Doing most of the drive between Phoenix and Denver yesterday turned out to be quite the wise decision. The night before, I got maybe 15 minutes of continuous sleep; rest assured that the sleep deficiency has been generously compensated for. Although I woke up a few times during the night (I’m having hard time sleeping in almost‐zero humidity levels), I sprang out of bed at 10:00am ready for exploring the American Rockies.
Then I looked at the clock and realized we may really not have the time to do that. Exploring the Rockies would mean taking a detour off the I‐25N, and the direct road to Denver is already 3 hours long. We’re invited for dinner at Jeroen’s friend’s house and have to be there by 4:00pm. Blast. I will suffice with looking at the Rockies from the distance.
Before proceeding to Denver, we stopped for breakfast in Trinidad, CO (the same tiny city we spent the night in). There’s a really neat place in downtown called “The Cafe at Danielson Dry Goods” (135 East Main Street) which serves healthy, delicious breakfasts for decent prices; their espresso is also far above average in quality. Check it out if you’re ever in the area.
After half an hour of sitting in the patio, we left Trinidad. Sunny weather, clouds here and there, temperature at 70℉ / 21℃… what other reason do you need to take the car’s roof down? None, apparently. Convertible mode, and within seconds we were back on the highway driving northbound towards Denver.
The views along the route can be beautiful or boring, depending on which side you’re looking at. On your right, there’s vast plains; you’d see farms every now and then, maybe small hills, nothing too exciting (however far better than the damn boring Arizona roads).
On your left, though, it’s a completely different story. Behind the Sangre De Christo mountain range, the magnificent Rocky Mountains occasionally raise their wild, rugged, extraordinarily amazing snowy peaks.
Of all the nature‐bound trips I took, my fondest memories are of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. I drove the famous Icefields Parkway (highway 93), running between Banff and Jasper, more than 20 times already and I cannot imagine prettiest views than the ones you get there. Being there so many times by myself prior, still my fondest memories of the Rockies are of the trip that Karen and I took at the summer of 2006—slept in tents in various campsites along the Banff‐Jasper route, 18 days of waking up daily at 6:00am inhaling super‐crisp air with the mountains all around us. It is there where one can feel the prime connection between one’s self and the innocent, pure nature around.
What one also realizes after such an experience is that going back to daily routines is quite the tricky feat. Nothing seems natural to you anymore: you go back to the office and realize that you kind‐of don’t want to belong there. You see colleagues walking by and you think of, really, what is it all good for. You see limits; you see structure; you see patterns; you see routine. And you don’t want to have anything to do with any of these. You want the crisp air again; the greenery, the snowy peaks, the rivers, the creeks and the lakes.
But I guess balance is everything. To appreciate the good, you have to get familiar with the bad. Living your life doing nothing but inhaling crisp air would soon render the experience quite ordinary and you’d want some excitement again, usually in the form of modern civilization, offices, colleagues and office politics.
… Screw it. I want the mountains.
Having no time to actually explore the American Rockies, we decided to comply with Nancy’s command and visit the city of Boulder, CO—being it a finger‐lickin’ good‐lookin’ city. Boulder is a bit north of Denver, but very close to Jos’ place, where we were going to have dinner (Jos would later join us to the show). So we drove the extra few miles north of Denver, parked the car somewhere near the city centre and decided to spend the 15 minutes we have to spend there—by having a drink at a local bakery / cafe.
The expectation to find a beautiful city were fully met. Boulder, CO is a highly‐intelligent city in the sense that the high‐tech community there is substantial and the city itself hosts the University of Colorado, one of the nation’s leading academic institutions. The downtown area is very pretty, boasting lots of restaurants, cafes and whatnot—all designed with the view of the Rocky Mountains in mind. I liked it; will go back.
We then drove back to Westminster, where Jos lives; a very nice house in a quiet neighbourhood. Our hosts—Jos and Megan—welcomed us so nicely that for a minute I thought I was at home. Lovely couple, we all had some great fun. Megan and Jos also cooked dinner for us—a dinner worth dying for. Imagine, after a couple of weeks of eating in restaurants and cafe’s, to have the pleasure of eating healthy, home‐made, super‐tasty food! OH, the joy. How she made that pasta so delicious—beats me, it was one of the best pasta’s I ever had and, believe me, I had my share of pasta in my life. Spaghetti, pesto, mozzarella, grape‐tomatoes—Lord, I wanted to cry.
FANTASTIC! Thank you Jos & Megan for hosting us, it was a pleasure.
The three of us—Jos, Jeroen and myself—went then to the venue—a mere 20 minutes drive, no traffic whatsoever.
The Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre resides in Denver’s Performing Arts Complex. According to Wikipedia (link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver_Performing_Arts_Complex), this arts complex is the second largest in the world after NYC’s Lincoln Centre. It seats approximately 2,900 and is considered an excellent venue for musicals due to fantastic acoustics.
We picked up our three tickets; as Jos was our guest, we let him get the best seat, which was at the front‐row, dead‐centre. Even at the front row, the sound was very good—I can only assume that the sound at the back was extraordinary.
The band took the stage on 8:00pm sharp, to an extremely loud cheering sound on behalf of the beautiful, laid‐back city of Denver. After a day off Monday, the band was ready to go and gave a really smoking performance.
Last tour, the band performed at the Red‐Rocks Amphitheatre, which is in Morrison, CO—about 20 miles south‐west of Denver. The Red‐Rocks Amphitheatre (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Rocks_Amphitheatre) is considered by many to be the most astonishing outdoor venue in the world; I would definitely agree. Just Google‐up some pictures and see for yourself. In his opening speech, Mark mentioned that while this venue isn’t quite Red‐Rocks, it is an “indoor Red‐Rocks”, with a smile of course—and that drew some chuckles from the crowd. As good as the sound was in that theatre, it is very hard to beat the over‐all heavenly experience of attending a concert in Red‐Rocks. Alas, venue availability is a determining factor when coming up with a tour schedule. Maybe next time.
Show went smooth; the finger of death was not sent at anybody’s direction tonight. A particularly beautiful solo work during Why Aye Man, and a superb performance—perhaps the best one so far—of Cleaning My Gun. Gee, the latter song is a crowd rocker. Right from the minute that Richard strikes that D chord on the 12‐string Burns, to the end—this is a beautiful rock song that’s hard to stay apathetic to.
At the encore, right after So Far Away, a group of women literally lined‐up by the aisle, taking pictures of Mark and the band for approximately two minutes. It was a really entertaining sight; Mark, however, didn’t seem entirely pleased being the focus of attention.
The show tonight has been a winner, no question about it. Great to see the band performing so well day after day—nothing ends a day better than seeing these guys performing.
Jos, our guest at the show, appeared to be very satisfied. Front‐row centre seating in a Mark Knopfler show… well, that’s hard to beat.
After the concert, we bid Jos goodbye and, in order to cut the driving the next day, decided to drive about 80 miles to the town of Limon, CO. I’m signing off this post from my bed at the Holiday Inn Express in this little town; long driving day tomorrow towards Kansas City, Missouri for the next concert.
All the best,