The Green Door #11

July 1998

While it takes the efforts of many to run the bar, there are many tasks which are mine alone. So the effort to go away for a number of days is daunting. Back in late April, early May I finally took my first vacation that lasted longer than two days. Here are some snippets of my trip to Colorado. I hope you find change in format and content entertaining. If not, don't worry, I seldom travel.


Several Months Prior to Leaving - I did some checking and flights to Denver are rather expensive. The cheapest was about $475 and requires me to fly out of Newark and into Colorado Springs. I remember reading about in Wired. America West accepted my $300 bid for a roundtrip from Philadelphia to Denver. It's possible I could have bid lower, but I was happy with the savings and the airports. The 3 to 4 hour layovers in Pheonix both ways were definitely a trade off, but I might have had them anyway.


Thu AM at the Crack of Dawn - I decide to spare my family and friends the chore of dropping me off and picking me up and get a limo service to take me down to the airport. The $35 seems like a good investment. The van picks me up exactly on time.


Thu AM - Philadelphia International Airport - I'm standing in a short line at 7am to check in. The airport is strangely calm at this time of the morning. There are two people working the counter. An annoying middle aged couple gets in line behind me. After the short line starts moving, they decide to give it a try. They are sent back to my line. They come back and ask the guy in front of me if they were behind him. He doesn't know. I tell them no, they were behind me. The annoying couple actually tried to jones a couple of places ahead in the line. I dislike them even more than I did a few seconds earlier. Maybe in hindsight I should have told them they had to go the end of the line since they got out of it. After listening to them whine for a couple of minutes, I am tempted to tell them to make sure their tickets to Atlanta are one-way. I don't know how they can stand themselves, let alone each other.


Thu Morning - In the Sky between Philadelphia and Pheonix. - I have often heard how bad airline food is, but on previous flights I found it acceptable. It's been 8 years since I last flew and things have changed. Rather than serving a hot meal, America West gives out a bag labeled "Breakfast Sack". If I remember they have that oh-so-clever phrase registered. In the bag is a packaged Banana Muffin in which the first ingredient listed is sugar, yogurt, raisins, and a cocktail napkin that says "America West - voted best for short haul flights". Just what you want to see when you are a four hour flight. Luckily I thought to bring a Dove Dark Chocolate bar with me. Dark chocolate GOOD. Arriving early, I was able to choose a window seat. The flight is crowded due to a cancelled flight the night before. Next to me is a 50s-ish woman and a next to her is a 70s-ish woman. I offer them some chocolate. Despite a complete lack of shared interests, we three have some pleasant chitchat. I learn what a swamp cooler is.


Thu PM - Pheonix Airport - I have a four hour layover here. I am prepared and have brought a few items to occupy me, but it is the same stuff I was occupying myself with on the plane, I am hoping for a diversion. Every crappy mall in the country has an arcade. If only every crappy airport did.


Thu PM - Denver International Airport - I am well aware of DIA's rep and am looking forward to experiencing it for myself. It is very big and very empty. Except for the artwork, which is amazingly huge, it strikes me as just another airport. Doug is waiting for me. He is having a conversation with woman who works for the same company as him. I remark on the odds of running into someone you know, and he says that he just met her. The drive from the car to the front gate of airport takes about 15 minutes. Denver seems very flat. Mountains can be seen in the distance. We will travel three hours north to Estes Park, where Doug has rented a cabin near Rocky Mountain National Park for $20 a night. The cabin was comfortable.


Fri AM - Rocky Mountain National Park - We are wearing shorts since the weather in Estes is in the 50s and supposedly going up to the 70s. We drive through Rocky Mountain National Park to a lake. It is frozen over. We are walking around on snow that is several feet high (and falling through with bare ankles).


Fri PM - The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park CO - Estes Park is directly outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is still two weeks before the season starts and Estes Park is rather dull. The Stanley Hotel was the setting for Stephen King's The Shining. The place is rather run down. People are wandering around with giant, ugly dogs. There is a low-key dog show happening on the front lawn. A dog the size of a child's desk is refusing to go up the steps into the hotel. It is often said that animals can sense supernatural forces that most people are unaware of until it is too late. Ignoring the dog's refusal to enter The Shining Hotel, we climb the steps.


Fri PM - Roosevelt National Forrest -We are traveling to Fort Collins in search of the New Belgium Brewery. The road, Big Thompson Highway (or Road I don't remember), takes us through Roosevelt National Forrest. It looks a lot like Pennsylvania until the road sticks to the Colorado River as it winds through some low, narrow canyons. Brilliant. This vision stuck with me when I found myself in a windowless cube a week later.


Saturday AM - Boulder CO - I am on a mission. Remembering the importance of dark chocolate on an America West flight, I stop in every drug store and convenience store I can find. Zitch. A Walmart type store and a Safeway both failed to yield any dark chocolate. What the hell is the matter with this state? Except for the lack of dark chocolate, I love Boulder; it's a cool city. Stephen King must too; he made it the headquarters of the Free Zone in The Stand.


Sat PM - Rocky Mountain National Park - Doug's cousin Dave and his girlfriend come up to Estes Park for the day. They are very nice people. We decide to go for a hike. Dave knows the trails and the back way (free) into the park. When you enter Rocky Mountain National Park, there is a sign listing all the things aren't allowed and all the things you can't do. My favorite line was "Do not tease, molest or feed the wildlife". Molest is second. Dave and his girlfriend are avid campers. I ask Dave what the appeal of hiking deep into the park and camping out was. He says that it was very quiet at night and that you can see all sorts of stars, even satellites. Satellites are the red ones that move.


Sunday AM - Estes Park - I continue my mission. One of the little markets has some bagged peanut clusters made of what appears to be dark chocolate. It will have to do.


Sunday PM - Estes Park - Estes Park has a lot of shops and people drive from Denver and Boulder and elsewhere to spend the day there. I learn something new about Doug who I've known for about 12 years even though we've only lived in the same place at the same time for about a total of 5 months. Doug can start a conversation with anyone and learn all sorts of stuff about them. The Jewish gift store in Estes is owned a Christian couple who opened it because they wanted to do what they could to fight anti-Semitism amongst fellow Christians by educating them via giftware. I find this amusing and not in the cynical way I usually find stuff like that amusing. Seriously.


Monday AM - Estes Park - We have to wake up at 3am to get me to Denver International by 5:50 for my 6:50 flight. Estes Park is rather well lit, but looking closely you could see many stars. Upon looking closer I even see a few satellites. Pretty cool. Being a mile closer to them helps. I learn later that the lowest point in Colorado is higher than the highest point in Pennsylvania (which has mountain range or two in it).


Monday PM - Philadelphia International Airport - It takes a while for my bags to show up. I call the limo company from a courtesy phone. The van has been waiting for me outside. Inside the van a suburban couple is complaining that they had been waiting for the van for a hour before it picked them up and they would get home too late to get their animals. The animals would have to spend another night at the kennel and they would have to pay for another night. We go to another terminal to pick up another passenger. The suburban couple asking where everyone is from. They complain that they will be the last to be dropped off. I tell them that since they have the longest trip, they are getting more for their money than the rest of us. They don't see it that way.


Philadelphia is hot. I came back in the middle of an early spring heat wave. Riding up 95, Philadelphia is looking beautiful (as usual) as we drive along the magnificent Delaware River which sparkles in late afternoon sun. Center City is shining like Oz and the Ben Franklin Bridge is still the perfect shade of blue. We drop the first couple off in Bridesburg. Children are playing and folks are talking on stoops and front porches. Looking out the window is like a television commercial for Philadelphia. Five minutes later, I am home. After dropping off my bags and checking my phone messages, I drop down to the bar. The guys did a good job looking after the place. No disasters, just a lot of catch-up work awaits me. It's good to be home.

The Green Door is a mostly monthly zine published by Scoats. E-mail: (c) Scoats 1998. All rights reserved. Most wrongs unintentional. Reproduction permitted as long as it accompanied by this entire paragraph. If you do reprint something, please let me know.

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