Back to Denver, Pt 1

Denver holds a special place in our hearts.  It was the first leg of our final segment of the 50 state challenge in 2018 (Colorado->Wyoming->Montana->Idaho), and we immediately fell in love with the area.  Open roads with high speed limits, great scenery, and fantastic escape rooms.

One of those escape rooms in particular really stuck with us.  Rabbit Hole Recreational Services blew us away with their Mystic Temple game, and we penciled in another visit in 2019 to play the next game they were rolling out, Paradox.  On our 2019 visit, we got a peek at their third game, Frost Base Z, and started planning our next Denver trip before we even left.  Which brings us to today!

We booked a flight and hotel with only Rabbit Hole Recreation Services on our agenda for the weekend, and nothing else.  This is our first flight since COVID-19 took off (last flight was to Tampa in February), and it was quite the experience.

The airport was actually somewhat normal.  Almost nobody was going through the security checkpoint and most restaurants were closed in the terminal, but that could also have been because we were there on a Thursday.  Masks were encouraged at the airport but only required when boarding the plane, it seemed.

The plane itself was packed.  I heard that flights have been almost empty during the pandemic, but that wasn’t the case here.  We got shot with a thermometer gun before boarding, and the plane boarded by rows, back to front, rather than by zone, but aside from that it was standard for a Frontier flight.

Upon landing, we found that Payless rental, the agency we had our reservation with, was closed, and everyone with a reservation with Payless needed to join the queue at Budget/Avis.  The line was horrifically long, and we waited in line for 1.5 hours before getting to the front of the line.  With the 30 minutes we spent trying to figure out why we were dropped off at Avis instead of Payless, it took us more than two hours to get a car.

The Budget/Avis queue also showed off a hilarious bit of miscalculation on pandemic handling.  The agency had marked off spaces six feet apart to stand on for social distancing purposes, but because the line snaked back and forth, people were usually much closer than six feet to someone standing in the next bend of the queue.  It was a strange oversight for them to make.  With places like comedy clubs and theaters shut down due to COVID, I’m surprised no one looked at the line and thought Hmm, this doesn’t work…  With a pandemic environment why even have a queue, rather than a deli-style number pull so customers can wait anywhere for their numbers to be called?

We also got to hear some hilarious customer experiences while waiting in line.  Hilarious for us, but probably not for them.  My favorite was when a lady went back to the counter to report that she had found her assigned car, but someone else jumped into the car and drove it off before she could get in.

That was all Thursday night.  Friday was a relatively quiet day.  Christina worked from the hotel room all day, and I used the time to take care of some personal errands, like finally posting my full list of games played on

Friday after work hours, we started with a scenic drive to Boulder.  We hadn’t planned it, but we were looking for a gas station to buy a cold water bottle, and we saw a gorgeous mountain and decided to drive straight toward it.

After that, we turned around and went back to a trail around Harper Lake to get a little outdoor air.  We felt a little strange because there seemed to be a kind of etiquette with other walkers / joggers that we weren’t aware of.  Any time we passed anyone else on the path, the person would pull on a facemask and get over about 15 feet.  I was surprised to see the number of joggers and bikers wearing facemasks while outdoors, especially on a hot day with a light breeze.  Some of them kept their masks on the full time!

We killed a few more minutes browsing at 2nd and Charles bookstore at Flatiron Crossing.  On each of our previous Denver trips, we grabbed a fantastic Pimento cheese dip from a place called Village Tavern in this area, but unfortunately, COVID reduced their menu size, and the cheese dip was a casualty.  Thankfully, we found another place called North Side Tavern that also offered a spicy cheese dip so we could scratch that itch.

Finally it was time for the one planned feature of our trip- Rabbit Hole Recreation Services.  I’ll give it a much more thorough separate writeup, but the short version- Rabbit Hole justified us planning a trip around one escape room.  The game was brilliant, and we got out with only 32 seconds left on the clock. 

Now it’s Saturday and we have all of Saturday and Sunday to explore.  Of course we’re likely to target a few more escape rooms, but we improvised two more adventures.  We’re starting off Saturday with a visit to the Butterfly Pavilion, which reopens today for the first time since COVID shut everything down.  Then we plan on going down to Pike’s Peak by Colorado Springs.  And as we have time between or after those, we’ll see how many escape rooms and geocaches we can find in the meantime!

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