After a nice quick flight to Salt Lake City I found myself hopping on yet another public transit bus and navigating the wide streets of yet another new city to my hostel. Admittedly the plane ride to Salt Lake was a nice change of pace. And spending a good portion of my childhood waiting in lines, eating squishy breakfast sandwiches from airport vendors, and making sure I had all my tickets and IDs, made me feel back at home in Terminal A8 waiting for the boarding call. My accommodations in SLC were modest; I had found the cheapest hostel on hostelworld.com and booked two nights at Camelot Hostel from my phone. With my own room, towel, and small T.V. it did beat some of the others I had stayed in. It was also just on the outskirts of downtown so getting into the city center was easy. I think the most unique thing about it was their self check-in. It is a very trusting, but innovative new way to check yourself in and out without seeing a manager once. The keys are kept in a small locked box next to your room and when you enter your reservation number into the “Check-In” computer in the lobby you receive the code and wireless Internet password. It really worked out for me since I arrived during off hours and needed to check out at 1:30am to catch a train. I did not have to hassle with the process on either end but could see it as a frustrating process for those unfamiliar. If any problems should occur the owner lives close by and has pasted his personal number all around the hostel on neat announcement sheets. I had never seen this type of service before, and am not quite sure it is not as much revolutionary as payroll conscience, but it worked for me.
Spending only a little over 24 hours in SLC did not give me much time to explore but I walked through Temple Square and actually enjoyed some of the things I learned about the Mormon religion. To be honest I found the murals and architecture very intriguing and spent the majority of the time roaming around the visitor’s center eavesdropping on missionaries as they guided mostly older couples across the grounds. The temple was very impressive and the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir had the building closed off for practice. Besides Temple Square, I really did not see a huge Mormon influence in the city save for the infrequence of liquor stores.
I also spent a lot of time in the Salt Lake City Public Library, which is a marvel to observe. Standing five stories tall, and depending mostly on natural light, the library holds over 500,000 books. The enormous, glass cubed atrium is centered around balconies of reading spaces and computer desks. From the corner where I sat, I was high enough to see the center of downtown and also the surrounding mountains that seem to stand guard over the city. Every time I looked up I could catch a glimpse of a mountain through the buildings, it was a nice switch from the low-rise architecture of Sacramento. After my short stop in SLC I boarded my train at the excruciatingly inconvenient hour of 3:30am and headed to Denver.
Denver had a great ski-town feel to it while also giving off a distinct city character throughout. The ride in from the west was gorgeous; snow covered gorges sloped into flat-rocked plains as the city approached in the distance. So far, the ride from L.A. to San Francisco, and this one from Salt Lake City to Denver have been the most interesting. I’ve found myself in the observation car with my book on my lap, eyes wide in admiration of the landscapes going by.
During my time in Denver I was able to catch up with a few old friends as well. My friend Ana, who works for the Avalanche in Denver, was able to get me a great ticket to the game on the night of my arrival. From the train station I grabbed a cab to my hostel and for the first time in my life I was able to say, “keep it running” as I ran inside to quickly check in to my hostel before whipping off to the Pepsi Center to catch the last two periods of the game. The six-dollar increase on the meter really burst my balloon and the coolness factor of being able to have a cab running for me quickly wore off. The game was great, even though the Av’s lost, and I returned to my hostel exhausted from the train ride and happy to have a bed to sleep in. Besides the fact that the Denver International Youth hostel was an old elementary school, housed only one other guy in the entire place, and was most likely haunted, it was a fine place to stay for $15 per night. Luckily the next day I met up with my good friend Eli and we enjoyed a fun night out in the city before I returned to the DIYH to sleep. Despite protests from Eli, I was determined to get my moneys worth, and didn’t want to miss check out time in the morning.
The next day was beautiful weather, around 75 degrees and sunny, so we walked along the 16th St. Mall downtown and through the beautiful Riverfront Park. Denver really has an awesome array of parks throughout the city. City Park is its’ biggest which boasts two ponds, endless running trails, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was a fantastic place to walk around, read a book, and get a sunburn.
Another memorable aspect of my trip to Denver was the Rockie’s Opening Day festivities. It is that special time of year again when overpriced hotdogs, pretzels, and beers find their way into the hands of millions of Americans. It is the time of year when it can be anyone’s; a hopeful rebirth into life measured in 162 installments. A buzz was in the air, and clouding the brains of most of those on Wazzee street on Friday afternoon but it was a fun atmosphere to take in. Coors Field was the center of a passionate exuding of team pride, and, if only for one weekend, the city held belief in a future championship for the Rockies. It made me excited for the Redsox home opener only three days after I get back to Boston. I could not wait for a true Opening Day; one where confidence is justified, spirit is perpetuated, and eternal truth seems to be in the air with every crack of the bat. Perhaps that is a bit exaggerated, but Opening Day at Fenway is something to behold.
All in all, my trip to Denver was a great time and catching up with old friends is always nice. My twelve-hour train ride to Chicago was long, but tolerable, and I was able to meet some more friends from High school and enjoy my last stop. Stay tuned for my post about a short, but awesomely sweet time in the Windy City. Also, check out the PHOTO section for any updates to my gallery.