MileHighDuo Goes “Home”

Our July and August travel this year has been (and will be) all within the USA, but we did manage to fit in a new state.  After our long weekend in Toronto and our time in Philly and New Jersey, we flew to the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado.  Now how is it we never managed to fit that into our year of travel back in 2012 and 2013?  It would seem entirely appropriate for the MileHighDuo, after all!

Ironically, we didn’t even plan to stop in Denver.  We went there because it was going to be the start of the next segment of our travels (look for our next blog post to understand what I mean).  But going to Denver turned out to be a really wonderful thing.  We loved being at high altitude for a bit during our travels since we’re used to living in Cuenca at high altitude now.  But more importantly, we reconnected with an old face from Elliott’s childhood, and ended up leaving feeling like we’d made a lifelong set of friends.

We stayed with Chuck – the brother of Elliott’s best friend from high school.  As we headed to Denver, Elliott told me stories about Chuck and him; it had been a bit weird when they were kids since Chuck was the age of Elliott’s younger sister Rochelle, but they’d had some good times together when Chuck was living in  New Jersey for a year.  Now, Chuck is married and has ten kids (yes, you read that correctly).  We were a tiny bit daunted, but we figured staying with Elliott’s sister and her six kids just a few months ago had been good practice!

We had a lot of fun with Chuck, his wife Julie, and the ten kids.  They gave us our own space in the basement, including a gated area for our stuff where no curious little kiddies could enter.  On our first day we piled into their huge van for 14(!) and they drove us up through the mountains to the local area of Georgetown, where we picnicked and played in a local park.

Then they drove us around downtown Denver.  I’m not sure which was more fun: seeing the sights, or feeling special as the kids argued over who got to sit next to us!

That night we had an adults-only dinner outing for Mexican food.  Ahhh.  Those kids are great, but so was the Mexican food and adult conversation!

The next day we went to their local pool and just played the day away with the kids.  Since it was plenty warm and I love to frolic in pools, I didn’t mind spending time there at all.  Sightseeing, schmight-seeing!

There was lounging:

There was swimming:

There were slides:

There were bubbles:

There were headstands:

There was general merry-making!

On our last full day, Chuck drove us to Boulder where he works, and we toured his company “plant.”  It was pretty cool seeing all the machine parts they make, especially since we only ever worked in boring IT offices that made nothing but code.  Elliott found the perfect widget and claimed it as his own souvenir of Chuck and our visit to Denver.

Then we walked to a local bike rental rack and kiosk, and checked out some bikes.  This was actually a major milestone for me, as I’ve wanted to rent bikes from one of these kiosks ever since we first saw them in Luxembourg in 2009!  (Lack of foreign credit cards and other similar silly issues always got in the way.)  But this time we had the right country’s credit card, and we got our bikes with ease.  The cost was only $8 per person for a 24 hour rental, as long as we checked in every half hour.  There were many bike kiosks throughout the little city which made that very easy.

We rode all around, finding the next kiosk on the map each time.  We rode through the little downtown area, checked out the University, and rode along Boulder Creek.

We had a picnic lunch and watched the tubers go down the creek, usually with goose bumps on their skin and audible shivering.

Since there was no easy way to rent tubes, we agreed we should wait until next time for tubing.  But when we saw some guys swinging on a rope swing into the creek nearby, we were intrigued.  After chatting with some girls about their tube ride, and then watching one of them try the swing, I was hooked.  After a few minutes of chatting about it, I got Elliott hooked, despite the frigidity of the water (which is REALLY saying something).  Yeah, we could wait a couple weeks and find a rope swing in our next destination, but this was here and now.  We went for it.

The rope swing was awesome.  They always are!  Elliott decided to go first to get the ice pool plunge anxiety over with, and I videoed him.  Only I didn’t actually video him!  It wasn’t a ploy, though it did foil his plan to do the rope swing one time only.  I really somehow screwed up the video, and I appealed to his vanity when I let him know if he wanted video of himself, he’d have to do it a second time.  Then it was my turn.  I gathered up my nerve, held on tight, and swung out as far as I could.  I let go at the top of my swing, and jumped into the water.  Even anticipating all of that cold, there was no way to be prepared.  The water was so shockingly cold that my entire system seemed to shut down.  I tried to swim through the Arctic to the shore, and realized there was a strong current working against me!  Still in shock, I realized I’d just have to get to the closest point on land.  I clambered up some nearby rocks, and, finally, I was out.

Elliott had decided to take that second swing so we could record his adventure.  And then of course I had to take a second swing… luckily the second time in was much less of a shock!  We changed back into our clothes, took a nap in the park, and hopped back on our bikes.  After riding back into town, we parked the bikes and walked along one of the main shopping promenades on Pearl Street.  We found some fun souvenir-filled shops, and Elliott found a great music store.  Before we knew it, it was 5pm and time to return to our friend Chuck’s office.

That evening wrapped up our time in the Mile High City.  We battled a raging thunderstorm as we made our way out to the car with Chuck, and saw a TRIPLE rainbow on the way home.  We had a delicious Italian dinner with the family, prepared by Julie (with help from the kids), and showed off our rope swing photos and video to the kids.  Then it was time to say goodbye.  We all agreed, we’ll have to make Denver a more regular stop in our travels going forward.

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