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Discovering Denver

Have you ever had a succulent cupcake? I haven’t either, but the Sugar Bakeshop bakery I discovered in Denver’s Baker neighborhood had the most beautiful green icing succulents adorning perfect vanilla cupcakes. I was tempted, but resisted given that it was before 8am. Even a sweet tooth like me has their limits. However, I was not above ordering four decadent homemade pop tarts. I’ve never been a fan of the packaged ones – not even as a kid – but these didn’t compare. Insanely sugary, but so, so good.

Outside of Sugar Bakeshop, Denver was wonderful. Our little Airbnb (also in the Baker neighborhood) had a pair of cats lurking around the front door each morning (with a can of cat food mysteriously appearing for them by 9am). The air conditioning hardly worked upstairs and the stairs creaked loudly when anyone went up or down. But I loved our room – despite the heat – with its sloped ceilings and window looking out at the setting sun over neighbors’ rooftops. The sound of a baseball game on TV in the backyard next door. A cool breeze in the evenings. It all felt laid-back and summery – a perfect combination this last weekend of August.

We were in Denver for our dear friends’ wedding, which is always a great excuse to see a new city. Although we didn’t have much time for sightseeing – that is, until Hurricane Harvey hit. Our Sunday flight back to Austin was cancelled on Saturday morning, so we had an extra day.

Rocky Mountain National Park

When in the Mile-High City, one must see the mountains. So we piled into our rental SUV and headed north. Destination: Rocky Mountain National Park. Although there were no bear or elk sightings, we did go on a short hike and see a few chipmunks – and of course, some incredible mountains, including Longs Peak, which soars over 14,000 feet above sea level.

A second Airbnb (the first place was already booked for our unexpected extra night) proved less charming, but still functional, even with six of us crammed into its 620 square feet.

On our last morning, we tried the infamous City, O’ City, a vegetarian restaurant overlooking the capital building. We sat on the patio and ate their breakfast burrito served with both green chile sauce and gravy. I loved the food, the ambiance and our waitresses’ leggings, printed with cartoon people doing yoga.

With happily full stomachs, we made one last stop – to The Tattered Cover, an independent bookstore in the heard of downtown Denver. I love the quiet calmness of bookstores, and on a Monday morning, this one proved especially calm. Wide bookshelves packed with thousands of books stretched high toward the ceilings. There was a special section with paper bags of books, stapled shut and priced low with the stipulation that you won’t know what you’re getting until you’ve bought it.

All in all, we had an incredible weekend spent in this welcoming, beautiful city where the air is fresh, if only slightly lacking in the oxygen we’d ideally like… that altitude. It seems Colorado does in fact live up to its reputation – and I can’t wait to go back.

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