miscellaneous commentary

2011 Vacation – Days 4 & 5

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Sunday morning brunch at Village Inn. The hostess asked us a trivia question: aside from salt and pepper, what are the three most used spices in America? We guessed sugar, cinnamon and garlic. She said one of those was correct, but sugar was considered a condiment, not a spice. We never found out what the three spices were. Alex drooled over the birthday cake pie, and our waitress informed us they serve free pie (!!!) on Wednesdays with any purchase. Even a cup of coffee. We know where Alex will be tomorrow!

It was going to be a hot day on Sunday so we decided to find some indoor activities. Alex first drove us to the Cherry Creek shopping district. We arrived a quarter hour before the mall opened so we walked down the street to a FedEx store so Alex could send off a package to SBCC. On our way back to the mall a jeep drove by and two ladies shouted out “Hey Alex!”. He’s been living here for three weeks and knows perhaps ten people, and two of them just happened to drive by us on a deserted street on a Sunday morning. Bizarre.

The mall was much like Jordan Creek in Des Moines but snootier. We clearly didn’t belong there. They should have charged a cover to get in, so we would have known better than to walk inside in the first place. Even the Apple Store gave off a pungent aroma of smugness (then again, when doesn’t it?). We did find a neat toy & game store to wander around in. Otherwise we just did a quick walk-around and then left.

We then headed to the east side of the City Park, site of the Museum of Nature & Science, which bills itself as the fourth largest museum in America. The exhibits are more or less what you’d find in any science/nature museum: astronomy, animal dioramas, rocks & gems, a mummy, dinosaur bones and a self-guided tour of the evolution of the world. Nothing I hadn’t seen before at other similar museums. They did have a temporary exhibit on the human body, which was neat. I had my wingspan and walking style measured and analyzed.

We considered seeing an IMAX film but couldn’t find anyone to sell us a ticket. We decided against eating at the overpriced museum restaurant, littered with noisy screaming children. Having exhausted our options at the museum, we returned to Alex’s apartment. We made some sandwiches and loafed about for an hour. Since Alex’s apartment is lacking a couch and a television, there isn’t much to do besides reading or surfing the net, the latter something I try to avoid when on vacation.

After a while we scrounged up enough energy to go out again. Headed over to Broadway near downtown and walked to the bookstore I had noted on Saturday night. The sign in the door, which I had not read the night before, said it was closed all day Sunday. Some guy walking by us on the sidewalk said there was another bookstore just down the block. We took his advise and ventured south and found it — an even bigger store, narrow but very deep, probably the depth of the entire block. One room after another of makeshift shelves with paperbacks and hardcovers from floor to ceiling. An entire aisle of white boxes stuffed with old magazines of all interests. They had a smut room but wanted a buck just to get in, so we passed.

We walked in the shade on the west side of the street. Passed by various erotic boutiques and a leather BDSM shop. Also sidestepped a dingy black t-shirt caked in day-old chunky vomit outside the entrance of a male strip club. Not quite a “family” shopping area.

There was nothing on the agenda for the rest of the day aside from *not* returning to Alex’s apartment. Drove to the mall in Aurora but it closed just as we parked the car. Hit up a couple nearby shops, then had dinner at Rosie’s Diner, an authentic 50s chrome and fluorescent place that serves delicious chocolate milkshakes (which our waitress forgot to bill me for — I made sure to tip her well).

We spent the evening at the movie theater seeing “Horrible Bosses”. It wasn’t bad, but I’m glad I only paid $6.50 for it. Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Aniston were the highlights, playing despicable, immoral assholes. I may have had more sympathy for the lead actors had they not been bumbling, incompetent fools. A rental, at best.

Monday morning I got up as Alex left for work but then got in some more sleep. Used his pokey internet connection to hunt for a few things to do, but by the time I had a few leads Alex texted me to say he needed his car over the lunch hour. So I stayed put and read my book until he returned with the keys. Didn’t leave the apartment until after 1 p.m. but that was okay with me. Part of being on vacation is being lazy and not having to busy myself every hour of every day.

In the afternoon I drove back to the city park. Found a bench in the shade on the west side of the big lake and did some reading and people watching. Denver prides itself as being the fittest state in the nation and it definitely shows. I felt fat just looking at its citizenry. After an hour of reading and watching gaggles of geese pass by the shoreline, I got back in the car, drove along Colfax and down Havana to pick up a pie for dinner.

Got back to Alex’s apartment before he did. Started making dinner: tuna & pasta shells w/ various spices and seasonings. We scarfed it down and I surprised Alex with the pie he had been eyeing on Sunday. We only ate one piece each, so Alex would be left with something to slowly, systematically devour before Free Pie Wednesday.

After dinner we headed downtown to the REI store. I felt fat again, surrounded by so many thin, tan, athletic people. They *almost* had Vigram five-fingers in Alex’s size — the pair they brought out were just a tad too tight for his liking. I resisted the temptation to exchange hundred of dollars for high-quality camping gear. Drove along a road that passed through a building on our way to the Denver Pavilion. Did some more window shopping. Tried some frozen yogurt at Pinkberry and took the trolleys up and down 16th. The ped mall has pianos placed in the brick median on every block, inviting talented players and morons alike to serenade or annoy the passing crowds.

Left the mall and drove to south central Denver to a mini golf course. Very picturesque location, with the sun setting behind the mountains to the west and the sky just turning dark. The first nine holes were well designed and a bit challenging, but the last nine were boring and pretty much like each other. As if the owners had been unable to come up with more than a dozen putting obstacles. Felt the bite of a few flies on my legs but no mosquitoes. None the entire time here.

The sky was dark and we drove back to Aurora. Passed the Breakfast King, which looked like a primo place for breakfast on my next trip. Stopped at the Alameda Liquor Mart, the end-all be-all liquor store, and picked up a six-pack mix of bottled beers. Back to the apartment to drink and watch “The Rules of Engagement”.

That brings us to today. Woke up several times before my alarm made Being Awake official at 7:30. Deflated the air mattress and folded up the sheets and tried to clean up the living room as much as I could. Scarfed down a large coffee cup’s worth of Cap’n Crunch before heading out the door. Made good time driving to the airport. Parted way at the West Terminal. Security at the Denver Airport is a somewhat larger affair than at the DSM airport, but I only waited in line for 20 minutes before moving through the large human body x-ray and a brief grope by a TSA agent.

For some reason I assumed my return flight departed at 4:30 p.m., but when I went to forward a PDF copy of my boarding pass to Alex on Monday, I was surprised to learn the flight was actually scheduled for 10 a.m.! Arriving at the airport at 8:30, I figured I’d make it through security and shuttle to the right departing gate within an hour. After taking the underground train to the B Wing, I learned my flight was delayed until 11:21 a.m. I walked and walked and walked… and walked… to the very end of the world, the final gate of the wing, and sat down, and waited. Thankfully the Denver Airport offers FREE WIFI! Most excellent.

I had also forgotten that I had booked a seat at the very back of the plane. Seats in the back row do not recline. I did not think of this when I booked the flight on Travelocity several weeks ago but I am sure I will remember this tidbit for the rest of my life. What an uncomfortable seat. At least I had “At the Mountains of Madness” and a tiny glass of complimentary Sprite to keep me company. And I did book a seat on the right side of the plane, so my window seat faced the south, with the sun coming right in the window, illuminating my book. Clear skies and very limited turbulence all the way back to DSM.

Touched down exactly at 2 p.m. Gave back the hour I gained last week crossing the time zone. Shuttled back to the economy lot and paid thirty-some bucks to exit the lot. Took 235 out of DSM and 35 and 20 back to CF. Arrived back at my place in 2 hours. Almost immediately after getting inside and opening the windows I was right back outside for an hour bike ride — the weather had greatly improved since last week and the allure of the outdoors was too tempting to spend the afternoon unpacking or cleaning.


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