Thursday, October 02, 2003
The Colorado Trip
Those of you who read my boring blog will know that I was away this past weekend on a trip to Denver. A good friend from high school was getting married (second marriage for the both of them) and since Tracey wanted to go and said she would drive I figured what the heck and decided to go too.
Tracey wanted to get an early start on Friday so we could make it to Denver in time for the rehearsal dinner. So I was good and set my alarm for 4 am and got up on time believe it or not.
Since I had most everything packed the day before I was ready to head out the door by about ten minutes 'til 5. No sign of Tracey so I sat down and read to pass the time. 5:15 rolled around and Tracey still hadn't shown but she did tell me to call if she didn't show up by then so I did. No answer. I left a message and went back to reading. 5:30 rolled around and Tracey finally pulls up. It turned out she kept forgetting things and had to keep returning home a few times.
Not too bad I thought—only leaving thirty minutes past the time we were scheduled. But it turned out she still needed to check the air in her tires and stop by her mom's house to pick up something for the trip. After all that and a turn through the McDonald's drive-thru, we headed out of OKC around 6:20.
The trip through Kansas proceeded without any mishaps. We stopped occasionally for gas and to use the facilities. We did miss a couple of exits but didn't get too far out of the way before we noticed.
Tracey got a giggle out of me calling Mike to look on-line and see where we were in Kansas in relation to where we needed to be. I failed to purchase a Kansas state map at our last rest stop so we had no idea where exactly we were in Kansas. And since we had obviously missed our exit and were in the middle of the highway with nothing but flat Kansas prairie all around I figured I'd call Mike and he could access an on-line map for us. Instead he found the Mapquest information I was using so he could see which directions we were following. Then he proceeded to read them to me thinking that might help me figure out where we were. When Tracey heard me tell Mike that I needed him to look at a map not read the directions to me that I already had right in front of me she started laughing. He's never gonna live that down. She'll remember it until the day she dies. Anyway he managed to get us back on track and the rest was smooth sailing.
We arrived in Denver (or Aurora to be more specific) around 4:30 central time which put us at 3:30 Denver time. This gave us plenty of time to check into the lovely Motel 6. It also meant we would make it to the rehearsal dinner at Luigi's Bent Noodle. Technically we weren't in the wedding but Denise was so happy that we were coming she wanted us to attend. We sure weren't gonna turn down free food.
We met a lot of people at the rehearsal dinner and I only remember a handful of them. I sat next to Denise's friend, Sue. She was a nice gal. We chatted with her and Denise's brother and sister-in-law. The food was served family style and was okay. Their meatballs were tough but the lasagna and chicken were good.
After dinner, everyone went their separate ways and we headed back to our room and some much-needed rest.
Here's my List of Things You Don't Get When You Stay in a Motel 6:
1) A box of facial tissue
4) A decent-sized bar of soap
5) Bath towels larger than an 81/2 x 11 sheet of paper
6) Chest of drawers for your clothes (shelves only)
7) A closet with a door (it's more of an alcove with hangars)
8) Complimentary pen and notepad
9) Iron and ironing board (you've got to get those from the front desk)
10) Coffeepot (with coffee and tea)
11) Semi-insulated ice bucket (think large tub of margarine minus the lid)
12) Pictures on the walls
13) A television whose sound you can turn up as loud as you want (this one had a volume governor)
14) A digital alarm clock
We both got a good night's rest and woke up around 9 am that morning. Since it was really 8 am mountain time we didn't have to rush to get ready for the 1 pm wedding. Tracey took this to heart and after ironing her clothes she promptly fell back asleep. I was ready so I sat and read my book. I kept watching the clock and tried to get Tracey to get up and get dressed so we could run to Target and eat some lunch before the wedding but she talked me into letting her sleep for thirty more minutes. I finally got her up and going, we hit Target to pick up a few things and then ate lunch at a moderately priced restaurant called Mimi's Cafe.
We got back to the room and I was dressed and ready to go in about five minutes. Tracey took a wee bit longer. While she was in the bathroom I called for directions to the home where the wedding was taking place. I remember being told the night before that we were about a ten-minute drive away. I kept looking at my watch noticing that we were getting closer and closer to that 1 o' clock wedding time.
Finally Tracey came out, ready to go. She spent too much time putting her hair in a french braid so now we were gonna have to haul ass. As we headed out I realized there was a very real possibility that we would be late. We finally found the house and, guess what? We were late (1:15). The ceremony had already started so we didn't get to sit in the comfy rented chairs. Instead we stood in the kitchen area and watched from there. I was just happy that I could blame the being late on Tracey.
The ceremony itself was beautifully done and short. Quite a difference from Denise's first wedding which was a joint Catholic/Episcopalian affair. Tracey still hasn't forgiven her for the electric blue, sleeveless bridesmaid's dresses we had to wear. The wedding party this time out consisted of a matron of honor, a best man and the bride and groom. Denise's three kids were also dressed for the wedding party but were allowed to sit during the ceremony. Everyone looked really great and the dresses this time around were much prettier. How could they not be? I mean, electric blue???
After the ceremony, everyone filed outside to greet the newly married couple and their families. I, being horribly introverted and uncomfortable around large groups of people I don't know, sat on the porch and watched the crowd occasionally reading from my e-book. It wasn't long before Tracey nagged me into coming down for pictures, which she knows I absolutely loathe but she's the photographer in the group so I figured it would be coming up quite a bit. Hell, she's the only reason I'm in my high school yearbook for more than just the class picture.
The afternoon was filled with more pictures, chatting, and reading. I'm glossing over the traditional cutting of the wedding cake (no one shoved cake in anyone's face) and throwing of the bouquet and garter. They went pretty normally and I didn't know any of the people who caught the bouquet or garter so I couldn't comment much on the process.
I will say that it's exhausting doing nothing while being around lots of people you don't know. Well, at least for me it is. I did have fun watching the two babies who were at the wedding. They made me miss Cal although he would have been a holy terror, walking everywhere and not caring that there were very large people all around him.
Denise had a great turn out for her wedding. The house it was held in was roomy enough that you never felt claustrophobic. It also helped that the weather was gorgeous so some people could spill out into the back yard or front porch.
It also looked like Denise set herself up with a nice group of friends while she lived in Denver (she's now in Houston where the new hubby transferred). They were all incredibly sweet to her kids and genuinely seemed to like them. It was so nice to see because I hate to say it but the only semi-large group of people I regularly interact with are SF fans and most of them seem merely to tolerate children. That makes me very conflicted about my association with STAR OKC. They're a nice bunch for the most part but too often I get the "kids go away" vibe and that bugs me.
Mike keeps saying I should go to the Unitarian Church with them and meet people there. I probably should but I'm so bad at making new friends. It's such a lot of work and I'm not the easiest person to get to know. I know, I know, quit yer bitchin'!
We finally left at 5:30, hanging around 'til the bitter end because Tracey held out hope that Denise would be able to plop down and chat. I knew she wouldn't but good friend that I am I'm always willing to humor Tracey's delusions. You're so overwhelmed with things on your wedding day that by the end of it you're ready to get the hell outta there. Plus, as Denise put it, she was gonna go "get laid" and, ya know, I can't blame her for not wanting to stick around. [g]
I was still glad we went and did our duty as honored oldest friends. I was even introduced to Jason with the addendum that she and I used to take baths together. hehehee I don't remember that but I'll take her word for it. The older I get the less my ancient brain can retain from the olden days.
We went back to the pulchritudinous Motel 6, changed our clothes and decided to find some place to eat. This was probably the one area where Tracey and I aren't quite in harmony. I consider myself pretty easy-going about my restaurant choices. Tracey, however, is pickier. Of course, she'll tell you that I'm the picky one but don't believe her. I spotted some nice, informal Mexican Grill places but she didn't want to stop there because "they looked cheap." So we opted for The Bent Fork. Now, keep in mind, I'm the easy-going one so I didn't argue and in we went.
The place was kind of small but informal. It was also very dark with most of the light produced by the small oil lamps on each table. I'm probably exaggerating but you get the picture. The cute waitress brought us our menus and I decided on the grilled chicken breast with rice and vegetables. I figured I should eat healthy one day of our trip. But Tracey, who didn't want to eat at the "cheap" looking Mexican Grill decided to eat an $8 appetizer for dinner. She also had a dessert but I'm thinking she could have gotten a real meal for her $8 at the other place.
After dinner we went back to the beauteous Motel 6 and crashed. Oh, this was kind of funny. While entering the motel from a side entrance, Tracey comments on the smell. She thinks it smells like pot. I didn't detect a thing beyond the weird Motel 6 hallway smell. But, once we exited the stairwell and hit the hallway, my nose was assailed by the smell of marijuana coming from one of the rooms. She has a much more sensitive nose than I do I guess. It was quite strong and if I'd sat outside the room I probably could have gotten a little contact high.
The next morning I woke at the disgustingly early hour of 6 am. Tracey was still snoozing so I just read for a while took my shower and then read some more until she woke up. We checked out of the resplendent Motel 6 and went over to the nearby Rosie's Diner for breakfast. If you're ever in Aurora I highly recommend eating at Rosie's. Good food, great atmosphere and friendly wait staff make it a nice place to eat.
Sunday we scheduled to be sight-seeing day and it was decided that rather than stay in Denver and see the sights there we would drive the scenic route from Denver to Estes Park. I would have been just as happy to go to the Aquarium and the Butterfly Pavilion but Tracey had her heart set on taking photos of scenery so Estes Park it was.
The scenic route was indeed scenic. It also took a lot longer than the hour and a half travel time of the non-scenic route. By the time we arrived I was more than ready to get out of that car and hit a bathroom.
We picked a little Mexican Restaurant for lunch. It was away from the main tourist traffic and wasn't very crowded. I can't remember the name of it though. I should have written that down.
The food was just average. I ended up getting one cheese enchilada and a taco (also rice and beans). It was so refreshing not to have to tell them leave off the hot dog chili (chili con carne). They actually served their enchiladas with chili gravy like my grandma makes but it wasn't near as good. As a matter of fact, I make better chili gravy than they did. But their hot salsa was great. It was quite nice to be offered hot and mild salsas for the chips. Most salsa at Tex-Mex restaurants is so mild I could drink a cup of it and not suffer any ill effects.
We then decided that walking the main drag and looking at a few shops might be a nice thing to do after lunch. Unfortunately the traffic (people and car) was ridiculous. We ended up driving around forever looking for a parking spot. I tried to talk Tracey into parking a little farther away and then we could just walk but she wanted to get a closer spot. Finally we found one and yes, Tracey, it was perfect. But I still wouldn't have minded walking.
Most of the shops catered to the tourist trade—big surprise there. We didn't hit them all but made our way into a fair number. I ended up getting my mother-in-law her standard shot class. I got a t-shirt for my mom. Duncan got the best trip present in the form of a fossilized dinosaur egg shell and a coprolite. And yes, it was a no brainer that I was going to get my son some fossilized poop. I never saw any little kid tees that I liked for Cal so he didn't get a trip gift. I can get away with that now because he's so young. I didn't really see anything Mike would like either. He's got plenty of t-shirts and his mom brings him a tie from most every place she travels so he's set for those too. Oh, I also got my dad the Sunday edition of the Denver Post.
I think I actually ended up spending more than Tracey although she bought something for her mom and a few buttons and bumper stickers for herself. Not that she'll put the bumper stickers on her car. She also bought me two buttons. One says, "Jesus loves you but I'm his favorite." And the other reads, "What would Buddha do?"
After wasting a few hours popping in and out of shops we decided to head to the Rocky Mountain National Park and attempt the drive to see the Continental Divide. First though Tracey had to try and haggle with the poor park ranger because the fee to get into the park was $15. That $15 will last you all week but she figured it couldn't hurt to ask if there was a reduced rate for just a day. I knew there wouldn't be but I know trying to stop Tracey from getting a deal is like trying to stop a wave from advancing on the shore so I only said 'I told you so' a couple of times.
Along the way we had to stop along with sixty jillion other tourists and look at a bunch of Elk. Tracey was pretty excited about it but I've seen four-legged animals other than cows in the wild before and Elk really aren't that exciting. I was mainly interested in getting to our destination because daylight was fading fast and I didn't relish the drive up (or down) the mountain in the dark.
Now I get to fill you in on another of my personality quirks. I'm afraid of heights. So afraid that as we were ascending, the drop off was near my side of the car and I couldn't look. If I did look it made my feet hurt and my hands and feet sweat. Tracey thought this was pretty darn amusing since she isn't used to seeing "cool and collected" Tamara freak out.
Now to be fair, I only really freaked out a tiny bit and only when she wouldn't listen to me on the speed limit or if she took one of her hands off the steering wheel. I very calmly informed her whenever we were coming upon a curve that required a reduced speed and only got testy when she would argue with me about it. Tracey also had the scary habit of stopping to shoot scenery at the drop of a hat. A couple of places clearly weren't good for stopping and I could just envision someone coming around a curve, barreling into us and pushing the car right over the edge. One place was clearly marked with a no left turn sign but Tracey didn't believe me and was going to turn anyway to shoot yet another picture of mountains. I argued quite vehemently against this. Fortunately she listened and we didn't die.
It seemed like forever but we finally got to the spot where you can see the Continental Divide. The visitor's center was closed but there were still a number of people checking out the spot. And, best of all, they had bathrooms.
Now by this time I was so happy to be out of the car and on solid ground that I refused to schlep up the side of a very large hill to see the Continental Divide. I really didn't feel like looking down on any more vast expanses of scenery. Tracey got disgusted and gamely tried the climb by herself but she pooped out about a third of the way up. So yes, all that driving and terror and we still didn't see the Continental Divide. I think Tracey was more pissed off about it than I was. I was just happy to be alive.
The trip down the mountain wasn't quite as scary mainly because she didn't stop as much to shoot pictures. Daylight was fading fast and I think she had come to the conclusion that she didn't want to do this drive in the dark either. We ended up back at Estes Park and decided to push on to a less touristy town for our night's stay.
We ended up finally stopping in Boulder at a Super 8. It cost more than the Motel 6 but I didn't care. I was tired and ready to be out of the car. Tracey, ever the haggler, badgered the poor college student who was manning the desk for a discount and he gave us 10% off. That was mighty nice of him because the whole time she was chattering I was pushing my credit card at him, shaking my head and saying that I didn't care what it cost I just wanted a room.
After unloading we watched The Practice. I read a little on an e-book (Outcome by Kim Pritekel and Alexa Hoffman for those of you who care) too but soon crashed about 9:30 Boulder time.
I felt pretty good when morning arrived although I wasn't looking forward to the drive home. Tracey had spotted a place in Boulder that she wanted to visit on the keen Boulder map they had at the front desk so after checking out we partook of the free continental breakfast provided by Super 8 and headed out.
P.C.'s Pantry is a small pet bakery and dog and cat supply store located in Boulder. The owner brings her cats and dogs to work with her every day and they loll about the shop indolently and let you pet them. Some of them actually walk right up to you and shove their nose in your crotch until you do that very thing. I'm guessing this dog never went to a class on how to pick up girls.
I made my purchases quickly, which is funny because I wasn't planning on buying anything. But I found a really cute collar for Max and I got him a small chew bone. The owner also gave me a few homemade dog biscuits for Max. Nice gal. Tracey, however, true to her slightly obsessive-compulsive nature had to look at everything in the store, take pictures of most of it, and pet all of the animals and chat.
We finally got away from there around 9:40 am central time and hit the road for Oklahoma City. Tracey got us out of Boulder and through Denver and I navigated. It was probably fortunate that we screwed around so long at the pet bakery because we missed all of Denver's atrocious morning traffic.
I took over driving in Burlington, Colorado. Lunch was at a McDonald's because we couldn't agree on a place to eat. I just wanted something quick that would allow us to get back on the road with a minimum of fuss.
Pretty much the bulk of my drive was flat which is the way I like it. I made the time driving more entertaining by keeping track of this chick in a red sports car that would pace me and then fall back. Obviously she didn't have cruise control. Once in a while she'd pass me but she never got into the right lane. She always stayed in the left hand passing lane so whenever we'd come upon a hill she'd fall back and I'd get ahead once again. I must admit that I was disappointed when we switched drivers around Wichita because I never saw her again. It's amazing the weird things you'll do to keep incredibly boring expanses of flat interesting.
We also hit rain in Kansas. The temperature started dropping and overcast skies and rain were the norm for most of my drive and all of Tracey's.
Anyway we finally made it to OKC around 10 pm. Mike was up, of course, but Cal was asleep. Duncan had just gone to bed and he got up when I walked in the door. I got a big hug from him, which was sure nice. All in all, good trip but I was glad to be home.
My web space provider ADDR is experiencing some difficulties right now so I can't upload the pictures for my trip report to my web space. And I'm having some difficulty with stuff posting from blogger so it's not like it would show up right now anyway. So I'm going to add still more crap to this thing.
My List of Denver Trip CDs (in no particular order):
1) Mirrorball - Sarah MacLachlan
2) Spend the Night - The Donnas
3) One Beat - Sleater- Kinney
4) Warm - Velvet Chain
5) Car Wheels on a Gravel Road - Lucinda Williams
6) Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea - P.J. Harvey
7) This Business of Art - Tegan and Sara
8) Stereo Type A - Cibo Matto
9) De Tiempo en el Momento de la Explosión - Niños con Bombas
10) Daybreaker - Beth Orton
11) Poem - Delerium
12) Gold Stars 1992-2002: The Juliana Hatfield Collection - Juliana Hatfield
13) All Hands on the Bad One - Sleater-Kinney
14) Real Women Have Curves Soundtrack - Various Artists
15) Essence - Lucinda Williams
16) Central Reservation - Beth Orton
17) The Bends - Radiohead
18) Static & Silence - The Sundays
19) World Without Tears - Lucinda Williams
20) O' Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack - Various Artists
21) If It Was You - Tegan and Sara
22) Freaky Friday Soundtrack - Various Artists
Well, I thought the problem was with ADDR. But now the ADDR problems seem to be fixed but I *still* can't get blogger to publish my posts. Arrrrggghhh!
posted by Tamara - 7:08 PM -- Link to this entry
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