Wednesday, June 15, 2016

View to a Thrill: Hello from Denver

View from my hotel room in Denver

When I first started flying for Mother Airline, most of my layovers were long enough to get out and explore the cities in which I stayed. These long layovers are where I enjoyed exploring, did a lot of my shopping or went to see a movie at a nearby theater. After 9-11, the layovers got shorter and to save money, we more often than not stayed in hotels near the airport, not near stores and their sales or theaters and their new releases.

One of the reasons I remember long Denver layovers are for the sales I'd find at the Ross, the flying pizza at Anthony's and watching movies at the 16th Street theaters. It's been years since I've had a long Denver layover. So when I saw the trip in my line, I was eager to return and explore an area that I know has been revitalized. 
Large hand-thrown pies at Anthony's

What a let down! My first experience back on 16th St. after so long an absence, staying on the narrow sidewalk out of the sun in temperatures of over 90 degrees, was running past the gauntlet of all the smokers standing in a row, looking miserable, inhaling their cancerous smoke, and blowing it for all the rest of society to consume. Ahh, the mountain air of Col...hack, cough, wheeze...orado!

I had heard from many sources about the increase in homeless along 16th St. I didn't think much of it. I see a lot of homeless on my layovers. Honolulu has quite a few. I see them in Seattle and certainly when I'm in San Francisco (of course in SF, one can have a decent-paying job and still be homeless!). But oh, my, they have intensified here; to the point where it really detracts from what should be a positive experience. Hand made signs on boxes; shopping carts standing by for treasures dug from trash cans; half naked youth making weird signs with their hands while talking foully to friends a block away as if in some gang; the mentally unstable yelling at the top of their lungs to either no one or invisible entities who might be shouting things back. It's quite the festive scene, and until you've smelled a group of homeless sweating in 95 degree heat smoking cigarette butts found on the ground, you've not been festive enough! Whee-you!

Looking East along 16th Street

I did endure the heat well enough to walk to the end of the long pedestrian street. I got my slice of flying pizza and happened into a Krispy Kreme donuts on their first day to be open. I spent some time in the Money Museum of the Federal Reserve Bank in hopes that samples would be given (and they were...only, the money was quite well shredded and quite unusable for me). I did find a great price on a new pair of layover shoes, just like the old days.

Street buffalo art
There is a lot that is great about walking around downtown Denver. I love the interchange of new and old architecture and the colorful flowers. I really enjoy the numerous brightly-painted pianos left in the middle of the street with ivory ready to be tickled by anyone who passes by. I love that cannabis is legal and enjoyed an occasional wafting scent being enjoyed in public. And I really love the glimpses of white-capped mountains peeking from between skyscrapers of steel and glass.

I'm going to be so rich one day!
And just like that, time winds down. The office workers who were on their lunch break return to their offices. The streets empty just a bit for the tourists and more homeless. Young men and women emerge in sweaty Lycra from various gyms to show off svelte bodies and toned arms and legs. And Penguin waddles back to his cool hotel room to survey it all from the comfort of another layover hotel room window, high above it all. Mission accomplished. I do love my long downtown layovers!

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