Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Colorado Day 5: Tuesday May 31, 2022

I didn’t “sleep in” as much as I wanted to on our last day. I think I generally have trouble when I know I have a flight to catch, even if that flight is in, like, half a day.

We wandered downtown to a huge breakfast place that had been there for decades. We were worried we had to wait but they had spaces at the bar. I can honestly say, I’ve never had lamb chops for breakfast before:

Lamb and eggs?

It was really nice, even if it was way too much food. (That plate came with toast!)

After breakfast we walked back to our hotel and checked out. We then headed back downdown through an area we hadn’t been too before. Downtown Denver really is an extremely walkable place, with plenty to see. But, there are also some quirks, perhaps occasioned by the homeless problem. For example, the alleys often say “No public access” despite being, you know, alleys.

Then, Jenn shopped for a while.

We went back to our hotel and got our bags. We boarded the Free Mall Ride to Union Station and it started to rain just as it had when we got there.

Just after we bought our tickets for the airport train, we turned to run to catch it and I almost got completely clocked by a skateboarder. It turns out we were running for the wrong train and we missed ours. So we wandered around the station where there was no free or cheap water.

We took the train out to the airport and then tried to find our check-in desk. The Denver Airport is a little confusing. We had to take an elevator as the signs didn’t lead to escalators and then we had fun at check-in as the online check-in had apparently malfunctioned. There were two people checking us in – actually three, but only two desks – and the signage was all wrong so lots of economy people were in the business class line. We waited what felt like forever to check-in.

When we finally were able to go to security, we were instructed to go the other way than the signs said. It seems nobody in the airport thought to, you know, cover up the songs that showed the wrong directions. (Or, in the case of our check-in line, nobody thought to fix the airline. It said “Copa” not “Air Canada.”)

Once we were through security we found ourselves in a section of the airport with basically three restaurants. One positive for the Denver airport is they have restaurants outside of security, which seems rare. But after security, the pickins are indeed slim in some terminals. (There is a Great Divide somewhere at the airport, but not anywhere we were.) Our flight was delayed a bit so we were already there later and we figured we had enough time so we tried to find some duty free liquor and came away with only one thing we wanted. Then we ate in some middling airport restaurant. They did not bring the food quickly and we started to worry we’d not be able to eat. But the flight got delayed again.

I understand that I might not be objective about Pearson because A) I remember the bad old days when Pearson was garbage and B) I experience it as a local, so I know what it’s like when leaving and all I care about when arriving is getting the hell out of there as quickly as possible (more on that below). But I did not like the Denver Airport. Minneapolis, Dallas, Charlotte are all airports I’d rather spend time in. (My coworker who used to live in Denver agrees that the Denver Airport sucks so it’s not just me.)

I watched Eternals on the flight. It’s bad. I knew that ahead of time, of course. That’s why I watched it.

As we were landing we were warned there would be delays. First, we couldn’t get a gate and so we sat on the tarmac for a while. Then we experienced a “customs hold” because there were supposedly too many people in customs. Eventually, those with connecting flights were told to get up and get ready to depart, but they had to wait quite a while. (I would have been very nervous if I had a connection.) After they were allowed to leave we were allowed to leave too. We think we were delayed maybe 20-25 minutes. We both know people who had to wait a lot longer so we were pretty lucky.

Our luck improved greatly in customs. Though there were a lot of people in customs the line basically never stopped moving and we were through to the machines way quicker than we thought. And then, our usual customs luck happened with the agent as we were waived through with basically two words. (This happens to me a lot. I know some of this is that I’m white but some of this, I think, is an extremely long history of traveling to and from the US and never paying duty.)

Anyway, we were out of the airport in an hour or less, which I always view as a victory, especially during the pandemic. Complain about Pearson all you want but it’s not always terrible.

It was a fun, if brief, trip. Denver is a pretty great beer destination, as is Fort Collins, even if I didn’t get to go to as many breweries as might have really given me a good idea of that. And I would have loved to do more hiking if we had the time. But it was still a nice break and nice to leave the country for only the second time in 2 years.

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