So the thought of spending a summer with nary a vacation day is, in my opinion, a fate worse than death. If you're just starting a new job or working at a job with no vacation days, or if (and I commend you for this one) you've already used up all your vacation days, may I suggest ten ways to turn every workday this summer into a holiday?
Speak like the English around the office.
There's something about a British accent that makes even the most mundane of tasks seem exotic and charming. A bit of the Brit and even a trip to the WC sounds enticing: "Off to the loo, luv, just be a sec." So if you're bloody stuck in this dodgy city, don't fall arse over tits and get your knickers in a twist. Just chivvy along, keep your pecker up, get bloody pissed and have a wee bit of how's your father. I fancy you'll be over the moon right quick.
Golf early, and golf often.
Not to sound like a bumpersticker, but even a bad day golfing really is better than a good day in the office. You have to love any athletic activity where someone follows you around with a drink cart. I mean, are they serious? It's a cocktail hour disguised as a sport. But as far as your boss is concerned, it's "relationship building." Keep your clubs in the car, your afternoons open and schedule plenty of "meetings to discuss eighteen items." Don't play, you say? Overland Golf Course (1801 South Huron Street, 303-777-7331, ext. 212), City Park Golf Course (2500 York Street, 303-295-4420) and Park Hill Golf Club (4141 East 35th Avenue, 303-333-5411) all offer packages of four one-hour group lessons for $100 or less.
Get a tan.
Nothing says "I have lots of vacation time" like a tan. (Then again, nothing says "I have melanoma" like a tan, either, but whatever.) Call me petty, call me George Hamilton, call me Leatherface, but this girl loves her sun. And really, all you need to maintain that just-back-from-Aruba color is ten minutes a day. Lunch on the patio, drive with the top down, walk the dogs after work, spend Saturdays in the garden, and voilà: Coppertone, baby, Coppertone.
Zoom, zoom, zoom.
When on vacation, you get to cruise around in a car you'd never drive at home. So why deprive yourself for the rest of the year? Unleash your inner Mario. Use your lunch hour to test-drive a convertible, two-seater or vintage cruiser at any of the classic-auto shops on South Broadway. Simply bring your driver's license and some shades, then hop on I-25 and pretend the sales guy is a hot date.
Take a virtual vacation.
The second best thing to being there is imagining you're there. And frankly, a good imagination beats a mediocre reality any day. But the true beauty of traveling the world without leaving your cubicle is that it actually looks like work -- as opposed to talking on the phone, which actually looks like screwing off. Besides, "client research" is a really broad term. Use it early. Use it often.
Eat your heart out.
What would a vacation be without good food and lots of it? No vacation I'd want to be on, that's for damn sure. You know how even ordinary peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches taste amazing when eaten at the beach? Well, there are enough exotic eateries right here in town to facilitate that sand-in-the-sandwich feeling without ever leaving. Let the ambience of Cafe Brazil (4408 Lowell Boulevard, 303-480-1877), Zengo (1610 Little Raven Street, 720-904-0965) and the Samba Room (1460 Larimer Street, 720-956-1701) transport you to another locale. With their antojitos, paella, plantains, mojitos and mescal, you, too, can have that full-belly-vacation sensation all summer long.
Kick it poolside.
How do you make a pool work in the workday, you ask? It's easy: Wear your bikini (or banana hammock) under your suit, and spend lunch on a lounge chair. Luckily for you, Denver denizens, there are plenty of outdoor pools to peruse in or near downtown, including the one at the Athletic Club at Denver Place (1849 Curtis Street, 303-294-9494), which is open to the public for $15 a day, and the Congress Park Pool (914 Elizabeth Street, 303-331-4060), which is free.
Make Greater Denver your office.
Home may be where the heart is, but your virtual office can be virtually anywhere. A cell phone lets you be wherever, doing whatever and still look like you're working. Couple that with a laptop at one of any number of wireless hot spots throughout the city, including Monkey Bean Coffee and Bistro (2470 Broadway, 303-296-9559), Paris on the Platte (1553 Platte Street, 303-455-2451) and St. Mark's Coffeehouse (2019 East 17th Avenue, 303-322-8384), and you can kick back with a coffee or cocktail and appear to be conducting business as usual. Use the Force, Luke.
Bring back the three-martini lunch.
When you're on vacation, it's always beer-thirty. But in the office? Swilling sangria at 9 a.m. status meetings will get you more than a few disapproving looks. (Unless, of course, you work in advertising, in which case it'll get you promoted.) But don't be disheartened: The work week is laced with prime opportunities once you know where to look. Ideal occasions include: office birthday parties, holiday-weekend kickoffs, going-away parties, welcome-aboard parties, retirement parties, baby showers and Friday-afternoon client meetings. Can't leave the front desk? Argonaut (700 East Colfax Avenue, 303-831-7788) delivers. Cocktail, anyone?
Take a lunch-hour adventure.
When a day in the office is "one adventure after another," it's not such a good thing. But when a vacation is, well, that's the stuff of which memories are made. Re-create that excitement just minutes from your cubicle. Head over to REI (1416 Platte Street, 303-756-3100) to test-paddle a kayak; prove your skills at the Denver Skatepark (2205 19th Street); or rent a bike at the Bicycle Doctor (860 Broadway, 303-831-7228) and cruise down the Cherry Creek Bike Path. If you've got a longer break, get on I-25 and cruise up to ROCK'n & JAM'n (9499 North Washington Street, Thornton, 303-254-6299) for a lunchtime climb.