Rocky Mountain Hangover of Epic Proportions – April 19-22, 2007

So, I was in Denver last weekend visiting my friend Bill. He moved out to Denver from Minneapolis last October because he wanted to go snowboarding all the time. Like me, he works as a web developer, so he is able to work from pretty much any place with an Internet connection. I thought about visiting him earlier in the winter, but I have a general rule of travel: don’t intentionally pay money to visit a place that is cold. Only warm vacations in the winter; that’s just how I roll. That made April about the earliest that I could visit him, so I took advantage and booked travel arrangements for a long weekend (Thursday – Sunday) in the mile high city.

I have been traveling a lot recently (Here’s my travel log from November through April: Phoenix, Los Angeles, Florida, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Denver), and as a frequent traveler, I am starting to learn how to maximize my efficiency while traveling. One major thing that I have learned is that if I take a 11 AM weekday flight, I lose an entire day of productivity (need to leave for the airport by around 9 AM and don’t arrive at destination until about 4 PM). I have been so busy with work recently that I can’t really afford to lose an entire day to travel, so I have been forced to get creative with my flight booking. Some times this works out well. For my Denver trip, it didn’t.

I ended up booking a flight for 7 AM on Thursday in order to maximize my productivity. This meant waking up around 4 AM, and being at the airport by 5:30 (mad props to Brandon for letting me park at his house and driving me to the Lindbergh terminal). Given my normal bed time, that gave me about 3 hours of sleep (not the best sleep, either, I had a sore throat and felt like I might have a cold coming on). Not a big deal, since I can always sleep on the plane. In fact, the lack of sleep proved to be the least of my problems.

When I arrived in Denver, Bill was already on his way to pick me up, and we got back to his place pretty easily. We both spent the majority of the day working from his apartment, occasionally strolling out of his apartment to get coffee, groceries, and some cheap tickets to see the Colorado Rockies on Friday. Around 4 in the afternoon, Bill mixed up some Vodka Red Bull drinks and we started to get our Happy Hour on.

Once we finished our drinks, we went to a sushi bar to get some great happy hour specials. They had deals on coronas and 2 for 1 sushi… which is always a recipe for good times.

For the 2 months prior to visiting Bill, I had been doing a low carb diet. It all started when I visited my parents in Florida in early February. My mom has been eating low carb for over 3 years, and she loves to cook innovative recipes sans carbohydrates. At the time I was visiting Florida, I was a blubbery mess, so I figured that I would give it a try. It stuck, and I was able to maintain a low carb diet through several months (including 2 trips to LA – which was tough to maintain given their wonderful cuisine options), but it couldn’t last through a weekend of Bill.

Back to the story. So, after I had my first corona, I knew that I was on the verge of succumbing to carbohydrate purgatory. I didn’t care at this point, and neither did the bartender, who placed another beer in front of me while my first beer was only 1/3 done. So, I decided to enjoy myself by drinking beer and eating sushi. After my 4th corona, I thought it would be a good idea to get 2 shots of Patron and say “cheers” to a fun weekend in Denver.

Then Bill and I started talking to another bar patron, who happened to be a regular visitor (think Norm from cheers). We talked with him about his work (electrical generator repairman) and bullshitted about Denver in general. I was pretty buzzed and in a jovial mood, so I asked if he would like to take a shot with us. He graciously accepted. I told him that he couldn’t make fun of the shot that I was about to order, and he said that was fine.

I ordered 3 Strawberry Shasta’s. Now before you judge me, I must preface this by explaining the significance of this wonderful libation. It all started with a girl named Sarah, who I have dated for the past month (not sure of our present status). She’s an awesomely fun girl, and she has shown me a world of fun and friends previously unknown. One of the things that she brought into my life was the greatest shot of all time, also known as Strawberry Shasta. Not as girlie as it sounds, a Strawberry Shasta shot involves a base of Red Bull energy drink mixed with equal parts Crown Royal Whiskey and Peach Schnapps, and topped off with a dash of cranberry juice. The resulting shot tastes exactly like Strawberry Shasta (for those of you who don’t know what Shasta is, it’s a generic soda/pop that costs much less than Coca Cola and Pepsi products, but doesn’t really taste as good)!

Needless to say, our new bar friend loved the Strawberry Shasta shot, and proceeded to order a round of shots of his own. His choice was Washington Apples, which also sounds girlie, but packs a great punch as well. Bill was next, and he couldn’t decide on a shot that matched our previous rounds of punch packing girlie man-ness. So, I suggested that he just order a round of Bill’s drink’s (I could write an entire story on Bill’s drink alone, but basically it’s Bill’s signature drink and it pretty much tastes like shit and gets you really drunk. Here’s the recipe: take an overly large shot of the shittiest whiskey -preferable Kessler- in the entire bar/house party, pour in some lemon/lime soda and top it off with sweetened lime juice. The lime juice cancels out the shitty whiskey taste and makes it just barely drinkable. It’s one of my favorite drinks). Bill ordered the drink, and we were well on our way to becoming hammered. Time to leave Sushi happy hour. It was 6 PM.

I wanted to keep on drinking, but Bill wisely suggested that we go back to his apartment to regroup. We went back to his pad, and I got some work done (I literally programmed computers for 2 hours after drinking all of that!). His roommate decided to mix us a drink, which at that point tasted really weak (turns out that the drink was deadly strong, it just happened to be drown out by orange juice).

After a while, we decided to go out to another bar and watch the Minnesota Wild play an elimination game. While we were there, we had a few more drinks and ended up dominating a game of bar trivia (I cheated and looked up answers on my blackberry, which may not be ethical, but I was at a drunken handicap so I think it was justified), and Bill got pissed at some girl who was talking shit to him. We were going to put the girl in her place (she was one of those Paris Hilton types who think that every guy wants them… and while that may be true, Bill and I find particular enjoyment in belittling these “fake ass bitches”), but they left before we could set them straight. Probably for the best, given our mind set at the time.

We eventually left the bar and did the night time ritual that Bill and I have perfected over the past 8 years of drinking together; eating late night food and watching a movie that we have seen a thousand times. This particular night, we cooked a Freshetta pizza and watched the Big Lebowski. At around 11:30, we both passed out (that’s early!). I woke up at Midnight and deposited my Pizza and excess booze into the nearest porcelain receptacle.

I then proceeded to wake up every 30 minutes with a new ailment. One time I would be sweating profusely. Another, I would have the chills. Every time my mouth was completely dry, and I could not swallow. I have never had a worse night of sleep. When I woke up in the morning, I felt like I had just been kicked in the face by 1980’s action movie star Steven Segal.

To say that I felt like shit would be an understatement. There are no words to describe my feeling of utter hopelessness when I woke Friday morning. Well, that’s not true, there are two words to describe my feelings:

Perfect Storm

I was so sick when I woke up that it took me 2 hours to even sit up on the couch. Bill had to bring me water every 5 minutes, and there was no sign of my hangover going away. I would soon learn that it wasn’t just a normal hangover; it was a Rocky Mountain Hangover of epic proportions. Not only was I hungover from the copious boozing the night before, I had other factors working against me:

  • You can’t drink as much when you are at higher elevations as you can in lower elevations. So, 1 shot is almost like 2 shots in the Rockies.
  • You need to drink twice as much water in the Mountains as you do in other places or else you will become severly dehydrated.
  • My sore throat from Wednesday was the beginnings of a cold. The cold came into full effect on Friday morning.
  • I drank a lot of booze the night before.
  • I had just quit the low carb diet, and my body probably needed some time to adjust to a stream of carbohydrates.

Add up these 5 factors and what do I get? A cheesy movie starring George Clooney and Mark Whalberg where they are bearded fishermen from Gloucester, Mass? Not exactly.. simply put, my mistreatment of my body left me with a hangover that can only be described as “the perfect storm”.

At first I thought it was just a hangover, but the longer that things lasted (I was sick until at least Monday), the more I was convinced that I was genuinely sick. This did not help my ability to have fun for the rest of the trip. Bill and I still tried to make the best of things throughout the weekend, but I was pretty much a “Debbie Downer” the whole time (not by choice… I just felt that bad).

On Friday we went disc golfing and I kept on getting the chills. Then when I went into the sun, I would sweat profusely… all part of my wonderful fever.

Coors Field

Friday night, we went to the Rockies game at Coors field. Coors Field is an amazing outdoor baseball stadium located in downtown Denver. I was amazed at how nice and modern it felt inside. It’s a complete contrast from the Metrodome in Minneapolis, which is basically the antithesis of good stadium design. I can’t wait until the Twins built their stadium in 2010. The game itself was pretty boring, and I once again got the chills (this time wearing 2 t-shirts and a long sleeve shirt, while most people attending the game were wearing shorts and a t shirt). So we left after the 4th inning with the Rockies down 9-1. They ended up losing 11-1.

Coors Field

We took it easy the rest of Friday night and watched some movies. I slept equally poorly that night, but I was at least somewhat prepared. I had 2 glasses of water handy to combat the dry mouth problem, and I lined up a row of 8 Ibuprofen to combat the sore throat problem. I still woke up and felt like crap, but this time I don’t think it was attributed to alcohol, but rather being legitimately sick with a cold.

We went to breakfast at Charlie Brown’s (a piano bar a block from Bill’s house) and I got some great food. I only ate like 3 bites, though, because my throat was so sore that I couldn’t really eat. Once we were done, we decided on a game plan for the day. Since it was gloomy outside, we decided to go see a movie at the theaters in Downtown Denver. We decided on Blades of Glory, the hilarious Will Ferrell figure skating movie (definitely worth seeing. It would be even better if Napoleon Dynamite wasn’t in it… John Heder is a hack and basically just plays Napoleon Dynamite in every movie)

After the movie was done, we decided to go to dinner at a place that I thought was completely fictional. We got dinner in a place that I had only heard about in a fabled episode of the show South Park. Yes, we went to dinner at a restaurant called Casa Bonita. If you like South Park, you’ll appreciate our pilgrimage. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here is the episode:


Now that you are familiar with the episode, you’ll be surprised to learn that Casa Bonita is an actual restaurant, and it is EXACTLY like the place detailed in the South Park episode! The line for Casa Bonita was outside the door, and Bill and I were pretty much the only adults in line that didn’t have kids with them. We felt sort of creepy, but pressed on in order to say that we went to Casa Bonita! There was also a group of South Park fans behind us, so that eased the awkwardness a little.

Casa Bonita!

Casa Bonita MenuOnce we were inside the building, we stood in a Disney World style line that curved and stretched for miles and miles. It took us 45 minutes to actually get to the point where we order and pick up our food. The main food options are the $10.99 all you can eat Beef or Chicken dinners. The pictures actually made the dinners look pretty good, but the food itself was pretty horrible.

The dining area of Casa Bonita is absolutely enormous and features a bunch of crazy things geared toward kids, including a cave, a mariachi band, a guy in a Gorilla suit and a huge waterfall with Cliff Jumpers! If I were 5 years old, this would probably be the coolest place in the world. Since I’m 25, it was sort of annoying. The food was awful too. The only redeeming quality of my Casa Bonita experience was the Sopopillas… which is fried bread topped with Honey. Plus, now we get to brag to our South Park loving friends that we’ve been to Casa Bonita.

Casa Bonita

On Sunday I had to leave to go home at around noon. On my way to the airport, I stopped and got a burrito from a place called Illegal Pete’s, which was recommended to me by my cousin Katie who got her Doctorate in Boulder. She said it was on par with Chipotle, so I had to check it out for myself. She was right! They make fantastic burritos, and elaborate even more on Chipotle’s limited menu. Thanks for the tip Katie!

Overall, my Denver experience was pretty miserable, due to me being sick. There were some good stories, though, and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy telling them.

About Jeff Sauer

I started blogging in the year 2000, and go in spurts of inspiration followed by long dormancy. I love writing, and your comments keep me going, so comment!

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  1. Good lord, Jeff!! I hope gettign sick after eating sushi doesn’t scare you off. Too bad you had a crappy time because you were sick!

  2. Lisa Sell says

    I had that happen when i was in Denver also. It’s altitude sickness. I was throwing up with the chills and sweats in a hotel room for four hours until my girlfriend called for an ambulance. They put me on oxygen and gave me an IV. I didn’t remember any of it!!!
    I am pretty much feeling like I should never go back again!

  3. No vacations to places that are cold?!?!?!? You live in the wrong state, BOOIII