The trip was crazy and bad-weather filled, and Frontier airlines have horrible customer service, but I finally made it back home to Denver.
It’s always nice to be home. Even though my skin instantly dries out from the arid mountain surroundings, I am always happy to be back home in Denver with the Rocky Mountains outside my bedroom window. I’ll only be home for about five days, which is one of my quickest stops yet, but I still plan to hit every spot and see every person to make my trip whole. I arrive late, around 11 p.m. and stop at Sonic with my dad before going home and enjoying it with a nice Pabst Blue Ribbon. There’s something delicious about plastic Sonic burgers, something oh so good about that drizzly yellow cheese, and something oh so enticing about the crack inside the famous tater-tots. It’s perfect, and a welcome relief from my nearly vegetarian diet back in Denmark.
My first day in Denver is spent cruising around the city in my car from high school, a 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer I call Sashimi-San that has been on way too many long distance road trips. I always stop on South Broadway Street in Baker District to stop at my favorite thrift shops and absolute favorite bookstore in the world, Mutiny Now.
The street has always been a haven for the creative, the drunken, the drug-addicted, and the all-around shunned from society black sheep of Denver. My disgruntled teenage years were filled with near-daily trips here to soak in the grungey beauty of it all, and it still has changed since I started coming here seven years ago. I park in my favorite spot next to the old worker houses (where there’s free parking, cause I ain’t paying $3 to park, honey), and even still I dream about getting a little fixer-upper in this neighborhood.
The attitude has certainly gotten a lot more hipster and bougie in the past few years, as I see some bearded, tattooed hipsters (possibly Californian) with feathers in their hats, walking through holding some new mixed media art project they’re dreaming up.
Of course, this used to be the neighborhood with porn shops and drug dealers. But in the nation-wide wave of hipster gentrification, it’s changed a lot. But I can’t really complain, they brought craft beers and fun graffiti to the town.
And you can still get all your drug goodies here, you just buy it from a shop instead of a dealer. I walk around and instantly walk past a strung out junky passed out on a piece of foam, listening loudly to country music on an old radio.
I guess it hasn’t changed that much…
Relics of shops from the 70’s still lay abandoned, and I can still get a $2 pizza with a crowd of homeless people.
It’s a study in urban weirdness, a lesson in the balance between the haves and the have-nots. I meet up with Will, a high school friend for some expensive hipster ice cream at Sweet Action, for some horchata ice cream served in a waffle cone. It’s good to see that my favorite neighborhood is still around and that it hasn’t drastically changed in the years since I’ve left.
Denver as a whole though has changed quite a lot. Colorado is one of the fastest growing states in the US, and city planners, construction workers, and architects have been working tirelessly to supply apartments for the high demanding population. Whenever I come home, there’s a swath of new apartment buildings in places that use to be filled with prairie dogs and garbage. Yet even with the new developments, rents still reside at an overwhelmingly high price. That evening, I meet up with some friends for hookah and visit one friend’s apartment, which he pays an exorbitant monthly fee for. It shocks me, as I pay more than half that for my apartment in Denmark. The problem is, there’s nothing really cheaper in the city.
This creates Denver’s biggest problem, it increases in the homeless population. A trip to downtown Denver always shocks me now, just in the sheer amount of homeless individuals sitting on streets, in parks, or outside shelters. As well, nothing seems to be changing with the situation. Maybe I didn’t notice it as much growing up, but it does seem to be something that’s increased a lot.
Other than hanging out in my sketchy parts of town, I had a lot of errands to run making sure my upcoming trips to Taiwan and Hong-Kong were ready. Along with that, I had to make the oh so necessary social visits with old friends before heading out.
I meet up with two friends at Thump coffee on Downing and 13th, which is a pretty good place, and hang out a bit before walking around to Wax Trax vinyl shop and Kilgore bookstore. Wax Trax has always been my favorite record store. It’s cheap, not air-conditioned, and the employees don’t really give a shit about your existence. Which is fine, since I’m only getting records.
I buy a John Denver album for $1, even though I don’t really listen to him (I just think he’s handsome). It’s good to be home and to be in all of my favorite spots after eight months of being away.
Denver makes my freak flag fly.
One thing I also love is having long, whiskey and cigar fueled conversations with my dad late at night.
It’s become our ritual whenever I’m home, and something I’ve cherished for the past years. We always have a fire as well, in the big fire pit in our backyard. Pachamama has given us a beautiful blue spruce that had to be cut down this past spring, and in my typical fashion is being used as fuel for late night fires.
It’s been a short trip, but it’s always good to be back home. I’ve only stayed in Denver about as long as I had stayed in Norway, but even still it’s an excellent place to spend a few days. Now, I’ve had some time to rest and digest my thoughts since I’ve been on the road since the end of June. I’ve hitchhiked in the Polish rain, slept in Lithuanian cafes, hiked through Georgian mountains, sweat on an Azerbaijani sauna train, had the proper family experience in Slovakia, and fished with Checheniyans in the Norwegian Sea. It’s been an amazing past couple of weeks, of unbelievable growth and experience. Now, I look East, as I approach an upcoming semester at Lingnan University in Hong-Kong.
But first, I have to make an eight-day layover in Taiwan.
Thank you so much for reading!
If you are just joining me, welcome! If you are interested, you can read from the start of my journey here.
As well, I took a little road trip around Lithuania and Latvia which you can read about here.
Finally, my lovely travel buddy Ivana has been blogging about a trip we took last April through Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro. Check her out here.
Thanks again for all of your support, and I’d love any feedback you may have.
Don’t forget to like and subscribe, because I’ve got so much more coming your way soon!