and conversations made with strangers, strangers that quickly become people you want to know,  that happen around a good beer.  One only has to be drinking a good beer, oh, and a smile doesn’t hurt.  Cue nachos, too, surprisingly good ones served only on a paper plate with a lump of sour cream and salsa, but those must have been made with love, because we sure loved them.  But we loved the beers even more, from IPA’s to porters to saisons, and more, their flavors balanced well with the cool evening desert air of the welcoming sounds of conversations and laughter everywhere.

You just can’t beat ending the night with a beer and a good conversation, and as so often as our nights end, we created connections with a couple from just down the road in Grand Junction, Colorado, and Paris, France.  With such an array of opinions and open-mindedness, the words, along with the beer, continued to flow into the night, until they had to return to their B&B, and us to RAIF.

Family has called us back to Denver again, and we must go, but our new families and friends yet to be made continuously call us back to the road.  The connections here create connections everywhere, reminding us that we are all together in this crazy adventure of not only RV life, but life.

Stout Life Approved




(This article was originally published in #RV Magazine. #RV Magazine is digital, independent and focused on the latest RVs, trends and the needs of tech nomads, full-timers and van-lifers. It’s the magazine for people who never thought they’d buy an RV magazine.)


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