I discovered Blue Pan Detroit Style Pizza online during my ongoing search for decent pizza in Colorado. It’s located about two miles from the Nature & Science Museum. All I knew about it is that the pizza is cooked in pans that were brought to Denver from Detroit.
The dining area was small and packed—mostly due to some kid’s birthday party that took up half the seats. We sat at a tiny table for two stuck between two tables for four that were just inches away. You can see Sally at our table in this photo.
Our server was very friendly. I asked her which pizza was the most authentic, and she recommended the Brooklyn Bridge. I thought that was a bit odd for Detroit-style pizza, but I figured she knew of what she spoke.
BROOKLYN BRIDGE $16|$27
1ST PLACE INTERNATIONAL PIZZA CHALLENGE 2014 (TRADITIONAL DIVISION) Mozzarella and Brick Cheese/Pizza Sauce/Creamy NY Ricotta/Natural Casing Pepperoni/Italian Sausage/Chopped Garlic/Sicilian Oregano/Pecorino Romano Cheese
It was delicious—lighter than Chicago-style, but zesty, with a good blend of flavors. We’d started with salad and garlic bread, so we only made it halfway through our pizza, but we’d expected to take some home.
We somehow switched servers halfway through our meal. The second one was also very friendly. As she was boxing our pizza, she asked us how we’d liked it. I said that we were just disappointed by the color of the pan. She laughed and told us the story. Apparently the pizza are baked in (unused, she hastened to add) auto parts—oil pans, I’m guessing. She pointed to a pile of them on a shelf above the bar.
So, not blue, but blue steel. Anyway, the pizza was great and we would go back in a second.
Sally and I spent Saturday in Denver. Here’s a slideshow of the highlights, many of which will be mentioned later in the post.
We arrived at the museum half an hour after it opened. We decided to do a thorough job of it, so we added Planetarium and IMAX Theater tickets to our general admission, which cost us $28.95 each.
We had about 40 minutes before the Planetarium show. We managed to make it about two-thirds of the way through Gems & Minerals. Apparently there’s a band of gem-filled mountains running diagonally across Colorado from just west of Denver. The displays of these gems—many of which were tossed aside as rubbish during the gold- and silver-mining days—were pretty amazing.
The displays also covered the gold and silver rushes. This nugget was about the size of my two thumbs.
We picked a Planetarium show at random and ended up in one called Destination Solar System. It was shown on a domed screen above our heads. The guide in the theater kept up a running conversation with the “computer” that was supposedly flying our spaceship. As far as I could tell, he had the whole routine memorized, and he put a lot of enthusiasm and humor into it.
The show flew us out to the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn and gave us details along with a lot of pretend drama. At one point, we supposedly got a piece of space ice stuck in our boosters and our guide disappeared and showed up on screen to get it out. As we left the theater, we got to touch the very piece of ice! We exited in the Space Odyssey exhibit which was mostly for kids but included some impressive displays, like a recreated Mars surface and a spinning globe.
We stopped for a drink in the cafe, then went back to finish Gems & Minerals. We then toured the several rooms of animal dioramas. There were a lot of these, and they were impressively done. Most of them had other animals and birds besides the featured creature, and we had fun trying to find them all.
We didn’t make it through all of them before it was time to see the IMAX movie. We’d chosen Incredible Predators because it looked like the one with the least amount of preaching on evolution. (And there was a lot of that in the museum—the only real downside to our visit. It would pop up in all sorts of places as established fact. There’s obviously an agenda by the world to brainwash kids to mindlessly accept the lies.)
Anyway, the movie was great. We got 3D glasses, and I’ve never seen a movie that put it to better use. We saw bits on cheetahs, leopards, chameleons, spiders, and polar bears. For the most part, it showed the predators trying, and failing, to catch their intended prey. They kept telling us how often predators missed, but I’m sure it was partly to keep the kids in the audience from becoming traumatized by blood. The movie was often genuinely funny. One bit had a polar bear trying to sneak up on a basking seal. The seal sat in the foreground, oblivious, while the bear dove repeatedly under the ice to try to find a hole near the seal. We’d see the top of its head pop up in the background, now fairly close, now far off in the distance.
The exit dumped us into the middle of Prehistoric Journey, an exhibit filled with dinosaurs and fake science. We walked through quickly. The Egyptian Mummies exhibit was small. In a corner, there was a display on the things ancient Egyptians put inside graves to take with them to the afterlife. We were invited to make a list in a book of what we’d take to the afterlife. One person wrote, “I would take a cross, food, fresh water, suitcase of clothes, Halloween outfit.” And that was one of the more intelligent answers.
There were more dioramas upstairs. These featured birds. Here’s part of one with three kinds of eiders and a Brant.
Another small display featured gemstone carvings by a Russian artist. Some of these were a bit risque, but they were impressive.
We made a fairly quick tour through North American Indian Cultures. Sally’s favorite exhibit was a reproduction of the inside of an igloo. Mine was this ridiculous piece of soapstone. Why? Just why? There has to be more to this story.
There was an atrium on the west side of the museum that looked over the park, downtown Denver, and the mountains.
In six hours, we’d done what there was to do and seen what there was to see (some of it at a brisk walk, it’s true). We both agreed that the museum was very well done and that, although we didn’t need to return, we wouldn’t mind if we did.
Just before dawn on the last day of December, the moon put on a show. It was a blue moon, which just means that it was the second full moon in the month. This doesn’t change the way it looks in any way. Next, it was a super moon, which means that the full moon occurred during the part of the moon’s orbit when it was closest to the earth. This was also not exciting since it only looks 10% larger than it does when it’s at its farthest point. As one guy online said, “If Superman is only 10% stronger than the average guy, then I’m OK with calling this a super moon.”
But it was also a full lunar eclipse, and that was worth getting up early to see. But not too early. I set my alarm for 5:30, when the shadow of the earth was already a bit more than halfway across the moon. Fortunately, my study window faces west, so I only had to walk into the next room. It looked like this.
I took photos and video with my camera and with my phone.
Things were going along swimmingly until the moon was entirely in the earth’s shadow. At that point, my camera decided it couldn’t be bothered to focus any longer.
The photos of the total eclipse were taken with my phone held up to my binoculars. The reddish color is the reason it’s called a blood moon. I have to conclude that the effect is more impressive at times.
It wasn’t too long after this that the moon entirely disappeared in some clouds hanging over the mountains. By that time, it was getting light. Definitely worth half an hour less sleep.
We knew going in that this place was going to be cheesy. But in the interest of seeing what our new hometown has to offer, we decided to visit anyway. I was smart enough to find a coupon online that saved us $2.
The most interesting thing about the museum is that it’s housed in an old railroad shed from the late 1800’s. Across the parking lot, a roundhouse from the same railroad now houses dentists and doctors.
It’s set up like an old western town, with the sort of businesses and buildings supposedly found in mining communities—a livery stable, a rooming house, a general store, a saloon, etc. All of them were filled with a totally random mix of artifacts from the 1860’s or so through the 1940’s and maybe even later. How much of it was authentic, I have no idea. Anyway, with very little commentary, here’s what there was to see.
In a separate building we discovered a long hallway with windows into a typical home—sorta. Every room had a woman and a child except for one that had a doctor on a house call with a child. There was a bed that supposedly belonged to Chester A. Arthur, which is so ridiculous a claim that I imagine it’s actually true. Scattered through the rooms were 3D pictures that showed cowboys from one angle and skeletons from another. There were also funhouse mirrors and coin-operated pianos and peep shows.
We’ve been to dozens of places like this over the years, nearly all of them done better. But we had fun enjoying the randomness and cheesiness. Another family that was touring at the same time thought it was “so cool.” It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. We agreed that we don’t need a second visit.