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Surprise Birthday Getaway

April 23, 2013

For my birthday present, my boyfriend planned a surprise getaway for us the weekend following Closing Day on the mountain.  (Boyfriend of the year nominee?!)  I’m usually very involved in planning any travel that we do, so I was super excited and intrigued as I waited on pins and needles to find out where we were going.  I tried my best not to speculate because I truly wanted to be surprised, but he was so sly that even if I had been trying to figure it out, I’d have had no clue.

It was actually pretty nice to give my type-A side the weekend off from planning.  The toughest part, and the one that in hindsight I worried about entirely too much, was packing.  I begged for direction and then basically ended up over-packing at the last minute.  And I didn’t end up really missing any of the items that I might have packed had I known exactly where we were going.

*Oooh! I just realized this counts as #16 on my 30 before 30 list!*

On Friday evening, after I was done with my last day on the mountain and he was done at the office (life isn’t fair), we packed up the car and headed out.  When we got on the highway and headed west, that was my first clue as to our mystery destination.  I also learned that we had dinner reservations upon arrival, so I figured we had to be going somewhere within about a 3-hour radius.  One of the wonderful things about where we live is that still left a dozen possible destinations that I’d have been thrilled by.  I kept guessing and hitting a wall (or misinformation), so I gave up and enjoyed the ride.

Glenwood Canyon

When we hit a crazy amount of traffic in the Glenwood Canyon, he needed me to call the restaurant and check into pushing our dinner reservations back, so I got to find out where we were going.  Drumroll, please… Paonia!


Paonia is a tiny town in a rural area of Colorado that produces great wines, and we have been talking about going there for years. It’s also #8 on my 30 before 30 list, but he had this planned long before I put that list in writing.  It was honestly one of the places I initially hoped we were going when he proposed a surprise getaway, but he had thrown me off the scent so badly that I thought there was no way that we were heading there.  I was giddy.

Mt. Sopris

The drive to Paonia is an adventure in itself and one of my favorite scenic drives.  We followed the West Elk Loop through Carbondale and along the Crystal River, past the small town of Redstone, up and over McClure Pass, then down toward the fertile farmland of Paonia.  It is a fun, beautiful and relaxing drive that could make a great day trip with a few stops to hike, picnic and visit the small towns along the way.

We arrived in Paonia just in time for dinner at the Flying Fork Cafe.

Flying Fork Cafe

We entered through an adorable garden that looked like it would have been a wonderful place to sit and enjoy warmer weather.

Flying Fork Cafe

Flying Fork Cafe Garden

The Flying Fork is definitely one of the nicest restaurants in town, and we were both impressed by the reasonable prices.  We definitely weren’t in Vail anymore!  Knowing that we wanted to try as much local wine as possible during our stay, we ordered a bottle of Alfred Eames Collage, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot that our waitress recommended as one of the best.

Alfred Eames Collage

It was a little alcoholy for my taste at first, but once it had a chance to breathe I thought it was a delicious, fruity and complex wine. Hungry from our long drive, we ordered a rich and creamy Roasted Potato and Garlic Soup along with fresh Tomato, Goat Cheese and Pesto Bruschetta to start.  Both were excellent and got scarfed down before I even thought to whip out the camera.  Same went for a split Spinaci salad with pear, toasted walnut, pancetta, Manchego cheese and a Balsamic vinaigrette.  The combination of flavors in the salad were phenomenal.

For dinner I ordered a Muscovy Duck Marsala served with fresh snap peas and spinach.  It might not have been photogenic, but it was rich and delicious.  I was so full from our starters that I only ate a little bit and boxed up the rest to take home.

Flying Fork Muscovy Duck

I also snagged a taste of the boyfriend’s fresh Fettucini Carbonara that was to die for.  Fresh pasta always tastes so much better than the dried stuff, and the flavors and ingredients in his dish were indulgent.

Of course, being full wasn’t enough to stop us from ordering dessert.  It turns out I had plenty of room for a few delicious bites of Tiramisu.

Flying Fork Tiramisu

After dinner it was time to make our way to the Fresh & Wyld Farmhouse Inn, where we’d be staying for the weekend.  The B&B was located about a mile outside of town, and our GPS guided us down pitch dark dirt roads to get us there. (The next day we would discover fully paved routes there, but it kind of added to the adventurous feeling at the time.)

It was late, so the owner had left our room open for us.

Fresh & Wyld King Cottonwood Suite

The main area of the B&B was softly illuminated by twinkly lights, and we tiptoed around exploring quietly so as not to wake up any other guests who might be asleep already.

Fresh & Wyld

Even in the dark we could tell that it was adorable.

Fresh and Wyld at Night

We couldn’t wait to see the place in daylight.  Stay tuned for a full review on Fresh and Wyld plus a recap of how we spent our weekend in Paonia!


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