An Interlude in Colorado

My lovely bride and I are waiting for our flight at DIA so I thought I’d use the time to write. We’ve been in Colorado for a few days on a short break without the rest of the family. It was my standard high-speed-suck-the-marrow-out-of-each-moment style of vacationing. To my wife’s constant dismay, not much time for relaxation, but great fun.

In Denver, we enjoyed an almost perfect meal at Root Down. Before the food arrived I ordered a cocktail known as the “Don Draper”. It was a citrus infused whiskey libation with ice cubes the size of Mike Tyson’s knuckles. I recall little else after my first few sips other than an overwhelming desire to slick back my hair, throw on a suit and start chain smoking unfiltered Marlboros.

But that wasn’t the best part.

One of the country’s legendary concert venues, Red Rocks, is located in nearby Morrison. This 9,000 person outdoor amphitheater was built in 1941 between two monolithic slabs of sandstone with a view of Denver far below. In the light of day, it’s an inspired setting, but with the last rays of sunshine it transforms as the sandstone radiates hues of pink, salmon and crimson. Magic.

But that wasn’t the best part.

We were at Red Rocks to hear Mumford and Sons. This much-hyped UK band excited many with their Grammy appearance last year.  On this evening they exceeded the hype. Their soaring harmonies and energetic musical crescendos were mesmerizing. Watching them lined across the stage delivering driving rhythms on the fiddle, acoustic guitar, foot drum, banjo and bass gave you the feeling that they were channeling traditional folk music not from the U.K, but from the hills of  mid-1800s Appalachia.

But that wasn’t the best part.

I begrudgingly allow myself to get dragged to a musical about once a decade. No offense to those who love the theatre, but for me there are other things I enjoy more in life. Things like cleaning the sink trap in my daughter’s bathroom. While in Denver, my number again came up and we went to see “Book of Mormon.” It almost caused me to change my thinking. The boys from South Park have done it again, creating a Broadway musical unlike any that you have ever seen. Let me put it this way, I’m fairly certain that Andrew Lloyd Weber never penned a lyric like: “I have maggots in my scrotum”.

But that wasn’t the best part.

An idea for the bike shops in the Boulder area. Would you please invent an oxygen mask that operates using tire inflation cartridges? We managed to rent a couple of Serotta road bikes from University Cycles in Boulder. The staff there helped us plan a beautifully scenic ride in the nearby mountains through Ward, Raymond and Lyons. They neglected to remind us, however, of the challenges of riding at elevations of 6,000 to 8,000 feet. On some of the climbs, I felt like I was breathing through a straw – and not just a regular drinking straw. More like one of those little straws that are used to mix drinks.

But that wasn’t the best part.

When we arrived in Boulder I learned that John Hiatt was playing at the Chautauqua Amphitheatre.  The Chautauqua, built in 1898 is on the National Register of Historical Places. It was the perfect setting to see Hiatt, who in my opinion, is a national treasure and, next to the 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster, the movie “Breaking Away” and certain members of my family, the best thing to ever come out of Indiana. Hiatt gave a wonderful performance and clearly enjoyed the warm, intimacy of the venue.

But that wasn’t the best part.

Because I am married to a “foodie” finding just the right place to dine was a priority. In Boulder we ate at The Kitchen. Not once, not twice, but three times. This restaurant is operated by a non-profit organization that helps educate children about community gardens and healthy eating. The food was outstanding as was the service. On a chalkboard with information about the offerings, there was this notation “All used cooking oil powers Steve’s car.” You’ve just got to love Boulder.

Ok, here was the best part of our vacation.

One day we decided to put our orienteering and tracking skills to use to try to locate two friends who are riding their bicycles across the country. Jaimee and Ale recently graduated from college and chose to put off life in the “real world” for a few months to ride  from San Francisco to Portland, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and then east across the plains.  After about four hours of driving we located them on Highway 9 in the hills southwest of Colorado Springs and surprised them with lunch and cold drinks in a nearby pullout. While we ate and heard about their adventures, Ale provided a brief serenade on her ukulele. She currently has a limited, but eclectic repertoire of songs ranging from “Friend of the Devil” to “Let’s Get it On”. One can only imagine what she will have learned by the time their ride is completed.

If you want to live vicariously (and avoid the chaffing and flat tires) you can follow Ale and Jaimee here.

And, now, time to head home for a couple of days of relaxation.


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6 responses to “An Interlude in Colorado

  1. Thanks so much for this. Root Down is quite good, and worth the trouble to find parking in that newly-trendy area. And imagine seeing Ten Years After, the Stones, LZ, Jethro Tullx2 etc. from the sides of those red sandstone slabs. Imagine getting down afterwards.

  2. U. Dick

    You wrote all of this just waiting for your flight was it on a six hour delay?
    Loved every word of it.

  3. Connie

    I am sitting in Richland WA visiting by sister, where the High School mascot is The Bombers, and a far cry from Boulder, where we were raised. Sooooo, reading your blog aloud made us all reminisce. Glad you enjoyed Colorado and shared some of the wonderful things about it. And for the record, I love musicals.

  4. I’m so happy to hear we made the best part of your vaca. That was absolutely the best surprise we have had on our trip! Also, reading your blog makes me embarrassed about mine. You are a wonderful writer 🙂

  5. Kristi

    Great blog Mike! Especially enjoyed all the references to blue grass tunes as we’re just coming off of our annual weekend at the Strawberry Music Festival (

  6. Kelly Heil

    Great Mike just Great. The imagery has allowed me to tag along on your journey. I must admit i am exhausted now and will take a nap to recover!

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