Thursday brought rain, giving us a perfect opportunity to visit the Denver Art Museum. We started with the small but interesting collection of European and American painting, sculpture, and furniture; then toured a special exhibit of Amish and Mennonite quilts; and ended up on the ground floor for a special show of quilts from Gee’s Bend, Louisiana. After lunch of gourmet macaroni and cheese (whole grain pasta with a sauce made from four kinds of cheese), we entered the Asian galleries, where we stayed until closing.
Statues of Vishnu, Shiva and Parvati, Ganesh, and other deities greeted us in the India section. Later on, we communed with several Buddhas and then immersed ourselves in the inkwells, tables, paintings, and other accoutrements of the scholar’s tradition in China. Just before leaving, we came upon a gallery devoted to objects from the Han Dynasty, which ruled China from 206 BCE to 220 CE. The sculptures there enchanted me with their simple shapes and flowing lines. A prancing horse stood out from the other pieces thanks to his swaggering stride and enormous lips pulled back to reveal large teeth and a mischievous smile.
On our way home we stopped for a treat at Bonnie Brae ice cream parlor, justly famous for the many flavors it makes. In the evening, we dined at The Fort in Morrison, which specializes in wild game and preserves food traditions from the days of the Santa Fe Trail. Although the menu offered rocky mountain oysters, rattlesnake cakes, and other delicacies, my altitude-weary system made do with nothing more adventurous than a bison filet with lobster tail. My husband, however, tried the wild game platter, which presented a bison steak, elk chop, and roasted quail. We both enjoyed the prickly pear cocktail. While eating at our window table, we watched the sky darken and turn blue and then indigo as the Sun set and the city lights north of us began to twinkle against the sky and the mountain peaks. Afterward, we wandered through the restaurant’s courtyard, admiring the adobe architecture and the scent of the outdoor fire.
The next day was our last in Colorado, and we opted to see downtown via a walking tour. At length we found the Brown Palace, an elegant old hotel that brought back memories of my stay there on business many years ago. After admiring the ornate lobby, we made our way to “Lodo” (lower downtown) for lunch with the daughter of a friend; our conversation ranged from travel and art to reincarnation and Atlantis, and suddenly three hours had passed and it was time to part. That evening, we took in a baseball game between the Rockies and the Milwaukee Brewers; Milwaukee led most of the way but Colorado began to score in the late innings and emerged victorious.
The next morning, we got an early start for home. The time and the miles seemed to pass quickly, and by early evening we were deep into Iowa. In a final homage to Mercury’s retrograde, we scrapped our original plan for a two-day return journey and opted to drive straight through. We reached Chicago around three the next morning, pulling up in front of our house to the sound of birds chirping. Our two cats were confused yet overjoyed to see us and joined us on the bed when we finally turned in around 4 a.m.