After our extended lunch at the Buckhorn Exchange, we spent the late afternoon of Day Four in and around the 16th Street Mall, a 1¼-mile-long stretch of street tiled over for use exclusively by pedestrians and free shuttle buses. This sounded like a novel concept to us, but in person it wasn’t too different from the “lifestyle centers” (the new euphemism for outdoor malls) that we have back home in Indy, despite being four times their size. The constant (and free!) shuttle buses were a wonderful touch, though.
I had meant to take more photos of the Mall, but…well, it’s a mall. Most of their stores are universal franchises. Also, I was still without camera batteries for most of our walk, until we finally ran across a Rite-Aid. We don’t have Rite-Aids back home — our primary drugstore chains are CVS and Walgreens. In that sense, Rite-Aid was technically more exotic to us than all the Mall’s clothing stores.
Artistic expression flourished around the Mall. We couldn’t determine the name of these statues of kids on stilts. I like to think the contrast between their real height and their street-performing height is a metaphor for the Duality of Man, or a salute to circus child labor.
A pair of blue oxen were tattooed with comic strips spouting Denver trivia.
Buffalo silhouettes marching one-by-one in all the colors of the wind.
Southwest of the 16th Street Mall, the Colorado Convention Center is a cinch to locate, not just because of its size. This famous statue of a big, blue bear permanently breaking the law on its northeast side is called “I See What You Mean”.
My wife provides side-by-side size comparison. The poor beast was clearly intimidated and threw its paws up in surrender.
Our longest indoor experience of the afternoon was at the Denver branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which allows tourists the opportunity to undergo several minutes’ worth of review at a security checkpoint before permitting entry to a handful of exhibits, mostly geared toward children who want to know more about money.
Exhibit A: this is what money looks like when old, unusable bills are shredded and parceled out as free souvenirs. Even if you spend months meticulously gluing all those strips back together, I have a feeling many vendors won’t accept them, and most of them are probably lower denominations anyway. I expect employees probably have the privilege of taking home handfuls of shredded $100 bills to use as pillow stuffing or kindling.
Children can also gaze longingly upon this stack of thirty million one-dollar bills. The majority of those children would despair if they could do the math and realize they’ll never earn this much money in their lifetime. The other kids will merely scoff, “This is why Mother and Father hired me my own financial advisor.” This is what it would look like if Hans Gruber tithed on the fortune he and his cronies attempted to steal in Die Hard.
Also available for children’s use was a table of paper, crayons, and rubbing templates so they could design their very own dollar bills. If there’s no line, adults aren’t barred from taking a turn.
With its classy design elements that include a bull, an ear of corn, and the word “BUCK” in all-caps, my proposed new $1.0 × 10100 bill would allow me to buy the entire planet and have just enough money left over for a half-tank of gas. For currency exchange purposes, my googol-dollar bill would equal ten zillion Schrute Bucks.
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!]