JJMRT Day 3: Dinosaurs, Pirates, and Hippies

And then there was day three.

The brothers Forisha awoke and ate breakfast in a somewhat cramped area at their hotel.

We caught an odd variety of things on the Denver morning news, covering all things from Bike to Work Day to whether or not your shoes are secretly hurting your foot. I guess big city morning news is the same just about anywhere.

After breakfast we headed for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which was in the middle of Denver’s City Park (not to be confused with my Denton residence for the past two years, City Parc. Of course, the two are nothing alike, so getting them confused is pretty unlikely to begin with). The park is completely unfair in the way that it flaunts the fact that Denver has a very awesome and also very photogenic mountain skyline just beyond its city skyline.

The weather today was superb. Like, 60s in the morning, 80s in the afternoon, and the sun was up all day. After awhile I realized that yesterday, being the Summer Solstice, may have been the closest I have ever been to the sun. Not only was it the closest to the earth that it’ll get for this year, but I was in Denver, the city that commonly boasts about being a mile above sea level. This means I was higher than normal, and the sun was lower than normal. We practically touched.

At the Museum, we were greeted by a large group of little kids. Not so much a greeting, really, as a lot of unsynchronized yells that we did our best to ignore. We bought tickets to the Real Pirates exhibit and then went through it. I love pirates, so naturally this was a hit with me. I know it was actually legitimately good, however, because other people also thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit.

It started by talking about the slave trade and how awful it was, and then talked about how awesome pirates are and how they were democratic and better than the navy in practically ever manner, and then it talked about a slave boat called the Whydah and how pirates took it right after it sold its slaves and then they ran around and did spectacular pirate things until finally they were too piratey for their own good and a storm went BAM BAM and then they sunk and most of them died.

Then we quickly went through a dinosaur exhibit and an Egyptian exhibit, and then we looked at some bears and some space stuff. On the fourth floor of the museum was the “best scenic view in Denver,” and after experiencing it, I think it actually may have been. As far as sights go, Denver beats Dallas. But hey, at least Dallas has still got Wichita floored.

After the museum we ate at the cafeteria-esque thing downstairs, where pure mayhem occurred thanks to children that tried to stomp my toes and steal my awesome cardboard pirate hat from my back pocket. After eating, we drove to a place called Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey in which they distill all their own whiskey and distribute it.

We took a tour with five other people and saw the entire distillery process, which was really interesting and kind of mind-boggling. Whiskey, by law, has to age for at least two years, so it seems that when starting a distillery, there’d be a lot of initial downtime.

At the end of the tour, we were taught how to taste whiskey by the brewmaster himself, which is apparently a rare event. He took us through smelling it and tasting it and talked a lot about how their whiskey is weird because they use 100% barley and evidently no one else does that.

Josh bought a bottle of the whiskey, egged on by the tour guide telling us that it rarely leaves the state anymore, and the stuff was pretty yummy. Not being an experienced whiskey drinker myself, when the brewmaster said he could taste some citrus, white chocolate, vanilla, and slight nuttiness in the tasting, I took his word for it.

Afterwards we jetted across town to get to the Great Divide Brewery for another tour. This one was significantly shorter and a lot less specific. Whereas a distillery like Stranahan’s had to be very precise and sanitary so as not to damage the hard-working yeast people, the brewery had spilled beer all over and a loud bottling room with Primus blaring as we walked in.

Nonetheless, Great Divide has been very successful and was pretty yummy. After the tour, Josh and I drank some of their product and thought about what next to do. We drove through the park that led to the Colorado Capitol but decided not to go in (thanks to Denver traffic and a frighteningly small amount of parking places). Denver seems to have a lot of homeless people, and even when they approach you asking for money and such, they’re always pleasant.

The best line from Denver came last night came courtesy of some slightly sleazy bro-type. “Hey you guys want to see something real cool? Check it out, panty droppers in a bottle.” And then he held up some Michael Jordan cologne and wanted us to try it. Somehow we resisted.

Our last stop in Denver occurred on the south side of town at the Denver Folklore Center. They had a ton of folk instruments and were the exact kind of people that would work in a folk shop. That is to say, very laid back. I ended up buying a dulcimer capo because they’re hard to find, then we left.

The drive to Colorado Springs from Denver was absurd. Mountains sprouted everywhere, we passed a city called Castle Rock (which literally had a rock on a mountain that looked a lot like a castle), and valleys suddenly sprouted from both sides of the road. It seemed like the world was making up for the long and boring stretches in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Once in Colorado Springs, we checked in at our latest hotel, found a place to go, and headed for Manitou Springs. We tried to eat at a restaurant themed after pirates called Castaways, but upon sitting down and looking at the inconsistent theme of the place, we decided $11 for pasta wasn’t worth it. We awkardly waddled out and drove up the road, where the mountains continued to envelop us.

Upon finding downtown Manitou Springs, we parked and walked. The whole area was made up of local shops selling all kinds of things, and somehow we came across a Dulcimer shop. We hung out inside and talked with the guy, and I was amazed that we had somehow happened across it. He and his family have made dulcimers in the basement for thirty years.

Then we ate at a place called Heart of Jerusalem Cafe, then walked around and got some frozen custard. Unfortunately Manitou Springs, while being a very localized hippy-minded area, seems to close shop around 8 PM, so we wandered around looking at closed doors for quite some time before we called it quits.

Then we got mildly lost in the mountains, drove around downtown Colorado Springs only to discover that it was all bars and restaurants, and then came back to the hotel.

Tomorrow holds more adventures, including a long drive to Santa Fe.

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~ by Jon C. Forisha on June 22, 2011.

One Response to “JJMRT Day 3: Dinosaurs, Pirates, and Hippies”

  1. I’m really enjoying your blog, Jon. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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