American Excess

DATELINE: 2nd July 2018

Kalamath Avenue, Denver, CO

Down and safe. A day in transit finally sees us delivered in to a clean white space in Lincoln Park, an artsy Latino corner of Denver. Lots of exposed wood, a big open-plan kitchen, bright light and airy. Perfect. We had just enough left in us to grab frozen pizza from a nearby 7-11 (the sales clerk clocked the accents and told us about his relatives in Southall—it’s a small world after all). As I got ready to faceplant a pillow, the alarm on my Fitbit vibrated. 5:30 in England. Time to get up for work. Half a world away. I tapped the alarm to silence with a smile, and let sleep take me.

Day One of any holiday is always a slow start, a bit of a fumble around. You need to fetch supplies, figure out how the appliances in the rental work, coo with glee at the vast expanse of the American fridge.

Which means of course, one thing. The perfect excuse. Road trip to Walmart.

The church of American excess is always a pleasure and a joy. I find myself grinning like a kid, running around cackling at the sheer muchness of it all. How can anyone need this much peanut butter? That container of cheese balls is bigger than my head. The meat section verges on the pornographic. The one thing that calms us from filling a trolley is the knowledge that we’re only in Denver till Friday. Does this stop us from buying a slab of red-white-and blue sprinkled marshmallow Rice Krispie squares?

No, Readership. It does not.

Mission accomplished.

Denver is a big place, metaphorically and geographically. A widespread, low-slung, slow-talking kinda place. Off to the West, the Rockies are scribbled across the sky, a real-life Bob Ross painting. We rode around for a while, just soaking up the atmosphere, cheerfully shouting out brand names that are more punchlines than anywhere you’d want to eat. Arby’s! Applebee’s! Taco Bell! IHOP!

Ah, the International House Of Pancakes. It has a special place in our hearts. We know that we will never clear our plates when the food we order arrives. It’s easy to forget that the standard unit of edible at an IHOP is the circumference of a 10” vinyl EP, as thick as a novel and contains enough calories to sustain a man for a day. You cannot get less than three IHOP pancakes. Of course, you could always try the entrees or, gods forbid, one of their new range of burgers (I’ll make an exception for the Patty Melt, which is a good old fashioned burger sandwich and therefore a taste of my childhood). But really, a trip to the House is about filling up cheaply, indulging in a mild sense of self-loathing and coming back again the following week.

But it did mean we ate in an approved manner—main meal before 6. Trust me, if you IHOP mid-afternoon, you will not need an evening meal.

We were freed up to spend the evening at one of Denver’s finest craft breweries. The finest, according to local scuttlebutt. By the purest of dumb luck that comes from an abrupt cancellation and scramble to find fresh accommodation two weeks before we loaded into our winged death-tube, means that we are a 90 second walk away from the Renegade Brewing Company.

Imagine a BrewDog without the aggressive expansion plans and whiff of corporate desperation. Imagine a place that gets how a front-facing brewery should be, shonky plaster finish and all, without it seeming forced. There’s money behind Renegade, and the branding is on point. But the beer and service are outstanding. And you never feel anything but looked after. The thing that did it for me? They don’t really do food. Like the Allied in Reading, they’re happy for you to bring your own in. There’s an opening for this. Whatever the opposite of corkage is in restaurants.

Yes, ok, we used a convenient thunderstorm that rolled up from over the hillside as an excuse for one more beer. ‘Oh no, it’s raining out there, guess we’d better stick around to see if it calms down.’ It did not, but the ninety second walk back to the rental through a deluge of warm rain was surprisingly refreshing.

Day One, chores completed. Now we can really start to have some fun.


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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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