Weekend Fun in Denver, August 2017

The Big Blue Bear, peering into the Denver Convention Center.

As you know if you read our other bog, Metawitches.com, we recently spent a long weekend in Denver seeing the new Frozen musical. We’ve written about the musical on Metawitches. Here on Desertwitches, I want to write about the rest of the trip.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow, I’m just going to talk about some of the things we liked that were new to us this trip.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. It was a nice, if huge, hotel. Our favorite thing was the 24 hour snack bar/Starbucks in the lobby, because we are night owls. Their were creepy guys climbing the wall in the lobby, too. They never left.


We were across the street from the convention center, so we walked by the Big Blue Bear almost every time we went out. Here’s a more intimidating angle:

BigBlueBearIntimidating Angle


We ate at Sam’s Diner No. 3 on the corner of Curtis and 15th St before the show on Thursday afternoon. The server was amazing and the food was great. They were very good about catering to all of our dietary restrictions, even the ones we forgot to tell them about at first. (Oops.)

20170817_160424 Sam’s Diner No. 3 has all of your hot sauce needs covered.

Many people from Albuquerque leave and move to the big city of Denver. You can tell that this is true because Sam’s has five kinds of hot sauce on every table. Notice how prominent the green one is. Burqueños have green chile sauce in their blood, and need a new transfusion on a regular basis. Sam’s is prepared. Their website tells me that they go through 60 gallons of green chili a day. Except they should know better and spell it chile.

Almost time for the show.



The next day we went to Dinosaur Ridge to see dinosaur tracks and bones still in the rocks and mountain ridge that they originally formed in. Well, it was a shallow ocean back then. I like to pretend that my sandy yard is still just a ways from being ocean front property. Just a few million years.

Dinosaur Ridge is a small, family owned attraction just outside of Denver. You can hike up the ridge for free, or take a guided bus tour for a reasonable price. It was a hot day, and this body doesn’t do mountain climbing any more, so we took the bus. The tour is only 45 minutes or so, but it’s informative, and you get to go right up to the tracks and bones. The guide was friendly and knew what she was talking about. The views from the ridge are spectacular. You have a clear view of the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre in the distance.

Dinosaur tracks.
Trail made by a few dinosaurs.
Bones. The heart shape at the top is a vertebrae.

After the dinosaurs, we stopped at the local landmark Little Man Ice Cream for a snack.


The building is in the shape of a giant vintage milk can. You order at the base of the can. The portions were giant, too. There was lots of seating on a beautiful outdoor deck with container gardens of flowers all over, and an oldies soundtrack in the background.

These are the single scoop size.

We spent the next day at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a beautiful place on the site of an old World War 2 chemical munitions factory. After a long history of chemical manufacturing, the land was cleaned up and reclaimed, starting in the 80s. You’d never know what happened to look at it now.

We took the 11 mile Wildlife Drive which loops around the Refuge. We saw a few types of waterfowl, prairie dogs, bison, deer, rabbits, hummingbirds, many kinds of wildflowers, cattails, giant dragonflies, fish jumping in the small lakes. The list goes on. The Rocky Mountains loomed in the distance. It was a beautiful place, and a gorgeous, sunny day.

Prairie dog enjoying a snack.
No idea what this flower is. It was by the side of a pond.
Prickly Poppy
Cattails by one of the small lakes.
American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants on a sand bar.
RMAWRFawn copy
This fawn and her family stayed next to the road while we watched them for several minutes.
She could hear my camera clicking and whirring from 20 feet away.


RMAWRMountains copy
The Rocky Mountains in the distance.
RMAWRDenverSkyline copy
The Denver skyline from the Wildlife Refuge.
He was kind enough to pose while he ate.
Bison with tree on the prairie.

I learned a few things about my camera on this trip, mostly that I want a better one. It doesn’t have the close up capabilities I thought it would, the shutter speed is insanely slow, and the automatic focus is unpredictable in the field, especially combined with my unpredictable body. By the time I get my arm on something to stabilize it, line up the shot, push the button, and wait for the camera to get around to actually taking the shot, the shot I’d framed is long gone. Very frustrating. I might have to find a “Nature Photography for Dizzy, Wobbly Photographers” website to get advice. 😜


Cattails and Milkweed

We were excited to see stands of cattails growing next to the water. In upstate NY, where we’re originally from, stands of the native cattails have been swallowed up by invasive purple loosestrife, including in the Wildlife Refuges.  And it’s always good to see milkweed, the sole food source for the caterpillars of endangered monarch butterflies, which has been disappearing in the wild as its habitat gives way to development.

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