Denver, day one (Saturday)
Well, we didn't leave Wichita at 9. We didn't even get out of bed until 10:30. We finally got in the car around noon to run the final errands (get gas, buy film and munchies, etc) and head out. Fortunately right before we left town it occurred to me that we probably ought to go back home and get the freaking TICKETS to the freaking SHOW. That would have sucked a fat one. So we did that and finally hit the road.
Nothing much really to say about the drive. It was long. Took about eight hours to get there. I had warned Tandra that we would be driving right into the sun as it set pretty much due West. Things started getting interesting about an hour into Colorado though. The temperature started getting cooler and a cloud came over the horizon. It blocked the sun at just the perfect time, when it would have been right in our faces, and the sun's rays were exploding out from behind it in all directions. Even along the horizon we could see past this cloud, see the bright yellow of the sun as it lit up other clouds, farther away, squeezed into that little space between the bottom of the bigger cloud and the horizon. It was amazing. We were so excited to see the mountains that we took pictures like this one:
(I edited it so you could actually see the mountain there.) That picture really doesn't do justice to the clouds and the sunlight that were visible. We rolled into Denver just as the sun went down. (That sounds like the beginning of a song.)
I had hoped to get into town early enough to catch a photo of the sun setting behind the mountains with Denver's downtown skyscrapers in the foreground, but we were about half an hour too late for that, and I was busy the other two evenings. Anyhow, this is when the real fun began.
See, I had reserved a room for us at a Youth Hostel. I really didn't know what they were, I just knew I could shower and sleep for really cheap there. Then when I called to make the reservation, I found out we could stay at the Bed and Breakfast which was owned by the same people. So I'm thinking "score, bed and breakfast for super cheap!" So I made the reservation.
Little did I know that this was a nasty greasy unorganized shelter for traveling hippies and that the bed and breakfast was nothing more than another building for the same purposes. Our room was about the size of a jail cell and was disgustingly dirty. I looked at Tandra and said "do you hate me?" and she said "I think I'm going to cry." So needless to say that was not an option. We (sort of, not really) made up a story about how there was something there we were allergic to and that we couldn't stay there. The bastards would only refund one of the three nights, so I lost $80 on that failed venture. Oh well, at least now I know better. After making a few phone calls from said disgusting small room, my dad saved our asses by getting us a real hotel room on his credit card. Have I mentioned I love my dad? I can't count the number of times he has saved me all kinds of trouble and bullshit.
We were pretty beat by then, so we scrapped our plans to check out a club called The Church (which plays trance music, from what I hear), and we drove over to the hotel, unpacked our shit, made a quick run to Subway, and crashed out, just happy to be in Denver in a clean bed in a clean room.
Denver, day two (Sunday)
We rolled out of bed around 9 and left the hotel at 10, ready for a day of exploration and fun. I had heard about this place called Bump and Grind where we could get breakfast until 2 PM, and on weekends the whole staff dressed in drag. So we decided to check it out. The rumors were true and it was just a riot. Such a cool place. House music on the stereo, sexual innuendoes everywhere, and waiters in drag, some of whom were prettier than some girls I've met. Oh, and the food was FANTASTIC. They even had vegan food, which although Tandra isn't vegan, generally agrees with her stomach, so that worked out really well. I'm pretty sure everyone assumed Tandra was my fag hag, but that's alright. I didn't mind.
So that was all kinds of fun. Then we went shopping at a couple of places to try to find Tandra something to wear to the show, but we were both eager to get up into the mountains. We just hopped on I-70 and went West until we saw stuff that looked like fun, and wound up on the Lariat Loop scenic byway. There were a lot of people on there being that it was a Sunday afternoon, but it was still fun. All kinds of TWISTIES!! I got to drive up and down the twisties!! It was so cool! I don't have any good pictures of them yet, but here are a couple ideas:
Here is a shot from mapquest, a satellite photo of the road:
It's the light colored one that goes from the residential area and twists around to the bottom of the photo. Too bad you can't really tell just how high that actually was. What a fun drive. There was one really good spot where I was hauling ass and one of the mountain bikers yelled at me to slow down as I whizzed past him at like 40 or 50. I didn't though. I mean, I get what he was doing, but he didn't get what I was doing. Too bad. There were a lot of cyclists up there, which also looked like fun, and damn good exercise considering there is NO AIR UP THERE!! I give much credit to any team who beats the Broncos at home, they really do have an advantage up there.
As we got up towards the top of the mountain there, we saw stuff that looked like this:
and like this:
That's actually Golden, CO. Denver proper is on the other side of those big hills, through that valley. The huge facility you see in the center there is the Coors brewery. No wonder the shit tastes like piss, it comes from a factory, not a brewery! It was impressively large though. Before this, I didn't know that Golden was just a suburb of Denver. Golden itself is a great, charming little town nestled right up against the foothills of the rockies. If it wasn't built around Coors, it would be a great place.
As we continued up the loop, we got to a place where we could see back down the other side of the hill we were on, and we saw this:
To some of you this may not be a big deal but to Tandra and I this was quite exciting. A tunnel!! Kansas has absolutely no use for tunnels, so to see another twisty road and a tunnel was very cool. We went back down the mountain, continuing to take turns driving every few minutes. I scared the crap out of Tandra a couple times with my zippy zagging around tight curved two-lane roads with drop-offs to certain death just inches away (on the other side of the guardrail, granted, but inches away nonetheless). Hairpins and stuff, it was awesome. So we finally found our way to the tunnel which looked like this up close:
Inside the tunnel the walls were not really paved or anything, you could see the bare rock just as it was when they blasted through it to create the tunnel in the first place. We drove down that route for about 20 minutes before we had to turn around and head back. We didn't want to miss the Poetry Slam.
We headed back to the hotel to change clothes and then went to the Mercury Cafe. We were ten minutes late until we got there at which point we realized we were about 45 minutes early. That gave us time to eat the overpriced food. It wasn't horrible, but it was overpriced. The Mercury Cafe was an interesting place. Very anti-establishment, very bohemian. I certainly wasn't dressed to fit in, but I didn't mind. It was nice to be somewhere where I was the best dressed person for once. Doesn't happen very often.
Soon I spotted Big Poppa E (poetryslam) and Hilary Thomas (spentpenny), the featured poets for the night, the ones we had come to see. I ran up and introduced myself and we chatted for a couple minutes. Totally cool. Eirik (E) was very nice, even directing a little bit of his first poem at me ("I will make you go home and write something in your journal that you never thought you'd have the courage to write!"), so that was fun. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to take some photos of the event, but I forgot, basically because I was completely wrapped up in the performance. It was great. Haiku Death Match was SO MUCH FUN! Maybe this makes me a lame follower, but I was actually inspired to write some poetry of my own, at least prose or something. Too bad Wichita has absolutely no forum for it. Anyway, it was a fantastic performance, and we bought a couple t-shirts and a couple cds. I want to say thanks to poetryslam and spentpenny for really making me think while entertaining me at the same time. The rest of you go check out their website, Broken Word. Tandra realized when we went up to talk to Eirik that she had actually known him before, in Wichita. I can't take her anywhere!!! ;-) Actually I thought it was amusing.
Following that, we decided to try going to The Church again. Wasn't sure what they'd be playing on a Sunday night, but I wanted to check the place out. It really is an old converted church, so that seems cool. But it took FREAKING FOREVER to find the place, and by the time we finally got there, it was late and I was tired and grumpy and so we decided once again to scrap that idea and go the next night, after the Eddie show. Once again headed back to the hotel. After a hot bath I was feeling much better, tired but happy. We snuggled up and went to sleep.
Denver, day three (Monday)
Monday we slept until about 11. Finally we drug our asses out of bed and went to a place that pegasustamer recommended, the Walnut Cafe. It was a good place, great food for a good price, as promised, and a nice cozy feeling in there as well. After that we went shopping to get something to wear to the show and that really wound up taking most of the day, which is okay with me. Here's an idea what it looked like in the neighborhood where we did most of our shopping:
Then we hurried back to the hotel, hoping to make it to dinner in time to get to the show. We got ready, braved the Denver downtown rush hour traffic trying to get to the restaurant when I suddenly realized that once again, it would be prudent for us to have the damn TICKETS if we wanted to get in. So, unfortunately, we had to scrap our dinner plans in order to have enough time to get back to the hotel and get the tickets. Damn, but that pissed me off. I was really looking forward to checking out Vesta Dipping Grill, but it was not to be. Instead, we parked near the theater and went into the cafe which was attached to the building. We found ourselves a spot on what you might call the patio. It wasn't really though. We were downtown, the streets were narrow, and this was basically just a gated area with four tables right up against the side of the building. It was cool though, the people who weren't there for the show were all there to watch the football game. I told Tandra how cool I thought it was looking through the window at the TV, watching the Broncos on Monday Night Football, seeing Al Michaels and John Madden, on a nationally syndicated feed, and knowing that all that was happening just up the street. It was fantastic. But that did not compare to the fact that when the Broncos scored their second touchdown, I could actually hear the roar from Mile High Stadium, echoing in the downtown air. That was cool.
***Note to my beer buddies: New Belgium Sunshine Wheat with a slice of fresh orange in it is EXCELLENT.
Tandra and I were so excited to have front row seats that to everyone who walked by we kept saying "hi, front row, how are you?" "Hello, front row, nice to meet you." It was hilarious.
Then the theater opened and we went inside. Shouldered our way to the front with many "Hi, hello, front row please" phrases. The place was a pretty nice, ornately decorated theater, much like where we saw Tori Amos in Kansas City, only this time we were... you guessed it, in the front row.
The show was awesome, if you haven't listened to my AudBlog posts from Monday, one of them was just me sitting there at the show. Not me talking though, just Eddie. Check it out.
After the show we asked whether Eddie would be out signing autographs anywhere. One person told us to wait out in the alley by the stage door, but then another person said we needed to wait in the lobby, so we were kind of confused. We waited in the lobby though, and sure enough, out he walked, heels, dress, boobs, the whole nine. It was pretty awesome. He kind of got swarmed ("covered in beeeees!!!") until security instructed everyone to line up at the bar, at which point it became a matter of who was lucky enough to have been standing at the right end of the lobby. I was about in the middle of the room, so Tandra quickly joined me. We decided that I should RUN to the car to get the cameras since we hadn't been able to bring them into the show itself. I made arrangements with not one, but TWO of the theater security people to be able to get back in, and then sprinted for about half a block before I couldn't run anymore.
Let's just talk for a moment about what a grand idea it is for me to sprint in the cool crisp air at an altitude of 5000 feet, can we? Can I tell you how I about passed out after a pathetic half block, and then had an asthma attack? What about the part where I walked the entire rest of the way and was still winded? So yeah, THERE IS NO AIR UP THERE.
When I got back, they had locked the lobby and WOULDN'T LET ME BACK IN!!!!! So not only was I not going to get pictures, but I wasn't going to get to meet him at all!! FUCK!!! FUCK FUCK!!! You don't even know how fucking pissed off I was. But then, suddenly, the guy who was apparently the boss of the security team for the theater came and pointed and let me (and ONLY me) back in. He was EXTREMELY friendly and apologetic and said things like "I didn't realize you'd made arrangements, so you're totally okay to come back in." He was very cool. So I ran, looking for Tandra, and ran up behind her as she said to Eddie "I wanted to take pictures but my boyfriend ran to the car to get the camera and he isn't back yet." And I panted "no, *pant* I'm here *pant*" and was so winded that I couldn't say anything to Eddie, and then on top of that the fucking camera wouldn't work!!! SHIT!
Ugh. So we got our shit signed and got back in the back of the line again while I fiddled with the camera. Auto-focus was on, and there hadn't been enough light in the lobby for it to work, which is why it wouldn't shoot. My polarizer was still on it from earlier, and I lose probably a stop or stop and a half of light with that filter on. (It's strictly a daylight filter.) So I took that off and got the camera all set, put it on manual focus, and was good to go. Stepped out of line to get a couple pictures with the digital
And the SLR. Finally got back up to him and got our pictures taken. The staff was hurrying us along, Eddie seemed tired or grumpy, but he was a good sport and we got our shots. I'll of course post them when we get them developed.
This is what the tour poster looks like, only it has the cities listed down the lower left side:
This is what mine looks like:
After that I was so beat that I didn't even want to go to the club. We just went back to the hotel and crashed OUT.
Denver, day 4 (Tuesday)
Got up and had a ridiculously overpriced breakfast at the buffet in the hotel and charged it to our room since we were now down to half a tank of gas and about $32 to get home on. Decided to take a drive deeper up into the mountains. We took Highway 6 into the mountain and took the scenic route up through the Rocky Mountain National Forest to Estes Park. Let me tell you, that was the most beautiful bit of country I've ever seen. Around every curve was another huge bald beautiful mountain or another expansive valley filled with fir trees and aspens beginning to turn colors. It was gorgeous. A satellite view of part of that road looks like this:
It's the one that snakes its way from top to bottom. I'm just so excited because I got to drive on roads that weren't all straight and right angles!
Oh, you probably want to know what it looked like from my perspective. Well, we filled up the digital camera before we got to Estes Park, but before that happened, we got these shots:
After that we took the quick way home (through Boulder), saw a huge radio telescope that I took pictures of, and headed home. All in all we were in the car for thirteen hours yesterday, longer than I've ever driven before, but it was totally worth it. On the way home we listened to the CDs of poetry from poetryslam and spentpenny. Kind of made me think. A lot, actually. Made me realize I kind of have a lot to say. What a fantastic way to wrap up our weekend, with good poetry on the radio, the sun setting in my rear view mirror, and my favorite kickass girlfriend beside me. We made it home with the gas light on and less than a dollar in our pockets. Fun.
Now I'm off to catch up on e-mail and LJ.