Back in January, I posted a blog about my four-day research trip to Boulder, CO for Boundary Lines. With the book coming out in just over a week(!), I thought it would be a fun time to update and expand on the real-life locations that inspired the novel’s fictional events. Here’s how the original research trip broke down:
(Warning: if you work really hard at figuring things out, I suppose this could contain vague spoilers for Boundary Lines.)
I. Breakfast with friends
My flight left Madison at 5:08 in the morning, and I arrived in Denver just after eight a.m. After getting my suitcase and picking up my rental car, I drove to a Denver suburb to have breakfast with my friend and fellow Westmarcher, Stant Litore, he of the Z.ombie Bible. This part wasn’t too strong on research, I admit, but it certainly was fun.
II. Lunch with Brieta
My source in Boulder has long been my wonderful cousin Brieta (BREE-tah), who answers bizarre text questions like “Does Boulder have any homeless people? I want to kill one.” We knew we’d be going somewhere nice for supper, so we ended up just eating lunch at Whole Foods, which is a shockingly crowded lunch destination in Boulder. I was fascinated by the number of recycling bins, and the detailed instructions for what to put in them. Throwing away my trash took ten minutes.
III. Carnegie Branch Library
Boulder has a lovely main library, but I had my sights set on the Carnegie Branch, which is famous for having the most information about local Boulder history. You can read typewritten mining reports, breakdowns of population, and, I discovered, check out the supernatural section.
IV. Hotel Boulderado
Have you read Misery? I haven’t, but it turns out the Hotel Boulderado (a pun before puns were a thing) is mentioned there. Brieta suggested visiting while we were downtown, and I loved the hotel so much I put it in Boundary Lines. So beautiful, and next time I’m in town I want to have a drink at this bar.
V. Pearl St
Boulder’s famous pedestrian mall. We walked and walked, browsing at some of the little shops and checking out one of my new favorite bookstores, the Boulder Bookstore. If you’re in town, I highly recommend leaving yourself enough time to browse the multiple floors, each with multiple wings.
VI. Supper at Efrain’s Mexican restaurant
This was Brieta’s suggestion for delicious “real” Mexican food, and she was dead-on. Except for the part where I’m from the Midwest, and I was raised on hamburgers and tator tots, and I couldn’t eat anything there without crying except the kids’ quesadilla. Seriously. I had to send back my food for the children’s food. I had no problem with my margarita, though.
I. Recovery morning
I was supposed to spend the morning writing and going through all the books, pamphlets, brochures, and notes I’d procured the day before. What actually ended up happening, however, was a lot of sleep, and a bit of hiding from my cousin’s terrifying Chihuahua. No, that’s not a joke. Yes, I wish it was.
This trip, to a wolf sanctuary two and a half hours southwest of Boulder, was worth every minute. Our guide took us through the center’s many enclosures featuring wolves, coyotes, and foxes, giving us information about each one and a chance to take pictures. The wolves were behind a fence (two fences, in some cases) and we stood behind a guardrail that was usually several feet away, but I still found myself unconsciously taking a few steps back now and then. Evolution works.
Pictures below, but you can also click here and see a video of us howling at the wolves. Spoiler alert: they howl back. Theirs is better.
Brieta and I stopped at a Greek place in Colorado Springs called the Caspian Café. It was like the delicious Olive Garden of Greek food. I mean that as a compliment, for I love the Olive Garden forever.
In Boundary Crossed I introduce Simon, an evolutionary biologist who works at CU. In Boundary Lines, I explore a little bit more of his career. Simon is a curator and professor with the museum, and the nice folks at the real-life museum very generously gave me a backstage tour to help with accuracy. My favorite part: the basement of the museum has been turned into a sort of free coffee shop called the BioLounge, where students can work, study, meet with professors, and look at some really fascinating exhibits. When I was there, they were doing an exhibit about things that had been confiscated at US Customs, which included a full-sized zebra fur. I ended up working both the BioLounge and the zebra into the story.
Since Simon works on campus, I decided I wanted a bit more of a feel for what the university is like. It’s actually a remarkably beautiful campus, even though I was there on a not-so-beautiful day. As a bonus, I also stopped for lunch at DP Dough, which we used to have in Madison before they closed down. My calzone tasted like nostalgia. As a result, Lily, Lex, and Simon now have dinner at an unnamed off-campus calzone shop.
III. Back to Pearl Street
I wanted one more look at Pearl Street during the day – and a chance to spend a little more time at Boulder Bookstore. I had planned to hike into Chautauqua Park at this time as well, but to my dismay the whole area was fogged over.
IV. Drive around
Sounds boring, but I drove through some of the neighborhoods where I have characters living, so I could get an idea of what the house setup is like. I’m not posting any pictures here for the sake of privacy, but let’s just say Boulder has its share of gorgeous homes.
V. The Boulder Police Department
No, I wasn’t arrested (THIS TIME). But in Boundary Lines, my protagonist Lex is investigating a mysterious, goo-covered bundle found in Chautauqua Park, and her investigation sort of bumps up against the BPD’s. The media relations person at the station was also kind enough to give me a backstage tour. I didn’t take ask to take photos out of respect, but here’s a shot from the outside.
I. Hot Springs
Okay, my idea was to set a scene of Boundary Lines at a hot springs, so I drove over an hour to the closest one, in the town of Idaho Springs. When I arrived, however, I found myself a little squeamish about actually using the facilities, because they looked a bit…mmm…experienced. Like a fifty-year-old daytime hooker. I took some photos, though, and also explored the main drag of Idaho Springs’ downtown district. I was actually pretty charmed by some of the stores, and there’s a pizza place I plan to patronize should I ever go back.
The Tattered Cover Bookstore is one of the largest and most well-known indie bookstores in the country. I had heard about this place years earlier and desperately wanted to visit, the way some people long for a certain restaurant. So when it was almost time to head for the Denver airport, I elected to make a stop. And geek out a little.