Perhaps to put you in the right mood you also should be listening to John Denver’s delightful classic, Rocky Mountain High.Because this post is all about our trip to Denver, Colorado last week to visit my brother and his family. we had such a goo dtime the kids didn’t want to leave. Shortly before we left I realized that they’d never seen Western mountains in person and I was very excited for them to experience the majesty (yes! purple mountains majesty, indeed!) of snow capped mountains.
We departed last Monday and were actually excited for a long day of travel. Our non-direct flight was taking us first to Austin, TX. Though we wouldn’t be leaving the airport the kids were excited to be in Texas and Paul and I were excited to partake of the famous local bbq we’d read about. The Austin airport did not disappoint. Delicious barbecue and Texas beer, live music, and lots of SXSW and Austin City Limits merch to be had. We passed a very pleasant couple of hours there before continuing on to Denver. We arrived late, were happy and excited to see everyone and then crashed. We woke the next day ready to spend time with our family and experience Denver. We were also very excited to experience warm weather. We’d been promised temps in the 70s, which sounded positively tropical to us. That first day it was 80 degrees! We were hot! It was sunny! The plants there were easily 3-4 weeks ahead of ours, with tulips and daffodils and trees blooming everywhere. But we’d also been warned that Colorado weather is fickle, and sure enough a couple days later it snowed, was cold, and we were not appropriately dressed. But oh, that first warm day! We headed to the Denver Botanic Gardens, which were expansive and lovely.
We relaxed afterward with a visit to The Tattered Cover, which is an excellent bookstore. As an aside, we enjoyed driving around Denver and just seeing what a nice city it is.(I feel it’s such a nice progressive city that does a lot of things right, for example commercial composting.) We laughed at all the different marijuana stores with punny names. It’s like you know how hair salons almost always have a hair pun in their name? All the pot stores in Denver are similar: Buddy’s Best, Frosted Leaf, Rocky Mountain High, Green Dragon, Mile High Green Cross, High Level Health.
Tuesday we were very excited to go up into the mountains and go on a hike up to a glacier.Just 15 minutes out of the city and we were driving through craggy mountains, twisty turns, and tunnels. By the time we parked it was pretty grey, chilly, and windy. And, as we started up the snowy path, it began to snow. It was like Narnia.
We soldiered on, up the snowy path, and after a while it stopped and the sun came out.
When we got to the glacial lake it was so worth it. The views were amazing.
The trees were twisted and worn and looked like driftwood. It was amazing to see ski tracks up on what looked like a sheer mountain face, and people continuing their hikes well past us, across big snowy expanses. We just had a good time mucking around, taking it all in, and when we left it was through cold snow again. On our way home we stopped at Red Rocks, which was, literally, breathtaking. Seriously, I gasped. The gigantic rocks look like huge ship prows coming up out of the ocean (in fact, Ben says one of them is called Ship Rock.)
It’s incredible to me that when it’s not a concert it’s just an open park and there were groups of people exercising on the steep risers, some guy playing guitar on the stage, no doubt fancying himself a famous musician, and so on. It was truly glorious.
The next day we hit the the Contemporary Museum of Art, which was featuring a big Mark Mothersbaugh (aka “the guy from Devo”) exhibit. Lots of strange things to see and enjoy and it was a nice museum. Here’s Ben and the kids all taking in the Mothersbaugh composed theme to PeeWee’s Playhouse.
And Tabby in the “Bubble Garden.”
That evening was a fabulous outing to a (apparently) well-known institution–Casa Bonita. I’m not even sure how to describe this place. I recommend you watch the South Park episode that is all about it (as we did when we got home after the kids went to bed that night.) Just google it and it’s watchable for free on Hulu. Basically it’s a huge Mexican entertainment restaurant that is super kitschy. The outside belies just how massive the interior is.
Once you go exploring you see that there are nooks, crannies, rooms, all with booths and seats stashed in them. It can seat 1000 people (one wonders when the peak time that 1000 people would be there is.) The centerpiece of it all is a pool surrounded by cliffs. Every 15 minutes or so there is an entertainment of cliff divers, hokey skits, a gorilla suit skit, and more dives.
There is an arcade, gift shop, Punch and Judy theater, spooky cave to walk through, musicians, and lots of lots of sopapillas. The deal is that everyone has to buy a meal as your admission, and the food is terrible. So in concept it’s sort of like being at Disneyworld (though not nearly as nice.) We had such a good time there and I’m sure if you ask the kids what their favorite things were they would both shout, “Casa Bonita!”
On our last day we all went to the zoo. It was a beautiful day for it and Denver has a lovely zoo, and who doesn’t love that? We had some encounters with peacocks, got to see the polar bear wake up from a nap for feeding time, saw all the big cats enjoying big bones (a zookeeper informed us it was “bone day”), were fascinated by a napping rhinoceros, and more.
All in all we had a great time and it was wonderful for the cousins to spend time together and for Paul and I to spend time with my brother and sister-in-law, who were wonderful hosts. We introduced them to geocaching, which was satisfying. We went to the Mexican bakery, which was tasty. We had fun!