My Trip to Denver: Day Three

This was a two part day: tours of the capitol and the trip home. It began with a breakfast meeting about all those school related bills, including one from the Agriculture Committee about eliminating transfats from school cafeterias. For reference, most fast food places have gone to a 0 transfat standard. Interestingly, the breakfast fare was the highest cholesterol and saturated fat stuff of the meet: scrambled eggs, sausage, and bacon!! I am sure the cupcakes and such were harboring transfats!

Everyone was warned about grumpy politicians since most of the legislature had been up until the wee hours on committee hearings. The current status of bills were reviewed with a few updates from the late night. Also the rules of visiting the legislature were reviewed with emphasis on floor lobbying which will get you evicted! It is OK to give your opinion if asked, though.

I opted out of touring knowing I would not be able to finish. Our Superintendent, John, and Donna went. Our legislator was out of his office so they had some fun posing at his desk!

While they were clowning around, a woman came into the office and thought they were part of Mr. Massey’s staff! Then she suggested they both get in the picture.

I can’t figure out the black square thing at the front of the desk; to me it looks like an aircraft attitude indicator.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch motel, I showered, packed, and sat in the lobby reading my Kindle and watching the human carnival passing through! I did get some great pictures out my 11th floor window before I settled in.

You can see the infamous “brown cloud” between the tall buildings in the distance. The warehouse looking building in the pictures is a parking garage for both the Brown Palace and the Comfort Inn, both of which are owned by the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. It is accessed through the alley behind the Comfort Inn.

The tall brown building on the left is the CenturyLink building. That is, and has been, our phone company for years. This was a small company that took over a huge one when Qwest went broke.

That is the Brown Palace on the right in these two pictures. There is a skywalk connecting the two buildings.

This is one of the many ambulances to passed by on their way to St. Joseph Hospital a few blocks away.

The rest of this is more of a reminisce as a major chapter of my life closed.

We got under way about 11 for the trip home. Well, three of us; the Super headed for Mom’s house. Our trip began by sitting for an hour on the Interstate! And I began to feel depressed as a part of my life ended. I realized I would likely never be in Denver again. I mused and commented (like an old codger) about the many changes I has seen in my visits to Denver over the years. I have lived in Colorado since 1968, mostly in Colorado Springs.

To “help” me reminisce, our driver joined in. I eased into a mild depression as part my history seemed to roll up behind us. Particularly poignant was our passage through The Springs where I lived for decades. My boys still live there so I am sure I will visit sometimes. But it has grown beyond my comfort zone so is no longer “my town”. At least I can get around there whereas in Denver, I was perpetually lost.

I got quieter, partly from fatigue, as we drove down CO115 past Fort Carson which was how I came to be in Colorado. When we reached Penrose, we got on US50 westbound. This was now my world: Cañon City, Cotopaxi, and Salida. It is interesting that, as my life ends, so do my horizons shrink. My wanderings used to take me deep into Texas; now a “long trip” is to Pueblo or Salida. And those primarily for medical care.

I have found the last two posts here about my Trip to Denver have been difficult to write. It would have been so easy to skip this time but it would not have been honest. This is as much a memoir as a blog. Some of the struggles at this time in my life are difficult.

So thank you, my readers for joining me on this turning point in my life. It isn’t ending as much as changing in ways I foresaw but don’t like.

My Trip to Denver: Day One

There were four of us (three BoE members and the school Super) going to a Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) Winter Legislative Conference. This is a one day thing primarily about legislation affecting schools.

But the logistics were more complex than I expected. Our Superintendent, at the last minute, decided to not drive the school sedan. He wanted to drive his own SUV so he could go hang with his brother and also stay over a day or so. So I called the other Board members going and recruited one of them to drive.

So we eventually all met at the school for the journey to Denver. Little did I know this trip would be a life changing event for me.

The trip up took much longer than we planned due to traffic as we arrived in The Big City during rush hour. As we neared our destination at the Downtown Comfort Inn, our Super took the lead and we seemed to circle around for a while before pulling into the valet parking at the hotel.

We checked in and went to our rooms with plans to meet in the lobby in a half hour. It didn’t work out for me!

My room was a mess!

The tan bag on the bed is mine.

At first I thought the hotel had left a meal in lieu of a fruit basket but quickly realized the beer bottles in the ice bucket were empty! How rude!

There was crap everywhere yet the bed looked unused. I texted the Super that I would be changing rooms since this one was used. His reaction was, “I hope there isn’t a dead hooker in the bathroom!”. There wasn’t. 😉

I called the “Operator” who called the front desk to move me. This is the first Choice Hotel, my usual chain of choice, I have been in where the “Operator” on the phone is NOT the front desk! Soon a succession of staff came by; the first hardly spoke English and apparently was to verify I wasn’t pranking the hotel! The one who actually helped me move wore full livery with lots of braid. I told him if the beer bottles had been full, I would have stayed! My first room was on the 8th floor; my new one was on the 11th.

He did as I told him: toss my stuff (four small bags) on the bed then handed me my new room cards. I unpacked a few things then went down to join the group to go to dinner.

We walked the two blocks to the 16th Street Mall. Out-of-towners like us get confused expecting an enclosed shopping center but this is literally a “mall”: a place where you walk. It is over a mile long and the only vehicles allowed on it are cops and electric buses. The buses are very unique since RTD decided to build the things themselves to their specifications when no one would even bid on the project!

It turns out, the Super wanted to go to the brewpub on The Mall and we all hopped a bus for a several block ride (It is free.). It was called the Rock Bottom Brewery but was much better than the name implies! And the place was packed on a Wednesday night! Weekends most have a waiting line. This is actually a chain of brewpubs all over the US. I had LOBSTER & SHRIMP TACOS (Two housemade tacos with Pepper Jack cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, and citrus sauce in a crisp blue corn tortilla, wrapped with a soft flour tortilla. Served with black beans and Red Ale rice.) and a glass of KÖLSCH.

By the time our meal and conversation was over, I was done in. We went to the bus stop across the street; I leaned against the map sign while they stood nearby and chatted. A young man came over and asked if he could “pray for me”. I declined so he asked again! After he left, the Super asked if I still had my wallet! (I did.)

At this point I realized I had become part of the 16th Street Scene! That was reinforced when I got on the bus and a young lady began to tease me about having a “big evening”. I just told her I was tired; she laughed. I must have looked like I had overindulged! Wow! One beer and I was over my limit. Even the bus driver nagged me to get out from in front of the doors! I moved across the aisle, alarming a guy hanging from the next strap. He checked his wallet and moved over a bit! We got to our stop and I am sure some people were watching to see if I would go face down on the sidewalk. I didn’t.

Turns out we had gone a block too far so had to walk a block back to our street! Needless to say, when I got in my room (and I actually remembered which was mine!), I quickly got ready for bed and went right to sleep.

I had gained a new persona as a 16th Street Mall street person! That wasn’t even on my bucket list!