Friday, July 29, 2011

An Inauspicious Beginning... Which Ends Well

Dakotas Day 1 - Friday July 29, 2011

The big day is here and I can't wait to get going. Since three of us live in the suburbs and one does not, the plan is that Dave and Leo will leave their cars at my house and I will drive to the airport, leaving my car at one of the offsite lots for the eight days we will be gone. Ted will meet us at the airport. Everyone is anxious to be on our way, so we decide to leave my house at 3pm-ish for a 6:40pm flight. We know we will be there very early, but can meet up and have a drink or two while discussing shopping plans for the next day. Our main provisioning stop of the trip will be at a Walmart Supercenter first thing tomorrow.

4:00pm - We get to the airport, check our bags, and meet Ted at Chickie's and Pete's for a couple drinks and some dinner (just crab fries for me). Spirits are high and it is immediately comfortable to be in the company of such old friends. Our 6:40pm flight is initially delayed until 7:15, but then is adjusted forward to 6:50. I am a bit of a worrier, and this is Southwest's last flight of the day to Denver, so if something goes wrong with this flight there is no later flight to be bumped to, which would mean a Saturday morning departure instead. But as Dave says, it's vacation time, we aren't working, and there is no need to worry about these things. Yet.

6:50pm - We board the flight on time and pull back from the gate only ten minutes behind schedule. Things are looking good. Then we taxi out and park on the runway for almost 2 hours without moving more than a few hundred yards every now and then. Apparently there are storms in our takeoff path, and we don't have another approved way out of Philadelphia, so we sit and wait. While we wait we learn that the Eagles have shockingly signed Nnamdi Asomugha, a star cornerback, and that the Phillies have equally shockingly traded for star outfielder Hunter Pence, so we have something to talk about while we wait.

8:35pm - We take off. Finally.

10:15pm (Mountain time from here forward until noted otherwise) - After an uneventful nearly four hours in the air, we land in Denver, get our bags, and proceed to the rental car counter to pick up our minivan. We have rented a late model Chrysler Town and Country minivan, and it will turn out to be a comfortable workhorse over the course of the next week. Now that we are on the ground in Denver, I consider the trip to have officially begun.

12:30am - We arrive at our hotel in Loveland Colorado, about an hour north of the airport, and near our Walmart stop tomorrow morning. It has been a long day.

1:00am - Lights out. It is the equivalent of 3:00am eastern time and I don't tend to sleep all that well in hotels, but I think I fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow.

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