Monday, March 26, 2007
Estes Park, Colorado -- Day 1
After getting 2 hours of sleep, I left my house shortly after 12am on that Thursday morning to begin my trip. I made my way north to pick up N, and we were on our way to Colorado. There are two major routes between Dallas and Denver. I chose to take us on the route that Mapquest said was about 100 miles longer, but would take an hour less travel time, due to speed limits on the highways. This route took us up through Oklahoma and into Kansas.
Shortly after dawn, we entered super-thick fog on the prairies of Kansas. I could see well enough to continue at the speed limit, but both N and I were on high alert to spot any possible red brakelights in front of us. We passed through icy patches, then clear patches, then icy patches again, and the wind was strong. After a couple of hours, we made it through the fog and turned west toward Colorado.
As we grew ever closer to the Denver airport, the 3 people who were flying in to be picked up by us began to call. J and A had arrived, but C was still on the ground in Dallas. Everyone was supposed to arrive around 11:30am and hang out for a couple hours until N and I arrived. But C's plane had to make an emergency landing 20 minutes after takeoff from DFW because there was a medical emergency on board. C told us he was still on the plane.
After more driving and looking at the snow drifts on the sides of the highways, C called us again to let us know that he had deplaned and learned that the 'medical emergency' was some 24-year old idiot who mixed booze with her migraine medication, passed out, and became unresponsive soon after takeoff.
We called J & A, let them know the situation, and they agreed to hang out at the airport terminal until C's plane arrived. We later learned they were living it up first at the bar, then at a Seattle's Best Cafe. It was mid-afternoon by this time. We'd already reached the Denver Airport, driven through it to see if there were any place to stop and eat a real meal, and found an Applebee's a few miles away. Dead dog tired, we each ordered a hamburger, I took out my contacts, C called to say his flight was finally leaving Dallas, and we decided it would be best to take a power nap. Fortunately, my front seats recline and were wonderfully comfortable. I caught about 20 minutees of true sleep and woke up feeling GREAT! I had no business feeling great, but I did. I was still tired, but I felt great.
C finally called us to say his flight had landed, but we had a heckuva time finding them at the terminal. On our first effort we drove through the Arrivals area; they weren't there. N called them and asked if they were in the right place. They insisted they were. So, I drove to the upper deck and checked the Departures area, just in case. No dice. I had N call them again, and they insisted they were at Arrivals, so I tried once more....nope. At this point N and I figured out they must be in the Commercial Arrival/Departure area, to which we didn't have access, so we told them to go up one level, and we picked up our Arrivals at the Departures area. We were all so tired we were laughing about the whole thing. C had had a hideous travel day, I was exhauted and still needed to drive the group up to Estes Park, and everything just seemed funny.
We made our way up into the mountains to the tiny town of Estes Park, had difficulty finding the Lodge, but finally arrived, threw our luggage in our rooms, and 4 of the 5 of us set off to find something for dinner. It was after 9pm by this time, and the entire town was shut down. There was one car park on the street, and the saloon was open, so we walked in to see this guy with one nasty glassy eye sitting at the bar, drinking a beer and watching some sports game on tv. The bar owner saw our pitiful faces and recommended the only place that would still be open as a possible dinner place.
So, we were on our way to Mary's Lake Lodge. We were the only people in the extremely nice dining room, though we were each of us thorougly disheveled and travel-weary. I ordered a pear and stilton salad which was refreshing and tasty. J had the seafood bisque, which he let me try, and it was delectable. I had some kind of fish for dinner, but the thing that each of us remembers is the table water. It was delicious. Cold, clear, refreshing. It was perfect in the kind of way that only something as simple as water can be. N soon became sorry she didn't attend the dinner, as that table water was constantly referenced over the next 7 days.
And so I'll close the retelling of Day 1 with the mention of that table water and all the mystic properties it held.