2008 Our Denver Doings

We enjoyed getting to know Denver; the city is non-stressful and pleasant. We had fun tooling around on the dorky city bikes that came with our apartment on the miles and miles of Denver’s bike paths.
We visited tourist attractions, including this visit to the State Capitol, by bike

When we first arrived in Denver, we didn’t have a car. We walked to the supermarket near our apartment, planning to call a taxi for our return home with all of our groceries. We called the taxi company and re-called at least three times. We must have been waiting outside the front door for a half hour to an hour, when a 20-something woman walked out of the supermarket and asked us if we needed help. We said we sure did, and recounted the story of the last hour waiting for a taxi. She said hop in, I’ll take you home, and she did. She also said that taxis in Denver are scarce (how the Hell did anyone get around during the Democratic convention?)

We don't think that this was an isolated instance of kindness. Our impression of Americans is that they are generally friendly and helpful. This kind of thing could happen in other parts of the world (and something like it did happen when we arrived at the airport in 1996 in Kunming, Yunnan, China) but we think that it is more likely to happen in the USA than anywhere else. And we love the smiling faces in the USA saying hi at every occasion; now that is very unusual in our experience.

We were very lucky with the weather in Denver when we were there in the Fall. It stayed warm until the beginning of November and it was generally sunny. This made our biking along Denver's rivers very pleasant indeed. Our favorite section was the confluence area where Cherry Creek and the Platte River meet.

Audre is biking over our favorite bridge at the Confluence in Denver

We would sometimes bike to have lunch at The Market, 1445 Larimer St., Denver CO 80202, tel 303-534-5140, web: http://www.themarketlarimer.com/ We liked our salads there.
A couple of Sunday mornings we biked to have a stack of American pancakes at Hot Cakes, 1400 E. 18th Ave. (between Humboldt & Franklin), Denver tel. 303-832-80218, web: http://www.hcdiner.com/ The first time we went, it was so early that there weren't many people there. As it got later, it got packed and we knew we were at the right place. We also learned that we should order only the number of pancakes we wanted (like Audre could only eat one; they were so big).
Our dorky city bikes sometimes needed air in their tires. We stopped at gas stations for air only to find out that they charge for air. Boy, have there been changes in the USA since 1993. We learned that bike shops often have hoses outside their shops with free air. Guess you just have to know.
The week after we arrived in Denver, Audre's junior high school friend, Gretchen Ferguson Garcia, and her friend Debby drove from Lincoln, Nebraska to Denver to see Gretchen's sister and to have their hair done. We couldn't remember the last time we had seen each other but through the years, the Ferguson Family Christmas Letter had kept Audre up-to-date with the family's whereabouts. The first week we arrived in Denver, Audre telephoned her and left a message that we were in Denver and asked if her sister still lived in Denver. The next thing that happened was that Gretchen called to say her sister, indeed, still lived in Denver and that she was coming to visit! It was a great reward for the effort Audre makes to stay in touch with people who have made a difference in her life. Gretchen Ferguson Garcia (left) and Mary Ferguson LaFave (right) have dinner with us in Denver

During the Oktoberfest in September we biked to it at the Ballparket Neighborhood between 20th and 22 on Larimer St. (web: http://www.oktoberfestdenver.com/). It wasn't at all interesting for us.

During the last weekend in September we rented a Ford Focus from Hertz for $18.86 a day and drove to the Western part of Colorado to visit our friends the Blomquists. They live near the Powderhorn Ski Resort (Powderhorn Resort, web: www.powderhorn.com) in a kind of remote location. We have known the Blomquists since we all lived in Los Angeles. In fact, quite co-incidently, when we were visiting in Los Angeles in September and October 2007, they happened to be visiting there too. We had brought our skis and one suitcase with our ski clothes with us from on the airplane from Chile in 2007 (and weren't charged an excess luggage charge at that time). We were wondering how we were going to get the stuff to Colorado when we learned that Carl and Sharon had their Subaru with them, were going to drive back to CO and had room for our stuff. What luck!

So off we went to visit them and to pick up our ski stuff. The drive across the I-70 was gorgeous. The aspens were colorful and Glenwood Canyon magnificent. The Blomquists were terrific hosts. They included us in a party with their friends, Joe and Jill, in Grand Junction to see the Navy Blue Angels perform.

The Navy Blue Angels perform in Grand Junction with the Grand Mesa in the background

After seeing the Blue Angels, Carl and Sharon drove us to the Colorado National Monument where we viewed the fabulous rock foundations.

The colors and the formations of the Colorado National Monument with the Grand Valley of the Colorado River in the distance

On Monday, Carl took us to the Grand Mesa Scenic & Historic Byway (Visitor Center tel. 970-865-3100, www.grandmesabyway.org) where we hiked and had a picnic lunch. It really was the perfect time to see the Fall Foliage.

The many splendiferous colors of the aspens in the Grand Mesa

Back in Denver, we developed a pleasant routine of atlternating biking to our tourist activities and going to the Matrix Gym in the Beauvallon. We loved that. Click here to have a look at what we said about it. We also loved the Denver Public Library. We were within walking distance to the main branch and went there often. We even went to a musical performance there once. Another thing that I loved about Denver was the sound of the trains' whistles (horns?) Sometimes during the night I would awaken and would hear the romantic sound made by the trains. It is a very comforting sound to me.

The Denver Art Museum is free on the first Saturday of each month and we thought it was a great musuem--small, doable but with an expansive collection.

The exciting Frederick C. Hamilton Building of the Denver Art Museum

When my sister visited us in Denver, she raved about how she enjoyed the Colorado History Museum. We never went because if they have a free day, we missed it.
Also on the first Saturday of the month the Colorado Governor's Residence is open for free guided tours (Colorado Governor's Residence Tour, 400 E. 8th Ave at Logan). That was fun and there was a folk dancing demonstration there too.

The Colorado Governor's Mansion Tour included a square dancing demonstration. How American is that?

During the week, the U. S. Mint gives free tours which we took one day. It was mildly interesting.
Carl and Sharon offered to lend us their car while they were out of the country. Our socks were knocked off by their generosity. Of course, we gratefully accepted! In order to be covered by their insurance, we needed to get a Colorado driver's license (our Australian driver's license wouldn't pass muster). We made an appointment and rented a Hertz car (at twice the price we had paid to rent it the weekend we visited the Blomquists in Mesa) and went to take the test. The supervisor called Hertz to make sure that the tester would be covered by the Hertz insurance. Hertz said that their cars could not be used for driver training. We argued to no avail that we weren't receiving training. We took the Hertz car back without taking the test (and we got a refund of the cost). Fortunately, Gretchen's sister Mary came to the rescue and loaned us her car to take the test. (Otherwise we would have been in a classic "Catch 22".)

Dimitri taking the Colorado driver's license test with Tony The Tester in Mary Ferguson LaFave's Volvo

One of the most fun things we did in Denver was meet Claire Walter, Ral Sandberg, Vivian Wilson and Jim Boeck. Dimitri had found Claire's blog when we were Punta Arenas, Chile. Click here to see it [http://travel-babel.blogspot.com]. Claire and Audre began corresponding. Claire remembered that we were coming to Denver and invited us to her house in Boulder for a lobster feast. This is only the second time that we have met a cyber friend "on the ground" and it was delightful!

The lobster feast with Ral Sandberg, Vivian Wilson and Jim Boeck. Claire is in the kitchen...

On another bike ride in Denver, we went to the Botanic Gardens on the the free day there. In late Fall, the offerings were limited but nice. When our dorky city bikes started getting flat tires every time we went out on them, we decided to stop riding themaround Denver.
We took the Amtrak from Denver to meet Carl and Sharon in Glenwood Springs. We enjoyed the train: it was comfortable, it didn't rock and the vistas were beautiful. Carl and Sharon delivered us the beloved car that they were lending to us.

The handover of the Subaru keys

After we had wheels, we began exploring and hiking in the areas surrounding Denver. Great! After our hikes and our biking, we would return to the Beauvallon Jacuzzi for a soak. Click here to see a snap of Audre soaking. Not a bad routine!
Before we left Denver, we were able to reciprocate Claire Walter's hospitality.

Our reciprocating dinner party with Claire Walter (top right), Jim Boeck, Ral Sandberg and Vivian Wilson

Near the end of our Denver Sojourn, my sister, Jan, and her current squeeze, Steve (who also happens to be her ex-husband) came to visit. We had a dinner party with Mary and Jim LaFave, took Jan and Steve on a tour of Denver one day and on another day, we took them on a 200 mile scenic drive on the Peak to Peak Byway, we had a fabulous dinner hosted by them at Fruition and went to dim sum at Super Star with Claire Walter, Vivian Wilson, Jim Boeck and Ruth Tobias.
Also before we left Denver, our friend from Taos, NM, Wendy Blake Stagg, came to stay with us at our apartment. We went with her to a Korean restaurant (even though she was allergic to something they use in their food) and we all enjoyed it. The last rendez-vous we had with Wendy was in El Colorado, Chile (when she damaged her ACL).

All in all our Denver stay was a great success. It is a tribute to Dimitri's insight because he instigated it (and he actually had to insist)!

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