About Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock is a former magazine, newspaper and website editor turned full-time freelance writer. She has worked on staff at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, More and Parents magazines, as well as for Learnvest, the leading women's financial website. Her work has also appeared in Newsweek, Forbes, Ladies' Home Journal, the Huffington Post, AOL Travel and more.
Cheryl was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up moving around every few years as an Army brat. The urge to travel has been with her her whole life. While she calls New York City home, Cheryl makes it a priority to travel as much as possible throughout the year. Some of her favorite places include Iceland, the Great Barrier Beef, Cabo, Rome, Calabria and Munich, although she hopes to never stop exploring. Cheryl blogs about her travel adventures (and what's happening in and around New York City) at Weary Wanderer.
Latest Posts by Cheryl Lock
Recently, Chris and I decided to make the short drive out to Golden, Colorado. First on that list had to be a Coors Brewery Tour. These tours are free, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a fun driver like ours who takes you for a quick loop around Golden and gives you a bit of historical info about the area before heading over the factory. My friend Lisa and I had wanted to take the tour on an earlier trip, but the line was over an hour to wait.
A shuttle bus picks you up from the (free) parking lot and drives you over to the factory, which is humongous. The tour is unguided, and you just pick up a headset and press corresponding numbers to display cases as you walk through yourself. I think I probably would have paid more attention had the tour actually been guided, but as it was, the tour was free and it comes with three free beers per person at the end, so really it’s worth doing if you’re trying to kill some time in Golden. (Or if you happen to love Coors beer, of course.)
Everywhere you look in Golden you’ll see gorgeous mountains and blue skies. It’s pretty breathtaking.
Barrels during the tour.
Delicious beer ingredients.
The beers available each day are on display as you get down to the cafeteria area. Chris and I collectively tried the staple Coors Banquet, Batch 19 and the Colorado Native. Batch 19 was my favorite, while Chris was partial to the Native.
The reservoir surrounding the factory is used to cool the machines used by the plant.
After the tour (which took us about an hour and a half), we drove over to the adorable Golden City Brewery. This brewery is essentially in a back yard, with picnic tables and wrought iron benches, flags and soft white lights hanging everywhere. The vibe here is so laid back and casual, it’s impossible to not feel like you’re just drinking some beer in your own backyard with friends. I’ve heard there’s usually a food truck parked outside, but there wasn’t one the day we were there. The brewery sells a small assortment of food (hotdogs, pretzels, a meat & cheese plate), but I would definitely recommend eating before you come if you’re hungry.
Nothing but blue skies, friends.
After the brewery we took the 15-20 drive up the Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway, past Buffalo Bill’s Museum & Grave, to take in some of the breathtaking vistas.
We drove up the loop for quite a while, and you can see different things from different stops. That’s the city of Golden down there, and in other spots you could even see Denver in the distance.
The Coors factory, a brewery and a scenic walk/drive? I’d say a weekend doesn’t get too much more Colorado than that!
On a recent upstate New York adventure, we decided to get some down time at a lovely lake, which is roughly a 40 minute drive from Newburgh through New Paltz. Meet the glorious Lake Minnewaska, which is located on the Shawangunk Mountain ridge. The park has tons of hiking trails for any level hiker, waterfalls, places to have a picnic, swim, fish, or even rent kayaks or a canoe.
My friend Steph and I decided to first hike the smaller loop around the lake (probably about two miles in total), and then hang out by the lake for a couple hours to relax. The views are pretty spectacular and is truly a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Have a look – join me on a visual journey of the day.
- Bears!!! There were literally black bears everywhere.
- The drive from Vancouver to Whistler was incredibly beautiful!
- The people. Getting to ride with some people who are as passionate, if not more passionate, than me about snowboarding was so much fun.
- The Peak to Peak Gondola (and drinking a beer on said gondola) from Blackcomb to Whistler was an amazing ride.
Last Friday Chris and I kept up a promise we’ve made to each other to try a new place in Denver at least once a month by having dinner at The Kitchen, which is conveniently located right on the 16th St. Mall. I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I didn’t know too much about the place other than that friends had said it was good, but we were not disappointed. I may even go so far as to say that it’s one of my favorite places to eat in Denver now, and it’s definitely a great place to bring a date.
Here’s what we had …
Appetizers started out with organic mushrooms on toast, Maine mussels with grilled bread and the goat gouda gougère (basically a tasty fried cheese puff), pictured below.
Of course we had drinks. I decided to stick with white wine and Chris had — can you guess? — a Manhattan! Surprise, surprise.
This picture simply does not do my house made capellini with ramps, house ricotta & micro basil any justice, friends, because it was, in all honesty, some of the best pasta I’ve had. Ever. And I’ve had pasta in Italy. The ricotta was the perfect compliment to the capellini, and the basil was so fresh, I felt like they had just gone out back and picked it before they put it on my plate.
Dessert was cappuccino and the sticky toffee pudding.
I love the feel of community that’s so important in this restaurant, too. In fact, The Kitchen restaurants all donate a percentage of sales to help plant Learning Gardens (which are actual gardens created in schools across America to help teach kids about the importance of real food) in their local communities.
Recently, we headed to a quaint paint studio in the Highlands, one of my all-time favorite hoods in Denver. The company — Sipping N’ Painting — hosts one to three classes a day, and you can pick which photo you want to paint. (Meaning the day you pick corresponds to a specific photo — everyone in the class paints the same thing, which the artist takes you through step-by-step to create.)
We decided to paint a hot air balloon scene, and even though I’m no Picasso, I’m pretty stoked at how my photo came out …
Who doesn’t love a blank canvas and all it represents? You get one free drink with the class, and you can pay for additional drinks, or even a bottle of wine. They have snacks, too, which let’s be honest, was more important to me than the drinks.
Some of the options you can pick from to paint.
The beginnings of a skyline.
My sister called my sky “ominous” when I sent her a photo of it … ignore her.
The final product!
The studio is directly across the street from The Truffle Table — Denver’s wine & cheese bar. I have every intention of bringing my bestie (who is coming into town on Thursday for a week – squee!) back here to paint, followed by some deliciousness at The Truffle Table.
We recently hosted our first visitors to Denver, which was both fun and nerve-wracking, since we haven’t been here that long ourselves and definitely haven’t done as much exploring as I normally like to have done before invite people to try things.
Friday we met up at the local dive Star Bar for drinks before dinner. The menu changes every week, so it’s hard to say what they’ll have from one day to the next, but there are tons of local brews on tap, and they have live music, pool tables and skeeball, and while they don’t serve food themselves, they have menus available to order in from many of the tasty joints that are right on that block, as well.
We decided to forgo ordering food to the bar, though, in favor of heading over to Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza, which is right next door. We ordered a bunch of things to share, including the Arrosto salad, the Queens pizza and the Nutella Pizza for dessert … all of which were amazing. Plus the atmosphere was fun and festive … this would be a place we’d head back to, for sure.
Saturday we attempted to meet up with our friends for breakfast at Snooze in Union Station, but when something is rated the No. 1 place to get brunch, you better believe there will be a line, and at an hour and 45 minute wait time, we weren’t having that. So we headed on over to The Delectable Egg, instead, and had ourselves a delicious breakfast, including some of the best coffee I’ve ever had (ever), and a mouth-watering Bloody Mary.
^^ I had mine sans bacon — thank you very much — but it was still delicious!
After breakfast we went for a little walk by the Platte River (in winter, yes, we’re badass, what can I say?) and over to REI to show them how big and fun it is.
Then later we wandered over to the Wynkoop Brewery (during what would turn out to be our first significant snowfall since we’ve been in Denver, no less) for their free brew tour (definitely worth it), some beers and appetizers.
Dinner was at the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant (which we also visited the last time we were here in April), and Sunday we met up again for coffee and bagel sandwiches at Bruegger’s Bagels. And while I have to say that nothing, and I mean nothing, beats eating an egg and cheese bagel from our favorite deli on the corner of 3rd and 89th while sitting on a bench in Central Park or taking a walk around the Reservoir, Bruegger’s is a place that I would probably be okay bringing visitors to … if I had to pick.
We just did a whirlwind drive from New York to Colorado stopping in Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis, Missouri, where we stayed at the Hilton St. Louis Downtown at the Arch
Kansas City, Missouri and also on the Kansas side.
We ate at the Flatiron Bar & Diner — think fried oyster po’ boy and gumbo with beer after a ten hour drive.
Later at the Hilton in St. Louis (above).
As I mentioned before, the Arch was only a couple blocks from our hotel, so we just had to head out at night to catch it all lit up.
And it did not disappoint!
We grabbed drinks at the Hyatt….We purchased tickets online the night before and headed out (in the frigid cold, I might add) the next morning to head up the Arch and see the sites. It really was a pretty fun experience, but be warned clustrophobes … this is maybe NOT the activity for you! I wouldn’t consider myself to be claustrophobic, but even so, the tiny little vessels that carry you to the top of the Arch had my heart racing — and Chris and I were in there alone! (On the way up we were alone at least … we shared with two people on the way down.) I can’t imagine how it would have been if the intended six people were squished together in there!
But the views are pretty spectacular, so you kind of forget about the ride up (and down) once you’re up there.
This is the Old Courthouse, where the slave Dred Scott sued for his and his wife’s freedom in 1846. This statue stands as a monument to the couple — and everything that historic case stood for — outside of the courthouse today.
For lunch we headed to Schlafly Brewery.
After days of driving and 1,836 miles covered (plus lots of McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and Subway for lunch), we had made it to Colorado, my friends, and our final destination — Denver — was in site.
Years ago, I became obsessed with taking a trip to the Galapagos, where we would be following in the footsteps of Darwin, making amazing discoveries and partaking in fascinating experiments. A few weeks ago, I finally accomplished that goal.
If you’re an animal lover, you must add the Galapagos to your list, because there is no place on earth like it, my friends. So far in life I’ve had the great opportunity to snorkel in some pretty amazing places (the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Great Barrier Reef, to name a few), and nothing even came close to snorkeling here. (Sorry, Barrier Reef. You were awesome and all, but the Galapagos has my heart.)
We took the Aida Maria, which is a small-ish sized yacht that fits up to 16 guests, and we had 15 on board for our trip. The size of the ship also means that space is pretty limited, and while we had bunk beds in our room, Chris and I used the top bunk to store our luggage and we slept together on the bottom bed. I’m honestly not sure what people did who didn’t share a bed, because there would have been very little floor space for luggage.
In terms of our itinerary and the islands we visited, here’s how we did it.
We started with Baltra Island and then went snorkeling at Bachas beach on Santa Cruz Island. The second day, we woke up after cruising all night in the midst of Genovesa, a shield volcano in the eastern Pacific Ocean and headed to the Barranco (aka Prince Phillip’s Steps and the place where we found owls!) at the top of Genovesa.
Next on the agenda was Bartolome Island and thereafter, Sullivan Bay and it’s insane lava fields on Santiago Island, and the following day, we went to Daphne/Black Turtle Cove and later to Cerro Dragon (a trail that runs through three different environments even though it’s just 1,600 m long) on Santa Cruz.
It’s named this because the northwestern side of Santa Cruz Island is home to an impressive population of Conolophus subcristatus, or Galapagos land iguana. We also had our final (and my favorite) snorkeling excursion on this particular outing. It was here that we saw sharks again, and I had one playful little sea lion who swam in circles around me while I snorkeled, waving her cute little fin at me the whole time. Oh Galapagos — you slay me with your magical moments.
Next was the Charles Darwin Station, where we saw giant tortoises! We were a bit bummed as we left that we hadn’t seen these awesome animals in “real” life, but as we were driving back to the airport we saw three or four them along the side of the road. Then it was back to Baltra to catch our flight back to the mainland Ecuador
Something else that was really cool about the trip is that everyone’s itinerary was planned by the National Park Service in order to keep as few people as possible on the islands at the same time. So for example, even if we were docked at an island with two or three other ships, we were never doing the same activity at the same time as the people from the other boat. If we were hiking, they would be snorkeling, and vice versa.
The last night of our trip we even got to go out to a bar (which was a good thing because the ship ran out of booze!) with a couple other young people from our boat and our tour guide (there were some restaurants, shops and bars at Puerto Ayora, which is where our tour guide was from. We even got to meet his adorable wife and 5-year-old son!)
Now let’s get to the fun part — the photos!
This (not so) little guy is a land iguana. We came across another one later in our hike that walked a good 100 feet towards our group of 16, bobbing his head in warning the whole while, before getting a couple of feet in front of us and turning around. I think he made his point, though ;) Land iguanas are pretty territorial, but they’re also pretty harmless.
Clawless lobsters at the fish markets in Puerto Ayora.
A marine iguana just hangin’ out. Watching them swim in the water is pretty amazing.
How adorable are the giant tortoises?! They can live to be between 120 and 150 years old.
These bright red crabs against the black lava?
Being in the water snorkeling was amazing, but watching sunsets from the back of the boat wasn’t too shabby, either.
The sea lions would get so close to you! And our tour guide would say, “Just see what happens.” Animals on the islands are super curious, and because humans aren’t their predators here, they are just fearless. It’s pretty cool.
A lava heron (which we concluded looked shockingly similar to a grumpy old man, no?!)
A few minutes after this photo was taken this sea lion would take a big ole’ dump in the water while I was snorkeling, totally bringing me back to earth (and out of the water!) from the surreal moment I was having. See the one in the background, too? With his nose in the air? I always wondered what they were thinking when they did that.
The blue beaks on the red-footed boobies are simply beautiful.
This was a view from Cero Dragon on Santa Cruz island.
Penguins! Can you believe the Galapagos has penguins? What doesn’t this place have?
Sullivan Bay on Santiago to demonstrate how far and wide the lava fields went.
The site of one of our many, many snorkel adventures.
There’s a blue-footed booby on the rocks!” This was an inside joke amongst everyone on our boat, since we came to realize that we could listen carefully for Reuben to call out loudly when we were on hikes or outings and he spotted some wildlife he really wanted us to see. His enthusiasm was seriously contagious. You could tell he loved his job and loved the Galapagos and just wanted to teach us everything he could, and that was just the best.
Pelican in flight.
We took the dinghy’s out one morning to Black Turtle Cove and saw all manner of animals, from the blue-footed boobies above to this green turtle, to mating sea turtles to sting rays and sharks.
Mating turtles, oh my!
Four stingrays in a row, right in front of our boat.
Honestly, we took about a gazillion photos here friends, as I’m sure you can imagine, and culling them down into just a couple is really hard. But I think what I’ve included here gives you a good indication of what the Galapagos is like — and it’s simply a heaven on earth.
So after our five days on the boat we caught a flight back to Quito and Jorge dropped us back off at La Rabida. It was bliss!