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« Limbo | Main | Colorado Dreamin' »

The Dude Tries to Reconnect with Civilisation

My three week search to find a bolt-hole for the winter resulted in Denver getting the nod ahead of Boulder. While Boulder promised more on the biking front, Denver just seemed to offer a lot more off the bike. The Denver Arts Week and the Denver Film Festival were looming on the events calendar so having the opportunity to experience these things made me want to stick around town as opposed to commute from Boulder. Plus, the bigger smoke just came across as a whole lot more fun with plenty of cool people around. However, re-embracing civilisation again was no easy thing. First I needed to pick up a beard trimmers and tidy up the mop of hair on top too. I was starting to feel decidedly uncomfortable about the locks in Denver. In the mountains one is just assumed to be a little feral, however, back in a city full of homeless it would be easy for people to consider me a transient as opposed to a drifter. It was me who was pre-judging Denver though as people here just don't care about that sort of stuff too much. I think I started that particular beard back in Lima towards the end of my South American adventure, so it had remained untouched for four months. My hair had not been cut since I left Dublin making it 13 months long at the time. Of course, when a beard is long enough that it should be combed it's too long in my view. I was not particularly fond of being able to see it without the need for a mirror. Still, I decided to keep the beard, albeit in a trimmed format, and I only took a little bit of hair off in a vain attempt to style my straight unstylable locks. Being the age of Christ, I decided I may as well embrace the Jesus look for a while longer. Why not. In keeping up appearances I also needed to kit myself out with a new wardrobe. America is great in this regard. I popped down to Target for some no-brand plain tees and a hoodie, I went to the charity store for some trousers and a sports jacket and I scored a couple of great shirts in the retro stores. I managed to assemble a wardrobe for next to nothing.

Now that I had the appearances of being normal I had to begin acting like it. I needed to start surfing the airwaves by buying a cell-phone. With a contact number I could now set about trying to find digs so I could pay monthly rent. It was time to abandon my tent. Jeez, despite the unfamiliar surroundings my life was starting to have a familiar feel to it once more. Having patrolled the city observantly on my bike I had managed to narrow down where I wanted to live. I wanted to be central. What's the point of trying to live somewhere it you are too far out in extraburbia that you can't really experience it? Thankfully rents are not that big a deal in Denver unless you are staying in yuppieville appartment towers smack in the middle of downtown. I've never been one for an appartment so that ruled out living in LoDo (Lower Downtown) and RiNo (River North). I set about trying to figure out which residential part of town I liked the most. Top of the list were Baker, East Colfax and LoHi (Lower Highlands). Thankfully Craigslist managed to find me a sublet on East Colfax right on City Park the day I got kicked out of the hostel. The manager there was a knob and just went off the handle at me for absolutely no reason resulting in me getting the boot. Honestly, after all the hostels I have stayed in around the world you couldn't have a more considerate guest than me.

East Colfax is a great part of town. It has some really cool bars and is a place where other people in the city come to for a night out. My favourite bar is the one nearest to me, Lost Lake. It's not a dive but it is a small ridiculously chilled-out bar with great bar staff and no nonsense at the door. Fixed-gear bikes are very attached to this establishment. While they hang-outside with the smokers their hipster owners are inside. If hipsters like the place then that can be perceived to mean that Lost Lake is cool but not too cool and not somewhere that has sold out. Indeed, the owners are definitely not in it for the money, $2 beers can't be good for profits. In addition, East Colfax is blessed with the Bluebird Theater, one of the principle live music venues in the city. It also has what can only be described as the blessed trinity of culture. In one complex lies the Denver Film Center (indie picture-house), the Tattered Cover bookstore and Twist 'n' Shout, the best music/record store I have ever seen.

Of course, there is no point living in a cool part of town if I didn't have good eggs to enjoy the place with. As an alien I rely on house-mates as my social outlet. I'm sharing a 4-bed 2000 sq ft home with Melissa, Corey and Chris. Chris is mostly down in his bunker studying for the Colorado Bar so he's not often available for selection. As for the other two, they are pretty much game-on. Melissa is both brilliant and crazy. Full of ideas she is hoping to make back the millions she lost. She is an entrepreneur who scratches for a living as an online lecturer and a public speaker. However, behind the scenes she is scheming on a very grand project. Corey left Houston to tour bars across the country with his guitar and a random group of musicians who entered and exited the fray over the course of his road-trip. He never made it back properly to Houston preferring to hang out in Colorado. He has a friend run his music studios while he is absent and works a couple of mornings a week in Denver drug-testing the Broncos. The upside of all this for me is that both Melissa and Corey are around the house during the day a lot. This makes the house feel quite akin to college when I would wake up with good intentions, before I would start chasing the day only for those productive intentions to become lost as the day peters out and life ultimately is postponed. I never thought I would have my college days back but I have. This time around I'm not stupid enough to actually worry about exams. My time in Denver feels very similar to my time as an Erasmus student in Bavaria, it doesn't get much better than this.

More soon


start of trip - Kathmandu Valley Oct 2009US Visa photo - Salta (Arg) Mar 2010












La Paz airport - June 2010the end of the road - Denver Nov 2010 (too much?!)













my housemates - Corey (& Alsiha), Melissa and the dude reinvents as the Cat in the Hat

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