Totally Brain Dad takes on the Mile High City

Words and photos by Ben Osborn, creator of Totally Brain Dad.  Follow along on Ben’s FASTZach Route or #FindYourRoute in other cities across the U.S.

At the end of June, TBD went west to visit the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado. What a fun and beautiful place!


Totally Brain Dad in front of the Colorado State Capitol.

I was there for a serious reason, the 2018 International Symposium for Pediatric Neuro-oncology (ISPNO) also known as “Big Brains for Little Brains Worldwide.” Over 1500 people from 51 countries assembled to share knowledge that will help kids with brain tumors. There were oncologists, neurosurgeons, nurses, social workers, researchers, nonprofits, foundations, advocates, patient families…and me, a dad with a spray foam brain. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about emerging research and get to know the wonderful organizations and people that are helping brain tumor families. I was very fortunate to be able to attend and I was awash in gratitude seeing how many people are working to help kids like my son. So, I put on my new travel-sized brain and went to show all those folks my appreciation. I might have confused most of them.


Home of the Unsinkable Molly Brown.

After yelling “Thank you!” a few hundred times, I headed out for an awesome run through the city. Colorado is known for its outdoor recreation and Denver seems to have options galore. I was staying in downtown. There were trails all over the place along the Platte River and Cherry Creek and tons of parks to explore. It was hard to choose a route because I wanted to see everything but only had time to squeeze one run. I opted to route through the city, see some sites and get a sense of a few different neighborhoods. I started at the Big Blue Bear statue staring into the Colorado Convention Center. Then I headed over to the Capitol Hill neighborhood to see the Colorado State Capital and Civic Center Park. I headed south on Pennsylvania Ave and ran by the home of the Unsinkable Molly Brown, Titanic survivor, philanthropist and “daughter of adventure.” She sounds like my kind of lady.


Cheesman Park

I took a left on 8th street at the Governor’s Mansion and headed west to Cheesman Park, an expansive green space with jogging trails, a dramatic stone pavilion with fountains and the Denver Botanical Gardens.  Sounds like a lovely tranquil spot, right? Well don’t let the serene appearance fool you, this place is terrifying. Cheeseman Park was Denver’s first cemetery, but as the city grew, that land was repurposed, and the graves “relocated.” During that process, it was discovered that the undertaker was hacking bodies into pieces and repackaging them in child-sized caskets. He was being paid per casket and thought he could triple his money by turning one set of remains into three. It was a massive scandal and a grizzly scene. Today the remains of 2000 people (or parts of them) still lie under the park. Some people say the park and surrounding neighborhood are haunted by those left behind. I can’t imagine why. Think about that as you jog through this beautiful city oasis.

After quickly exiting the north side of the park, I headed back to the northwest on Park Ave to  20th Street passing through Five Points neighborhood into LoDo (lower downtown), not to be confused with other acronym-hoods like LoHi or RiNo. LoDo has two major sports venues and is full of breweries, bars, restaurants, loft apartments, and boutiques. The route passed by my accommodations for the trip, Hostel Fish. It was my first hostel experience and overall a good one. Hostel Fish is a really cool and affordable place to stay in Denver. Also, IT IS TOTALLY SAFE…unless I’m staying there.  


Totally Brain Dad at Coors Field.

After jogging by Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, I dropped down the stairway to Wynkoop Street and ran past Union Station to the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall. The mall is a mile-long pedestrian only area full of shops, restaurants, outdoor cafes and people watching. Then, I took a right on Larimer Street to go see the spot where Denver was founded, called Larimer Square. In 1858 it was a small mining settlement, now it is home to a mix of independent shops, chef-driven restaurants, and lively bars all housed in historic buildings from the late1800s. The signature canopy of lights over the street adds to the ambiance of this historic district. Finally, a left on 14th street took me back to the Big Blue Bear.    


So much to see and discover when you get out and route in Denver. So GO! You will totally see what I mean.

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