For Jeff’s birthday in 2018, I gifted him a card that said I would be taking him to Denver that fall to see his favourite football team, the Denver Broncos, play a game. But then I was diagnosed with cancer shortly after and the treatments postponed our plans. Then COVID-19 happened and prevented our travel. But now it is the fall of 2023 and we finally just went to DENVER!

We flew to Whitehorse after work on Thursday. Our friend Shane picked us up at the airport and we went out to dine at a new restaurant – The Big Bear Eatery and Taphouse – to kick off our vacation.

We had the 5am flight from Whitehorse to Vancouver, which is super painful, getting up in the 2am hour to catch the airport shuttle from the hotel, but certainly a bit more tolerable when you’re heading out on a vacation!

We arrived in Denver on Friday evening, giving us enough time to recover from the couple days of travel, work on getting accustomed to the altitude, and to be able to shop a bit. It’s always nice to have a bit of padding too, for every trip from here, just in case there are any delays or cancellations.

We stayed in the same hotel I stayed in for work when I attended the team VIP meetup last year – The Curtis. It’s a quirky place in a great location, allowing us to walk everywhere. We were on the 4th floor, themed for The Perfect Pair. I had reserved a nice corner room with plenty of space, a couch, and a couple of windows, but I made one critical mistake of not asking for a higher floor. We couldn’t see over the nearby buildings to see the football stadium! Bummer!

Jeff spotted a diner from one of those windows, so we headed over for supper. It was called “Sam’s No 3” and the sign on their window said it was once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network. We got a seat immediately and started downloading the SIXTEEN (!!) page menu from the QR code on the table.

Jeff went for the Two Pound Combo Burrito and I had the Pollo Chicken Burger with tater tots!

The next morning we had shopping on our mind! First up was the nearby sports store so Jeff could be sure he was properly outfitted for Sunday’s game!

Then we headed to the REI flagship store for our annual shopping extravaganza! It is so nice to be able to see clothing in person and to try things on. I found a couple of steals that were half off the price and found a new backpack I have been wanting for a while. Jeff found a Patagonia sweater he’s had his eye on and we both tried on some shoes. Good thing we did because neither of us liked anything we tried on and didn’t leave with any new footwear. That’s nicer than mailing an order back!

Here’s the REI in Denver, right along a pretty river where people were in kayaks running the rapids.

Look at the size of the pumpkin we spotted in a fall display on the walk back to the hotel!

We were looking for a place to have lunch on our walk and ended up right back at Sam’s No 3! Jeff wasn’t so sure about the avocado on his burger, but I loved my Colorado Cheez Steak with avocado in a fresh pita (so fresh!). I’d definitely recommend this restaurant!

That afternoon we went to a Walgreens to get some sunscreen. It hadn’t crossed our mind when we were packing, since it is winter back in Dawson, but in Denver it is bright and sunny with no clouds! Better get prepped before we bake ourselves at the football game! The rest of the day we relaxed in our hotel room, watching some TV, eating snacks, rehydrating, and then going to sleep early to catch up on the sleep we missed during our travel.

While reading the fine print of what is allowed in the Broncos stadium that night, I discovered my fanny pack would not be allowed because it wasn’t see-through! I had specifically brought it because I knew that was one of the only things allowed in, but I missed the clear part! So Sunday morning we headed back to the sports store where I remembered seeing clear bags the day before.

The sports store was crawling with Green Bay Packers fans! There were people milling around all over that morning, including all around Sam’s where we were hoping to have breakfast, but the line was long! Everyone was suited up in their game-day colours, orange for the Broncos, and green for the Packers. It almost felt like a 50/50 split!

It was busy everywhere so we had a quick breakfast/snack at the Starbucks around the corner from the hotel before deciding to join the crowd and walk over to the stadium early.

What a gorgeous day! We joined up with some Packers fans from Wisconsin who were also walking to the game, all of us trying to figure out how to get there, knowing we had to get under an overpass bridge along the way.

Soon enough Jeff got his first glimpse of Empower Field, in person!

There were already lots of people walking around and people were tailgating in the parking lots, barbecuing with their friends. The stadium gates were to open two hours before the game, so we had a bit of time to kill. We walked around the stadium to the far side where our gate was, and after seeing some of the fan stuff and posing in the photo frame, we got in line so we could be one of the first ones in.

It was SO hot in that line I was really glad I was wearing my sun shirt that had a hood I could pull over my head! I slathered the sunscreen on Jeff’s neck so he wouldn’t fry either.

Soon we were in!! And because we were one of the first, we got Broncos scarfs at the door!

The stadium has gone “no-cash” which made things pretty easy. In fact, most of the food vendors were self-checkout too, so you could grab what you wanted from the fridges, grab some hot foods from the kitchen window, and then checkout and tap your card. We rehydrated and had some pizza and a burger while we found our seats.

And our seats were AMAZING! When we booked this trip and bought our tickets, we were weighing all the options. Knowing this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we were excited to find two seats that became available in a lower level. Yes, they were expensive, but look at this view!!!

We were right on an aisle, right behind the home team bench, and the women’s washroom was right under us, so I could quickly zip out and get back in a commercial break.

Is there anything greater than seeing someone (Jeff) SO happy to be at his favourite team’s game?

We got to watch both teams practice before the game.

I’m not much of a football fan, but I’ve seen Broncos games before. What I didn’t know though, was an actual horse crosses the field before the game, and after every time the Broncos score! Maybe it only happens during commercial breaks!?

The Bronco’s mascot was pretty active too! He rode across the field before the game on a quad!

One of the coolest parts of the pre-game ceremonies was when 5 or 6 people JUMPED out of a plane above the stadium and parachuted in! It was wild! They had to go CRAZY fast to get inside the top of the stadium and then to land on the field.

Jeff took a little video of it!

After this, a big military aircraft buzzed the stadium during their national anthem.

Here’s a video of the players coming onto the field.

Jeff and I both upgraded to new iPhone 15’s before our vacation. We were a bit bummed that they didn’t seem much different than our 13’s, until we noticed the DRASTIC change in the zoom! You can zoom in so far, so fast, and with amazing quality!

Both teams haven’t been having a good season, so every time Jeff was talking to other fans, they all thought it was a bit up in the air who was going to win this one. By halftime, the Broncos had three field goals and were leading by 9-0!

We were so pleased to discover the sun moving in a favourable direction, putting our side of the stadium in the shade. Sorry to all the fans on the far side, but it was glorious to stop frying! Even though the sun was really really nice, it was strong!

In the third quarter, both teams got a touchdown and it seemed a little less obvious which team was going to pull off the win.

Look at this zoom!

See the mascot up on top of the scoreboard!?!

We have been to another NFL game, in Buffalo, where people were a little heated and a lot drunk and puking and rowdy and gross. At this game everyone was nice and friendly. Even into the third quarter when Green Bay got onto the score board with a field goal, and then each team scored a touchdown.

But when a Broncos player got booted for unnecessary roughness, things got momentarily a bit tense when people started shouting back and forth about whether that was just football or this player was often unnecessary rough. The guy behind us must have repeated that he has been fined eighty thousand dollars already this season about eighty thousand times.

After that Green Bay scored another touchdown and then the Broncos fans really seemed dejected. The Packers were up a point and after having so much fun feeling like a win was coming their way, the tone of the crowd continued to change.

But then the Broncos caught an interception and everything was with right with the world again! It was so awesome! And perfectly timed! They followed up with fieldgoal giving the home team the win with the final score of 19-17.

YES!! Jeff was not just at a game, but a winning game!!

Afterwards, we had planned to walk south to meet our friend (and my coworker) Kristin and her partner Kay for a real American BBQ supper! Jeff has met a few of my coworkers when they come up to Dawson, as Kristin did in our first year up here, so they had already met once before! We walked for a bit, until the crowds thinned out and we could call on an Uber to drive us the rest of the way.

Jeff got a full spread of various smoked meats and sides. Could he be any happier!?

I went for a pulled pork sandwich and mac and cheese.

Here’s Kristin and I outside after supper, when we were getting a tour of their nomad van!

Hopefully, they’ll come up and visit again! Although Kay seems pretty intent on not visiting us in the winter! I wonder why!

That night we Uber’d back to our hotel, and took a quick detour over to the 7/11 for some ice cream and finally found this gold prospector statue that I had been seeing on Pokemon Go all weekend! Turns out this statue was erected on top of a building here in 1891! The 7 storey building housed the Colorado Gold Mining Stock Exchange. It is gone now, but the statue remains (now at sidewalk level).

You may think at this point in my tale, I’d tell you about how we flew home the next day and returned to work.

However, we did not!! Since we were in Colorado already, we decided to take a real vacation and spend the week touring the countryside! We didn’t have any firm plans, waiting to see what the weather was like once we were down there. Stay tuned for more of our vacation adventures!