Timeline: September 3-6
With a moderate drive ahead of us to Denver we had camp partially broken the night before, enabling us to get out of Spearfish right around 9:00 am. We went west a short distance into Wyoming, then turned south for the rest of the journey. A couple of hours into the drive we stopped in the small town of Lusk for breakfast at the Triangle 4 Café, figuring a good meal would hold us over all the way to Denver.
Long story short, the food was passable, particularly for a breakfast, but the service was a bit slow. I had a veggie omelet while Joanna enjoyed the corned beef hash. Total for the experience was $21.17 including two cups of coffee and the tip: average food on an average day. We continued south and began to run into traffic north of Denver, just below Fort Collins and after a couple of weeks of blissful traffic free driving it reminded us of the downsides of living in or near a larger city.
Our destination was Casa de Griz (AKA Doug and Sharon’s) in Parker, south of Denver proper on the way to Colorado Springs. We picked up the E-470 toll road and used it extensively, to and from the airport and just to get around. They exact the toll by taking a picture of your license plate, so I’m not real sure how much it will all cost us. I just received mail today from Charlotte (I’m writing this the first week of October) and a bill wasn’t in that batch. We’ll just have to wait to see what the outcome will be.
We arrived at Casa de Griz and spent a lovely evening getting caught up, enjoying a very nice home cooked meal and preparing for the days to follow. This would be the annual gathering of the Cisco’s, chronicled in this blog for the last couple of years, our eighth meeting since these guys helped move me to Charlotte. Early the next afternoon, Doug and I drove out to the airport to pick up JB and Evan, who were coming in on the same flight.
Capture of the Cisco’s performed, we returned to Casa de Griz for a couple of hours so that JB and Evan could spend some time with Sharon and Joanna and then departed for the downtown Denver Sheraton. Doug has a friend on the executive staff with Sheraton and it gains us access to their rooms at a nice discount. As it turns out, we were even upgraded to a “premium Mountain View” room, although the only mountains we saw were the HVAC units on the building next door.
We parked in the attached garage and walked into the hotel to discover ourselves immersed in a giant costumed fantasy world, the Nan Desu Kan convention, held annually to celebrate all things anime. It was like we’d dropped down the rabbit hole. Finding it hard to focus on simple tasks, like walking, we made way to our rooms and dropped our luggage, had a beer apiece, and then went back outside to enjoy, not through any great planning on our part, the Taste of Colorado that was taking place.
Many of you may be familiar with this type of event, dozens of booths (more than 50) featuring a wide variety of food, small and big bites, along with beer, wine and distilled spirits, all for moderate prices and live bands on a couple of stages. Does it get any better? It was a great way to start our stay downtown and without much effort a couple of hours passed by as we munched a bit, drank a bit, and listened to a pretty good cover band.
We returned to our room for yet another cold beverage and then, still hungry, walked across the street to an Italian restaurant Doug has enjoyed, Maggiano’s Little Italy. It’s a large eatery and yet our service was friendly and efficient. I ordered the Chicken Marsala (Mushrooms & Marsala Sauce with Spaghetti Aglio Olio) and found it nicely prepared, the meat moist, the sauce rich yet nuanced and the pasta, delicately flavored, complimenting the rest of the plate.
Finished with dinner, we retired to mine and Evan’s room for a night cap, then to bed to prepare for a busy day ahead. Old guys like us don’t sleep in late much (Doug is the champion of arising early, I’m second) and the next day we were out and about around 9am to head for breakfast at The Delectable Egg just around the corner. We’d end up eating here two mornings and found the service and food to be spot on.
The first morning I had the Green Door Omelet (with tomatoes, sliced onions, bell peppers and mushrooms) as I often try to go meat less for breakfast. The next day I noticed they had Chicken Apple Sausage on the chalk board at the entrance and so ordered that with eggs and potatoes. I’m an Aidells adherent and am always curious to try other types of this sausage for comparison. This one was pretty good.
After breakfast we sat around in the room chatting until it was time to jump on the 16th Street trolley to head to north quite few blocks to the area known as LoDo, or Lower Denver. Our objective for the afternoon would be to take in a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors Field and this would land us just a few blocks from the stadium.
We disembarked at the end of the line and walked a block down to Denver’s main train depot, Union Station, one of those late 19th century facilities that speak to the elegance, and once primary nature, of train travel.
Walking towards Coors Field with some time to kill, we stopped in at Icehouse Tavern to sit in the shade and consume a few pre-game libations. An ongoing promotion there is a $2 can of Coors, a deal we couldn’t resist.
We sat at the bar and passed a pleasant hour or more, enjoying spending so much time together, this rare treat for us that occurs once a year, friends for so long we still recall the time when we could see each other once or more a week.
Game time approaching, we headed for the park, went inside and took our seats, way out in center field in the hot sun. We dutifully watched much of the game, nearly seven innings and as it was a blowout for the Rockies, decided to take our leave and head back to towards Union Station to meet Joanna and Sharon who were taking the light rail in from Parker. We sat outside of the station where they served some brats and consumed a beer apiece. I ordered a currywurst that I split up so that the others could enjoy this treat that I knew they’d not had before.
By this time the girls arrived and we walked back towards Coors Field to stop in at Wynkoop Brewing for dinner. Brewing craft beer since the late 1980’s, they were part of the effort to revitalize the LoDo area and turn it into the social and entertainment magnet it is today.
We ordered some beers and Joanna and I split a bowl of Poblano and Corn Chowder (Sweet corn, roasted Poblano, gold potatoes, and crispy prosciutto) and the Buffalo Meatloaf (with Yukon gold potatoes, roast shallots, sautéed seasonal veggies, and bacon demi glaze). Not having had buffalo before, we found it quite tasty, not as dry as expected. The chowder was good, but not as strongly flavored as we would have liked, missing a bit of the zing one anticipate getting from the Poblano’s.
We bade farewell to the girls as they went back down to Parker and retired again to our rooms with some final conversation and then to bed. After breakfast the next morning we checked out of the hotel as JB was flying home and we’d decided to decamp to Casa de Griz for our final evening. Prior to taking JB to the airport we stopped in at the Forney Museum of Transportation.
Begun as a private collection by J.D. Forney, the museum was formally founded in. It is a large facility with an impressive inventory of cars, locomotives, rail cars, motorcycles, and bicycles. The featured exhibit celebrated 35 years of Mopar and we got to examine a number of popular high horsepower examples from the muscle car era, including a classic late sixties Road Runner.
Early in the year I graduated from high school, 1969, I purchased a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle with a 327 cubic inch engine, 4 speed transmission, posi-traction rear end, and black bucket seat interior. For the time period, it was a cool car to own and many of my friends had similar muscle packages, including one who drove an orange Road Runner.
We spent a little over an hour in the museum and then left, taking JB out to the airport, then returning to Casa de Griz where Joanna and I prepared a Mama Mann’s Taco Sunday dinner for Sharon, Doug and Evan. We don’t often get to eat tacos and burritos like this as it makes far more than we can reasonably consume. Between viewing the older cars and resurrecting memories of my Mom, it was a very rewarding day.
As had been our entire stay in Denver. Having just held a Cisco fest here in 2014, I was glad we’d made the call to spend two nights in downtown. It’s a vibrant area with much to do and it really felt like we had traveled to an exotic location, as opposed to just staying at someone’s house. We departed with preliminary plans for the next gathering, maybe Costa Rica or New Orleans. Who knows where it will end up but in the meantime it’s time to start planning.
Triangle 4 Cafe and Steakhouse: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60511-d1967234-Reviews-Triangle_4_Cafe_and_Steakhouse-Lusk_Wyoming.html
Sheraton Downtown Denver: http://www.sheratondenverdowntown.com/
Nan Desu Kan: http://ndkdenver.org/
Taste of Colorado: http://atasteofcolorado.com/
The Delectable Egg: http://www.delectableegg.com/
Union Station: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver_Union_Station
Icehouse Tavern: http://www.icehouselodo.com/
Wynkoop Brewing: http://www.wynkoop.com/
Forney Museum of Transportation: http://www.forneymuseum.org/