The countdown to leave the mile-high city has begun. Our time here has been a real mix of doing things at a leisurely pace, yet getting to see what Denver has to offer.
Washington Park and Neighbourhood
Having recovered sufficiently from the Classic Denver Hike in our last post, we planned a shorter walk around Washington Park. Thankfully it was on our bus route. So 30 minutes later we arrived in the lovely suburb south of Denver. On the short walk from the bus stop to the park we passed many different, individually designed houses. Some old, some new.
The park itself had a lot of European influence. Two large lakes, a boathouse, a lily pond surrounded by willow trees and tennis courts. We walked the perimeter of both lakes and counted over 40 baby Canadian geese trying to keep up with the correct set of parents.
Before this turned into the 2nd Classic Denver Hike, we headed towards South Gaylord Street where we had spied some trendy shops and a tavern or two. Does 5 minutes window shopping warrant stopping for a beer? Definitely, so two beers each, one burger and one Caesar salad later we were feeling very good in the Old Colorado Tavern, Washington Park.
The JWalking Diet
How many burgers have we eaten since arriving in the US? This is the question we have been asked by a few of our avid readers. Well, it many come across from our posts and photos that we have one every day. What the blog fails to document is the routine of life between exciting days out. So to try and put the record straight and reassure family and friends who are concerned for our arteries here is a bit more background info. We always start the day with cereal, orange juice, vitamin tablets, a piece of fruit and sometimes toast. We try and take our lunch out with us depending on the temperature and what is in the mobile pantry. This will normally be a roll/sandwich and a cereal bar/piece of fruit plus the never ending refills of our water bottles which we source from the numerous water fountains around the city. As far as an evening meal goes, most of our airbnbs are happy for us to cook so about 6 nights of the week it will be chicken and rice, pasta and veg or maybe fish, if the cost and quality looks OK, followed by a yogurt. So it averages out that we eat out about once a week. This depends more on location, type of accommodation and what takes our fancy rather than saying, “It’s Saturday – we must eat out”. Some places we stay are more “out of town” so we don’t have an option it’s Jo’s Cafe or Jon’s Mash Up. So, to put the record straight, we never feel guilty about tucking into whatever we fancy on those days when we eat out – especially if it is after a calorie burning hike!
Football Fiasco (non football lovers please move onto the next heading!)
We thought we had it all figured out. Lynette and Tony, our Airbnb hosts, have around 1200 channels so we hoped we would find the final match of the season for our beloved Manchester United. Jon has always been very good about not needing to see his team in action but he felt that 8am on a Saturday morning wouldn’t stop our day’s plan so we found the channel, got a coffee and were ready for the big match. In fact we found each of the 10 matches being played simultaneously in the UK. These were on 10 separate channels here. Wowza. As most of you know, the MUFC game was postponed due to a security alert – that is just not fair! We had to settle for the Leicester v Chelsea game instead, with a bit of channel-hopping around the other 8 games! Hope we can do better when the Europa cup starts in June or their could be tears.
The California Zephyr – Stage II
We headed for our evening train departure in a heavy downpour ready for the shout “All aboard”.
Despite thinking that my feet were just damp, I was in fact, walking in trainers full of water. Denver had taken it’s toll on my trusty footwear, purchased in Hobart, Tasmania about 150 walking miles ago. Must fit in some shopping at the next location. Considering that the train had already been travelling for 36 hours from San Francisco and there had been a heavy downfall of snow in the Rockies, we were amazed to see it arrive early. The final leg was Denver to Chicago – about 20 hours.
The Conductor told us the train would be full so we were allocated our seats this time. The nervous anticipation of who our neighbours would be on this journey was incalculable. Here I must add that I cannot attempt to surpass or even match Jon’s characters and description of Stage I of our journey but there are a few staff and fellow passengers worthy of note. The staff were:
- Carriage Steward – Kevin
- Conductors – Tommy and Dave
- Cafe – Mike
Dave looked remarkably like the Fat Controller and Mike kept insisting over the tannoy system that we, “Come on down to the Cafe Folks”. Our route would take us out of Colorado through Nebraska, Iowa and finally into Illinois. We departed to the two haunting eerie blasts on the train’s horns at 7.10pm. These blasts sound even more eerie and haunting in the night in the middle as we cross each road crossing of the Great Plains.
Not much to see before it got dark so I strategically hung out the socks to dry and we listened into a few conversations going on between solo passengers who had ended up in adjoining seats. The lady behind was knitting furiously (perhaps she could provide dry socks me thinks) and she was nattering tot he elderly man next to her about Chicago. Across the isle to us was a man in his mid 50s introducing himself to a young lad in his 20s who was training to be a Jesuit Priest. All normal stuff really apart from two incidences – one of which cracked me up. Man in his 50s had a small cool bag with food supplies for his journey – he started with some nuts and said his wife had packed him “healthy stuff”. He then got out an egg. I thought, great that will stink the carriage out. He proceeded to bash the egg on his tray table but he failed to crack the shell. So he bashed it harder and the egg exploded all over him and the Jesuit Priest boy. It was raw. Classic! Wife having the last laugh at home while he swans off to Chicago. We are still trying to forget the second event. Elderly man has a new name, wee-man. He fell asleep and his bladder fell asleep too. I begun to wish it had been a hard boiled egg to mask the mixed aroma of urine and raw egg. Good time for a fix of my desert island discs podcasts and then sleep. (Jon refused to let me put his spare earplugs up my nose!)
We slept in fits and stats and woke to a sun rise over what looked like a misty swamp landscape – that was Nebraska after heavy rain.
We continued through Iowa and Illinois which very flat and agricultural. The train slowed dramatically at one point to take us over the Mississippi which, at this point of its 2,300 mile journey, was relatively narrow. Before we knew it, next stop Chicago and another Union Station. As everyone collected their belongings and I donned my perfectly dry socks and trainers, 50 something man offered the Jesuit Priest boy his phone to google where the greyhound bus station was. “Careful” he said, ” it has a bit of egg on the screen”. Priceless blog material.
13.5 – 17.5.2016