ALA Midwinter 2018: Packing for a trip to Denver

My dad always says, only fools and newcomers predict the weather in Colorado, and I’ve been here too long to be a newcomer. Since he was born here, we always accepted that as gospel and take every weather prediction with a grain of salt. In February, the weather in Denver can range between a high of 10 and 70 degrees without causing the natives to blink. It can be sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy or windy and usually at some time during the day it will change. Packing for a visit can be a challenge.

It’s true that weather forecasting has improved since my father’s day, but be prepared for surprises. Layers are the answer – and lots of them. Something for a sunny day and something for a cold day with everything in between. The Convention Center will have food of course, but there are dozens of more interesting restaurants a short walk away. Even walking two blocks to the Sixteenth Street Free Mall Ride can be a quick way to get up and down to many destinations, and you’ll want the right gear for those short jaunts. I recommend wool socks, shoes with some tread, cardigans that can tie around the waist if it’s warm and button up tight if it’s cold. Scarves or pashminas are another protective layer to add when it turns nippy but shed easily when the sun shines. Don’t forget a hat and gloves. The hat is useful if it’s sunny and a real bonus if it’s cold. Evenings are almost always cool to downright cold. If you plan to be out and about, that’s the time to be sure you have your warmest layers with you.

When you come to Denver you are arriving at a mile above sea level, and this has an effect on your body that is not always immediately noticeable. Drink water! This is the single thing that everyone advises. Also, it’s important to eat regular meals and cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Many people complain of headaches, and while aspirin or Advil can help, the best advice is to hydrate and eat regularly. Your body will need fuel. You may also notice that you are tired and yawning. Given the conference schedule, it is hard to get enough rest, but a catnap or two will be of great benefit. The first day is the hardest; be extra gentle with yourself and give your body time to adjust. A few days into the schedule will be better than when you first arrive.

Denver’s a great city with lots to do. There’s a ice skating rink downtown, wonderful museums, a fabulous library. I’m sure you’ll enjoy my home town! We offer a western welcome and don’t be surprised if people say hello as you walk down the street. Enjoy your visit and ALA Midwinter 2018!

Recently retired from Denver Public Library, Carol Edwards grew up in Denver and is a second generation native. Her home is known to extended family as Chez Carol and she’s heard a great deal of discussion of how hard it is to pack for a visit to Colorado and the impact of high altitude. Carol doesn’t claim to be an expert, just someone who wants everyone to have a great visit for ALA Midwinter. 

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