MISSION: To visit every state and territory in the U.S. For my mission a visit is greater than a stop over; I wish to explore the natural and cultural environments of these areas. Each of these locations has a story to tell, and I want to find it.

As of February 2018 I have visited all 50 states (and Puerto Rico and 2 island in the US Virgin Islands) at least once.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Killing Time in the Mile High City

Wandering around downtown Denver... waiting to see if I get called to court... and you really can't sit around waiting for nothing for days, in a hotel room.  It gets boring (even with a great 22nd story window view).  Stayed right on the 16th Street Mall, and I have a new perspective of it.  Sure, I have given Denver a lot of flack over the years.  It is small; it is empty; is lacks people; it is quiet... but after visiting a few small mid-western cities, and not having been back here in months, I will admit, that maybe, it is not soooo bad.  Sure, I still have those strong views on Denver - that it really is like a big town with tall buildings, but still, there is a downtown, and there are places to go. 

This main street in downtown Denver is filled with tourist shops, mall-like stores (Forever 21, Banana republic, Victoria Secret), suburb staples (TJ Maxx and Ross), a mix of high end and simple eateries and simple shopping carts.  I stopped in TJ Maxx for a light weight jacket - since when do I wear a simple cotton jacket in January, in Denver?  This year apparently.  It is crazy weather.  I lunched at a great soup stop - "Zoup!", that had at least 12 different varieties that you could sample.  I stopped by the Hard Rock, and had a great conversation with staff about the awesomeness of New Kids on the Block (not a joke); the place was slow mid-day, so the staff let me pick videos to play!  And because my hotel room got dreadfully boring after a day of waiting for a call, I walked the mile strip to stretch my legs... and instead of speeding through the blocks, I took not of all the public art that is on display for that mile.  Some of it is whimsical, some of it is comtemporary, some typical, some accessible and some is western... but hey, that is Denver... a mix of a lot with the cowboys thrown in.

Comparing 16th Street Mall to South Main in Memphis is like looking at polar opposites. And to put an exclamation point on that difference, Larimer Square (the one whole block of it) has more shops then the whole South Main District.  Is that a testiment to Denver or is it a sad fact for Memphis?  I don't know... but after seeing so many economically depressed cities, one has to realize that high end shopping can't exist in area where unemployment is so high and tourists are few(er to larger cities).  For all of its faults, Denver is one of the largest cities in the West; it is considered the federal capital of the west, with a mixed economic and employment base.  A local in Memphis told my mom and I that the only thing that the city had going for it was Elvis; Denver really has multiple draws - nothing as cool as Elvis, but that is really only for Memphis.

Like I said, Larimer is small.  Very small.  And as native to large cities, you have to chuckle at it's innate "cutiness".  And that cutiness extends to its everything there, from the lights strung across the street to the store fronts.  That block has some of my favorite shops in Denver.  I have seen some favorites die off (I still miss Blu Zebra), and others have stayed.  One of the best furniture/accessory stores you can find in the area - Element.  Every time I go in there, I want to buy a new light, a new rug, and some floor acccessories for my condo.  Then there is the coolest large mineral/fossil jewelry store/funky clothing shop I have found in a long time - Eve; you could not ask for a nicer, more personal store owner, who not only lets you wander the merchandise without pressure or guilt, but she always offers things that fit your style and still does not try to pawn stuff that has been around a while or that is in your size.  Two years ago, I purchased an amethyst necklace from her, and today I went back for the first time, and she remembered me (and my purchase) - that speaks for itself in a time of crappy customer service!

I am not ready to change my tune on Denver.  I really do not regret turning down the job here... but still, there is plenty to like... after seeing other options, maybe Denver is not soooo bad?!??!?!  Maybe. (or maybe I am loony from waiting for days for a call that never came).

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