We left Estes Park, and the elk, busy rutting by the road and slightly nonplussed when we slowed the enormous Dodge beside them to take photos, yesterday morning. The sun faded away behind a wall of cloud and drizzle as we got back to Boulder – itself still a mile (1600m) above sea level. It was flippin’ cold. Seriously, after two years in Rome we’re totally de-acclimatised to anything even vaguely near freezing.
Another immediately bizzarro comparison with Rome arose when we entered a café – and found everyone sitting in silence, on laptops. In Rome, people, you know, talk to each other in cafés. Still, the beer bars are decidedly more sociable – indeed, we’ve just been to Falling Rock Tap House in Denver and a note on the back of the menus scolds people for being on their phones.
Yesterday’s lunch was sociable too – we were still with Fran’s bro and family, though the Mountain Sun (1535 Pearl Street) was very welcoming to us all, including slumbering Angry Girl (19 months, in giant buggy) and hungry Brisket Boy (aka British Captain America, aged five). It was a really great spot, where the waiters were enamored of Brisket Boy’s accent and eager to please the slightly older beer drinkers among us by providing a superb selection of samples before we chose our pints.
These beer bars all have a serious emphasis on fried food though so we really enjoyed finding Bones in Denver today. This isn’t just an excellent fusionish noodle bar, with some splendid suckling pig steamed buns.
They even had a few craft beers. Served far too cold (a bit of an issue here in the US methinks), but we still enjoyed our dark ales – especially my Ellie’s Brown Ale. It not only tasted good but it was named after a chocolate Labrador, reminiscent of the in-laws’ dog, Baxter, who we said goodbye to last week.
After a bit of cultcha at the Denver Art Museum (Impressionism, US landscape art, the generation and consolidation of the myths of the American West, a giant dustpan and brush; not as cool as the giant blue bear though), we went to the Falling Rock. Where the serve beer at the right temperature, have an impressive selection, but slightly undermine the whole “no-phones-they-distract-from-the-beer”- ethos with bloody great screens. Still, at least it was basketball (Miami Heat beating Chicago Bulls), the most fluid, dynamic and engaging of the US’s three major sport obsessions.
Tomorrow may well be a craft beer-free day as we’re re-ascending the Rockies, this time by train, overnighting on the Amtrak California Zephyr before meeting our chum Cameron at Lake Tahoe.