Category Archives: Coffee

extemporize.

[ik-stem-puh-rahyz]

verb (used without object), extemporized, extemporizing.
1. to speak extemporaneously.
2. to sing, or play on an instrument, composing the music as one proceeds; improvise.
3. to do or manage something in a makeshift way.
verb (used with object), extemporized, extemporizing.
4. to make or devise extempore.
5. Music. to compose offhand; improvise.

Derek Jeter has been at the Starbucks next to where I work three days in the past week. When my coworker let me know the first time, I sauntered over. My only plan was to see if my note had been delivered. I guess I thought maybe it’d be sitting on his table. It wasn’t. So as I walked by, I realized I couldn’t extemporize because that’s too dangerous. Who knows what would come out of my mouth! So I walked in Starbucks, circled the line of thirsty people, and walked back by Jeter without coffee in hand. He smiled. I smiled.

The next day, he was back. I was in need of coffee, so I walked over, ordered, and then grabbed a sugar packet. My plan was not to extemporize, but to set the sugar down and say, “You left your name tag on the counter in there.”

As I walked by his table, my plan seemed utterly ridiculous. Not sweet, but creepy. I didn’t even look his way.

After the note and gift card I gave to the barista to deliver to him a couple weeks ago, I now have to wait and “play it cool”, something I have yet to accomplish in my 29 years.

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quidnunc.

[kwid-nuhngk]

noun

  1. a person who is eager to know the latest news and gossip; a gossip or busybody.

Did you guys hear the news about the quidnunc? Yeah, me neither. I try to not be one. I know at times though, I soak it up like a brand new sponge that’s been waiting for a purpose. Usually when I’m sitting at a coffee house alone, I can’t help but listen to the folks next to me. This instant, for instance, two gals are having a heated discussion. So-and-so dated and really liked so-and-so-jerk who dumped her because he liked “really petite girls only.” This made me feel guilty for being so petite and sitting so close to this nearly 6′ tall girl, as if rubbing in my under-five-feet stature. She then started talking about short folks as if they were the worst possible kind of people.

“I do NOT like her. I do not like her or the other one. Who’s the other one? There’s two of them. One with glasses and one…there are two of them I do not like.”

If I were a character in a movie, I’d write down my phone number and set it on their table before leaving and say, “Please give this to the fella you’ve been talking about.”

rubberneck.

[ruhb-er-nek] Informal.

verb

1. to look about or stare with great curiosity, as by craning the neck or turning the head.

noun, Also, rubbernecker:

2. a sightseer; tourist.

3. an extremely curious person.

I am not a Yankee fan, but I am a Derek Jeter fan. He’s a handsome son of a gun with a good heart (I guess I don’t know that really, but who will disagree?) When he retired, the tribute commercials made me cry along with the rest of America.

He frequents the Starbucks I work near. About a year ago, my coworker said, “He’s always there.” I put my hands on my hips and said, “I’m always there. I haven’t seen him…” I became a bit of an anticipatory rubbernecker. Instead of telling my coworkers, “I’m going to get a coffee,” I said, “I’m going to see Jeter.”

My walk to Starbucks is always exciting because I’m closer to getting caffeine, and my heart beats faster as I think, “Will I see Jeter today?” Jeter and a side of Americano. Doesn’t it sound delicious??

It took six months working in Tampa next to his favorite Starbucks for our schedules to collide. He wore big aviator glasses and his smile made it hard to look away. So I did not. I ordered my coffee while I was having an internal struggle…I didn’t want to interrupt him because the poor beautiful man could most likely never have a green tea in peace, but I also didn’t want to not say anything, because I had been waiting to see the famous pin-striped #2 for a while.

The barista broke my daze when he asked, “Would you like any food today?”

I looked at the pastry case and saw a large snowman sugar cookie. I said, “Sure, I’ll take a snowman cookie please.”

I walked outside and up to his table where he sat with three other people. I nervously set the snowman cookie in front of him as I quickly said, “This is for you guys to share.”

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He smiled and laughed and said, “Thanks. That’s really nice of you. I appreciate it.” I would’ve responded, but I was walking away rapidly, my footsteps matching my racing heartbeat.

Then folks gave me a hard time. “You don’t think Jeter can afford his own cookie?” or “You didn’t get a photo?!” So I decided the next time I saw him, I’d say, “I’m the girl who got you the snowman cookie. My friends don’t believe me, so can we please get a photo together?”

The problem was, when I saw him a couple days ago, it was about seven months later; the snowman cookie story has melted and gone stale. So I didn’t have a plan. I froze. I sat at a table a few tables away. Then I realized I wasn’t close enough, so I non-nonchalantly moved to the table next to him. He was smiling and talking with his friend. I snuck a photo. I pretended to read. I rubbernecked a ridiculous amount.

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I then stood up because I was on the clock at work, like a real slacker. His friend looked over at me and smiled, so I smiled back and said, “Hi.” Then I looked at Derek Jeter and saluted with my left hand, because I was holding my coffee in my right. I said, “’Ello, Captain.” He smiled, nodded, and said, “Hey.”

Next time, after the rubbernecking, I plan on buying him another cookie and saying, “Trade you this cookie for a photo?” I’m sure I’ll change my mind by the next Jeter sighting…

Must see, must read, must sip list: hikes, bookstores, and coffee shops in Estes Park, CO

Estes Park, CO houses all you could ever want and you might start looking for real estate. Estes (pronounced “Est-is”, not “Est-ees”) has the rockiest mountains, Colorado’s largest collection of whiskey, the strongest coffee, and the friendliest folks (though I’m here in April and not during the summer tourist overload; the friendliness might decrease by July). The main downtown street leads right to the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. The following are my favorite hikes, coffee shops, and bookstore (singular, but if there were more, I think this one would still be my favorite).

Inkwell & Brew

I could spend $500 here easily. Everything is beautiful. Prints, stationery, posters, journals made out of wood, it is fantastic. As you browse you can smell the espresso beans being ground. The coffee is delectable and the service is top notch. The baristas made me feel very special until I sat upstairs for a couple hours and heard conversations with other customers. They treat everyone as if they’re special and it kept me coming back.

You might find yourself staying for hours when you hadn’t planned on it and you might become hungry. Worry not! Inkwell & Brew has a variety of wraps, sandwiches, and salads. I had a spinach, brie, dried fig, almond, turkey salad that I would’ve paid $10 for at a restaurant. It was $6 here. So then you can use the $4 you save on the salad to buy stationery. Check them out: http://inkwellbrew.com/

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Mills Lake

Roundtrip: 5.5 miles

Wow. My favorite, but also my first, hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.

I trudged through both soft and icy snow in order to see a panoply called Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. I saw five people on the trail and three of them turned around because every twentieth step would plunge you hip deep in snow. I had Yak Trax (chains that slide on my boots) and two walking sticks made for petite hikers which were waiting for me at the trailhead and I felt like Mills Lake had to be seen. I read that it’s the prettiest lake in the park. So I trudged on with a big smile and a lot of layers.

The trail was well marked in the beginning and then I think I ended up following one fella’s large tracks as he lost the trail. This is the problem with snow covered trails, one wrong move and you’re toast. Cold toast. It turns out he had no idea where he was going. This made the 5.5 mile hike about 6.5 miles.

I followed the fella’s tracks until they ended in a big circle, looking like he stood there, turned around a few times, and then turned back. I knew I had to be close to the lake, so I was totally bummed about having to turn around. I got back to the river and climbed a rock to get the prettiest view. And on top of the rock, I found the trail again!

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Sprague Lake

There’s a half mile walking trail that follows the lake and it’s nice if you don’t have much time…or if you really want to just go sit at Inkwell & Brew. I cannot blame you for that.

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Kind Coffee

The windows face the river. There are plenty of seats, whether you want to be in the middle of it all or on a couch in the back room. The mugs and tshirts all read “Be Kind.” It’s the kind of place Ellen DeGeneres would adore. The coffee is delicious and you get a free refill if you stay in house, which you will want to do.

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Cruising in Rocky Mountain National Park

This might be my favorite past time here. Check out the views from the park:

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Bear Lake

This beauty is only about 500 feet from the Bear Lake parking lot, therefore it has a Disney World feel instead of a National Park feel. The morning I decided to hike to Bierdstadt, a tour bus pulled up as I was starting. This made me walk much faster. I recommend seeing Bear Lake on your way to Bierstadt Lake.

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Bierdstadt Lake

Roundtrip: 4 miles

The trail from Bear Lake to Bierstadt is two miles. It starts out a bit steep, but levels off nicely and has a lovely view from the trail before going into the woods:

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There is a parking lot that leads right to Bierstadt Lake, and that’s why this route is so great. It’s like taking Frost’s road less traveled and it was covered in more than just frost in April. It’s a bit longer and less crowded in the most beautiful way.

Be sure to walk the trail around the lake once you arrive. The view of the Front Range Mountains will take your breath away.

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Nymph Lake

Roundtrip: 3.6 miles (includes Dream and Emerald Lakes)

Park at the Bear Lake parking lot and hike up to the left and you’ll be able to see Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lakes.

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Dream Lake

As I rounded the snowy corner and saw the mountains dramatically framing half frozen Dream Lake, I gasped. Then I laughed and said, “Wow” under my breath. Dream Lake is just that, an absolute dream. I found a rock in the sunshine and ate a hardboiled egg while I watched the fish swim near me. I looked up when I heard voices and gasped again when I saw two guys walking across the half frozen lake. I’m sure on their side, it was very frozen, but like I said, I was just watching fish swim on my side. I was having such a peaceful lunch until I kept thinking I was going to have to go all It’s a Wonderful Life on them and I would never hear from out of my left ear again.

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The Rock Inn

The Rock Inn has a cabin and lodgelike feel with the fire roaring and live music playing. I believe it stops during the summer, but on Thursday nights currently (April), there is a bluegrass jam session and everyone is welcome. They sounded great and they were having a wonderful time together. I watched it all as I sipped on my two for one red wines (4-6pm is happy hour and they have local beer on tap) and devoured a white pizza. Highly recommended. I will think about The Rock Inn when I think about Estes.

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Gem Lake

Roundtrip: 3.2 miles

This trail starting at the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead is not boring. For one, the view of the mountains is spectacular for most of the walk. Second, there are little chipmunks all over scattering about and being cute, cute, cute. Thirdly, the trail is not boring because there are steep steps and breaks might be necessary; they were for me. Gem Lake is small compared to the others, but it’s peaceful.

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Chapel on the Rock

Just outside of Estes Park in Allenspark, the Chapel on the Rock is worth the fifteen minute drive on highway 7 (also the Peak to Peak Highway that will take you to Brainard Lake to see the Indian Peaks).

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Coffee on the Rocks

As I passed the snowy patio by the river on the way to the front door, I realized I was already overly caffeinated and thought I should come back later. But I saw the sign of specials full of things like “peanut butter lattes” and “sticky candy lattes” and two people were being welcomed by sweet elderly locals and I wanted to stay to take it all in.

“I just want to personally welcome you to Estes. And if you’re ever here at 8:30 in the mornings, we’ll be sure to see you!”

As the local couple left, the barista said, “And that’s why I like working here.”

I went to the back room and sat by the window next to two elderly gentlemen in plaid shirts and faded jeans. They smiled at me and I felt like I belonged.

Will Coffee on the Rocks pass Kind or Inkwell & Brew on my Estes favorite list? Neh. Those two are solidly tied at the top. But Coffee on the Rocks seems to fill a niche as well. It is not downtown, but only about a mile away.

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Summit Coffee Drive Thru

I know you’re excited about hearing my review of the chicken fried latte, but I couldn’t do it. A local told me to not waste my money and when I looked up reviews, others seem to agree. Now you know.

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MacDonald Book Shop

Old MacDonald has more than just a farm. And it’s lovely. It’s not large but the selection somehow doesn’t even suffer from this. The people are kind and the place is charming. Take a seat and start a book.

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The Stanley Hotel

Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining while staying with this family at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. Because of this, it is creepy. You can buy stickers, patches, plaques, sweatshirts to show everyone you love The Shining and you might lose a couple friends. The Stanley Hotel sits on Wonderview Avenue and it has just that. Since I’m a budget traveler (nice way to say “poor”), I did not eat or drink here, but I sat by the fire and planned my next hike. The whiskey at the Cascades Whiskey Bar is supposed to be divine.

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Bridal Veil Falls

Roundtrip: 6.1 miles

The trail to Bridal Veil Falls starts at the Cow Creek Trailhead. The walk is very easy until the last quarter mile or so, when it becomes steep and you have to climb a few rocks. There were many signs of wildlife here: bear, deer, and elk scat. I’d bring trekking poles in order to look large if you see an animal. And I learned rattlesnakes on the trail hear the vibration of the poles and slither off.

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Enjoy Estes Park! I have no doubt that you will.

pabulum.

\ PAB-yuh-luhm \  , noun; 

  1. material for intellectual nourishment.
  2. somethingthatnourishes an animal or vegetable organism; food; nutriment.
  3. pablum.

I think my mental pabulum is being in a different place physically. It’s too easy to be in your routine at the same place you wake up every morning. It’s almost abnormal to go sit outside and read and write because I have to watch recorded Ellen shows and do laundry.

I’m dog sitting this week and I don’t know how to work the TV. It’s marvelous. I’m sitting on the back porch and am easily emotioned (patent pending). Perhaps it’s the overwhelming sunshine to cool breeze ratio or the trees that stand too tall to capture in a picture from where I sit with my half caf coffee. Because it’s half caf, I can have twice as much and I’m three cups in. Coffee serves as my favorite pabulum. The stories I wrote this morning on the porch are still in the making so they cannot be published here. I’m looking forward to the January to May US road trip and all the new places for intellectual nourishment. And all the new varieties of coffee!

gapeseed.

\ GEYP-seed, GAP- \  , noun; 

1. British Dialect . a person who gapes or stares in wonder, especially a rustic or unworldly person who is easily awed.
2. British Dialect . a daydream or reverie.
3. British Dialect . an idealistic, impossible, or unreal plan or goal.
4. British Dialect . something that is gaped at; anything unusual or remarkable.
What a fantastic word. I do not always label myself as “rustic” or “unworldly” but I do gape and stare in wonder. Just half an hour ago at Starbucks, I was leaning against the wall waiting for my Americano and gaping at those around me. The thirsty people were working on laptops, checking out the “Wanted” signs on the bulletin board, or swiping through newsfeeds on phones. The barista set a tall double shot espresso on the counter. A man dressed in a batman shirt two sizes too small grabbed the cup and took a massive gulp. Then he took a rapid breath, and took two more gulps. He gasped and threw the red cup away, looking like he won whatever contest he was entered in. Then the barista set a grande latte on the counter and chubby Batman took it aggressively and walked out with an unnecessary amount of energy.

crapehanger.

\ KREYP-hang-er \  , noun; 

1.a person who sees the gloomy side of things; pessimist.

It’s really easy to be a crapehanger. I mean, if you’ve already had half of your Americano, you know there’s only half left and that’s a gloomy realization.

As I was driving to work, I was stuck behind someone from Illinois. We were going 40 mph in a 60 mph limit zone. I started to act like a real crapehanger and kept checking the busy left lane as I put my blinker on to pass the tourist. Then I thought, I’m going to go 40 mph and I’m going to look at the view like I’ve never seen it before. I’m going to imagine what an Illinoisan must notice and enjoy. It was lovely.  The water was still and it looked like glass. It was relaxing and eye opening and I arrived at work just one minute late and a lot happier.