Thursday, May 1, 2008

Things I Loved in Denver

So here's the thing. I've been in Denver for the better part of a week for a museum conference. The conference was fabulous. I'm serious. I loved it. I'd have loved it just a tiny bit more if they'd served more cookies (let's face it, any cookies) between sessions, but really, that's my only complaint.

My only complaint about the conference, that is. I do have one other complaint about Denver, before I get on with the singing-its-praises chorus I promised in the title. Altitude. Dear heaven, but that city is way up in the sky! [Clue: the nickname 'Mile High City.'] For me personally that translated into every cell in my body going into a simultaneous gasping-for-air routine that rendered me tipsy, achy, queasy, sleepy, grumpy (and probably a few other dwarves, too) all at once. New and profound insight: I am a sea-level creature. I like my oxygen thick, syrupy even, undiluted, unpolluted, and unrestricted. Good to know.

But on with the chorus of praise. Really, I had such a good time in Denver I had to share my list of things to love about it. And if you're a Denver-lover you should chime in with anything I may have left out.

  • The big blue bear at the convention center by Lawrence Argent, actually titled 'I See What You Mean.' He's curious (see, he's saying “Hm, what's in here?”), he'd cuddly, he's bright blue and ginormous. What's not to love?

  • The prairie dogs beside the highway from the airport to downtown. They always look so alert. And concerned. The life of a prairie dog is full of worry.

  • The T-Rex puppet at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. AWESOME. I didn't much like it when he aimed to chomp on my head - although I did think it was funny when he did that to other people. My neefs would be shimmying with joy if they could see it.

  • The Tattered Cover Bookstore. I am a collector and admirer of bookstores. If it were at all possible for a bookstore to have a soul and to be a kindred spirit with other soul-bearing creatures, this bookstore and I were made for each other. Comfy chairs scattered in little nooks, a bakery with yummy smells in-store, a tempting selection of books all over the place in shelves arranged in a non-regimented way, pleasantly worn antique and creaky wooden floors – it all added up to a perfectly delectable bookstore.

  • The Paul Manship bronze sculpture of a turtle at the Denver Art Museum. I saw lots of great art at the museum and the building itself is supposed to be a buzz-worthy new example of architecture, but this turtle is the thing I fell for, the mascot of my visit.

  • Crazy contrast. When you fly into Denver you land on the flat scrubby plateau east of the city. Then you drive into the city which is about a 30 minute drive. The entire time just ahead of you there is a purple haze in the west topped this time of year with snowy peaks. The closer you get to the city the more the haze clears and you realize that right there, just a few miles further away, the Rocky Mountains have poked up right out of the plateau with a gigantic TA-DA! There's no subtle approach, no gentle introduction by way of some little foothills. No way. It goes flat, flat, flat, doo-dee-doo, more flat and then WHAM! Enormous mountains. And when you're in the city, right in downtown Denver, you can be walking along down a street, past a TJMaxx or a Starbucks let's say, and you casually glance to the east and there's blue sky, but when you casually glance to the west, BAM! There they are again. WATCHING YOU. You can turn your back on them, but they're still there. Looming in a majestic and indifferent way. The Rockies. Mountains that never bothered with 'subtle.' They interrupt the sky in an unsettling way for a native Texan, but they're fascinating.

  • Say it with me now: Mayor Hickenloop. My new big crush. I love the mayor of Denver. He's charming and well-spoken, a passionate supporter of the arts, and an innovative one at that. He came and talked to a vast crowd of museum people and by the end of the morning had us all eating out of his hand. (We're pathetic really – we love anyone who loves us back.) I would move to Denver, despite the altitude, just to live in a city where the mayor is such a devoted and creative museum-fan. Seriously. Look him up – he was apparently voted one of the Top 5 American Mayors recently. I know he'd get my vote.


LaLa said...

Can anyone tell me why blogger is such a crap-doodle about photographs? I spend a lot of time getting them all aligned just right in the preview and then when I publish the post it ignores my wishes completely, as if I had never even tried to explain. Seriously. If you can de-mystify the crap-doodle-ish-ness, I'd be profoundly grateful.

Schroedinger's Cat said...

I love going to Denver. I used to go there quite a bit on business, and the best part was going to the office. When the elevators opened, you looked out a gigantic picture window at the mountains. Gorgeous. Of course, I always ended up in a office with a window that looked out at the building across the street - why wouldn't they let me work in the lobby?

One of my favorite places is actually up in Golden - just as you enter the mountains. There is a train museum there that is unbelievable. Keeps the kids entertained for most of the day - gotta like that!

l-bean said...

I love Denver...really, Colorado in general. When I moved to Fort Collins (AKA Fort Fun), I had no sense of direction. To me, north was in front of me. I thank the Rocky Mountains for helping me learn how to tell directions. I rarely get lost anymore.

Thank you, Colorado!

Annabelle said...

I lived in Denver for 2 years! I loved looking at the mountains and how the tops were white and snowy, but it was warm in Denver...warm enough to wear shorts! My favorite spot was the Rocky Mountain National Park...but that's North of Denver. Oh and the zoo was great too! Oh and we can't forget the Butterfly Pavilion...ahhh...memories!

Whiskeymarie said...

Why does every city on the planet seem more interesting than the one I'm in right now?

And, I have the same problems with photos & blogger. It's why I have mostly gone to positioning them in the center, so they don't interfere with the words.