Tuesday, April 01, 2008


No vacation should start the way mine did last Friday morning - sleeping in. My car was picking me up at 7:15 am and I woke up (in a panic) at 6:50 am. I was ten minutes late getting out of the apartment but felt comfortable with the fact that I still had 90 minutes until my flight. Unfortunately it took seventy-five minutes to get to the airport. That's right, I arrived at JFK no more than fifteen minutes before my flight. FIFTEEN MINUTES! I was praying for a delayed flight but my blackberry kept cheerfully telling me my flight was "on time". Lucky for me, I recently (and finally after all the flying I do) reached "medallion" status with my frequent flyer miles which meant I was entitled to use the special entrance at JFK. Also luckily, I was not planning on checking my luggage, so as soon as my car hit the curb, I ran to security and happily found only two people ahead of me piling their things onto the conveyer belt. Unfortunately, there was some sort of rookie manning the x-ray machine and she took forever to look at the three bags in front of me. I was freaking out as I heard last boarding called for my flight. When, at long last, I was released from security I ran, dragging my red roll-aboard suitcase careening behind me with my coat and laptop clutched in my arms. When I reached the gate, there wasn't anyone around and the doors were shut. "Am I too late?" I asked, as I fought back an asthma attack. "Nope, we have to shut the doors," the gate attendant said and then, after looking at my ticket she said "you're the one we've been waiting for" and she handed me a small receipt with a new seat assignment - 1A. I had been bumped to first class! It was the greatest gift.

I met Michele and her baby Eva in the airport and we set off on our adventure. As we drove off the rental car lot she asked me if I had a map. Um, no. But I had directions to Liz's house. We just had to drive west on I-70 for a couple of hours. But we were both hungry and wanted burritos so we relied on my distant and emotionally charged memories of Denver and went in search of burritos.
{Quick aside, my last real boyfriend (the one I'm not completely over) lived in Denver. We dated about 6 months which involved flying back and forth between Salt Lake and Denver. Knowing I would be facing a sea of memories before I even left the airport (the site of all our hellos and goodbyes and the last place I ever saw him), I tried emailing him before I left. He took meeting up off the table by conveniently leaving town for the weekend. It was actually comforting knowing there was no way for me to see him - he was in Arizona.}

I remembered my way around Denver much better than I expected and we ended up on the 16th Street Mall on a beautiful 60+ degree Friday afternoon. I reminded myself how much I love Denver. It is such a great city. And I was happy to discover that my fond memories weren't just tied up in nostalgia. It is a fun city even when I am not in love. Somehow as I tried to figure out how to get back to I-70 I discovered I was driving to his old house. I have no idea how I remembered where he lived or how to get there but suddenly I knew where we were going - and luckily it was also the same direction as the freeway. Michele and I decided to stop in the biggest REI ever to wander around a bit before our two hour drive. This certain ex-boyfriend and I used to walk from his house on Saturday mornings to the Starbucks in REI and read the NY Times at an umbrella table on the patio overlooking the river. Then we would wander through the mega-REI and pick out or dream about all the fun toys.

Although I was tempted, I did not indulge my nostalgia and I did not drive by his old house (I believe he now lives in Boulder). Instead, we drove through the scenic mountains outside Denver to see Liz - where I encountered even more memories and realized I have explored a lot more of Colorado than I previously thought. Michele is one of the best road trip buddies one could ask for. We listened to music, sang along and pretended to write a rap song for Liz and the two hour drive flew by. She even patiently listened to all my "hey, I've been there before!" and the odd memories that kept dropping in on me.

When we made it to Eagle, we saw the promised sights - including the Loaf 'N Jug. But the best part was our welcome committee - Anna and Michael were at the top of their street waving at us as we turned in and raced us on their bikes down the street to their house where Liz was waiting with the oh so cute Tucker - their new Golden Retriever puppy (who I fell in love with instantly!).

(a welcome sign the kids made)
It is far too late for me to describe all the good times we had - and mostly it involved eating, staying up too late, talking and falling a little more deeply in love with these two women who I am lucky enough to call my friends of 16 or so years. Here are some of the best parts:
*baked french toast deliciousness with bacon

*playing Killer Bunnies
(Liz clearly won)
(Michele lost)
(and so did I)
*Guitar Hero

*walking the trail to the park at the end of the street
*making red velvet cupcakes, yes, I make personal house call tutorials and here I am overseeing the project:

*eating lots of peanut butter m&ms
*playing with the puppy

*playing with Eva

*being entertained by Anna singing High School Musical
*Sunday night dance party in the living room
*lots of laughing and silliness

*a few tears and supportive words
*discovering facebook together
*introducing Liz's kids to Michele's specialty - bean crisps!

*did I mention the puppy?

*what about cute Eva?

Unfortunately the weekend was over before any of us was ready (okay, maybe they were ready, I don't know). Michele and I woke up at a ridiculous hour to allow plenty of time to make the drive back to Denver in the now snow-covered canyons. It was a beautiful morning:

In the twenty miles between Eagle and Vail we were stalled by three accidents.
(here we are hanging out in the parking lot highway). The roads were wet, then slushy then icy as we climbed up toward Vail Peak and stayed slushy and icy most of the drive. We made it safely to the airport and we somehow made it on time - taking a little over three hours instead of two for the drive. This morning I learned we were luckier than we thought - a few hours after we made the drive, there was a 50-60 car pile-up on I-70 causing the freeway to be shut down. I lucked out once more on my flight home and was bumped to first class again. I love it but I'm afraid to get to comfortable with these perks as I won't want to go back to coach again.


Kami said...

Looks like a fun trip! You are quite the red velvet queen I must say.

Tiffany said...

I've been waiting patiently to read about this trip! What a great time! (And what amazing french toast!)

Annie said...

Wow, looks like a lot of fun! I sure hope all that snow melts by the time we go again. And, I know about scary drives along I-70, glad you're safe!

Oh, and I need some tips on getting bumped to first class!!!

Soul-Fusion said...

Annie - first get a frequent flyer account, then spend the next ten years flying almost exclusively on that single airline (or its "partners"). Make sure you fly a dozen or more times a year with a lot of cross-country and a few international flights. That is how long it took me to reach the medallion level of frequent flyer miles which results in me now being on stand-by for first class bumps.
p.s. I thought of you and Katie while we were driving on I-70. It wasn't snowing at all when we drove it so I can only imagine how awful your drive was.

lizzie said...

really, i was not ready for the weekend to be over.

and really, could you post an uglier picture of me playing guitar hero?

thanks for coming and come again soon, please!?!

Beck said...

What a beautiful baby!
Now come make me some red velvet cupcakes - YUM.

katie said...

I wish I had a recipe for Michele's bean crisps. No one's ever made one for me, yet I frequently hear about them. The stuffed french toast.....i'll take credit for. Did she bother telling you that she got the recipe from me? Probably not. I too love Anna's singing. And your cupcakes....maybe one day someone will make me one. And Killer Bunnies? The name of the game alone makes me want to play. Glad you had a good time. Liz's house is great.
Nice picture Liz!

michele said...

it was a great trip! i'm glad we got out before the nasty pile-up. and katie, liz did tell us she got the yummy french toast recipe from you.
liz looks like such a rock star playing guitar hero!
also, i am trying to find a justifiable occasion to try making the cupcakes by myself.

Soul-Fusion said...

Liz, you are a rock star!
Michele, you know the RVC emergency hotline. Operators are standing by for any occasion.

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