Stop number 1 after Denver was Golden, CO. It was an easy choice for a few reasons: First, it came highly recommended by my brother, and second, it was close enough to Denver to make traveling there a good “first test” of life on the road. It’s so close, in fact, that on a map there really isn’t any non-city between Denver and Golden, but there are a few big hills between the two so that Golden really feels like a mountain town as far away as you want from the Big City.
I arrived around 11 after buying some chains in Denver and had a nice hike up Clear Creek, one of Golden’s many excellent hiking trails. As I got farther up the creek itself I saw a few auto wrecks strewn upon the talus above the trail. These evidently had fallen from a road higher up on the slope; no doubt a bad way to go. Also along the trail were some shockingly well maintained and well signed climbing access trails. It was nice to see that Golden cares about all kinds of outdoor activities.
I spent the rest of the day in the public library organizing pictures and doing some Astronomy. I then had a very quick and cold dinner before retreating back to the warmth of the library until they closed at 8. When my brother was here in the past he was hassled by the local constabulary for sleeping in his car in a public lot. Determined to not have the Eigenbrots banned from Golden forever I chose a berth at the top of a free public parking garage with the thought that off the street was better than on the street. When I went to bed it was around freezing and I wondered if the liquids in my car would freeze over night.
The next morning confirmed the liquidity of my liquids, so it seems Van Halen does a pretty good job of insulating against the cold. My feet were still pretty frigid and I can’t say I slept well. I was awoken around 7am by a car parking next to me and blasting loud rap/metal. Who are these people? Why are songs with super repetitive bass lines always chosen as blast material? These are the questions.
I spent the morning meeting with my advisor and doing other general work. The staff at Higher Grounds coffee are true professionals in the literal sense of the phrase; just the right mix of boiling and not-quite-boiling water to make tea the perfect temperature.
After a invigorating lunch of PB&J I headed over to North Table Mountain park for a very excellent hike. Sure, it was windy and the wind was cold, but the scenery was sublime. It was a interesting combination of prairie land and mountain terrain and I thoroughly enjoyed every step of the roughly 8 mile hike. Evidently the mountain is a popular spot for mountain bikers as well. I was even passed twice by the same dude: way to go, guy.
In addition to cool outdoor spaces Golden is also home to the Coors brewery. Unfortunately they were not offering tours when I was there, but I got a good view of the operation from the top of North Table Mountain. The brewery is huge!
The hike left me hungry at an early enough hour that I was able to make dinner before night fell (highly recommended) and I spend the rest of the evening back in the library being warm. At closing time I couldn’t help but notice an overabundance of vans in the parking lot (and even another Astro). Coincidence? I returned to the same parking lot, but before going to bed went across the street to the Barrels & Bottles brewery. Man, was that ever a good choice. The beer and the people here were amazing and I stayed until closing time. Slushy wine? Yes please!
Before getting into bed I warmed up the engine/van and pre-warmed my sleeping socks inside my jacket. The result was the best sleep I’ve had yet; my feet were warm throughout and my general condition could be described as “quite cozy”. Nice. Tomorrow I will head up to Estes Park to take in some Rocky Mountain air.
Two other observations: