I got to spend a lot of time in in Denver on the latter half of my road trip.
The first time was when I drove across the Rocky Mountains with my Moab Friend Dan. That had been a long, but beautiful drive. We settled in Denver just before dark. It was my first time in this city. My initial thoughts were frustration. The traffic was insane, and there were a lot of one way streets. I felt that I couldn’t get a logical sense of the layout of roads. Later I discovered that was because there wasn’t one.
Dan had been here before for work, so he made a good tour guide of downtown Denver. The first thing we explored was the 6th street mall. The city turned a long street into a giant outdoor mall. It was very cool, and there were buses going back and forth along the street that would transport people. The city really had a cool atmosphere at night. In the day we explored further. It was very neat to see the Capitol building too.
I returned here a few days later on my own and got to explore the place more. This time it was a weekend, so downtown Denver was considerably more active and engaging. The mall area was packed. One observation I had was the amount of homeless people that I encountered here. The thing is that they mostly all seemed pretty young and healthy. A lot of homeless people in their 20s. Did people just come to this town for the legal pot and end up homeless?
Eventually my friend Shane came and picked me up. This was awesome! I had met Shane almost a decade ago, recurrently running into each other at various music festivals until we became friends. Now he had moved to Denver, and so I was excited to get a chance to see him.
He came and got me as I wandered around the mall, and it was good to see an old friend in a new place. The first thing he did was take me to a Greatful Dead bar near the Capitoline Hill. It was an awesome vibe here, though it smelled a little funny. I definitely liked it.
“6th Street mall is not the place to be,” Shane told me. Hah. Yeah. But still it was great for people watching.
Eventually we left the bar to meet his girlfriend and her friends elsewhere. There was a large group of people getting together for a DJ show set later that night at a place called Ophelias. We eventually crammed an ungodly number of people into an uber van and got to Ophelias. The DJ set was pretty fun, the vibe was completely different from the Greatful Dead bar, but I had a great time with friends new and old!
I came back to Denver again after my weekend of mountain exploration with Renee. I knew that the time to head home was fast approaching. I wasn’t quite ready to end my road trip, but I felt that I had seen most of what i had came to see in the Denver area. Part of me now regretted how much I had rushed around Arizona and Utah. There was still a lot to see there, but there was no chance I was driving back across the Rockies. In the end, I am pretty satisfied with my time there. Everything went exactly the way it was meant to.
I decided I needed a day to myself before I left Colorado. I booked a hostel which ended up being RIGHT next to the Ophelia’s concert I had went to a few days earlier. The hostel was pretty cool, but I tend to love hostels in general. They are usually really cool ways to meet other travelers and have some interesting conversations.
I spent the day alone, wandering around Denver. I met a few interesting people throughout the day, but overall my brain was processing everything that had happened on this trip. It was good to spend some time reflecting on all the journeys, the lessons, the people, the experiences that had occurred over the last month. It was important that I took some time for myself to make sense of it all before going home. This had really been good for me, and I felt renewed and recharged, recentered and revitalized.
And a fire was still burning within me.
The next morning, I knew it was time to start heading back East. But I had unfinished business in Boulder. I said goodbye (for now) to Denver, and drove back to Chautauqua park in Boulder.
The last time I had been here, on the first day of my trip, I wanted to hike a trail that led between the first and second peaks of the flatirons.
Unfortunately for me, that trail had been closed that day for maintenance. So on the last day of my road trip, I returned here to hike this trail. Things were coming around full circle.
I had been fortunate to be at a higher altitude for the majority of this entire road trip, so I never lost my acclimatization. The hike was not nearly as strenuous as it could have felt, and I had tons of water. It was actually a lot of fun. At one point, I saw a group of people rock climbing up a cliff. I love rock climbing, and once again was reminded how much I loved the value this state places on an outdoor active lifestyle.
I got to the top of the trail, and the view was awesome. I had met and hiked with a few people on the trail, but now was time for some solo reflection. It was very windy up here, but the view was amazing. Boulder County sprawled out far below me. Off in the distance was Denver. I had just been there a few hours ago.I took some time to sit on the edge of this cliff and look down on this amazing part of the world. Boulder County had launched me on an incredible journey of self growth and discovery. Yet even now, I still felt the same wonder of these mountains that I did when I first drove up here a month ago.
I’m not sure how long I sat up there. Eventually I would have to make my way back down. I would have to get in my car and start the journey back east. I would have to return home, to the midwest, and start figuring out how to live a normal life again.
But not yet. Not now.
For now I was here. For now, I looked down upon Colorado. For now I saw the world stretch before me.
And before I left, I made a promise. A promise to myself, a promise to the southwest, and a promise to the Rocky Mountains.
This isn’t over. This is just the beginning.
I’ll be back.