Thursday, 7 July 2011

USA 2011: Denver part one

After my stellar breakfast of vegan champions, I found myself off to the airport for my flight to Denver. I flew with Frontier, and my plane had a bear on it, apparently his name is Griswold or something... I couldn't quite understand what they were saying.

Denver airport is really confusing for the unprepared. I had to catch a train to go to the terminal where the bags were collected. I was not expecting that. Denver airport is also so far out of Denver, I don't know how they can call it Denver, really. It took about an hour on the bus to get into town. It was a glorious and hot day, I think it was somewhere in the high twenties! I changed into my skirt!

The hotel was right across the road from the Convention Centre. The whole reason for my trip, for those who are not aware, was that I had an abstract accepted to present at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, which was in Denver this year. It was a 15 minute presentation. It was called 'Diabetic cats in remission have impaired glucose tolerance', if anybody cares. I went and picked up my conference registration and went to upload my talk in the speaker ready room, then I went off to explore things!

The very helpful people at the 16th Street Mall information centre gave me directions to get to Whole Foods. It was about a 20 minute walk from the end of the 16th St Mall free shuttle.

Behold... a Whole Foods! This was my first ever time with WFs, and I was in love within seconds. The massive amounts of fruit and vegetables, the amazing variety of fruits and vegetables, the shelves filled with vegan products! Gah!

This is the only photo I took inside this particular WF. Look at those brand names, kiddies! For those who are American, feel free to be bored. But for my eyes to see all these amazing brands... words I had read on the page but never actually seen... colour me vegan fan girl. I was devastated I didn't have a freezer at the hotel, because you should have seen the ice cream selection!

I restricted myself to just getting a few things for snacks during the conference and some things for quick breakfasts. Don't judge me.

After tearing myself away from WF, I meandered back through Capitol Hill in the direction of downtown. This was a very pretty area. Denver was my first real experience with the grid-like system of streets and numbering and directions that America seems to love. It kind of threw me at first! But I made my way towards my planned spot for dinner - Pizza Fusion. I had heard that this place had vegan pizza as well as vegan brownies - score!

I ordered a refreshing iced tea after my walking. The first one I ordered was a mint flavour, thankfully they had not opened the bottle before it came to the table because I was just having a look at it and noticed it had honey! Eeep! Turned out that was the only flavour with honey, so I swapped it for some green tea instead. No bee puke in my drinks, thanks!

I had a half-sized Fusion Salad with Balsamic Dressing. I was pleased at how generous the size of this half-sized salad was, the regular size must be very large! The dressing was nice too.

I had the Very Vegan Pizza on a wholegrain crust with olives and zucchini. There were way more olives on this than I was expecting, and they kind of overpowered everything else. But when scraped to the side a little, for snacking on their own, the pizza was great. I forgot to ask what they used for their vegan cheese.

To finish, I got one of the vegan brownies to take away, and after strolling back the hotel I enjoyed this very much. It was still warm and just a touch gooey. Happy days indeed.

After this feast, I then proceeded to have one of the worse night's of sleep ever, largely due to the fact that my presentation was the next day and I hate public speaking. The only reason I was doing it was because I got to go to the US. But I tossed and turned and missed my cats and tried to arrange pillows in the position the cats usually sleep and tried to meditate and tried every trick in the book. When my alarm went off, I was not pleased.

However, I was determined to start my day off on a good note. My talk was not until 6pm, and as this was the first day of the conference it was starting at 9am, rather than 8am. So I took myself off to a good breakfast. It seemed like I was walking for a long way, and I was getting a bit worried I was on the wrong road, but then I saw this happy sight before me.

I had made it to Watercourse Foods, which I had heard many awesome things about.

I had a Sunrise Smoothie, which is OJ, bananas, strawberries, blueberries and peaches. It sounded like a good combination and it was.

This was their Breakfast Burrito. It is gigantic. It is covered in gravy.

This is inside the breakfast burrito - homefries, scrambled tofu, tempeh chorizo and Daiya cheese. The Daiya was kind of just cold and sprinkled in it. I was not blown away by the Daiya, but I did not mind it at all. I just think being able to get vegan grated cheese is awesome. The burrito was great, but sadly I could not finish it all. My stupid nervous stomach was flipping and flopping all over the place, and was in no mood to deal with the entire burrito. I did my best.

After breakfast I attempted to focus on a cardiology lecture, then met with my supervisor to practice my talk. That ended up with her changing things all over the place, which ended up with me doing a frantic run to the speaker ready room and begging to be allowed to upload yet another new version of my talk. For lunch I went out to try and hunt down the Steamin' Demon food cart, which was meant to be just outside my hotel on Thursdays. However, I could not find it! I later found that they had stopped going out while finishing renovations to the City O City restaurant. Sadness. I wanted a Bahn Mi, or something. But really, it was not so bad as my stomach really wanted none of that. I ended up going to Cooks Fresh Market and getting a small tub or roasted vegetables and a banana. No photos even. At this point I was in frantic mode. Practicing my talk, pacing, trying not to be sick. I attended one other lecture, then pretty much paced around until it was time for my talk.

And the talk? I am happy to say it went fine in the end. There were some questions, but they were not so bad. I had heard that sometimes at ACVIM people can be super mean. But they were not. There was general happiness. And great relief that it was over! Even though I was exhausted from the lack of sleep, the euphoria of being done with the talk inspired me to go out for a little celebration dinner with myself.

On the way, I saw a squirrel! I think they are adorable. We don't have them in Australia. The squirrel would not sit still for his photo, so it is blurry.

I also saw this, which was near the public library. I do not know what it means. But it is a statue of a giant chair with a life-sized statue of a horse on it, so I liked it.

My dinner was at City, O' City. No outside photo for some reason. It was pretty crowded when I got there, but being on my own I was swiftly seated at the bar. It was pretty uncomfortable bar to sit at, I have to say. On to the food!

Before I left, one thing Denver people kept on bringing up was the Buffalo Wings at City, O' City. So of course I had to have them. They very nicely made me a half serve, because I was just one person. This was my first attempt of buffalo anything, so I was a bit nervous about the heat level. Turns out it was just perfect! Nicely spicy, but without blowing my head off. The vegan ranch was great, just perfect with the spice. Hurrah!

I got the Sherman Sandwich - Caroline dry rub BBQ tofu, coleslaw and pickles and a sweet potato kaiser. This was amazing! It also came with a little container of warm BBQ sauce. So good. Whatever they did to the tofu, it was sensational! I got a small salad with some balsamic on the side, I was fairly meh about that. I foolishly did not order a side of onion rings, because I was foolishly being cautions. WTF was that about? In the end, I never did eat any onion rings on my trip. One of my regrets! *cries* They would have gone so well with it, too. Waaaaaahhhh! Oh well.

Anyway, after that I walked back to my hotel and I slept like a log. A wonderful, warm, happy little log, who did not know yet that she was going to be sad about the onion rings.

Tomorrow... more Denver adventures! More food! Plus an awesome new vegan friend and kittehs!


  1. Squirrel! I love squirrels, I had no idea that you don't have them in Australia.

    I was so excited when I went to the Whole Foods in New York - so much exciting stuff. We have one in London & it's pretty cool but there's no Tofurky!

  2. Oh my goodness. I'm guilty of taking easy access to those things for granted, but your excitement about Whole Foods is so adorable. I'm glad your talk went well!

  3. Well done on your presentation, sounds like it went really well. I was the same when I first went in a Wholefoods, I couldn't believe the size of the store and how many brands of non dairy milk existed!

  4. Sounds like a great trip so far! Andy's really excited about seeing a squirrel when we go to the US this year, too - I guess it's similar to how excited I was to see a kangaroo.