After three days in the car and two nights in so/so hotels, I can't tell you how good it was to reach familiar friends and enjoy the comforts of their home. The car was parked and thanked for a safe delivery and not used again until departure day. From here on we would enjoy walking, biking and being chauffeured by our gracious and intrepid hosts, the Sherpa Girls. Their home is in Platt Park, an older suburb south of downtown Denver. The neighborhood borrows its name from its park in the center. Most of the houses appear to have been built in the 1910's or 20's, but there are others from later times, including more than a few recently constructed McMansions built on the site of tear downs. There are several lively blocks of stores, restaurants, coffee parlors and services all within easy walking distance.
Before we begin our walk, the plant geek in me is compelled to say something about gardening in Denver. The city is often pictured with the Rocky Mountains in the background, and yes you can see them easily from the city. However, Denver actually sits on the Great Plains and at a very high altitude. The city falls into USDA zone 5 and is considered semi-arid. The cold winter weather and lack of abundant water make gardening a challenge, but this is the birthplace of xeriscaping and there are many avid gardeners in this unexpectedly green city.
One of the best trends I saw in the neighborhood is the abandonment of water intensive lawns in favor of street-to-stoop gardens full of water-wise plants.
Washington Park which is one of the largest parks in Denver. This park has stuck fairly close to its original design and remains very poplar and well used. There are two lakes, lots of sporting opportunities and many biking, jogging and walking paths. Just before our trip I read that Colorado is the most fit (or least unfit) state in the nation with only 18% of its population being overweight. The evidence of this status was quite apparent from all the activity in the park. The other thing Washington Park is noted for are its formal Victorian gardens, which are lovingly maintained and heavily irrigated. Apparently it is OK to keep the city's beds well-watered.
Hudson Gardens and its trail-side cafe. The gardens themselves were nice with a large railroad garden, water gardens, native gardens and others. Hudson Gardens seemed particularly designed to hosting concerts and other special events, check out the view from from the "event tent" in the third picture. The red bike with the small wheels in the second picture is a recumbent bike, which although takes some getting used to, is very kind to middle aged bodies.