Tag Archives: Colorado

We tied the Not(stad)!

Eugene and I tied the knot three months ago. We’ve been asked countless times since then, ‘How is married life treating you?’ The fact that I’m finally getting around to posting about our marriage three months after the fact should answer that question for you.

Married life’s been busy. Busy in the best way.

My better half and I have always done things on our own terms, and our wedding was no different. In an effort to keep things simple, fun and all about us, we ran off to Colorado for a long weekend in the Rocky Mountains — and a wedding!

July 22, 2015: Road trip

Lucky for us, Colorado is only about five hours from home. The two-lane highway commute through Nebraska and Wyoming isn’t bad either.


I took in the picturesque prairie views from the passenger seat. (The whole ‘passing semis on a two-lane highway at 85+ mph doesn’t do good things to my heart.)


We’re also blessed with really good — and sneaky — friends. The Casanova’s managed to track down our hotel and send us drink chips for the fancy hotel bar before we even arrived.


Speaking of hotels, ours was awesome. If you ever find yourself in Fort Collins, Colo., book a night or two at the Armstrong Hotel. The 92-year-old inn stands amid all the action and is just plain cool.


And — bonus — the rooms are reminiscent of a quaint college apartment.


The hotel was even home to a resident cat, who we found lounging on the luggage cart every night.


After settling in at the Armstrong, we hit the streets of downtown Fort Collins and landed in an outdoor patio. Nothing says, “Hello, wedding weekend!” like a couple of tall beers. We spent an hour or so people watching while we sipped our brews and ate dinner.


Then we took advantage of the Casanova’s wedding gift and ended our night with drinks at Ace Gillett’s, the hotel bar. Eugene ordered a beer by a name I can’t recall, though I do remember he was pumped to see it on tap. I opted for a cranberry ginger martini. The lounge even boasted local live music. Wednesday night’s ticket was a young piano-vocal duo performing classic tunes.


July 23, 2015: Wedding day

Some of the best black coffee I’ve ever sipped was at Snooze in Fort Collins, Colo. Everybody told us we had to grab breakfast at Snooze. Thank goodness we took their advice. The sunny eatery was the perfect start to our wedding day. And the food — oh my god! The food was fantastic.


We spent the rest of the morning taking it easy. Our little ceremony was held on a blue-sky, 90-degree day at the Annual Flower Trial Gardens on the Colorado State University campus. The gardens were a little more than a mile from our hotel, so we took the opportunity to walk through Old Town Fort Collins and explore another part of the city.

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Judge Schultz officiated our ceremony. He was a sweet man with sage advice for a healthy marriage. He also had ties in both South Dakota and Wisconsin. Small world coincidence or fate?


We exchanged weddings vows we wrote ourselves, listened to what Judge Schultz had to share, and sealed it all with a kiss.


And with that, we were married!


Then celebrations ensued! Our hotel, which was conveniently located near the city bike path, offered cruiser bikes for guests. We armed ourselves with a map of the local breweries and hit the open path in search of a good time.

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Cruiser bikes are fun! The path weaved through town and lined the Poudre River, offering ample opportunity to take in all of Fort Collin’s natural beauty.

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Stop #1 was O’Dell Brewing Company. O’Dell makes some of our favorite beers, and the brewery didn’t disappoint. We each opted for a flight and had a grand ole time trying new brews as husband and wife.

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After deciding on our favorite tap, we each grabbed a glass and headed out to the patio before taking a brewery tour.

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Next up was Fort Collins Brewery. The beers were so-so, but the food. was. bomb. Some couples serve dry chicken and mushy veggies after they exchange vows. Eugene and I ordered a soft pretzel, wrapped in bacon, presumably deep-fried, and dipped it in spicy stone ground mustard. To each their own.


The rest of Fort Collins was clearly at O’Dell, because Eugene and I were the only ones sharing the the dining area with a ’70s cover band. If you’ve never grooved to Cherokee People while sipping mediocre beers, you’re missing out


When we picked up the brewery map from the hotel, the guy at the front desk told us the best coffee stout he’s ever had was the Sad Panda at Horse and Dragon Brewing Company. He warned us that the brewery was a ways away from the others, but we’re avid coffee stout drinkers and couldn’t be deterred.

Unfortunately, both Eugene and I are also terrible with directions — especially after a couple of beers, on bikes, in a new city, without a GPS. We overshot the brewery by a mile or two and ended up using the GPS on my phone to guide us in the right direction.

But hotel guy was right. I would go the distance for Sad Panda any day. The bartender got wind that we were just married and poured us each a second beer on his tab. We likely would have stayed at this brewery all night if it didn’t close at 6 p.m. And if it wasn’t such a trek to get back to the beaten path!


Are you sensing a trend yet? Fort Collins is a mecca for craft beer and we were bound and determined to celebrate our marriage by sampling it all. After biking back from the boonies — and subsequently working off our buzz — we saddled up to a bar boasting more than 70 craft beers on tap.


And finally, we wrapped up the ‘Great Craft Beer Tour of 2015/The Notstad’s Marriage Celebration’ at Equinox Brewing. Although Eugene will likely deny it now, we were totally beered-out by this point. Don’t get me wrong, Equinox makes a pretty stellar stout. I’ll just be sure to drink less beers before diving into my next Fluffhead Milk Stout on nitro.

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July 24 – 26, 2015: Honeymoon

What’s a Colorado vacation without a trip to the Mountains? No vacation you’ll ever catch me on.

When Eugene and I decided to get married in Colorado, my one requirement was that we spend a couple nights in Estes Park. The Rocky Mountain town is home to some of my favorite memories from past Colorado trips, and I wanted the opportunity to add to that memory bank with Eugene.

So, first things first, we continued the Great Craft Beer Tour of 2015 with a quick stop at an outdoor beer garden in downtown Estes. Eugene’s stout was so thick, he was left with a beer foam ‘stache, which isn’t apparent in the photo below… But my husband is cute, so what the heck, I’ll share it anyway.


My dad first took me to Estes Park in 2006. Since then, our numerous Colorado trips have revolved around fly fishing with Kirk. While the point of this particular trip was not to fly fish, something would have been missing if we didn’t cast a line into the Rocky Mountain waters.

So we booked an afternoon trip with Kirk and headed out onto the Big Thompson River. It was Eugene’s first time casting a fly rod, but he caught on quick, and even had a few bites. Unfortunately, he’s still working on setting his line, nonetheless he managed to catch more fish than me. Eugene was even able to set a Colorado state record for a rainbow trout. (I should also note that Eugene added these last few sentences when I asked him to proofread this post.)

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Let the record stand that I, Kelsey Ann Notstad, reeled in more fish than Eugene.


I was especially pumped about this nice rainbow…


… who looked even better after I held him up to the camera.


But fish or not, the best part about pulling on a pair of waders and sloshing through a river is the view.

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Next stop: Rocky Mountain National Park. We spent the day taking in all of Rocky’s breathtaking (literally — the air is thin up there) views.

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And finally, we wrapped up the best wedding getaway ever with dessert, a walk around Lake Estes, and drinks on our hotel’s patio bar.

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“Where there is love there is life.”

The love I have for Eugene is indescribable. It makes my stomach flip. It makes my heart beat faster. It makes the corners of my mouth turn up into a smile. And — most importantly — it gives me life.

I wish we could relive these five days every day. They were the most fun, carefree, perfect days I’ve known.

Family and friends, we love you too! We had a blast celebrating our love in Colorado, and we look forward to celebrating again with all of you. Keep an eye on your mailboxes. We’ll see you on the shores of Lake Monona this spring!


Adventures with Father Tom

“Tom!  Tom!  How ya doin?  Are you alright?”  Hollered our kayak instructor in her cool southwestern accent.

As the instructor strongly maneuvered her kayak against the rushing water, a group of 5 or so kayakers, including myself, remained safely in our boats, crowded behind a boulder in an eddy.  I watched in amusement and modest embarrassment as my dad, who was no longer sitting in his kayak, was swept through the lowly class II rapids of the Yampa River.  Being that I too was an amateur whitewater kayaker, I could only observe the situation and laugh hysterically as my dad struggled to hold onto his paddle while he simultaneously attempted to avoid contact with larger rocks along the bottom of the riverbed.

My dad, or as my friends and I  affectionately call him: “Father Tom” (No, he is not a priest.) has taken me on numerous summer trips to Colorado.  Being that I’m an avid downhill skiing fan, I would prefer to visit the great state in snowier months, but I’ll take mountains when I can get them, and Father Tom likes them in the summertime.  Of course, the basis of every trip is fly fishing.  Father Tom plans the fly fishing excursions and gives me the leeway to chose what’s done in between.  Throughout the years I’ve convinced him to visit every ski resort in the area that runs chairlifts during the summer, whitewater raft, hot air balloon ride and horsepack 1t,000′ to spend the night in the most remote place I’ve ever been.

But of all the adventures I’ve convinced my dad to partake in, the whitewater kayaking trip was likely the one he was least prepared for/capable of.  I even say this as I factor in Father Tom’s unfortunate fall from grace when he succumbed to altitude sickness during that aforementioned remote backcountry camping trip.

We should have feared for the worst the moment we were shown to our small whitewater kayaks, set up with sprayskirts, and told to find a helmet that fit snuggly on our heads.  But Father Tom, being the good sport that he is, shielded any concerns he may have had and put on a fearless face.

Geared up, we joined the novice group of whitewater kayakers and eased our boats into a still area of the river while our instructor went over basic techniques and allowed us some time to acclimate to the more responsive whitewater kayaks.

Soon we were no longer paddling to propel ourselves, but instead using the blades of the paddle to avoid boulders and banks as the river waters carried us swiftly downstream.

Unfortunately Father Tom obviously ignored the instructors’ main word of advice to lean your body weight into the boulders your kayak came in contact with to avoid tipping the boat.  Our group had barely warmed up before he was out of his boat and struggling to find footing on the slippery river rocks.

Father Tom managed to flip himself out of his boat no less than four times during our 2-hour whitewater kayak adventure.  I’m positive that the only name our instructor knew from the group was Tom.  She learned it the first time he flipped his boat and continued to yell it every few minutes.

Although Father Tom was singled out for his minor accomplishments and many struggles during our turbulent trip down the Yampa, his shining moment came at the end.  Our journey culminated with a quick drop down a measly 3-foot “waterfall.”  Our instructor demonstrated the proper technique for clearing the falls and explained that our kayaks would submerge at the bottom of the falls before bobbing back to the surface.

We each took turns descending the waterfall and clearing it just as our instructor had explained, but the best was, of course, saved for last.  Our small group triumphantly floated at the base of the waterfall and waited with anticipation as my dad prepared for his descent.  Before Father Tom could embark on his trip down the fall, our instructor stopped him and reitterated the proper technique and expected outcome of this obstacle.

My dad then gathered himself and paddled toward the “waterfall” as he’d been instructed.  He let his boat tip vertically as the rushing water carried him downard and plunged the nose of his boat straight into the river.  My dad let his boat dip and bob and managed to clear the falls with a triumphant smile.

Just as the group began to clap and our instructor began to holler congratulations, Father Tom bobbed once more in his little kayak and tipped himself out of the boat.  A fitting end to an adventure I’ll likely never convince my dad to partake in again.

Father Tom forces a painful smile at then end of the trip