Denver, Co

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I recently spent a week in Denver, Colorado at NAFSA, a conference for international educators.

We had barely stepped off the plane when a couple of my colleagues and I headed to Red Rocks Amphitheatre to watch The Big Lebowski…but really to see the awesome Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Unprepared for the chilly mountain air and not yet acclimated to the two hour time difference, we had to leave halfway through the movie to head back to the hotel.

We had to get a good night’s sleep so that we could enjoy all the scintillating presentations the next day…

…at the Colorado Convention Center.

Haka dancers opened for the keynote speaker:

New York Times columnist David Brooks:

And Aloe Blacc sang at the opening celebration…

With all the conference sessions, we had very limited time to explore Denver, but we did get to see a few things.

NYC has a Duane Reade on every street corner. Denver has its own kind of corner pharmacy:

The perils of smoking too much pot?

You could smell it everywhere, but not at the Convention Center!

Larimer Square:

Our Uber driver told us, “Don’t bother with the Denver Art Museum. If you really want to see something you won’t see anywhere else in the world, go to the Clyfford Still Museum!” And so we did:

I still kind of wish I had gotten to see the Denver Art Museum, or the Museum of Contemporary Art…(Next time)!

We loved the shops and restaurants at Union Station

and the Tattered Cover Book Store was fun to explore:

In the Cherry Creek neighborhood on our last evening in Denver, we happened upon Osaka Ramen:

which had pretty good ramen:

…interesting “My Wife’s Donuts,” filled with mochi, dusted with kinako sugar, and served with salted butter:

and the most delicious french fries I’ve ever had anywhere:

We went back to our hotel and spent our last few hours in Denver admiring the views of the city at night in Peaks Lounge on the 27th floor of the Hyatt Regency Denver:

Our flight back home the next day, or at least the DC to Charlottesville leg of it, was spectacularly horrifying. After three or four delays, we were finally allowed to board the plane hours more than three hours after we were supposed to depart.

As I walked across the tarmac, I peered into the cockpit. I was alarmed to see that the pilot looked young – as young as a college kid maybe…like an inebriated frat boy type maybe. He was tossing his head back and guffawing. Uneasily, I took my seat and dutifully listened to the announcements.

I’m sorry you all had to wait here for so long. I don’t know why they didn’t send you home on a reserve plane, and instead put you on this plane, which hasn’t been serviced in a while. I tried to spray down the bathroom, but, well, you know what happens when a plane sits outside in the heat for days…

My colleague and I glanced over at each other with alarmed expressions on our faces. We tried to relax as the plane started to taxi down the runway, but just as it was reaching maximum speed, the pilot suddenly took a sharp right and brought the plane to a stop.

We seem to be having some mechanical issue that has prevented us from taking off. We’re going to wait here for the crew to come out and check the plane. It might just be a quick fix, or we may have to head back to the terminal…In the meantime, I’m going to have to cut off the AC, so it’s probably going to get pretty hot in the plane. Sorry about that…

“I think we should get off right now,” my friend said anxiously. Given the circumstances, it was a perfectly reasonable suggestion.

The door’s locked. What can we do?” I answered.

We kept looking out for the crew to arrive. As far as we could tell, they never showed up. Instead, the pilot kept gunning the engine.

And then suddenly: “We’re off! he announced without any further explanation. The plane took off and we endured a short, but harrowing flight to C’ville. The tiny little plane kept getting buffeted by the winds. At one point, it juddered so hard, it felt like it might burst apart at the seams. I had my eyes clenched shut the whole time and was saying one long fervent prayer, which only ended with an abrupt “JESUS!” when the plane landed hard at Charlottesville Airport. It turned out my friend had been praying the entire time too…I guess the prayers worked. We got back home alive! Denver was great, but:

 

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