The Personal Journey

The (small) Reunion

This was meant to be written days ago… well actually about a week ago… but life just got a little bit in the way!  I guess that’s what happens when you 50 hour weeks.  This past weekend, my best friend, Elayna, graced us with her presence.  She came into town to attend a weekend-long seminar and was able to visit with the family for a bit.  I decided to take Friday off work to spend a girl’s day with her in the city.  I picked her up at her AirBnB and took her down town where we walked along the 16th Street mall.  Having become somewhat of a tourist attraction, the 16th Street Mall spans approximately 1.25 miles long along 16th street in downtown Denver.  We did plenty of window shopping and stopped at 5280 Burger Bar at the Denver Pavilions  to eat lunch.  The restaurant had a really cool setup complete with its own ice cream parlor adjacent to the facility.  We were seated rather quickly in the private dining room which was opened to the main dining area and bar and despite it being a busy lunch hour, it actually not too noisy.  The laid-back, contemporary atmosphere is promoted by a centrally located bar, tons of flat screen televisions, custom wood tables, and comfortable leather seating.

The restaurant is perfect for any occasion, from a family night out to date night.  Elayna enjoyed the Vaquero, a southwestern-inspired burger while I kept things simple with the 5280 burger.   We also ordered a basket of fries and the fried Brussel sprouts. (insert picture here) 5280 Burger Bar claims to serve only the freshest meals complete with all-natural ingredients sourced from Colorado and I’m sure there is some truth to that.  My burger was probably one of the freshest tasting burgers I’ve had in quite a while in a restaurant.  I can say that I could’ve sworn that it was still “moo-ing” despite my ordering a medium-well done burger.

The sauce to the right was 5280’s version of Ed’s Good Burger special sauce.  LOL j/k but it did remind me of it and it was really yummy too!


After lunch, Elayna and I checked out the Denver Art Museum  .  I have been in Colorado a year but was never able to get to the art museum until that Friday.  Upon entering the building, we were greeted by unique structures that must’ve stood about 20 feet tall (an approximation, I really don’t know how tall they were!)  The Denver Art Museum is considered a “Blue-Star” attraction which means that they issue deeply discounted or free tickets for military families.  As such, I was able to get free admission into the museum.  When Elayna went to pay, the cashier informed her that she had already given me two tickets, for nothing!  She must’ve known that she is like my sister!

Living art!

Anyway, the museum is currently featuring a special exhibit on Westerns which we didn’t opt to check out since we liked the idea of getting in somewhere for free.  It definitely looks interesting, however and since my Dad was a big fan of Westerns, I will definitely be checking it out before the summer time is over in his honor.  The museum is currently undergoing some renovations with some of the floors and/or sections being closed off to the public.  There is a variety of exhibits to see.  We especially enjoyed the extensive Native American art exhibit, which features art from a variety of different Native American tribes and their respective regions.  Much of the art are from local and regional artists in a variety of forms.  One of my favorite pieces is a painting by local artist Gregg Deal of a young girl who is standing defiantly in front of a slew of negative Native American stereotypes.

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photo credit to Elayna Spratley… art by Gregg Deal

I was, however, a little disappointed that there was a lack of African and African American art included in the museum and have composed a letter to inquire about that to the museum.

Later that evening, I joined Elayna and her friend for a quick bite to eat at Hacienda Colorado, a casual Tex Mex eatery that is local to the area.  Normally, I am not a big fan of Mexican food but I figured I’d be polite and join them for dinner anyway.  I ordered tacos with a side of Mexican rice which was really good.  I left after about an hour having made plans for the next day when I would bring my family back to Denver so that Elayna could visit with her god kids.

Norman and I took the kids to the Museum of Nature and Science the following morning.  We bought a membership last year for Noah’s birthday and decided to celebrate his 7th birthday a few days early in renewing that membership.  We visited their newest exhibit on Nature’s Amazing Machines, which is a look at how the features of different animals have aided in their ability to move and survive, even serving as inspiration for a variety of modern engineering.  I was excited to see this exhibit as there was a big emphasis on the cheetah which is my favorite wild animal of all time!

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We spent about 3 hours at the museum before heading to Arvada, a small town on the outskirts of Denver.   We walked around the downtown district called Olde Town Arvada, checking out some of the restaurants and shops before stopping for a little bit to let the kids play at a park.  We met up with Elayna for dinner at a restaurant called the School House Kitchen and Libations .  This place was awesome, especially the atmosphere. The restaurant is set up in the town’s first schoolhouse and everything is school house themed, from the library bar to the menus which are set up like a school schedule inside an old school pocket folder.  The drink menu emulates that of a scan tron (memories anyone?)  Everything inside the restaurant just flows and was very well thought out.  We were seated in the “teacher’s lounge” on the second floor right inside the large rooftop patio.   I really enjoyed my time in Arvada; it gives off that small town vibe that allows you to get the very best of the local culture.  Norman and I will definitely be back!


Elayna’s visit was a small success.  I do wish she could’ve stayed longer than the weekend but I did have a great time hanging out with one of my bestest friends.   It was long overdue and I hope that I can get down to her neck of the woods soon!

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