Best Of :: Shopping & Services
For quirky gifts that give back in a big way, head to Hope Tank, where owner Erika Righter hawks a wide range of items: one-of-a-kind T-shirts, jewelry, men's gifts, and books for kids delving into timely issues surrounding the environment, women in history and more. A healthy portion of Righter's inventory is locally sourced — she works with about thirty Denver-area businesses and makers — and art by locals is for sale, too. In addition, cuts of all purchases made at this social enterprise are donated to one of the nonprofit partners in Hope Tank's network — and everything has a sticker on it to let gift givers and receivers know which organization they've impacted. Whatever you buy, you'll walk out of this boutique feeling doubly blessed.
Does your life feel about as exciting as watching grass grow? Don't underestimate that! Alek Komarnitsky, an Air Force vet and former systems administrator whose 1992 MBA thesis was titled "The Internet: The Information Superhighway of the 21st Century," has turned the lawn of his suburban Denver home into an international superstar via watching-grass-grow.com. Komarnitsky first installed his webcam during the very dry summer of 2002 to monitor his grass while he was on vacation. He soon began leaving it up for Halloween and Christmas, and by 2005 it had become a permanent fixture at his home; he started his grass blog the next year. Today, people avidly track (and comment on) the action in Komarnitsky's front yard — not just the growth of the grass itself ("1/25th of an inch/hour," the website advises, "that would be hard to see in the webcam"), but also visits from the mailman, passing cars, shoveling missions and special holiday displays. Sometimes the action is so intense that Mr. Grass, as he's known, adds other videos, including "December 14, 2016 — my son learning to parallel park." Bonus: The theme to Rocky plays throughout (but you can also switch to bluegrass).
Blame it on the legal weed, the constantly growing music-festival offerings or Denver's proximity to Boulder, but the Mile High City is quickly becoming infested with wooks. Don't know what a wook is? Imagine every bad, mooching quality possessed by a stereotypical hippie, and there you go. Fortunately, Colorado has a Facebook group of rangers who protect us from this growing horde of dreadlocks and corndogs: Colorado Big Game Trophy Wook Hunters. Admission into the selective online hunting squad is by member invitation only, and group administrators still check your profile afterward to make sure you don't exhibit any wookish behavior. Bagging and tagging (photographing) these beasts in the wild can become addicting after your first catch, and the group's hilarious captions only up the ante. Hunters don't tolerate laziness: Photos taken at wook breeding grounds, like String Cheese shows and Sancho's Broken Arrow, are too easy and strictly prohibited. But if you have a camera and half a joint at Civic Center Park, you've got the makings of a perfect wook trap.
Our city is changing so fast that if you blink, you might miss a new development going up or an old spot going down. While many lament the rapid growth, it's caused at least one happy accident: While you're stuck in the traffic created by that massive construction project along South Broadway just past I-25, look to the west. With the Gates Rubber Factory now wiped off the map, you have a block-wide view of Denver's back yard, complete with purple mountains and, at sunset, some pretty amazing colors to offset the kindergarten decor of the building to the east. Enjoy it while you can.
DRCOG's Denver Regional Visual Resources Project, accessible from its website, is more than just another grab bag of obscure statistics and fun facts. It's an online repository of interactive data and infographics that locals can use to look at land-use trends and glean the demographic details of their own neighborhoods; you can even see what rush hour will look like in 2040. Denver is changing rapidly, and this is one of the best tools available for trying to keep up with what's happening down the block or on a regional level.
Enjoy the exhibits at the volunteer-staffed visitors' center, then take a short stroll up the hogback to one of the most important dinosaur-track sites in the country. Dinosaur Ridge is a trip back 100 million years in time, to an ancient seaway populated by carnivorous megafauna. But it also offers a stunning view of the metro area's past and future: the remnants of the historic Rooney Ranch in the foreground, burgeoning suburban growth and Green Mountain open space battling for primacy beyond that, the city and the plains in the distance.