Wynkoop Brewing Company.
I believe it's been more than 15 years since I'd visited the Mile High City, and that's probably a conservative estimate. But the reason then was primarily the reason now: visit my good friend Ron, as well as meet, for the first time, Adam, my contact and the Program Director for the Classic Rock channel on the Dial Global Network. I also wanted to see if I could squeeze in a few innings of the Rockies-Dodgers game, having never been to Coors Field. That would depend on the timely and skilled driving expertise of the young Hispanic man behind the controls of the blue Super Shuttle bus that was waiting for me when I exited the airport into the surprisingly somewhat-muggy Denver air.
As we waited for the others to fill up the van, I directed my gaze towards the now-setting sun in the west, which had created an Ansel Adams-esque silhouette-portrait of the Rocky Mountains. I would be transfixed by these peaks for the remainder of the visit, not to mention those of the perky young Mexican lady seating people at the diner on Sunday morning. But that's later. Now, I would have to contend with an hour-and-fifteen minute ride stuffed like sausages into a van with people who uttered not one single word the whole trip! About halfway into town, I pondered the ramifications of breaking into "Meet the Flintstones" in honor of the late, great John Candy, but I'm not the most gregarious person, and opted instead to watch the magnificent display gradually fading away on the horizon, surreptitiously holding my breath so as not to ingest the noxious fumes of whatever my fellow passengers consumed on their incoming flights which seemed to be filling up the van as the miles piled up.
The Curtis, which turned out to be a fun, quirky hotel, with bell-hops dressed in black shirts and orange ties. The decor was splattered with TV, movie, and other pop-culture motifs. I was on floor 7, and when the elevator door opened, a voice said, "Welcome to Floor 7, the laugh-out loud floor!" I was hoping it was false advertising, after the horrible lodging experience I'd had earlier in the summer in Toronto. My room was tastefully done but still bright with color, including a desk-clock in the shape of a yellow VW Beetle. I tossed my bag on the bed and made a bee-line for Coors Field to see if I could make it to the Rockies game.
I love mountains. I also love my pillow. I may love my pillow even more than I love mountains. My pillow and I are one. If it were not for Donna, I'd marry my pillow. But Frontier Airlines charges $25.00 per bag, which meant that in order to take my pillow, I would have to pay $25.00. Not a big price to pay for love, you're saying. You're right. And I was wrong. Because without my pillow, I was downright miserable. I tossed and turned all night. So after worshiping a mountain range and checking the Indians score, I sought caffeine.
Tattered Cover Book Store, a cool spot that I'd heard Ron talk about on numerous occasions. After perusing the stacks and finally deciding on something from Augusten Burroughs, I left to meet Adam.
Odell Brewing Company of Fort Collins, while sitting outside at Ted's Montana Grill in Larimer Square. I got the feeling from him that people here in general are more active, seem to enjoy the outdoors more, and tend to be more "green" in their approach. But, he said, not any more than people in Oregon or Washington State. "What you do have here," he said, "is a bunch of former Wisconsinites and Minnesotans. Somewhere along the way, they took a wrong turn and ended up in Colorado." Sure enough, when asked, our waitress said she loved it here but sometimes missed her home...in La Crosse, Wisconsin!
Pontifical College Josephinum, ready to lay the smack-down on anything from Descartes to liberation theology. Ron Valladao is one of the most well-read and most academically-gifted people I have ever met in my life. And although I still consider us the best of friends, I do admit to being a bit sheepish, intellectually, in his presence. Remember the Tyson-Spinks fight in '88? It took all of 91 seconds for Mike to put Spinks on his backside and then hit the shower. Same at the Josephinum. I can recall a number of occasions over beverages in the make-shift pub in the bowels of the seminary when Spinks-like theologian wannabe's would scurry back to their dorm room with their breviary between their legs after a good brain-thrashing from Ron.
We made a mad dash for Pints Pub, a cool British-style watering-hole, complete with authentic English ale, served at proper temperature, some of them cask-conditioned and served via a real hand-pump. As I expected, the time flew by too quickly. Even on the plane-ride home, I thought of numerous subject-areas that we never even came close to touching. Such is the case when you're trying to catch up on life-experiences stretched over some 20 years. Although he's not a tenured professor at some prestigious university as I would have expected, he ought to be. It's a shame that so much distance has to separate us.
Falling Rock Tap House, a spot I noticed earlier in the day during my picture-taking spree and a beer-bar that a friend also suggested on Facebook. It was packed, since the Rockies game had just let out. I did manage to squeeze in an Alaskan Amber, a beer I've only tried one other time, via mail-order when we lived in Pittsburgh. It's slightly-sweet texture and full mouth-feel was easy to enjoy. After giving up my seat to a couple of inebriated female Rockies fans, I slowly made my way back to the hotel. With a mild bit of hesitation, I did stop at the Rock Bottom Brewery, just down the street from The Curtis. Surprisingly, I was impressed! They won't get any awards for their names, but the "Red Ale" had nice malty, toffee overtones, and the "E.S.B." was hearty and flavorful. I'll give credit where credit's due!
Sam's No. 3 was an ideal choice. It was imperative that I sat at the counter. Although I had some of the morning's paper with me, I was much more intrigued with the rapid-fire performance of the cooks and the take-no-prisoners display by the wait-staff. And the chorizo sausage! It's spicy flavor seared the top layer of my esophagus, but I figured it would grow back. I couldn't get enough of it. Or the delightfully well-endowed hostess who caught me gawking several times. What can I say, I enjoy tempting scenery.