Recap: Denver, the Driest Place on Earth

Perhaps a slight exaggerations, but after leaving the humidity, I felt upon deplaning as if a vacuum had sucked all the moisture from every single pole. Granted, I know what it feels like to exist in a dry climate (hello first 20+ years of life), but as I was also still a bit on the mend from virus 2014, it hit me like a wall.

But, let’s talk Denver. My first time in Colorado, and I was pumped! I traveled with our team for our organization’s national conference. It was great timing since I had just over a month under my belt, so I didn’t have the same sense of feeling overwhelmed (outside of the reality that I knew no one outside of our staff). But, I was pumped to learn more about what other state leagues are doing to engage and mobilize environmental advocates and glean what our national partners are conducting on a large-scale. Overall: inspiring work but a lot more of it needs to happen.

During the playtime of Denver, my top priority involved beer. Thanks to knowledgeable friends and patrons, I had a robust list of places to visit. Many would be saved for a future visit both time and distance were challenges, not to mention that I was missing my partner-in-crime and wanted to experience those adventures with him.

Our first stop: foraging. We ended up at Ace just about a mile outside of our hotel, which boasted Asian-inspired cuisine with the allure of ping-pong tables. Several of them.

10256806_10102800789896492_1649004168312971096_nOur group split the intriguing crispy brussel sprouts, which I paired a Left Hand Weak Sauce (coffee Porter). Both the appetizer and beer were outstanding.

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Not so weak sauce for me.

10173815_10102800790754772_3137260249010518129_nSpicy goodness!

I went with the kale salad for my entree and topped it off with tofu. It was very good, especially after I topped it with the crisp chili oil available on the table – gave it some nice crunch and a little more heat:

10253938_10102800790305672_4916553067860333681_n

After filling our bellies, it was off to check-in, take a mini walking tour of downtown, and then prep for that evening’s reception. As the evening wound down, we realized we had not eaten dinner (one thing I quickly learned in Denver: dinner does not happen until after 9pm, which is typically my bedtime). We were mostly full from lunch, but needed a little something something (and time for another beer). We wandered over to Freshcraft for some pretzel bites, loads of house made mustard, the Antioxidant Mix salad, and – of course – a beer (the Trinity Seven Day Sour Gueze):

1901316_10102800787935422_1178233419797210789_n

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Fast-forward to Friday night, I must share this with you:

1901284_10102800787052192_1095818479356175044_n18″ of glory

That is one big pizza. Again, after realizing at 9:30pm that dinner had not been add, I jumped on Yelp and found Marquis Pizza, which offers the “Sticks & Weeds” veggie pizza with vegan cheese as an option. It was right off a club where live music was pounding, and outside on the sidewalk, it was quite…grassy? Definitely potential for a contact high, if you catch my drift. Regardless, my friend Erik and I split this monster (his side was the non-vegan cheese), and I will be honest: I crushed two enormous slices while sitting outside, and then downed a third back at the hotel room, only to be filled with regret 5 minutes later. Regret only because I thought my stomach would explode because – dang – that was a freaking delicious pizza. I’m still not 100% on the vegan cheese bandwagon, but whatever brand this place used melted nicely. And the crust – which I argue is the most important aspect of this dish – was chewy, crunchy, and yeasty.

There was some other vegan/vegetarian joints on my hit list, but there was only so much time, so I’ll look forward to checking out more when we plan our return trip in May 2015. Until then, here’s to you, Mile High City, for some amazing views, great brews, and fascinating people.

10312671_10102800787346602_1525128801307798639_nPianos available to play in the street

10341424_10102800787142012_1490878289886819261_nA must-stop for all craft beer fans

1604864_10102800789467352_995676266768890141_nSome views from our reception patio

10300005_10102800789746792_5115627565665205073_nFun street art

10311197_10102808564740642_7507293340636683015_nNext time I’ll get to see a game

10246737_10102808562759612_2167804982916361751_nBeautiful trails along downtown creeks – this one had rapids!

10320348_10102808563448232_7017365066583510511_nNC representing!

10329161_10102808564186752_695698588065842274_nEnjoyed Sunday morning oatmeal & coffee at The Market at Larimer Square

10341766_10102808564855412_6034401543282922361_nLast stop before airport: more beer

10294349_10102808565299522_7109311219900716220_nSour paddle

As always, it’s great to get away, but it’s equally as wonderful to return home. Fortunately, I came back healthier than I left (at least germ wise – the food and beer took a bit of a toll). This helped me achieve one of my goals for this year: to visit a new state! I look forward to getting to spend time in the outdoors doing more than just walking to the next bar.

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