Monday, July 16, 2012

The Wild West Is East of Us

View Denver in a larger map

Greetings from Denver! I am writing this postcard from a bed on Clayton and 35th Street in the "inner city" (more on this later).

As you may or may not know, I am in Denver because a friend chose to get married in Breckenridge. I met Ann at age 12 in Plano, Texas. She was friends with my friend Stacey W. (who impersonated Axl Rose in a 5th grade talent show, in case you were wondering how cool my friends were back then) and wanted to sit next to Stacey in science class. Of course, I also wanted to sit next to Stacey. The leap from that moment and to the part in my life when Ann and I were inseparable is pretty hazy, but let it suffice that I quickly attached myself to Ann for the next several years. She was my first "real" best friend, in that she helped me discover who I am and encouraged me to take risks to learn more about myself. This, of course, led to my first run-in with the law and my first boyfriend and my first a lot of other life-shaping experiences. 

Ann didn't like school and didn't like most people at our school, so she decided to leave school. A bright and impatient woman, she graduated with a GED and just like that was gone. I didn't hear from her again for many years. I looked for her but her full name is somewhat common so even when social media came on the scene, I couldn't find her. She found me, though, via MySpace about 4 years ago while I lived in Brooklyn. She had moved to Denver and was now a nurse, as she had always planned.

Fast forward to a few months ago and I get a text message from her asking for my address. Yep, she's engaged! and yes, I'm invited. Being a crazy neurotic event planner, I booked my flight and looked up everyone I knew in Denver to give me suggestions. Turns out, besides Ann, I know 2 people who live in Denver, and both of them, coincidentally, were going to be out of town for wedding-related activities. Laurie (a friend from freshman year) is on her honeymoon in Cuba this weekend and Chris (a friend from my last two years in high school) is in New York for a bachelor party. They delivered on the goods, though, and you can see all of their suggestions in the above map.

For accommodations, we used AirBnB for the first time to great success. On Friday night, after way too many beers at Vine Street pub (which is called Harry's on the window outside and Jerry's on the menu at your table), and after walking around the Highlinds while drunk on altitude, we stayed in Lincoln Park at a designer's house.

She made sure we had no trouble getting in even though we didn't arrive until after midnight. I didn't sleep too well due to aforementioned altitude sickness, but the room was cozy, clean, and cute. The next morning, she was in the kitchen making something to eat and seemed very friendly but not so friendly that I felt like she was annoying. We left soon after that for brunch at Root Down but forgot one of our phone chargers. As soon as we discovered that (much later in the day) and let her know, she said she'd leave it in her mailbox to retrieve when we got back to Denver. Great customer service. 

It took about 2 hours through miserable traffic to get to Silverthorne where our next BnB was located. I found this one on AirBnB as well, but it was an actual business. Mountain Vista is run by a couple named Barry and Carrie! and features a hot tub and breakfast burritos. We stayed in the "Paris" room at the end of the hallway next to the "Liberty" room.

I have a lot to say about this, but I'll save it for the review. After we dropped off our bags, cleaned up and changed, we drove down to Breckenridge through even more horrid traffic. Whoever says traffic sucks in LA has never been to Colorado. The wedding was brief, casual, and very DIY. We met a lovely Russian couple, and I hugged a lot of Ann's family I haven't seen since I was 16. Life is really strange sometimes. The house was perched in the hills and surrounded by trees. It rained a little. We got there at 2:15 p.m. and left close to 6 p.m. after cake and chocolates shaped like guns.

Back in Silverthorne, Matt and I explored the neighborhood and found a weird fancy playground. The slides were very loopy and there was lots of evidence of new playground technology. We walked down a trail past several outlet malls along a creek. Eventually, we stopped at a bar/restaurant called Mint run by a guy named James who looks like a cross between Dana Carvey and Jim Jarmusch.  He was very informative about the fried mushrooms and the sauce in which swam the bacon-wrapped scallops and the price of life in St. Barts where he recently spent a 3 week vacation. James was a lot of fun and he served me a delicious Breckenridge Brewery beer called Avalanche that I'll have to look for when I get back home.

This morning, I woke at 8 to use the hot tub at Mountain Vista (more on this in my review) and then we had breakfast at Mountain Lyon Cafe (possibly the best chicken fried steak I've had in my life). We decided to make a visit to the Levi's outlet before heading back to Denver. Pro tip: do not try on jeans after eating a huge breakfast. Spoiler alert: the drive back to Denver SUCKED.

We went straight to the Museum of Contemporary Art which took all of 10 minutes to view and then went to the next AirBnB stop which had many pictures of the yard and only two of the bedroom from where I type.

We had dinner at Okinawa then ice cream at Liks then a romantic stroll through the Botanic Garden. Now we have to get some sleep before waking at 3:30 a.m. to take a 6:30 a.m. flight back to LAX. Yeehaw!