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.