• Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post

    The Dior Show at the Denver Art Museum runs through March 3. After that, check out the sprawling Month of Photography, which fills the museum and dozens of other venues with the work of artists near and far throughout March.

  • Andy Cross / The Denver Post

    Bruce Springsteen, Michelle Obama and Tim Tebow have stopped at the Tattered Cover bookstore to sign books. Go when there isn't a celebrity, and you won't have to slog through crowds of excitable fans.

  • Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer

    Lyons Classic Pinball owner Kevin Carroll moves a Simpsons pinball machine into place.

  • Stephanie Alderton / Fort Morgan Times

    Science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick is buried in Fort Morgan's Riverside Cemetery with his twin sister, Jane.



Spring break: Nine days for affluent college students to flock to exotic locales like south Florida and the Texas Gulf Coast, thrust themselves into blackout drunkenness and catch a communicable disease that is, hopefully, treatable with a shot glassful of piña colada-flavored antibiotics.

Some say colleges implemented the week off to keep stressed out co-eds from leaping to their deaths rather than pen one more comparative essay on post-colonial tropes in 19th century English science-fiction.

That hurt my brain.

In either case, if you don’t have an extra grand laying around, the tropics might not be on your itinerary. The University of Colorado’s spring break is March 25 to 29, not counting the weekend bookends. It should be a balmy 38 degrees outside with a possibility of blinding snow, perfect spring break conditions.

Just because you can’t get arrested in Daytona Beach, or murdered, doesn’t mean you can’t have a good week off.

But what to do?

First of all, delete Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and all those other soul-sucking social media applications off of your iPhone, just for the week. Sure, your friends and loved ones will think you are dead after 12 hours free of food photos, but that’s something they will have to come to terms with. An entire universe awaits beyond that 3-inch screen.

Bum around in Boulder

For the antisocial among you, find a large, raucous house party near campus, call in a noise complaint and wait for the police to arrive and break it up. It’s so much fun to watch drunk people bemoan their aborted revelry. IMPORTANT: Don’t say anything that isn’t true over the phone, because you expose yourself to arrest for false reporting.

… Maybe don’t do that one.

Write haiku. Yeah, it’s something pretentious natural-fiber people do to express their individuality, but it’s an effective way to clear your mind. Burn the poetry once you are finished. You don’t want that turning up anywhere.

Walk over to the Pearl Street Mall and chat up a homeless person. I met a guy from Hermosa Beach the other day. A Pennywise tattoo lined his left arm, and a quiet melancholy lived in his eyes. We talked about old punk bands. I gave him my last 10 bucks.

Stroll west on the Boulder Creek path and watch the grown men fishing at the Evert Pierson Kids’ Fishing Pond. Write more haiku. Burn.

Do the Denver thing

Bum a ride or take the bus to the corner of Colfax Avenue and Broadway in downtown Denver. There you will find a cornucopia of weirdos milling about. Good people watching. Sometimes a guy sitting on a bench talking to himself is the most interesting conversation you will hear all semester. I’d recommend going during the day. At night, no one can hear your screams.

About a mile in any direction from Colfax and Avenue and Broadway is prime hunting ground for book stores, record shops and cool yet cheap places to eat. Explore a bit. Broadway to the south is lined to the Littleton city limits with interesting shops, bars and restaurants.

Suggestion: The Tattered Cover Book Store, 2526 East W Colfax Ave., and Twist and Shout Records next door. You can pick up a book, a cafe au lait and some music for later if you are one of those freaks who still pays for music. Proud freak here. As for books, pick up “Ask the Dust” by John Fante. He used to live in Boulder.

Across the street is the sprawling City Park, the Denver Zoo and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Also worth a visit is the Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway. The museum boasts 70,000 pieces of art. I once got tired walking through it.

Elsewhere in Colorado

If you need a quick jaunt out of town, hit up Lyons Classic Pinball, 339 W Main St. You can drop five bucks in there and enjoy two hours of pinball madness. Snag some fish and chips and a cream soda at Oskar Blues, 303 Main St. It’s pretty close to a religious experience as one can get in this mad world.

If you want to do something truly weird, hop on Interstate 76 and visit Philip K. Dick’s grave in Fort Morgan. Mr. Dick wrote science fiction that questioned the nature of reality and identity. Bad movies based on his work are made with some frequency.

He’s buried at the Riverside Cemetery next to his twin sister, who died in infancy. Ask the polite gentleman at the office for a map. While you are standing above the final resting place of the paranoid speculative fiction master, ask yourself this: What if I’m actually dead, PKD is on spring break and the world is only an illusion?

John Bear: twitter.com/johnbearwithme