Friday, June 21, 2013

Vacation pics & highlights #1: Denver

Post #1 of vacation pictures and highlights! (Drastically condensed; we were a bit snap-happy with the camera.)

Days 1 to 3: Denver

As I said earlier, I lived in Denver for a year. So for me, returning (after 5 years!) was going back to a flood of memories, all basically happy ones. It's such a beautiful city and completely not-humid, which as an East-coaster I love. For Mr. M, this was his first time to Colorado at all. He said he loved visiting a part of my past, and I loved sharing it with him.

Day 1 highlights

We arrived in Denver around lunchtime and made our way downtown.

Highlight: Going to mass at the cathedral

The house I lived at in Denver for a year was just a few blocks away from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which in turn is just a few blocks from downtown. Archbishop Chaput was bishop then, and I would go to the Sunday night mass that he celebrated. Those masses were such a source of grace for me. The Archbishop always had good homilies, and after mass he would go to the Mary chapel and we would sing the proper Marian antiphon (Salve Regina, Regina Coeli, etc.). That was my first experience with that and to this day Mr. M and I love to sing those beautiful songs!
I also had a lot of heart-to-heart talks with God inside this church, including about my future. At the time, I was just out of college and not sure where I was headed. I was single and really wanted to be married, but thought maybe I was called to religious life? (Vocation was a major topic of conversation for God and me.)

From the side - we completely forgot to take pictures inside! Trust me that it's gorgeous.

I can't really describe what it felt like to be back in that same cathedral after 5 years. You know how when you return to a particular location that meant a lot to you? It felt like a huge amount of time had passed, and yet none at all. All the nooks and crannies were familiar to me, even how the light came through the stained glass windows.
During mass, I was so moved to think of God's faithfulness over the past 5 years, despite my not-infrequent doubts and gripes about his providence currently. I had grown so close to Him in this very church, and He had answered my prayers for a husband, for example. (I met Mr. M pretty much immediately after moving to DC from Denver.) I kept looking over at Mr. M during mass and feeling a wave of gratitude for him, and also gratitude that I could share this part of my life with him (Denver). I felt God whispering to me, "You trusted me before, and I didn't let you down. Trust me now, with the deepest desires of your heart." Okay, duly noted =)

JPII visited Denver in 1993. This plaque in the cathedral courtyard commemorates that.
p.s. Gratitude was a huge theme of this vacation for me. How could I not feel grateful for my husband, for the beauty of creation, for time off? Several times I had the sensation of being so filled up with gratitude that there wasn't any room in my heart for sadness, or bitterness, or anything negative. This does not happen so frequently in my daily life! It was a great gift, and one I want to remember and savor.


Day 2 highlights

We spent the first two nights at the house I lived at in Denver, which was awesome because it was so centrally located. Day 2 we did a walking tour of a lot of my favorite spots in Denver. 

Highlight: The Market

For our afternoon coffee fix, we went to my very favorite restaurant in Denver, The Market. It's an eclectic place. There's a coffee shop, a deli, an ice cream counter, and a breezy, vintage feel inside. You can get iced coffee, or potato salad, or gourmet chocolates. Or buy exotic tea. It's on Larimer Square, one of the original blocks of old Denver and where at least a few shoot-outs took place back in the Wild West!

Highlight: Renting bikes

My time in Denver involved lots of biking. I didn't have a car and so got around on bike, by foot, and by bus. Mainly bike, because it was cheaper than the bus and faster than walking. I biked four miles to and from my job every day! I couldn't convince Mr. M to bike in traffic with we compromised and rented "B-cycles" and biked along this flat, bike-only trail along the Platte river. Pedaling in Denver brought back great memories =)

Highlight: Flagship REI

Mr. M's one main request of our Denver time was to visit the flagship REI store. So we did.

The place was huge! It was 3 floors and even had a fireplace! Crazy.

It sits right on the Platte river, which was the scene of not quite a highlight but certainly a memory from our trip...After biking and browsing REI, it was hot. We decided to take a dip in the Platte to cool off.

Mr. M even body surfed down the stream (realizing afterwards why most people use tubes – those rocks hurt!) As we were walking away, duly refreshed, Mr. M got a look of horror on his face. His ring finger was naked! Oh for goodness sakes...he realized he must have lost his wedding ring while sitting in the river and digging his hands into the sand for traction...or while taking a spin down the river! Either way, the ring was now gone. Mr. M said that he contributed to the next Colorado gold rush! And we both felt quite scandalous travelling with him and his empty ring finger while I was wearing both of my rings! Thank goodness for ring insurance, but we were both sad that he lost the ring I put on his finger on our wedding day.


Day 3 highlights


This is my favorite view of Denver. I took it from City Park, in front of the Museum of Nature and Science. The sky takes up so much of the picture because there was orange fencing directly in front of me that I wanted to avoid. But isn't it great? I love how you can see the skyscrapers and the mountains. And that blue was just so blue! There's also a neat lake in the foreground.

Highlight: Botanic gardens

We went to the Denver Botanic Gardens all morning. I feel supremely lucky to have a husband not only willing but excited to spend hours looking at flowers =) Here are some of our favorite shots (by the way, Mr. M took all of these).


water lily

Bonsai tree - I love these!

Japanese style garden

Blooming cactus

More poppies

Lilac bush - my favorite part of the gardens was the path that went behind the lilac bush. It was peaceful and cool and smelled heavenly.

Iris - there were a bazillion different kinds
European style garden

Can't remember what kind this was - but it was stunning!
Highlight: The Snug
Concluding our Denver stay, we met several of my Denver friends at an Irish pub, the Snug. I went there a lot during my Denver days. On Saturday nights they have live music with audience participation! Even though not an ounce of me is Irish, I do love a good sing-a-long =) Since it was a Tuesday, no music. But delicious beer and food! Mr. M enjoyed an "Irish Breakfast Burger" with beef, sausage, egg, and bacon. A real man's food. (Should have taken a picture...)
Next: Colorado Springs


  1. I think your mystery flower is Alstromeria, or at least thats what it looks like. Sounds like a fun trip.

  2. Love this! So sorry Mr. M lost his wedding ring :( - a good reason to have a special Mass to have a new one blessed though ;).

    I have only driven through Denver, but it was the most logical place for a city to pop up that I have seen. I can totally picture the settlers who had just traveled all across the plains and reaching the foot of the Rockies and saying "nope, don't need to know what's over there. Right here looks like a good place to stop and build a city."

    Love all of your pictures!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing!! I love the theme of gratitude. And the beautiful flowers. Makes me want to visit Denver! :) Hope you are able to easily get a new ring to make you and Mr. M feel "official" again! (not that you aren't, but I get the "scandalous" feeling!)