29 June 2010

Bright Lights, Big City

3.5 days in Denver, CO – just enough time to hang out with a bunch of USGS/EPA/state agency folks at the National Monitoring Conference, eat eat eat good food, go on a couple of runs, get a haircut at the Aveda Institute, check out Coors Field for the tail end of a Rockies game, and did I mention eat?

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I’m a little like a kid in a candy shop when I travel, especially to big cities…I couldn’t stop thinking about how the city of Denver has nearly as many people in it as the entire state of Alaska.  Denver International Airport was (is, actually…I’m still sitting here as I write this) huge and impressive.  There were kids from Greenpeace trying to stop and talk to people as they were coming and going.  Having my big backpack made me a target for them, and I still kick myself for not asking them how successful they are.  I am probably one of the more amiable folks they could talk to  - I work for a water quality nonprofit, fairly liberal, etc etc.  But there was no way in a million years I was going to talk about any of that then and there.  I had just traveled from Homer – hadn’t eaten in probably 12 hours, had slept for maybe 3 or 4 intermittently.  Isn’t that how people are in airports (well, at least before you pass security. then you would have a completely captive audience sitting and waiting for delayed planes to arrive.  I am currently a case in point on that front)?  Anyways, back to Denver….I had a room in the Downtown Sheraton, and even in my incredibly hungry tired and cranky state I was pretty excited about the fancy-pants hotel!  Sheraton is doing a “Clean and Green” campaign, where you can opt to not have your room cleaned daily during your stay.  In exchange, they give you $5 for each day that you opt out to spend in the hotel restaurants.  The rooms manager assured me that no housekeeping staff had lost their jobs over this, but I’m still convinced it is a labor issue far more than an “environmental” issue that’s being addressed with this program. 

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I love eating in the city.  Restaurants I ate at include: The British Bulldog (fantastic fish & chips, soccer bar that keeps score of the Premier League-see top picture), Mad Greens (or something like that, huuuuuge salad place – very cool, bottom picture), Illegal Pete’s (great burritos, great atmosphere), Osteria Maria (fancy schmancy Italian place, pretty good food), and the place the volunteer coordinators had dinner last night.  It was on the 16th Ave Mall, it was okay, it was expensive.  Thank you, EPA, for paying for my meals!


The 16th Ave Mall is a “pedestrian mall”.  Um, yep. It’s kind of that, but really there are free shuttle buses that go both directions up and down the mall every 3 minutes or so.  Sooo…it’s kind of like a lovely street with a lot of shops, restaurants, interesting people, pedi-cabs, horse-drawn carriages, and shuttle buses on it!

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And Coors Field.  I almost didn’t go to the game – dinner went late, and I peeked into a bar to see that the score was 12-0 Rockies (playing Arizona), top of the 6th inning.  But then I could see the lights of the stadium, and knew I just had to go in.  I love baseball – I love the suspense, I love the atmosphere.  My only regret is that I was too full from dinner to get fried dough.  Sigh…..


There’s also great sculptures throughout the downtown area.  This one, in Writer’s Square, is called “Self-made Man”. 

Next stop – Boston!