A story from my Thanksgiving trip to Denver, Colorado
This last Thanksgiving, I flew to Colorado to visit relatives in Aurora, a town on the outskirts of Denver. After a two hour flight from Oakland, I collected my bags and got out. It wasn’t cold in November in Colorado, but compared to California weather, it was freezing cold but refreshing. The fresh air reminded me of winter in Korea.
As my aunt and I went to dinner with her gray poodle, Coco, on my lap, it started to snow. But the weather turned out to be cold only on the first day – both days were sunny and warm, almost as hot as Berkeley. My aunt told me it was unusually warmer than usual at this time of year. There seemed to be less snow on the distant mountain peaks than what I saw on postcards too.
Although I visited my aunt when I lived in Utah, coming to Colorado felt new and welcoming after 10 years. Compared to the Bay Area, everything is so spread out. You need a car to get around, and with less light pollution, you get brighter stars. On some roads there was no street light and as we drove it felt like we were stepping through the stars. The lack of moisture in the air made my skin and nose constantly feel dry. Berkeley was dry compared to Korea, but Colorado was even drier.
Throughout my five day stay, I ate so much great food, saw a lot of pretty skies, and visited a few notable sites. The first place I visited was the Red Rocks Amphitheater – a large performance hall with a great view of Denver extending beyond the stage. It is inspired by Greek amphitheatres, with real “red rocks” forming an amplifying bowl around the stage on which some of the biggest names in music – including the Beatles, Louis Armstrong, the Eagles and Coldplay – gave their concerts. .
Since Colorado has so many breweries, I wanted to visit the Coors Brewery, but the brewery tour was closed due to COVID-19. Instead, we decided to visit the Denver Botanical Gardens, which my cousin had tickets for. In the cool November weather there weren’t many bright colors outside, but inside we saw tropical plants such as cocoa and papaya growing. Deeper in the gardens was a man-made pond with floating lamps and a gray pyramid-shaped building, which reminded me of a toned-down combination of the Louvre and Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive. There were also fairy lights hung around the trees, providing a storybook, magical feel. Although described as a garden, it looked more like a structured park, with the building and the pond serving as the main attraction.
Then we drove to downtown Denver and rode Lime scooters. We passed LoDo, an area known for its boutiques, Larimer Square, a plaza full of upscale shops and restaurants amid a sea of ââstring lights and Union Station, Denver’s main train station with a quaint European vibe. . Downtown Denver looked like the less traveled and cleanest neighborhoods in San Francisco, with Christmas trees and decorations giving off a holiday vibe.
The last day before my flight back to California, my cousin and I drove to Keystone Resort, a ski resort two hours outside of Denver, where I finally ticked snowboarding off my to-do list. Since there wasn’t as much snow as usual, the padding was thin and icy, which made my countless falls much more painful. I thought I broke my tailbone falling while trying to snowboard with my back facing forward, and halfway up the slope I realized I had chosen the wrong front foot. Turns out I have “clumsy feet” which means the right foot is stepping forward. I was exhausted after hitting more than one mountain for three hours (to be honest it was a big mountain), but definitely want to go snowboarding again to master the basics when there is more snow.
My five days in Colorado went by quickly, and after seeing perfect mountains and skies every day, it took a bit of time for me to adjust to the fast pace and cityscape of Berkeley. It was a great Thanksgiving break – fresh air, great scenery, and great times with parents – and I can’t wait to come back in the future.
Contact Eunkyo Jo at [emailÂ protected].