Monthly Archives: December 2007
With my flight from Fargo to Minneapolis, I became a Delta Silver Medallion member. That’s 25,000 MQM sky miles, which roughly translate into miles flown. The true distance flown is probably closer to about 20,000 because of bonus MQMs, minimum mileage credits, and flying non-Delta airlines. If you add that to the airline travel I did at the beginning of the year (Atlanta to LA to Taipei to Hong Kong; Lasa to Beijing; Tallinn to Brussels to Washington, DC to Atlanta >15,000), that’s over 35,000 miles of air travel. Including my train travel (Hong Kong to Guanzhou to Guilin to Nanning to Kunming to Chengdu to Xi’an to Lasa; Beijing to Irkutsk to Ykaterinburg to Moscow to St. Petersburg to Pskov to Riga >8,500) and driving (I estimate at least 7,500), that’s over 50,000 miles.
To give you an idea of the scale of that distance, the circumference of the Earth is less than 25,000 miles at the equator. That’s more than some people will travel in a lifetime. I’d estimate that it is about one-quarter of the distance I’ve traveled before this year (~75,000 miles on my trips to Europe, at least 60,000 driving and at least 40,000 flying in North America; about 18,000 to Australia and back). So let’s put my total lifetime travel distance somewhere around 250,000 miles. That’s a hell of a lot.
But consider the airline “Million Miler” programs that have about 250,000 members. I can hardly imagine hitting that mark. I’m not sure I want to. At that point, traveling would be my entire job. Not unlike airline pilots who might be the ones with the most miles under their belt. Consider a trans-Pacific round trip might garner 25,000 miles. If a crew makes just one of those a week, they’d be at 1,250,000 miles a year. I would imagine that 10 years of that routine would be common for those crews. And 20 would be imaginable. That’s 25 million miles flown and is 100 times more than I have traveled. Now that is truly impressive.
I don’t know what the word “aficionado” means, but I always feel like it means “great big fan of”. So when I say that I am a beer aficionado, I mean that I’m a great big fan of beer. Good beer and great beer. Sure, I’ll drink the occasional bad beer, but I’ve never really enjoyed them. Colorado, my friends, is a beer aficionado’s paradise and I’m a big fan of being out here.
I was flying to DEN from ABQ through SLC. But due to inclement weather in Utah, I was given a pass on a different airline to go direct instead. Plus the guy at the Delta counter wanted to go talk with the cute girl over at the Frontier counter. So at about the same time I would have touched down in Salt Lake City I was in Denver.
I had at least two hours of free time because of the reroute so I decided to go to downtown Denver to grab a bit instead of heading straight to Longmont. I got on Colfax and drove around, remembering that it was one of the main thoroughfares of the city, but after a while I found no place that looked decent to eat so I pulled over to search with my iPhone. I found some places that looked like they might be decent, but wasn’t entirely satisfied.
As I was looking around and realizing that I was seeing several bums walking past the cracked windows of the laundromats and pawn shops, I thought it might be time to just head to one of the Google recommended places. Then I noticed I’d parked about 15 feet from a place called The Cheeky Monk. I’d managed to randomly pull over next to a Belgian bar and cafe. So I decided that bad neighborhood or not, I had to go in.
I sat at the bar where the majority of the patrons were gathered and got a Leffe Blonde and a food menu. Talya, the bartender, helped me practice my practice my Russian. She’d moved to Denver a few years ago from Moscow so we talked about travel. It was quite a random place that I stopped, but it worked out being perfect.
The next night, I went to the Pumphouse Brewery & Restaurant. The food was good and cheap. And they have a great cilantro-lime vinaigrette salad dressing. The entree came out about 3 minutes after I ordered, even before my salad. But I simply saved the salad until last and enjoyed the main dish and the excellent vanilla porter.
On Thursday, I headed up to the small burgh of Lyons, Colorado and the Oskar Blues Grill & Brew. As the name hints, the cuisine is of the southern variety, specifically Louisianan. Cajun and creole influence is obvious on the menu, but the beers are all Colorado. Instead of garlic bread, the chipotle chicken pasta has an honest-to-goodness homemade buttermilk biscuit. Southern. And the beers (many distributed nationwide) are pure hops. Colorado. Great music scene there too.
Lefthand Brewery is a great place to sample their beers, including some that they only seem to have there. And you can buy half-gallons of it to go. And when you go, stop by Sugar Beet. The food is great and fairly reasonably priced. Say hi to Justine.
I went to Boulder for a couple of days, walked around the town, and saw the Christmas parade. Boulder was a disappointment. When I was a kid watching Mork & Mindy, I used to want to live there. I don’t know why, something just really appealed to me. I think it still does, even though there’s really no soul there anymore. Just a bunch of spoiled college kids, rich sorta yuppies, and wanna be granolas. So that is that.
From there I drove down to Denver through Golden. Along the way, I stopped and climbed up on a mesa to hang out and see if I could get a good look of Denver from above. It was a nice hike and I saw tons of deer. I’d change course to avoid a dozen and run up on another dozen or so and change course again. I had some great views of Denver and overlooked an old-timey railroad train that was making tourist runs. Somewhere on my way down I lost my hat, so if you’re out that way and find a “One Track Mind” wool cap that smells like sweat and hotel shampoo, drop me a line.
I spent a few days in Fort Morgan, about 80mi north-east of Denver. There’s nothing redeeming about that town. There are a few industrial plants there and they smell nearly indescribable. There’s the beet processing plant where apparently part of the process is to rot them. Then there’s the cow blood processing plant (huh? read about this one on the Internet). And it smells like there’s a pig feces processing plant somewhere around there. Something I noticed was that there are no young people between about the age of 18 and 30. Either one of the industrial plants there makes Soilent Green or the kids get the hell out as soon as they can.