I have just returned from my 2nd trip to Denver, plus Summit County snowboarding in the past two months. I was planning a Colorado blog posting when I got home from New Years but decided to come back over Valentines Day. This is my attempt to combine both trips into one blog post.
Denver is growing like crazy, and everything is very new to me each time I visit. One of the best new things to hit the metro Denver area is the plane train finally makes it out to their incredibly distant airport. The cost is currently nine dollars to travel from the airport to any of the stations you need in the metro Denver area. For me, this very much reduces the discomfort that always came to me when visiting Denver. The fact their Airport is so far away from anywhere you’d ever be in the area used to bother me. The train is comfortable, and I was able to read one time and play video games the second time. Before you had to rent a car or take a pricey taxi.; This plane train is close to heaven comparatively.
During my first visit I landed on Christmas Day, and it was snowing lightly in Denver. I took the plane train to Union Station downtown. It had been a while since I last visited. I decided to walk from Union Station to their Capital building to see downtown. It has grown up quite a bit since I lived there pre 2006. I saw some of my same old spots were still there, but I noticed there was a lot of new everything from restaurants, to dispensaries, to hotels, to parking lots. Denver has been the biggest boom town I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Ever since new years day of 2014 this city has grown at a pace they deserve for being progressive and forward thinking. The pioneers of the past would be impressed by Denver as it stands today. They realize new ideas should be embraced and old institutions must be discarded to find the next boom in this world be it economic, spiritual or both. During my walk, almost everything was closed except a few coffee shops. It was nice to walk without the usual heavy foot traffic on the 16th Street Mall. It was only me, a few randoms and some homeless people. Downtown Denver is cool, and I enjoyed my walk. It was getting cooler and windy outside. Once I got to the Capital building I decided to call my Lyft ride to Lakewood.
When I first moved to Denver I lived in the DU area, then Congress Park, followed by Capital Hill. However, when I bought a house in 2005 Littleton close to C470 was where I could afford to purchase a home. Ever since then, Southwestern suburban Denver is where I typically reside and spend most of my time in the Colorado area. Edgewater, Lakewood, Golden, and Littleton are the areas I probably know best because of my friends, family. My knowledge of restaurants are best in this area no doubt. Two of my favorites being Szechuan Chinese Restaurant in Lakewood and Pho Hau Restaurant 2. I am a guy that enjoys Asian food always, but Denver outdoes itself in my opinion with these two places.
One of the big reasons I like to visit Colorado is family and friends, but they are not my blogging material. The reason I bring up that fact is that so many that know me think I only visit here so often to see old friends, or my family in the area. I originally moved to Denver, Colorado in 2003 because it was the biggest city close to the best snowboarding that I could plot on a map. Nowadays that is not any different except Denver is an even more entertaining place to visit than before. The live music scene is very underrated nationally. They are home to many terrific live bands and stage acts. Red Rocks and the Fillmore bring in the best touring lineups you can find year in and out. If you love music and hiking, Denver has it on another level from other cities. If you love the ocean or beaches then please know they are far away from Denver, but other than that geographic fact they have you covered. It is a fun place to be with your family you can visit the Children’s Museum, or their Botanic Gardens (awesome around Christmas).
This year (so far) I have had the privilege to snowboard two days at Copper Mountain and one day at Ski Cooper. First thing is lift tickets are not cheap so first talk to any family, friends you may have around the area. Sometimes they get them from work events and don’t even like skiing. Always ask around to see if anybody has any extra tickets in Denver to sell you second-hand (people you trust). It’s your choice who to trust. Other deals for lift tickets I noticed were at gas stations. I know Shell has buy one get one free Copper lift ticket with a tank of gas. Costco in Denver or even some of the grocery stores have deals on lift tickets. My point is if you need to save it can be done, if you are wealthy, then your best and easiest bet is to buy them directly from the mountain online. They even have deals too, and you should check everything including the liftopia website. Ski Cooper is a deal with $44 lift tickets every day. We had a blast snowboarding there with almost nobody else on the lifts. We were lucky they had been hit with a minor storm the night before we hit it. Also, the snow kept falling lightly the entire time we were out riding the mountain. It was one of the better days I have had snowboarding.
This trip we need to save on accommodations. I remembered that Leadville wasn’t too far away from Ski Cooper and close enough to Copper to get there early when the lifts start up in the morning. We were able to get a Motel room for less than seventy dollars with two double beds. The good thing about Leadville is they have a downtown area with a few restaurants and bars. Our accommodations were about two miles from downtown. We planned to enjoy some beverages, so we walked until we found the Scarlet Tavern. Here we were able to play few games of pool. Once we had worked up an appetite, we found a place to grab some Italian style sandwiches for dinner. After that, we headed back to the Scarlet Tavern to check out the live music they had playing. The band was jammy and even punk, so they were fun. I had a great time talking to some of the local residents. One guy even brought a fresh deer ham through the bar in a bucket. That is something I don't see daily at any bar in Winston-Salem. In the 1940s, Leadville was where they trained the famous 10th mountain division at Camp Hale. This city sits at 10,151 feet, so it’s not a place everybody can live literally.
We had a great night, but it was getting late, and we needed to hit Copper Mountain in the morning for our final day of riding. We did not feel at all like walking two miles back to the room. I asked about a cab, and we found out that Amy is probably the only cab option in Leadville. Luckily, we happened to be talking to her brother. He called her up for us, and she provided a very safe and sober lift home. I recommend her as a driver if you are ever up in this area. After snowboarding and the evening, I found it very easy to fall asleep. I slept soundly and woke up early to get to Copper Mountain a little before 10 am. The sun was shining, and we snowboarded with only a few breaks until 3:30 pm. Let's face it we were not quite in top snowboarding shape, so these two intense days worked us to exhaustion. We got to our Hertz rental car about 4:15 pm and drove back to Lakewood.
The rest of the evening is another reason I love Colorado and red eye flights. We returned our demo rentals in Idaho Springs, ate PHO at the Pho Hau Restaurant 2, then I took a nap until about midnight because it was time to catch my 1 am flight non-stop to Charlotte. I finished my night’s sleep on the airplane and grabbed a connection in Charlotte to Greensboro which landed before 9 am. The point is that I snowboarded until 3:30 pm, had a great dinner with a close friend, took a nap, flew back to North Carolina, connected in Charlotte to Greensboro to be at my home office before 10 am. I was able to work a full day too. It might sound exhausting to many, but I give it my all every single time I visit my home away in Colorado.