After our extensive daylong sojourn through mountains’ majesty, we spent Day Four of our vacation on a metropolitan retreat in Denver. It was nice to get away from nature for a while and relax in the urban hustle-‘n’-bustle.
Our first major attraction was the Molly Brown House, the well-to-do abode of the famous socialite and boat jinx from 1894 until her passing in 1932. It exchanged a few times after that and was put to less fabulous uses until a 1970s restoration effort renovated it into a historical highlight not far from downtown Denver. Photos were unfortunately forbidden inside the house, but the exterior has its own quirks, least of which is the house being decades older than its surrounding neighbors. You’ll notice under the ad banner for the Titanic tour is an unusual place for a relief out of time.
Brown’s general decorating theme seemed to be “ancient” without geographic limitations. Off to the left, the path leads behind the Brown House to a li’l guest house containing the gift shop and the tour ticket sales. One does not simply walk up to Mrs. Brown’s front door. No, far too pedestrian a procedure for this ornate dwelling.
The front porch is tiled. Our docent admitted it’s in need of restoration. I didn’t even know you could tile a porch. We have a very sad patio deck that I’d love to see thrive under this kind of lavish attention.
Down the street is another historical landmark: the first Quiznos, very proud of its achievement. My wife and I are fans, and don’t get to eat at our local franchise nearly often enough. I think the graffiti tag on the pole is the signature of their arch-nemeses, the uncouth, unwashed Subway Kings.
Northwest from there is the Colorado State Capitol, its dome glistening brightly in the morning sun despite being obscured by construction scaffolding, which in turn failed to hide behind the trees and escape our notice.
On the west side of the Capitol is one of the world’s most famous stairsteps, the one that allows you to experience the sensation of standing at an elevation of exactly one mile above sea level. I regret to report that balancing there for several seconds failed to produce any transcendental sensations or mind-blowing visions about the meaning of life and our place in the cosmos. After spending the previous day touring elevations of 7,000 feet and up, we considered this moment a tribute to the wonders of mathematical exactitude and not much more. If you’re from one of the majority countries that favors the metric system over the ancient avoirdupois system, I imagine this accomplishment means even less to you.
(I took small, obscure comfort in knowing that this moment times eight equaled that song by the Byrds.)
The view west of the One Mile Step through Civic Center Park includes the Colorado Tribute to Veterans Memorial and, in the distance, the Denver City & County Building. Behind that and well out of range is the U.S. Mint. We’d included it on our initial itinerary of interiors to visit, only to discover to our dismay that its tour schedules booked much farther in advance than I anticipated.
Our lunch reservations required a two-mile drive southwest to the Buckhorn Exchange, famous for its selection of wild game dishes rarely seen outside five-star restaurants we can’t afford, including this one. The Buckhorn allowed me my first taste of quail. I approved of it in general, but many years will likely pass before I can afford my second quail dinner.
The entire downstairs dining area is cluttered with their collection of stuffed animal heads. My son, an animal lover who had no idea what was in store for him, reacted with such vehement distaste for the decor that we ended up not photographing any of them. My wife did slip away for a few minutes to tour their second floor bar and lounge, cozy in its authentic period-specific furnishings and its proud display of Colorado Liquor License #1.
Lest you think our visit was entirely about mainstream cash-grab attractions and superficial history according to The MAN, I’m proud to report that we did indeed uncover evidence of a shadowy Denver subculture.
We were too cowardly to venture inside, and not just because they wouldn’t be open for several more hours. You have to be careful, because you never know where those pesky Subway Kings might be lurking.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]