Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Denver, Colorado. The Mile High City.

Craig writes;
Denver, Colorado.
17 December 2014
Once I had exorcised the travel packing nazi in me I found myself surprisingly relaxed and ready to go. Thankfully our dear friend Ben T was kind enough to drag himself away from his daughter Chloe's graduation ceremony to take us out to the airport. An effort that was really appreciated.
The journey continues.
The initial flight to Hong Kong was a pleasant seven hours. We all managed a couple of hours sleep, pushed down a tray or two of 'food', caught a movie and now have a two hour stopover while waiting for the next fourteen hours to L.A.

Nineteen hours later we're in L.A with another five hour stopover before for the final two hour flight to Denver.

Aargh, thirty hours of flying and stopovers and crap food and crap movies and reruns of Game of Thrones and finally, here we sit in our spacious apartment in downtown Denver. We are literally over the road from the famous Coors Field baseball stadium, close enough to smell the hot dogs and French fries - but unfortunately it's the off season and that smell is coming from a deli next door.

As expected our body clocks are in complete disarray after going backwards sixteen hours but thankfully, courtesy of some A grade pharmaceuticals, we seem to have short circuited the worst of any jet lag.

Interesting fact.  At 5280 feet above sea level, Denver is the official capital of the Mile High Club. There's no need for a circus act in a shoe box here. You can join just by sitting in the purple seats at Coors Field or taking the thirteen steps up to the Capital Building.
It's as easy as that.
Friday 19 December
It's 7.30am and the temperature outside is a very cool negative six degrees. The sun is shining, the sky is baby blue and we're all feeling fine after a great nights sleep. We hung out around the apartment watching old You Tube clips - Flock of Seagulls anyone -  waiting for the temp to reach anything over zero before we went to explore Denvers magical mile long mall. It was great. It was urban and pedestrian friendly and full of shops you actually felt you could afford to walk into. We found lunch at the Cheesecake factory and were quickly reminded just how massive the servings are here. All thoughts of a cheesecake chaser were quickly dismissed, at least till we walked that mile.

We walked past the Federal Reserve Bank and decided to take the tour. It's one of twelve regional branches of the Federal Reserve that are scattered around the US.  Their purpose is to make sure that banks never run out of cash. We saw a $100,000 dollar note, a stack of $30,000,000 in $100 notes and walked over a vault holding over $74,000,000,000, that's 74 billion.
Obviously counterfeits.
We passed the Cheesecake Factory on the way back and in the hope of finding room later we decided to get a couple of slices for the road.

Saturday 20 December
The day started a little overcast but the clouds were quickly moved on to leave that soft blue sky of yesterday and the crisp chill of a December Denver day.  Today we were walking up to 1340 Pennsylvania Av to visit Molly Browns house. She was quite a remarkable woman, much more than just the most famous survivor of the Titanic. She was never called Molly while she was alive, her name was Margaret Brown, sometimes called Maggie, but never Molly, at least not till a posthumous book, The Unsinkable Molly Brown was written.  A doyen of the woman's suffragette movement and an outspoken advocate for the rights of the downtrodden and the suppressed she was a woman ahead of her time. She ran for the Senate three times in an era when women hadn't even gotten the vote.
Molly Browns house.
It was a beautiful house and although there were very few original pieces it had been loving restored in the style  of the times. On our way to Mollies house we made to sure to stop in at the Capital Building and stand on those famous mile high steps.

We have picked up our Jeep for the drive up to Steamboat on Monday and were delighted to hear that a huge snowstorm will be blowing the day we're driving up. Should be interesting.

Dinner tonight was coal-fired pizza from Marcos, only one block away on Larimar st.  We had the most amazing Limoncello chicken wings with spice rub before what was arguably the best pizza we've had outside of Florence although Callum still votes Bottoms Up in Richmond as his number one.

Sunday 21 December
Interesting fact. At 53sq miles, Denver's airport is the largest airport in the USA.
There wasn't much more for us to see in Denver so we hopped in the car and drove the twenty seven miles to Boulder. It's a quaint little town - founded in 1858 it has a population today of a little under 100,000 - but has a colourful western history and today is frequently mentioned among the most liveable towns in the US. I spied an interesting picture in a shop displaying historical photos of the area. Standing along the length of a long porch were Wyatt Earp, his brother James, Theodore Roosevelt, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Doc Holiday, Judge Roy Bean and some guy called Liver Eating Johnson, it was dated 1883.  That's quite a collection of personalities.

One of the reasons - in fact the main reason - we made the drive was that Christina wanted to do the tour of the Celestial Seasonings tea factory. This is where it all began back in 1968 when a bunch of hippies went up into the mountains to collect herbs, berries and bark to make some home brew.  Well things went well and it's probably fair to say there aren't too many households today that don't have a box of Celestial Seasonings somewhere in the back of their cupboard. It went so well in fact that today this ultra modern factory pumps out an astounding 10,000,000 tea bags a day.
The Celestial Seasonings factory.
I've had the very occasional Sleepytime herbal but I'm not a rabid fan so I wasn't that interested to see where it came from, but, I must say it was up there with the Puduka National Quilt Museum as one of those surprising visits that was well worth the effort.

Today is the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere so by the time we had a bite to eat in the Pearl st. mall and drove back to Denver it was 5pm and pitch dark.   Tomorrow we say goodbye to Denver and head to the snow.  Yippee!!

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