2022, Personal

Riley Goes to Colorado Day 3: Sunday May 29, 2022 – Fort Collins to Denver

We got up and realized that we might have trouble watching the race, as the place we were staying didn’t have cable. Fortunately, it did have Roku, something I have never used before. And fortunately, there was ESPN. However, if you watch F1, you know there was some rain and there was a bit of a mess getting started. So we only watched the first third before we headed out for breakfast.

Fort Collins

We walked down a street and realized one of the Triple D places we’d read about but decided not to go to was literally around the corner from the place we stayed. We walked a few more blocks and got to the waffle place for breakfast. We ordered and sat down, feeling like there were few people for a holiday weekend. And then, suddenly, there were tons of people. So we had just barely made it.

The waffles were truly unique and tasty. Mine was so filling I couldn’t finish it. Jenn’s wasn’t big enough. So that worked out.

Then we headed back to the apartment and caught the final 7 minutes or so of the race. It’s Monaco so it wasn’t super exciting. (The beginning had been far more interesting than normal.)

We packed and drove to the interstate. This was basically the first straightforward driving I’d done since we left Denver Friday morning.

We didn’t have much of a drive but when we got on the interstate and there was just endless construction I started to get a little worried. Fortunately the construction eventually ended and an extra lane was added and the speed limit in Colorado is higher than in some other states. So we were fine.

Denver

The rental car place tried to upsell us on both prepaid gas – which seems like a hell of a scam – and on the toll roads. When we first looked into the road from Fort Collins to Denver, Google Maps seemed to indicate it was toll the whole way. But that turned out to be completely wrong. Instead, there is a brief toll road around Denver from I-25 to the airport. (It’s a bit of a beltway, actually.) It’s completely unnecessary to take though I’m sure it helps in bad traffic. Anyway, we did not take said toll road, and instead took the plebe interstate that also avoids downtown Denver.

We returned are car amongst the ocean of rental cars and rental car companies and it took no time at all. The shuttle was about to leave, we jumped on it (though I almost forgot my glasses in the car) and headed back to the airport.

Once in the airport we made our way to the Westin and took the escalator under the hotel down to the train to downtown. There we had trouble buying tickets – my credit card failed to work yet again, but tickets could only be bought with credit cards – but were eventually able to. We got on the train and waited.

The train trip in is pretty long, nearly 40 minutes. The airport really is far out and the train doesn’t always run very quickly. There is a hilariously large convention centre out there in the middle of nowhere which dominates the prairie which I guessed was a prison. (So it’s very attractive.) There’s not much else until you get to the first stop. Because you’re on the east side of the city, there’s not a lot to look at and it’s not a pretty trip.

We got off the train at Union Station and fumbled around until we found ourselves outside on the street. There we took one of two “Free Mall Rides,” downtown buses that drive around set routes in the core which you don’t have to pay for. We almost got on the bus going the wrong way but the driver saw our suitcase and directed us across the street.

We rode down the length of the pedestrian mall (the majority of the Mall Ride route) and got off in the rain. I guess I should mention it was raining for basically the first time though the worst of it had happened while we were on the bus.

Then we walked up a hill and found our hotel, just outside of the downtown core (i.e. a couple minute walk to the core). Fortunately we were able to check in even though we were quite early. Despite the hotel’s proximity to the core, it didn’t seem that popular.

We unpacked and figured out where to go for lunch. We found a place most of the way up the pedestrian mall, back near Union Station and so decided that would give us a good chance to see the downtown.

Much like Calgary, Denver has an extremely pedestrian-friendly downtown. It is one of those weird things that there are these western NA cities, in car-dominated regions, that somehow have more pedestrian-friendly downtowns than Toronto.

So we walked most of the length of the core and found our restaurant. It was elevated Asian fusion and it was our best meal of the trip by far.

Since it had taken so little time to walk to the restaurant, I became convinced it wouldn’t take very much time to walk to the further of the two Great Divide bars.

I started drinking better beer around 2007 or so. I started with trying every different beer at my local LCBO and eventually found my way to Innis & Gunn. At the time, the Ontario beer scene was, um, not great. So one thing I would do is buy taster backs from American micobreweries when I went to Buffalo. Unlike Anchor and Sam Adams, these breweries were not available in Ontario. The three breweries I remember most from this early experience of the massive variety of American craft beer were Dog Fish Head in Delaware, Flying Dog in Maryland and Great Divide.

Great Divide has two bars in Denver proper, one of which is right next to Coors Field, probably a 10 minute walk or less from the restaurant, and one in “RiNo,” a hilariously named, gentrifying district just north of the downtown. I decided we should go to the RiNo bar, which sounded like it might have better beer.

So we started walking. We walked past Union Station, we walked over a large bridge over Coors Field, we walked down into an industrial wasteland. By the time I was slipping in mud I realized this has perhaps been a mistake. (We decided to walk along the river on a street that hadn’t quite gentrified. This was the most obvious evidence so far of Denver’s massive homeless problem as we basically walked through an encampment.)

Though this will never be as notorious as that time I made Jenn and I walk around half of Brooklyn, we probably should have taken a bus or cab. One of my shoes was coated in mud by the time we got to RiNo.

Anyway, we finally made it to their “Barrel Bar” which turned out to be the actual brewery, and had no BA beers on tap.

Me at Great Divide Barrel Bar

Great Divide has some vague importance in my development as a beer snob but it’s safe to say that, like so many other of the foundational breweries of the craft beer movement in North America, the trends have started to pass them by. Though I was very happy to go, it was the least interesting brewery we visited on trip. It’s a little like what happened to Granite – okay, that’s mean to Great Divide – or Mill Street before they got bought. Again, maybe that’s rude to Great Divide. (Some people would say Amsterdam but I’ve started ordering from Amsterdam again, some of their beers are really good – and way cheaper than their more reputable competition.) The point is, it feels as if they’re a little stuck in another time. Or maybe we just caught them on a lesser day.

Afterwards, we took a cab back to the hotel and it took like 5 minutes.

It was Game 7 and so we decided to find a sports bar to watch it in. This was the first time we had watched a sports event in a bar since prior to March 2020. So that was something. (Also, we ate salads, because both of us were starting to get tired of the endless meat and carbs that is American food.)

<<<< Day 2 | Day 4 >>>>

1 Comment

  1. Leslie Nelson says:

    Loved reading about your trip Riley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.