Every leg of this trip comes with its own Promised Land that keeps me motivated through the boring parts. All throughout Nebraska, I kept telling myself, Just get to Colorado, just get to Colorado, somewheeere over the rainbooww… I’d been living as if there was going to be a welcoming committee standing at the state line waiting for me with a snowboard and a craft coffee. My elation of crossing into that Promised Land was quickly dashed by the realization that it would be 3 or 4 more hours of grasslands and cornfields before I got to Denver.
I first descended upon the city at Platte Street, which is a pretty cool stretch of bars and hangout spots. Sweaty and stinky in that dashiki, I wandered into the Monkey Barrel, where I’m told they often have live music and a great patio. This signed Nirvana guitar was hanging on their wall:
There I bought a local Colorado beer and met a friendly young skater named Patrick. He told me he was meeting friends soon at the ArtWalk, a yearly outdoor art festival downtown, and he invited me along. I met some of his people (one of whom is also named Lindsay Michelle) and we walked around seeing the bands and art galleries and expos.
I bought these two small pieces for $7 total:
I stayed in the nearby area of Aurora and ate an awesome brunch the next morning at The French Press while perusing Westword, the weekly paper for goings-on. I ended up spending most of the day in the Denver neighborhood of Highlands, where I had my car serviced by two of the most unintentionally hilarious & eccentric old guys I’ve ever met. They struck me as the kind of guys who are probably brilliant in their area of expertise, but maybe don’t know how to tie their own shoes. They must have thought I was insane, because I couldn’t stop laughing the whole time we were speaking. A third, more normal, guy was hanging out at the shop drinking all day, and I gathered that he was friends with the mechanics. He’s lived in Denver a long time, and he told me how the population of young adults there has boomed in the last couple years. He theorized that the boom isn’t solely due to the recent statewide legalization of marijuana, but rather to the greater assumption that a place whose people are willing to legalize weed is probably a chill and accepting place in general. I would agree with that. As we said goodbye, he told me that I knew southern hospitality but he was going to show me “western hospitality” – and he gave me $40. Thanks, dude!
Note: Denver is by far the HIPPEST place I’ve been on this trip. Highlands reminded me much of Plaza Midwood back home. Holy hipster heaven! Not far from the auto shop, I saw a store window that literally said:
CERTIFIED ORGANIC COLD-PRESSED JUICERY & BAMBOO BICYCLES
which was next to a YOGA BOUTIQUE
and a couple blocks down from TEATULIA, where I drank an iced black masala chai tea and ate a raspberry shortcake while using their free Wi-Fi.
I’ll let you absorb that for a minute.
The best parts of the neighborhood, though, were the residential streets. Each row of houses made up a mosaic of different architectural styles, mostly modernized southwestern. The following photos are from that neighborhood, which I very creepily stalked like a private investigator:
That night, I’d intended to go to an awesome concert in town (High on Fire), but by the time I got back to my motel room, I was wiped and decided to stay in. I got up early the next morning and went to a yoga class at the Samadhi Center for Yoga in uptown Denver. Unlike Highlands, it had a very uptown vibe to it. The two white, dreadlocked girls at the front desk were less than welcoming when I arrived. The yoga class was good, though. I needed it after so many days of being stuck in the car. I then ate another great brunch at Syrup uptown, and went back to Highlands.
This time I hit up Rags, a consignment store where you can buy/sell/trade clothes. I offered up some of my hippest gypsy threads and shoes, but they were all politely declined as they were “not the right brands.” Fine, then. I’ll just go peddle my wares elsewhere.
Overall, I had an amazing time in Denver and it was hard to finally peel myself away. I drove straight up north to Wyoming, which was pretty because half the Colorado skyline has a faint mountain horizon in the background.
Next Journey: Wyoming
Next City: Salt Lake City, UT
Love you all,