Hello. I’m back. Ten days in Colorado and we are talking about eventually moving West. But for now, we are back in Florida, Rich’s work is going strong and we are looking forward to winter. Bet you thought you’d never hear me say that. Florida winter, that’s what I’m talking about.
Touched down in Denver at 11:05 AM Mountain time, turned on my cell phone and got the news. The Feds won’t sue to stop marijuana use in Colorado and Washington. Phish is in town for three nights and the city is bouncing around the room.
We head straight to my younger daughter’s apartment, pick her and the boyfriend up and go out for breakfast at a great little place called Snooze which has a full Bloody Mary and Mimosa menu. Rich and I have one called gazpacho. Delicious.
Denver is full of great little restaurants, many run by Johnson & Wales graduates, much like Providence, Miami and Charlotte where they also have campuses. I’m not sure if they have plans to open any more campuses but if they do, the dining options in those cities will soar.
This visit we decided to stay downtown at the Marriott Center City. I wanted to see more of the local neighborhoods. We checked in and as usual Rich stacked all the pillows, settled back, turned on the TV and watched golf. Some big Fedex Cup or something like that. Also par for the course I put my sneakers on and hit the streets to see what I could see.
Denver is a very young city. You notice it right away but I Googled it to get the stats. Thirty six percent of the residents are between the ages of twenty-five and forty-four. I wandered over to the Sixteenth Street Pedestrian Mall, passing numerous coffee shops, and large chains such as Forever 21 and Hard Rock Cafe.The most endearing thing about this area are the painted pianos.
There are almost a dozen of them scattered along the sixteen block area and everyone is invited to sit down and tickle the ivories.
I came across four virtuosos during my walk, all of them very good musicians, one accompanied by a songstress who might have been homeless. She had several bags containing her belongings on a bench beside her.
I passed another very pretty young girl sitting in a doorway, talking to herself. “So people ask me where do you come from? What is it like where you grew up?” Like most American cities, Denver has its share of homeless people, but it was heartbreaking to see someone so young and attractive living on the streets.
Later that night, we met our daughter and her boyfriend at a free concert in Sculpture Park, a little over a mile walk from our hotel. We passed a blue bear peering into the Colorado Convention Center. Public art is everywhere in Denver. The sculpture is forty feet tall and titled “I See What You Mean.”
At the park, cops mingled with pot smoking young people. Dreadlocks and long, flowing skirts were the predominant fashion statement and the aroma of ganja wafted through the night air. Quite an amazing experience to be in an American city experimenting with the idea of LegalizeIt. The gathering was peaceful, the music mellow (members of Phish, Mo and other noodling type bands were playing together) and everyone seemed to be getting along.
We stayed for awhile but by ten we were tired. It was midnight on the east coast and it felt like we left not that morning, but two days ago. We walked back to the hotel, detouring along the Sixteenth Street Mall, where Rich got to hear ragtime playing on one of the public pianos. Ducking into the Appaloosa Grill, we had dinner and drinks, then called it a night.
In a jet lagged, tired from a day of traveling frame of mind my husband invented a new word. He forgot his cell phone in the car and blamed it on the “hecnicity” of the day.
We started the day trying to drive from downtown to the JWU campus where my daughter’s new apartment is. The Taste of Colorado, a huge food, wine, beer and music festival, was taking place over the Labor Day weekend. Numerous blocks were closed for the event so our directions were useless and we became hopelessly lost. What should have been a fifteen minute drive, took almost two hours. We did get to see the numerous neighborhoods of Denver and were quite impressed. Bungalows are the common architectural style and city parks and public spaces are everywhere. Bike riding is extremely popular. We both decided we could live here.
Finally convincing my husband we needed to ask for directions, we stopped at a Daz Bog Coffee shop in yet another lovely neighborhood. I later discovered this is the Cheeseman Park area, full of cool funky houses with colorfully painted doorways, overgrown gardens with an abundance of sunflowers, and an eclectic array of house styles.
We ordered coffee and scones and Rich reluctantly got one of the baristas to give him directions. There was much resistance and hesitation with this at first. Like most men I know, he hates asking for directions. I found a table on the outdoor patio which was crowded with local residents reading books and newspapers and chit-chatting with neighbors. Next to me was a black man who looked like a Princeton professor I often see on MSNBC. He had his black German shepherd, Zeus, with him. A friend stopped by, shook his hand and said, “Good to see you, King David.” King David was drinking coffee with a lady friend. She recently moved to Denver from New York and previously lived in D.C. “I feel comfortable here,” she said. “The people are friendly, more laid back than the East coast.”
“That is all bullshit,” King David said. He was encouraging the woman to get focused with her writing. “Get your website up and attend to your business. You don’t have to carry the burden of others.” Everyone stopped to talk to King David. He had the air of a neighborhood philosopher and spoke with a grandiose tone.
Later in the day, we made it back to the hotel and walked over to the Taste of Colorado, wandering around for several hours sampling food and listening to country music.
Logging several miles that afternoon and on our way back to the boyfriend’s apartment, I got a call from my friend Mary Jane’s daughter, who was in town for the Phish concerts. She was in a diner we had just passed one block back. My husband had been commenting on the building. It looked like an old Howard Johnson’s. We turned around and popped in to say hello. I can’t help but wonder how many times we pass by a place where someone we know is and we have no idea.
“That man that she was looking for/Was only twenty streets away”. It seems there’s a song for everything.