Dave and Al do Denver

First impressions on arriving in Denver after a trip that lasted some twenty hours in total were not encouraging. There seems to be an awful lot of nothing, and being that far from the sea is a strange experience for someone from England - where the sea is never more than 100 miles away. And, in line with its informal name of "the mile high city" (its over 5,000 feet above sea level), I felt a little short of breath until I got used to it. Mind you, if we'd accomplished the whole journey in the style shown here, no doubt we'd have had more time to get used to the altitude.

OK, so the previous picture was taken at Denver Zoo. I was a bit loath to mention this too loudly, as Dave and I seemed to be rather unwelcome there. We arrived about noon, bought an ice-cream and started walking about only to be gently persuaded to leave by an attendant who said that they had "a small emergency" going on. An elephant had escaped, and was wandering around the zoo (visiting friends perhaps?). First time I've heard of anything that contains elephants being described as "small".

Once we started to explore Denver, however, we soon discovered that the city has some beautiful areas. The 16th Street Mall is a great place to stroll, eat and drink during the day, and lively at night with street acts, cinemas, live music etc. I did point out that they seemed to have forgotten the roof, but I was told that you can have a "shopping mall" without a roof. Doesn't that make it a just a "street"? Mind you, in England we have to put a roof on to keep the rain out.

There's some great buildings in Denver city as well - some quite old (by American standards). We also enjoyed a walk around Confluence Park where the rivers meet, the "Ocean Journey" aquarium and other visitor attractions. A couple more pictures below show some of the buildings in the city center and the park.

However, the real beauty of Colorado is outside the city. I couldn't resist including this photo taken from the top of Loveland Pass (some 12,000 feet above sea level) with the I-70 highway below. I certainly was out of breath there, even if we did drive to the top in a car. One thing for sure, Dave and I will never make it as mountaineers.

It was 95 degrees in Denver at the time, but there was still enough snow for skiing at the top. And the curse of Dave and Al also came into play on the Wednesday when they had a big snow storm, and enough rain in the city to force the Rockies game we were due to see to be cancelled. What made it worse was the fact that we'd spent the previous two nights watching other games trying to learn the rules (didn't want to cheer in the wrong places). What with the elephant and the rain, "just blame those two guys from England" seemed to be the growing consensus.

Up in the mountains, we also found several restored "Wild West" towns from the gold-rush times. Grangetown with its narrow-gauge railway was beautiful, as was Idaho Springs with working mine museum, and Central City with its incredible views. A couple of photos here should give you the general idea. No doubt Dave will have some others in his diary pages.

So, after all that, what about the conference? Did we spend the whole week wandering aimlessly around Colorado like it seems from the report so far? Of course not. We spent an enjoyable four days at the WebDevCon 2001 conference organized by Charlie Bass. We presented sessions on ASP.NET and talked about the whole Microsoft .NET strategy to anyone who would listen. We had to trap some of them in corners to stop them running off when they heard the "M" word, but in general it seemed to be well received. There's certainly a huge amount of interest in what the new technology can do, and whether it really can make programming (particularly building with ASP) easier.

Mind you, there were plenty of other technologies being discussed there as well - it's certainly an all-platform conference. I caught a bit of Flash, nearly strayed into some Java sessions, and was amazed to see what "Extreme Programming" is all about. Though not huge events, the DevCon conferences always seem to have amazing topic variety, and they are extremely friendly. You quickly get to know the attendees and they seemed to find it easy to get to talk to all the speakers. An all-round success I would have said.

Except, perhaps, where we were forced (late one evening after some beer had been consumed) to play a game called "Mafia". I don't think any of us could figure the rules, and I have no idea who won. I don't think it was me. Roll on next year's WebDevCon - maybe at the seaside?

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