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Published: March 24th 2012
My son was planning on staying at school instead of coming home for spring break so I decided I wanted to go visit him and see his school, The Colorado School of Mines, for the first time.
I booked a package trip on Expedia on flying on American Airlines, staying at the AmericInn hotel and renting a car from Budget. As has been the case for us recently American Airlines was mediocre at best. The AmericInn was nice for the price range. Our only complaint is that we didn’t have hot water in the shower. The hotel was very crowded every day with various sports teams. I think the luke warm water in the shower was due to our having to compete with so many taking showers at the same time. Our last morning there we were up early to go to the airport and got some very hot water.
The car we chose was a Kia Optima. I was impressed by the Optima in many ways and will choose it again in the future.
We arrived in Denver late due to some needed maintenance on the
airplane in Dallas. After checking in at the hotel, which included fresh, hot chocolate chip cookies, we went to pick up my son and go out for dinner.
Downtown Golden, which is just a mile from the college, is very small and quaint. Washington Avenue is the main drag and runs just about six blocks. Even though it was Friday night we had a hard time finding an open restaurant. There were plenty of bars open but after 10pm they don’t let under 21 in. We ended up at Woody’s Pizza which turned out to be a good choice. They play oldies music from the 60’s and 70’s which is what we like best. The food was also good and inexpensive.
The next morning we picked my son, Justin, up early for breakfast at the hotel. They have a free breakfast that has a bit more than your typical continental breakfast. Afterwards we went back to the college for a nice walking tour of the campus including the fraternity house for Beta Theta Pi. Freshman have to live in the dorm so Justin is looking forward to moving into the fraternity house next fall.
The Colorado School of Mines is a small engineering school on a beautiful spot right at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s clear that Justin really likes the school and he seems to be doing well so I’m very happy for him.
Then we went downtown to get a better look at the stores and restaurants and Clear Creek during daylight hours. It is a very quaint and peaceful town. The fresh and dry air are pleasant no matter what the temperate and we were treated to much higher than normal temperatures for mid-March in the mid to high 70’s.
After that we went up the mountain where the school has their big “M” logo written out in rocks. The drive up provides some views. Along the way we stopped to check out a herd of about ten deer who didn’t seem to mind our presence at all.
We had a late lunch at a small Chinese restaurant on South Golden and then we all needed a rest break to recharge for nighttime.
We had dinner at Grappa’s which is a higher priced and
more elegant restaurant than most on Washington. They have an outdoor patio, which would be great in warmer weather, that overlooks Clear Creek but it had cooled down by then so we ate inside. After dinner we caught a movie at Colorado Mills mall which is also in Golden.
The next day Justin wanted to sleep in so Dawn and I just drove around town to see what we could see. We went through downtown Denver. On the way back I decided to just continue out highway 70 into the mountains. It turned out to be a beautiful drive. The scenery were spectacular. There wasn’t much snow on the ground due to the warm weather but we found enough to stop and play in even though we weren’t really dressed for it.
Where highway 6 crosses 70 again west of Golden we exited and took 6 all the way back eastward to Golden. Highway 6 is cut through the mountains and gives you a very close up view of sheer cliffs and Clear Creek. There were plenty of spots to stop and get out of the car to walk around a bit and take
pictures. One other thing you see is makeshift parking lots along the road in various places where people have parked to go hiking, climbing, or biking. This kind of climate and landscape really promotes outdoor activities and a healthy lifestyle.
The total time to take 70 out to 6 and back was about an hour and well worth it.
Since 6 goes right by the college we decided to go and stop and see if Justin wanted to join us for a trip to the Colorado Mills mall for some lunch and shopping. When I got there he was eating a sandwhich but he was up for a trip to the mall and elsewhere anyway.
Dawn wanted to stop in a few of the clothing stores so I decided to finally use the Banana Republic coupon I had had in my wallet for months. It turns out that these “outlet” stores in the mall really don’t have outlet prices. $180 for a pair of khakis?
After grabbing a bite to eat in the food court we headed out to Red Rocks Amphitheater which is close by out highway
70. It is spectacular. An outdoor amphitheater set amongst the giant red rocks jutting out in all different angles. There is a visitor center that is also well worth stopping into. The list of entertainers that have played there is long and impressive, including the Beatles. We decided that we must try to get back some day to see a show there.
With a limited amount of time left we decided to see if we could still get into the Coors brewery for a tour. We just barely made it. It is a self-guided audio tour that gives you detailed information about the brewing process and culminates in a free glass of beer. The tour is free but the prices of items in the gift shop make up for it.
We ended our time in Golden with dinner at a place on Washington that had good moderately priced food. We took Justin back to his dorm and then headed to the hotel to pack and get to bed early as we had a nine a.m. flight and the drive to the airport during rush hour was going to take about an hour.
The next morning we had some nice last looks at the snow covered mountains way off to the west of Denver as we drove out highway 70 to the unique looking airport. It was a great trip that we would recommend to anyone and we hope to go back some day.
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