I had no real preconceived ideas of what Denver was going to be like. I imagined a lot of brown as I always do whenever I equate something with the “Wild West”. With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, I was concerned about the state of its inhabitants. Were they mindless, smiling zombies shuffling through town wearing pot leafed shirts, faded flannel, Birkenstocks, and their hands stuffed into a bag of Doritos to stay off the munchies? And I admit that Denver has never been tops on my list of places to go. I mean, it’s Colorado, so it must be freezing, right? I think it’s well established that this girl hates to be cold. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Not cold in the least.
But off to Denver we would go. Primary objective? The fulfillment of a bucket list item for my husband. It has long been a dream of his to attend a concert at Red Rocks. As luck would have it, his favorite band, O.A.R. was on the roster. He was so excited and I was excited for him. Me? I was more like, “Meh.” I was more interested in some much needed alone time with my husband. And I would go anywhere for that.
Off we went. Left the kiddos under the capable, watchful eye of Grandma, hopped on a plane and entered into this adventure with a giant check mark poised and ready for Chris’s bucket list.
The ride from Denver International Airport to the city is not glamorous and really doesn’t give much away as to what to expect from downtown. I was super surprised to see a multitude of prairie dogs along the roadway. They would appear like tiny statues sunning themselves in the setting rays. Prairie dogs?! I thought they lived in the prairie? Or in zoos? Denver is in Colorado….um, Mountain Standard Time..??? It’s “The Mountains”. What? Boy was I a moron. Denver might just be the flattest place I’ve ever been. FLAT. (Try telling that to the poor pedicab driver who had to pedal us “uphill”. Really? It’s flat.)
Anyhoo, I clearly had a lot to learn and now I was excited. (Ask any mom how excited she is about leaving for a trip. It’s almost not worth even going for all of the work and planning that needs to take place. Generals could learn a thing or two from us moms about logistics, advancement of troops, and planning for worst case scenarios. I digress.) Moms don’t get excited until they actual reach their destination, or at least the airport.
Instead of exhausting and frantic, my excitement took on this strange form of relaxation and open mindedness. Like sitting in a comfy chair and opening up a book that you’ve been dying to read. Contemplating on it now, I think it was the lack of a schedule and responsibilities that really let me relax in a way I’ve never experienced before. Of course, it could have been the high altitude and the pot smoke contrails from some of the people, but what evs!
We checked into our gorgeous hotel and decided to start walking toward Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies. What I noticed straight away was that Denver is a super clean city, with wide streets, and plenty of sky. Sure you had your ultra modern glass skyscrapers, but they were not concentrated which allowed a lot of sunshine in. I am a self proclaimed architecture nerd. I geek out over the different styles and workmanship. I had to train my eye, in Denver, to spot the little gems of ages past. I found most of the buildings to be very square. What the city lacked in old world charm, it made up in clean lines and a peaceful uniformity. Another feature of Denver that was striking to me was that the streets were not teaming with people and cars. There were signs of life everywhere, but the city lacked the hustle and bustle and congestion of the Northeast cities that I’ve become accustomed to. These people, now me included, could really enjoy this city in leisure. Rat race? What rat race?
And let me just take a moment to discuss the humidity. Keep in mind that we had just left the Northeast that was experiencing the longest, highest humidity and heat wave that I can ever remember. Weeks of 95+% humidity. Weeks! But here! Here it was 41% humidity. (And that’s apparently high for the area!) It was the first breath of fresh air that I had taken in months. It was spectacular. And my hair!!! Well, that could just be a whole ‘nother post! Spectacular.
We decided just to do some bar hopping for the evening. Something we never do. We spent our evening sipping cocktails and craft beers and eating bar food like we were 25 again. The bars were hip and the people working there even hipper. (I don’t think that’s an actual word, but let’s go with it.) We blended right in. Sort of the Goldilocks of the crowd…not too old…not too young, but juuuust right. Young enough to have a good time, but old enough to afford it. I think our first stop had been an old west brothel in it’s previous life. (Say what?!) I had an herby cocktail there and sampled my first cheese curd all while watching a rerun of Soul Train. Yep!
The next bar prided itself on it’s infused vodkas and whiskey’s. House specialty was a pickle juice unfused vodka shot with a dried up scorpion in the bottom. You earned your stripes by doing the shot and consuming the scorpion. Yeah, no. We’ll leave that to the young ones. After leaving that bar we made our way to the stadium. I was too tired to sit through the baseball game, so we opted to make our way back to the hotel. On our way, we stumbled on a super find; in collecting circles, a well known old school arcade and bar called 1 Up. My husband, being an avid pinball and arcade game collector, was in his element. When he saw the sign, I think his eyes lit up like the star eyed emoji. Of course we went in! We got a round of drinks and a fistful of quarters and played all the games that we didn’t own in our collection, including the world’s largest PacMan. We ended the night with a few rounds of skee-ball and me playing some really dismal games of Centipede. It’s been a long time old friend. A long time.
Saturday arrived..um..early. (MST, remember? I was up at 5:15 am). We were meeting my cousin and her husband for lunch (shout out to Erin and Jeff!), but hadn’t locked down our plans for the evening. Well, not to worry! The city was teeming with events for the weekend. I think every pro sporting team had a home game on their schedule and there were oodles of concerts happening in the area. We narrowed down our choices to seeing Boy George and the Culture Club, B52s and The Thompson Twins and their 80s revival or Bruno Mars. WE PICKED BRUNO!!!! We were able to score sweet 4th row tickets and were treated to the most entertaining performance I’ve ever seen. 24 karat magic in the airrrrrrr🎵🎶.
Anyway….we had done a fair amount of walking during our short time in the city and quickly realized how absolutely pedestrian friendly it is. Really easy to navigate, we could walk everywhere and to most everything. And the 16th Street Mall provided an oasis of stores, restaurants and coffee shops to break up the walking.
Sunday was the big day for Chris. We unexpectedly slept really late, so we ordered room service and hung out watching the NFL season openers before we had to head out the Red Rocks for a VIP experience of watching the band’s sound check. Red Rocks is a quick 30 minute drive from downtown Denver. The park itself is spectacular, but the concert venue is even more so. It is huge, but nestled between the massive rock formations feels really intimate. Once you make the bun burning climb to the top, the venue is really amazing. I loved it.
The band was awesome as usual, delivering another quality show. And the warm up, Matt Nathanson was so much fun. Momma got her groove on. Lol.
Friends, put Denver on your must see travel destination list. You will be welcomed by kind people, and oodles and oodles to do. Be prepared to walk, but I promise, you won’t mind a bit. I actually think I could live there.