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.

IMG_7596

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.”

IMG_7606

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.

IMG_7630

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.

IMG_7634

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.

IMG_7629

IMG_7631

IMG_7632

IMG_7633

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.

IMG_7635

IMG_7636

IMG_7638

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

IMG_7640

IMG_7641

IMG_7642

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.

IMG_7639

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.

IMG_7643

IMG_7644

IMG_7646

IMG_7647

IMG_7648

IMG_7649

IMG_7650

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.

IMG_7652

IMG_7653

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!

Rosie and Me: Day 14. Boxcar Coffee and the Chimney Gulch Trail

“I don’t want to take a bath!’

“You must. You’re filthy, and you haven’t had a bath in two weeks.”

“I’m fine. Run me through some puddles on the way to Kansas.”

“You have bugs in your teeth.”

“I do not!”

“Do too.”

“Do not!”

“You must take a bath. Think how much better you’ll look.”

IMG_7579

Today started, after the quick bath, with a trip to Boulder to check out some new coffee shops and to browse and walk and people watch. The drive to town out of Denver was stunning, with the early morning sunshine hitting the snow-capped tops of the Rockies as if it was focused there on purpose. Boulder is home to the University of Colorado Boulder, and is a thriving, bustling, pretty little college town with a cosmopolitan feel.

I first visited Boxcar Coffee Roasters.

IMG_7581

This little shop, shared with a deli and wine shop in the same physical building, is quirky, has an excellent atmosphere, was filled with patrons, and served up a great cup of coffee and biscotti.

IMG_7580

The baristas were wearing matching clothing, very smart looking, and were knowledgeable and friendly. I enjoyed some time in the back room there drinking coffee and writing a bit.

Next, just down the street toward the busy retail section of town, was The Cup-Espresso Cafe.

IMG_7589

This little place was bustling in the front section, spilling out on the sidewalk, with music, conversation and studying going on at a torrid pace. The nice thing about this coffee shop was that there is a quiet room in the back for those who want to read, work on their computers or just have a more toned-down area to enjoy their time there. I sent some time at the bar in that area, nursing an Americano and working on more notes for this post. An interesting little “cell phone booth” was reminiscent of the old days when one had to enter a phone booth to make a call any time you were away from home.

After visiting these two coffee shops in the morning, I spent another hour or so walking the main streets of Boulder, looking at all the wonderful little upscale shops, restaurants, and other coffee shops that went on for several blocks. The day was lovely, the sky blue and the sun bright and warm. I could not have ordered better weather to explore a more lovely little town.

IMG_7583

IMG_7584

IMG_7585

IMG_7586

IMG_7587

IMG_7588

Later, after getting back to Boulder and meeting up with my daughter Chelsea, we drove a few miles outside the city to hike the Chimney Gulch Trail, about a three hour round trip. Kaya the wonder dog accompanied us and never faltered! Here are some shots of us on the trail, some pictures looking back at Golden, CO, and the Coors plant there, and some looking way back out in the valley towards Denver. It was a great little hike, moderate in intensity and a lot of fun for all of us.

IMG_7597

IMG_7598

IMG_7600

IMG_7606

IMG_7612

IMG_7613

IMG_7615

IMG_7621

IMG_7625

Dinner tonight was at the very fine Sushihai near downtown Denver. We came upon this little gem quite by accident, as we were headed to another restaurant and found that it had been closed even though it had an active review on Yelp. It was a serendipitous event, as the meal was lovely and we enjoyed it very much indeed. I feasted on duck and we shared a dessert of mango and green tea ice cream.

IMG_7627

IMG_7628

So, I’ve traveled 4550 miles so far, seen many sights and been in many states. What are some of my rants and raves so far for this trip?

Chicago has too many toll roads and the construction on many highways and at many major intersections makes it very hard to drive around that city and its environs.

North Dakota was much too windy and already too cold for me even in October. I simply could not live there, though I enjoyed my visit. (Sorry, Julie!)

Montana lived up to its Big Sky Country nickname. It was very beautiful and fun to drive through when the roads opened up for miles and miles ahead.

Seattle has been the most fun city so far. The Pike Place Market, the many shops and coffee stops downtown, the beauty of the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit, and the views of fog, mountains and water from the parks all made my time there very special.

Portland was a nice city to visit and learn about but like my pictures, everything there seemed to be so GRAY.

For sheer beauty, openness, many things to do, and opportunities to get outdoors and participate, Colorado has been the best so far. Denver, Boulder and Golden were all beautiful and fun to explore today, and I look forward to more adventures here tomorrow.

I found myself thinking “I wish I could do this at home!” today. What I realized was that I can recreate this fun traveling vacation and all the activities that have been so much fun so far. I just need to realize that the trips will be shorter, the time spent will be limited and the geographical areas will be closer to home. There are many wonderful things to be seen in my adopted home state of South Carolina.

The intention to get out and see them will be key.

Good night, my friends, from Denver, Colorado.

Rosie and Me: Day 13. Time and Tech

So today was a monster travel day from Salt Lake City to Denver. Five hundred fifty two miles, through some desert areas with wonderful huge mesas and dry expanses, then reaching an elevation of over ten thousand feet, experiencing a temperature drop of over twenty degrees, and actually seeing snow around Vail and the surrounding area.

IMG_7576

I finally made it in to Denver after a few Starbucks stops, one in Colorado that was very beautiful indeed.

IMG_7578

Two broad thoughts crossed my mind today.

The first: how does one manage time when taking a trip like this, where multiple time zones are crossed from eastern to central to mountain to Pacific?

Now, those of you who know me at all know that I like to maintain a schedule, and that has not changed on this trip. I get up at the same time each day, I go to the gym in the mornings, I have breakfast, and then I am on my way for the day’s travels and adventures. Along the way I have met folks for breakfast, lunch and dinner, gone on tours and had other engagements that were time-tethered. My initial dilemma was to figure out how best to manage my time on my computer and iPhone, as well as in my car while I was on the road.

My car, my iPhone, and my computer all update themselves automatically, so that takes some of the hassle out of remembering to actually change the time as a new time zone is entered. The problem is that this can get very confusing when trying to do certain things at certain times if you’re trying to, say, stay on your east coast schedule while actually being in Montana. One way to get around this is to just allow the devices to set themselves based on the time zone they are in, automatically, and then all your engagements and appointments should be on the calendar at the correct times for the place you’re visiting at any one time. I opted to do this for this trip, and it has worked out well overall.

The second thought has been around some of the mechanics of the trip, such as map reading, pumping gas, buying things, and recording parts of the experience.

In days gone by, one would have a paper map or a fancier paper atlas and would map out the trip, sometimes with a yellow highlighter or other physical tool. One person would usually drive while another passenger would be the designated navigator, reading the map and telling the driver where to turn and how to get to a particular destination.

Now, Garmin or other dedicated navigation devices sit on many dashboards and do the plotting and even the verbalizing directly to the driver, giving step-by-step instructions in a clear way. I use my iPhone and the map function to do this same thing, and I find myself wondering how I ever got anywhere without these electronic tools.

The same goes for buying gas, snacks, coffee or meals on the road. Cash was king at one time, and no one used credit cards or debit cards. Now, debit cards or credit cards are the norm. Soon new payment systems like ApplePay, probably to be announced at tomorrow’s Apple media event in California, will find us able to simply point our phones at an NFC enabled device (near field communication) listen for a small beep or feel a silent vibration, and go about our business, the transaction completed just that simply and quickly.

I have already found on this trip that I can pay tolls by throwing coins into a basket sans attendant, parking garage fees by going to an online site after I get home, and parking space fees using an app on my phone. It’s a very different world from the time that my family and I took a cross country camping trip from Georgia to California and back in the early 1970s.

Recording the experiences of the trip used to involve keeping a simple written diary and taking pictures with a film camera, getting the film developed when everyone got home, and hoping that some of them came out well. Now, I can (and do) choose to take some pictures in Instagram, post some to Facebook and Twitter, make journal entries with or without pictures in my Day One journal, or do a combination of all three while referring to notes that I kept all during the day in a Field Notes notebook. Of course, I’m also writing these blog posts to further document the details of the trip. There are many options for documenting on the fly as well as more thoughtfully later in the day.

What do you think about these changes in modern travel?

Do you miss the more hands-on approach to map reading, trip documentation, parking and paying for items on the road?

Do you just set your watch to whatever time you want it to be instead of letting your electronic devices automatically change the time zones for you?

I’d be curious to hear your opinions.

Good night for now, dear readers, from Denver, Colorado.

Join me for coffee in Boulder in the morning, won’t you?