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The Mile High City

Denver, USA
Thursday, September 19, 2013

Reno to Denver

Out of all the train journeys within America we were most looking forward to Reno to Denver, as it is renowned for its outstanding views of the almighty Rockies. However, unfortunately our journey was cut short due to flooding which had 'washed out the line' and we were forced to 'detrain' at Grand Junction. Let's just say there was nothing grand about the part of the town we had the pleasure of seeing and quite frankly we couldn't wait for the bus to arrive to continue our journey. After a beautiful ride through the Rockies at one point reaching a staggering 3,400m we arrived in Denver earlier than scheduled by train, even with a good 45 minutes waiting for the bus in Grand Junction. Denver is a high altitude city and with an elevation of 5,280ft it is exactly 1 mile above sea level, hence it's nickname the 'Mile High City'. Sonya soon fell in love with the city after hearing that due to the altitude you naturally burn more calories so took this to mean she could eat more without being self-conscious. But against her wishes we won't be moving to Denver anytime soon.

Although the flooding did affect our journey and ultimately our experience and memories of the Rockies, we did arrive in one piece. Our thoughts go out to the communities which have been badly affected by the floods, especially Boulder Valley and the city of Boulder where many people have lost their homes, businesses and tragically some people have lost their lives.

Day 1 - Brewery tour

If you like real ale Denver is a must on any tour of the States. The city has oodles of micro-breweries spread all around the city with many good ones in walking distance of the main 16th Street Mall shopping area. So after doing a bit of research on the good old internet we picked out 5 that looked worthy of a visit. We planned to catch the free 16th Street Mall ride all the way to Union Station and then make our way around the various watering holes before making our way back towards 16th Street, finishing up at Hard Rock Café. Well that was the plan but the evening went slightly differently. We started off at the wonderful Ale House at Amato's and after enjoying many tasters and several brews we made our way over to the Denver Beer Company. After 'enjoying' a few more brews including a slightly strange cucumber ale for Ross and a pumpkin ale for Sonya, we met the lovely Jess who knows her local brews. As the ale's flowed we had a great time talking about our travels and hearing about Jess's adventures from when she did some travelling.

When Jess had to head home for some home cooked grub, against our better judgment we headed back to the Alehouse for a nightcap. By the time we left, luckily the other breweries were already closed so we couldn't sample anything else and headed straight to HRC. Now we have been to a lot of HRC's and we might be getting a little bit critical of what to expect but Denver is definitely in the running as one of the worst we have visited. It might have only been a Tuesday evening and well past the time most people would turn up for a bite to eat, but the café should give everyone the 'HRC experience' regardless of the time and day you visit. It was virtually empty which didn't help the atmosphere and it looked like the staff were ready to go home. There was no bar tender, no music, the TV's were turned off and the shop was closed. We did order some food but sadly that didn't meet Sonya's stringent standards and we left without eating. Come on HRC it's time to pull your socks up!

Day 2 - Planning Day

Fuzzy head, fuzzy head, fuzzy head.

Even though recent studies have found the long standing claim that alcohol affects people more at higher altitudes to be unfounded, we would have to disagree! Both nursing fuzzy heads we decided that today would be a forward planning day.

Day 3 - Nature & Science Museum

Headaches gone we set out to explore the Nature & Science Museum. Located in City Park the museum is about 3.5 miles east of downtown but it was easily accessible by public transport. Although we made the journey by bus we were probably the only ones to do so as everybody else rolled up in their cars. The museum was absolutely massive and it was undergoing major renovation work to make it even bigger.

Although we have seen a couple of similar museums on our travels, nothing compared to the outstanding nature exhibits. The detail and painstaking work that's gone into creating some of the nature scenes made some of the exhibits unbelievably lifelike and we had to look really hard to see where the foreground set merged into the painted background. The 3D IMAX cinema was a good add-on although the films all being nature related didn't really use the capabilities of the gigantic IMAX screen and would have been equally at home on a TV. We had a great few hours at the museum and it was well worth the trip.

After meeting Jess the other night she was kind enough to invite us over to her house for a home cooked meal with her boyfriend Mike and as it's not very often we're offered home cooked food, we were quick to reply with a unanimous 'yes'. In the evening we made our way over to the Ale House for a cheeky one before heading over to her house. Jess and Mike were so welcoming and we had a great time choosing from the large selection of local ales that were available. After munching on a lovely cheese platter we tried Jess's amazing home cooked tomato sauce that was served with Linguini pasta and mouthwatering scallops, and for dessert we nearly died and went to heaven when we tried the yummy handmade chocolate mousse. We had a fantastic evening with two lovely people so thanks guys for making our time in Denver memorable and we would love to meet up with you somewhere else in the world or even back in Denver for the American Beer Festival.

Day 4 - Omaha here we come!

So it's back on the train again for another night on the rails. Nothing special about this journey as we roll through the sparsely populated mid-west and great plains.... at night. But this is the last journey we plan to spend in a chair. Yay! All the overnighters from here back to the UK are in a sleeper.

That's all for this blog. Next stop a week with Team Brown MX Team.

Ta Ta for now

Team Chip

Hotel Review

We stayed at the 11th Avenue Hotel & Hostel in a double private with shared bathroom. The hostel was in a great location just 4 blocks from the end of the free 16th Street Mall ride and within walking distance of most of Denver's sights. The hotel was in a very old building as the receptionist proudly told us 'its over 100 years old' which did give it a bit character but did mean it didn't have any mod cons! The room was basic but okay for our short stay. There was nothing special about the hotel or the room but it was a good price and in a great location.


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