Colorado is a place I’ve always thought of as Cool. Almost as if it should’ve been spelled Coolorado.
Cool because of its mountains, and the way Coors Light seems ice cold and refreshing in all its commercials (and on its cans with the new mountains-change-color-indicating-your-beer-is-cold-incase-you-lost-feeling-in-your-hands). Cool because I pictured everyone living there being super active, climbing the mountains and camping out, biking down unnervingly steep paths and steering past mountain lions, casually. I swear I’ll stop writing the word mountain right after I just did.
The next stop on our cross country adventure was Denver to see my long lost friend, Claire. She graduated a year before me and started working as a teacher in Colorado. Claire and I met along with Charlotte, Jill and Steph, on my first study abroad program the summer of 2011, appropriately titled “Doing Business in Europe.” The four of us, along with two dozen other rambunctious (American) hooligans, studied everything from Finance to Business IT to French in Dijon, France and Muenster, Germany. To say we had fun that summer is an understatement- like saying China is a big country.
We were the new generation of go-getters. Gregarious globetrotters! Vivacious vagabonds! MagnumIceCreamBar maniacs!
(PS Magnum bars are now sold in America! Go forth and savor the delectably rich chocolate shell covering creamy vanilla (and instantaneous obesity) simultaneously packed into one frozen package of scrumptiousness).
Naturally, Sameea and I figured since we already ventured out as far as the Pacific, we had to stop by and see Claire in Denver!
Arriving late in the afternoon, we ate at a quaint little Mexican restaurant downtown, got sassy off tequila (always), and went out to see a friend perform at a local venue. While most of us just danced our booties (or lackthereof) off, Sameea got extra sassy. Cue the presence of her alter ego- Sameetard. Homegirl elevated her cheeky levels so high she got kicked out by one of the bouncers. No worries though, Sameetard never lets one altercation get her down- she ended up at a rooftop bar on their Ladies’ Night.
To which our British friends would rightfully jab, “staaaaaaaaaaaaaandard Sameeatard”.
The next day we attempted to get up early, which never works out for Sameea, to go explore Boulder- a quaint college town situation at the base of the Rocky Mountains. The whole time I was there I just wanted to relive my college years (which had expired maybe 8 days before), not accept a full-time real-adult job and instead become a real-life hippie. Like I said, everyone was just so cooooool.
For dinner we went to a somewhat famous pizza place for their trivia night. I say somewhat famous because ya boi Guy Fieri and his stupid white spikes had visited the restaurant on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: see Fat Sully’s Pizza. From what I remember it was suuuuper delish and I knew nooone of the trivia answers.
The next day we hiked over to the Red Rocks venue, climbed up the painfully steep stairs alongside hundreds of ripped beasts. While we huffed and puffed our way to the top, still probably the youngest crew there, men and women with muscles I didn’t even know existed sprinted past us, doubling two, three steps at a time. All muscle observations aside, when we finally reached the top I was still craving a FAT burger.
As we stared down at the cave-like structure of the Red Rocks stage, I couldn’t help but think HOW COOL it would be on that stage. Situated literally IN the mountain, it was such a distinct place to play. Oh how I wish I was talented. In something. Anything. Instead I was out of breath, thinking about toppings for the burger in my head.
We ended the day at the Coors Brewery, taking a tour and finding to my surprise that Coors produces Blue Moon. The coolest part of the tour, of course, was the free beer at the end. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good explanation of the hops fermentation process, but once you’ve heard it one way, you’ve heard it all ways. This particular tour included 3 full brews and all of us girls chose Blue Moon varieties. Because why would I have a standard coors light when I could have a tangy Belgian white (I’m so fancy I called it by its real type. You already know).
From Denver I flew to Iowa. Yes, Iowa. On the plane I sat next to what may have been the most interesting man alive (not the Dos Equis guy, much younger). We chatted the whole plane ride- about life, my recent trip, his job as a US Open coordinator, how he let people couchsurf at his home in San Diego, everything. At one point he turned and said, “Ok I have to say it- what is someone like YOU doing on a plane to Des Moines, Iowa???” I laughed and asked him what he meant by that. He said, “I mean look around. It’s a retirement home in here! You might be the youngest one here besides that grandma’s dog.” I told him I was meeting a friend from my study abroad in Spain, and we were taking a bus to Chicago for the weekend (and that I didn’t mind stopping in Iowa- I wanted to see all 50 states, after all).
Des Moines was predictably quite stereotypical- it was made up of corn fields. But I’m not knocking it- I thought it was an adorable city. I stayed in the suburbs with my friend Steven and the night I arrived we went out to a two story bar with his friends. Lemme tell ya, Iowans get rowdy! The weather was perfect that night, no humidity like here in DC and the bar had my fav, a rooftop. We had too much fun per usual and were up early to catch the six hour bus to Chicago.
Begin: MY NEW FAVORITE CITY
Chicago in the summer is everything. It’s beautiful, sunny, lively, clean, and flawless. Ever since I went that summer I find myself constantly noting on the soul I found in Chicago- it wasn’t just a city, it had a heart. There was a culture to it, just like in Sevilla. But where Sevilla was unique in its antiquity, ChiTown felt young and urban, vivacious and eccentric. I would 100% live in Chicago ….except I would migrate every winter. Which, obviously, isn’t a realistic concept. But this is my blog and I’ll dream if I want to.
Because when I travel I bring my personal travel luck- the one you’ve read about before where I get broken chairs or screaming babies or people defecating themselves- our bus ride to the windy city came with some issues. We got to the bus station about 20 minutes early and watched as one of the only buses in the lot drove away. Awkward. So naturally Steven headed to the front desk.
Where’s our bus? Overbooked, just left.
Next bus? 8 hours.
Refund? 3 weeks.
I was on my last hundred dollars (literally- $113.00 in my bank account) and I couldn’t afford this mess of a $60 loss. But Steven is a trooper and knew how excited I had been to get to Chicago for the first time. We had been planning this trip ever since we studied in Sevilla together! It HAD to happen. So he offered to drive us there. We added two other normal-looking backpackers to our own bus (they were also on the overbooked one) and got ta movin’. The result- a much more entertaining six hour trip! The backpackers had just been to Thailand (heart eyes) and not gonna lie, they were both easy on the eyes (heart eyes). Plus, Steven and I had so much catching up to do that the time flew by.
Soon we were arriving at our hostel. Which was 2legit2quit. No seriously, hostels in America exist, and they’re normal. We were right next to the Lake, in the heart of the city (don’t ask me where though I haven’t a clue) and we paid around $40 a night or less.
Obviously our first stop was a walk to the Bean. I had to see what all these Instagram celebs (and randos) were posting in real life. We acted like goons in our reflection for a solid 20 mins and then were on our way. We walked all over the city with no plans, my favorite way to explore. If I’m not rushing I have zero anxiety and if I have zero anxiety I finally get to appreciate my surroundings. I like to think I’m a sloth-traveler.