Hi, I'm Adam.

Adam Parkzer   •   29   •   Las Vegas, USA   •   5'10" (178 cm)   •   148 lbs (67 kg)   •   Korean American

I was originally in law enforcement and planning on becoming a criminal prosecutor, but then I put everything on hold and moved to the Pa­cif­ic Coast to pursue my hobby as a full-time career. Now I help run Tempo, a gaming media production and game development company. I am currently the Direc­tor of Corporate Operations, primarily overseeing legal, finance, and hu­man re­sources ad­min­is­tra­tion.

My main interests include criminology and forensic psychology. In my free time, I like to write, train martial arts, and de­vel­op new prac­ti­cal skills. I used to be a competitive gamer, but now I just play casually. The easiest way to get to know me better is to read about INTJs on the Myers-Briggs Type In­di­ca­tor. I'm split between a Type 5 and 8 on the Enneagram; my CliftonStrengths Top 3 are Deliberative, Learner, and Analytical; and my top Big Five per­sonality trait is Conscientiousness.

Check out my social media profiles and channels: @Parkzer on Twitter, Adam Parkzer on LinkedIn, AdamParkzer on Flickr, Parkzer on Last.fm, Parkzer on Twitch, and Adam Parkzer on YouTube. If you want to write me a letter or send me a package, you can ship it to PO Box 2222, Las Vegas, NV 89125-2222, USA (though keep in mind that I'm on a cross-country road trip until 2022, so it might be a while before I see it).

Below, you can find my blog where I document my travels, organize my thoughts, and share snippets of my life.

 

—§—

 

Re: “How is it financially viable to live out of Marriott hotel rooms for half a year?”

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback regarding my decision to become homeless for half a year and roam around the country. The general consensus is that people are happy I’m finally taking time to myself (as opposed to constantly grinding work), and many are keeping up with my travel blog posts and liv­ing vicariously through me.

There have been a few people, though, who think this is a terrible idea, and most of them believe this for financial reasons. I’ve had one person point out that I must be “filthy rich at this point that [I] don’t even know what to do with all my money,” while another has more bluntly stated that I’m a hyp­o­crite for pushing theories of financial responsibility and then proceeding to go do something as “reckless” as this.

I thought a great way to address this and explain just how it’s actually financially viable for me to do something like this is to do a breakdown of how much money I am and would be spending in each of the two living situations.

 
As a precursor to this, I want to point out that, no, I am not actually filthy rich. I am satisfied with the volume of my various income sources and I am much better off than an overwhelming majority of Americans, but I am in no way considered “rich.”

Also note that I am only 29 years old, and have a Bachelor’s degree and half of an incomplete Master’s degree. This means:

  1. I’ve only been in the workforce for a handful of years, not only because I’m still fairly young, but also because I spent a lot of years in school;
  2. I entered the workforce with an overwhelming amount of student loan debt, a lot of which had relatively high interest rates that I wanted to pay off as soon as possible; and
  3. I’m still busy saving up for retirement, as I want to get as much of that as possible taken care of now so I don’t have to worry about it later.

 
With that being said, let’s start with a breakdown of what my housing expenses would be had I stayed in Las Vegas. I was originally planning on moving to a studio in the Veer Towers, an all-residential high-rise condominium complex at CityCenter. The main reason I ended up not going this route is be­cause I had some lease agreement conflicts with the property management company and ended up walking away from the contract. But, for this ex­am­ple, we can pre­tend like this lease went through.

For the past year, real estate in Las Vegas has been absolutely insane—prices have been climbing faster than they’ve ever gone up before. Many rich Cal­i­fornians came into town as a result of work-from-home arrangements during the pandemic, and even though Las Vegas cost of living is still much cheap­er than California, it is nowhere near as cheap as it used to be when I moved to Las Vegas in 2018.

The list price for the studio I was looking at was US$1,600.00 per month in rent, which was reasonable relative to the going market rate. I was able to get a small discount off that price, down to $1,550. Note that there is extremely low inventory right now, so I consider that discount to be unreasonably luck­y, but I’m still using the discounted rate, seeing as I managed to secure it.

These luxury high-rises on the Strip all have homeowners’ associations, and the HOA dues paid by the owner/landlord cover most utilities. The only ad­di­tion­al expenses I would have on top of that would be ~$50/mo. in electricity and ~$100/mo. in Internet service.

Thus, my monthly housing expenses would total $1,700, which averages out to $56.67 per day.

 
Next, my Marriott hotel situation.

To begin, I want to clarify that Marriott is a massive brand. Marriott is the largest hospitality provider in the world; if you narrow it down to the United States, they’re the hotel chain with the second most locations, just behind Wyndham. With this many properties, there is quite a noticeable range of op­tions when you take a look at all their hotels.

When I say I’m staying at Marriotts across the country, I do not mean I’m staying at places like the Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, or even the JW Marriott. In­stead, I’m staying almost entirely at brands like the Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, and Residence Inn. Marriott’s luxury hotels are designed to pamper you with amenities and give you a vacation experience you’ll never forget. Marriott’s “select” collection, as they call it, is designed to give you bare­bones lodg­ing at an affordable price that still meets the Marriott standard of quality, cleanliness, and safety.

Obviously, the nightly rate can vary substantially depending on where and when I’m staying. If I snag a spot with a promotion and/or an extended stay discount, I could get a room as low as $50 per night. On the other hand, if it’s the weekend and I’m passing through a tourist destination or just happen to be unlucky and am caught in the middle of a big event or convention, sometimes the cheapest I can get is $150 per night.

With all things being con­sid­ered, I would say that a fairly liberal estimate for an average cost of a night’s stay at a hotel is $75. If I scale that up to a 30-day month, the e­quiv­a­lent rate is $2,250. (Note that this is an all-inclusive rate that already includes taxes and fees, and obviously, there are no extra u­til­i­ty charges at a hotel.)

 
However, there are two extra things to account for here, the first being percentage-based rewards that functionally act as a discount.

Although you generally cannot pay rent with a credit card (or if you do, you incur an extra processing fee), it is commonplace and often highly en­cour­aged to pay for hotel stays with a credit card. I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, a card geared specifically towards rewarding those who travel. The Sap­phire Reserve gives you 3 reward points for every $1 you spend on travel, and each reward point can be redeemed for 1.5¢ cash value using the new “Pay Yourself Back” promotion. Even outside of the promotion, you can still get a redemption rate of 1.5¢ per point if you redeem your rewards on even more travel. This functionally acts as a 4.5% discount.

I am also a member of Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott’s loyalty program. Through this program, you get reward points derived from how much you spend on Marriott hotel rooms and services (excluding taxes). For each stay, I get a base number of reward points, plus an additional percentage-based bonus due to my high loyalty tier qualification. This, again, can depend on where I stay and what tier of status I happen to be at the time of the stay, but overall, this can functionally translate to being about a 10% discount, as a conservative estimate.

Combining the two rewards programs, I get back a­bout 14.5% of the cost of the hotel room. Using the previous estimate of $75 per night, I get back a­bout $10.88 of value per night, resulting in an effective nightly rate of $64.12, or an effective monthly equivalent rate of $1,923.75.

 
But it doesn’t end there. The second thing to account for here is that I am not spending the entire seven months, from June 1 to December 31, in hotel rooms. If I’m traveling for work or staying with friends and family, I have to keep paying rent if I’m committed to a residential lease agreement, but for hotel rooms, I simply stop paying for hotel rooms during that period.

During the seven-month period, I will be spending a total of about a month and a half at Tempo‘s company headquarters, spread out in intervals of a week or two. I generally make a routine visit every month or two, and will continue to do so during my travels. While I am in Southern California, I will stay at the residential sector of our offices and will not need to pay for hotel rooms out-of-pocket.

I will also be spending a total of about a month and a half with my parents at their house in the Chicagoland suburbs where I grew up.

As for staying with other friends and family, although I anticipate spending about a month or so with “free” lodging, I will still be purchasing them gro­cer­ies, restaurant meals, and/or gifts throughout my stay in order to show my appreciation for them hosting me at their home, and I anticipate the cost of this to be comparable to staying at a hotel room. As such, I will not be deducting any expenses for staying with friends or non-parental family mem­bers.

If I account for the free lodging at my company headquarters and with my parents, I subtract three months of lodging expenses from the seven months of travel. That calculates out to each night costing 4/7th of its rate, which brings the $64.12 down to $36.64 per night.

 
We’re almost done, but there’s one more thing to factor in. I’m driving my personal pickup truck to each destination, and there is an additional cost to op­er­ate my vehicle beyond what I normally would just by staying put in Las Vegas. I’m not going to count the mileage of going out and getting food or going on tours, but I will count the mileage of going from city to city.

After mapping out my tentative road trip route, I think I am going to drive approximately 7,000 extra miles (11,265 kilometers) over the span of the sev­en months. According to the IRS standard mileage rate, it costs an average of 56¢ per mile to op­er­ate the average vehicle (which includes things like fuel, maintenance, and depreciation).

Although my pickup truck is a mid-size model with a tonneau cover for improved fuel economy and is more efficient than the average pickup truck, it is still slightly more costly than the average vehicle. On the other hand, the standard mileage rate includes stuff like insurance, which I would’ve had to pay for anyway. I’m going to consider those factors as balancing themselves out, and just stick with the standard mileage rate.

The cost to operate a vehicle 7,000 miles is approximately $3,920. Dividing that by 7, we get a monthly rate of $560. Divide that again, this time by 30, and we get a daily rate of $18.67. This needs to be added to the $36.64 nightly rate, bringing it up to $55.31.

 
And before we come to the final conclusion, I want to address two more miscellaneous points.

First is my food situation. Yes, I won’t be able to cook while I’m on the road… except I haven’t really been cooking much lately anyway. Ever since the pan­demic happened and I got a lot of relief funding from the government, I’ve been going out of my way to ensure I support local businesses and res­tau­rants. Ever since March 2020, I have been eating almost exclusively at family-owned local res­tau­rants (as opposed to going grocery shopping and cook­ing for myself). I will continue to do so during my travels, and the cost of that will be net-neutral relative to pre-travel.

Second is the time it will take me to get from city to city, and the opportunity cost associated with that time. I did not factor this into the calculation be­cause I feel like I am putting in my time and effort of driving in exchange for receiving amazing experiences visiting new cities across the country. On top of that, driving, to some extent, is therapeutic to me, so I don’t mind sitting in my truck for a few hours at a time just listening to music and ob­serv­ing the scenery.

 
So the final verdict.

Renting a place in Las Vegas and living a “normal” life would cost me ~$56.67 per day, $1,700.00 per month, or $11,900.00 for the full seven-month period. Traveling the country and being a nomad would cost me approximately $55.31 per day, $1,659.20 per month, or $11,615.00 for the full seven-month period. (The num­bers don’t line up perfectly to their fractional counterparts due to rounding and decimals.)

Yes, in my unique situation, I am literally saving a tiny bit of money by doing things the way I am.

If you truly thought I didn’t account for the financial implications and consequences of my decision, then you don’t know me very well.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

I am nearing the end of the first segment of my road trip from Southern California to the Chicagoland suburbs to visit my parents. For my final stop, I de­cided to visit Springfield, the capital of Illinois, the state that contains Chicago.

Springfield has the Capitol building, along with a handful of other historic sites linked to historic figures. I figured a visit to the State Capitol was iconic and symbolic enough that it would be worth a stay in the city. However, I’m not really much of a history buff, and most other tourist attractions here are generally for history enthusiasts, so I only booked my stay for two nights.

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

The outside of the building was pretty nice, with serene landscaping, two large fountains, and various different statues spread across the plot.

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

Due to the pandemic, it seemed like the Capitol had reduced operations, and three out of the four doors were closed. But, I managed to find my way a­round to the north entrance and arrived just in time for a guided tour of the interior.

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

Our first stop was the House of Representatives. Apparently this room was used as a set in the filming of Legally Blonde 2: Red White & Blonde. The tour guide explained that the director loved the chandeliers in this room so much that they did a wide shot for the movie… which proceeded to shatter the sense of immersion that they worked so hard to achieve throughout the rest of the movie, because they wanted to make it look like it was filmed in Washington, D.C., and that House doesn’t have chandeliers.

The tour guide shared some other fun facts as well. For example, the smaller chairs mark the desks that are currently unoccupied. The desks with phones indicate the desks of the leaders. The little devices at the corner of each desk are the voting machines, where you press a button to vote yes or no, and al­so have access to summon assistance if needed.

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

Next was the Senate. This room wasn’t quite as exciting as the House, but nevertheless, an important component of the legislative branch of the Illinois gov­ern­ment.

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

The Capitol building is three stories tall. The ground floor was originally called the basement, and the first floor was the middle floor, but after the ar­chi­tect was requested to make some adjustments to accommodate more office space, the stairs to the previous first floor were removed and replaced with additional offices, and the main entrance was rerouted to the basement, which ended up becoming the new first floor.

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

After seeing the legislative branch, we moved on to the executive branch. Most of that section of the building were rows of doors leading to offices, but there was a special separate section for the governor’s office. The glass office is where the public enters and goes through initial processing by the ad­min­is­tra­tive staff, then once they’re ready to speak with the governor, they are led through the brown doors to the left.

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield

I had a few other photos of some of the statues and art, but unfortunately, there were four children in my tour group who always seemed to get in the way of my pictures, and I don’t want to post photographs of minors on my blog.

This concludes my one-month journey starting in Long Beach and going through Lake Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Rawlins, Denver, Wichita, Kansas City, and Springfield. Tomorrow, I make the final three-and-a-half hour drive to the northwest suburbs of Chicago to visit my parents.

 

—§—

 

Goodbye Wichita; hello Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri

After spending five days in Wichita, I’ve moved on to my next destination. I mentioned in a previous blog post that I had a nice view from my hotel room where I could see a lot of fireworks shows at once, but didn’t post a photograph; here is the view I had from the 11th floor of the Wichita Marriott:

Wichita Marriott

On my way driving from Wichita to Kansas City, I made a stop at the Bazaar Cattle Pens, a tourist attraction located right off the I-35 Kansas Turnpike tollway in Matfield Green. I didn’t really have much of an idea as to what exactly it was or why it was there, but I saw a bunch of cows very far off in the dis­tance, so I snapped a photo.

Bazaar Cattle Pens

After just shy of a three-hour drive, I arrived in Leawood of Johnson County in the Kansas City metropolitan area. I heard that this is one of the nicer ar­e­as of Kansas City, and Leawood contains some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country. My hotel of choice was the Element Overland Park, a newly-constructed hotel under the Marriott brand.

I had a south-facing room, but I still got blinded by the sunlight due to a funny building nearby; the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, al­leg­ed­ly nicknamed the “spaceship,” had some interesting architecture that would reflect the sunset directly into my hotel room.

View from Element Overland Park

I only allocated two days to the Kansas City portion of my trip, so I had to choose wisely as to which tourist activity I wanted to do on the one full day I had here. One of my friends used to live in Kansas City and recommended the Liberty Memorial Tower for some nice views of Kansas City.

National WWI Museum and Memorial

National WWI Museum and Memorial

National WWI Museum and Memorial

National WWI Museum and Memorial

National WWI Museum and Memorial

The Liberty Memorial Tower was a part of the National World War I Museum and Memorial, so I figured I would also explore the museum while I was there. That was a bit uncharacteristic of me because I’m not really a fan of history (I literally quit my Master’s degree program because they required me to take too many history classes as part of my required curriculum), but museums usually teach information in a fun and interactive way, so I decided to give it a shot.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped. The exhibits were extremely text-heavy, and it basically felt like I was just reading a massive over­sized textbook with some three-dimensional illustrations. I took some pictures, but there were a ton of children there, and I don’t want to post pho­to­graphs containing minors. However, I do have one photograph I can post that I think captured my experience fairly well:

National WWI Museum and Memorial

Yes, that is indeed a sign asking you not to interact with the interactive table.

The few short films that the museum had were interesting, and I did learn quite a bit about World War I (which isn’t a surprise, because I’m an idiot when it comes to history and it’s very easy to teach someone something if they have next to zero prior knowledge about the aforementioned thing).

 
And of course, for every meal so far, I’ve had barbecue, which is the food that Kansas City is apparently known for. I still think Oklahoma City had the best barbecue I’ve ever tasted, but all my Kansas City barbecue meals come in at a comfortable second place. (I also think I just got really lucky with the BBQ restaurant I picked in Oklahoma City, because they had magical melt-in-your-mouth meat that I didn’t know was possible.)

My original plan was to go to Des Moines next, but for some reason, the cheapest hotels, even at promotional rates, were about double what I expected if I didn’t want to stay about 50 miles out from the city (my best guess is that they have some special event going on right now).

So, instead, I decided to reroute my path to Springfield, the capital of Illinois, because I figured that, having lived in the state for around two decades growing up, it would seem reasonable to visit the Capitol at least once.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita

Wichita is known as the Air Capital of the World. About a hundred years ago, a handful of aircraft manufacturing companies were originally established in Wichita, and to this day, a lot of leading aerospace corporations still operate out of Wichita.

The Wichita Metropolitan Area also has a lot of airports relative to its size, including the Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport, McConnell Air Force Base, Beech Factory Airport, Cessna Aircraft Field, and Colonel James Jabara Airport.

Naturally, I decided it would be a good idea to check out the Kansas Aviation Museum, a three-story indoor and outdoor hybrid museum with various aircraft, aircraft parts, and informational exhibits on display.

It was getting progressively hotter into the afternoon, so I decided to check out the outside area first. There were a lot of aircraft parked on the concrete, many of which were from the United States Air Force.

Kansas Aviation Museum

Kansas Aviation Museum

Kansas Aviation Museum

Kansas Aviation Museum

There were also some smaller aircraft assembled and set up indoors as well; that area of the museum seemed relatively new and still under development.

Kansas Aviation Museum

I don’t know too much about the inner workings of aircraft, but a lot of the iconic components were extracted and individually put on display as well.

Kansas Aviation Museum

Kansas Aviation Museum

Kansas Aviation Museum

My favorite part of the museum was actually the children’s area, because it’s where most of the hands-on exhibits were housed. Although it was a little too cramped for me to step in, there was a miniature model of an aircraft cabin set up. There were also some simulation stations where you could use a con­trol­ler and joystick to emulate flying a plane.

Kansas Aviation Museum

And of course, it wouldn’t be the United States of America without a machine gun.

Kansas Aviation Museum

The last area of the museum I visited was the control room, which you could access by going up a few flights of narrow stairs from the third floor. It gave sweeping views of the area to emulate what an air traffic controller would see.

Kansas Aviation Museum

I was also able to see Spirit AeroSystems’ south hangar, which had long rows of aircraft parts lined up, presumably for Boeing planes.

Kansas Aviation Museum

The extent to which I know about planes is the names of the models of the commercial aircraft that I usually fly in, and the areas and seats of the plane that are most comfortable and don’t have limited recline… so going to an aviation museum wasn’t exactly the most insightful or stimulating experience. Regardless, it was nice to see some of the inner workings of aircraft up-close, and I’m glad I got to see something that Wichita is known for.

That wraps up this leg of my trip; tomorrow, I head over to Kansas City, on the border of Kansas and Missouri.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

After right around seven hours of driving—the most I’ve ever done in a single day—I departed Denver, Colorado and arrived in Wichita, Kansas on July 3. I didn’t do much else on that day—I got in a full-body workout in the hotel gym to try and counteract a day of sedentariness, then ate some lamb sha­war­ma for dinner and relaxed for the rest of the day.

As I’ve mentioned before, I quit my lease but I didn’t quit my job, and I don’t like doing touristy things on the weekends because I want to avoid crowds, so I spent July 4 catching up on some work. Independence Day was great, because I’m on the highest floor of my hotel, about 140 or so feet up in the air, so I have a nice, clear view of a large portion of Wichita and was able to watch several fireworks shows at once. I got my Independence Day dinner from a local deli and ate a three-quarter pound corned beef and pastrami sandwich with Swiss cheese over toasted rye, along with a side of steamed veg­e­ta­bles.

July 5, or Independence Day Observed, was also a day of work and relaxation for me. After another full-body workout in the hotel gym and eating a chick­en, shredded beef, and ground beef enchilada platter from a local Mexican restaurant, I took care of some legal and corporate operations work for Tempo, then squeezed in a few video games for the first time in a little while.

That brings us to today, my first day being an active tourist in Wichita. Seeing as I got rained out in Denver when I visited the botanic gardens there, I de­cid­ed to give it another shot and visit Botanica, The Wichita Gardens. The one here was noticeably smaller than the one in Denver, but it was still a nice, pleasing experience (apart from the fact that it was blisteringly hot and humid).

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

There was a little train station model set up near the entrance. I’m not quite too sure why it was there or what the story was behind it, but I snapped a photo.

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Near the train station was the “sensory garden,” a garden specifically designed for those with sight impairments. I checked it out and I wasn’t quite sure how it was any different than the rest of the gardens, but it was definitely a nice touch.

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

I continued on towards the center of the Gardens, and there was an abundance of water—not something I see too often back at home in Las Vegas.

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

There was a bright, rainbow arch near the entrance to the Children’s Museum. Unfortunately, that area was blocked off for construction, but I snuck a­round the barricade to get a photo anyway.

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Past the Children’s Museum was a wellness trail with signs posted along the way to encourage wellness. Some areas were designated for stretching, while others made you more aware of your senses. After I went through the entire trail, I discovered that I accidentally did it backwards. Heh.

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

The main centerpiece of the Gardens appeared to be a large fountain with an array of circular paths surrounding it.

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

One of my favorite areas was the butterfly exhibit. There was a separate building that housed what appeared like hundreds of butterflies. I didn’t have a princess moment with butterflies landing on my finger or anything, but I did get to snap some photos of them. (Unfortunately, I forgot my actual cam­er­a for this trip, so all of these are pictures from my phone’s camera.)

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

One of my other favorite areas was the Chinese garden. The funniest part was the area to feed the koi fish—it was a great example of operant con­di­tion­ing, because the fish swarmed the edge of the platform when I stood there to look down, even if I didn’t have food, because to the fish, “human being on the edge” clearly means “feeding time.”

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

More Wichita tourist activities to come tomorrow.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Dinosaur Ridge in Jefferson County of the Denver Metropolitan Area, Colorado

Yes, I know that the title of this blog post, as well as the one about Green Mountain, are a little ridiculous… but if you know me, you know that I like doing things right, and neither of these landmarks are officially within Denver (and Dinosaur Ridge isn’t even officially in any city), so they’re a little dif­fi­cult to describe.

Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado

Anyway, for my final touristic activity of this leg of my trip, I headed over to the Dakota Ridge Trail to hike up Dinosaur Ridge. Dinosaur Ridge is right by Green Mountain, which I visited a few days ago, but I decided on this trail instead of something deeper west into the mountains because it already takes over half an hour for me to drive to this area from where I’m staying in Centennial. Because of this, you might recognize some of the scenery from these photos if you already read my Green Mountain blog post, but just from a closer or further point-of-view.

Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado

This hike was longer, but it was definitely easier than going up Green Mountain, and I only ended up climbing about half the elevation that I did for Green Mountain. The intensity of the climb wasn’t much different than Green Mountain, though; a lot of the elevation gain happens right at the be­gin­ning of the hike, then it plateaus out once you reach the top of the ridge.

Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado

Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado

At the summit, there was a little flat platform of land where you could see Denver, and also transfer over to Zorro Trail if you wanted.

Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado

Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado

Instead of transferring, I instead chose to continue along the upper ridge of Dinosaur Ridge. I checked a handful of maps and wasn’t able to find a spe­cif­ic name for this trail, but it ran parallel to Dakota Ridge Trail. This path was much more woody and foresty.

Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado

Once I got to the tip, I was able to get sweeping views to the north, with a sharp cliff down.

Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado

Dinosaur Ridge in Colorado

And with that, that wraps up my trip to Denver. I’m glad my final activity was a hiking trip, because I’m headed eastbound to Kansas tomorrow, and I’m definitely not going to be seeing any more mountains for a long time. My visits to Utah, Wyoming, and Denver were fantastic, and I’m hoping that I won’t be let down by the rest of my journey through the Midwest.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Denver Botanic Gardens

I wanted to go on another hiking trip today, but because of the flood warnings, I imagined that the terrain would be a bit too muddy for comfortable hiking, and I decided to find an alternative activity instead. I decided to go to the Denver Botanic Gardens on York Street in Cheesman Park (as opposed to the Chatfield Farms one in Littleton).

The Botanic Gardens were fairly dense with a lot of winding roads and a lot of things to take in. That was fine, though, because I arrived early enough before closing time that I had hours—plenty of time to see everything. … Or so I thought.

I started on the north side of the Gardens and walked through the bonsai tree exhibits.

Denver Botanic Gardens

There was also a desert garden, which made me feel right at home. I snapped a photo of some cacti.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Towards the western, central part of the Gardens, there were some water gardens.

Denver Botanic Gardens

At this point, it started lightly drizzling. It had been cloudy since I got to the Gardens, and I figured there was a chance of rain, but the light drizzle wasn’t too bad.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens

My favorite part of this area were the ducks. They were pretty quick and kept dipping in and out of the water, but I managed to snap this photo of three of them at once.

Denver Botanic Gardens

By this point, the rain was picking up a bit, but it was still manageable. I didn’t come prepared with an umbrella (and I don’t recall even using an um­brella ever since turning double-digit age), so I was getting a bit damp.

Denver Botanic Gardens

In the southwestern part of the Gardens, I found a rabbit running around (or maybe it was a hare? but it was fairly small, so I’m leaning towards rabbit). I’ve actually never touched a rabbit before because I’ve never interacted with domesticated rabbits. When I still lived in the Chicagoland suburbs, I would see hares around a lot, but it’s usually not a good idea to go touch wild animals—not that they would let me anyway.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Now the rain was really picking up. I had just finished navigating through a “birds and the bees” trail; it was nestled inside a lot of trees, so I didn’t realize how much it was raining, but when I popped out of the exit, I started getting very wet. I began looking for cover.

Denver Botanic Gardens

I made my way through some winding paths and found a little gazebo in the middle of the water gardens. By this point, it was absolutely pouring.

Denver Botanic Gardens

That was very unfortunate, because I had just made it through only about a third or so of the outdoor exhibits. Fortunately, there were some indoor ex­hib­its available, so I headed inside to check them out and hope that the rain would subside soon.

Denver Botanic Gardens

I found a peace lily; I snapped a photo because my parents had like five of these in their house when I still lived with them.

Denver Botanic Gardens

The conservatory connected to the Freyer-Newman Center, where there were a few art exhibits available for viewing.

Denver Botanic Gardens

Well, the bad news is, it never stopped raining. After sitting on a bench in the Boettcher Memorial Center to relax and reply to some emails and mes­sages, I realized that this rain probably wasn’t something that I could just wait out. It wasn’t a torrential downpour anymore, but it was still raining hard enough that I didn’t want to get absolutely drenched walking around outside.

I ended up leaving much earlier than I had hoped. I missed out on a lot of the gardens and exhibits, and also missed out on a few of the other indoor attractions (like the Tea House, Science Pyramid, and Solarium), as they were still closed, presumably because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If I ever return to Denver, I’m definitely interested in coming back to the Denver Botanic Gardens. Not only is there still a lot more for me to see, but the environment is also just very pleasant and tranquil; it feels like a nice place to spend an afternoon relaxing, sitting on one of the chairs, and reading a book surrounded by plants.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Green Mountain in Lakewood of the Denver Metropolitan Area, Colorado

I made it into Denver Metropolitan Area from Rawlins, Wyoming this past Monday after a drive that lasted just shy of 4 hours.

The drive was pleasant with a decent amount of scenery, especially after entering into Colorado. With the state border receiving drizzles of scattered show­ers, the air smelled crisp and refreshing—a pleasant contrast from the polluted air of the cities in which I usually am. I also had a work call during my drive, which made that hour feel like it went by a lot faster. Overall, the trip felt fairly quick.

My hotel of choice for this leg of my trip is the Courtyard by Marriott Denver South/Park Meadows Mall, south of the main Denver city/county and near Centennial. (Interestingly, the hotel has an Englewood address, even though Englewood is several miles northwest of Centennial; I haven’t figured out why yet.)

Since arriving, I spent Monday night and most of Tuesday catching up on work and relaxing. I’m heading out of Colorado on Saturday, so I didn’t want to lose any more days; I went on my first hike this morning.

Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colorado

When selecting hikes, I like to pick trails that are moderate or intermediate in difficulty that will allow me to overlook the city with a wide, sweeping view. For today’s hike, I wanted to summit Green Mountain in Lakewood. I headed over to the Rooney Road Trailhead and made my way up the Rooney Valley Trail.

Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colorado

Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colorado

Once I got close to the summit, I transferred over to the Summit Loop Trail for a nice view of the entire Denver Metropolitan Area.

Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colorado

Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colorado

Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colorado

Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colorado

After reaching the peak of Summit Loop, I transferred back over to the Rooney Valley Trail and summited Green Mountain, which gave me some nice views of the southwest corner of the Denver Metropolitan Area.

Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colorado

Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colorado

It seems like the Denver area has a lot of great hiking opportunities. Unfortunately, I’ll only have time to hit two more spots at most, but I’ll definitely be putting my final two full days in town to good use.

 

—§—