Monday, February 13, 2012

Denver And Boulder Colorado

After a fun long weekend in Philadelphia, it was back to Spain for just four days. Due to a schedule change, I needed to go to Colorado for a couple of days the following weekend. I flew from Barcelona to Denver through Newark but while I was in Newark, the news was showing that Denver's airport had been shut down during the morning because of one of the biggest snow storms to hit the area in a bunch of years. Amazingly enough, my flight out of Newark left on time and the pilot said that we'd arrive just a little bit late but that there was no problem.

When I arrived into the airport in Denver, I was amazed at how hard it was snowing and how windy it was. I managed to get my bags and went to the rental car bus without any issues. Unfortunately, I rented from a super-discount company (live and learn...) and ended up having to wait in line at the agency for just under an hour. The guy at the counter was apologetic and gave me an upgraded car, which was nice. And I got to drive in the snow for the first time in at least four years to the hotel in nearby Aurora!

On Saturday I got up at like 5am due to the time difference and went to the local IHOP for some good ole' fashioned American breakfast. After that, I had my meeting, which went very well, and the rest of the day was mine to enjoy before my flight back to Barcelona Sunday morning. I decided to go to Boulder, which is about a 40 minute drive from Aurora, for a factory tour at Celestial Seasonings. All the way there you watch the mountains rising up in the distance as you get closer and with the fresh snow they were exceptionally beautiful:

Denver's located pretty much in the center of the state of Colorado right up against the start of the Rocky Mountains. If you drive east from the base of the Rockies, it's about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) before you start to see some hills again. It's amazing how flat and boring that part of the country is when you're driving through it. But west of Denver it's spectacular as you go up through the mountains and towns along the way towards California. One of the coolest local features is what are called The Flatirons, which is a series of rock formations right outside of Boulder:

Boulder is a beautiful small college town that's basically an independent suburb of Denver. I had first heard of it about 1,000,000 years ago when the show Mork & Mindy, which was set there, was on TV. I first visited the town when I was in Colorado in the late 1980s to go white water rafting and I've loved it ever since.

The town surrounds the University of Colorado campus at Boulder and has a very collegiate feel to it. Even though the weather can sometime be rough, people are always out and about walking or riding bikes. The center of the town has a shopping district that has a bunch of independent-types of stores that cater to the locals. The housing stock is a lot like those in coastal California, such as in Oceanside, which are from the 1920s to the 1950s. It's got a great feel and would be I think a great place to live with scenery like this in its back yard:

Driving around Boulder at sunset was a little rough because the day was warm and the snow from the day before started to melt. The melt resulted in some icy spots on the road, which made me do a little bit of sliding around but nothing too bad. I stopped to take this photo of a lovely residential street not too far from the university:

Right after sunset I decided to drive back towards Denver and check out downtown. I went to the 16th Street Mall to walk around. It reminded me a little of the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, which is near Los Angeles. By the time I got there it had gotten pretty cold so I didn't stay too long before I went back to my hotel to get to bed early.

The next morning it was off to the airport for my flight home. Denver's airport is a fabric-covered structure that's designed to appear like you're looking at the Rocky Mountains. I think they've done a good job with the design as it definitely does give the impression of mountain peaks in the distance:

For a one-hour lunch meeting, it was quite a long trip but it was nice getting to go back to Colorado for the first time in a bunch of years. Hopefully the next time that I'm there, I'll be able to get up into the mountains to do some snowboarding again...perhaps back in Steamboat where the best tree skiing I've ever experienced is found.

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