If you know me, or have been reading my blog for awhile, you know I have a complicated and somewhat fraught relationship to this country where I was born and live. I often am in the midst of plotting how I can leave and have at times created an identity, look and approach to life based on imagining I live in another country (most likely a francophone country in Western Europe). When my early morning flight touched down at the Denver International Airport the other week I had a hard time recognizing where I was. I’ve been to the West before (I have family in Wyoming and spent my childhood summers going out there to visit them), but it’s been awhile. As I sat on the shuttle to my rental car I looked slackjawed at the plains colliding with the rocky mountains. I felt like I’d been dropped into a very different place that was nowhere like where I’m from. So despite my skepticism about the United States I had to admit – this landscape was pretty majestic.
The breathtaking sense of awe for the landscape I felt was only intensified when I drove to Colorado Springs that afternoon and took a walk through the Garden of the Gods, a formation of jutting red rocks just outside of town. They are so named because some early settlers from the East Coast thought that it would be a good place for a beer garden! I was also rudely reminded to heed the warnings that I had been issued as someone who lives at sea level – my energetic walk around the rocks caused a real bought of altitude sickness, a form of dizzy exhaustion that I do not want to feel again.
The next day I reminded myself to walk slowly while I visited the Business of Art Center and explored the small town of Manitou Springs, whose main street is lined with mineral water springs that you can drink from. I had lunch at Adam’s Mountain Cafe, which is located in an old spa building right along the creek that runs through town, and peered in the windows of the cute shops along the street. Manitou Springs is right at the base of Pike’s Peak and full of good places to eat and even an old school arcade right in the center of town.
I only got to spend one very short evening in Denver, but it was lovely. First I visited the wonderful gallery, reading room, education center and artist residency at RedLine. I tried a local Colorado red wine and fried blue cheese balls (decadent!) at The Lobby, a homey bar and restaurant just down the street from RedLine. I finished my evening with a drink at the Cruise Room, a classy cocktail bar that looks like the inside of a cruise ship which reportedly opened the day after prohibition ended and is located at the very classic Oxford Hotel where I was staying. The hotel even gives you a fluffy bathrobe with your room! Colorado may not at all be like where I’m from, but I loved being there.
Want more Colorado? On my Flickr stream!