Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Questions that Occurred to Me This Weekend

Will I survive this long without my family?
True (and perhaps a little bit sad) fact: I have only been away from my entire family for one night on two separate occasions, and those were overnights just down the road in case anyone needed me. Of course, I'm more accustomed than I want to be to TravelDaddy's absences, but when he's gone, I have the kids. And, thanks to our parents, Mark and I have enjoyed many outings to ourselves sans kids. But I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about flying across the country without my family to spend the weekend with a friend I hadn't seen in 25 years. My apprehensions were unfounded, however; we had a wonderful reunion and a great girls' weekend in Colorado.

For our one and only full day there, we packed a lot in. In fact, my summary of activities elicited a question from Mark: You did all of that in one day?

We started at Pike's Peak, which actually wasn't on my list of things to do. Although I hoped against hope that I wouldn't be awarded a runaway Toyota at the rental agency, that of course is exactly what I was given. And by the time we reached the gate at Pike's Peak, two warning lights had come on: the check engine light and another light that we could not identify even with the help of the car's manual. The guy at the gate said the altitude often makes the check engine light come on, and the other light? Well, it was nothing at all to worry about. And since I had known the kind old gentleman for all of 30 seconds, I trusted him and ventured up the steep, windy (& windy) road, praying the unidentified light had nothing to do with our brakes.

We made it up and down with no problems and then visited the Cliff Dweller's Museum. Probably not worth the 10 bucks we had to pay each for entry, but I was able to score some great curriculum additions to our study of the American history next year.

Next was Garden of the Gods. It was such a beautiful day, so we enjoyed the walk to the Balancing Rock and back as well as lunch in the cafe there.

After Garden of the Gods, we decided to try Royal Gorge. It was over an hour away, but I assured my friend it was worth the drive, plus as I remembered it from 15 years ago, it was free. Free is good, right? Well, when we got there, we discovered it was $24. Each. OK, so it was $24 with a second ticket 1/2 price. So $18. Each. To walk across a bridge? we asked. Well, yes, plus the admission price included roundtrip fare on the cable car that ventured precariously across the gorge as well as a ride on the steepest incline railway in the world. A definite no on the cable car, especially on such a windy day; perhaps something I'll add under skydiving to my "Things I'll Do When My Kids Are No Longer Dependent On Me" list.

Can't we just pay $10 if we just want to walk across the bridge? No. OK, so why not? We drove over an hour to get there, so we paid it even though it went against our principles.

And I suppose it was worth it. It was beautiful on the bridge, though very windy. On a windy day here in Georgia, the wind merely whistles; through that gorge, it howled. To get our money's worth, we decided on the incline railway, which was an amazing experience. The bridge across the Royal Gorge is the highest suspension bridge in the world, so to be down in the gorge looking up at the bridge was incredible.

I was curious about the river in the gorge, though, and at one of the gift shops, I asked, What river runs through the gorge?

"I'm not sure," she replied.

Her reply still dumbfounds me. How can you work there and never be curious about the river? I picked up a book that sat on her counter, one on which she probably drums her bored fingers when there are no customers loitering about the store (which was probably often this time of year, judging by the lack of folk while we were there). The answer--Arkansas River--was on the first page. Still shaking my head; I guess some people are just truly and blissfully happy in their little bubble of ignorance.

We spent Sunday in Denver, a charming city. From the park area on the Platte River to the 16th St. Mall, it really is a beautiful city.

It was also fascinating to visit Denver's Four Mile House, the oldest known residence in Denver. We opted for the tour, which provided such an interesting look into early America. I was wishing the kids were with me to reap the academic benefits of our time there.

My friend is a staunch Bronco's fan, so we ended our day with a delicious dinner at John Elway's restaurant. Then it was off to the airport for me, and I continued to ask myself, How little sleep can a 37-going-on-72-year-old survive on? The red-eye flight home would not have been so bad if I had gotten some good sleep Friday and Saturday nights. It wasn't like we were out partying 'til all hours of the night, but I got very little sleep anyway. Probably something about being a pseudo old lady; I just don't sleep well in hotels. I can't push a button to adjust my sleep number, the pillows are usually about 3x thicker than I prefer, it's always too quiet, too cold or too hot.

That's why I was none too happy about facing the red-eye flight back home. And it wasn't directly home either. I went out to Denver on Mark's miles, and one can't always be choosy when things are free. So during my travels, I also had the privilege of sneaking aerial views of both Memphis and Cincinnati. As I crowded on to my completely full 1:30am flight, I wondered, How can there possibly be this many people in Denver who wish to go to Cincinnati at one-thirty in the morning, including that couple with the miserably-exhausted-and-letting-everyone-else-know-about-it 3-year-old little boy?

It goes without saying that I did not get much sleep on the 2 1/2 hour flight to Cincy. Of course, there was an extra 40 minutes in there because we had taxiied out and were ready to take off when the captain said we had to go back to the gate to fix a mechanical problem. That happens to Mark a lot. I still haven't decided if that occurrence is comforting: On the one hand, the problem is being fixed, but on the other hand, are they catching the whole problem? Ironically, my connecting flight took me on the very same plane.

I made it back, spent some time in an airport bathroom (yuck!) changing clothes and making myself presentable for my Bright Futures class. Knowing how tired I would be by Tuesday morning, I had made arrangements with the BFA director to teach my Tuesday class Monday morning on the way home from the airport. On the way there, all I could ask myself was, Am I crazy? I felt a little bit loopy, but taught my class anyway and then headed back to my home sweet home.

And, finally back home, I can only ask, Why am I so blessed? It was so nice to see my wonderful, sweet children and equally as wonderful to see my sweet husband who had not only taken great care of the kids, but also kept the house clean. He even cleaned the cat box and did the laundry because, as he put it, What would a weekend away be if you came home and had to clean up the house?

How sweet is that?


5thsister said...

oh you are truly blessed...he kept the house clean!!!! Wow. Go...go give him what he deserves. Good man.

dclouser said...

It was great hearing about your weekend away and seeing all the pix! I'm sure everyone was thrilled to have your home again, though. Getting away from your routine always makes you realize how nice it is to have it.

Anonymous said...

He's a keeper!!!

Oh yeah--your trip sounds fast and furious but well worth the pace. Glad you had a good time!

Arby said...

It sounds like you had a lot of fun. So, did you consider leaning over the suspension bridge and trying to spit on the canoe crowd so many feet below? A guy would have. Really, with all of that wind…what a challenge! Be happy that the captain noticed a mechanical problem on the ground and not, say, right when the wheels lifted off of the ground! If you think of how many commercial flights there are each day, worldwide, and how many plane crashes there are each day, worldwide, you can rest assured that flying is extraordinarily safe, especially here in there United States. Airline mechanics take their jobs seriously. Great pictures!

Kathleen said...

Arby, it is so funny you asked about the spitting. That is the first question my oldest daughter asked me when she saw the pictures! The answer is no, however. But you're right, the wind would definitely have presented a spittle challenge.

CrossView said...

As much as I love to fly - and I really do - I prefer for the mechanics to catch the problem(s) BEFORE people are on the plane. Call me weird, I know.

Gorgeous shots, by the way! I especially love those from the bridge. Way different perspective!

I think I've spent the night away from my kids maybe once?

Those odd hours get harder for me as I *don't get younger*. But i'm glad you went and had such a good time!

As for your hubby, he's a keeper! *sniff*

Courtney said...

What a treat! Yes I would have passed on the cable car also. And coming home to a clean house-awesome!
We live just a mile from the Arkansas River now, just in OK not Denver.
I know! Not in the southeast anymore, Toto!

tsinclair said...

Thanks for taking us on your trip. I felt just like I was there, I even felt the wind nearly blow me off the bridge. :-)

Sounds like a great time.

Amy @ Cheeky Cocoa Beans said...

Absolutely gorgeous photos, and it sounds like you had a perfect trip...that is, you know, not counting the lack of sleep and the travel fiasco...ahem. :)

Speaking of not sleeping well in a hotel, I bring my own pillow, a small white noise machine (a 30+ yr. old thing that brings great comfort to my whole family when we travel!), a cloth to put over my eyes while I sleep, and even a safety pin or two to pin the hotel drapes closed (because, you know, they *never* come close to closing properly)...and I still don't sleep. Ugh. So I guess I can tell you it doesn't get better as you get older? Nah...I won't tell you that! ;)

So glad you had such a great reunion, and what a wonderfully blessed homecoming you had, too!