Fruita, Colorado – September 30, 2017
On Friday, September 22, at 16:00, the taxi picked up Leslie and me to take us to the Wellington International Airport. After a one-hour flight to Auckland; waiting at the Auckland International Airport; and an 11-hour flight to Los Angles; we arrived on Friday, September 22, at 15:00. That was thanks to Mr. International Dateline. Who says time travel is not possible?!
The 11-hour flight on Air New Zealand was long but enjoyable. The crew on the plane took such great care of us. Leslie and I both agree that Air New Zealand is our favorite airline on this planet.
Our next flight was from LAX to DEN. Arriving at gate B20, our connection to Grand Junction departed from gate B86. That was nearly a ¾ mile hike. Luckily Leslie had a wheelchair. It was all I could do to keep up.
We finally arrived in Grand Junction at about 23:30. We grabbed our luggage, found the vehicle in the parking lot, and drove to Fruita. Our total travel time, door to door was 26 hours. If we had not been able to sleep on the 11-hour flight, I am not sure in what shape we would have been.
The remainder of the week, leading up to THE wedding, seemed to go quite slow. That was just fine. There appeared to be a lot of things to handle at the last minute.
Friday evening, we all met at the church for the rehearsal. Father Mike Smith presided over the run-throughs of the wedding. As a family, we met Father Mike about four years ago. Leslie, Hillary, Tyler, and I attended mass at the old location of Sacred Heart Church in Fruita, Colorado. That happened during one of our R&R trips from Georgetown, Guyana. After mass, but before the dismissal, we were one of the visitors that introduced ourselves. Once dismissed, Father Mike approached us and asked to take a photo with our family. That photo stayed on the altar for months after we left. We are all delighted that Father Mike took such a liking to our family. That is the reason Hillary wanted Father Mike to preside at her wedding with Shane. Even though retired, Father Mike graciously agreed to Hillary’s wishes.
The groom’s parents, Shane and Patti, hosted the rehearsal dinner at Belli Fiori Lavender Farm in Grand Junction. What an amazing venue. The owners made several types of mixed drinks using vodka they distilled. Leslie and I opted for the Hail Caesar. It was essentially a Bloody Mary, but it was the best we ever had. The next time we are in Grand Junction, I want to stop by the Farm during regular business hours. It is a unique business.
The dinner was outdoors. It was a little chilly that evening, but thanks to some fleece blankets and outdoor gas heaters, it was quite comfortable.
On the day of THE wedding, the heavens opened about two hours before the ceremony. It was an absolute downpour. Thankfully, shortly before THE wedding, the rain ceased. That ultimately allowed a smiling bride and an emotional father to walk down the aisle.
Hillary wore a princess gown with a fitted bodice, a full Tule skirt, longer in the back which created the train. The dress had some bling at the waist and in the bodice. Please understand that even though I periodically watch Say Yes to the Dress with Leslie, none of the previous words came out of my mind. Leslie tutored me on what to write because I know some readers will be interested in those details.
When it was time for the wedding vows, it was apparent just how much Hillary and Shane meant to each other. In addition to the traditional vows, repeated after prompting by Father Mike, Hillary and Shane each recited their own vows. Both sets of vows were inspiring.
Hillary and Shane departed the church in an old Ford hot rod. Shane drove the beautiful machine to the reception at the Redlands Community Center. Upon arrival, that full Tule skirt of Hillary’s seemed to explode from the hot rod when the car door opened. When she stood up beside the car, the roofline was roughly even with her waist.
Colorado Q catered the Mexican meal at the reception. The owner, Steve Preuss, was the utmost professional. The meal was exceptionally well done.
After several toasts to the bride and groom, and cutting the wedding cake; the bride and groom enjoyed their first dance as husband and wife.
Even though our usual bedtime is much closer to 20:00, Leslie and I were able to make it to nearly 23:30 before we collapsed at home.
The remainder of the week passed with birthday preparations for Hillary and Tyler. That second week seemed to move so much more quickly than the first.
On Friday, we departed the house in Fruita at about 07:00. Little did we know we were facing a 32-hour journey to get back to our home in New Zealand.
Our first flight from Grand Junction to Denver was late due to a ground hold. Fog at the Denver airport impacted all scheduled flights due to fog. Luckily, we had plenty of time until our connecting flight departed, so the delay did not affect us. We boarded and left after waiting for about 30 minutes. The view of the aspens changing colors was superb. Unfortunately, my cell phone did not capture the best photos.
Once in Denver, we had a walk of ¾ of a mile to get to the next gate. United Airlines was our carrier at this point. We had flown United at the beginning of our trip from LAX to Denver. On that flight, we had a light meal. Based on that experience, I assumed receiving a light snack between Denver and Houston was a no-brainer. I was wrong. Our light meal was a bag of chips and a glass of wine. That was in first class, not economy.
Arriving in Houston, the woman helping Leslie with the wheelchair had no idea where the United lounge was. After several other people trying to help us, we finally made it to the room. As you read these next comments, please understand I am not trying to be snobbish. I do not fly business or first class very often at all. The United lounge was an absolute shocker. The buffet offered was cheese, crackers, and a bowl of soup. Additionally, one had to pay for some beers and wines. That is all entirely contrary to Air New Zealand. Did I mention Air New Zealand is our favorite airline on this planet?
Our next flight to Auckland was on Air New Zealand. That was the good news. The bad news is that we faced a 13+ hour flight. That is a very long time to be on an airplane. Luckily, we were both able to sleep a little on that flight.
In Auckland, we grabbed some coffee and waited for our final flight to Wellington. For our Kiwi friends, I must mention Winston Peters boarded our plane. He did smile and nod at me when I said hello as he passed. I am sure he was on his way to Parliament to negotiate to form a new government after the recent New Zealand elections.
About an hour and one-half later, we were finally at home.