Denver: Home sweet home #5, bison on the loose, a redneck bus tour, and frisbee with the dead!

Third week in Denver and we're starting to get an idea of the city. Denver is similar to a scaled down Chicago in that all types of small, but vibrant, communities exist outside of the main downtown. We've done a lot of driving to decide where we want to spend time, but we keep learning about more areas. Then there are all the nearby cities-- Boulder, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins. All of Colorado's top 10 biggest cities are two hours away or less. Many are so close that it's hard to notice when Denver ends and another city begins.

Couple more notes to add to first impressions of Denver:

-- Austin, TX should keep the title "live music capital of the world" due to its public funding of artists and SXSW, but Denver actually has more music venues. Denver lacks the concentration of open-front bars and venues that makes places like Austin's 6th St so dramatic, but fans of live music won't be disappointed.

-- In California we experienced the spring transition months ago, but here we're back to winter. It isn't cold during the day, but a lot of the landscape is still brown and grey and many of the mountain attractions are still closed because of all the snow. Looking forward to full on spring!

-- I was disappointed with the limitation of the rail system until I found this map showing rail current projects. In a few years, the system will be much larger. It won't help while we're here this time, but it's good to have something to look forward to. The free 16th Street Mall Bus has been so successful they're adding more free downtown buses in a couple weeks. Need to go to the airport? Use one of the special bus stops downtown to take you there.

Some of what we've been up to:

Banjo Billy Tour! What better introduction to a new city than a Colorado style bus tour? From the bus's decorations and sound effects to the attractions and trivia, this tour was fun and helped us decide what we wanted to see more of. The bus showed us sites like Cheesman Park, Colorado Capital, Molly Brown House, Brown Palace, and the Botanic Gardens. Plus, it was on Groupon, so we got a good deal.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge: We only had an hour, so we went into the museum/welcome center and drove the safari-like roads and dirt paths through the refuge. We definitely plan on heading back to do some hiking. Four or five bison were feeling itchy during our visit and decided to leave the fields to scratch themselves on road signs so we got quite the close-up.

Ghosts at Cheesman Park: Every city we've lived in has spun their data to create a park brag of some type. Denver brags about having the most parks within city limits. With over 200 parks, most Denver residents are close to a good park. Many of these parks have one or two lakes and
other activities from lawn bowling to kayaking. Cheesman Park is one of the bigger parks, its claim to fame being the thousands of dead bodies buried beneath the grass. This isn't a ghost-story. There are literally thousands of dead bodies underneath the lawn. After the contractor hired to remove the bodies was discovered breaking the bodies in smaller sections to make more money, he was fired mid-job.

There have been quite a few ghost stories about cool spots in the park or nappers who wake up and feel like they are being pulled into the ground. Walking through the park, we felt all types of temperature variations. Whenever we walked into the shadow of a tree it got cold and when we walked back into the sun it got warm again. Coincidence? I think not!

I've been posting pictures of each temporary apartment and I definitely don't want to skip this one. The owner did a nice job of setting the place up. We thought we had it good with free Starbucks each morning in Chicago. This place has free coffee drinks around the clock and a continental breakfast three days a week. The fitness center offers classes and fitness sessions free to residents. The heated doorknobs in the common areas seem a little excessive and silly, but overall it's a really nice building.  I'm afraid to know what the condo fees are.

As ridiculous as it may seem, one of our favorite things about this apartment was having a kitchen fully furnished by the owner and not a rental company. The rental companies do the best they can with their kitchen packages, but each one misses a few things and we generally go without to reduce waste, save money, and keep from moving more junk. Here, we moved in, opened all the drawers, and were in heaven. Fully incremented measuring cups! A wide variety of sharp and versatile chopping knives! Cookie sheets and bread pans! Woo hoo!

Little workspace to work on things (like this post).

Little reading space to read things from Denver's great public library (more on that later).

Great view of the sunrise if you're up at 6.

View of the sunset from a shared balcony elsewhere in the building.

It's usually clear which bedroom in a house or apartment works best as a master bedroom. The two rooms in this apartment both have an attached bathroom and are both about the same size. One is quiet, dark. The other faces the sunrise with large windows, but is near the train tracks and a lot noisier. We chose the brighter, noisier room and with the help of a little white noise it's been working out well. So, friends and family who are visiting or thinking about it, the blue room is all yours.

Bailey likes the windows and spends a lot of time watching birds and other dogs down on the street.

Huge nearby skatepark open through the wee hours...

... and Coors Stadium in the other direction.

There is a nice view of the Rockies too, but I haven't been able to get an appropriate picture. I'll keep trying!