Is Downtown Golden, Colorado Vegan-Friendly? Easy for a Plant-Based Diet? Yes.

Yes. You can easily survive on a vegan diet in Golden, Colorado. I experienced this myself last week when my wife and I mapped out our own “plant-based” tour of Golden.

I have to say, though- it didn’t take much effort. We learned that most restaurants in Golden have at least a couple vegan menu items, or they will find a way to modify an menu item to accommodate.

Somewhat curious on several menus was the presence of the jackfruit sandwich, as seen above. By default, it was my favorite- and my go-to menu item whenever I got the chance.

Specifically, I had it on two different occasions at Buffalo Rose, which would easily become our favorite restaurant.

And while I normally don’t indulge in dessert, I was so glad I made the exception for their coconut flan; see below.

My wife was crazy about their “cauliflower buffalo wings”:

As well as their hummus plate:

If you’re in the mood for Thai food (which I always am, after spending two summers there in college), then you will surely enjoy Thai Gold Restaurant.

And you will definitely want to check out Tributary Food Hall & Drinkery, which contains several different “street style” restaurants featured inside the building.

I personally recommend Kona Bowls Superfood, as seen at far bottom.

For breakfast each morning, we enjoyed trying out each of the local coffee shops.

In other words, we did intermittent fasting in the mornings, as we would have some coffee and then immediately going on a 2 hour hike until it was time for lunch.

So we only ate two meals a day: lunch and dinner. Our breakfast was coffee, plenty of water, and the hike.

It goes hand-in-hand that with Golden being surrounded by so many state parks and hiking trails, Golden would naturally draw in people who would demographically also happen to appreciate a plant-based diet. If that’s you, then make your way over to Golden!

Hiking Gilliam Loop Trail and Pogo Ridge (9 Miles) in DeSoto State Park During Christmas 2019

Christmas 2019 was extra special in that my nephew Matt (who is in the Air Force, stationed on Mississippi) and my niece Sara (who is a school teacher in California) were able to spend the holidays with my family in Alabama.

With all the Christmas cargo we had to take down from where we actually live in Tennessee and then bring back from Alabama, my wife and I decided to take both her Hyundai Elantra and my Jeep Wrangler for the nearly 3 hour drive there.

For me, it was just an excuse to be able to serve as a Jeep tour guide during Christmas vacation. I started out by taking Matt and Sara (and their mother Jeanene) on a 23 mile drive along Little River Canyon on Christmas Eve.

And for the day after Christmas, I announced I would be heading up a 9 mile hike in a “hidden gem” of a trail in DeSoto State Park, called Gilliam Loop (which begins at Cabin 21)- or at least, my version of it.

Matt and Sara agreed to join me, with zero hesitation.

Gilliam Loop is actually a mountain biking trail, but if you know where to veer off the path, you can connect to Pogo Ridge.

Back in 1934, the Civilian Conversation Corps (known as CCC) built culverts along the trail, which runs parallel to Little River.

So it is really cool to see these 86 year-old structures still in place.

Pogo Ridge leads a crossing point of Little River itself. However, we opted not to cross through the river, which would have meant we would have had to hike the rest of the day in wet clothes.

Therefore, we took Exit 4 of the trail back to the Road 12.

When it was all said and done, we had hiked 9.25 miles in 3 hours.

Before heading back to the house, I took them by Howard’s Chapel; the church built into a giant rock, where the founding pastor’s ashes are contained.

Oh, and I failed to mention:

Christmas Week 2019 contained perfect Fall Weather, which allowed us to have this much fun!

I had the top off the Jeep the entire time, as the temperate remained in the 60s for most of the time.

It will be a Christmas I never forget!

Jeep Family Road Trip Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, AL: Train Ride, Petting Zoo, and Nature Hike

I grew up on Lookout Mountain in Fort Payne, Alabama; which happens to be the midway point between Chattanooga and Gadsden- less than an hour from both cities.

A month ago, my wife and I took a scenic drive all the way down the mountain to downtown Chattanooga. But this past weekend for our son’s Fall Break, we simply drove in the other direction, which led to Gadsden -home of Noccalula Falls.

Despite visiting the place throughout my own childhood, somehow I had yet to take my own family there. I suppose our new Jeep serves as constant motivation to discover (or rediscover) nearby hidden gems!

Children ages 3 and under are free admission, so we only paid a total of $16 to enter the park. That granted us access to the petting zoo, the train ride around the park, and the trails that go down to the bottom of Noccalula Falls.

It was a great way to spend an Autumn morning…

So if you are looking for a fun affordable family road trip, I highly suggest Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama!

Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn, Georgia: Hiking the Trails Down to Hemlock Falls and Cherokee Falls

I was born and raised in Fort Payne, Alabama in the 1980s and 90s. My dad’s side of the family lived just an hour on the other side of Lookout Mountain; near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

At least half a dozen times each year, we would drive to see that side of the family for get-togethers. A little past halfway of the trip, I would always notice a brown government sign advertising Cloudland Canyon State Park; just 3 miles to the left.

But being that we already lived next to the Little River Canyon Preserve and DeSoto State Park, we were already quite exposed to the Alabama side of Lookout Mountain’s natural wonders.

So as a kid, I never visited Cloudland Canyon State Park. It wasn’t until 3 years ago when I took my 5 year-old son (at the time), that I finally realized how awesome that place is.

Last weekend during Memorial Day Weekend, I decided to take a fun backroads Jeep ride with my now 8 year-old son and my dad.

We had heard you could hike down in the the canyon and check out some waterfalls.

And is exactly what we did.

It had the appeal of a theme park… except, it is an actual real park.

One of the highlights for my son is when we he was able to catch a crayfish at the bottom of one of the waterfalls.

Granted, this isn’t a hike for the faint of heart. It’s a 2 mile hike, but it’s straight down… and then you still have to hike back up.

But I am already looking forward to going back!

Dear Jack: The Crayfish You Caught at the Waterfall

8 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Saturday morning, you and I went hiking with Papa at Cloudland Canyon State Park in Georgia; which is only 30 miles from Nana and Papa’s house.

We took a long hike down into the canyon, where we were able to check out some waterfalls.

It was in a puddle formed in conjunction to one of the waterfalls that you had a hunch that there might be a creature to catch.

Unbeknownst to me, you had proactively brought a bug container with you on our hike.

You were so proud of the crayfish you caught.

As we hiked back up to the top of the park, several of the hikers making their way down said to one another, “Look at one that boy caught… some kind of fish?”

That was pretty cool.

Love,

Daddy