Things to Do in Denver When You’re Superheroes

Our flight to Iceland left out of Denver, Colorado on the first day of November. We had decided that it would be a good idea to fly into Denver a couple of days early. The kids had never been there and had never seen the Rockies. Uncle Apple and Aunt Megan were going to be in Denver during that weekend as well, so we could get together with them. Breaking up our flights just seemed smarter than doing them both back-to-back, anyway.

One upshot of this plan was that, although we wouldn’t be at home for the holiday, we would still be able to do something to enjoy Halloween. The Wife had bought secret new superhero pajamas for the kids that could double as Halloween costumes. RU’s was Wonder Woman, Z got Spider-Man (although he was usually in the carrier strapped to the Wife or I, so there was never any point in putting it on him), and, despite the fact that her costume included a sparkly skirt and had a bow on it, MeToo was Superman not Supergirl.

While casting about for something to do, we stumbled upon the Colorado Railroad Museum. The museum was going to have a “Trick or Treat Train” on the 31st. The train, so we read, departed every thirty minutes and you could “visit all the town’s special shops” to get treats. Somehow, we convinced ourselves that this meant the train would actually travel to different places outside of the museum, perhaps some of the little former mining towns that are along the old railroad lines as you go into the mountains. We imagined a leisurely ride inside “vintage passenger cars” to three or four not-too-spookily decorated stops where the kids could get out and get candy.

The reality was that we made two loops on a track that circles around the yard of the railroad museum, giving you a view of the various machines and locomotives scattered about. The Halloween-themed locales were small areas around the place — a pumpkin patch just big enough to stage a picture in, a boxcar draped with fake spider webs.

Given the disparity between what we had imagined and what it was actually like, the experience ought to have been utterly disappointing. However, there were two things that saved it. One was that one of the “special shops” was a face-painting booth. The girls had been wanting to have their faces painted since… Well, pretty much all year, I think. Somehow our efforts to make that happen had been consistently stymied, but now we’d finally succeeded in making it happen and the girls had masks and tiaras painted on to accompany their outfits. The biggest factor that kept the outing from being an enormous waste of time, effort, and enthusiasm was the same thing that makes every lame Halloween activity fun: seeing other people in their costumes.

A constant stream of families poured into the museum, despite the fact that they seemed to know better than we did what to expect there. We saw Ninja Turtle families, Elsas and Anas, other superheroes, and one girl in a dress that evoked a rebel pilot’s uniform from Star Wars. That’s the part of Halloween that I have always loved the most. I enjoy getting to see what everyone is pretending to be, admiring the really imaginative or elaborate costumes, and the overall sense of play that seems to come with it all. It’s like everyone is part of an enormous parade (or attending the same Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror convention).

So that was the Colorado Railroad Museum.

The Wife and RU on a short hike
The Wife and RU on a short hike

That evening, we were able to actually go trick-or-treating for a little while. While planning for this trip, Granma Cake had the brilliant notion that we should rent a house to stay in together rather than all have separate hotel rooms. The house sat in a quiet, suburban neighborhood that was just perfect for getting in a little of the traditional All Hallows Evening candy shakedown. We hit a few streets until the Wife and I felt that we had enough sweet things to snack on during the flight to Iceland. Then, having made sure that our kids had experienced just enough seasonal fun to not feel cheated out of their childhoods, we returned to the house to prepare for the following day’s adventure in international travel.