Den’venture – End

Parting Shots

The gamble of staying in a hotel… At 3 in the morning, the high volume, verbal altercation of two lovers. Woman screaming at man, man yelling at woman. They are clearly having their spat right outside my ear. I’m fairly certain I hear someone telling someone that they need to leave. I am hopeful that it is a hotel staff member and then there is quiet. I am still awake an hour later when there is a knock at the door. Not our door. The door next down, and the calm voice of a man asking if he can please come back in. He asks twice before the door is finally opened, and there is quiet again.

On the fear of something going wrong, or maybe a lack of sleep, we arrived at the airport much earlier than we had planned. And while the Denver airport was unfamiliar to all of us, the sight of a line of people spanning one check-in counter, all the way to the extreme farthest check-in counter, seemed a little peculiar. We were directed past all the line of people and quickly checked ourselves in and further directed upstairs to go through security. We wiped our brows and headed up stairs, away from the line of people. As we rounded the corner and found ourselves able to look over the balcony to the security check gates our heads spun. The room was jammed! We followed the signs for security and as they took us back downstairs, we slowly began to understand that we were to join the ungodly long line. We followed it along, rounding one corner and walking from one check-in counter, all the way to the extreme farthest check-in counter, and then around that corner. We eventually reached the end, and packed in. Along the way the line was forced into 3 separate S loopies. The kind of bits in a line that make you walk back and forth 3-4 times, making eye contact with the same people 3-4 times, before allowing you to continue on.

And to be honest, getting through security wasn’t the time consuming process, it was getting to security.

Once through, we ran downstairs and hopped the tram to the C gates, our wild, yet successful guess as to our departure gate. We wiped the sweat from our brows and took a breath. First order of business, Mom needed coffee.

First coffee shop, another ungodly, PTSD inducing line. Second coffee shop, a line, but a manageable line, to reach the front to discover they don’t have her coffee. Third coffee shop, smooth sailing, until we finally sit, remove our masks, take sips of our coffees, and discover they had not made the coffee she ordered.

By this time Dad was hungry and feeling dubious of most of the restaurants we had passed for either being take-out only, or risking a line longer than we want to deal with. He managed to find a place close to coffee shop three, he got a table, and we seemed to be in business. This is, of course, before coffee shop three has bungled Mom’s coffee order. While Dad waited for us, Mom noticed the restaurant swivel the board out front and realized that as it had just struck 10:30, the restaurant had officially stopped serving breakfast.

We ate there anyway.

(Side bungle): While running around, I happened to notice the airport’s version of Denver’s famous bookstore the Tattered Cover Bookstore. The day before we had passed the original location and had missed going in and perusing by some 5 minutes. I found this to be my chance. Thinking better of buying a book and having to haul it all the way home, I asked if I could have a bookmark. Some proof and memorabilia that I had been. The cashiers were happy to give me one. I thanked them and ran out to catch up with Mom and Dad. When I pulled it out to show Mom, I looked it over twice before fully coming to the realization that it was complete advertisement and that nowhere on either side of the bookmark did it even say the name of the bookstore..

The plane ride was a short eternity. In front of us sat three, clearly drunk girls who yelled jovial stories and cackled with laughter. Mom yelled, “SHHHH!!” I yelled, “can you be a little more quiet please!” All to no avail. They were literally too loud to hear me yelling at them right between the seats. Dad said, “don’t you have your headphones?” …not the point, Dad…

As we began our descent, as expected, all the ticking time bomb kiddies began to yowl. Particularly some couple seats behind us. And I do feel bad, I can actually remember when I was that kid and how much the pressure hurt my ears. This poor man, who boarded the plane with a double wide stroller of two tots, and no partner. One child yowled and yowled and continually cried, “I want my mommy!”

Seattle was cold, wet, familiar. It took a little, but we eventually got our bags back. A smidge longer than 20 minutes and I made Mom go and demand our free miles for exceeding their 20 minute promise. She asked politely, and we got our vouchers. We bustled to the shuttle pick-up/drop-off zone and set about hailing the shuttle to get to our car.

4 tries and 3 different phones to confirm that the number Dad had was not working. 2 phones attempting to call the hotel that employs the shuttle, and currently housed our car. 1 answered phone at the hotel to tell us that their shuttle wasn’t running until 4. 1 check of the watch to let us know that it was 3. We would not be getting shuttle service to our car.

We bustled over to the taxi pick-up/drop-off zone. Eye contact and a nod, and a taxi driver began loading our bags into his trunk. As he closed the trunk he asked where we were headed. Dad told him. He gave Dad a slightly exasperated look and asked why we weren’t just getting the free shuttle.

When we finally got to our car it was pouring down with rain. We began off, and in typical Dad fashion, he turned. Of course, once committed, it is realized that it is the wrong way. Google assisted in getting us back on track, and we finally really were on our way.

And really, for as shit as it all was, for waking up and heading out at 8:30, and not getting home until 6:00, it could always have been worse. I routinely try to remind myself that I really could have something to complain about. And Dad falls back into the familiarity of driving his own car. He and Mom begin speaking softly in the front seats. And I stare out over the city. A city I understand without having to squint or try to focus. Its just there. It makes sense. I am back down on the ground, I can breathe, this is rain, but up there, straight ahead, blue skies and home.

And, of course, doughnuts while we wait for the ferry.

Graduation Trip – done

If I ever had any doubts of my feelings towards babies, airplane rides confirm to me why I don’t like them…

The plane was small to begin with, the aisle barely large enough to walk down without turning sideways. Wailing baby infront of us, wailing baby somewhere behind us, and the stereo typical movie brat directly behind me kicking my seat.

I am exhausted. I have barely slept all weekend and the 2 hour plane ride was mean’t to be a chance for some sleep. But that didn’t seem would be the case with junior soccer star behind me.

And if I thought trying to fall asleep with the five nursing babies and toddler from hell was bad, I was not expecting the 20 minutes of violent, stomach dropping, head thrashing turbulence. Later spoken of as “the worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced,” by other passengers.

And it was bad. The last time I’d experienced turbulence like that, I was barely just a teenager. It was a band trip to another small city in Southeast Alaska, though I can’t recall exactly which. I remember the plane dropping violently, my stomach leaping into my throat, and grabbing onto my best friend. He laughed at me, always the rational one. But I was the one with the wild imagination. Years later, I would follow him to college. He stuck with band, I would simply flounder. Like a fish out of water. An Alaskan, finding herself in Idaho…

I feel the plane turning figure eights as the pilot tries to navigate the turbulence. Ironically, the brat behind me is silent. But each time I close my eyes, the plane jerks sideways knocking my head about, and I see William Shatner’s monkey on the wing. I see the cast of Lost, just trying to survive. I see snow capped mountains, with nothing around for miles…

We land safely, obviously.

I am awash with more relief than I realize. Not just to be back on solid ground, but because in a matter of hours, I’ll be back in my bed. I’ll be in my pajamas, surrounded by my pets, and no agenda. Just back home.

We stand at baggage claim, joking about their promise to provide discounts on your next flight if your bag arrives 20 minutes late. We watch our watches. 18… 19… 20… and then the conveyor belt stops… There is a moment of confusion, where are our bags?

…We received the discount on our next flight, and the promise that when our bags returned from their wayward trip to Portland, they would be delivered back to us at home… Pajamas and all…

It rained the whole 2 hour drive home. But some 10 hours after waking up that morning, we made it home. And some 108 hours after starting the most arduous graduation weekend, it ended…

Small consolation: Unpacking was easy…

Graduation Trip – day 1

-The God’s Eye View-

The airport is busy. Lines spilling out of the bathrooms busy. But we still manage to find a table, and drink some coffee. A woman is playing guitar and singing. Songs I know. I can’t recall their titles, but I know the tune of them. She puts her own deep, somber twist to them. I put some money in her can. She smiles at me while she sings, and I smile back.

We make our way to our gate. We take the underground subway to another building. It is far less crowded and we settle into the short wait. We hear some more singing. A sort of humming, opera moaning. A man with an epic mustache and a twinkle in his eyes is walking around the seats at the gate, singing while he also waits to board. “He better not be doing that all thru the flight…” I mutter to my father as the man does a fly by of us.

The plane is hot, and small, and I immediately take note of all the kids. Toddlers and babies. Baby in front of us. Baby behind and to the right of us. Toddlers across from us.. Its like my worst nightmare. Surrounded by kids in a small confined space.. We can’t take off soon enough.

The plane finally starts moving. Slowly. Out my window I see plane after plane take off. I realize we are in a circus parade of planes, waiting in line to take off. I watch maybe 10 planes in front of us shoot off before we finally turn the corner for our turn. As we do, I see some 10 more planes in line behind us, all different sizes and colours. The grass ripples as the last plane before us rumbles skyward. And then we do the same.

And the rumble of the engine isnt enough to drown out the wailing babies and screaming toddlers and somewhere… somewhere, a yowling dog…

I lose myself out the window. …around the wing, cuz we have a perfect view of the wing in all its glory. And I can almost imagine the creepy faced monkey in one of the William Shatner episodes of the Twilight Zone. But there is no monkey on this plane, to wreak havok and tear apart the wing.

We shoot towards the clouds, resting on top of the atmosphere, like île flottante, floating islands. They are whipped and wispy, like cotton candy for the Gods.

And then, once above them, we even out. The crying and wailing subsides, and it is here, 35,000 feet in the air, defying the laws of nature, that we see our world from a God’s eye view..