Rocky Denver

Between the Rocky Mountains and the plains, the Mile High City is a mishmash of a big city, a backwoods location, and a natural-attractions center. However, beyond being a center for mountain sports, Denver has little to offer and is better explored while traveling between other locations.

Rocky Denver

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by SeenThat on July 28, 2006

Downtown Denver and its LoDo (Low Downtown) contain the main urban attractions and are small enough to explore within one day. The main public buildings of interest are arranged along the Civic Center and the main commercial area is nearby along the 16th Street Mall, which leads to the LoDo, the main nightlife zone. There are enough museums for a week-long visit, and the city itself is pleasant to explore, especially due to the impressive Rocky Mountains, visible from all the high structures. The Civic Center, the Capitol, the Modern Art Museum, the Coors Field, the US Mint and others give shape to the area, however, the truly unique structure is the D&F Tower Clock which was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi upon its completion in 1910; it is a close replica of the campanile at San Marco in Venice.

Denver's suburbs are attractive due to their unobstructed views of the Rocky Mountains and their superb picnics-infrastructure. Lakes, huge green hills, walking and jogging paths are almost perfect; they lack grocery shops selling picnic needs, hence, those should be brought from downtown. ${QuickSuggestions} The town is a big sports' center with five teams in the main American sports, visiting one of the stadium and seeing a game is a great way to meet locals. Even in a short visit - if well planned - it is possible to see most of the attractions in Downtown Denver; planning a whole day there is enough. Denver is high enough to have a pleasant climate in July, not too cold or hot, it can be explored without a noon break.

Libraries here do not offer free Internet, they request registration and a library card; some coffee shops offer wireless services. Payphones apparently are disappearing here more quickly than in other places; the most handy ones are at the Greyhound Terminal, not far away from downtown. A nearby 7 Eleven completes the list of first help needs. ${BestWay} Denver International Airport is among the nation's ten busiest and is about an hour from the city center on I70, at 8400 Peña Boulevard. Car rental companies have booths at the Ground Transportation Center on the 5th level near the baggage claim.

If arriving on I25, it is a good idea to park at Broadway and Kentucky Street and catch the RTD light rail for the rest of the short way.

Detailed information is available at the Regional Transportation District, at Market Street and 16th Avenue or at Colfax Avenue and Broadway.

Downtown can be explored by foot, but if tired, a free shuttle travels along the 16th Street Mall, from the Civic Center to Market Street on LoDo.

Greyhound buses stop at the Denver Bus Terminal just north of the capitol and within walking distance from the main attractions in downtown.

Amtrak's California Zephyr crosses here daily, in his trip between Chicago and Emeryville, on San Francisco's East Bay area. Union Station is at the corner of 17th and Wyncoop Sts. The Ski Train to Winter Park operates on weekends throughout the snow season, also from Union Station and crosses the Continental Divide via the Moffat Tunnel.

Climbing from Oakland to Denver

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by SeenThat on July 28, 2006

Oakland's Greyhound terminal resembles an aquarium, slightly round with many glass doors and a few of those ubiquitous video cameras in America watching over citizens. In my hour-long wait for the bus there, I began writing a short spooks story taking part in the place. I could imagine the American counterintelligence attempting to thwart a dead drop, or approaching a passenger and trying to tempt him or her to tell some dark, maybe inexistent, secret. A sudden voice over the speakers awaked me and told me it was time to leave the East Bay.

After boarding quickly, we left on time, and, still susceptible after my writing, I thought that someone in Greyhound had read my journal's entries about their service and decided to do something about that. Soon, that was proved to be wishful thinking.

We crossed Emeryville and Berkeley, continued over the northern East Bay settlements and after crossing a huge bridge and Vallejos, we were on the countryside, speeding eastwards.

A few minutes before 3pm, we arrived to Sacramento and Greyhound matched its reputation. The driver announced that due to something, we would be staying an extra hour in Sacramento. Finishing that, he parked the bus in a dark parking place and shut off the air conditioner, thus hinting he didn't want us in the bus for the next eighty minutes.

Seizing the opportunity to explore a new town in my list, I walked into the scorching sun and soon, the invariant attempt of American Suburbia to feel different disclosed itself: here it was in the form of a perfect grid with streets numbered in one direction and lettered in the other. Q corner 6th makes a perfect sense as an address here.

However, the sun convinced me to search for a shelter, and pretty soon I located the Westfield Shopping Town at the Downtown Plaza. The big place was decorated with attractive and colorful statues and I soon settled down at the crowded and small Starbucks for a dose of inspiration. The set was right and my story advanced at a surprising pace. "Let's test the suspect in our territory," said master spook A to B and arranged an artificial delay somewhere. A web was set and while carefully moving my protagonist through it, I found myself in danger of missing the bus.

We left next to four and an hour later, the landscape turned from an urban one into a lush forest of dark greens and we began a rapid ascent and in half an hour we reached almost 2000m above the sea level. A bit later, the beautiful Donner Lake and Peak appeared at our right; some snow was still visible on the peak. At 18:30 we saw the Welcome to Nevada sign, but the rush hour delayed our arrival to the nearby Reno almost forty minutes. The gambling sites were prominent and lured me into changing my story into one about a laundering money operation; paper suffers anything.

Reno wasn't a good place for dinner, the terminal lacked facilities, except for a tired vending machine offering bad coffee for three quarters. Reversing the historical trail, we advanced east and stopped for yet another coffee at a place called Winnemucca, around 22:30. Some of the passengers, maybe those belonging to my story or maybe those from another one, preferred to spend the short break at the gambling machines occupying much of the store.

An hour later, we stopped for a meal at Battle Mountain in a place called Winner's Corner Convenience Store; the name hinted to the nearby casino, which from the kitty corner looked inactive. The driver seemed happy to have a big, hot and unidentifiable sandwich; the only other options for a hot meal were the languid Piccadilly's Pizzas.

Effectively ruining the opportunity to sleep continuously, in an apparently old interrogators' trick, we stopped at 3am at Wendover and stared for a while at the gambling machines until the driver decided to complete the last leg of the trip and continue toward Salt Lake City, Utah, where we arrived a bit before 7am, counting by the new time zone.

A flat city surrounded by attractive mountains at one side and a salt covered terrain on the other, I stayed enough to survive a metal detector check before boarding the next bus to Denver, my final destination. In my spooks story, by now occupying a significant part of my notebook, an inept counterintelligence agent was fooled by my protagonist into boarding a different bus and disappeared forever. A bit before 7:30am we left and began traveling along a narrow valley surrounded by gray rocks and low, but very green, vegetation.

At a quarter to nine, we stopped for a thirty minutes breakfast at the Evarston Junction with Highway 80, and were formally announced we were in Wyoming. Those who hadn't managed to eat enough, had a second option at Rock Springs, some eighty minutes later. Thirty minutes are a long time while the only possible activity is to walk around a Mc Donald's branch, thus, spiritually broken, I stepped inside and bought a cup of coffee. However, the local humor was evident in the signs; one place advertised "Pasta with Altitude" and another was called "Outlaw Inn."

Afterwards, we stopped at Rawlins, Laramie and Fort Collins, all that across an endless plateau wet with refreshing rain. Around 17:30, the bus entered Denver's Greyhound terminal, after a victorious and dramatic fight against the local rush-hour. And my spooks story was almost forgotten until, a couple of days later, it was time to leave Denver.

From Denver to Santa Fe in a Polar Bus

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by SeenThat on July 29, 2006

In my way out of Denver, expecting another string of delays, I decided to continue writing the spooks story I began writing on the way to town. It had proven to be an amusing and effective pastime and my expected arrival at 2:35am to Santa Fe, would provide an attractive setup for its end.

My few obligations in Denver were over, and after the much-awaited farewell, I was sitting in an almost empty bus, waiting for it to get filled. My imagination raced. Where would the counterintelligence professionals place themselves within the bus to comfortably watch over the protagonist? Most probably across and behind him. What would make then invisible? I could make them a young couple, not too attractive, and in love. How would my protagonist disclose them? He could photograph them and watch their reactions...

The bus left a few minutes before 7pm, less than 10 minutes late, almost full and with an air conditioner operating strongly enough to frighten polar bears. Thus, while holding the passengers unable to protest due to our trembling mouths, the driver announced that the next meal stop would be in Albuquerque, an hour after my leaving the bus in Santa Fe. However, by now considering myself well prepared to confront Greyhound oddities, I couldn't but congratulate myself for having prepared basic survival goods for at least a couple of days. You never know with them. A bag of fruits and snacks, bottled water, a thermos of coffee and an almost empty notebook promised salvation under most vicissitudes.

While writing in my notebook the former paragraphs, I noticed such a couple in the anticipated location and amused moved to one of the seats in the back of the bus. Would they follow? Would they enter the restrooms to make inconspicuous phone calls regarding my protagonist's moves? Or maybe to check if there was a message written with some invisible ink? The thoughts warmed me up and a coffee out of my thermos completed the job.

At 20:15 we stopped at Colorado Springs greyhound terminal for a bit over 10 minutes and then for 20 minutes—despite the announced 10—in Pueblo almost an hour later. My couple left here, and left me without material for my story.

Suddenly, at 22:11, the bus stopped at such a speed that the driver had difficulties to control the bus. He began moving between the seats, openly sniffing the passengers' heads. He left me for a few seconds wondering about the unexpected exposure of local oddities, when he picked up a passenger who was smoking and invited him to a motivation talk outside the bus. Moments later, he called his neighbor. Both returned to their seats with a mere warning and we left.

Twenty minutes before midnight, we stopped at Raton, the northern entrance to New Mexico for a few minutes. After 02:30am, I was left alone at Santa Fe's terminal and the hot weather melted the coffee in my thermos in a matter of minutes.


Member Rating 0 out of 5 by SeenThat on August 5, 2006

The USA provides many surprises to the visitor. Before arriving for the first time, I thought that through the many Hollywood movies I have seen, I had a clear idea of how the cities look. In addition to that, articles read elsewhere, convinced me that in these times of global warming, I would find a huge wasteland among the scattered and polluting cities. Traveling in a big circle encompassing New Mexico, California and Colorado, I found a different reality. Nature thrives here - at least for now.

I saw many natural forests, wild mammals of different sizes and many signs warning of wild animals. I had a strange feeling of being in a northern version of an African safari.

Yet, the image of the place is different, and foreigners attribute an undefined sense of ugliness to the country. After almost completing the big circle of my trip, the reason for the cognitive dissonance became clear, at least in my eyes. When I wake up in Europe or in Asia, one look out of the window is enough to recognize the city I'm visiting. Amsterdam is Amsterdam, Rome is Rome and Vientiane is unforgettable. However, in the USA, vaguely, Berkeley is Albuquerque and Oakland is Phoenix. The places differ only in the way they mark their streets; in my tour, Sacramento won the insipidity contest with plain numbers and letters to name its perfect grid.

A downtown area with skyscrapers and no people living in it and many suburbs with nothing but houses describe many of the cities I've seen here. At the mornings, you need o drive a long distance to buy a piece of bread for breakfast.

Arvada, a western suburb of Denver, is not different. Beautiful houses amidst spacious gardens, wide streets, a spacious library with huge windows allowing bright light in, and not even one grocery store.

Is that all? Not exactly. Visiting large cities in the USA, usually means staying at one of its suburbs, far from the commodities cities have to offer; the art is to choose those with something special. Gorgeous mountains provide a wonderful background to two lakes within huge parks. The first is called the West Lake Park and is within the town limits; next to it is the Standley Lake Library and further toward the mountains is the Standley Lake Regional Park, which strictly speaking, is part of the City of Westminster, yet another suburb. Both offer wonderful opportunities for a stroll and maybe an afternoon picnic.


Member Rating 0 out of 5 by SeenThat on August 7, 2006

The Mile High City is smaller than its title when measured horizontally and its center can be leisurely explored by foot in less than a day. Despite the method of arrival, downtown and LoDo are the first places to visit since they contain all the urban attractions. As a big regional center, Denver hosts a plethora of cultural events, and a visit there should be preceded by a check of any coinciding festivals. I wasn't lucky with that, but downtown kept me busy enough.

Downtown Denver and its LoDo (Low Downtown)contain the main urban attractions and are small enough to explore within a few hours. The main public buildings of interest are arranged along the Civic Center and the main commercial area is nearby along the 16th Street Mall, which leads to the LoDo, the main nightlife zone.

State Capitol Building was built in 1894 and as a golden dome and an impressive onyx interior. The tours are free on weekdays and from the top there are awesome views of the Rocky Mountains. It is located at the Broadway and Colfax Avenue junction.

Nearby, two blocks away on 1340 Pennsylvania Street, is the Molly Brown House. It stands amidst many elegant buildings dating back to the 19th century and is easily spotted due to the two sculpted lions guarding it. Margaret Tobin survived the Titanic Catastrophe and became famous due to her courage while helping other survivors; later, a musical telling her story was named the Unsinkable Molly Brown and the named stuck to her home.

Colorado History Museum, at 13th Avenue and Broadway, has a fine collection of Anasazi pottery and exhibits detailed dioramas of the life in the west, including mining, frontier forts and buffalo hunting.

In front of it is the Denver Public Library, a post-modern attraction worth of a careful inspection and just across it, at 13th and Bannock streets is the Byers Evans House and Denver Museum, built in 1883. The guided tour there shows the life in the area just after the World War I. Nearby, the Denver Art Museum, of Italian design and finished in 1971, occupies a 10-story structure at 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. The structure reminds a jail and it houses a large Native American art collections, arranged geographically, showing thus the intercultural connections. Artists from the rest of the world are also featured. (Tue-Sat 10:00am-5:00pm, Wed 10:00am-9:00pm, Sun 12:00pm-5:00pm)

Further around the Civic Center is the US Mint, on 320 West Colfax Avenue and Cherokee Avenue, an Italian Renaissance solid building that offers free tours on weekdays and expensive souvenirs.

The 16th Street Mall is a long pedestrian zone hosting the main commercial center of the city; it has a free shuttle bus, restaurants, fountains, coffee shops and trees.

The D&F Tower Clock overlooks the 16th Street Mall, at its junction with Arapahe Street, and was the tallest structure (almost 100m) west of the Mississippi upon its completion in 1910. The structure is a close replica of the campanile at San Marco in Venice.

Larimer Square - 1400 block of the same name street - hosts many commercial institutions on beautifully restored Victorian buildings.

LoDo (Low Downtown) is bounded by the Union Station, Larimer Square, Coors Field and Cherry Creek and is the hottest spot in town. It has two main attractions, the Six Flags Elitch Gardens amusement park and the Coors Field, amidst a former warehouse district full of shops galleries and nightspots. Coors Field at 20th Street and Blake Avenue is the home of the Colorado Rockies, a baseball team.

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