Rocky Mountain High / by Deborah Clague

After experiencing some stomach turning turbulence, we landed in the mile high city. Our mandate was to attend the 2010 HOW Design Conference, however, extra days were also allocated for leisure. I have never been to Denver (my father says I have when I was a child but memories of this escape me) thus I was well excited for some sightseeing. The first curious thing that caught my attention upon arrival was the airport. I have read numerous paranoid schizophrenic articles about the Denver International Airport's supposed Illuminati connection. While intriguing (and entertaining), I didn't have enough time to truly explore the symbology or pet the "horse of the apocalypse". Still on my list of must-sees, though. I've already bought a carrot to appease it. No, the arrival gates of this particular hub were just boring gray hallways. Long hallways. Super long hallways, like whoa! With sporadic Native American chanting filtering through the speakers. It was as confusing as the exterior spaceship/abstract mountain range/rip off of the Vancouver Pan-Pacific structure. I will write more about it upon departure. 

After putting away our suitcases and resting for all of 3 minutes, we hit the avenue. 16th Avenue that is. Cowboy boots. Souvenir stands - and, sadly, many destitute individuals. We passed a small park filled with hundreds of people. As I craned my head to see what was going on, I realized they were waiting for the Mission to open. Even more people were snaked around the block, all of them fighting off stagnant heat and hunger. It's a stark contrast becoming evermore common in the 21st century: cardboard boxes neighboring half a million dollar condos. Doesn't seem right. At the people's fair the next day, there were even booths set up providing information on how to deal with bankruptcy next to booths selling candy apples. Truly a sign of the times. The City of Denver is helping eradicate the problem in creative ways however, including setting up parking meters in high traffic locations where the funds specifically aid the homeless population. 

Another thing I noticed about Denver was how dog-friendly the city was. There were urban pooches of all breeds and sizes enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the downtown area. Patrons were even allowed to tie up their pets next to the patio table of many restaurants. Stark contrast to Saskatoon, where canines are outright banned from a lot of parks. The world is better with dogs in it. More people need to embrace that fact. I managed to find a really neat pet store at Larimer Square and got my own wee furball a few treats and toys. I also bought my parents (who are petsitting my wee furball) a few treats and toys as a thank you. It's the least I can do considering all the mischief Monty is probably up to. 

My comrades and I later enjoyed dinner at 'The Cheesecake Factory', a restaurant that people love to rave about. I admit, the chain had me at "cheesecake"...but then lost me after I was presented with my plate of fried macaroni balls. The macaroni itself was delicious. You really can't go wrong with any recipe that includes cheese (again, see "cheesecake"). However the marinara was pink and soggy. Testament to how important presentation is in dining, I couldn't stop imaging that I was consuming a plate of pus-and-blood (TMI, I know). My associates' meals were just as curious...one ordered an individually-sized taco platter that could have fed a small army and the other ordered a salad that was the Mt. Everest of lettuce. While the person outside is starving, those being served are given twice (thrice!) as much as they can stomach. Welcome to America. 

And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly

*As I forgot the cable that connects my camera to my laptop, pictures will be added at a later time.