Exploring Denver was a blast! The vibe reminds me of Austin, except instead of being oriented around live music like Austin is, Denver has a substantially more outdoorsy recreational focus. I wish Austin would wise up and “green-up” like Denver has. Public transportation in Denver made it easy for us to travel around downtown cheaply and without burning through gallons of gas in the van. Dark clouds gathered while we explored Colfax, so we stopped into The 1up, an arcade/bar with our favorites: pinball, Frogger, Pacman, House of the Dead and good old fashioned ski ball. Right when we got back to the car it started to rain. We headed back to the outskirts of town and watched the purple storms approach. The storms that night made us especially glad to have a roof over our heads.
On another night while we were in Denver, we were guided by Morgan’s friend around the best parts of the city, including the Green Mile, where business is booming, or should I say blooming. We had the best Mediterranean food we’ve ever had at Jerusalem Restaurant. The house in the city didn’t have enough room for us, so we camped in the backyard and were woken up by (surprise!) the lawn crew. But at least it meant we got an early start for our journey into the wilder parts of Colorado. Our next stop was Mancos State Park, near Mesa Verde National Park. The drive turned out to be longer than expected and we both wished we hadn’t made reservations for a place so far away from Denver, especially when we passed through the beautiful San Juan National Forest, where there were many isolated campsites that we could happily have stopped at. But we kept going, and consoled ourselves that this southern part of Colorado was only 16 hours from Austin, and we could easily come back on future adventures. During this past March we went on a fantastic ski trip to Pagosa Springs and drove back in one horrible 16 hour car day. I don’t think we’ll do that drive all at once again, but a week long trip up here would be well worth the drive. In fact, driving out here is a sublime experience with the scenery of the countryside rolling along through valleys and up into bold mountain passes. These out the window pictures don’t do it justice.
We pulled in to Mancos State Park late in the evening and quickly set up camp. The scenery at this park was stuning. The beautiful lake had mountains in the background. We were exciteed for the first night we would be in the same place for two nights in a row. We still could feel the cricks in our backs and necks from sleeping on inflatable camping sleeping pads the previous night, so we pulled out the two inch thick Tempurpedic full size mattress topper I had rolled up in the back of the van. This luxury made sleeping on the ground much more like sleeping on a bed back home. It was so relaxing to lay down on! We consider it indispensable for making the tent our summer home, despite the amount of space in the back of the van.