You know how the holidays make a certain part of the year fly by? There’s so much to do on the to-do list, that fall turns into winter and winter turns into spring, and before you know it, it’s nearly April, and you still haven’t blogged about your New Year’s Eve adventure.
So, now that we’re caught up to speed. My Christmas present was tickets to a three-night New Year’s Eve run by none other than My Morning Jacket. What’s My Morning Jacket, you ask? Only the best modern, psychedelic rock band of today. Think Pink Floyd, but a bit more diverse in sound. Their songs range from long rock jams to folk to bluesish, and well… you get the idea. Instruments range from your basic rock kit: drums, bass, guitar, and keyboard to brass instruments and many stringed instruments I can’t even name. Diverse. Look them up, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, here’s a link to their website with a video: https://www.mymorningjacket.com/.
So, we flew to Denver, to explore in the day and soak up the angelic melodies of MMJ at night. My last post regarding Denver was in the summer, when it’s pleasant. So, let me make that my second recommendation of this post. Unless, you’re going to ski, or you’re crazy, don’t go to Colorado in the dead of winter, when the temperature outside is 8 degrees and there is no moisture in the air. Frigid, soul-challenging cold. Don’t do it.
Interesting side note, The Revolution opened for MMJ the first night. That’s Prince’s band. They got back together after his death and they were phenomenal. Honestly, every night got better, except that they were the best opening band, by far, for the entire three days. Although, Jim James (lead vocalist and guitarist) may have performed Purple Rain better than The Revolution the second night. You got to love Jim James, even when he’s an asshole and outperforms a band with their own music. It was their last performance, other than when they perform at their festival – One Big Holiday – for the year!
Needless to say, this was the best rock concert of my life. I counted 22 disco balls. There was fire, sparks, laser shows, balloons, confetti canons, and at midnight on the New Year, the band came out dressed in wacky costumes and wigs singing “All You Need is Love.” The Beatles happen to be my other favorite band, so it was pretty incredible. Jim James said we need to bring peace, love and joy into the New Year and then sang that song complete with a time wizard, and an army of rainbow-colored people. There couldn’t be a better way to start the New Year than good vibes and an amazingly weird performance.
This year has already started to fly by and we need to remember to bring peace, love and joy into each day. There is a movement happening in America right now. Thousands of kids and teenagers are protesting gun violence in America and taking a stand against legislature, demanding stricter gun reform. This is what Jim James’ is talking about. We need more hope in this world. We especially need more peace in this country right now. There is an evolution taking place, a switching of power roles. The baby boomers are retiring and being replaced with millennials through Gen. Z. Being replaced with people who have had the world’s information at their fingertips for as long as they can remember. Now, some may argue that that’s not necessarily a good thing, it’s kind of incredible. Supposedly, these younger generations, specifically Gens. X and Z, are more concerned with the environment and their health than the generations before them. And isn’t it time.
We mostly traipsed through the usual haunts of a big city. I enjoy taking advantage of certain stores while I have them available. Although, we did try a new brunch place, dubbed the best Bloody Mary bar in Denver – Gaetano’s on 3760 Tejon St. For 8 bucks you can make your own Bloody Mary, with a choice between vodkas, trust me go with the house pickle vodka. Some 80+ hot sauces, a full bar of toppings including bacon, beef jerky, shrimp, pickles, sauces, spices, olives, three different kinds of tomato juices, and everything else; it’s basically a meal in a glass if you make yours the way I made mine. They also have a wonderful and nicely-priced brunch menu. And they have bottomless mimosas for around 8 bucks, too.
We also checked out the art museum and botanical gardens. Both were great, but the gardens weren’t as lively in the winter and half of the museum is closed for renovation until 2021, I believe. Although, there was actually still plenty to see at both locations.
At the end of our trip, we drove to Fort Collins to visit a friend who was home for the holidays. We ended up taking a nice little hike overlooking the water in the Horsetooth Mountain area.
It was a great way to end a winter vacation stuck in a big city.
Although, it didn’t end quite yet. We spent a few days in Portland, of course, before driving back home. And as much as I want to explore new parts of Portland, I just can’t seem to shake my favorite places.
Great Notion, is our first stop, one we make multiple times while in Portland. It’s our favorite craft beer brewery in the state and my favorite in the country. Just like MMJ is with their music, Great Notion is experimental with their beer. I may be biased, but everything they do is great. Their motto is “With the passions for hops, and the patience for sours.” Two of my favorite styles. They make some mean beer. Two of their signature beers: Blueberry Muffin, a fruited sour ale, that literally leaves the aftertaste of a warm, blueberry muffin; and Double Stack, a stout that lives up to the association of flavors of coffee and maple syrup over fluffy pancakes were both on tap. And lucky for me, I got to try the Blueberry Stack. It’s not listed on their menu, but if you ever go, and I highly recommend going, you’ve got to try it. Now, I’m not a dark beer fan, but this combination is mouth-watering: 25 percent Blueberry Muffin and 75 percent Double Stack leaves you with the warm taste of blueberry pancakes, maple syrup and coffee in the form of a beer. Sounds weird, but it is heavenly.
Aside from spending a large amount of time in Great Notion, we also had to go to the biggest new and used book store in the country: Powell’s. I spend months working on my list of books to find there. Zach drops me off because I spend A LOT of time in there. I usually head for a coffee to counterbalance the amount of beer I’ve already had by that time. Then, I spend a leisurely amount of time just walking through the floor to ceiling book shelves, breathing in the excitement that fills the air – the intoxicating smell of old books – and squeezing between groups of tourists huddled around. I eventually find my way to an unmanned computer to look up my LONG list of potentials, write down their aisle numbers, pull out my trusty map, and spend the next hour or two trying to find as many books as possible in the most organized way. But, I always end up doubling back. Once, I’ve found as many as I care to, I sit and I sort through them depending on value, desire to read, and price, and usually end up re-shelving nearly half the pile. But, that is the way to spend an afternoon in the city of books: leisurely and blissfully.
The possibly only new thing we did in Portland during this trip was check out Ground Kontrol, an old-school arcade room. Only old-school games, and lots of them, including more than eight perfectly intact pinball machines, and a bar in the middle. It’s a great place to grab a beer and lose yourself in. The games are roughly a quarter per machine.
The neighborhoods around Ground Kontrol and Powell’s (they’re moderately close to each other) and Great Notion are fun to walk around too, because it’s Portland. So, there’s great food trucks (although Great Notion has fantastic food), quirky shops, and A++ people watching.
There’s something for everyone in the city.