The next morning Mifin's already left by the time we're up. What with sitting around the house and such, we're not ready to go until almost noon.

At that point, we stop by a coffee house which I remember being named Intelligentsia, but which Jusko tells me has a different name. (Help me out, if you happen to read this Jusko.) They grind up your espresso, get a funnel, fill it, and then pour water through. French presses are widely believed to produce a superior espresso, but this, I'm told, tops even that. B.K. and Jusko and I sit outside and I listen while they heap compliments on the coffee.

I don't drink coffee, but I finally give in and go by a cup of hot cocoa. It's very artistic, but not necessarily fabulous; it's no Southeast Waffle Company.

Next stop? Downtown.

Why?

For the pianos, of course!

Denver (and, as it turns out, Boulder and Fort Collins) all have pianos just sitting out for anyone to play. And most of the people playing aren't half bad!

Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins may be the best place on Earth.

Maybe.

Best idea ever.

Our piano adventures give way to a massive used bookstore with thick wooden beams and broad stairs leading you through spacious, book-lined alcoves. It's irresistable and inescapable.


Your Local Used Bookstore: Home To Normal Bibliophiles… and the Hell's Angels

In the end, Jusko comes up to B.K. and I and announces that one of the most beautiful girls he's ever seen has just exited the store wearing a hiking backpack.

What!? By the time we arrive at the street she's disappeared. Was it just a ploy to separate us from the books? Or did one of the world's most beautiful girls just vanish into the urban wilderness? We may never know.

As we return to the car, we have a sudden craving that we're too cheap to indulge.

So we sit in front of the US Bank skyscraper, fire up the stove, and begin making Ramen with Sriracha. About ten minutes into this a rather large lady comes walking out of the bank towards us.

"Party's over! You can't do that here."

I point helpfully to our car, which is two feet away: "But that's our car."

The lady looks confused and opens and closes her mouth a couple of times. Then she turns and walks back into the building. We see her glowering out at us.



Starbucks, down the street, is more helpful. They provide us with a spoon, some water, and bathrooms. Much as I find myself saying that "friends don't let friends drink Starbucks", I've never had a negative interaction with them (though their oatmeal really isn't that great). So, Starbucks, here's a thumbs-up to you.

After lunch, we drive to Boulder and meet up with REI (climbing gear 'n' such) and then Bob, a recent physics grad from Minnesota. After the meal it's decision time. Maybe I could spend the night with Bob (he doesn't seem too keen on the idea and I do like the people I stay with to be keen on it), take the bus back to Denver (I can't get ahold of Mifin by phone, so I don't know if I could stay with him and I'm not really fancying the hostel), or continue on with Jusko and B.K.

The latter option is most appealing because I'm still craving mountains and hiking and adventure. But there are so many friends with whom I get so little time and Danifen's one of them. Returning to Denver would be a way to extend that time. It's one of those decisions I have difficulty with since the options it presents are mutually exclusive in terms of outcomes and judgment/value criteria. The uncertainty with Bob and Mifin and the hostels enables me to leave town with Jusko and B.K., but I feel kind of miserable for a good half-hour or so—friends are important—until I realise I can hitchhike back the next day. And I do like hitchhiking. It's rationalisation, and I know that, but it's also pacifying.

Oh, and did I mention?




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