The Mountains Are My Spirit Animal

I craned my neck to take in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains near Denver as we drove along highway 6 to a hiking trail near Golden, Colorado.

“The mountains are my spirit animal,” Fox said over his shoulder from the driver’s seat.

I nodded. I can relate. Life in Austin is good, but I miss the sight of snow-covered peaks and the smell of mountain air after a fresh rainfall. Every time I go back to the mountains, a part of me feels like I’m going home.


Shelly and I arrived in Denver on Thursday. Early. Waking at 4am to shuffle through airport security is far from the most relaxing way to start the day, but the plane set us down in Denver at 7:10 so we had the whole day to explore. And nap. When you wake at 4am on a travel day, a nap is practically a necessity.

Obligatory plane wing photo on the flight to Denver


The Infinite Monkey Theorem recently opened a location in Austin, TX. We visited the original location in Denver on Thursday afternoon.

Infinite Monkey Theorem graffiti art
Infinite Monkey Theorem graffiti art


Friday morning we shared a delicious breakfast at Gaia Bistro in Platt Park. Then we wandered the neighborhoods south of downtown Denver—Capitol Hill, Washington Park, and Platt Park—and browsed a few stores on Broadway.

Graffiti art on Broadway
Graffiti art on Broadway
Your move, pal.

Finally, we took an Uber to the Botanic Gardens. The flowers weren’t in bloom in early March, but the art and landscape made it worthwhile.

Statue: "So Proud of My Children" by Nicholas Kadzungura
Statue: “So Proud of My Children” by Nicholas Kadzungura
Botanic Garden fish pond
Botanic Garden fish pond


On Saturday, we finally ventured into the mountains. What was supposed to be a short jaunt at White Ranch turned into an epic 5-mile hike (that happens when you don’t follow directions).

White Ranch


Later that night, Shelly and I dropped into my favorite bookstore in Denver, The Tattered Cover. It’s a well-stocked independent bookstore located at the far end of the 16th Street Mall.

I bought a copy of The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. The illustrations in the novella are beautiful. I might write a review on the book when I’m finished. It’s a very unique and odd story—in a good way.

After the bookstore, we went out to dinner at The Kitchen. I always forget to photograph the food, but if you do visit Denver and want a nice dinner, The Kitchen has incredibly fresh seafood—not just for Denver, but fresh for anywhere. I recommend the littleneck oysters.


On Sunday, the final day of our trip, we visited friends in Nederland, CO. Here’s a shot of Shelly and I in Ned.

Matt and Shelly in Ned

We rode on the Carousel of Happiness while we were there. ‘Cause why not? Only $1 to ride a 105 year old carousel that has survived fires and natural disaster.

Here’s a chill gorilla on the Carousel of Happiness.

The chill gorilla on the Carousel of Happiness
The Carousel of Happiness

We were back in Austin late on Sunday night.


Have you ever been to Denver? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Tell me in the comments.


  1. Hey Matt,
    The Colorado Rockies are the “real mountains” to me, and connecting with them and their attendant pine forests and lakes are always a powerful spiritual experience. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had the pleasure of hiking, climbing, and jeeping in many places, but especially the San Juans. Mt. Sneffels, Antero, Yale, Elbert, Kendall, and Apache are some of the high peaks I’ve had the joy of climbing. Haven’t seen much of Denver’s sights, but I really connect more with the small mountain towns like Silverton or Ouray.
    Looks like you had a good time.

    • Matt says:

      I’d love to get my jeep out there one of these days. I haven’t spent much time in the small mountain towns in Colorado (just Montana), but there is a certain appeal to them. I’ll be sure to ask you for recommendations before the next visit!

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