I had a pretty spectacular trip to Denver recently with several old friends from college. We live all over the US and it was great that we all managed to get everyone together for five days.
It all started with a group message back in March that spun out into a whole conversation. We were all excited to possibly meet up, but the location was up for debate. Denver made sense for us because it had a combination of city life and incredible nature that you can't really get anywhere else. With 2 people from the west coast, 3 people from the east coast, and 1 person in the midwest, Denver seemed like a good destination, especially since none of us had strong ties to it.
We all met up on Tuesday night after work in Denver. I took the same flight as Mike Chan since we both live in New York. We were the last to arrive, where Drew and Will were already waiting at the airport for a bit. Mihai and Mike Kovacs came to pick us up in the Ford Explorer. Luckily we got a big car so we could all comfortably sit in our own seats (we actually saw a sedan later in the week with 6 guys sitting in it and thanked our lucky stars that wasn't us).
We got to the apartment and immediately went out searching for dinner. It was 10:30 at this point and who knew that most places stopped serving food at this hour! Luckily we found a place (that served chicken and waffles) and chatted for a while.
We actually went around the table and talked about what each of us had been up to since college. It was a hokey exercise, but it led to some great conversations. We ended up going back to the apartment and chatting until 2am about everything. It was great.
Day 1 - Food trucks, cornhole, 16th Street Mall, LoDo, Larimer Square
We spent all of the first day walking around downtown Denver.
There was a food truck festival happening where we got smoothies, root beer floats, and played some cornhole.
I really liked Denver's downtown area. It felt pretty clean without being eerily clean like DC. There were a lot of new developments that signaled the city is on a strong growth path. It had a lot of modern amenities and beautiful public spaces that made it a great place to hang out.
Day 2 - Red rocks, Mount Evans
This was by far our most adventurous day. We started out by going to red rocks amphitheatre. Unfortunately this was where Mihai's Miata broke down and we had to take a detour for the day by going to the Mazda dealership.
We waited around for a bit at the diner and finally were able to get back on track to head to the top of Mount Evans. The drive up Mount Evans was brutal and down was even more harrowing, but the fields all the way up were spectacular. The roads had very sharp turns and there were no guard rails at a certain point up the mountain. Mount Evans is supposedly the highest paved road in North America, so the views were both amazing and terrifying.
My favorite part of the drive up was Summit Lake Park. The ice hadn't yet melted from the winter and the lake had the most beautiful hues. The were green, blue, yellow and white. It's my new lock screen.
Day 3 - Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds, The 3 Hour Scenic Route
We were originally going to Pikes Peak on Day 3, but a few people got altitude sickness on Mount Evans. We figured that it'd be a pretty similar experience so we decided to try other things instead. We were pretty bad about planning so we ended up being unable to go the the Olympic Training Center or the Wolf Sanctuary.
Garden of the Gods was really cool and we probably spent too much time in that area. Cave of the Winds was a small detour on our drive back. We eventually spent about 3 hours on the road on the "scenic route". It got a little crazy when we took a dirt path for a while and weren't sure if we were heading the right way. The drive alongside the Platte River was really beautiful though. And the sunset during our drive was incredible.
We got dinner at Acorn at The Source, which reminded me a lot of Bushwick, except there was a parking lot. A lot of young people and interesting dining concepts in an old factory.
Day 4 - Botanic Gardens and Game of Thrones Board Game
We took it easy on our last full day there. We went to the botanic gardens and eventually spent our evening playing the Game of Thrones board game with a full 6 people. That game has so many rules and can take so much time, but it was great to have everyone together playing it. It'll probably never happen again since the game takes to much time, but I was really happy we were able to pull it off. The game mirrors the backstabbing and treachery of the show/books so well.
Day 5 - Goodbyes
We gathered up all our stuff and all caught flights at the airport and returned to our lives. It was so great to see old friends. Although the time was brief, the memories and friendships will last.