The great train adventure begins! Well, we won’t get on our first train until Monday morning — so far, we’ve only experienced an airplane (last night) and two different cars. But it’s all part of our great Denver-to-San Francisco train trip, and today was a great start.
Our day began at a nondescript Denver airport hotel that was surprisingly far from both Denver and the airport (when they built the Denver airport, someone decided to plunk it in the middle of the high plains and put absolutely nothing else near it). We Ubered into Denver, picked up our rental car, and drove to Mahala’s house (for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting her, Mahala is Prescott’s sister). It’s quite an impressive home: Mahala rents a room from a woman who has a huge place from 1904 that still has its original woodwork, floor inlays, and amazing plasterwork. This is the stained glass window on the stairway landing:
Had brunch out with Mahala and Prescott, then went to a fun farmer’s market where we bought local peaches and cherries, an apricot-cardamom iced tea, and a lemon cinnamon roll that was as pricey as it was delicious. Yum!
Our big outing of the day was to the red rocks of Roxborough State Park, which is just under an hour south of Denver. The park is simply beautiful; rolling scrub oak forests mixed in with enormous sandstone formations and fields of wildflowers.
We hiked about five miles, first out on the fields in the hot sun and then winding our way through the trees to the top of a ridge. It’s been unusually rainy here, so it’s much greener than usual (and even a tiny bit humid). I slowed down the hiking by stopping to admire the flowers, everything from prairie coneflowers to alpine lupines to great mulleins to sago lilies to prickly poppies (the last two of which are featured below).
It’s hard to describe how different this part of the country feels. The sky is huge and wide, the clouds are high and puffy (or ominous and dark — you can see it raining sixty miles away), and everything feels big and expansive. The trees are short and the mountains are enormous and seem to go on forever. And even though the subdivisions of Denver continue to roll down practically into this state park, it feels like you have endless room to walk and look and breathe.
Drove back into Denver and got changed for dinner. We walked past this appropriate street sign just a couple of blocks away from Mahala’s house:
Dinner was at Humbolt, a place that specializes in fish (it’s amazing that planes can get fish to Denver that’s just as good as what you might find in Baltimore). Denver has a huge food scene; good restaurants seem to appear everywhere you look. Then we went to watch Mahala do a little bit of Lindy Hopping at an outdoor ice cream parlor in a gentrified part of town on the west side of the city, just over the Platte River. Now we’re exhausted –jet lag kicked in several hours ago — and ready for a good night’s sleep!