Well. Denver. Who knew?
A friend asked why I was in Denver. Because texting is annoying and not terribly nuanced, I told him the following:
Shortest Story: there was a sale on flights and I had miles
Short Story: I need more places to write about for The Travel Season
Long, Long, Long Story: my step-sister lives here, and I have some apologies to make.
He didn’t respond (in fact we have a history of this), but I’m assuming that’s because he completely gets it. And, since my apologies/reunion/totally-cool-now lunch took up a brief two hours of my almost-five days in Denver, I had plenty of time to check shit out! Thanks, reasons #1 and #2!!
Before this trip, when I thought of Denver, I thought of…wellllll I guess nothing because I literally never had any reason to think of Denver before. Maybe just mountains and ruddy-cheeked blond men in parkas?
Now, I think of art. And food. And ridiculous parking restrictions – seriously what the hell, Denver? You realize that making people move their car after 2 hours, when they spent a lot of time trying to find that spot in the first place, means they’ll probably just leave that area, along with their money, right? It takes me two hours to just pick the right restaurant and then eat in it, let alone get any ‘supporting of the local economy’ done. Psh.
When I arrived, my Airbnb host instantly poured me some of his homemade wine, and suggested that some time during my stay I try the honey which he’d harvested from bees in Peruvia or something like that. There were beautiful, colorful jars of food he’d canned from his garden, handmade wooden furniture everywhere, bouquets of garden greens throughout the house, and after his tour he tucked himself away into his art studio to continue working on a massive painting. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is I felt like I was still in Sonoma County.
On my first full day in town, I knew I’d need some time to acclimate to the elevation (aka have the afore-mentioned potentially-awkward lunch), and so I signed up for my first-ever Airbnb Experience, to see some stand-up comedy, thinking I might need some comic relief.
As it turns out, I did need to laugh out my woes, but not about my lunch. While still in the restaurant catching up on old times, it began to rain. I quickly discovered, as soon as I stepped outside, that I was wildly underprepared for said rain. It was icy cold and my ridiculous little California down jacket was no match for the Denver weather’s sense of humor.
Still determined to see what I could before the show, I figured I’d check one of the recommendations I’d received off of my list, and headed to the 16th Street Mall since it was close. This is an outdoor walking mall with a free shuttle which you can pick up every other block if you don’t feel like walking. This sounded charming enough, and given how very cool the walking mall in downtown Kalamazoo is, I was excited.
However, because I am very trusting when people tell me there are ‘cool shops to check out’, I didn’t get on the bus despite the rain, afraid I’d miss something, and so kept walking and walking, wondering where these cool shops were, getting wetter and colder in the freezing goddam rain, wondering why in the motherloving hell anyone had recommended this godforsaken street full of chain stores like Ross and Famous Footwear to me?!
In the end the Target I found did prove useful because I was soaked and needed an umbrella. I also found a Sephora where a sparkly young man used his magical makeup brushes to make me look like an actual adult woman. So, not a complete loss. But still – note to Denverites or whatever you call yourselves: NEVER recommend anyone go to the 16th Street Mall unless they specifically convey that they want to shop at chain stores you can find pretty much anywhere in the US. You have so many other cool places to showcase – find your favorite and send people there! Thank sweet baby jesus that was a free day, otherwise I’d be Amanda-irritated* about the wasted time, freezing rain or no freezing rain.
Okay, that rant is over. Now on to more love.
So, as I was saying, I ended my first day with some comedy. That was very laid-back and fun – I love comedy anyway and even tried my hand as a stand-up comic for about 37 seconds, so my ‘experience host’ – Denver comic Mark Masters – was happy that I wasn’t just some jackass off the street looking for an easy laugh. I…think?
We went to the Comedy Works club and after the show, I of course asked a random employee to take a picture of me pretending to be doing stand-up. They were even nice enough to turn the stage lights back on for me, to make it look really legit.
Best of all, Mark gave me some customized tips on places to check out the next day.
I drove back to my Airbnb feeling lighter than I had earlier in the day. From the laughter, from the two hours of much-needed catching up I’d done earlier, from the smug back-patting I gave myself for throwing a Turkish towel into my rental car (travel tip #1: always bring a Turkish towel!), and from the fact that I was leaving with a loose and yet much more concrete plan for the next day.
I decided that I liked Denver. Even though, when I parked my car, I stepped out onto snow.
Coming soon: Where I Went and What I Did!
*Amanda-irritated = just kinda irritated