FUN FACT!!! The structure above the Denver International Airport is meant to represent the snow covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains! It actually looks like a circus tent gone wrong. It’s TRUE!!!
So, D.I.A. and how to get in and out of it. Getting in to the airport is the easy part: just land there. Getting out is the hard part. Hopefully you have all arrived safely. The first thing you need to do is get your bags. So, from whatever terminal that you landed in, walk to the center of the terminal, go down the escalators, jump aboard the underground transit system, ignore the cheery pre-recorded greeting from the mayor (everyone does that), and head towards the main terminal to get your bags. Once all of that is complete, now you need to plot your escape.
There is several ways to reach the city from D.I.A.:
DENVER TRANSIT! This is brand new. After almost twenty years since the airport was built, the city finally thought it may be a good idea to put a light rail system out to the airport. The RTD A Line rail opened up last spring. Neither Kelly or I have been on it as yet, but have been told it’s brilliant by people who’s opinions we apparently trust. It costs $9.00, takes about 45 minutes to get into the city, you can take the rail from the airport straight downtown to Union Station, and likely get a cab from there to your actual hotel. http://www.denver.org/about-denver/transportation/airport-rail/
HOTEL VANS! Some hotels (i.e.: the expensive ones) offer rides from the airport to your hotel. This is something that you would have to check with your hotel about. I cannot do all the work.
SUPERSHUTTLE! Yep. We have them. Denver is not completely barbaric. Usually costs about $20. You can schedule a shuttle online before you arrive, hit the desk in the main concourse after you get your bags, or simply walk out to the taxi cab area and look for a shuttle there. Travel time depends on where your hotel is and how many passengers are in the van with you. So, it may take a while to get to your hotel, but is a brilliant way to get a quick glance and layout of the city. http://www.supershuttle.com/locations/denverden
TAXIS! There are several taxi services from the airport and into the city. From what I understand from my several friends that have driven cabs for a living, it’s a flat rate of $60 from the airport and into the city. HOWEVER… this all depends on where your hotel actually is. If you are staying somewhere that is NOT Downtown (if your hotel is in Capitol Hill or down South Broadway or on the Moon…) you may not qualify for that airport rate! In that case, the fare may be upwards to $80. http://www.flydenver.com/parking_transit/transit/taxis
CAR RENTAL! There are several car rental agencies around D.I.A. What you would likely have to do is look for a rental agency desk in the main concourse, take a van to the rental agency car lot away from the airport, and head out from there. If you do that, it’s probably a good idea to get some sort of GPS for the trip. You don’t want to get lost. http://www.flydenver.com/parking_transit/car-rentals
UBER and LYFT! Yes, we have those as well. The costs are something that you would have to check with your app about.
FUN FACT!!! Denver International Airport is the largest airport in the country in terms of land area. It’s so huge that the four busiest airports in the US (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) could fit into Denver Airport’s 53-square miles of land.It’s TRUE!!!
Some things to note as you are wandering around D.I.A. lost and wondering who took the city away: Denver International Airport is a hotbed for conspiracy theories. From the amount of money that was spent on building it that cannot be accounted for (apparently put aside for New World Order prisons), to Underground Bunkers where Lizard People live, gargoyles, Secret Masonic societies, and even unnerving murals with apparent N.W.O. stormtroopers killing doves. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Denver_Airport_conspiracy_theories
… in the main concourse. Yep, that’s kinda unnerving.
Is there some sort of comic about this hotbed of crazy tinfoil hats? You bet there is!
ANOTHER THING OF NOTE: As you are heading out of D.I.A., make sure to check out the ‘El Mesteno’ (or The Mustang) sculpture by Luis Jimenez. It is slightly hard to see as you are leaving, but will be in the fields on your left hand side of the highway as you exit the airport. What is El Mesteno? It is the big blue evil looking horse sculpture that locals cheekily refer to as ‘Blucifer! Demon Horse of the Plains.’ If you miss it, it is much more easier to see as you enter the airport for your return journey home. His red glaring demonic eyes will offer you good luck and safe journey.
FUN FACT: El Mesteno slew it’s maker! In June of 2006, sculptureLuis Jimenezwas rushing to finish his near complete, but already overdue sculpture. As he was hoisting a section of the heavy stature for welding, the hoist broke, pinning the artist and severing an artery. He unfortunately died on his studio floor. It’s TRUE!!!
A FEW NOTES ABOUT LIVING AND DEALING WITH ALTITUDE
First things first. So, you are new to Denver. There is a real reason it’s called the Mile High City… and no, it’s not an obvious weed joke. You are actually at 5280 feet, a mile up from sea level. Because of that, the oxygen is much thinner up here than the thick soupy air of the Coasts. Do you feel you heart pounding, racing a mile a minute? The good news is that you are not having a heart attack (…probably.) Your body is trying to catch up and get enough oxygen to stay moving around and alive. It may sound a bit scary, but relax. It takes about a month or to two months living here for a body to acclimate to the thinner air, but there is several things you can do in the short term. The easiest and most useful thing is to keep drinking water. Your body is running faster, so keep hydrated as your body adjusts to the higher altitude. Also, the lower humidity here keeps the air dry, so you need about twice as much water than usual. Don’t go on any mad dashes either. That certainly won’t help at all.
Denver’s weather is relatively mild compared to the East Coast. However, because we are closer to the sun (remember, you are a mile up), there is 25 percent less protection from the giant glowing death orb in the sky (or… the sun.) So, think sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm… even in November.
Also by early November, it is quite likely that the first snow will have already fallen. When I say ‘snow’, I don’t mean the sturm und drang of a New England storm. More like the first dusting of the season. The easy solution for dressing in Colorado is layers. Weather can change at any moment, so just be prepared. Also… if the air around you starts smelling like a cow pasture, it’s about to snow. No, I don’t understand it or even still believe it after living here for so long, but it’s still something that happens every season. It’s… kind of weird.
FUN FACT!!! Denver’s bright blue sky really is bluer than many other cities’. Because of Denver’s elevation, the air has less water vapor than it would at a lower altitude, making for a gorgeous sky!It’s TRUE!!!
Yes, The people of Colorado do dress like most other people, just with more cowboy hats, belt buckles, and bright orange fabric. They also wear a lot of Broncos masks. I think some of them may be furries.
Another odd thing is the Colorado State Flag. It’s not the flag that is odd, just where the locals like to put it. The image of the flag (especially the big C on it) is everywhere: on t-shirts, signs, coffee cups, bags, blankets, bumper stickers, towels, key chains, magnets, people’s skin (i.e.: tattoos), likely brands of cannabis… Colorado is the third state that I’ve lived in (just to be fair, the other two places are officially Commonwealths, but that is just older states still using quaint old 17th century terminology) and the only place that I’ve seen doing merchandising at this level. Seems like not all the revenues come just from marijuana.
Yes… there is indeed a booze warning. I did not believe it myself when I heard it the first time I visited, which did get me into a bit of trouble (with ‘hilarious’ results). It goes something like this: Because your body and blood cells are working overtime to process the lesser amount of oxygen that you are getting, it does not have as much time to process other things in your blood… like booze. Because of this, the good/bad news is that (unless you are acclimated) you get drunk much faster… much much faster. So, it could be a cheap night out for you sea-level style drinkers or you can find yourself in passed out condition around a toilet. Your choice. Stay hydrated and watch just your drinking.
Of course, the other side of all this is, when you are acclimated and your body can handle less oxygen, you can go down to the thick soupy air of sea level and drink like a champion.
Look around you. See the mountains? That’s West.
Right after I moved to Colorado, I noticed that most of the locals used the four directions when telling you a location (“Oh… I live in the red house under the elm on the south side of the street. Head around towards the back. My front door is on the west side.”) I’ve always found this kind of odd. Growing up in a city on the East Coast, I could never remember describing anything like that. Kelly once asked me about it, wondering how it was done back East… which I pretty much shrugged. There was never really any sort of mental compass growing up out there, it was always left and right (“… walk down Seventh Street about four blocks, make a left on South Street, and my door is on the right.”) How did you know which way was north or south? Didn’t really matter as it never came into it, I said pointing out that the river was always ’thataway.’So if you’re talking to someone and come across this way of describing a location, look towards the mountains. That is West. Go from there.
The best short-hand way of viewing Denver is through it’s two main roads: Colfax Avenue and Broadway. Colfax runs East and West, Broadway runs North and South. Where the two roads meet (right in front of the Capitol) is where the Downtown area starts. Everything else pretty much hangs off these two avenues.
The easiest way to get around the city is either through Uber, Lyft, and the cabs. The best way to find a cab is to look around one of the many hotels downtown as they are usually lined up, waiting for fares. The Light Rail system pretty much skirts the city, being better for getting out into and out of the suburbs quickly. For just moving around Downtown, South Broadway, and Capitol Hill; the Light Rail is pretty useless. However, if you are brave enough to hazard the bus system, The #0 runs down South Broadway and the #15 (or the Vomit Comet… pretty self explanatory) runs down East Colfax. The base fare is $2.60 or $5.25 for a DayPass, but the cabaret that usually comes along with the fare can be priceless. There are many other buses around the city, of course, but I would only use the bus system as a last resort. However, if you are in the mood for the trip and a show, I won’t stop you.
Denver, which was originally called Montana City, was founded in 1858 because of one major reason: gold. Some of the metal had been discovered at the confulence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek (right downtown, close by to Union Station.) That send scores of miners west look for wealth and a really wild time. Another reason that the city grew so quickly was the Rocky Mountains as they are kind of hard to ignore. So in the 19th Century, any sort of nervous traveler would have likely looked up at those mountains and though ‘To Hell with that… I’m staying here with all the booze and hookers.’
It was renamed Denver in order to curry favor with the Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver, who had actually resigned by the time the name became official, so it was of no real use for the local politicians to actually name it after him. Of course back then, Denver City was a frontier town, with an economy based on servicing local miners with gambling, saloons, livestock and goods trading.
FUN FACT!!! While Cheesman Park is now a city park, it originally started as Prospect Hill Cemetery. The cemetery was converted into a park (with some scandal) in the early 20th Century. Most of the bodies remain, still buried a few feet under the park.It’s TRUE!!!
Here I was in Denver…I stumbled along with the most wicked grin of joy in the world, among the bums and beat cowboys of Larimer Street. – Jack Kerouac, On The Road
“…who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes.” – Allen Ginsberg, Howl.
When Kerouac set out into America in 1947, he had one place in mind: Denver, Colorado. Beatnik prototype: part hipster, part huckster – Neal Cassady (renamed Dean Moriarty in On The Road) grew up in the city along Larimer Street Skid Row, stealing cars, telling stories, and generally living the life that Kerouac wanted to emulate. They spent most of their time wandering through Five Points, drinking and listening to jazz.
Kerouac and Ginsberg both lived in Denver’s Uptown area for a period of time in the late ‘40s and early ’50s. They were here long enough that most old bars around the city all claim that ‘Jack Drank Here!’. While some of the stories may be true, as far as I can tell only a few bars have any real evidence that Kerouac, Cassady, and Co drank there: My Brother’s Bar (2376 15th Street, a place that Cassady mentions in one of his letters), Herb’s (2057 Larimer Street, that had a photo of Jack in one of their old booths), Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom (formally the Casino Cabaret in Five Points where they hung around, 2637 Welton Street), and Charlie Brown’s Bar & Grill (980 Grant Street, in the Colburn Hotel where a few of them stayed.)
Check out the documentary Neal Cassady: The Denver Years. I hear some local cartoonist did some of the artwork for that film, which was animated as well.
“And that thoroughfare, born beneath the mountainous mountains of rocky peaks so high, seeing as it shall victual to prospectors, explorers, and men of chance, and whereas said men, in their sparse moments of recess and requiescence, require relief of an immediate and carnal conformation, let Colfax Way be a den of avarice, a cauldron of covetousness, a peccadillo wharf in a sea-storm of morality. Let not a man walk Colfax Way and wonder, & ‘Where shall I deposit my virility this eve, where may I encounter mine intoxicant?’ for he shall find all he seeks on Colfax. Curse these vexatious rickets!” – Schuyler Colfax, 1878
So, it’s always been my belief that all cities have that one place where everyone winds up, where all the excitement, neon, bars, low lifes, dives, drugs, pimps, and prostitutes all come together as one. Boston has Mass. Ave, Philly has Broad Street, San Francisco has Market Street, and Denver has Colfax Avenue.
Originally the street was called ‘The Golden Road’ (cause it headed up to Golden, CO, where the gold was…), but was renamed in 1865 after Schuyler Colfax, a powerful Indiana congressman, Speaker of the House of Representatives at the time, and later Vice President under the first term of Ulysses S. Grant. He eventually had to step down because of a bribery scandal in 1873. That pretty much sets the tone for the avenue that (in the ’70s) Playboy magazine called “… the longest, wickedest street in America.”
At almost 30 miles long, Colfax Avenue is the longest continuous commercial street in America. Most Denverites (or is it Denverpudlians?) have an odd affection for this wicked street. Once there had been elegant Victorian mansions that ran up and down it, but after the Silver Panic in 1893, most of them went to ruin. A few years later, after the city tried to clean up the sleaze downtown around Market Street, everything moved up to Colfax. While Colfax was always the main street through the city, after Interstate 70 was built in the ’60s, traffic through it was cut down causing businesses and neighborhoods suffered. It became noted for abandoned properties, parking lots, crime, drugs, and prostitution.
One of the more infamous strip clubs (though he called it a ‘burlesque house’) was Sid King’s Crazy Horse Bar on East Colfax (located where The Irish Snug is now) which ran from 1948 through 1983. The club (and Sid King) also made a cameo in Clint Eastwood’s (along with his orangutan, Clyde) film Every Which Way But Loose.
Of course, with modern gentrification and a rising economy, Colfax Avenue has cleaned up somewhat, but the old Colfax has not disappeared as yet.
30 Miles..? Perhaps someone should do a comic about it, documenting people’s lives in the city?
(no… I am not going to make an easy joke about a certain mid-90s film.)
Okay… When you think of Colorado, one of the first things that you think about is mountains, hiking, climbing, skiing… outdoors-y stuff.
Yeah… Kelly and I do none of that, so we are literally the wrong people to ask. I’m sure that you can look online for that sort of thing.
Taking a quick glance at the internet, this are some things that we’ve found (we are here to help):
– If you do have some odd compelling desire to head up into the mountains, there are several large mountains (over 14,000 feet or fourteeners as the kids like to call them) along the Front Range. Some of them can be seen from the Pavillion inCheesman Park (Best way to see the mountains: from a distance. I think there is a plaque out there as well telling you which mountain is which.)Mount Evansis the highest and also has a road (the highest paved road in America) that goes all the way to the top. That is about an hour away.
– There is alsoTrail Ridge Roadthat starts up near Estes Park, CO (about an hour and half away, where the Stanley Hotel, i.e.: The Shining hotel, is also located), which goes throughRocky Mountain National Parkand up into the mountains.
–Buffalo Bill’s Graveis also near by, high a top Lookout Mountain, in Golden, CO (The Coors Brewery is also out in the Golden area if you have a desire to tour that.) That is about a half hour away.
– Also, if you’d like to head up to Boulder for some strange reason, that is also about a half hour away (yep… the house that Mork and Mindy was said to have been set in is still there.)
– Before you get the idea into your head, Aspen/Woody Creek (i.e: Where HST lived) is much further away. High up in the mountains and over a four hour drive by car
– Lastly, there is also theRed Rocks Amphiteatre, also about a half hour away. Yes, you can go up and visit the venue (and museum) even if there is no scheduled performances (… and in November, there are no scheduled performances.)
FUN FACT:The krummholz tree is the only tree that grows over timberline (about 11 to 12,000 feet above sea level). At that altitude, there is cold, lack of moisture, and even less oxygen for trees to grow, except for the krummholz tree. It is short, gnarled, and survivors. The word krummholz literally means ‘warped wood’. IT’S TRUE!!!
Of course if you want to wander around Denver, there are always museums and parks:
Here is a full interactive map of Denver, listing hotels, bars, museums, and restaurants. We embrace our new technological overlords: Click here for Map of DENVER!
A few words on that substance that is now legal here…
One of the first things that you notice as you walk around the city is the potent smell on the breeze that reminds you of either burning tires or your half-assed wreck of a college dorm roommate (you know… the one always listening to cats being strangled… Phish or The Dead). Yes… Marijuana… Cannaibis… Reefer… Weed… Jazz Cigarettes… are all now legal in Colorado. … And yes, you can actually go out and by some product while you are here. There are close to 400 dispensaries in Denver alone. There is even a section of South Broadway now referred to as The Green Mile, if you can believe that.
FUN FACT! There are more marijuana dispensaries in Colorado than than McDonald’s and Starbuck’s coffee shops COMBINED!It’s TRUE!!!
Now, there are two types of dispensaries: Medical and Recreational. With the Medical, they are only allowed to sell you product if you have some sort of a medical card to purchase them. With Recreational shops… just have at it. However, there are still some rules. You cannot purchase a Scrooge McDuck-sized money pile of weed and simply dive into it. Out of towners can purchase and possess up to 1 ounce (28 grams). HOWEVER… Be warned: the cannabis that is now available in shops is not your common street skunk week. Because of science, it is VERY STRONG POTENT high grade quality stuff! Even realizing that… Don’t even touch the edibles. No… Really. Unless you want to lose 12 to 18 hours of your life motionless on the floor of your hotel wondering why the universe is cracking around you: DON’T TOUCH THE EDIBLES!!!
Even though it’s legal, there are some rules.
It is illegal to smoke on the street. Yes, though most people ignore this rule as long as you are not blatant Cheech and Chong-ing about it. Hence the burning tire smell in the air. It is illegal to smoke on bar, cafe, and restaurant patios. That is true and very frowned upon. Don’t be THAT guy. We hate him. It is illegal to carry it over state lines. No… you cannot take your new product home with you. Sorry.
If you are still interested in picking up some of the fastest growing cash crop, there are dispensaries on almost every corner. Just look for the green cross on the side of the building. Though K and I do not partake, we would suggest Botanico on Larimer Street for any of your green needs. Yes, they are friends of ours.