Here’s part three of my 6-week North American road trip. I’ll share how the outdoorsy atmosphere of Fort Collins made it easy to stay active, how I made a simple fruit breakfast while camping, and my favorite Colorado vegan restaurant.
Santa Fe was beautiful and we enjoyed our time there, but we were really excited to get up to Fort Collins, Colorado, one of our favorite healthy cities. You know how you sometimes find yourself vacationing to the same places over and over again because you just love being there? This trip was our fourth time there in the last few years. I’ll talk more about why the city is so healthy a little later in this post.
Camping on Fruit
In the interest of budgeting our trip, we brought a 2-person tent along for those travel days where all we need is somewhere to sleep for the night. Traveling between Santa Fe and Fort Collins, we had an opportunity to use it. I find that high raw healthy eating while camping is just as easy as with any other method of lodging. All you need to do is plan ahead with your food, something not unique to vegan campers.
Fruit in particular is very simple to bring along while camping as it doesn’t have to be chilled. Jay and I have even entertained doing a banana island (only eating ripe bananas) for a future camping trip. Now that would be easy eating!
I did more high raw camping during the Trans-Canada Highway portion of my trip, so look for that photolog in the future.
The one drawback of fruit is that it can be a little cold for eating out in the brisk morning air at a picnic table. To avoid shivering over your morning meal, eat fruit at room temp, not fruit kept in the cooler overnight. I ate melon, but denser, heartier fruits like bananas might feel better on a chilly morning. And there is no rule that says you have to eat raw! If you are cold and have a portable cooker, heat up some oatmeal. I normally travel with rolled oats, cinnamon, and vanilla as a just-in-case backup.
Fort Collins = easy(ier) to be healthy
We stayed with good friends for a few days once we reached Fort Collins. This is a total generalization, but every time we go there we immediately feel like we fit in – then we realize that’s because we’re walking around inside a REI catalog (it’s a recreation equipment store, and if you’ve ever met us, you know that’s just our style – and our favorite place to be consumers!).
It’s obvious if you are observant that people are more fit in Fort Collins. Mainly because this city prioritizes being outdoors and being active. The roughly 150,000 residents actually vote to include and fund the city’s open space, and the city and county have tons of nature trails. Add this to all the federal parks surrounding the area, each with a multitude of hikes, and you’ve got a sporty, outdoorsy culture.
On top of that, the city has a robust biking system, so much so that it’s a common method of transportation. Our hosts routinely ride their bikes to work, and they say there are people (crazy people!) who do this year-round even in the cold, icy Colorado winters.
When we stay in the area, we usually “check out” bikes from the Bike Library downtown, but this time our hosts lent us their extra bikes for transportation during our stay.
In addition to being totally bike-friendly, the Old Town (downtown) area of Fort Collins is wonderful to walk around in because it has a more local vibe than that of a tourist destination.
Although the Fort is pretty liberal for Colorado, it doesn’t seem to have as developed a vegan community as, dare I say it, Las Vegas. Please correct me if I’m wrong! And point me towards some good resources. Next time I visit, maybe I’ll try to find a vegan meetup.
For food, it does have one of my favorite vegan restaurants, though. Tasty Harmony – probably my favorite name! You can also easily make your own healthy eats with ingredients from the local Whole Foods, Sprouts Market, or the little grocery Co-op downtown. Since it’s a somewhat agricultural area, there are also great farmers markets with local produce. And if you want to shop at an extra amazing farmers market, you can take Saturday morning and venture an hour south to Boulder, Colorado. While you are there, check out the clothing at Prana, Gaiam, or Patagonia – affectionately termed Patagucci – in the downtown Pearl Street Mall.
When we weren’t at Tasty Harmony (and we did visit them twice), we were able to maintain our normal eating habits by utilizing our hosts’ fridge and kitchen. We stationed our vitamix on the counter and made them green smoothies every morning in exchange for room and board. 🙂
Staying fit in the Fort
This city has a 24-Hour Fitness gym location, and I have a membership. So I did two group workout classes while I was there. The first was the dance-inspired “Willpower and Grace”. It was my first time trying that, but it was really cool cross-training because we were barefoot and focused on landing light and gripping the floor with our feet. Then, a couple of days later, I went to my usual BodyPump weight lifting class.
When I was talking with the really well-defined Pump instructor about my fitness routine, she said that diversifying with some low rep, heavy weights one day a week would help me to get better definition and take my fitness to the next level. This wasn’t news to me since I came to that conclusion myself before and did just that for several months last year. But I slowly fell back into the familiar pattern of 3-day-a-week BodyPump classes simply because it’s easier to just show up and not have to create my own routine and motivation.
As I brainstorm ways to stay fit during my longer stay in Toronto, I may incorporate this. Maybe I’ll spring for a few personal training (or group) sessions to help me develop a good individual strength routine? Any ideas or advice?
Biking as transportation
Do as the locals do. The bike trails are extensive, and everyone bikes here. You can get just about everywhere by bike. Loved ditching the car.
It’s easy to hike every day around Fort Collins because there are so many locations near the city – even open space and trails inside the city boundaries. We were lucky to have a super-knowledgeable host who hikes every week, and we had a blast exploring the hikes she planned for us.
Fort Collins is on the front range of the Colorado Rockies, north of Denver. Thus, it has both prairie land to the east and the Rocky Mountains to the west, making for a variety of awesome hikes.
If I were to live somewhere during the summer to avoid the Vegas heat, it would be Fort Collins. It’s the perfect example of a city that actually makes it easier to be healthy.
I left the Fort feeling really toned and in even better health that at home. All in all, for the two and a half days I was there, I fit in 2 hours strength training, 8 hours hiking, 10 miles bike riding, and a little walking. I also ate really healthy – even with two meals at Tasty Harmony. I mostly prepared my own food, and, since I was so busy, I rarely ate out of boredom and didn’t have any evening snacks after my dinner.
The next photolog will cover my drive up through the remote but beautiful countryside of Eastern Wyoming and Montana and my “border crossing” into Canada.
Know Fort Collins? Share your favorite Colorado healthy or vegan resources in the comments below. Or how you eat when you camp.
This is another What I Ate Wednesday.