First, Denver is flat. Maybe everyone else knew this, but I was expecting something a bit more, well, mountainous. You know, Denver, mile-high city, Rocky Mountains, all that? In actuality, there's this huge, flat pool-table like area (although I'm willing to believe it's a mile up) with a city in the middle. I've seen a lot of bicycles and I'm not at all surprised.
Second, Denver has tornadoes. Wow, who knew? (Again, possibly everyone but me. [wry smile]) Walking through the airport, though, I saw signs that said "Tornado Shelter" pointing to doors, and that was sort of o_O 'cause I think of tornadoes as being a Great Plains thing. Then yesterday evening we actually had a tornado warning in downtown Denver! [flail] We were in the hotel, and were actually napping (6:30am flight -- by 5pm or so we were pretty dead) when this woman comes over the loudspeaker to tell us that there's a tornado warning in effect and to get into the closet or bathroom or someplace away from windows. O_O I'll admit I just pulled the covers (which are fairly thick) up over me and tried to go back to sleep, figuring that if a funnel cloud actually was sighted, the nice lady on the speaker would tell me. Jim went to stand in front of the window and look out; I was curious but not quite that brave, LOL! About twenty minutes or so later, the same lady came on the loudspeaker to tell us that the alert was over. The speaker clicked off. Then it clicked back on and she told us the same thing three more times. Clicked off. Clicked on, same message a fifth time. :/ By this time I was ready to suggest she eat her microphone, 'cause seriously, five is excessive. There never was an actual funnel cloud that I heard of, but it was still an interesting experience. I was more nervous than I was for the actual earthquake in my area a bit ago; it's probably just a matter of what you're used to.
Tonight we actually did something touristy and went to the Buckhorn Exchange for dinner. It's the oldest restaurant in town, and according to their newspaper-like menu (which you can take away with you) it got Liquor License Number One for Colorado, in 1893. They serve a lot of game and exotic meats, and are pretty famous for it. Jim and I had deep-fried alligator as a shared appetizer; it tasted like chicken (sorry, but it really did! :D ) with just a hint of fishy flavor to it. They also had a rattlesnake appetizer, but it was cooked very spicy and I don't care for spicy food, so we didn't try that one. Then for dinner I had one of the specials, a combination of a small buffalo steak and an elk medallion. Both were very good, quite tender.
It rained last night (starting an hour or two after the tornado alert) but the weather today and this evening was lovely, cool but not too much so, with a nice breeze. Waiting outside the restaurant at night we were perfectly comfortable.
We're at the Hyatt, which is right across the street from the Convention Center, which is just as well for me, because walking is tough. When I use my cane (which I don't at home, around the house) I don't limp nearly as much as without, which means I'm less likely to hurt myself, but it's a lot more physical effort than walking without the cane. I've been doing a lot of walking just because of how big the convention center is; between the cane and carrying my tote bag, I've been tired and hot and sweaty a lot, with some aching in my left arm. Although not as much as at BayCon when I first got my cane -- Jim got me a pair of five-pound hand weights and I've been exercising, and it's really helped as far as the long-term muscle aches in my hand/arm/shoulder go.
Oh, the CC has a huge statue of a bear outside -- two stories tall and bright turquoise -- standing up and leaning against the glass front of the building, like it's peering in at the second story. :D It's fun and a great landmark.
There's a transit stop right across from the hotel, and we've seen trains from six or seven lines go by. Apparently there's quite an extensive light rail system around the city. It looks like it might be a good place to get around in without a car.
The convention's been pretty low-key so far. I've been to three panels (Using Real Science in Science Fiction, How Do eBooks Change Writing? and Unique Astronomical Environments), which is more than I usually get to over an entire convention, LOL! I haven't seen all that many people I know, though, and usually I spend a lot of con time catching up with friends whom I only see at cons. Not so much of that this time, or maybe a lot of people aren't coming until tomorrow (Friday) so I've been doing other things. Tomorrow is the masquerade and we always go to that. Then Saturday night is the Hugos, and that's always fun too.
I talked to one of the women manning the Melbourne in 2010 table (Melbourne is bidding for the '10 Worldcon, so far unopposed, and since the voting closes tomorrow, they really should take it) and I expressed some concern about the various poisonous spiders and such they have there. I was sort of kidding, but not completely. She tried to convince me that it's just as bad here in North America because we have bears and cougars. o_O Umm, yeah. Maybe, but bears and cougars can't sneak up at you, or hide in your shoes. Besides, I've lived here all my life and never seen an actual bear or cougar outside of a zoo. I've even been to Alaska and have still never seen a bear in the wild. Then she told me that it's easy to avoid the only really seriously poisonous spider in their area, the funnelweb, because they raise their front legs and charge at you. Ummm, yeah. Reassuring. Thanks. LOL! There's this other kind of spider, I forget the name, which is actually bigger than the funnelweb -- she indicated something the size of a man's palm -- and said that even if it bites you, it'll turn red and swell up and hurt and itch for a while, but it won't kill you. Still not reassuring. [bemused smile]
In all seriousness, the whole spider thing isn't going to prevent us from going to Melbourne for WorldCon. (We'll just stay in the hotel as much as possible, and shake out our shoes every morning.) But I think there are a couple of things here. One is that (as with natural disasters) it's a matter of what you're used to. I lived in San Jose, which is surrounded by hills which are infested with rattlesnakes every summer. I used to go hiking up in Santa Teresa Park and could hear rattlesnakes in the weeds off the sides of the trail. I just stayed in the center of the trail and didn't go whacking around in the weeds, and I never actually saw a rattlesnake. I'd probably still flee from a funnelweb spider, though, despite the fact that I could squish it with my foot. (But only if I were wearing sturdy shoes!) Second, there's an inherent "Ick!" factor for many people (and yeah, I'm one of them) when it comes to wildlife with more than four or fewer than two legs. I'm not really afraid of snakes, although I'm certainly cautious about wild ones I don't recognize, but I have to admit that spiders and unfamiliar insects give me the willies. :/ I've tried to overcome it -- I even captured a spider and kept it as a pet when I was twelve. It had a body about the size of a nickel, and pretty long legs. I made a cage out of a largish cardboard box with a piece of screening over the top, and I caught mosquito hawks to feed it every day. I put a lot of will power into that for a few months, until my spider one day spun several miles of web round and round its box and then died. No clue whether it was just old or whether I did something wrong or what. I'm still afraid of spiders, though. :P
My point being, she lost me at the whole palm-sized-spider thing. I don't care that it can't kill me. The thought of something that size actually crawling on me is enough to give me the shudders all by itself. :( It's a personal failing, I know. But it still won't stop me from going to Melbourne for WorldCon in two years.
More later. [wave]