Day 15 - New Orleans to Boulder  
    Our first glimpse of Boulder and the Rockies.    
Minolta XD7 with 35mm f/1.8 MD W.Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC

Day 15 was a travelling day for David and I, as we said goodbye to David's beloved New Orleans and flew to Boulder for the start of our road trip. When we had originally planned the trip, one of my most important goals was to tour the American West by car, and it was about to start. I was very excited, but first we had a day of travelling ahead of us.

Given we had booked our flights seperately, we had quite different itineraries. David had a direct flight to Denver on American, whereas I had booked the inexpensive carrier Air Tran, and hence was flying via its hub in Atlanta. This meant my travel time was two hours longer than David, so he had a long wait at Denver airport before I arrived which he bore with polite equanimity.

We then collected our car, a nice new Dodge Intrepid sedan. This was a very attractive car, the only problem was that its steering wheel was on the left side! That's right, in Australia we drive on the left side of the road, so we had a challenge ahead of us getting used to driving on the opposite side. We solved this problem by selecting the most comprehensive insurance policy that we could for the vehicle, and trusting to luck.

Our first night on the road trip was not in Denver, instead we were going to Boulder, a university town nestled at the very edge of the Rockies that has a reputation as a beautiful place to visit. Unfortunately we only had time to spend the evening there, but the chance to experience a little taste of the campus town life was beckoning. On the 29 mile drive from Denver to Boulder we had been amazed by the traffic going the other way in the highway. For miles and miles the road leaving Boulder was congested with thousands of cars, and then we realised that the University of Colorado must have had a football game that afternoon. The town would probably be rocking tonight!

Street performer on Pearl St, Boulder.
Minolta XD7 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC

The first non-native settlement in Boulder County was created by gold seekers on October 17, 1858 at Red Rocks, near the entrance to Boulder Canyon. The settlement was established as a supply base for miners looking for gold and silver in the mountains. The demand was such that less than a year later the Boulder City Town Company was organized and the town formally established. As the town grew, Boulder City residents provided miners with equipment, agricultural products, housing and transport services, and gambling and drinking establishments.

The growth of Boulder necessitated the establishment of schools and in this regard Boulder's first schoolhouse was built in 1860 and was the first in the Colorado territory. Also in 1860 a group of Boulder residents began lobbying to have a University located in Boulder. By 1874 Boulder had won the designation, secured a donated 44.9 acre site and raised $15,000 to match a similar grant by the state legislature.

The city continued to grow, albeit slowly, and by 1940 had a population of approximately 13,000. However, during WWII the University of Colorado became the home of the US Navy's Japanese language school, introducing many young servicemen and women to the city. After the war, the population grew more rapidly, and now it stands at approximately 103,000 including resident students.

Boulder, along with Denver, is now becoming a home for high tech companies looking for a location that is less expensive than California, and attractive to employees. After the University of Colorado, the next two highest employers in the city are IBM and Sun Microsystems. It also has a significant tourism industry, and the mountains and prairies surrounding Boulder Valley attract over 3.5 million visitors per annum, placing it on a level with Yellowstone National Park.

The bar at BJ's, showing the brewery tanks.
Minolta XD7 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC

After settling in at our hotel David and I walked to the main street to find, in order of importance, beer and food. It had been a long day of travelling and we were pretty tired, but the fresh mountain air had revived us and we wanted to relax and get a taste of Boulder on a Saturday night.

We found a bar called BJ's Pizza Grill and Brewery where it looked like we could meet both of our needs (the words 'pizza' and 'brewery' in the name of the venue were very promising). While part of a chain of restaurant/breweries across the USA, the quality of the beer was excellent, and the pizza was really outstanding. Of course, I had drunk quite a few beers by the time I ate the pizza, so my opinion in this respect may be called into question. We also discovered something that was to become of regular interest to us as we traversed the west, the beer tasting menu.

BJ's produces a range of fine beers in German and Belgian styles, and the beer tasting is without doubt a great way to end up absolutely smashed at the end of a pleasant night. After satiating our thirst and hunger we walked back to the hotel for a big night's sleep - we had a long day of driving planned for the next day.

A step back in time, neon like this deserves recognition.
Minolta XD7 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC

Overall, the 15th day of our American Journey was principally spent travelling, and so there's not a lot to show for it in the way of photographs, however it marks the start of our road trip through the West.

Day 16 - The Rockies
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