A day of catching up with friends

I wake up by the alarm at 5am, get dressed and drive to a local Starbucks to post a blog and check my e-mail. In the parking lot I enjoy my breakfast with a view of the mountains before I get go inside to get my coffee. There are friendly baristas and I talk with them for a while. One of the girls recommends me to go to Pikes Peak. It’s the second time someone recommends me that, so I think I should do it. I text with my friends in Denver and they’re busy all day with work anyway, so I’ll go there in the evening. I look at the map and see that it’s 1,5 hours to Pikes Peak, not too bad. I get a text from my friend Laura whom I maybe would have met yesterday in Aspan that she’s now also here. I invite her to join me up the mountain and about an hour later we meet in a park close to Pikes Peak. While we drive up the mountain we catch up and talk about work and life. I like it that with some friends you cannot see each other for a year and it’s all well when you see each other again. The drive up the mountain is steep and we gain a lot of altitude. We drive all the way to the top and I’m impressed by the scenery. We’re at about 14000 feet / 4km high and the view down looks a bit lik when you’re in an airplane. It’s quite chilly up here and I’m glad I got a sweater in the back of my van. We walk around at the top and enjoy the views at the different sides of the mountain. This is one of the highest mountains of Colorado, one the what mounts that they call here fourteeners. At the top of the mountain is a restaurant with donuts and coffee. You can smell the donuts already outside and we happily go inside to enjoy a sweet treat while enjoying the view further. After a while we slowly drive back down. At the entrance of the mountain road they already told us to put the car in low gear when going down and that’s quite essential. You can smell the breaks of the cars going down, because it is so steep. We stop a few times to take pictures at the other viewing points and somewhere halfway the afternoon we’re back at the parking lot where we met this morning. We say goodbye and I drive in the direction of Denver. There is an outlet store on the way there where I stop to get a new pair of jeans and then I continue to drive to the house of my friends Jennifer and Jeff where I’ll stay tonight. When I walk into the house it doesn’t feel like it’s almost a year ago since I was here. I sit down in the living room and talk with Jen like I’m just a neighborhood friend stopping by. A little later Jeff comes home from work and we drive to the town of Golden, just outside Denver. It’s a cute little mountain town, but with a clear different vibe than Aspen and Vail. This is a student town and somehow that makes it quite different. There is a river that runs through town and many nice little restaurants. Jeff and Jen take me to a square with a big building containing multiple restaurants where you can order simultaneously, very convenient so everyone can order what they like. I go for Mexican food and they go for a healthy salad. We sit and talk until it gets dark.
Before we leave the square we get ice cream. It’s New Zealand style ice cream, I didn’t know that such a thing existed, but it reminds me of my sister who is traveling there now and I send her a picture. New Zealand ice cream apparently is an ice cream mixed with frozen berries and it’s very fresh and tastes healthier than normal ice cream. We walk back along the river and Jeff shows me several interesting spots like some houses from the 1800s, which is quite old in American terms. We drive back via a scenic route through the mountains, giving a nice overlook over the whole town. Somehow Jen and I land in a discussion about politics and I’m reminded of what an older guy told me the other day: “When in America, never talk about religion, government or sex”. Some people here tend to have strong opinions about that. Jen and I have been friends for a long time though, so it’s fine to have a bit of a discussion and it’s all well at the end of the day. It’s just good to know that when you’re traveling here, you might steer clear of these three topics when talking with new people. We arrive at home just before midnight, so I think tomorrow I’ll get up an hour later than usual. I first planned to stay here only one night, but I might do a relaxed day in Denver tomorrow and continue driving on Friday.

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