You can get there from here

The 4 a.m. chirp of my cell phone alarm was a harsh wake-up call compared to the usual gotta-go meanderings of Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle.

But our beloved rescue mutt was nowhere to be found in the Little Bitty in the Syracuse city neighborhood of Eastwood, dropped off the previous night at the north side dwelling of our great friend Michelle for safe keeping while we were winging our way to Colorado for my dear wife Karen’s first Family Reunion.

I knew no time was to be wasted because daughter Elisabeth and boyfriend George Three would be arriving at 5 in the van kindly driven by George Two to save us five days of airport lot charges. Up I jumped for those last-hour preparations, and be ready to lug our one big check-on bag each and carry-on out to the street.

Gotta look good for the two legs of our Delta flights, changeover in Minneapolis, right? Nah. Shorts and T-shirts suffice these days.

Eatin' from Dunkin' at Syracuse's Hancock International.

Eatin’ from Dunkin’ at Syracuse’s Hancock International.

Karen had pre-checked us and printed out our boarding passes, so the TSA process was a snap. Once through the screener, we stopped at the Dunkin’ Donuts stand to fuel and wait for our 7 a.m. departure. Boarding was posted as 6:30. My iPad Air hooked me up to airport WiFi from our last visit, and I read and commented on blogs, thinking I might not get much of a chance once in Estes Park. That was good figuring on my part.

My darling daughter got the window seat.

My darling daughter got the window seat to the right.

Up, up and away we went. I read from my long-held Steve Martini
novel featuring attorney Paul Madriani. It kept my attention on all four legs, and yay, I finished it in the air between Atlanta and Syracuse.

To my left, another window seat.

To my left, my dear wife Karen.

I reached across the aisle to my left and held Karen’s hand as we taxied down the runway. It made me feel good.

We four were pretty quiet during the flight. Indeed, at that time of the morning, the only noise was the flight attendants taking our beverage and snack order. Peanuts and Fresca, please and thank you. I’d already had coffee in my cup the size of my head at home and another large from Dunkin’ before takeoff.

A Twin City.

A Twin City.

After the pilot told us to prepare for landing, I asked George and Elisabeth if I could lean over them for one good shot below. I think I got it.

No seats in Minneapolis.

No seats for the wait in Minneapolis.

There was no problem with the layover at busy Minneapolis, with a smooth train ride to another terminal getting us to our gate in ample time despite there being just a half-hour between flights.

Minny is a busy ‘port. There were no open seats for us.

Will that be our ride?

Will that be our ride?

I leaned against a kiosk and people- and plane-watched.

Upon arrival in Denver, we easily found baggage claim and the proper exit for the shuttle to Thrify Car Rental. I won’t go into the story about how I had to call a half-dozen rental places the day before because the SUV was on me, and I didn’t save confirmation emails and had no earthly clue which place we’d decided to go with online more than a month ago. My credit card statement merely listed an online conglomerate. No, I won’t tell you that because it’s too embarrassing, you know?

Click on any gallery photo for a description. Click on the bottom right photo in any gallery for an enlarged slide show.

On the shuttle, we four discussed how flat the lay of the land looked around the airport.

But then the bus driver made another turn, and we saw them.

Destination ahead.

Destination ahead.

The Rocky Mountains, in all their majesty, were dead ahead of us. We figured Estes Park must be up there. We got even more excited.

Thrifty got another $60 out of me by upselling me to Colorado’s version of EZ-Pass, the counter rep explaining how now I could take the faster and easier toll highway on the way to and from Estes Park. Because I knew we planned to come back to Denver on Sunday for the Colorado Rockies baseball game, I bit. I also signed for his $2.75-a-gallon we’ll-fill-it-so-you-don’t price.

I did not go for the bigger vehicle pitch. It would have cost twice as much. He tossed me a pamphlet and said we could pick any of the SUVs in Row 4. I gave the pamphlet to the other and headed to the restroom.

When I got out, George was attempted to pack our Chevy Trax, way smaller than what I’d imagined. He and Elisabeth ended up with one big suitcase between them in the back seat. Ah, well, it was fine for the around Estes Park jaunts.

On the drive, they told me that this had been the only vehicle parked in row 4. Sly bastards.

Hours after that Syracuse airport Dunkin’ bagel, we were famished. We saw a sign for a Perkins, a breakfast favorite of mine that closed its doors in Syracuse, oh, a decade ago.

I remember you.

I remember you.

Yes, it was the same chain.

The left side of the menu, please and thank you.

The left side of the menu, please and thank you.

I did notice signs that this particular place had been regionalized.

I went with eggs over easy, bacon, pancakes with sugar-free syrup. Everybody else got lunch, sandwiches and burgers. We were all happy.

Not me, not me, not me.

Not me, not me, not me.

Before we climbed back into the car, one of the young folks noticed a ding near the rear. We had not hit a thing. They suggested a take a picture of it to prove it’d been there since the beginning of our trip. Indeed.

So, you ask, why did I wait until the near-finish of this The Thin Air Series for my story about the trip to Estes Park? Because on the way home, I did not take my iPhone 6 out of my pocket to take one single picture, that’s why. That’s how good the trip to Colorado for our first Family Reunion had been. I was content to read and think about it all.

Tomorrow: Sock it to me and take it home

Tuesday: What I learned

How long do you usually get to an airport before your flight time, and have you ever cut it very close at the gate? What upsells have you gone for, and why? Have you ever dinged a rental car, and if so, what did you do about it?

65 thoughts on “You can get there from here

  1. Aloha, Mr. B! I always enjoy checking in on you and reading about your happenings. Sounds like it was smooth sailing to your final destination. I love it when that happens and there are no airport snags or issues. Phew!

    Hey, Mr. B and I just spent three great days on Lake George celebrating my birthday (early) and finally taking advantage of a gift I got two years ago when I turned the ugly 5_! I’ll be blogging about it soon.


  2. Everything was great until you took the photo out the window bro Mark. That turned the trip into the vomit comet. Your timing was great though. Not too much time in airport lounges. My first trip meant hours in O’Hare, in the International lounge waiting for the plane to be built. Things have changed since 1986 I hope. We flew in a sardine can, but I didn’t notice much, after my large dose of Dramamine. Each time it wore off I took that was a wonderful sleeping experience.

    Glad you found the restaurant you love. Those mountains do creep up on you from around the corner, don’t they? Always loved that. Imagine being in a covered wagon, traveling for days and weeks, trying to get there, and never seeming to get closer. Have a good week brother.


    • Dramamine is what allows me, patch form, to go on the big ship cruises, sis Angie.

      Wow, covered wagons to and on those mountains. I can hardly imagine that!

      Please have a great week getting set for that move at last.


  3. Reading this made me so happy for many reasons. For one, just to know you had your family with you on the adventure – nothing better is there?
    Secondly – I loved knowing that you walked across the same spaces (MSP, DIA) I occupy almost every week. Did you happen to have an airplane with Delta’s version of the safety speech? It’s the cleverest one in the air right now AND they change it to go with the seasons. If you didn’t see it, let me know I’ll post the video. Very cute.
    I also loved that you put your iPhone in your pocket. Those are the best vacays every.
    I head to Colorado at the end of the week. xo


    • Enjoy Colorado through your local Kansas airport, Michelle!

      No, my planes were too small for the video screens, so you would have to post to prove Delta’s clever safety ways. ๐Ÿ™‚ Their attendants were all very helpful, though, including not allowing, but asking and moving folks in a non-full plane to get Karen and I and also Elisabeth and George Three together after Delta system had split us up despite our buying-click of side-by-side seating.

      Yes, I also like the idea that I’ve walked the same airport steps as you, now my friend. We got good bagel sandwiches in DIA, turkey-bacon-advocado from a chain we don’t have here back east. Yum.

      Have a great week, my dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t wait to take our reconnaissance trip to Colorado Springs to house hunt. The FL house will hit the MLA listing on Wednesday. I can’t wait to go! ๐Ÿ˜€ Your pictures are really igniting my excitement!


  5. I haven’t been on a plane since 2006 and can’t say I want to anytime soon. When I was a kid, travelling around the world, we always dressed up in our best outfits. We travelled quite a bit on BOAC (British Airways) in fact my parents would send me by myself to visit my grandparents in England (one time I even flew back from Australia by myself, I was 10 years old – stuck between to elderly ladies who fought over me the whole time). I spent happy hours in the loo playing with the lotions and the cotton balls. Those were the great days of travelling. There is no dignity or luxury in travelling anymore – unless you are my brother who only travels by Emirates Airlines in their suites (with showers and beds) – but he has money.


  6. Out of this whole post what jumped out at me was the price of gas. In what alternate universe can you buy gas for a mere $2.75 a gallon? Well, obviously in Colorado… it would be worth driving all the way there to fill up! I never can figure out why in LA, where we produce and refine so much gasoline ourselves, our prices are consistently much higher than anywhere else in the state… and the country. Good thing I don’t drive that much anymore!


    • It’s all about demand, that gas price thing, Ros. They charge what they’ll get for it in LA, unfortunately, because so many drivers are tithed to the auto.

      In Syracuse, right now, we’re paying about $2.48 a gallon. Not as many drivers, lower price.

      Go figure.


  7. The woes of air travel, unless International (first class) I do not fly…PERIOD. Although Delta frequent miles are used by my hubs often, I tend to stay at my beach paradise. Car rentals are BIG business here in Florida so they tend to bend backwards to accommodate our tourists and are very competitive with free upgrades, unlimited miles, etc. You get the picture Mark, speaking of which are fantastic my friend.

    Congrats on “Name That Tune”- Sundays at my web The Gatorette.


  8. I haven’t flown in years – but you make it sound so exciting, Mark! I’d love to take Teddy Rosalie on a flight to get some great pictures like yours. Maybe when my ship comes in, I can fly (I hate boats).


      • Ooo, will do. My mom had the luck, or actually grand idea, to work at Estes Park right out of college. The photos she’s willing to share with me show that working long hours in such splendor was a marvelous experience.


  9. I’m usually there 90 minutes early Mark. I really don’t like when people try to up sell me. I just booked a flight to Montreal and they list the prices, etc., then you go to look at the available seats and they try to up sell you. In economy they now have 2 or 3 options even. The price quoted to me is for the ‘less desirable’ econo seat. Do they push it even closer for less leg room? Rig it so it can’t recline. Geez the whole thing pisses me off because I can still remember the luxury of flying, even in the economy section with hot meals, free movies – all included in the price of the ticket! โค
    Diana xo


  10. Lovely documentation of your trip, Mark, but I was thinking the same as Anne above, that we used to dress up for air travel. The casual look is so much more comfortable, for sure. It’s just so noticeable that the elegance went away, but the prices keep climbing…go figure ! โ˜บ


  11. i tend to cut it a bit close on airport runs, though it’s somehow never on purpose ) i had a run-in with a rental car company once, about something they said i caused, which i knew that i didn’t and had to go all the way up to get it settled. looks like by hook or by crook, you may your way to the beautiful rockies and what a trip this was )


  12. Love the photos up in the air- but I have not flown in 8 years- just can’t handle the stress, the pressure- oh for the good old days when you got dressed up to fly, got to the airport a little before the flight took off, no security- and a flight from Newark to Washington DC cost $25.00 on Apple Air. Those were the days.


    • It is very stressful all around now, Lisa, I agree, from the check-in to the horde-like process loading and deboarding the flights. I remember flying from Syracuse to Newark and Baltimore-Washington on PeopleExpress in the ’80s for $25! Seems like yesterday to me in a lot of ways, really. That’s another story, though, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Very cool and relaxed sounding Mark. I’m glad the travel went well – it can go astray so easily with connections. The last time I flew, it was so cold (February) that the fuel caps froze on the plane and we sat there for 1 1/2 hours while they tried to thaw the caps and fuel the plane. That made me miss my connection but there was another soon after, so it worked out OK. Anyway, I digress – it is great to hear of a smooth trip. Awesome pictures as always. Thank You P.S. – we have Perkins here too – very tasty for breakfast. ๐Ÿ˜€


    • On the way home, we did have a delay on the very last flight, Paul, because the pilots were late getting in from their previous flight. The boarded us about 30 minutes late, told us why we were off schedule, and we ended up getting to Syracuse about 45 minutes tardy. Good thing George Two was still waiting at curb side for us with a smile on his face. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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