travel

There and back again and back there before too long I hope

We got home from Denver late late late Monday night and I still have some unpacking to do, both literally and figuratively. I'm too lazy to do the former right now, so let's get down to tacks of brass: I'd be happy to have the opportunity to live in the Mile High City one of these days. It was a wonderful and wholly exhausting experience. 

This is a thing that exists in Denver. 

This is a thing that exists in Denver. 

Most of our vaguely-defined plans fell through, which left us a ton of time to just walk around town. In retrospect, it seems a little weird, but at the time we felt perfectly safe walking around a city we'd never visited. I don't even remember hearing sirens. A big part of that is that fact that there were people walking pretty much all the time. It's easy to feel comfortable when there are a so many people out and about at the same time.

I'd also like to mention that the people we met were friendly. I mean really friendly, almost disconcertingly so. I've heard other people experience the same thing, so I'm starting to suspect that it's just a genuinely friendly area. I'm not sure why this would be the case (apparently, this predates the legalization of certain plant-based products), but it's a very charming trait for a city to have.

Of course, it's really pretty there too. If you like mountains, the horizon is chock full of them. When we were there, the air couldn't have been cleaner, the roads were well-maintained, and the city itself was cleaner than any downtown I've visited. My sister taught me to understand the value of living someplace beautiful and that's something I've yet to do. 

It's not all roses, of course. Denver isn't a no-kill city, they seem to have a complicated relationship with their homeless, and the climate is a mixed blessing, especially for those of us for whom dry skin is a chronic issue. For our next visit, we're going to go in the middle of winter just to see if it's something we'd be OK with. I'm a big fan of snow when I'm at a comfortable distance. It's been some time since I've experienced it in any quantity and I probably ought to do that before even considering making a move.

I love visiting places which are doing things that seem right to me and fit my vaguely-formed ideal image of what a city should be like. Even if we don't ever live there, it makes me think of what my current home could be doing better, and it helps me work out my own priorities as to what's important, to me, in a city. 

That's quite enough (and then some) about our visit, but I needed to get it out of my system. I love travel, but it comes at a high cost, both financially and physically, so when I do it, I tend to obsess about it. Not for the first time, I'm like that guy who finds out about a band about five years after everyone else and gets way too into them. Just smile and nod and I'll be on about something else soon enough.

-RK

Transit

All work and no play makes me pretty much exactly what I am, so we're taking a much-needed long weekend trip to Denver. It's been ten years since I've been up here, and that trip was all business so I didn't get to see much of the city. A lot of highways, some of which were incredible (I had to drive to Grand Junction), but not much of Denver.

Ever since we watched Gary Huzwit's Urbanized, I've kept an eye out for how cities are put together and run, what works, what doesn't and things of that ilk. Denver, to a newly-arrived traveller, seems to have some good things going on in the downtown area. It's one of the most walkable downtowns I've visited. Based on what I've seen, there are enough support systems to support someone working and living downtown and not having to own a car. There's public transit, rental smart cars, plenty of bike infrastructure, and there's an unusual amount of useful shops. I've only seen a tiny sliver of the city and I'm sure there are plenty of problems, but they seem to be doing a lot of thing well.

Oh, and of course, it's insanely beautiful outside today. The temperatures are going to be in the 50-70 Fahrenheit degrees range, and the air is a crisp as advertised. We couldn't have lucked in to a nicer weekend. On the off chance that you're interested in such things, I won't be indulging in the recreation which was recently legalized here. It's interesting, though, to see shops advertising legal marijuana in the central business district. I can't see whatever disadvantages one might dream up outweighing the obvious benefits, so I imagine this sort of thing will spread wildfire.

This being a short trip, we decided to do it up a little* and we're staying at the Monaco. It's such a lovely, quirky place, typical of the Kimpton hotels. We have a fish bowl in our room now just because we commented on the one at the front desk. Apparently, this is just a thing they do. Silly, I know, but it's delightful and there's way too little delight in the world these days.

This being a "recharge the batteries" kind of trip, we have very few specific things planned. We're going to walk around and enjoy this lovely town, chill in this ridiculous hotel, and get out and about and see a few friends. The rest will be all improv. We're very fortunate in that we're both most comfortable handling vacations this way.

The real risk, for me, is this: Will I come back from this vacation full of vim** and ready to get back to work? Or will I instead come back thinking, "gee, I could really get used to that whole 'vacation' thing?" I think maybe Calvin's dad was on to something...

P.S The image if a stock photo of Idaho Springs, Colorado. We drove up that way to kill some time and determined that, while the mountains are really pretty and impressive, driving through them on the interstate isn't quite all that.

P.P.S. I just finished reading Hermann Hesse's Sidhartha. Funny book, in the sense that's it's very much a post-WW1 German thinker*** telling a very non-German story and it reminded me a lot of Nietzsche's Zarathustra. I like reading purely philosophical novels. Even if I don't agree with them, it's fun to work out precisely why you don't.

* "Do it up" did not include the flight. We took Frontier, the Ryan Air of the American West (tm). I'm all for bare bones budget flight, but charging upwards of $25 to check or carry any bag seems a little excessive.

** Not vigor. No one has ever described me as especially vigorous, and besides, isn't vigor just getting by on vim's coattails these days?

*** Oh so many mentions of "nausea."