Hammond's Candies Factory is close to the National Western Complex in Denver so another morning I took the free factory tour. They give tours six days a week, Monday through Saturday. Tours run every half hour (typically on the half hour), Monday-Friday 9:00am - 3:00pm and Saturdays 10:00am - 3:00pm and last about 30 minutes. My tour was on Saturday so the production areas weren't as busy as they would have been on a weekday, but it was still quite fascinating.
After a short video introduction, we moved to the first area. Basically candy is made from sugar, corn syrup and water - then throw in flavorings and coloring. When it comes out of the vat, it is a huge hunk. They may stretch it or work it and then they put this big hunk on a table and cut it with giant shears into workable pieces. Jerry, our guide, gave us an explanation of the process and answered questions.
The photo below left shows a smaller hunk with the worker pounding holes in it to let air escape. It was difficult to get shots since machines blocked our view. Cameras set at various locations did focus in on certain stations (above right). The chocolate area and packing areas weren't as busy. However, just before we went in the retail store, we were given the opportunity to get a sample of one of their "oops." Various flavors of candy canes were in boxes to choose from. I passed on that since candy canes are not appealing to me, though they now come in all sorts of flavors.
A lot of candies in the store were tempting- particularly the chocolate ones. This time of year they are making their signature chocolate bunny - with one lop ear. I did get George some seconds of Mitchell Sweets, a candy that takes three days to make. I did help him eat them too when I got home. Very rich and yummy! While I was perusing the counter with individual chocolate pieces, the owner and his son came in. Kathy, behind the counter, told me it was the owner. Andy Schuman said his son Joey was the president - probably in charge of tasting! Andy recommended a chocolate-covered sea foam that was scrumptious. I bought a few of those also and a dark chocolate peanut butter cup. I got their photo with Kathy, who also gives tours.
This is another tour I recommend to add to your RV travels if you are in the Denver area. While it's free to take the tour, you probably won't leave the premises without spending some money. There are so many varieties - there is bound to be something to appeal to your taste buds. Their candies are handmade- very rare anymore and the only factory of its size to do so. This keeps quality high so they can sell to stores like Whole Foods, which allows no artificial ingredients. For their candy they use foods like beets and red cabbage to give the candy its color. Other fine stores also feature their candies.
There is room to park an RV in the lot. The factory and store are just a couple of miles north of I-70 on Washington Street and just east of I-25, so convenient to reach. Weekends are low-key but you'd get a better flavor of the process on a weekday. I think Jerry said they have their own Lucy and Ethyl working one of the
chocolate candy lines but I was disappointed they weren't on duty. Next time I come during the week! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
When I'm at an RV show I may have time in the morning or middle of the day to do some exploring. I started looking for things to do and found I was not all that far from Golden, CO and the Miller Coors Brewery. They offer free tours. That should be fun!
The brewery stretches for 5 miles and sits on 55 acres. It's an imposing sight. Visitor parking is at Ford and 13th where a shuttle bus takes you to the start of the tour. The bus makes a quick tour through Golden, mentioning some of the history of the town and the brewery. Adolph Coors apprenticed in Prussia and opened his brewery here in 1873.
After a photo with an optional Coors hat and signing in, displays show older photos and paraphernalia. Now all tours are audio tours. You push a number on your phone-like device to hear information about each station.
Displays and videos explain the process. On the right is a photo of mature hops plants. I had never stopped to think what a hop was but I would never have pictured it like this!
The most imposing sight is where huge brew kettles are used to process the grains and hops. A sign above the kettles on the left say they are brew kettles while the ones on the right are "mash tuns," which mix the grain and water and heat it to break down the enzymes in the grain. Coors beer is known for its pristine Rocky Mountain water, giving it a special taste. This is the third ingredient in brewing beer.
The next area was the packaging and shipping area. Coors and Keystone beers whizzed by on conveyer belts.
The last stop - no, the next to last - was the tasting room. Each guest 21 and over could taste three beers. The full line of Miller and Coors was available so it was a popular place. In fact most of the people who rode over on the bus with me were in their 20s. I wonder how often they come? And, you could also purchase your photo with a choice of backgrounds in photo format or on a keyring. I decided that $15 for one or $20 for two of me with a Coors cowboy hat in front of the brewing kettles was not worth the price!
And the very last stop, of course, was the gift shop. Lots of choices here too. I did pick up a gift and some postcards. If you come to Golden I do recommend the tour, even if you are not a beer drinker- and especially if you are. It was quite informative.
Golden looks like a nice town. You receive a "Golden" buck when you take the tour. You present this to a participating store or restaurant and get a 15 or 20 percent discount. You rub off a circle to find out the discount when you pay. I had a tasty bison burger at the Buffalo Rose Saloon, but had to head back without exploring more.
There is room to park RVs on the Miller Coors visitor lot. You are a block from Washington Street, the main street, so could probably leave it there while you explore if the lot wasn't full. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
In Kansas City, the other "entertainment" was Twiggy, the Water Skiing Squirrel. The Colorado RV, Sports, Boat & Travel Show, including boats and other gear for sportsmen, has more of a variety. Besides two other speakers on aspects of RVing and camping, there are three other entertainment/seminars. Down in the boat area, besides beautiful boats including fishing pontoons, are demonstrations on bass fishing and trophy pike fishing techniques. The demonstrator stands on an elevated platform above fishing tanks so he can show the crowd the techniques to use.
There is also a great American duck race. It takes place the same time as my talks so I've been unable to attend, but I'm told they use real mallard ducks and kids race them. I saw an excited little girl whose duck had won the race.
A real crowd pleaser is the Lumberjills Log Rolling Adventure. Four women who compete or have competed on college woodsman (woodswoman?) teams demonstrated several skills, dividing into two teams to add some excitement. As is typical, they come from all walks of life. First up was the two women crosscut. Then they demonstrated the axe throw with razor-blade sharp axes. At my angle I couldn't get a picture of both the target and woman throwing it. Whew- I would not want that axe coming at me!
The next demo was the underhand chop. In just a few short minutes, they had chopped a big triangular chunk out of one side, then turned and chopped a second out of the other. At that point, the block broke in two. And, the most interesting was the log roll. Because they were in a plastic-lined tank, they could not wear the typical spiked shoes. The log had carpet on it and they wore tennis shoes. The object, of course, is to move the log, splash your opponent, lunge toward her so she falls off before you do. Opponents cannot touch each other or cross a line, but they can change the direction that the log rolls. Hesitate and in the water you go!
Today is the last day of the Colorado RV, Sports, Boat & Travel Show at the National Western Complex right off I-170 near I-25 and your last day to see all the new RVs plus other products. I'll be speaking again at 11 and 1. Plus there is always a fishing demo or cheering on the Lumberjills! See the website for a discount ticket.
Make a light weight camper for the back of your truck, a trailer or a shelter in 60 minutes! Teal Tail Feather Campers are purchased as kits with component parts. Panels weigh only 20 pounds each, have 2 inches of insulation and can be made in several sizes and shapes.
I had read a press release about these recently and was intrigued. They are making their public debut here at the Colorado RV, Sports, Boat & Travel Show here in Denver. You can not only purchase the shell, but you can outfit it inside too.
Displayed was a model on a utility trailer. Ryan Speir, sales manager, showed me how the roof can slide partially open, making it ideal for the amateur astronomer. It can be plugged into electricity. And, they are talking to Habitat for Humanity about using these as shelters for the homeless; tents, the usual shelters, have to be replaced periodically because they wear out. These last for years. And, they can be disassembled easily and stored, taking up a fraction of the space.
Check out their website. These versatile campers will especially appeal to the sportsman - for ice fishing, hunting, or a weekend camping trip. They would work well for family camping too, for a shelter from the weather. You might get an idea for a use from looking at pictures there. Better yet, come to the RV show and look for yourself! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
I'm speaking at the 56th Annual Colorado RV, Sports, Boat & Travel Show, the last of five I'm doing this season. Unlike the others, it is not located downtown. Instead it is north of downtown at the National Western Complex. It's quite the place- maze-like in that there are levels and rooms off the main area - lots of nooks and crannies. The RV seminar stage is way off in a back corner on the main level. It is marked on the show map.
Each show has had a different character. I thought I'd seen all the new things but was wrong. Several of the shows were geared towards families and weekend campers and sportsmen. There were few high end RVs. Here is the priciest RV I've seen at the shows - the Ikon Renegade. I didn't catch the total price but the show special says payments are $3200+/month! It's built on a Freightliner chassis - very snazzy. It does have a guest bathroom - living the RV lifestyle in luxury! Two other rigs by this same dealer are definitely high end items.
Since this show also appeals to the sportsman, many booths offer tourist information and items useful to them. I found these Clam tents intriguing- quite roomy. And you can use this one for ice fishing. The other side comes down to protect from the weather. The small ones come in a container you can put on - or drag from - an ATV or snow mobile. I talked to one salesman who said they are going up by Grand Lake after the show for ice fishing. I wasn't aware ice fishing was possible in Colorado. Learn something new every day!
Tomorrow I'll share information about a new modular camper. And, as always, if you are in the area, stop by and say hello. Discount tickets are available online at the show site. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak