Monday, May 30, 2005

Downtown Denver

Although our plans were to leave first thing Monday for Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park, CO), we decided to go through Downtown Denver on the way. There's a place called the 16th Street Mall that sounded pretty neat. And it was. It's a mile long street that crosses the city and is closed to traffic, but there's free shuttle service with a stop at each block and a bus stopping every 2 minutes. There are stores and restaurants the whole way up and down the street, plus tons of benches with beautiful flowers and trees everywhere. At one end is the Denver Civic Center and the other end has the gorgeous Capitol Building, with it's gold-plated dome. It's definitely a place to just hang out and people-watch.

We had delicious omelets and coffee at The Corner Cafe, then hopped on the shuttle. First stop, ESPN Zone. It's an arcade with lots of virtual reality kind of games/rides. We all loved it. Emily & Elly were in a horse had to see it to believe it. They were in such a serious competition that for the rest of the day Emily said her hands & legs were sore! They all raced motorcycles...maybe that will take away Alan's hope of renting four wheelers in Utah since he got to ride at ESPN Zone! Before we left I challenged them all to a basketball pop-a-shot kind of game. It was very intense with four competitive Raushes at the line, all with our own basket to shoot at. When the final buzzer rang...I WAS THE CHAMP with 54 points. Next came Emily with 53, Elly with 51, and bringing up the rear was a very humbled Alan with 49. Haha, we teased him so was funny. Good for the guy to lose once in a while, especially to three women!

Although the day was overcast, the temperature was mild and we really enjoyed being outside. There was a neat outdoor art show going on. A lot of the artists had photography of the national parks, awesomely beautiful. And enough photography of mountains to make us think there really might be mountains out here somewhere! We made a quick stop into Niketown which the girls really liked.

We hopped on the shuttle again, and noticed a lot of volleyball players on board. After walking around and noticing even more v-ball players, I finally said I was going to ask one of them what was going on. Emily is sometimes embarrassesd that I "talk to everyone" but for once she was glad I did. Turns out that the USA National Volleyball Tournament was going on! We walked a few blocks to the Colorado Convention Center and there it was! Wow, the best of the best in volleyball! There were about 50 courts and thousands of players there. We got to watch the USA National Women's Team compete...past and future Olympic players! Emily and Elly were really thrilled to see this, so were Alan & I. Coleman & Caroline, on the other hand, were in disbelief. After spending the last 3 months watching their sisters at so many volleyball tournaments, here we were again. And this was supposed to be vacation?? Coleman sat on the floor with his head between his knees. Although the older 4 of us could have stayed all day, we only stayed an hour but got to see the most incredible volleyball of our lives in that short time. There was a men's team from NYC called Creole that really did look Haitian. They were so fun to watch...some of them had dreadlocks, all had huge smiles, which were displayed often as they spiked one killer after another, often knocking down the players on the other team with the power they put on the ball. Incredible. We got Emily to get her picture taken afterwards with the best player, David Jackson, who was not just dripping with sweat, but gushing with sweat. OK, so next year the nationals are in New Orleans, so any volleyball fans out there start planning your trip. You've never seen anything like it.

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