Rosie and Me: Day 16. A Hop, Scrip, and My Rump

It was a travel day, sports fans, but not before having a lovely early morning breakfast with my daughter and son-in-law after he got off his all nighter in the ED. He only saw two patients last night, so it was reallllllly slow. Bad for training.

We went to a place call Snooze in downtown Denver and it was a blast. Of cold air. Outside. As the sun was coming up. Sheesh.

After we ate we strolled round the interior of the building, commenting about how nice and open it was and how it looked a lot like Grand Central in NYC and on and on. Early mornings are not good for keen observations and paying attention to detail, so it struck me as funny when I got in my car and drove past the building out of town, seeing the huge words UNION STATION emblazoned in the stone edifice out front.

Before I left, I did stop in at the Tattered Cover bookstore, as a friend of mine had told me to be on the lookout for it and asked if I had seen it yet. Well, now I can say yes! There is still something about an old fashioned indie bookstore that carries a little bit of everything for every person and every taste. I still am a sucker for bookstores, and I got out of the place with a little less than a hundred dollars’ worth of damage, but I can justify it by saying that I bought a gift for someone else.

There is still a wonderful feeling when you hold a book, new or old, paper or hardback, in your hands, leafing through the pages, smelling the paper, and anticipating how nice it would be to lie in bed with the covers up over your legs and said book propped on your chest, ready to pretend to read for those ten minutes it will take you to fall asleep. I have often kidded myself that I would read more when I had an iPad or a Kindle, but that has not proven true. I’m still more likely to start and finish a book that is the real paper and spine kind.

I left Denver, marveling at the majestic snow-covered peaks of the Rockies as long as I could physically see them in my rearview mirror, then turned Rosie towards the high plains of Kansas. It is wide open spaces and flatness out there, ladies and gents. Miles and miles of straight road.

I noticed that there began to pop up more and more windmill farms of the sort that I drove by in Indiana two weeks ago. One of these went for miles, with hundreds of turning white windmills. I also noticed fields of plants, green with dark brown tops, on both sides of the road, acres and acres of them. Hops, I thought, since we had had our introduction to brewing and hops and yeast and oak chips yesterday at the Great Divide Brewery.

I later figured out that these were most likely not hops, but acres and acres of sorghum plants. This is a very interesting crop that has been called the “camel of crops” and is very useful in dry, hot conditions.

When I got to my destination for today, Salina, Kansas, I got off the interstate and was turning left off of I-135. To my left at the red light, as in so many other cities in so many other states on this trip, I saw a homeless man leaned up against a sign post. He was wearing dirty khakis, a jacket, a hat and shades over his eyes. He was leaned back against the pole, not moving an inch, not even putting forth the effort to hold up his sign (remember the man I wrote about in Spokane the other day?), which said, quite simply: “Money, please.”

At least one of you (and you know who you are) has been concerned about the state of my posterior over such a long trip as this, and how I combat the Derrière Doldrums over thousands of miles of driving. Well, all I can say is that getting to the gym regularly and then being taken on very long walks and hikes and doing urban hikes (like yesterday’s) on my own have all helped to combat Butt Burnout. Rosie’s leather seats are nicely broken in now, the supports are good, and the frequent stops and daily exercise are helping tremendously. Thanks for your concern for my coccyx. It is greatly appreciated.

Tomorrow will be another busy day, with a trip to the Eisenhower Museum and Library in the morning, and then a side trip to the Wyldewood Cellars afterwards to pick up some elderberry wine products. After that, it’s on to Kansas City for the night, and perhaps either some excellent barbecue or perhaps a Winstead burger and a large chocolate malt. Decisions, decisions.

I hope you have all had good days, and I appreciate every one of you who takes the time to stop by and read my observations about the world. That’s a big part of why I keep writing. it’s fun for me, and I hope it’s fun for you too.

Good night, dear readers, from Salina, Kansas.

Rosie and Me: Day 15. Bless the Beasts and the Children

Today was a very busy, fun day in Denver, Colorado! Before I run down the places you should visit the next time you’re here, let me share a reflection I had on the hike and again this morning as I started my long urban hike around Denver.

When we were on the Chimney Gulch Trail in Golden, Colorado, which was moderately difficult and had some very rocky and slippery patches going up and down, I noted that Kaya did not seem to even notice the parts that made her humans pause and make sure their footing was sure and their balance was assured.

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I was never in fear that I would actually fall off the mountain or injure myself, but as I have gotten older, I do notice situations or places that, if not paid proper attention, could possible give me trouble and even get me hurt. It pays to wear good boots (I had on my new pair of Salewas yesterday and they performed like a champ), watch the trail, and make sure one’s footing is sure before putting weight down or attempting to climb a rocky outcropping.

My daughter Chelsea made a spot-on observation that made me think.

“Dogs don’t worry about rocks, slipping, or falling into canyons. They just walk and smell everything. She’s just walking and smelling.”

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She’s right, I thought to myself as we completed the hike. For Kaya, this was pure fun, being outdoors and running and smelling and meeting other dogs along the trail. What could be better than that?

This morning, I got up and decided to do a coffee shop crawl through Denver, hitting as many coffee houses as I could in about six hours, before rendezvousing with Chelsea and Travis for the rest of the day’s activities. One of the first places I passed by was the dog park that Chelsea takes Kaya to on many days of the week. It is beside a large park with a huge grassy area and is a very nice for the dogs of Denver. I looked to the far left of the park, opposite the dog area, and saw a man walking two large animals, one a black lab and another dog that I did not recognize. He let them off their tethers and they began to lope, then run flat out as fast they could for the park. They were playful biting at each other, nipping and swatting and running and racing each other all across the grassy field, and then got to the fence and waiting expectantly for their slower master to arrive to let them in, prancing and hopping up and down in anticipation. There was only one other dog in the enclosed park at that time, and they were obviously very happy to meet and greet and begin their morning’s play.

This reinforced the lesson that Kaya and Chelsea taught me yesterday. Dogs are very present in the moment. They run, they smell, they walk, they sniff, they meet and play with their friends, and they seem to take little heed of potential problems or dangers in their environment, except for obvious ones, of course.

How we could learn from them, I thought. How much we could learn about playfulness, being in the moment, not worrying about the potential bad outcomes that we as humans think lurk around every corner. I tried to adopt that mindset today as I went about my day of play in Denver.

I visited four different coffee shops today, starting with Purple Door Coffee. Please take a minute and go to their website and listen to them describe their mission and why they run Purple Door. I was treated in exactly the way they describe when I entered their door this morning, and the owner made sure that I was happy with my choice and purchase and entire experience in her shop. How often do you get that kind of customer service nowadays? The granola slice and Americano that I enjoyed there was a perfect start to my morning coffee jaunt through the streets of Denver.

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Next, I walked to Huckleberry Roasters, another shop that I had read about on Yelp and that was very highly rated and reviewed. The shop was bright and airy and full of conversation and bustle this morning, and the coffee I got was also excellent. The baristas in this shop went above and beyond, not just making my coffee but helping to give me quality recommendations for other coffee houses to visit in the area, and then breweries that might be interesting to visit later in the day as well. When I told them I was traveling across the country and this was my morning activity in Denver, they were as excited as I was about trying out their shop as well as others in the community. I thought that was very commendable and was very grateful for their shared expertise.

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All during my walk through the city today, I saw flowers and interesting sights, and wanted to share a few of those with you too.

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Next stop was Crema Coffee House. I enjoyed a Costa Rican pourover in another lively atmosphere with very friendly and helpful staff. I was impressed that wherever I went and no matter the shop, the staff and baristas were consistently helpful, smiling and very nice. It was very refreshing indeed to see folks that obviously enjoyed what they were doing and wanted to be there to assist you in enjoying your experience as well.

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More scenes of fall and downtown Denver on the way to my last coffee shop of the morning, Little Owl.

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Little Owl was a pint-sized upscale place to sit by the stream of city traffic going by in downtown Denver. Again, the environs were clean and neat and modern, the staff skilled and friendly, and the coffee excellent. I tried a cortado at this shop and was not disappointed.

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After taking the three mile walk home from downtown, I met Chelsea and Travis to go do a brewery tour. We decided to check out the Great Divide Brewery right downtown. We started in the taproom, where we sampled a few different brews including an oak aged stout that I really liked. After the tour we would try small samples of three other brews that were all just as good. Of interest is that this brewery proudly proclaims that they do not brew anything that has an APV (alcohol per volume) of less then 5%. In fact, one of the brews was >12% alcohol per volume! (I did not try that one, as I wanted to be awake for dinner!)

The brewing process, along with the bottling, labeling, packing and shipping processes were fascinating, in that they are still done in this one building where the founder did all the work himself years ago before expanding and hiring the fifty employees that work there now. I’m going to check out some of their product when I get home and can get back to Harvard’s in Aiken. Here are some pictures of us waiting for the tour, outside by the large brewing containers, etc.

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The last activity of this very long and very busy day was dinner at a very strange and wonderful place called Forest Room 5. Check out their website, as it is also very different and interesting. The food was good, the drinks interesting but certainly not like the craft beers that we had sampled just before dinner! Check out the odd decorations in the main room and over the bar.

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All in all, this was a very good day! I love Denver, and it has been very nice to visit with Chelsea and Travis for a couple of days. Tomorrow, it’s back on the road for a four hundred fifty mile ride to Salina, Kansas. I hear that I may get reacquainted with the winds in this next leg of the trip, but I wager that the temps won’t be as cold as they were in North Dakota last week. We shall see.

Much more to come, as we have the Eisenhower Library and Museum, a Kansas winery, the Oklahoma City bombing memorial, and many more things to see before I have to get back to reality.

Good night, dear readers, from Denver, Colorado.

P. S.

GO DAWGS!