Friday, June 01, 2007

Denver 07

Denver Trip Quarterback

Three weeks ago I decided, quite spontaneously, to go to Denver to visit Josh, who I had seen for more than 3 hours since HIS WEDDING.

Here are the very few pictures:

After deciding to pay an extra $150 more than I could have to get to Denver, in order to A) go at the times I wanted and B) go from the airport I wanted and C) fly directly, I arrived at the airport at 12:45pm for my 2pm flight to Denver. By 4pm, I was on my flight to Chicago, after being involuntarily bumped due to a 15 PERSON OVERBOOKING. United is the airline, if you were curious. They offered me 1st class on a 6am flight the following day (and a free round trip ticket in the lower 48), but I told them I’d rather get to Denver tonight, so they flew me through Chicago (and still gave me the free ticket).

My flight to Chicago was first class, which was nice, but nothing like other first class flights. The food was a choice between a Turkey sandwich, a tuna something (not tuna fish) and a chicken salad. When I was asked to order, they had no turkey left (this was an 8 person first class and they didn’t have enough food), so I ordered the chicken salad, picked some of the green stuff, ate the chicken and slept for the rest of the flight.

In Chicago, I talked to Makeyou, BK, and Nick, my Chicago friends about A) possibly taking a trip to the airport to hang w/me for 4 hours and B) where I should eat dinner in the airport. I wondered around for about an hour, contemplating a massage, a diabetes test, and playing in the kids zone, before deciding on Chili’s for dinner and deciding “I’m not eating alone” After 6 hours of no conversation besides asking airport information personnel where their favorite place in the whole airport was to eat, I was anxious.

When the waiter took me to my table, I passed by 2 other single travelers who had just been seated at small tables next to each other. I walked up to my table, grabbed my menu and approached these 2 people. “Any interest letting me join you and making this a bit more friendly of a meal?” Both people happily agreed and we spent the next hour chatting about our resumes (where we were from, going, what we did etc) and then we 1 by 1 left, as our planes started boarding and our frozen margaritas were finished. I’m quite happy I took the initiative and did this, one of the highlights of my trip. By 10:20pm central I was on my way to Denver and by 11:45pm mountain time, I’d landed.

To summarize: I paid extra to get to Denver on the flight I wanted, got bumped off that flight, arrived 8 hours later and another $30 lighter and got a free ticket to do it all over again before next year. Additionally, I missed out on seeing Josh’s wife (who left early in the morning for a wedding, and my friend Jamie, who also left town Sat morning. At least my luggage made my original flight and was waiting for me when I got to Denver. I love United.

Josh and I got up around 10 and headed to his bosses house for some tailgating lacrosse style. That means bloody mary’s (eeewwww) and beer and bbq at 10am during the semifinals of the NCAA lacrosse tournament. Josh’s boss is the greatest living lacrosse player and a really nice guy as well, so we drank and joked and played some 3 on 3 against Josh’s boss’s 10 year old kid and friends. We also mooched some luxury box tickets for that evenings Colorado Rapids MLS game. Headed home, played poker, made calzones that Natalia had prepared for us, and went to the game.

The game was boring, typical American soccer. The hero of the game missed 3 point blank headers before he actually scored the games only goal. If he had not made that 1, he would have been the games goat. Additionally, he killed any offence from the visiting LA team by faking enough of an injury to get one of LA’s players a red card. Great game. The whole time I’m watching Landon Donavon jog in place pretending to care about the game w/o really putting any effort into it. I’d say he was better at 16 than he is right now.

After the game, we headed back to Josh’s to change, grab a drink, grab a cab and head out downtown. We met up w/my friend Sarah, who I met about 2 years ago on a trip out there. Its nuts how you can become good friends w/someone from another city just b/c you visit that city all the time. We went to the Front Porch which was dominated by highly attractive women when we got there and ugly men by the time we left. Josh grabbed my phone, called someone, and told her that she doesn’t really exist until he’s met her. We hit LIT’s pretty hard and ended up playing poker back at home at 3am, raising the blinds every 4 hands (I do not recommend doing this).

Sunday, was our active day. We drove to the foothills of the mountains to a place called red rocks, which is an amphitheater built into the side of the mountain. Josh has seen numerous concerts there, and just walking the stairs of the venue was tiring. We looked up the mountain from the top of the seats, and decided to keep climbing. My legs weren’t tired but I was extremely out of breath after every 50 foot climb. We likely climbed around 1,000 feet from the bottom of the amphitheater to the top of our climb, and you could see about 80 miles. Def nice day outside.

From there, we headed into the mountains (via car), stopping to put our feet in freezing ice melt class 5 rapids, on the way to Black Hawk / Central City, which is an old mining town turned into a gambling venue / locals market. Twas very interesting considering we felt like we were the youngest guys there by 20 years. Josh won $50 playing $5 min / $5 max blackjack. There was a new feature I’d never seen before, called “streaks” where you bet how many hands you think you can win, and it actually pays out pretty well. I guess this is one way to combat people keeping a “count.” You can’t bet more than $5, but if you win 4 in a row, it pays 18 to 1.

Anyway, from there we headed home, played more poker, went out to dinner w/one of Josh’s former co workers, discussed how hard he works compared to how much he gets paid and how I’m a bad worker because I take some free time at work, had another drink or three and called it a weekend. It went pretty quick, but I’m pretty glad I went considering I only see the kid once a year.

Flight back was peaceful, though I had to sit through “Catch and Release” which is a pretty terrible Jen Garner movie where her fiance dies and 3 weeks later she's hooking up w/his friends.

Stat of the Week:

I purchased 11 drinks including $3 LIT’s at the Front Porch and my tab, after tip, was only $52. In NYC, especially at a trendy restaurant, that would have cost me well over $100.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me:

While I was out of breath at around 6,000 feet up, Brazil announced this week, that its soccer team will no longer play games in Bolivia because its stadium is at an elevation of over 11,000 feet and is a huge advantage to the Bolivian team that is used to those conditions. Brazil proposed to FIFA that a maximum of 8,200 feet be used, though I still can’t imagine playing at that altitude. In Peru, there is a soccer stadium at an elevation of over 13,000 feet.

Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week:

As I checked into my flight, I was given the option of upgrading my seat to a better seat for $44. I figured that I was going to get on the flight, and that an upgrade to an exit row (likely one that didn’t recline), was not worth $44. Had I taken the upgrade, I would likely have made my initial flight. If only when checking in had the computer said, you are 2nd to last on our list and will likely get bumped, buy the upgrade.

Quote of the Week I:

“Do you kill yourself for your job?”
“Yes”
“Then wouldn’t you say that you’ve raised yourself to be killed?”
- Ben arguing with Josh about the merits of working hard, and how it contradicts Josh’s vegetarian belief system.

Quote of the Week II:

“I’m either going to get our waitresses phone number, or I’m going to get spit in my food.”
- At the restaurant after friendly conversation w/the waitress

Ten Things I Think I Think
1) I think soccer in the US stinks. The whole game is played at midfield, the best players don’t touch the ball, the play is uninspired, and the players are cry babies. However, I think the new made-for-soccer stadium in Denver is pretty cool.
2) I think progress is very slow in my current book “The Progress Paradox.” I think I may skip to the end.
3) I think its fun making friends in other areas of the world and staying in contact, especially if you do get to see them every once in a while. I think it can be much more exciting than making new normal friends…for some reason.
4) I think Josh’s scale said I was over 200 lbs. I’ll confirm that at the doctor next week, but if that is the case, I’m joining a gym again.
5) I think I’m not allowed to go to a strip club until I receive the strip club rules. I think I’ll have them before Montreal.
6) I think Denver in the summer or late spring is sooo much better than it is in the late fall / winter. It’s easier to get around and I even like the mountains more w/o snow than w/snow.
7) That being said, I think I need to out there this winter and try snowboarding again. Its been almost 10 years since I first tried it, maybe I’ve adjusted to my awkward body boy now.
8) I think I’m having a ton of trouble thinking of new things to say
9)

10) I think these are my non Denver thoughts of the week:
A) My job is stressing me out.
B) I found out this week that Montreal is a week after I previously thought it was, so disappointed.
C) I have no free time.
D) I’m going to the doctor for a checkup for the first time since high school next week. E) This lady on the train today with a Caribbean accent was screaming about being saved and how Jesus died for us. She yelled for about 2 minutes spraying bible quotes before stating “Jesus died for you. Who else would die for you. Your mother wouldn’t die for you. Your father won’t die for you. Your husband or wife won’t die for you.” That said, I just had to cut her off. “What kind of family did you grow up in? My mother and father would definitely die for me, and when I have kids, I would definitely die for them. If I get married, I would definitely die for my wife. Are you married? You wouldn’t die for your husband? You wouldn’t die for your kids? What kind of person are you? Jesus would be very disappointed, thank the lord he died for your sins or you’d never get to heaven.” I was energized for the day ahead.

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