Random Denver Friends

Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End May 24, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We hadn't been in Denver since our one evening driving through in August of our very first year. Then, we had to keep driving, so we stopped in to see Kelsey's cousin Makenzie and friend Kevin for a short while. This time around, however, we had much more time. And Kelsey has many other friends in the area to visit. We don't know exactly why, but Kelsey can name about five people she knows in Denver. And they all came from Michigan or Ohio. I guess Denver just attracts the kinds of people that Kelsey likes. Hm.

Anyway, after a not-so-relaxing drive through the mountains (beautiful, yes--easy roads, no), we pulled up to Kelsey's friend Tim's house. He wasn't there when we arrived, but his roommate Andy and Andy's dog Daisy were there to greet us.

They have such a Denver bachelor pad. Their common room housed three substantial points of interest--a bike rack with two bikes, a pool table, and some in-progress construction projects. Nice.

Tim cooked for us that night. And, since he eats vegan, we had our first experience with tofu. Not too bad! Not chicken, either, but not too bad!

After dinner, we went out to a locally famous ice cream shop, Sweet Action.

The next day, Tim had to work, but he called and made lunch plans with us. We met him at Tokyo Joe's. It's a chain similar to Chipotle, but obviously serves Japanese rice bowls and dishes. Kelsey gave tofu another shot. I stuck with chicken.

Allow me to take this moment to discuss the culture of Denver. I promise, if I remember, it will tie back to Tokyo Joe's in a not-so-profound, but still worthwhile way. We easterners discovered that some of our perceptions of Denver were not accurate.
First, we thought Denver was kind of like a northern New Orleans--artsy, quirky, attractive to people who feel out of place in normal society. And though that may be true in part, the culture of Denver is not as open to the arts as we thought. Denver is predominantly, and will continue to be, sporty. It has the most extensive network of bike routes in the country. During the winter, the city plows the bike routes before many of the major roads in town because a large percentage of the population pedals to work.
Second, we thought Denver was in the mountains. Yes, this city beautifully nestled in the valley amongst towering Rockies, with ski resorts and trails filtering town to the bustling community below. No. Denver is an hour and a half away from the nearest ski resort. And on a clear day, you can kind of see the mountains from Denver if you look west and there's not a Home Depot in your line of sight. Really, Denver is simply not situated in the mountains.
Third, we thought Denver was cold and snowy all winter, if not all year round. Also not completely accurate. Sure, they get snow and cold temperatures, but the majority of the winter days see temperatures in the 50s or even 60s. A blizzard is not uncommon, but its results seldom stick around for very long. A local teacher told us that they like to keep the rest of the country thinking that Denver is cold and wintry so that they can keep the nice winter weather to themselves. Hm.
Finally, since Denver attracts so many physically fit people (Colorado is the second healthiest state in the country, behind Utah), and since so many physically fit people eat healthily, you can walk into practically any restaurant and ask for a vegan version of the food. Even Taco Bell can alter their food to be vegan. Veganism (avoiding animal products--milk, eggs, etc) is so interwoven into the culture of Denver that food service doesn't even blink an eye at it.

That brings us back to Tokyo Joe's. And.. we could eat vegan there (I warned you that the tie-back wouldn't be profound).

Anyway. That's a little taste of Denver.

But our day was not over!

After lunch with Tim, we shopped for jeans for Kelsey at a nearby Kohl's. This was just in attempts to kill some time before dinner, when we had another date planned with Kelsey's high school friend, Kevin. He had gotten married since last we saw him, and so we were delighted to meet his lovely wife, Sarah.

We met at DeLite, a hip and funky little bar on the ecclectic stretch of Broadway with which we have gotten quite familiar. DeLite boasted a great happy hour special. Until 7:30 (a generous happy hour, no?), all food was half off. How awesome! For two people who don't drink, we were going to walk out of there with a fantastically inexpensive dinner. Their appetizers were exquisite, too. Our favorite was the Masa Fried Oyster Shooters with salsa fresca, smoked jalapeno aioli, cilantro and lime. It was the best thing we had put in our mouth in a long time, and they rivaled the oysters we first experienced back in New Orleans. Other items that found their way onto our table and into our mouths were Green Eggs and Ham (deviled eggs with pesto and bacon), Truffle Potato Chips with Maytag bleu cheese and Italian parsley, and a wonderful White Bean and English Pea spread with pita chips. All half price. Amazing.

For dessert? Guess what. Sweet Action again. We must have looked like regulars all of a sudden!

So.. that was our extended experience in Denver. Great food, great friends, great atmosphere. Disappointing lack of mountains. But we've enjoyed it. More than tofu.
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