While I was away for my work conference, I carried a small journal with me. It served the dual purpose of being a place to jot down things I learned, and was also a place to scribble down observations or thoughts about the trip so I could blog about it when I got home.
Below are the disjointed images of Denver that took a plane ride home with me:
– As much as I’ll ever like anything to do with flying, I liked landing in Denver. On every other flight I’ve ever taken, my ears hurt while we’re descending and then I go through a period of feeling like I’m walking around in a bubble. This generally lasts until I can get to the bathroom and give myself a good honking nose-blow that makes my ears pop. This didn’t happen on my Denver landing. Maybe I was still so high up that my poor sinuses never actually went through a major altitude change? My bubble came back in full force for my landing in Baltimore.
– It was just starting to get dark as I rode the shuttle from the airport to my hotel in downtown Denver. One of the first things we passed was a huge statue of a bright blue horse. It was rearing up as if it was pissed off, and it had bright red eyes that glowed in the darkness. I thought there was something vaguely creepy about it. There was a girl on my shuttle who was also attending the conference. She’d gotten in two days earlier to do the tourist thing, and she said another shuttle driver had told her that while the sculpture was being built, its head fell off and hit and killed one of the artists.
I have no clue how true that is. It may be just a piece of colorful folklore designed to give tourists that case of the willies we love so much. But it sure fit with the way the damn thing’s red eyes glowed in the dark.
– It was late when I got to the hotel, and my co-workers had already eaten dinner. I was prepared to check in and just order up some room service, but once I was settled I decided I wanted a drink too. So I headed down to the hotel lounge and got a drink and a menu, then proceeded to order up some nachos that came out on a plate 3 times the size of my head.
There were a few other conference-goers in the lounge, and we talked about our colleges and traded both horror and happy stories about our system while we ate. Every now and then, a guy sitting somewhere behind us would weave his way to the bar, wave his glass and yell “jager bomb!” in a distinctly Jersey accent. The bartender finally cut him off, and he looked like he might cry. We all laughed over how we’d come across the country to run into someone who must have walked straight out of “Jersey Shore.”
– The bartender warned me that anyone not used to the altitude should double their water intake in Denver, especially when drinking. He said when he’d moved there from Arizona he discovered the worst hangovers of his life, because you dehydrate much easier. I was thankful for the warning.
– My first morning in Denver, I woke to heavy flurries. I was on the 22nd floor of a hotel with one of those windows that encompasses the whole wall of your room, so I sat on the ledge with my really bad cup of in-room coffee and watched the snow fall. It was a beautiful moment, made even better by the fact that the snow didn’t actually lay anywhere.
– If I ever go back to Denver, I definitely need to be more mobile. None of us had rental cars. Given that we only had a few hours a day for exploration around the conference stuff, that meant we were pretty much stuck in the city. The view of the mountains in the distance was beautiful, but kind of like seeing and smelling a gourmet meal and not being able to taste it.
– The touristy district we were in was a lot like the Inner Harbor area of downtown Baltimore, minus the harbor. Even the Rockies and Broncos stadium setup reminded me of good old Camden Yards and Ravens Stadium – or M&T Bank Stadium, technically.
– Before going to Denver, I thought that Baltimore had a large homeless population. We do, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Denver. A co-worker actually asked someone about it, and was told that many homeless people actually migrate to Denver because of the climate and the relatively decent money they make panhandling there.
– Elk seems to be the thing in Denver. It was on the menu at just about every restaurant we visited. I tried a bit at one of our conference receptions. It was good, but not something I’d go out of my way to order. Then again, I’m not a big cow person either, so that makes sense.
– We had dinner one night at a restaurant called Willie G’s, where the food was amazingly good. I got stuffed shrimp, and kind of expected to be disappointed since as a Marylander I tend to think no one does seafood like we do. I was pleasantly surprised.
Perhaps more later. I wanted to get these thoughts down while they were still somewhat fresh. “The Stand” series marathon is about to come on Sy Fy, and since I just finished re-reading the book I figure this is a good time to catch it. Stephen King is a perfect companion on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.