Colorado Springs, CO – July 3, 2012
This new chapter of our life, moving to Georgetown, Guyana, began on July 2, at 04:30 in Madrid, Spain. I was up at that time. I had not slept well at all, just dozing at best. Leslie and Tyler joined me at about 05:00. We all placed the final few things in our luggage and began our wait for the driver. We had requested a driver pick us up at 07:00. He arrived at 06:55.
We arrived at the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez International Airport at about 08:00 and began to unload our six pieces of checked baggage and our three carry-on items. Once inside the airport, we stopped to have our bags wrapped in plastic. I wanted to do that for the added protection; however, it was expensive, about €51 (US$62).
With our wrapped baggage, we headed to the check-in counter. That is where we had our first surprise. The attendant said we could only check one bag per person. I thought I had read that we were allowed two. Regardless, we had to fork out an additional €150 (US$183). The next problem at the check-in counter was that the agent initially checked our bags to Dulles, Virginia. When we finally got him to understand that our final destination was Grand Junction, Colorado, his luggage tag machine had stopped working. So, he had to write all six tags by hand. That was much to the chagrin of the first-class passengers standing in line. We had been motioned over to the first-class line when we were in line. At that time, there was no one else in the first-class line. Even with those few hiccups, the agent was delightful.
Next up — security. We put our three carry-on bags through the x-ray machine and walked through the metal detector. On the other side, the agent stopped me and asked if those three bags were ours. Of course, I replied, yes. She showed me on the screen that there was a wine corkscrew in Leslie’s bag. I had to hunt to retrieve that. Then my bag came through, and she told me I had one in my bag too! That is when I remembered I always took one on the train with me to Barcelona. I had forgotten to take it out. I gave both of them to her, and she threw them away. The good thing about this ordeal is that she was very, very friendly about everything.
Our next hurdle was at passport control. The female National Police officer took my passport and looked through it for a good minute. Then she asked me if I spoke Spanish. I said I spoke a little Spanish. She asked me in Spanish if I had my Spanish ID cards. I told her I had turned those in the previous Friday. She asked me a couple of more questions and finally stamped my passport. Leslie and Tyler followed much more quickly.
It was about 09:15 when we finally made it through.
The next order of business was breakfast. We had not had anything since we woke up. I was looking forward to pan con tomate. Unfortunately, the place we chose did not offer that. Leslie and Tyler both had a muffin. I selected a tortilla de patata con pan. We also each had orange juice and coffee. That all came to about €22 (US$27).
When we finished breakfast, we all made a restroom stop and then stopped at the money exchange booth. I had about €54 in my pocket. In return, I received US$63.
We finally made it to our gate, A2, at about 09:45. Roughly five minutes later I was standing in the boarding line waiting for our 10:10 boarding call. One of the agents at the gate happened to be the same one that had helped us originally check-in. I asked him if we could board early due to Leslie’s hip. He said yes, with no problem. So, at about 10:15, we boarded the plane.
We pushed away from the gate at about 11:00, on time. One hour later we crossed the Portugal coastline just south of the town of Oporto. At that time, we had about 6:47 of flying time left to Dulles. That meant there were about 3,174 miles (5,108 kilometers) left to travel. The plane was moving at 483 mph (777 kph), and the outside temperature was -68F (-55C at 37,992 feet (11,580 meters).
Arrival in Dulles was at about 13:30 local time. It was quite a hike to passport control. The agent there welcomed us back to the United States. He quickly stamped our passports, and we made our way to baggage control. Once there, our bags were some of the first to arrive. That is the first time that has ever happened to me. Usually, we have to wait for a long time to receive the bags. We grabbed our bags, quickly breezed through customs, put our bags on the carousel to go to the next plane, and went to the security line. We made it through security this time without any drama.
Our gate was quite a long way from the security area, of course. We had previously arranged with United Airlines to have a cart or wheelchair at the plane for Leslie. It was not there. We did not have to wait very long to board. Once again, Leslie was allowed to board early. Unfortunately, that flight from Dulles to Denver did not leave on time. As we ultimately found out, there were two United employees “fighting” for a seat on the plane. We were not seated far from where one employee was sitting. One of the flight attendants asked him what his seniority date was. He replied that he could not remember. Finally, after about 10 minutes of just sitting there, he jumped up, grabbed his bag, and left the plane. A female flight attendant took that seat.
The plane backed away from the gate about 15 minutes late. That was somewhat disturbing because we only had 55 minutes to make it to the gate in Denver, Colorado for the Grand Junction, Colorado flight. A little less than an hour out from Denver, it got quite turbulent. That made Leslie and Tyler nervous. I just sat there and waited to land.
At the gate in Denver, once again, there was not a cart for Leslie. We had to walk from B39 to B80. That was a long way. Once we got to B80, we were able to relax. About three minutes later, we were boarding the plane.
We made it to Grand Junction at about 04:30 Madrid time. It was a long 24 hours, but we were all thrilled to be back in Colorado.
After getting all of our baggage from the airport in Grand Junction, we drove to the farm. We had a light meal and then went to bed. Tomorrow we head to Colorado Springs, Colorado.
It has been about three and one-half years since I was last in Colorado. Now it is time to deal with the jet lag. I woke up this morning at 03:30. Leslie joined me about an hour later. Hopefully, this won’t last for long.
We departed Fruita, Colorado later that morning and began our drive to Colorado Springs.
When we got to Glenwood Canyon, I had to stop to take some photos. The Colorado River was just thick with rafters. Believe it or not, even though I am a Colorado native, I have never gone rafting. The place I selected to stop at was No Name, Colorado; population 123. In addition to being a rest stop, there is also a camping area that offers a zip-line across the river. At one point I saw rafters going downstream and zip-liners going by overhead. It all looked like fun.
There was raft after raft coming down the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon.
Another hour or so farther east, we stopped at the top of Vail Pass for a quick break. It is just a beautiful setting. I liked seeing the American and Colorado flags flying high.
We made it to Colorado Springs without incident. We were all astonished at the fire damage we saw as we were traveling through Ute Pass and then along 30th Street in Colorado Springs. As we drove by, the fire was 98 percent contained. We could still a little smoke up on the ridge; however, we did not see any flames. It was sad to see the devastation. We were saddened even more because one of our friends lost their home in the fire.
Before we ever left Madrid, I bought tickets for the Sky Sox baseball game on July 4. I figured what better way to celebrate the 4th of July than with a baseball game and fireworks display after the game. Unfortunately, due to all of the fires active in Colorado at the time, the authorities canceled the fireworks display. We certainly understood, but we were disappointed.
Before the game, we had a family tailgate party, complete with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Boy, since we had not had that for three years, it was finger-lickin’ good!!
Our family tailgate party getting ready for the chicken!The Sky Sox, a farm team for the Colorado Rockies, was slated to play the Reno Aces, a farm team for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Sky Sox quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead. The drubbing continued until the middle of the ninth inning. The final score was 19-4. The Sky Sox win just capped off the evening.
About midway through the game, Hillary paid $5 for a chance to toss some sponge balls at home plate. Whoever got a ball to stay on the home plate would win $500. For the $5 she was given three balls, each with a number on it. At the end of the game, she stood behind the visitor’s bench with numerous other participants and tossed the three balls. She did not land any on home plate.
After the game, we all headed home to prepare for the next day — doctor and dentist day, oh boy!
Waiting to toss out balls.