in Moving, Outings

Settling into Denver

It’s been almost 6 months since my father and I pulled the Penske truck into the TownPlace Suites parking lot. Quite a bit has happened since then, and I figured I would take the time to write up a little re-cap before I forget it all. I’ve slowly been meeting people and making good friends. If you’ve been following me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you’ve probably already seen snippets here and there, but ideally these would all been individual blog posts. For future reference, my Instagram feed is basically a visual walkthrough of my adventures. Anyways, here we go:

Work

I jumped right in to the new job as a Developer for Crowd Favorite in December. There was a huge learning curve to tackle – Between learning Git, Git Flow, SCSS, their proprietary systems and products, and the right ways to develop WordPress, I had my hands full. It’s only been within the last few weeks that I’ve noticed my contributions. There’s still much that I don’t know, and I’ll always be asking questions, but my coworkers are incredibly intelligent, helpful, patient, and they challenge me – a great combination to help further my career. They have some very interesting and helpful products, some I will be employing on my own website soon. I really enjoy my job and I love working in LoDo. I’ll be posting soon on the new technologies and software I’ve learned to love.

Travels

This is my year of travel. Thanks to the incredibly fortunate rental situation I’m currently in, I have done and will be doing quite a bit throughout the year.

Previous

Maui, San Diego

hawaiiFor Christmas I traveled to Maui to see my parents’ new part-time residence in Makawao. They have a fantastic place up on the hill on the way to Haleakala, equidistant from the beach and the mountain playgrounds. We rented motorcycles and toured the island, we took a day trip to Hana, and rented a Jeep and went four-wheeling up in Poli Poli for a fantastic sunset, complete with cold brews. We explored new restaurants and they showed me their new stomping grounds.  We celebrated Christmas over pierogis and caught up with my mother’s cousin’s family. It really was a great way to unwind after the incredibly-stressful previous two months. On the way out and back, I stopped in San Diego to visit friends and catch-up. I even got to attend the annual Rondelli New Year’s Eve pool party. The short visit was nice way to ween myself off of California, though I still miss my friends there.

Las Vegas

I met up with the high school crew, along with the rest of Jon’s closest friends (and others), for Jon’s bachelor party. We stayed at the Signature at MGM Grand right off the strip. I won’t go into too much detail, but it was a ridiculous and fun first exposure to Vegas. I’m not sure I’ll go back anytime soon because that place is exhausting and a little depressing, but in small doses and with the right people, it can be a blast.

Aspen

My friend, Andy, and I took an overnight trip to Aspen to see Silversun Pickups at the Belly Up. It was a fantastic show and Aspen is a great little town, though very expensive. The Aspen Brewing Company tasting room was pretty solid too. I recommend checking it out at least once.

Alta, Utah

weddingI trekked out to Alta Mountain, outside of Salt Lake City, for Liz and Jon’s wedding. I rented a car and spent the weekend in the mountains, catching up with high school friends, some of the Vegas friends, family of Liz and Jon, and others I hadn’t met before. I was able to get a few days of snowboarding in too, and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. The wedding was fantastic – very unorthodox but very them. They walked off the slopes in their ski gear and into the chapel. Overall it was a great weekend and I’m so glad to have caught up with everyone and hear about what they’ve been doing for the last decade. It made me miss home…

Breckenridge

My work has a duplex in Breckenridge, called Eagle’s Nest, that is available for both exclusive and shared use throughout the year for employees as part of the encouraged work-life balance. I decided to take a last minute solo trip to the mountain for the weekend to de-stress. What a place! The beautiful, 4-bedroom house is in a small development right on the bus line, which leads to the base of Breckenridge Ski Resort. I spent a day on the slopes and the rest of the time unwinding in the comfortable home while it snowed. I was a little worried about how the Volvo would perform in the snow, but it handled beautifully. I look forward to spending a lot more time here – anyone care to join?

Upcoming

If you want to meet up, let’s try to coordinate something. Here’s where I plan to go:

  • California – Some friends have put together a trip to the Southern California wine country over July 4th (and, coincidentally, my 30th birthday). I look forward to testing my developing wine-tasting skills.
  • California – In late September, Phil and I will travel to San Diego for the Depeche Mode concert with some other San Diegoites1. It’ll be fun showing Phil my old stomping grounds and catching up with the locals.
  • Illinois – In November, the Freemans will converge on Chicago for a weekend to celebrate the marriage of my cousin, Lauren, and Dana. There might also be a football game or something.
  • Florida – I’ll be returning to my normal schedule of Christmas with family in Naples. I can’t wait for those pierogis…

Housing

gilpinFor the last few months I’ve been renting a room from Jeff, a very generous home-owner in the University of Denver neighborhood and a friend of friends of friends that I know in San Diego. We have been helping each other out, as he had been traveling a lot and wanted someone to watch his home while he was away and I wanted a place to stay temporarily, while getting to know the city before committing on an apartment. I have been thoroughly enjoying living a short walk away from a light rail station and taking the train downtown to work every day. I never thought I would be commuting this way before, but I love the time before work to wake up and after work to decompress. I hardly touch the Volvo during the week anymore!

The arrangement I have with Jeff has allowed me to amass a fair amount in savings. In April I decided to start looking for real estate, rather than continue to throw money away on rent. I took my time and enjoyed looking at properties around town. It’s been a great way to really get to know the individual neighborhoods. On April 23rd I put an offer on a 3-bedroom condo in the Lowry area and I close on June 4th. It’s been quite the process, but I’ll save the details for another blog post shortly. Stay tuned!

Outings

I love Denver. Despite the initial altitude adjustment and a variety of new allergens to get used to, there’s so much to do and so many interesting places to explore here! Here’s a quick re-cap of what’s kept me busy:

Concerts

I’ve been to maybe 10 concerts in my life, 5 of which have occurred in the last 6 months:

  • Ellie Goulding at the Ogden on 2/1/13
  • Victor Wooten Band at Cervantes’ Ballroom on 2/9/13
  • Silversun Pickups at Belly Up Aspen on 2/16/13
  • Joy Formidable at the Gothic Theater on 3/30/13
  • Bob Mould at the Bluebird on 4/21/13

Baseball

A group from work and I saw the Rockies play the Yankees at Coors Field on May 7th. You can read more.

Food

pinche tacosContrary to what I heard about it being full of  “chain restaurants,” Denver is a food city. There are no shortage of interesting places to explore. I have several Foursquare lists of places to try out. Denver seems to be known for Buffalo meat and Rocky Mountain Oysters. I encourage you to Google the latter. No, I haven’t tried them. Yet.

Restaurant highlights so far:

Beer

beerIn addition to it’s culinary strengths, Denver is also a beer town. My favorite beers at the moment are Odell’s 90 Schilling and Left Hand Brewing’s Nitro Milk Stout. I look forward to the fall, when Avery’s Rumpkin makes its return. This time I won’t let the altitude get to me… At some point I’ll take a trip to the Coors brewery – I hear it’s quite the tour. I look forward to the Great American Beer Festival, also in the fall.

I’ve been enjoying the different types of beer so much that I’ve decided to take a stab at brewing. The details are still being worked out, but I’ll be brewing a red ale for my 30th birthday this year. Look for a post on that also.

Activities

The miscellaneous:

  • bikeBass guitar lessons – I’m currently in session 3 of a 4-session core class through Swallow Hill Music. Each session lasts 8 weeks and at the end of each, the class (typically of 5), will perform at graduation (recital) in front of the other classes at that time and their families. I originally thought it would be nerve-wracking, but it was a blast. We played a mashup of the Beatles’ Come Together and Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love for the first graduation, and two of us ventured through the Colorado weather to play the Beatles’ Day Tripper for the second. I’ve been enjoying these courses immensely, as I learn the foundations for bass-playing. It’s amazing how much you learn when you want to! I got to see Victor Wooten at a bass clinic at Sound Source in February, which was just awesome. My bass instructor got up and played a duet with Victor in front of everyone – incredible! I’m so glad I decided to pursue this hobby further.
  • Denver Auto Show – I met up with a few friends for the auto show in March. I am so out of the car loop!
  • Movies – Skyfall, Oblivion, Iron Man 3, Dark Skies, Oz: The Great and Powerful
  • whiskyParents visit – They came out for Easter weekend in late March – Mom hadn’t seen the new digs. Read about their adventures (and encourage them to update more).
  • Bike – In  April I purchased a Novara Buzz bike using my REI dividend, Anniversary Sale discount, and a number of gift cards. Love it! I also bought a Thule Rack for the Volvo. Let’s go biking!
  • Stranahan’s tour – Clark and I took a tour of the Stranahan’s Whisky distillery and learned all about their process and were treated to a guided tasting at the conclusion. Needless to say, I bought a bottle soon after and am considering a wait in line for a bottle of their elusive Snowflake batch.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park – Another weekend, Clark and I went to Estes Park, CO on what we thought was the start of National Parks Week (free admission!). In fact, they had changed the length of the promotion and we were a day too early. The road to the top was still closed, but there was a lot of snow on the ground and it was still impressive. Love it there! Hopefully I’ll venture to the other 3 National Parks in Colorado soon.
  • rockymtnnpAmbulance – I started to look into getting back on with a local ambulance company. There’s a volunteer/career ALS corps in Northglenn that takes on new applicants quarterly. Interestingly I can’t renew my National Registry card without a local sponsor, but I can’t get on the corps without a card. Catch-22. I’ve put EMS aside for now, though I definitely want to get back into it.
  • Masters Degree – I am throwing around the idea of getting my Masters in Computer Science at University of Colorado Denver, with a likely concentration in Software Engineering. I’ll have to take a few prerequisite courses, however. I’m waiting until I am a resident in Denver long enough to qualify for the local tuition prices. More to come.

 Overall

Awesome job, light rail, mountains, beer, food, super-friendly people, snow, happy. Come visit!

happy