Thursday, January 08, 2009

Day 9 in Colorado :(

~ If we were feeling a lil' funky yesterday, just anticipating our last day in Colorado, imagine how we felt this morning! We had to drop our rental car off at 2 p.m., so we had precious little time to cram in as many as-yet-unseen spots we as we could.
~ In an effort to be make our way east toward the airport, we headed into Denver, drove around downtown, and looked at/photographed things we'd only seen in the dark or had missed entirely.
~ The more east we went, the fewer places there were to eat. So, we stopped at Quizno's for lunch. (Did you know it was founded in Denver? I didn't.)

~ Here are a few things I noticed during my time in Colorado:
~ Everything is more beautiful and overwhelming than you planned for
~ Mountains help drivers keep their sense of direction (as the beach does here in Florida)
~ Many businesses have really cool, funky signs out front
~ Fat people are not permitted to live here
~ Half the grocery stores have funny names
~ Panda Express and 7-11 are everywhere
~ Outside is lightyears better than inside
~ People are friendly and patient, even while driving
~ Things are casual AND laid back (which is quite different from SoFla, which is casual but not so laid back)
~ Generally speaking, people here are attractive (in a natural, silicone- and Botox-free way, also unlike my neck of the woods. Wait, there are no woods here; there are in Colorado, and that's something else I liked.)
~ Cars are dirty
~ It's not near as cold as you'd think, but it's windy!
~ "Wind- and solar-powered", "mom-and-pop owned" and "sustainability focused" are often used to describe businesses
~ Public art is everywhere: sculptures, murals, even groovy multicolored bike-shaped bicycle racks
~ The men are men. (Yum.) Not metrosexuals - ya know, the dudes that shave their arms. (Blech.) Side note: Someone really ought to form a Manscapers Anonymous here in SoFla; those guys need help.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Day 8 in Colorado

~ Our last full day in Colorado. :( The thought of this made us a little funky, but we tried not to think about it and to just enjoy ourselves. Today's plan was the same as yesterday: daytime in the mountains, nighttime in the city. But today's city was Denver; there's so much to see that two or three nights there is sadly inadequate. I hope next time to have a local to hang with for a day or two. Any takers? I'll buy dinner. ;)
~ On to the specifics... First, we headed back south to Golden. I'd really enjoyed myself there on my first day, and the kid hadn't seen it yet. So, we drove around quite a bit, looked at houses and the foothills, then walked around the main strip a bit. We had a pretty good lunch at Woody's Woodfired Pizza and Mini-Me bought some gifts for her parents and friends back home.

~ We went to the Boulder Reservoir, which seems to be a hotspot for hibernating boats and RVs.

~ Then we met our friend at Starbucks (yes, the Sbux again) in Boulder before taking a drive up to Chautauqua Park and around the surrounding residential neighborhoods. She wanted us to see some of the hidden gems and where "the money" lives. Sadly, this is also where some of the wildfires would be a few weeks later.

~ Following a goodbye to our local friend, we headed to Denver for the night. We had dinner at Mezcal, which features a lucha libre in its logo and serves pretty good food, with the exception of the (canned?) red sauce. The atmosphere was cool, and my impression is that this part of town is my kinda neighborhood.

~ We walked around Larimer Square, Writer Square and the surrounding area a bit. I think we enjoyed this trip all the more because everything was still decorated for the holidays.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Day 7 in Colorado

~ We'd stayed up late last night chatting and looking through our photos; and the lil' cousin just couldn't wait and had me purchase tickets to her next Big Head Todd show.
~ We grabbed a quick snack for the road and made our way northwest to Nederland, a small place high up above Boulder full of old wooden buildings that have been revived by colorful hippies. It's pretty cool there, and the fact that it's only about half an hour outside Boulder makes it even nicer.

~ On the way up, we took the Peak-to-Peak Byway. Its tight, winding curves would likely make this dangerous in bad weather, but it was a dry, sunny morning and the views are outta this world. The kiddo even spotted some alpacas, which I love. I wish we'd had more time for some hiking and such; I'll just have to go back more often, won't I? :)

~ We didn't spend too much time in Nederland, and headed back down to town via Boulder Canyon. Wow. There was no real way for me to take great photos of the canyon, because you simply can't back up far enough to get the entire canyon wall into the frame! But I tried...

~ We spent time on Pearl Street Mall. Our stops included Starbucks (I was surprised that there aren't more indy coffeeshops in these parts), Boulder Bookstore, Gold Mine vintage shop, a toy store and an old-fashioned candy store (Mini-Me got herself a vanilla gelato here, despite the cold wind outside). As I always do when traveling, I made a point of looking for the local newspaper office, and grabbed copies of the local rags, too. Worth mentioning is that this town is full of public art as are its neighboring cities (sculptures, murals, etc.), buskers (most of whom were actually good), street lamps plastered with posters pushing local bands, and a youthful, funky vibe (it IS a college town, afterall). And Boulder, like Denver, has a large number of live music venues for its size; that's great for me!

~ We picked up our friend and had supper at West End Tavern, which apparently is owned by the same folks who own Zolo, where we ate last night. Both places are run on 100% wind power and locally source as much of their food as possible - pretty cool.
~ Again, we walked around downtown a bit, then took the long way back to the hotel. I never tired of the lovely nighttime view coming up over a hilltop in the suburbs; the lights just keep going and going and going.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Day 6 in Colorado

~ Slept in after a late, great night.
~ Walked out for a quick brunch, some of us to Poppycock's and other to McDonald's (I know, I know).

~ Left Aspen with heavy hearts. Not only is it hard to leave this magical place, but the BHTM part of our trip is now over. (One more month and most of us will be seeing them again; that's not so bad!)
~ On the way back to Boulder, we longingly eyed the natural spring-fed pool in Glenwood Springs, and made stops for coffee and to take photos of the crazy-beautiful views.

~ Made a beeline for Zolo, where we enjoyed a relaxing dinner.

~ After driving by a few sights, we took our friend home and wandered around the Pearl Street Mall. As usual, we took the long, winding way back to the hotel. I'm struck by the number of Mexican restaurants and 7-11s, and the funny name of one of their main grocers, King Soopers (of course, Publix here in the south isn't necessarily a less-amusing moniker).

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Day 5 in Colorado

~ I woke up first and opened the curtains to see a white wonderland. The weather gods were cooperating, giving us gorgeous weather on the driving days and a beautiful six inches or so of fresh white stuff on our full no-driving day in town.
~ Relaxed, stopped into Starbucks for a "reliable" java, and had breakfast at the very busy Poppycock's (French toast, nomnomnom). It seems every place here is busy; I won't attribute that entirely to it being high season, because everyplace we went was a nice mix of delish and friendly.
~ Walked around, shopped, took photos, threw snowballs (OK, that was just me, the tropi-chick), and relaxed until our final (sniff) Big Head Todd show.

~ We decided tonight to have a "nicer" dinner, so we followed the recommendations of several friends and visited two places for supsup. Social was cool, but it felt more like a NYC lounge than what we were looking for and the menu wasn't entirely up our alley. (That said, the scallop/brie/honey appetizer was scandalous.) Next stop was J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome. I particularly wanted to stop here as it was a haunt of Hunter S. Thompson (seems he had several faves; the man liked the drink), and we did find a "Hunter S. Thompson for Sheriff" sign behind the bar. It's lovely there, cozy and warm (figuratively speaking only, unfortunately, as there was a mean draft by the window seats), and the menu was comforting. Our salads, burgers and chicken pot pie hit the spot, and my pretty-dern-local Blue Moon was ace. (Oh, and yeah, what they say about being able to drink much less at altitude is true!)
~ Again, we got to the club just after the doors opened, but tonight we had a two-hour wait until the show started. Last night, a DJ took over the club after the BHTM show, so they only played two hours and we all had to clear out right after. Tonight there was no after party and we'd heard from a crew member that the guys might play a longer set, so we were hopeful and didn't mind waiting two hours for the show to start. Football, beer and war stories commence...
~ Here's what I posted to the BHTM boards:

Wow. This weekend has left me at a loss for words (and for those of you who know me, you know that's a rarity). Our second night here in Aspen was outta sight. The guys seemed to really be having a great time, and a little musical birdie told me they were stoked to see people showing up at all the CO shows night after night.

How could we not? This place is a gem of a venue; I can't stress that enough. The guys never cease to amaze me with their friendliness and down-to-earth attitudes; they always make you feel like you're an old friend. Aspen is crazy beautiful, especially while decorated for the holidays and covered with a dusting of the nice white stuff, and the people here have all been really nice. And the energy and set lists... man oh man... let's just say that both nights we all left a lil' bit worked over.

What a weekend! I'm sad to see it end, but I must head out into the 3 degree weather and back to Boulder now. In the meantime, chew on this setlist:

Monument in Green (just Todd and Jeremy)
Friend of the Devil (that's the Dead, baby!)
Cruel Fate
Blue Sky
It's Alright
Sister Sweetly
Mona Lisa
Heart of Wilderness
Love Transmission
Magdelina (with a horn)
Ever Since Ya Pulled Me Under (with horns)
James Brown Medley (with horns)
Beautiful World (with horns)
Runaway Train
Come On
Encore: Circle, Rocky Mountain Way (!!!)

~ I should add to the above post that I danced more than I think I may ever have at a show; perhaps it was the set list, maybe it was the fun produced by being surrounded by more friends than I usually am at a show, likely it was simply the perfect circumstances of the weekend. It truly was a perfect weekend.

~ Oh, let me not forget to mention that after the show we hung out BS-ing with the merch guy, who is a friend of the band, while my lil' cousin bought some goodies. Jeremy came out to chat with us and we got some photos of him with the kid and some of the girls. He was his usual sweet, funny self. When we finally left, we bumped into Brian, who was helping load some equipment into the trailer; he, too, was his usual friendly, twinkly-eyed self, and the kid got another photo.