Friday, June 20, 1986

1986 Denver, CO I (6/19-20/1986)

Thursday, June 19, 1986
Picked up Kent at BIF at 15:45 and drove to the airport for a 16:57 flight to Chicago. The plane was to be 20 minutes late. Heard a “Mello Cleanah” being paged and wondered if it was a name or profession. Later saw a kid with a Mello Cleaning Co. uniform.
We took off a half hour late. On this United flight we had headphones and a snack. Arrived in Chicago at 18:40, 19:40 local time, which was 40 minutes late.  Our 19:00 flight to Denver left a half hour late. We had seats 18E & F, but they weren’t by the window, they were in the middle of the center row on a wide body DC-10! Headphones again, and dinner. Arrived 10 minutes late at 20:40, 22:40 our time! Mike and Ryan were there to meet us, and drove us downtown to the Radisson Hotel. We checked in and took the mirrored elevator to our room on the 19th floor. Had a soda, showered, added Colorado to our list, and fell asleep.

Friday, June 20, 1986
Awake at 7:00, but it was 5:00 local time! Got up at the local 7:00, and looked out our window to see snow-capped mountains on the horizon.
View of mountains from the hotel
Walked down to the 16th Street pedestrian mall running the length of downtown. Nicely landscaped with buses passing frequently. Free shuttle service with stops at every corner using special buses by MCR-Vetter with the driver on the right side and a carpeted over engine behind him. Sort of like an airport shuttle bus, but with plastic bucket seats. We stopped at Goldie’s Deli to buy muffins and juice or coffee, and ate breakfast sitting on a bench on the mall. A couple girls came to sell us their Awake magazine for 20 cents. Kent bought one, and we found there are no more free Watchtowers! We continued down the mall, seeing bag people, and one guy with a shopping cart full of bags, plus others tied to hang off the sides. A line of people tailor-sitting waited at a Ticketron-type place. Most of the women wore sneakers to work. We saw a tower building that had three windows squared with a clock on top, juxtaposed to the mall. We entered the Tabor Center, a greenhouse-looking shopping mall with exclusive shops and an area of ethnic fast food.
Tabor Center clock
We continued walking down the pedestrian mall to Larimar Street and headed back, taking advantage of the free bus. At the hotel, Kent had some business and got the keys to the business suite. We arranged to meet Mike at 10:30, and Mike suggested I see the Capitol. It was a 5-minute walk from the hotel, and I could see the sun gleam off the gold-leafed dome.
Colorado State Capitol
On that side of the building were groups of idle Indians, red squirrels, and a statue of an Indian spearing a bison. I walked into the Corinthian style building of Colorado granite to see marble, stained glass windows depicting famous persons, and murals depicting careers (trappers, miners, etc.). I climbed up a staircase to peek into the Senate and the House. No one at work here! Passed some very small rooms where people were at work. Up another floor to find the entrance to the dome, climbing a spiral staircase, then a series of flights of steps to the balcony up in the dome. Went to the outside balcony where arrows on the stone balcony pointed out different mountains. Walked all the way around to see the Rockies to the west and flat plains extending into the mist to the east. I went out the front of the building to find the 13th step that is exactly one mile above sea level. I didn’t see any notation, so may have missed the step. But my knees were shaky!
I walked across the area of the Civic Center that had the curved municipal building ahead, and the Pioneer Monument in the center. Off to one side was the Denver Art Museum, which was oddly-shaped and had vertical lines with randomly placed windows. It is locally considered the ugliest building in Denver.
16th Street mall with RTD bus ticket automat
RTD bus stop and bus
I walked over to the 16th Street pedestrian mall to take some photos then returned to the hotel by 10:15.
Cloud reflection
Met Mike at 10:30, and he drove us to a liquor store so that Kent could buy stock for the suite. Mike gave Kent a gift certificate to Gart’s Department Store of Sporting Goods. We went to see the 5 floors of discounted sporting goods, and Kent bought some golf accessories (umbrella, glove, balls, etc.).
We went to the Blue Bonnet Café for lunch. We had a short wait to be seated for our Mexican meal. I ordered El Burro, which turned out to be a huge beef and bean burrito covered with an eye-watering salsa. Kent had a combination with a burrito, a guacamole taco, and enchilada. Plus the usual nachos and salsa, and iced tea. Mike had a special, and Ryan had a burrito and fries! We stopped by the hotel to drop off the liquor. Then headed to the mountains.
We could see storm clouds with rain and lightning in the distance. Suddenly we were in a storm ourselves, and torrents of water came down. The road became a momentary river, but then it was over. I jokingly asked if we could see the Silver Bullet from the Coors beer commercials, and Mike pointed out the brewery in Golden, Co. We took the highway to Clear Creek Canyon and followed that up right into the mountains. Clear Creek was the site of the first true gold rush in 1859. Wonderful scenery. You could see the out-takings of several mines, even up the hillsides. You spotted the out-takings before the hole of the mine. A few are still in operation, and a few are tourist traps. We ended up in a parking lot high above Central City and walked down into town. Passed an old steam locomotive.
    Colorado & Southern class B-4E steam locomotive #71
    A mannequin of an old miner said, “Hello! Welcome to Central City” to us. There were tiny museums and souvenir shops. Central City was once a rival to Denver. We passed the Opera Garden and the Opera House itself, on whose stage stood the likes of Lillian Gish, Sarah Bernhardt, etc.
    Opera House steps
    Some of the sidewalks were wooden, like in front of the Teller House where they once used silver bricks for the sidewalk to protest inflation, in honor of the visit of President Grant.
    Wooden sidewalk
    Tamiko & Kent (photo by Mike)
    We continued our walk through town and out the other side, where Mike had us follow a dirt road through the aspens. We took a short hike to the ruins of a large mine. Before it was a tiny walled-off area with a cross overlooking town.
    View down on Central City
    Puffy clouds
    At the mine we saw an old wagon, and we sorted through the slag pile to find lots of fool’s gold.
    Old wagon
    Ryan and Tamiko (KSS)
    Remnants of a mine
    Tall pines
    We then headed back to the parking lot. Instead of returning to the main road through town, Mike drove along a gravel, then dirt road further up in the mountains.
    Confluence of streams at a "rest stop"
    We were taking the stagecoach route over the hills to Idaho Springs. Mike zoomed along the road that zigzagged up, then down, with dropping precipices on the downhill side and no guardrails! Quite a spectacular ride! The snow-capped Mt Evans was in view. We made it to a larger town where miners once came to sit in the radium hot springs. Many minerals are found in this area, and the first major gold strike in 1859 was near here. We saw a waterfall across the valley as we passed through town and headed towards Mt Evans. We drove along the highest paved road in the U.S. and made a stop at Echo Lake.
    Echo Lake
    We walked around a bit and saw some fishermen. One was inexperienced and Mike told us to give this guy a wide berth! The guy heard us; good acoustics here!
    We returned to the car and continued zigzagging up and up. We could see across the valley to the stagecoach road we had been on previously. It was a gorgeous day with a blue-blue sky and billowy white clouds. Farther up we stopped at an Alpine Garden and followed the loop trail.
    Alpine Garden view
    Came to some snow and threw snowballs down the hill. Noted some common tundra plants with yellow and purple blossoms, and the weedy-looking rose-like plants.
    Tundra plants
    Kent, Mike, and Ryan in the Alpine Garden
    On the loop back we adults continued along while Ryan wanted to return the way we came. He apparently expected us to follow him, since he was a bit upset when we met him near the car!
    I had a bloody-nose feeling and Kent had a headache; effects of the high altitude. We were at 20,000 feet. We decided to head back to Denver. We passed Buffalo Bill’s grave, a Mother Cabrini Shrine, and the flying saucer-shaped house on a hilltop that was used in the movie “Sleeper.”
    It was 18:00 when we were dropped off at the hotel. After Kent took care of some business, we walked down to the Tabor Center for dinner. Kent had a Greek falafel pocket and I wanted a quiche, but the line was too long. There was no line at the Japanese booth, but the girl had to cook too, so I still had a long wait. After window shopping, we went to check out The Larimar restaurant to which Kent was sending some business colleagues. He also asked a guy at a shoeshine stand where Off Larimar was located, as someone had just asked about that place, too. After checking that out, we walked along 15th Street to the hotel. A little seedier than 16th Street!

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