Fort Collins to Denver
April 28, 2017
Fort Collins, CO to Denver, CO
Stopped at the Fort Collins welcome center on our way out of town, where a nice old man warned us about incoming weather (read: massive incoming blizzard, hunker down and cancel all plans). A zillion bunnies surround the welcome center as we make way for our Prius-turned-blizzard-wizard, making the impending doom of death by snowstorm suddenly seem less serious.
We made it the hour to Denver without any trouble save for Denver traffic. Bryan's fancy apartment and his hyper-developed AirBNB hosting skills made us feel extremely at-home. Ambled over to Larimer St. for a free bike rental (why would Bryan store a bike when he can borrow one from Timbuk2 whenever he wants?).
Once said bicycle was acquired, we wove in and out of traffic lanes in a manner that made me wish I hadn't left my helmet in the car (Bryan isn't exactly the most cautious biker on the planet). The destination was Denver Central Marketplace, an indoor food hall with craft beer, street food stands and organic ice cream. I feasted on an Italian beef sub soaked in au jus and giardiniera, followed by an ice cream sandwich that I'll be dreaming about for the next 6 months of my life as I wander the wilderness. Imagine hand-churned cookies and cream smooshed between two glazed croissant halves and this is what I gorged on, and what will taunt my hiker-hungry thoughts.
I needed to swing by Topo Designs, a Colorado-based outerwear company, to get my 5-panel camp hat that I had doggedly hunted down online. I waited to purchase it in-person because my indecisiveness prevented me from picking a color over the internet. It was my last piece of gear, and somehow I got talked into buying a white hat (WTF!) via a unanimous decision between Alex, Bryan, and the sales lady. We'll see if the sentiment holds up that it will look cool when it's dirty.
The rest of the afternoon saw us biking around Denver with Bryan as our shout-over-the-shoulder-in-the-middle-of-traffic tour guide. Cherry Creek path brought us back to Bryan's just in time to avoid an absolute f-ing downpour—aha! The storm the wise old timer at the Fort Collins visitor center had warned us about!
Nevermind the sheets of rain soaking everything in sight, we carried on to Union Station and had a delicious coffee cocktail followed by very underwhelming, very standard mixed drinks. The underwhelming (I hesitate to say overpriced and terrible) drinks were made up for by two things: 1) huge picture windows with a view of panicked businesspeople trying in vain to escape the rain, and 2) an introduction to Bryan's ladyfriend Danielle, who turns out to be a blast.
Danielle clearly understands my feelings about food and took us to a fantastically trendy spot for craft cocktails and street food. I am eating and drinking every beautifully flavored thing I can find at this point to pre-fill the void that will be created by bland, sad trail food. The spot is called Avanti, and it's built from old shipping containers (I did mention it was trendy, right?). There's a rooftop patio where, due to the storm, we can stand and take in the freezing air while watching snow cover Denver in a blanket of white. Below the patio is a bar with a record-spinning DJ and Nate McLemore worthy drinks. Below the DJ is the food hall with 10 to 15 different vendors. Outside, the storm begins to show its wintery fury, and we take an Uber back before the roads make transportation ugly.
The night ended, foolishly, at 2 am. Foolishly because we had to wake up at 6 am to drive all the way to San Bernadino in a now RAGING blizzard. Driving through the Colorado mountains in nonexistent visibility with 4 hours of post-drinking sleep is not a cake walk. But, if there's one way to avoid falling asleep at the wheel, hugging guardrails while semi-trucks whip by on an icy, slopey curve definitely fits the bill.