DAY 6: SUNDAY
I woke up around 8 feeling surprisingly good after last night’s festivities, nary a trace of hungoverousness (I can use whatever made-up words I want in my own blog posts). Feeling good physically, I was nonetheless starting to feel the inevitable sense of depression that sets in at the end of these trips. It’d be off to the airport in a short while to board the flight back home to Buffalo.
The group got together for a final breakfast, though our familiar hangout was packed so we had to get some grub from a nearby cafe. It was during breakfast that we got a call from Martha, who’d already departed for the airport earlier that morning, to give us some unsettling news. United Airlines had apparently just initiated the biggest layoff in their history. CNN and the other major news networks had descended upon Denver International, and security and flight delays were expected across the board. Terrific.
This cut our final gathering a bit short, as we all felt the need to get to the airport as soon as possible lest we get stuck in longer-than-normal security lines and miss our flights. Ross dropped by the hotel to see us off. Hugs all around before we cleaned up our hotel rooms and finished packing up our rental cars to head out of town. Bidding a wistful farewell to Ross and Fort Collins after a great week, we left both in the rearview and got on the road.
The hourlong drive to the airport featured a sullen Jeff silently behind the wheel while Justin relayed updates from his iPhone on the Bills/Seahawks game being played back home. I responded with unintelligible mumbles as I gazed longingly at the Rocky Mountains towering off in the East. The sight of the horrifying demon bronco as we approached the airport shook me out of my catatonic state as it required every ounce of my focus and determination to avoid its laser blasts and get the car dropped off at Hertz. The car survived unscathed, but Justin may have suffered a glancing blow from a laser beam. He hasn’t been the same since, frequently running in concentric circles and yelling “ENH” repeatedly.
Dr. Jones and I parted ways after disembarking from the Hertz shuttle to our separate terminals and flights, though we made plans to meet up in one of the lounges to watch the Bills game if we had time. I got inside the airport and was pleasantly surprised to see minimal lines and no news crews covering the “devastating” effects of the United lay-offs. The impact was apparently not as we’d feared. I got into a quickly-moving security line and wouldn’t you know it?–Steve and Lindsey were about eight people in front of me. We exchanged “ENH’s” and walked together to the intra-terminal tram, which offloaded us to separate terminals.
Having made it through ticketing and security in the space of about 20 minutes, I now had about 3 hours before my flight. Perfect; I called Dr. Jones and we met up in a crowded, southwestern-themed restaurant and lounge with a big flatscreen TV playing the Bills game on the wall. Despite having potentially contracted lung cancer from the dense cigarette smoke hanging in the lounge area’s air, we saw the Bills cruise to victory over the hapless Seahawks in a result that surely meant the Bills were on-track for another successful season and playoff run. I will now light myself on fire.
Jones and I exchanged high-fives and retired to our respective terminals. As I was walking to my gate, I saw none other than Sean, Andy and Courtney sitting nearby. The wackiness of happenstance continues. After about 5 minutes of conversation, our collective genius figured out we were all on the same first flight to Atlanta. Not sure how we didn’t realize this before, but no matter, as that incredible coincidence was forgotten once the miserable flight to the ATL got underway. Bad enough that vacation-time was over; I was squeezed against the window next to a large woman. It required all of the skills I’d learned in Contortionist School to sit still instead of jumping out of my seat and flailing my arms in a violent display of unrestrained rage. Man, this report’s really taken a negative turn, hasn’t it?
I said good-bye to the my compadres in Atlanta, the three of them off to Washington, DC while I shuffled off to Buffalo. I made a few phone calls while watching the Sunday night Bears/Colts game in the Atlanta airport to pass the time. My flight, thankfully, was on time and I got back into Buffalo around midnight. Despite being on Mountain time, I was exhausted at this point, though maybe not as exhausted as Jamie, who had been standing two feet directly behind me at the baggage claim for a full three or four minutes before I turned around and shook her out of her near-comatose state. Yet another chance meeting; something very strange was in the air this day. I said good-bye to Jamie and headed home, my head hitting the pillow around 2am, eager to get a shred of sleep before that 6:30am alarm went off to signal another Monday back at work.
So that wraps up another in a sure-to-keep-growing log of trip reports, one I hope you’ve enjoyed with at least a fraction of what we all experienced in Colorado. I’m gonna get hokey again and say how friggin’ lucky I am to have the friends I do. I wouldn’t trade them for anything in this world (well, maybe I’d trade them for a big budget remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark starring only chimps), and the amount of fun we have together should probably be illegal in 38 states. Life is good when the EA Gang is together, folks. I’m not sure what our next trip will be, although there’s yet another wedding coming up in June 2009, so I’m sure there will be all manner of hijinx and hilarity to report on later this summer. I’ll see you all down the road.
Ross & Kelley’s Gallery: Click Here
Steve’s Gallery: Section 1 | Section 2
My Gallery: Click Here. (You’ll notice the “Fort Collins After Dark” gallery is password-protected. Sorry, folks, but it’s protected for your own good. There are frightening sights in there, most consisting of unspeakable acts with statues in and around the greater Fort Collins area.)