The penultimate week of Stanford Summer Session 2019, and we all begin to hunker down on final submissions, papers, and studying for final exams. Most of the week was spent in Stanford, busy researching, writing and cramming with the occasional break to exercise, play tennis, go for a run or just chill in the sun on campus. As per our modus operandi, we aimed to finish as much of our work as possible within the week so that we could have the weekend to go out for a little stress relief. Over the weekend, our group split and did a variety of things. Half of us went to Berkeley to participate in their National Day celebrations, while the other half of us headed over to Denver to catch a Dean Lewis performance and then some.
After spending the morning playing tennis, packing and catching up on some readings, Liz and I headed off to San Francisco Airport to catch our 3 hour flight to Denver, Colorado. We arrived late at night and drove straight to our Airbnb in Aurora.
Today was a slow lie-in sort of day, and we took it easy and stayed in for most part of the day. For lunch, we headed out to a nearby cluster of Asian shops for lunch. The cluster comprised Asian barbers, Korean supermarkets, Chinese roast meat shops, hair salons, and nail parlours. The Korean mart was good fun, with an impressive array of Asian products from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and even Japan. A real sight for sore eyes. Needless to say, we picked up a couple of sorely missed Asian snacks for our Denver road trip. For lunch, we feasted on some roast meat and rice from New Canton BBQ. It was heavenly. The skills of a Hong Kong chef mated with the freshness of American pork and the large portion sizes customary of US culture. A match made in heaven. For the rest of the day, we stayed in to work on our Nuclear World papers.
In the evening, we headed out to Gothic Theater for Dean Lewis!! As a surprise, there was an opening act by Scott Helman, a rising artist in the music scene. It was surreal catching Dean Lewis live, having fallen in love with his songs years ago. Gothic Theater is as quirky as its name suggests, but the cosy and slightly decrepit setting made for the perfect atmosphere for Dean’s music to come to life.
The audience was alive with energy and the mood filled the room with a thick and almost musty sense of euphoria mixed with melancholy, in tune with Dean’s latest album, A Place We Knew. The juxtaposition of the upbeat rhythm with the sorrowful lyrics brings out a common theme that runs through Dean’s songs and resonates so strongly with us young adults who are simultaneously living the brightest days of our youth all whilst experiencing our own struggles and heartbreaks.
The predominantly Western audience were so outgoing and bubbling with energy and emotion, as compared to the often subdued and ‘dead’ Singaporean audience. Their energy was infectious and before we knew it, we were belting out the lyrics to Straight Back Down at the top of our lungs. Another thing we noticed was that the audience refrained from excessively recording or taking pictures with their phones, despite it being permitted. It was refreshing for us, and it brought about the purest form of enjoyment – with our very eyes and ears, recording the memory with only our minds. It was an experience that we’d never forget.
To the mountains! Today we took a day trip out to Rocky Mountain. First, we made a coffee run to New Moon Café and Bakery in Boulder. We picked up some pastry and a Nutty Irishman coffee and began our ascent up Rocky Mountain. For the first time since we arrived in America, it began to drizzle and the temperature plummeted from 35 to 15 degrees Celsius.
We hiked 8 km along the Glacier Gorge Trail to the highest point at 10000 ft. As we hiked, we were rewarded with views of Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and for the finale, Emerald Lake. The cool weather made the otherwise arduous hike a comfortable on. The foggy and cloudy weather made for an oppressive setting which contrasted the Californian weather that we’ve become accustomed to. Along the way, we took a break for a picnic and finished off our pastries that we’d bought earlier.
Upon completion of our hike, we drove up to the Forest Canyon Overlook which is a lookout point perched at 11700 feet and overlooks the deep U-shaped valley that runs through the heart of Rocky Mountain Canyons. A breathtaking view despite the blustery winds and bone chilling weather (10 degrees). To reward ourselves for the hike, we treated ourselves to Shake Shack for dinner and called it a night.
No trip to Colorado would be complete without a visit to Downtown Denver. We began by exploring LoDo (lower downtown), and walked to Union Station, Denver’s century old train station that has survived countless calamities and fires over the years.
We then took a short skip over to Tattered Cover Bookstore, famed for its endless rows of new and pre-loved books for booklovers from all stations in life. It seemed very reminiscent of Powell’s Bookstore in Portland. After walking a couple of blocks, we found ourselves at Larimer Square – often touted as the birth place of downtown Denver as we know it today. It’s roads are lined with flags, and incandescent light bulbs that bathe the streets in a warm glow at night.
For lunch, we popped into The Market, which is a sort of bakery-deli-butcher-chocolatier combination. We enjoyed a light lunch of cold pasta salads and topped it off with a cinnamon bun. Our last stop before heading to the airport was Jax’s Fish House and Oyster Bar where we scored ourselves some $1.50 air flown oysters during their happy hour between 3-6pm. The oysters were so sweet and fresh, with hints of the saltiness of the sea, perfectly seasoned with a dash of lemon and tabasco. We also ordered some calamari that came with a mango sauce and garlic aioli, a refreshing take on the battered appetizer. A thirst quenching strawberry lemonade sealed the deal for us, and we were ready for our flight back to California.
written by: matthew