A Travellerspoint blog

April 2011

White in the Rockies

A day in Vail and beyond

all seasons in one day 4 °C
View San Diego to Denver, April 2011 on darrenesl's travel map.

As Spring arrives in the Rockies and the temperatures warm up, activity in the mountains starts to wind down and people begin to look at the beginning of a new season. We took this opportunity at the end of ski season to venture up the mountains to Vail.

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Heading up into the mountains just out side of Denver we began to pass the traditional landmarks including Buffalo Bills grave, the herds of American Buffalo, and of course the rotating house made famous in a James Bond movie.

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From there we continued climbing and the mountain rivers and lakes began to appear along the Interstate along with the rugged cliffs and rocks with the ever present falling rock that still needed to be cleaned up. Nearing Loveland Pass, flurries began to swarm around the car and we were welcomed to the mountains with a chilling breeze.

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The pass was closed due to a storm and of course we wanted to go through the Eisenhower Tunnel anyway. Still boasting the title of the longest mountain tunnel in the U.S., Eisenhower also lies along the Continental Divide for the states. Renovated so that taller trucks can now proceed through it, the tunnel still has its traditional appearance that it always has.

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An overnight storm had provided a fresh blanket of powder and as we wound up the mountain side we came upon a rest stop where the building was completely under snow. The fresh powder was just as I remembered as a child – light and dry. Blankets of white covered the land and made for a beautiful site. We took time out to throw a few snowballs and I of course climbed into the snow and sank to my waist. The chilling wind had subsided and it made for pleasant temperatures as we played.
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Finally, we proceeded to Vail where the village as always was inviting and lacking nothing. Between the shops providing everything from trinkets and souvenirs, to fur coats and $350 blue-jeans, restaurants and pubs invited the visitors in as well. Even with the ski season ending on Easter Sunday, plenty of skiers were still enjoying the bountiful white wonder.
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Remembering the Gondola to the top of the mountain, we inquired as to if it was still an option. Yes, it is, for $26 one can ride to the top for a meal or just photo opportunities, however wait until 2 p.m. And there is no charge. We decided to wait and had nice lunch at a nearby park, from there it was back to the shops for more stimulation to the economy.

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At 2 p.m. We boarded the Gondola for a ten minute ride to the top of Vail and what a beautiful site it was. The village below and the valley could be seen for miles. At the top, several excellent photo opportunities were available and the ride back down provided insight from a local ski instructor.
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All-in-all an excellent day topped off with bite to eat at Jose O'Sheas in Lakewood. A restaurant that my family had frequented back in the 80's.

Posted by darrenesl 08:19 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes mountains lakes trees snow skiing colorado shopping denver escondido_seventh_day_adventist april_2011 darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson vail Comments (0)

A Sunday Drive

Take me out to the ball game and more

sunny 23 °C
View San Diego to Denver, April 2011 on darrenesl's travel map.

Friday night and Saturday were spent enjoying time with fellow alumni of Mile High Academy. Reconnecting with friends and reminiscing on old memories made for a great time. For more on this visit www.darrenesl.blogspot.com and enjoy pictures and more.

DSCI0322.jpg Sunday was a day to spend enjoying the sunshine and atmosphere of Coors Field. Built as the first downtown baseball-only park in the National League, Coors Field boasts the title of best park in baseball. It is full of amenities and attractions for the entire family. Prices range from affordable to expensive, with numerous seats providing an excellent view of the Denver downtown skyline. Several excellent restaurants and microbreweries make up the surrounding LoDo area.
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After watching some baseball, it was time to go shopping. Just a few blocks away lies the 16th Street Mall. DSCI0369.jpg
An outdoor pedestrian mall, filled with various shops, restaurants, bars, and street musicians, this attraction consists of tourists, locals, and street people. The buildings are full of detail in the architecture and provide a glimpse of Denver's past. One disappointment is the emptiness of the Tabor Center.
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By this time we were getting hungry. There is no better place cap off a trip to downtown, than with a meal from Rodizio Grill. DSCI0386.jpg A Brazilian Steakhouse, Rodizio features a complete salad bar, hot food deck, and gauchos bringing an excellent assortment of meats and seafood to your table. The staff is very friendly and the atmosphere is great for an intimate or a large party. You will definitely not be disappointed.
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After our fine meal, we took a nice drive to the beautiful Red Rocks amphitheater. Having hosted various talent from Jazz to Symphony to Rock, Red Rocks provides as excellent view of the city and shows – the amazing colors of Colorado. A short informative film highlights the history and building of the amphitheater and the musicians who have played there.
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Posted by darrenesl 20:42 Archived in USA Tagged mountains skylines colorado shopping denver lodo mile_high_academy escondido_seventh_day_adventist april_2011 darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson mile_high coors_field colorado_rockies rodizio red_rocks Comments (0)

Mecca

Visiting a sacred city

sunny 18 °C
View San Diego to Denver, April 2011 on darrenesl's travel map.

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Mecca often refers to a holy city in Islam, however Mecca is defined as: a place regarded as a center for a specified group, activity, or interest. One of the places on the itinerary for our trip to Denver was Broncos team store at Mile High. Yes, we will not refer to it here by the name of the now defunct investment company that paid for the naming rights.

Upon arriving at the stadium we were pleased to find out that a 75 minute tour was being offered with the proceeds going to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Definitely no visit to the Mile High city would be thought of as complete without a visit to the place that has provided us with nearly 30 years of Broncos memories. Truly, Mecca for any Denver Broncos fan.

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We started by trying out our new seats in one of the less expensive Executive Suites priced at $92,000 per season. The view around the 40 yard line was good and I could get on the waiting list for my suite as they run at about 96% capacity. Full catering and beverage service is available. Just down the way was the owners suite with its own private entrance to the stadium.

From there we toured the press level and all of its boxes and features, with room for over two hundred journalists the press row is a busy place. Proceeding on down to the club levels of the stadium is used year round hosting proms, job fairs, meetings, reunions and even weddings. These offer a great view of the city as well as the stadium and field.

To end the tour, we were ushered down to the bowels of the stadium where the keg room is. The most popular beer by sales at Mile High is Budweiser, followed by Coors in second and Miller in third place. From there we went to the visitors locker room and saw the 1970's hot and cold tub in the visitors locker room, although we were not allowed in the Broncos locker room, we did see pictures of the modern stat of the art tubs in their locker room as well as the other amenities. The home team really does have advantages. And yes the visiting team is reminded of the altitude when leaving their locker room.
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We also saw the luxury stall where Thunder the horse is kept during games.

Finally, we were taken onto the field where all the Mile High magic has happened since John Elway left, as he has never played a down in this new facility. It truly was a journey to Mecca!
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Posted by darrenesl 20:50 Archived in USA Tagged colorado denver mile_high_academy escondido_seventh_day_adventist april_2011 darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson denver_broncos john_elway broncos mile_high Comments (0)

Downtown Doings

A Friday with the government

sunny 5 °C
View San Diego to Denver, April 2011 on darrenesl's travel map.

Crisp mornings in April are a beautiful thing when you are exploring a city that is rich in history and scenery. Starting the day off bright and early at the home of the money in Denver it was a brisk 42 degrees when we arrived to the Denver Mint at 7:45 a.m. After getting very friendly with the Federal Police who had us disrobe and go through security all that was missing was a cup of coffee, prior to the groping. Actually it wasn't that bad, if you don't mind those airport searches.

The Mint has expanded its visitor center, but still, unless you have never been before, all you really see is federal workers attempting to look busy by checking coins and shuffling paper from one desk to the next. Between looking up to see if the visitors were watching on worker on the floor, continuously walked back an forth between coins spewing out of a machine and his clipboard. Would have photos for your enjoyment, but that is strictly forbidden. The Pennies are too important to be photographed.

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From the mint, we made our way to the Colorado State Capitol building where the big decisions for the state are discussed and compromised on. The capitol modeled after our nation's Capitol in Washington D.C., only one-third of the size, is definitely a beautiful site to see. Along with the marble floors from Marble, Colorado, Red Onyx from the state, white oak, polished brass and gold leaf are all a spectacular feast for the eyes. Not one detail is left unfinished.
Touring the capitol added a nice touch to the morning, but was definitely highlighted by a special tour to the top of the dome. No need to worry about your cardio workout when visiting the dome, as after ascending four floors from the basement where the visitor's entrance is located, you will enjoy 99 more steps up a narrow staircase to the observation deck.
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Finally, finishing our time in the halls of the capitol, we stepped out into the crisp air to be greeted by an April 15, Tax Day Tea Party rally on the west steps of the state capitol. Always interesting to see the various groups that make up supporters of the tea party.

Posted by darrenesl 23:22 Archived in USA Tagged skylines colorado denver mile_high_academy escondido_seventh_day_adventist april_2011 darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson denver_mint Comments (0)

Arriving

Slowing down

semi-overcast 10 °C
View San Diego to Denver, April 2011 on darrenesl's travel map.

The flight and trip out of San Diego would turn out to be an uneventful flight from sunny and nearing 78 to a chilling welcome with the temperature in the 40's and finally making it up to the 50's. Of course with the new airport being where it is, located well east of town, coming in it was hard to tell if we were landing in Denver or Dallas. But, that aside, it certainly was nice to return to the Mile High City after 20+ years.

One thing of note that jumped out at Terri and I was the slower pace of things here as opposed to Southern California. Even on the freeways, cars were rarely surpassing 70 MPH. Maybe it was just the time of day, 3:00 p.m., but even the grocery store and Panera seemed fairly quiet at 4:30. Of course, that may all change once the weekend rolls around. Anyway, it will be an early day tomorrow and I will try and post some pictures from Thursday asap.

Posted by darrenesl 21:35 Archived in USA Tagged colorado denver mile_high_academy april_2011 darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson Comments (0)

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