Earlier this month, I went to visit my friend Quinn in Denver. Quinn had moved to Denver about 2 months prior to my trip, and I had a great time exploring a new city with a good friend who knows how to turn every outing into an adventure. This was my first trip to Denver, and after only spending one week there, I know it won’t be my last.
I had an evening flight that landed in Denver around 10:30 PM. Quinn and his friend Sean picked me up at Denver International Airport (DIA). DENVER FUN FACT: DIA is the largest international airport in the United States and covers 53 square miles. The airport is so large that after they picked me up, we drove for a couple of minutes before actually “leaving” the airport.
Quinn lives in Capitol Hill and has an apartment on the 11th floor that provides a phenomenal view of the Denver city skyline that features the golden dome of the State Capitol. The three of us spent the evening on the balcony drinking brandy, telling stories, and cracking jokes.
Around 1 AM, we decided to call it a night. I crashed on an air mattress positioned right by the window so that when I awoke the next morning I had a view of the Denver skyline. It’s sunny 300+ days out of the year in Denver, and this was one of them.
Tuesday: Zoo Day (an extra life at The 1Up)
I was so excited to start exploring Denver that I woke up at 9 AM (without an alarm clock). I had gone to sleep the night before with no game plan of how I would spend my first day in Denver, so it was time to make a decision. Quinn was at work, so I consulted Google and my trusty iPhone for local attractions and maps. I discovered that the Denver Zoo, located in City Park, was within 2 miles of Quinn’s apartment — so within the hour, I was out the door and on my way to the zoo. DENVER FUN FACT: The Denver Zoo is the 4th most popular zoo in the nation with over 4,000 animals representing over 750 species. I hadn’t been to a zoo since I was little kid growing up in New York when I went to the Bronx Zoo with my family. I was excited to go see the penguins and tigers!
I returned home from the zoo right around the time that Quinn was returning home from work. Tuesday evening – it was time to start exploring Denver’s night life. Quinn and I called up Sean and his girlfriend Sam to invite them to join us. Our first stop was a bar named The 1Up. (The 1Up may have been the reason that Toby Keith sang I Love This Bar).
As the website describes it (http://the-1up.com),
“The 1Up features over 30 vintage arcade games (1985 and older), 2 lanes of “Original” Skee Ball, and 8 pinball machines. In addition to our mechanical games we also offer “Giant Jenga” which can be played on any table!!”
AND…all games cost a quarter. Yup! 25 cents to play 4-player Pac-Man, BurgerTime, Paperboy, and 8-player X-Men (while enjoying our favorite beverages.)
And Giant Jenga is genius! Here are some pictures to prove it:
Quinn and I have the ability to add a bit of flair to even the most ordinary activities, and we like to look for ways to invite others to join us. We were soon playing competitive Jenga with the neighboring tables — playing to see who could build the tallest tower within 5 minutes. As the rounds progressed, the rules broke down, and the craziness increased. At one point Quinn ended up catching the tower before it fell. I saw this as an opportunity to keep building. Quinn was wearing an Irish flat cap, and due to the flat-nature of his cap, it provided a perfect platform to continue building. We built another several rows on top of Quinn’s head, at which point Security began circling our table. I guess they had never witnessed competitive Jenga in their bar.
On Wednesday afternoon, I left Quinn’s apartment and walked in the opposite direction of the zoo at Central Park and headed toward the 16th Street Mall. It was another sunny day in Denver and great to be outdoors.
Wednesday evening, Quinn, Sean, Samantha and I went shopping at King Soopers and returned home to cook home-made Chimichangas. Delicious!
We finished up the evening playing Relay (Triple Threat). If you like drinking games, you should try this one; it’s Beirut on steroids — three games in one and you can play with teams of any size.
Also, any game is better with hats.
Thursday evening, Quinn and I were invited by his friend to play softball since the team was looking for some additional players. It had been a few years since I have played baseball, and it was great to be back out on the field — however, softballs are awkwardly large when you are used to a baseball.
After softball, Quinn and I joined Sean and Sam at Jackson’s to watch the Oregon Ducks v. Cal game. It wasn’t much of a game; the Ducks dominated. I was an “honoray” Duck for the evening. I have to admit that being a Cardinal is was difficult to wear the bright yellow shirt, but it was satisfying to watch Cal lose.
I’m really looking forward to the Stanford v. Oregon game on November 12th. That will be the match up of the season.
Friday evening started the weekend right. Quinn and his roommate Travis hosted a house party. The apartment was packed. Some of the interesting topics of conversation included how to make homemade wine; and another about the growing medical marijuana market in Denver — This one started when I asked the dude what line of work he was in, and he replied “medical.” I said “that’s interesting,” and asked what specialty, assuming that he might be an EMT or a med student. Dude replied, “I grow.” That’s Denver for you.
Saturday was rainy and it was nice to have a slow day to relax after a busy week. I don’t remember doing much other than watching some football in the evening.
Quinn, Sean and I visited Red Rocks Amphitheater and did some hiking on the local trails. The Red Rocks Amphitheater is incredible and it would be worth making the trip back to Denver to see a concert at this venue.
Monday evening, Quinn and I played poker at the home of Quinn’s friend Phil. Neither Quinn or I are great poker players, but Quinn was the big winner on the evening and won the majority of the pot in an eight person game. It was a great activity for my last night in Denver.
Tuesday afternoon I caught my return flight home. I can’t wait to visit Denver again and I had such a great trip that I would definitely consider moving there for at least a few years. It’s a beautiful city and the people are friendly.
Comments – Please share. I’d love to hear your thoughts:
If you are a Denver resident, have lived in Denver before, or have spent any time at all in the city, what would you say is the top-selling point for Denver?