54. BMX at Soft Gold Park

There are two BMX tracks in town that are maintained by the city and are free of charge. One is at Soft Gold Park on Hickory St on the north edge of town. The other is a competetive track at Edora Park where races are held. The Soft Gold track is perfect for kids. I learned about this place from my sister, she takes my 4 year old nephew here. The little guy is already pretty handy with a bike and thinks riding up and down dirt mounds is about the coolest thing a person can do.     

Soft Gold Park has all kinds of fun stuff. A dog park, a basketball court, baseball fields, street hockey court, playground, bbq grills and shelters as well as a nature trail and a pond. Certainly a fine place to spend one of our beautiful fall afternoons.

53. $1 Pints and Savory Bar-B-Que at Mo Jeaux’s

Fort Collins Bar-B-Que

I had heard rumors of a cool, down-to-earth Fort Collins bar offering $1 pints of anything on tap every Wednesday night. Today I discovered that the rumors of cheap beer were only scratching the surface. Not only can you get $1 pints of anything on tap every Wednesday night at Mo Jeaux’s from 9-12pm. There are also 14 beers on tap to choose from! I’m not talking about your standard domestic fare either. I’m talking about  Fat Tire, 5 Barrel, and even Dale’s Pale just to name a few.

Fort Collins Bar-B-Que

Although the specials offered daily at Mo Jeaux’s are something to talk about, after sitting down to a good  meal today, the real secret to this restaurant is the terrific southern bar-b-que and cajun food that makes your mouth water. You can see the passion the restaurant’s founders (Dixon Walne and Joey Wilkinson) have for serving up great food when you savor their 3 styles of homemade bar-b-que sauce or a plate of their smoked wings. Honestly, the wings I had today were some of the best I’ve had, period. Definitely the best I’ve had in Fort Collins.

Fort Collins Bar

There are so many great things that have been combined to make Mo Jeaux’s a contender for the top of your list of things to do in Fort Collins. Instead of try to cover them all in a long, verbose post, I’m going to cut right to the point and give you our Top Ten Reasons to Visit this Friendly Neighborhood Bar.

Here they are in no particular order:

10. 2 for 1 burgers on Wednesdays from 6-10pm. Not a cheap, card board patty either. We’re talking a full-size, half-pound, juicy hunk of beef.

9. Dale’s Pale on tap

8. 3 Delicious homemade bar-b-que sauces to choose from: Sweet, Medium, and Hot

7. Good Music. In the words of Dixon Walne, “I’m the one that has to work here.”

6. Great Patio for watching the sunset over the mountains on a beautiful, Colorado summer night.

5. 50 cent Wings, $2 Bud and Coors all day, and ESPN College Game Day on Saturdays. What more could you want?

4. Giant $4 Smoked Pork Hash Burritos as early as 10am on Sundays. Again, perfect for you football fans.

3. Great specials every single day of the week

2. Homemade Mac-n-Cheese made with Odell’s 5 Barrel Pale Ale.

1. 4 for 1 Coors bottles or wells on Thursdays from 9-12pm. ( A carry over from the Sullies days that just couldn’t be left behind)

Get more information on the Mo Jeaux’s Website.

Fort Collins Drink Specials

52. Drive to Cameron Pass for Moose and Aspen Viewing

Fall is a great time of year to drive up  Cameron Pass to see the aspens changing and perhaps a few moose as well. Get your dose of Aspen Gold while you can; Mike Nelson (7 News Denver) is forecasting Sept 20-30 will be the peak of aspen color in the Northern Colorado mountains.

And if you’ve never seen a moose before you’re in luck! The areas around Cameron Pass (about 1 hr & 15 min from FTC) and North Park/Walden (about 2hr) provide some world class moose viewing opportunities. In 1978 the CO Division of Wildlife introduced moose to the North Park area and they’re thriving today. Walden is dubbed the Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado but there’s plenty of them on the east side of the Pass as well. Take a drive up the Laramie River Rd, Long Draw Rd, or keep your eyes on the south (left if you’re westbound) side of Hwy 14 as you reach the very top of Cameron Pass and you’ll have a good shot at spotting a moose. Continue driving west on Hwy 14 after you’ve gone over Cameron Pass and you’ll see the Colorado State Forest Moose Visitor Center on your left just before the town of Gould. The center is near a good moose viewing spot along the Michigan River.  Remember to keep your distance from these animals especially during the fall mating season when males can become agressive. Give them lots of space and they’ll typically stand in one place and munch willow branches long enough for you to get all the pictures you want. 

A few things to remember: Bug spray! The mosquitos are thinning out this time of year but moose prefer marshy areas so it’s good to have some on hand. In the warmer summer months it’s an absolute necessity when venturing into moose habitat.  Also, bring a lunch as there are only a few eating establishments between Fort Collins and Cameron Pass. Unless of course you’re craving a Mish burger, in that case don’t bring a lunch, stop at Mishawaka, order a burger, sit on the deck overlooking the Poudre and walla, you’re in heaven.

51. The Annual Sustainable Living Fair

Sustainable Living Fair, Fort Collins, CO

The 11th Annual Sustainable Living Fair will be happening this weekend at Legacy Park on September 18 and 19. The event will offer interactive, family oriented events designed to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about: renewable energy, green building, natural health, social responsibility, and local economies. It’s a great way to spend a weekend and you’re sure to find something fun to do with the long list of available activities, entertainment, and education happening.

Visitors will be able to peruse over 250 exhibitor booths showcasing innovative products and interact with local vendors offering sustainable services in the community.

There will be informative, well-spoken, and motivating keynote speakers covering a range of topics including Doug Fine, NPR guy and author described as Jerry Seinfeld meets Edward Abbey.

Over 50 workshops will cover a range of topics too extensive to describe. Just a few examples include how to build your own wind turbine, a smoothie blending demo and tasting, yoga instruction, backyard chickens, sewing, solar panels, gardening, lifestyle, and much, much more.

Last year’s event was attended by over 12,000 and made possible by the work of 331 volunteers. The number of people attending continues to grow each year, and I’m sure this year will be no different.

The Skinny:

Held at:

Legacy Park, 300 Woodlawn Drive in Fort Collins, CO

Dates:

Saturday, September 18th: 10am – 6pm

Sunday, September 19th: 10am – 5pm

Admission:

12 and over: $8/day

Kids under 12 free

Weekend pass: $16

Buy tickets at the gate

Keynote Speakers

Saturday, September 18th at 12:00pm

- Jeff Mapes, Author of Pedaling Revolution

Saturday, September 18th at 2:00pm

- Heather C. Flores, Author of Food Not Lawns

Sunday, September 19th 12:00pm

- Andrew Harvey, Founder of Institute for Sacred Activism

Sunday, September 19th 2:00pm

- Doug Fine, Author of Farewell My Subaru

Transportation:

- FREE Fort Collins Biodiesel Shuttle Buses

- FREE Bike Valet Parking

- FREE Boat Parking

www.SustianableLivingFair.org

Photos courtesy of Sustainable Living Fair

50. Visit the Raptors at the Environmental Learning Center

The Rocky Mountain Raptor Program has  raptors available for viewing at the CSU Environmental Learning Center at Drake and Ziegler (click for map).  These birds are the Raptor Center’s education ambassadors. Due to permanent injury they are non-releasable but a small army of dedicated volunteers provide special care for these animals. Anytime from dawn to dusk you can show up and see the birds in their cages but if you happen to arrive when a volunteer is present you’ll get to see them out of their cages being fed and cared for. There are no set times to see the volunteers in action because their personal schedules vary but I was lucky enough to see them handling this Swainson’s Hawk today.  She’s happily chewing on a groundhog leg and using her wings to hide the meal from onlookers.

I’m told that every once in a while an unlucky snake will enter her cage, when the volunteers arrive they find the dead snake draped over her perch! It’s quite a treat to see these raptors up close. Here’s a few other Educational Ambassadors currently available for viewing:

Golden Eagle

 

Bald Eagle

Turkey Vulture

Since 1979 the Rocky Mountain Raptor Center has taken in over 5,000 raptors and more than 70% are released back into the wild. 7 staff members and 150+ volunteers make it possible along with mostly individual donations. They have no government funding which is pretty impressive when you hear the special diet these birds enjoy: humanely harvested groundhog, fish, quail, and literally tons of rats and mice.  Currently, 6 orphaned Great Horned Owls are eating 30 mice a day! And that’s just 6 of the 200 birds admitted so far in 2010. Click here to read how you can help provide food for RMRP.

 If you’re interested in volunteering there’s an orientation meeting October 30th, 2010.  As a trained volunteer you’ll have the opportunity to feed and care for these beautiful birds. More info on becoming a volunteer can be found on the volunteer page of the Raptor Center website. This orientation will be at the main RMRP location on Vine (map).  Also, some education ambassador birds will be at the Sustainable Living Fair this Sunday, Sept 19.

49. Visit the CSU Flower Garden

Picture of the Sign for the Colorado State Flower Garden

The CSU Annual Flower Trial Garden is a must do for your list. Particularly if you’re looking for a way to spend a relaxing afternoon in Fort Collins without an agenda. Of course if you’re a flower lover or a horticulturalist, you probably know much more about the Flower Garden than I do.

If you visit today (as in early spring), you’ll only see a very small part of the beauty that is produced throughout the summer here. If you visit the official Flower Garden website, you’ll see what you have to look forward to at the end of the summer. Thousands of flowers are planted here from late May all the way through October. They are organized by color, and type for comparison and ascetics and produce a beautiful collage of natural splendor.

Photo from www.flowertrials.colostate.edu/

Be sure to stop by a few times this summer to see the changing flowers throughout the season.

Aside form studying the different botanical varieties, it’s also a great place to throw down a picnic blanket, read a good book in the sun, or take pictures for a special occasion.

48. Ride Your Bike to Bar Double S

It’s time to get out of the Fort and over to Laporte for some craft brews and live tunes. Bar Double S has been around for a while (formerly known as the Swing Station) but with a new owner and great local music there’s new energy at this old community honky tonk. After many years working for New Belgium and travelling all over the place, JB Shireman decided to settle down and focus his energy on this Laporte bar. These days you’ll find a huge outdoor patio where you can hear everything from bluegrass to reggae. Every Tuesday and Thursday you’ll hear the Bar Double S house band Gordon Green or this Saturday check out Lonesome Traveler.

This is a clean, super friendly honky tonk with plenty of room to dance. Anytime you show up on your bike you’ll get $2.50 craft brew pints and Wednesday through Sunday some killer BBQ will be on the menu.

Check out this link for the music schedule.

Map to Bar Double S

47. Swim, Bike, and Run in a Triathalon

Bikers in the Fort Collins Triathlon

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to watch the Fort Collins Triathlon and Duathlon. Don’t worry, if you’re reading this after the fact, there’s a long list of similar events throughout the year in Fort Collins and Colorado. The Fort Collins Tri consisted of a 1/4 mile swim at Epic Pool, a 13 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run.

Runners in the Fort Collins Triathlon

The weather was beautiful for this particular event and it was really fun to watch some of my friends participate in the event. Special kudos to the mom who was 21 weeks pregnant and finished in style. The event was followed by a pancake breakfast and barbecue at the Fort Collins Club.

Swimmers in the Fort Collins Triathlon

46. Ride the Fort Collins Municipal Railway

Commonly referred to as “the trolley,” the Birney Safety Car 21 running up and down Mountain avenue has become a Fort Collins icon. The Fort Collins Municipal Railway provided daily public transportation from 1907 until 1951. The main route was up and down Mountain, north and south lines went as far south as Pitkin and as far north as Vine. I imagine anything beyond that was considered the styx back then. After service was discontinued in 1951, car 21 sat in a park for nearly 30 years until in 1977,  a tedious, 7 year restoration by volunteers returned it to working order.  A new track had to be built as well. The 1.5 mile route from from City Park to the intersection of Mountain and Howes took 5 years to complete. This was all done by volunteers from the Fort Collins Municipal Railway Society without any city money! The trolley now runs May through September, every Saturday and Sunday and some holidays from noon to 5pm. The 3 mile round trip takes about 30 minutes and is a just a dollar for adults, kids 2-12 ride for 50 cents (under two is free). On Mother’s and Father’s day the honored ones ride free. You can board the trolled at City Park near the tennis courts or at the following intersections: Mountain and Shields, Mountain and Loomis and Mountain and Howes.

Half the fun of a trolley ride is seeing incalculable joy on the faces of the little ones. Looking to spoil that niece, nephew or grandchild? This is your ticket to being the forever favorite.

45. Grab a Massive Slice of Pie at Uncle’s Pizzeria

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into Uncle’s Pizzeria is the open kitchen and giant oven sitting right in front of you that gives you the ability to see how a great pie is made right before your eyes. If you’ve never eaten one of their massive (1/4 pie) slices of an 18″ pizza, you need to put a visit to this joint on your list. Make sure to go in person, because they don’t deliver.  It’s one of the many decisions they’ve made to keep their focus on what they do best; serving up great pies.

Uncle’s Pizzeria is the brainchild of Garret Marlin and his father Dennis. Upon moving to Fort Collins one of the first things that disconcerted Garret was the fact that he couldn’t find a pizza joint that had that east coast flavor he had come to love as a kid growing up in New Jersey. It’s not that there aren’t other good pizza places in Fort Collins; there are. There’s just something about that slightly crispy, not too thin, not too thick, still a little bit doughy with that initial crunch to their pies that you won’t find at other places.

Garret came up with the name Uncle’s after going to college in Hawaii and working for a boss he always called Uncle. He never actually knew his real name, that’s just what everybody called him. In the Hawaiian culture, once you get to know someone you it’s common to call them Uncle or Auntie. It’s a sign of familiarity and friendship, one that Garret wanted to define his pizzeria. He also was proud when his oldest brother actually made him a real uncle as the store was beginning and the name stuck.

Some of the other things to love about Uncle’s is their good beer selection, cheesecake made from Garrett’s mother’s homemade recipe, and their garlic knots (the east coast version of bread sticks).

Uncle’s is located on the Southwest corner of College and Prospect in the same strip as Chuck E Cheese, Harbor Freight, and El Monte. MAP

Make sure to check out their garlic knots, the east coast version of bread sticks.