The next day, we planned to spend half our time with James before breaking off to explore Cherry Creek and downtown Denver. James was staying at the same hotel as us, so we told him to meet us for breakfast bright and early at 6:30 am. Lucy and I were ready to go, but Paul was very exhausted from the day before and just kept sleeping. I finally shook him awake and told him that we were going to be late for breakfast if he did not get moving. That got him into the shower, but then he spent close to 30 minutes just percolating in the warm water. We were very late. Poor James had been ready to go on time. Paul had decently texted him that we were running late about 5 minutes after we should have been there (how magnanimous of him!), and blamed our tardiness on me. Wasn't that nice of him?
After finishing breakfast, we headed out to see Red Rocks Amphitheater - an impressive rock structure that serves as a natural outdoor venue for many concerts and shows. We took a little hike around the formations and up the side of the hill. I enjoyed this a lot - it was so neat! Along our hike, we were spooked by a giant spider that very much resembled a Hobo Spider. Paul did not want to continue on the path any further after seeing that, but after much coaxing and promises of red meat for dinner, he overcame his fears and soldiered on.
I took lots of pictures. Lucy took a very long nap.
|People come to workout up and down the many, many steps of the amphitheater. |
You can't tell from the pictures, but there were a lot of fitness enthusiasts there this particular morning!!
Oh and look! We found John Denver.
After Red Rocks, we drove over to the Coors factory for a tour. I'm not a huge fan of Coors, but their tours are free and family-friendly so we figured that we'd give it a shot. I'm so glad we did, because it turned out to be really fun and informative. I discovered that Coors actually owns the only beer I like - Blue Moon - as well as Redd's Hard Cider. The tour was self guided with these hand-held radio devices, so you could move at your own pace throughout the factory. Lucy preferred that I move at a lightening fast rate through the factory and I spent a good 15 minutes feeding her in the powder room - my fancy description of a really dirty hall bathroom with a 1950s era couch set inside for nursing mothers. The best part of the tour was at the conclusion where they lead you into a pub where you could have up to three drinks of your choice on tap in cold glasses. These were not sample servings - they were full 12 ounce glasses of beer! We basically got a glass of everything and concluded, no surprise, that blue moon is the tastiest. They also had soft drinks on tap for the kids or the occasional 20-something-year-old female who is not all that fond of beer.
After the Coors tour, we said good-bye to James and then headed for a walking tour of the shops, landmarks, and architecture of downtown Denver. Unfortunately, the clouds began to open just as we arrived and a downpour ensued. We persevered, since we had already paid for the parking, and walked through the rain, trying to keep as close to the buildings as possible to benefit from the protection of the overhangs. We enjoyed walking hand-in-hand, a rare treat nowadays with all three kiddos, through the many, many different specialty shops. We stopped in our tracks from excitement when we stumbled upon a Peet's Coffee shop - our favorite coffee is their Major Dickason blend, we shared a latte and a yogurt parfait inside while watching the rain and chatting. Sometimes, quiet moments together are the best.
On our way back to retrieve our parked car, we were accosted by many, many individuals soliciting funds for various charitable organizations, requesting our signatures for certain government petitions, or proclaiming the ways to our salvation. For the most part, we averted our eyes and just kept walking quickly when approached. However, we did stop to chat to one younger guy who was collecting money for a campaign to feed America's hungry children. He was a pleasant hippy who was not too pushy with his initiative. He kept asking us questions about ourselves and we ended up turning some of his own inquiries around on him. Then, we somehow started sharing our viewpoints on marriage, family, and Catholicism and we definitely got his attention - blew him away with our large family background and our openness to life. We actually talked to him for nearly an hour before we had to keep moving to make our dinner reservation. Little encounters like that, where you get to meet and hear someone's life journey and share a portion of your own story in return, can be so rewarding and uplifting. Wherever our friend may be, we wish him well - he had such a good heart!
Next, we headed over to Cherry Creek to enjoy our "fancy" dinner of the trip at Elway's. One of the most famous and revered restaurants in Denver, Elway's is the flagstaff restaurant of former Bronco's quarterback John Elway. From everything I had read, the restaurant is revered not just because of it's association with Denver's second favorite athlete (next to Peyton Manning - but I'm biased) but also because the food is supposed to be delicious, high-end, masterfully prepared cuisine. I actually watched the Executive Chef of Elway's compete on Top Chef Master's and he knew what he was doing. He didn't make it all that far, but I liked the flavor combinations he came up with. In other words, I was really looking forward to eating there. Paul was looking forward to eating the steak, their main specialty.
Well, after having eaten there, I can conclude that we were really disappointed. We were kind of ignored by our waitress after we declined to order alcohol. We chose to split an entree and just order several sides since I'm not a huge red meat person and their various vegetable preparations intrigued me the most. And also because the meals were about 80 bucks a pop. Who can afford that? So, Paul chose the NY strip and we added on a beet salad, some creamed spinach, a brussels sprouts hash, and potato hash browns with mustard aioli. When our meal arrived, we were blown away by the deliciousness of the sides. With the exception of the creamed spinach, which could have used a bit more seasoning, everything was artfully prepared and beautifully presented.
However, the steak, the crown jewel of the restaurant's menu, was an abysmal failure. Ordered medium rare, the steak appeared to be overdone, dry, and texturally reminiscent of a steak that had spent some time in the freezer. In addition to that, the cut had the appearance of a filet mignon, and judging by the lack of fat content, we were fairly confident that that is exactly what we were served. Plus, the waiter had actually said, "And here is your filet..." when he placed the plate on the table. When the manager stopped by to ask how our meals were tasting, we told him our honest thoughts. He claimed that our complaints stemmed from a lack of knowledge of food preparation. That really made both of us mad because food is...well...sort of a hobby for us. We told him flat-out that we were not looking for a freebie by any means, but legitimately wanted to bring the issue up so the restaurant could simply be aware of it in order to improve for future guests. Maybe it was because we were a lot younger than their average clientele, or because we were splitting an entree and therefore paying a lot less for our meal than every other couple that night, or maybe it was because I was waving a toy above Lucy's head in an attempt to keep her happy while we discussed the situation, who knows...but both Paul and I felt disrespected by the staff as a whole. In the end, the manager brought us a boxed up dessert on the way out, which was very kind of him but truly unnecessary. In case you were wondering, the dessert was a Key lime Pie with a raspberry coulis and it was delicious.
After dinner, we went in search of a park where we could eat our compensatory dessert and enjoy the beautiful evening. This turned into us driving all over the southern portion of Denver - through Aurora, Englewood, Littleton, and Lakewood. We did stop at a little park in Centennial where we ate our dessert in the grass while the baby slept. We were pretty exhausted at this point and I'm pretty sure Paul almost fell asleep while sitting in the grass. So, we packed everything up, finished our loop driving through the aforementioned areas of Denver, and went back to the hotel to rest-up for our very last day of vacation.