I finally got pics up on Flickr. Fair warning: I was apparently really excited about seeing the prairie.


what's that smell?

10 states + 4,311 miles + 14 days + 5 games of Scrabble + 3 hikes + 6 friends + 2 parents + 1 grandparent + 120 gallons of gas + 3 nights in a hotel + 1 museum visit + ~4 million clouds + 10 ticks + 2 client meetings + 2 old dogs and 1 not so old one + ~2,000 mutant chiggers + 1 really great show + 54 hours in the car = one really freaking awesome vacation.

It's cold in Denver. And my apartment smelled like old mustard when I walked in the door. I had a great drive through western Kansas today and I'm a little sad that my vacation is done, but I'm ready to get back to real life and a more normal schedule.


…jiggity, jig

I have done a piss-poor job of updating this with travel news. So this will be a brief recap. Mostly because I really don't feel like typing all that much. The Chicago leg of the trip was full of booze and beef and bars and (art). On Friday we hung out in Millenium Park, saw the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute (It was so fricking cool. They have so many great pieces in their collection and the traveling exhibit they currently have on display—Cy Twombley—is one of the best things I've ever put my eyeballs on.) and then got to see what I imagine will be the best show I see all year at a venerable institution in the indie music hipster scene—The Wrens at Schuba's. There's not a bad place to stand in the whole venue. It's so tiny, I imagine you feel like you're pretty much right up there on stage with the band no matter where you are, but we were pretty close.

On Saturday we slept in, walked around Andersonville and generally just hung out. Then T and I left and headed south to Kansas City. I've never driven through Iowa before and I have to say that there's some purty country. And they have really fancy rest stops. Man, I really miss the prairie. Especially the skies. I mean, just look at that.

At home, we played a lot of Scrabble and got in some walks, some runs and one very bug-infested hike. Now, it's time to head back to Denver. I think I'm mostly ready to go back. I think. I've really enjoyed my time with my folks, and I certainly wouldn't mind just staying here for a good long while (until they got sick of me and kicked me out), but I guess I need to get back to reality. I do have quite a few projects waiting for me upon my return, plus a brand new city to explore.

I'll get the rest of the pics up on Flickr soonish. I don't have enough want to right now.


jesus saves, i spend*

I really do enjoy driving through this great country of ours, especially if I'm seeing new things. Even if just in passing on the highway. But. I'm happy to be out of the car for a few days.

Every time I come to Chicago, to see my friend T, we walk through downtown Andersonville and I take a picture of this sign.

This particular trip to Chicago will be mostly just hanging out I think and not doing too much touristy stuff. Which is totally fine with me. I've done most of it before.

Oh and I went for a run this morning and discovered that what they say about running at sea level after spending a long time 'training' in the mountains is totally true. I felt like I was going pretty slowly, but if the RunTracker app on my iPhone is to be believed, I ran 6.31 miles in 32:06. Which is completely ridiculous. And totally awesome.

*completely, unabashedly stolen from St. Vincent.


america the weird

Yesterday morning, before getting back on the road, I stopped and saw the portraits of dead leaders carved into rock. And all I could think of was how I could put a rope on Lincoln's head and climb up his nose. It is a pretty impressive thing they did there, especially considering all they used was dynamite and compressed air.

Last night I only made it to La Crosse, Wisconsin. Minnesota foiled me with countless miles of road construction and one really terrific storm that made me pull over to the side of the road to wait it out. So, today will be fairly leisurely since I have all day to get to Chicago and it will only take me about four hours.

For a lot more pics of the Presidents go here.


wyoming had this to say about it

Two days of action packed fun in Montana ended today. I have learned to loathe driving through Wyoming, but this afternoon, the little northeast corner wasn't all that bad. I had hoped to make it a little further today, but I landed in Rapid City so I can get up kind of early and go see the dead Presidents that are carved into the rock. And maybe the Badlands. If I have time. Then. On to the Windy City.


i'm in missoula

So, Thursday morning I woke up and decided to go try and fix the whole license plate situation. Mostly because the police officer I spoke with the night before scared me about officers 'approaching me at gunpoint' if I happened to get pulled over. Another reason to love Denver, I got that shit done in 10 minutes and for only $5.50. That's pretty sweet. I was imagining 5 hrs and about 5 times that much.

At any rate, the upshot was I was able to leave on my trip at the time planned.

The only negative so far is that it took me 11 HOURS to get through Wyoming. There is something evil about Wyoming that I can't put my finger on. Some really negative energy or something that causes mayhem and misdeeds every time I try to get through it. Thankfully, it was all washed away once I hit the beautiful state of Idaho and I made it to Missoula today in no time flat.

p.s. I know that I am an uber Apple® geek anyway, but I just want everyone to know that I absolutely love my iPhone. Like love, love it. For someone as obsessed with 'being in touch' as I am, it is the perfect gadget. This morning, I answered email and checked Google Reader while I was eating breakfast. In a diner. That didn't have WiFi. AWESOME.


one positive, one negative

Last night I met a friend at The Hi-Dive on Broadway to see the makers of my favorite album last year, The Rural Alberta Advantage. I decided I wanted to walk down there just so I could see more of my 'hood, he thought this was crazy and told me he was going to drive. But it was not crazy. I learned about a lot of things that are located on Broadway. Things that I'd heard tell of, but didn't know where they were. Things like The Mayan—an independent movie theater that everyone raves about. They're currently playing a movie I really want to see also, Moon, so it appears that I'll be walking back down that way in the near future. If it's still there when I get back from vacation. Anyway, The RAA had two opening bands, Sandusky and some really, truly terrible emo/punk band who deserve to have their fingers chopped off for the really awful lyrics they write:
I am the wind / separating on your skin
I complained loudly and often during their set.

Then the RAA came out and all was forgotten. The show was awesome. They are one of those bands who, live, sound exactly like they do recorded. Only better. Richer. More tingly-inducing. Or something. As they only have one album out, their set was pretty short, but for only $10 it felt like a pretty good deal. If you don't have it yet, you really should get their debut, Hometowns. It originally released in 2008, but then in June they signed to Saddle Creek, so it got re-released this month. They're from Alberta, Canada and thanked us for coming out to see them between every song. I still can't believe that I live so close to so many cool things to do.

Today, I went out to my car to throw my camping stuff in the trunk because I'm headed out on the Great American Road Trip tomorrow (Montana > Chicago > Kansas City > Anderson, Mo > Denver) and saw a ticket on my car. This after getting two tickets last week for being in the way of the street sweeper. At first I got all indignant because I'd paid attention to the street sweeping signs this time. I opened up the ticket to see what the violation was and it said, 'missing front license plate.' I thought, 'What the hell?...' and went and looked. Sure enough it's gone. So I filed a police report online and have no idea what happens now. Plus, I'm going to be gone for two weeks. Hopefully, I won't get stopped by every cop in America before I get back to town and can deal with it. Who steals only one license plate? What good will it possibly do them?


i've been a busy bee

Thursday: I met a somewhat new friend for dinner at a vegetarian restaurant in my new 'hood. Despite my attempts to limit the amount of carbs I stuff into my body, I decided to have this really good pasta with portabella mushrooms and broccoli on top. I swear it tasted like it had bacon in it. So, either they're lying about being vegetarian or they've discovered a way to make tofu taste like bacon. If the latter is the case, I will buy tofu by the boatload.

Friday: Another dinner out with another brand-new friend. And a complete opposite restaurant in all regards. Deep fried Polish food soaked in butter and all sorts of sauce and then deep fried again. I think. I ran a lot on Saturday.

Saturday: A third old friend invited me to go to a different library branch than the main one. Weirdly it is only a few blocks from the main branch, so I'm not sure who decided they needed another one right there, but oh well. So, I am now the proud owner of a Denver Library card. Oh the power. I did come out of there with 7 cds, so that's pretty awesome.

Then some friends from FtC came down and we went to something that I've been waiting for for a very long time: Bon Iver live. All I will say is it was magical and awesome and I am extremely happy that I got the opportunity to see him perform. I was so enamored that not only did I not mind the group singalong at the end (which I normally abhor), but I almost even enjoyed it. One of the reasons that I chose this neighborhood in particular when looking for a new home is that it's fairly close (within walking or biking) distance to a ton of live music venues that all play music I like to listen to. So this will hopefully only be the start of a lot of great shows.

Sunday: On Friday I had to break up with expensive gym lady. I don't think she was all that pleased, but I say, 'Suck it expensive gym lady. Your shit is too pricey for not very much in return.' So today I went and checked out the local Y. Better. But still more than what I want to pay for a gym membership. I may just have to suck it up and deal.

This week's urban lesson. Always carry a bag with you, with the following items in it: a rain jacket, a hat, a bottle of water, your wallet, phone, keys and iPod, a book, a map and maybe if you remember to go buy one, an umbrella.


things i learned along the way

1) Today I didn't have a ton of work to do, so I decided to walk downtown to do two things: buy an iPhone (ohmygodi'msoexcited) and get a library card. It took less time to get there than I thought it would, which was awesome because now I know that I can easily walk downtown if I want to—I don't have to automatically get on my bike.

2) I always think of Denver as not being a real city. I think of it as being a gathering of people who wanted to be close to the mountains, but not have the troubles of living in The Bumps. So it always surprises me when I see things in Denver that you would find in nearly any big city. Things like shoeshine stands, convenience stores that don't have gas pumps and people who've clearly never gone on a hike a day in their lives.

3) I have officially learned this lesson: always, always, always check online first. I stopped in at the library on my way back (whoa! the downtown branch is HUGE!) and discovered that I needed a driver's license and some piece of mail with my address on it in order to get a card. So, no library card for d today. Sad can't check out any free books or music face.

4) This morning I ran down to the really large park that's about 7 blocks away to run some laps around it and then come back. This was my second time doing this. Both times I say good morning to everyone I pass both coming and going. I'm pretty sure people think I'm weird 'cause I only get a couple of responses back. Most people just ignore me. But in FtC nearly everyone would say, 'Hi,' or 'Good morning,' in return. Sometimes they'd even say it first. I've been in big cities enough in my life to know that most people exist within their urban bubbles, but I'm sorry, I don't want to live that way. So, I'm going to keep saying 'hi' and 'good morning' to folks and they can just deal.


god, that was a really good wknd

Saturday: A friend and I got up fairly early and drove to Boulder and then hiked up Mt Sanitas. Which isn't so much a 'Mount' really, but still a pretty steep climb. As, you can see from the pic, a thousand other people thought this might also be a good way to start off the day—which, unlike a lot of people out here, I don't mind at all. I think it's great to see the trails getting so much use as long as everyone is respectful both of Mama Nature and the other folks trying to enjoy her. Which most people out here seem to be.

I came back home and finished unpacking (mostly), took a little nap and then drove up to Ft C to see some friends and eat some grilled meat. It was a great night full of cheap beer, failed prank tricks involving the densest cake known to man and some kind of dangerous sparklers.

Oh. And some pretty great City Park fireworks courtesy of good ol' Ft C herself.

Today, instead of the Noah's Ark-level flooding rains predicted we got sunshine and cool temps so I decided to walk over to the grocery store (instead of drive) to see my neighborhood and also see if this particular way of hunting and gathering would be worth it in the future. Also, I got a really great parking spot right in front of my building last night and I'm gonna hold onto that baby as long as possible.

On my morning excursion I saw two men walking back from church holding hands (awesome), got attacked by not one, but two different pigeons (this is why birds freak me out people—they sense my fear and try to perpetuate the reasons for the phobia) and I swear that a man sitting outside the grocery store asked me, 'Would you like to find love today?' Luckily I had my headphones in and could pretend that I had not heard him.

The sum total of my city experience today was that I need to either quit drinking diet coke or get really, really strong. Because even though it only took me ten minutes to walk back from the store, that is still a long way to carry a 12-pack.

Today, right this second, I am so fucking happy I moved here and I am totally in love with my apartment, my neighborhood and my life. This could change at any minute, but for now I am just going to enjoy it.


i will not be a shut-in

I rode my bike through downtown Denver today for the first time and didnotdie. So stop worrying, Mom. I'll be ok. I went the wrong way down several one-way streets, ran through some stop lights that I didn't notice because I was trying to look at the map in my hand and got honked at exactly once when I didn't even think I was doing anything wrong. BUT. I did not die.

I also met a friend for lunch today, stopped by my bank where I learned that I didn't need to transfer my accounts down here (which is kinda weird), and started a trial membership at a gym that is sooooooo not my speed. Machines instead of free weights, an attached spa for chrissakes and pilates classes. All for the low, low (high, high) price of $79/mo (!!!!!!!!!!!! - living in a city is more expensive than Bumpkinville). I did sit in the steam room though, which was pretty frickin' awesome.

The other task I accomplished today was doing laundry in the building's communal laundry room. What is proper etiquette here? Can I take up both of the washing machines and dryers at the same time? Or is that bad form? It did allow me to get my laundry done in an hour and a half though, which was pretty frickin' great. Plus, I got no nasty notes scrawled on my laundry basket and as far as I know, no one stole my underwear, so it didn't seem like I'd done anything too terrible.

Awesome things about Denver's tv channels? - FOUR Spanish channels. FOUR. Thatissoawesome. I love Spanish television.

So, see? I left the house today and survived. Tomorrow I might even go on a hike.


it's been a rollercoaster

One morning I'll wake up and think this is the best thing since automatic hand towel dispensers were imagined by whatever genius had that idea, the next day I'll wake up and think this was possibly the worst decision I've ever made, including that time I bought orange pants.

I've got all my stuff here. Most of it is unpacked. I still need to hang pictures. And find the bolts that attach the headboard to the bed frame. I got rid of a lot of stuff before I moved, but seeing it all in this little space makes me think I need to get rid of more.

I found the grocery store on Tuesday and still need to find a coffee shop, a pharmacy and a gym. I saw several homeless people on my run this morning, but even in a big city it was possible for me to run in the street (I hate running on the sidewalk) without any fear of getting run over. It was 5.30 in the morning, but I still expected a lot of people to be out and about.

I feel a little like I'm back in college, living in the dorm again. But that's not entirely a bad feeling. I've also decided that I need to think of this new domicile as less of a home and more of a home base. Even though a very, very small part of me feels like I took a step backward, I really like not being a home owner. Life feels freer and more simple. Plus, I really like not having to mow the lawn. God how I hated that chore.