Like many people these days, it has been a long time since I’ve been anywhere other than La Farm in Minnesota’s Otter Tail County. So when a friend said she was selling her house in Denver where she’d lived for 30 years after her husband died this spring, and she was moving back to Whidbey Island near Seattle, I thought I’d fly to Denver and drive with her. That would be fun.
I was excited to fly again, since the last time I had flown was October 2017, when I visited my daughter in Barcelona.
So after going through the Delta communication system and waiting for six hours and 44 minutes for a call back, I booked my one way to DEN and one way from SEA back to MSP and no, I didn’t have enough Skymiles.
Off I flew a week ago today expecting to return Tuesday. The best laid plans, as they say. … I arrived in DEN without incident, flying first class, although I didn’t notice anything “special” for the higher price I paid over “comfort” and “coach” other than a wider seat. But heck, I’ve lost 34 pound since January, so I didn’t even need that. I just felt like treating myself.
I maneuvered through Denver International Airport and learned the hard way that it is the largest airport in the U.S., spanning over 52 square miles. Well, at least I got my exercise in for the day!
The next step was to purchase a light rail ticket to Union Station, where I was to transfer to Arvada Station. I found it interesting, no frustrating, that there were little to know instructions on how to use the machine. I made a mental note to write to the Denver Transportation Authority. I read I could buy a senior discount ticket, but there was nowhere to show my proof of age. Eventually, I pushed a few buttons and out came a ticket. Luckily, it was good for a few hours and yes, I did get the senior discount I discovered later.
On the light rail, however, I had no idea where it was headed. There were no signs, nor maps anywhere. I’ve never ridden a light rail where they didn’t have all the stops and endpoints inside each carriage. I just hoped that I’d end up in Union Station, so I could transfer to Arvada Station. After two or three stops, I noticed the screen with the name of the next stop, but not the end destination.
In the meantime, my friend, Lori, started sending me a series of frantic texts saying, “There’s a huge police activity huge huge like 10 cop cars etc. right where I’m supposed to be going to pick you up I will get as close as I can and I had to hold still here comes more cops.”
Then several more rapid fire texts, “We’re actually being forced to just sit still the police are all over the place.”
“Gun fire I am sitting still you should get inside you’re not very far from this get inside.”
(stet) “LGod Barbara I’m so sorry but I can’t get to you need to get inside if you can.
(stet)“Let’s totally like the wild wild West here.”
“I think I see your train coming in now I’m three blocks away and I cannot move.
“Are you somewhere safe?”
“(Expletive) there’s an active shooter very close to where you are Barbara please stay inside.”
At which point I realized she did not mean the active shooter was at Union but at the very stop where I was supposed to go: Arvada Station, close to where we would be staying.
At this point, there was no way I was going to where there was an active shooter, so I went to Westminster Station.
“Oh good you’re a good place.”
“The shooter is here near Laurel’s house the policeman just escorted me to her house call me when you get to the light rail station in Arvada. Or before if you want to.”
In the meantime, I had asked multiple friendly people where the next stations were and where I needed to disembark as I mentioned. There were no maps nor signs anywhere! Unfortunately, friendly though they were, I was given incorrect directions multiple time and ended up tracking at least enough steps to last the next few days. … all the while pulling my luggage and backpack.
At one point, I was sitting alone in Peco Station, which for those who don’t know is out in the middle of nowhere, somewhere near Denver with no people nor accommodations within sight.
Remember, I’m 75. Gez, I’ll be 76 next week. And I have two relatively new knees. Had I forgotten all the fun of traveling?!
I finally connected with Lori and all was well.
The next day, we drove to the house she was selling. I knew she was anxious to leave, but I took one look at everything she had left to do/pack/give away/sell/discard and knew we would not be leaving as planned the next day nor the next few days.
I ended up having another six hour and whatever minutes wait to change my flight from SEA to DEV > MSP and spent the week helping her pack up her house. Luckily, she sold it a couple of days later. She had many friends who came over so we made good teamwork getting things done.
Tuesday evening I was invited to drive to Boulder and have dinner with another group of friends. It was an opportunity to see a bit more of Colorado, so I jumped at the chance. We had a short walk to see the Flatirons and eat a delicious meal at the old Chautauqua Dining Hall nearby.
One evening, a couple of days later, a group of friends walked the two blocks to the former active shooter site in the middle of Olde Town Arvada, where there was a memorial tent with flowers and mementos accumulating. I did not take a photo although it was a charming part of town.
Wednesday evening, I chose to go to the new movie “In the Heights” at the local Harkins Theater. It was fantastic, although I admit it was really weird being the only person in the entire theater. The popcorn was great.
Sunday, Lori declared we were taking the day off and she would drive us to Estes Park in the mountains past Boulder before I was to catch my 6 p.m. flight with a comfort window seat back to MSP.
While strolling along the walkway in Estes Park by the Falls River, I saw a shop and thought, I’m going to get that tattoo I keep thinking about. We had a coffee and breakfast sandwich while watching the fast-flowing river, the many birds and the increasing number of tourists walking by.
After a good two-hour walk around Estes Park going in and out of shops as the mood struck us, we headed back to Denver going down the mountain a different way to the airport.
I was thankful I did not experience altitude sickness, which I had the last time I was in the mountains over 10 years ago. Altitude of Estes Park is over 7,500 feet.
Oh, and as for the tatoo, he was fully booked, so that didn’t happen. Perhaps on another adventurous trip?
Even though it wasn’t quite the trip I had planned, I was happy I could help my friend. That what life’s about.