Summer 2018

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{ Summer 2018 }



How a Fort Collins couple built their dream house—and let it go.

By josie sexton


Pair the popularity of locally sourced goods with the increasing popularity of dahlias and you’ve got one very happy Colorado flower farmer.

By stephanie powell


We’re place proud—can you blame us? With some of our favorite writers, we’ve compiled some of our favorite things about NoCo living.

By lisa blake, andra coberly, shawna jackson, Andrew Kensley, stephanie powell, laura pritchett

Fort Collins Magazine / Summer 2018

Blue FCU
Onda Real Estate

{ Summer 2018 }




SHEL’s belles / RMNP’s rocky road to funding / elopement trend / more.
By andrew kensley and cara mcdonald


Meet NoCo’s aquatic rescue volunteers.
By Carrie visintainer


These groups are connecting people with disabilities to outdoor adventure.
By julie dugdale


The doggone best finds for summer.
by lisa blake


Can a flexitarian diet save your waistline and the planet?
By andra coberly


Unpacking the allure of unpeopled places.
by ana maria spagna


House plants are the new kids / carriage houses /more.
By Lisa blake


Gourmet bugs / kids eats beyond chicken fingers / fruit brandies / more.
By shawna jackson van and Lisa Blake


Todd Simmons on hog butchering, poetry and other important life skills.
by corey radman

Fort Collins Magazine / Summer 2018

Fort Collins Mag

{ Summer 2018 }

Letter from the editor

Confession: This hasn’t been a “reasons to love” year for me.

I’ve never been a glass-half-full super-sunshine type, but I’ve never been a curmudgeonly cynic, either. I like things to go my way. I like there to be enough eggs for breakfast, clean socks that match and blue sky when I’m on vacation. And as I get older, I admit to skewing a little more toward conditional happiness, and lately I feel like there’s tons of stuff messing with my usual mojo.

A lot of us feel that our state of mind is dependent on what others do and say. And let me be oh, so clear: what others do and say in this current American climate can not only jack with our happiness, but it can jack with our liberties, our decency and our sense of safety in our bodies and in our communities. So this isn’t a just-get-over-it happiness message.

I’m talking about shifting to the kind of happiness expectations where, eh, I’m not waiting for you to make me happy, I’ve got a pretty good handle on going after it myself. And for me, that’s comes down to gratitude.

I know Oprah has told us to keep our lovely gratitude journal at the bedside, and no one would argue that writing down three things you’re grateful each night for is a bad idea, but it just doesn’t usually happen for me because I have a very full nightstand and tend to pass out holding my laptop while watching Mozart in the Jungle.

One trick I learned, when feeling not especially grateful, was to look at something and just—well, just fake it. “That is my favorite flower. That is my favorite color sky. Here is my favorite dish. This is my favorite time of day. That’s my favorite building. She is my favorite neighbor.” Give it a try. Once you get rolling on favorite-ing things, it starts to gather powerful momentum, even if I do not exactly love marigolds, loading the dishwasher or the post office.

Here in NoCo there are a lot of favorites for me, and a lot of reasons to love. This issue’s cover story was an easy one to create and one that conjures up a lot of happiness. Nesting eagles. Group bike rides. Open-minded neighbors. Drive-in movies. Authentic green chile. Dogs. The more you think about it, the more there is to celebrate. And sometimes, no matter how much we are carrying, how “realistic” we are, what injustice we see or work we need done, we need a little unapologetic gratitude for the good that is. If we don’t take time for that, we risk our sanity and losing the energy that motivates us to get up create, fight, work, think, love, carry on.

Our list, like the favorites, is just a way to get going, to build momentum. Happiness awaits.

Cara McDonald, Editor / Fort Collins Magazine / [email protected]

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Summer 2018
volume 7 • issue 2

Amy McCraken

Cara McDonald

Contributing Writers
Lisa Blake, Andra Coberly,
Shawna Jackson, Andrew Kensley, Stephanie Powell, Corey Radman, Carrie Visintainer

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Daryl Love, Don Markus,
Stephanie Powell

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Fort Collins Magazine / Summer 2018

{ Tips, Trends, Stuff We Love }


IT’S NO SECRET THAT it’s been a contentious year regarding our national parks system, not the least of which included discussions surrounding funding—or rather, underfunding. The current maintenance backlog rings in at a cost of about $12 billion and, to close the gap, the Department of the Interior had proposed a $50 increase to daily visitor fees. That sparked public outrage and was dropped, but fees have increased in 66 out of 417 parks, with more to come (although 2/3 of national parks remain free to the public). As of June 1, Rocky Mountain National Park’s fees will increase by $5 daily, with annual passes increasing from $60 to $70. The fee increases are only one component to generate revenue—the proposed Public Lands Infrastructure Fund would generate money for parks through oil drilling revenues and sell-offs of public park system land, and proposed budget cuts to the Department of the Interior would reduce interior construction programs, land acquisition and historic preservation programs. Want to support RMNP? Visit. Your pass fees go toward much-needed maintenance. Or get involved—the National Parks Conservation Association ( is a nonpartisan advocacy group committed to the preser- vation of our parks, and encourages citizens to share their travel stories, attend events, donate and organize on behalf of our parks. —Cara McDonald
Got Kids?
If you have a fourth-grade student, the Every Kid in a Park program allows for free family entry to all national parks for the year; visit to download a pass.

Got Kids?
If you have a fourth-grade student, the Every Kid in a Park program allows for free family entry to all national parks for the year; visit to download a pass.

Got Kids?
If you have a fourth-grade student, the Every Kid in a Park program allows for free family entry to all national parks for the year; visit to download a pass.

{ News & Notes }

Real Estate

Booming Berthoud

Why you might want to consider putting down roots—now—in this tiny NoCo town.


For better or worse, market forces and a population boom in Northern Colorado have, in just a few short years, turned Berthoud, Colorado’s “Managed Growth” plan on its side. The town’s water plant is set to double its capacity, plans to widen county road 17 and to build a new rec center are also in the works. Walt Elish, Berthoud’s business development coordinator, is working hard to recruit more primary employers, as well as commercial and retail establishments. “What makes Berthoud attractive to a lot of people is that we’ve maintained the small town charm,” says Elish. “When you drive through town what most people will say is that it reminds them of the days when they were living in Nebraska, or when Fort Collins didn’t have a hundred and sixty thousand people.” In other words, get in while you can.

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{ News & Notes }


The New I-Do

Colorado weddings head outside and take a turn toward the tiny—and meaningful.

By Cara McDonald

With the advent of Pinterest and its unending scroll of crafts, dresses and ideas for picture-perfect celebrations, it’s no wonder the average couple feels the crush of overwhelm.

Enter the elopement trend, a welcome relief from the handmade party favors and sky-high expectations in favor of simple ceremonies with a decidedly Colorado backdrop. While statistics are hard to find to pinpoint the trend, a cottage industry of planners and vendors who specialize in planning, scouting and pulling off elopements is growing.

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{ News & Notes }

SHEL, Yeah
NoCo’s break-out indie-folk sister-band recently returned home from Nashville
Interview by Andrew Kensley
With a whirlwind schedule of writing, filming, recording and touring, we love when this foursome comes home to roost. SHEL (named for sisters Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza Holbrook), paid a visit this spring to the newly renovated Washington’s to play for an adoring group of local fans, from sign-toting grade-schoolers to young-at-heart seniors. We caught up with the band’s most senior members, Hannah and Eva, over coffee to discuss issues ranging from mining creativity to the separation of music and #MeToo to the possibility of someday trading a mandolin for a garden spade.
FCM: When you’re writing and playing music, do you have a creative need you’re satisfying, or are you catering more to your audience?

Hannah: I think it’s a bit of both. There’s a feeling that I’m going for, and trying to communicate. Sometimes I’m writing a song that’s therapeutic, and I need to express an idea or tell a story, and sometimes I’m thinking about the audience and what I want them to feel. It sounds kind of selfish—This is what I want you to feel! Ultimately I want inspiration to flow through me when I’m on stage, and for the people that come to the show to take that inspiration home with them.

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Fort Collins Mag

{ Where The Heart Is }

Everyday Heroes

Larimer County Dive Rescue Team

As our water sports scene grows, one team of heroes keeps watch to save lives.

BY Carrie Visintainer

Larimer County is home to 21,000 acres of lakes and rivers. Our crown jewel, the Cache La Poudre, is ranked as the eighth-largest whitewater river in the state. With our growing population and an influx of tourists from around the world, there are more people than ever hauling kayaks, SUPs, tubes, motorboats, jet skis and more, to their favorite playground.

But what happens when things take a turn for the worse? Take, for example, a kayaker on the Poudre who flips, hits his head, and ends up on far shore, needing medical attention. Or a tuber west of Old Town, barefoot with a beer and no life jacket, who gets caught in a low-head dam that pulls her underwater?

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{ Adventure & Travel }


Getting Out There

These Colorado outdoor recreation programs help people of all abilities focus on what they can do rather than what they can’t.

By Julie dugdale

National Sports Center for the Disabled

Leigh Shafer has always been on the quiet side. She tends to be reserved and uncomfortable speaking in front of groups—which isn’t uncommon, but Leigh also has an intellectual disability, and a hard time with certain cognitive skills and social interactions. Her mom, Laura, worried about dropping her off at camps during the summer.

That is, until she went to horseback riding camp with the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NCSD) at YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby. Now 18, Leigh has been riding horses since she was in first grade; the camp welcomes participants of varying abilities who have a certain degree of self-sufficiency, and aligned perfectly with her interests. Along with tent camping and learning to ride and care for the horses, participants develop self-confidence, trust and social skills during their week at camp. “Leigh’s pretty adept at dealing with the horses,” Laura says. “It’s some of the intrapersonal skills that she really worked on and improved upon.”

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Garwood's Jewelers
Garwood's Jewelers

{ Style & Shopping }

Check Out This Place

Wagz Pet Market

Five finds for dog-lovers to snag from this purveyor of all-things-pets.

By Lisa Blake

Wagz is where dogs sometimes outnumber humans. Cheri Corrado’s Old Town pet supply boutique—minus the boutique prices—draws pups and owners with high-quality food, specialty treats and top-seller bulk snacks. (Cats, there’s a nook here for you, too.), Pop in for these summer bests.

1. Cool Threads
Ruffwear is big at Wagz. The Oregon-born canine outdoor line impresses with crucial hot-weather pieces like the Swamp Cooler™ dog cooling vest. Soak in water, wring out and let the evaporative cooling pull heat from your pooch.

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{ Health & Wellness }

getting started

Let’s Meat Halfway

Can the flexitarian diet save your waistline—and the planet?

BY Andra Coberly

Daniel Jones eats a small steak every six to eight weeks. He enjoys seafood when he’s on the coast. Recently, it was clam chowder in New Hampshire.

But mostly, he consumes what he calls a plant-based diet.

To be honest, Jones has it a little easier than the rest of us. He works at his family’s longtime restaurant, the Fort Collins health food institution known as Rainbow Restaurant, with its sunny patio and its persistent use of tofu and tempeh.

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{ Essay }


Longing for solitude on the land, and feeling uneasy.

By Ana Maria Spagna

IN THE LATE 1980S, I worked at a visitors’ center in a trailer at the entrance to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, a still relatively unknown place then, a kind of secret. To get there, you had to drive 35 miles off the highway through slickrock and green sage, hazy mountains on the horizon and cottonwoods along the creeks, as startling a landscape as you’d find anywhere. Cars arrived at lazy intervals, and when people reached the desk, the conversation was often the same.

That was the most beautiful drive we’ve ever taken, they’d say. Now, how do we drive out?

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The Group Inc.
The Group Inc.
The Group Inc.
The Group Inc.

{ How We Live and Grow in NoCo }


object of desire

COLORADO NATIVE ANDY WEISS is breathing new life into old decks with his handmade lamps crafted from reclaimed skateboards. Fort Collins-based Genuine Woodworking—Weiss’ one-man online marketplace—takes donated broken and unskateable boards and transforms their colored maple veneers into funky lamps, folding pocket knifes, drink coasters and high-demand smartphone speakers.

The 42-year-old woodworker attributes his carpentry skills to building skateboard ramps as a teenager (back in the pre-public-skatepark days). His hobby making home décor pieces for friends steamrolled into a full-on business, riding Weiss’ need to supplement his passion project, local nonprofit Launch Community Through Skateboarding. Weiss’ lamps are made to order in an average of seven hours, with five skateboards coming together to create a single lamp. $100, —L.B.

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{ Home & Garden }



Houseplants are the new kids? The Los Angeles Times suggested it. We’ll entertain it. Work on your plant parenting with these all-star green thumb goods.


Succulents hang in a wooden planter box or pop as a table centerpiece. It’s greenery gone art and a thoughtful housewarming gift.

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{ Home Trend }



A creative carriage house helps homebuyers live the downsized dream.

By Lisa Blake

For Beverly and D Walker, downsized living was a prosperous mutual decision. And an alternative housing solution in a crazy, pricey Northern Colorado market.

The Loveland empty nesters built their 980-square-foot, two-bedroom second-floor living space in 2016, strategically placed over the heated garage that doubles as a gym to facilitate the 50-somethings’ active lifestyles.

The new turnkey, low-maintenance modern carriage house sits on the alley in the heart of Old Town Loveland, allowing the Walkers to long-term lease their recently renovated two-bed, one-bath brick bungalow and stay in the neighborhood they adore.

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How a Fort Collins couple built their dream house — and let it go.

years, Brian and Hannah Brooks and their daughter Harper lived in a 600-square-foot guest house and slept in one queen-sized bed together while building their family home.

“It took a year and seven months, and we watched all the seasons go by,” Brian says.

They had positioned the house toward the south and west, facing a 90-year-old cottonwood tree that was planted when the original farm’s homestead was built.

Pair the popularity of locally sourced goods with the increasing visibility of dahlia varieties, and you’ve got one very happy Colorado flower farmer.

Photos and story by Stephanie Powell

Everywhere you look, there are flowers. Pale and bright yellow sunflowers towering above your head. Rows of eye-catching zinnias and knee-high snapdragons. Bunches of delicate purple, white and pink lisianthus. And, of course, dahlias. Acres of them. In every shape, size and color imaginable: tightly curled cactus dahlias; ball, collarette and waterlily varieties; not to mention rows and rows of dinner plate–size blooms.

This is the scene from the heart of one of Northern Colorado’s premier flower farms, Arrowhead Dahlias. Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Calvin and Julie Cook, this niche flower farm in Platteville currently grows more than 300 varieties of flowers on four acres of fields. Calvin, a dahlia devotee since childhood, is delighted people are finally falling for the allure of his favorite flower—with a little help from social media sharing and the buy-local trend driving shoppers to connect with their community.

stephanie powell

richard haro/Visit Fort Collins

BY: Lisa Blake, Andra Coberly, Andrew Kensley, Cara McDonald, Stephanie Powell, Laura Pritchett, Corey Radman, Shawna Jackson

Best place to retire. Best small-town living. Best places for women. Not to mention one of the happiest pockets in the U. S. of A. In Choice City and all the towns around, it’s a pretty sweet quality-of-life bubble, and we’re place proud—can you blame us? With some of our favorite writers, we compiled some of our favorite reasons to love Northern Colorado.


the Poudre Runs Through It

I fell in love with a raft guide. The river-stenched, never-really-dry, pony-tailed, PBR-drinking 24-year-old whitewater junkie is now known as my husband, Doug, a tie-wearing high school vice principal. Nearly two decades and three zip codes later, we hold the Poudre River close to our souls. We take our boat out every June, preferably during high water (I have an inkling that’s so he can prove he’s still got it and show the rooks how it’s done) with our rowdiest friends. We camp near it, we dance under the summer stars on its banks, show our 2-year-old son the rapids safely from the shore (for now; he’ll be paddling his heart out in a few swift years). We almost—edged away by that close-call forest fire in 2012—said our vows on it. Rafting the Poudre is a rite of passage, a way of life and something we hope to be squeezing into dry suits for when we’re 70. —Lisa Blake

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{ News, Brews, Delicious Discoveries }


dish to die for


IN WARMER MONTHS, I crave crisp, beautiful salads—what better inspiration for tending my own garden beds? What lovelier way to imagine what tiny seeds sowed with hope in the spring will grow up to be one day? The eponymous salad at Restaurant 415 is just about perfect for summer patio dining. It’s simple: crunchy romaine, coated with a perfect lemon and garlic dressing that manages to embody simplicity, all tart and pungent. Shaved parmesan ribbons and hearty croutons make this salad a meal, but a full, inventive menu offers plenty of nibbles for pairing or sharing as well. Order a cold Pinot Gris to go with, and celebrate the long, warm days ahead. 415 South Mason Street, Fort Collins, 970 407-0415, —SHAWNA JACKSON

{ Food & Drink }


Pop Goes The World

From pushcart to storefront, business is booming at Revolution Artisan Pops. Here’s why.

By Stephanie Powell

WHEN JAROD AND REBECCA DUNN were visiting Dallas, Texas, a few years ago they ran across a small shop selling homemade (and seriously yummy) popsicles. The idea was so simple and fresh that the couple couldn’t stop thinking about it after they returned home. “We started wondering if a similar concept would work in Fort Collins,” says Jarod.

Soon Dunn, a CSU doctoral candidate, was testing out different flavors in ice cube trays, popping toothpicks into the little squares and handing them out to colleagues to taste. When he added fruits from a local farm to the icy treats, his informal test subjects responded unanimously: Delicious!

That’s when he and Rebecca knew they had a viable business idea.

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{ Food & Drink }


The Breweries Less Traveled

A surge of small-town breweries gives rural Colorado a craft-brewing renaissance.

By Andra Coberly

NORTHERN COLORADO IS expected to add 500,000 residents in the next 20 years. Once-sleepy little towns like Timnath, Windsor and Johnstown are now preparing for the influx—planning with everything from housing and transportation to sewage systems and emergency services.

Oh, and let us not forget beer.

The small towns of Northern Colorado are preparing for their growth like any good Coloradan should: by brewing beer. According to the Colorado Beer List, there are breweries planned or being conceptualized in Severance, Ault, La Porte, Mead and Timnath. This year, Windsor will get its third brewery and Wellington will get its second. Johnstown even has a brewery.

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{ 5 Minutes With… }


Books? Beer? Poetry? Check.

by Corey Radman

WOLVERINE FARM OPENED as a publishing house in 2002 and ran a book-store at the Bean Cycle for 12 years. Since opening their publick house on Willow Street, the organization has branched into community events and refreshments. The thread that runs through all these ventures is Todd Simmons, Wolverine Farm founder.

What drove you to build a publick house?
Over the years, looking for space around town to do book release parties or poetry readings . . .we grew tired of searching for that perfect space and just decided to make it ourselves.

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Summer 2018

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