The moment I fly into Denver, after renting a car, I go for some noodles at a local fusion joint that boasts Chili Verde Ramen. Then, I have a few beers from Breckenridge Brewery in the heart of downtown Denver, before I retire for the night to prepare for what turns out to be a week full of outdoor adventure, beer, food, and family.
I’m here to see my dad, who lives in Loveland, an hour north of Denver and only thirty minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park. In many ways, including my vast love for the state, Colorado is my second home.
I wake up early for a long drive and a hike up a Hanging Lake. I decide to drive to Aspen, enjoying the snow covered peaks of the mountain paradise, viewing the infamous Maroon Bells. I can’t hike around the loop around the Bells because there is too much snow on the ground, but I expected as much. I ponder the time I came here with my girlfriend, when we bathed in Penny Hot Springs, which sits just off the highway nearing Aspen. Still, despite the inaccessibility, the drive is lovely and the scenery gorgeous. The blanket of fresh snow covers the green trees and the towering mountains as I make it through Aspen.
I drive through the Rocky Mountains–which I have done many times before–passing through ski resort towns like Vail, before arriving at the trail to Hanging Lake. I have always been curious about the hike since I came through here with my brother on a road trip to see my dad and decided that this trip was the time I would check out the lake and the steep hike up to it. The fresh ice and snow mand the ascent slippery and difficult. Nevertheless, the trail provides gorgeous vistas of the surrounding region. I make it to the turquoise-blue lake that does appear to hanging on the side of the mountain. There is a fallen tree across the body of water, which has small fish swimming in it and smooth rocks and algae at the bottom. I walk around and spend a pensive moment to myself before descending the trail once again down to my rented car.
At my dad’s house, we enjoy some pasta, good talks, and some more beer. I’m fatigued from travel and he from work. I go to bed after reading Noam Chomsky’s On Anarchism.
The next morning I am woken up by a violent storm. They said it was coming, but cautioned that it may be an overestimated snowfall. Instead, we were totally blockaded into the house for the whole day. I didn’t mind. Usually, I would be torn up by the lost opportunity to hike in Colorado, but I have five more days in the state, and my dad has a full music studio with around a dozen guitars, a huge drum set, and a few keyboards. I have a blast playing music all day, before my aunt comes to visit.
My aunt Sandy is a medic who has worked disasters such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, we enjoy some drinks over tacos and get hammered catching up and taking a dip in the Jacuzzi surrounded by snow. it is a great time.
The next day is clear. My brother’s flight into town got delayed by the storm, so it’s my job to pick him up from the Denver airport. We get some lunch at Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs. I get a venison hot dog with peppers and onions, and he has a reindeer sausage. The exotic meats are delicious, and just what we need on this cold day. Then we’re off to get a massage at a holistic-hippy-massage-parlor because god dammit we’re on vacation. Fully relaxed from the massage, we head to dad’s for more food, visits with the family, and some jamming on Black Sabbath.
The next day is all about hiking. My brother and I head to Rocky Mountain National Park and get to see the park in a gorgeous cover of white snow. We take one of the only hikes that’s open due to the weather and lose ourselves in good conversation. After a day of trekking, I go to a clinic and pick up some fresh Coloradan recreational marijuana. Coupled with beer from the Great Divide, I smoke a joint on my dad’s patio and get too stoned for both comfort and family.
Last day in the state and I am off on my own to enjoy Denver. First, I head to Pablo’s Coffee for a cappuccino, a book, and the feeling of doing something I would do if I lived in the place I’m visiting. The coffee is pleasant, so I pick up a bag of their Papua New Guinea to enjoy at home.
Then, I’m off to the Denver Art Museum, not before smoking the other joint that I saved for my solo trip to the gallery. I pay the extra cash for the samurai exhibit, which I am totally taken by in my enhanced mindset. The patrons use headphones to listen to the guided tour of the exhibit and the room’s silent behavior fascinates me and forges an uneasiness that is placated by the incredible samurai attire and art. I slowly pass through the permanent showings, where I’m delighted in my solitude. Then, it’s time for lunch.
I choose a local Mexican joint that is an overcrowded shack known for their papusas. I get a chicken papusa and al pastor tacos. They are fantastic. This is when I had planned to grab a beer at a brewery, but get the news I am losing my job. I am on vacation and receive a warning text from my boss. It sucks, but I hate that fucking job anyways. Needless to say, I am feeling depressed. I decide to skip everything and head to my hotel near the airport. I do my best to enjoy myself, spending the evening at a romantic Italian dinner alone, drinking red wine, then feeling liberated by the news, curious as to what I’ll do next, and reminiscing about my awesome week in Colorado.