Vacation Journal: Denver

A few months ago on a lark I wrote an overlong account of our anniversary trip to Oklahoma. I did this mostly to amuse myself and perhaps Lindsey as well, assuming no one else would care. And, of course, this was the most read piece of writing I have ever published in this space. Seriously. All the other stuff that I put a great deal of time and effort in, no one really cares, but I slap together 2,000 words on vacation observations and six months later people still occasionally tell me how much they enjoyed reading that piece. As such, Lindsey and I took a trip to Denver a couple of weeks ago and I took notes on everything that happened, hoping to fashion together another decent vacation journal. So just remember that, if this thing is terrible, you people brought it upon yourselves. DAY ONE When we booked our trip, we decided to leave Cooper behind with his grandparents. He is literally the best baby in the world but there are plenty of grown people who can’t handle their ears popping so how can a baby be expected to? Plus we’ve all been on a plane when someone boards with an infant and in that moment, the idea of being taken into custody by Homeland Security sounds good. I intended to spend a few minutes with the King Baby before we left but he had other plans. As Lindsey was getting him changed and ready for the hand-off to the grandparents, he decided that this would be the perfect moment to pee everywhere. I mean like a really gross fountain. He never does this so I like to think this was his way of White Fanging us. As in, “I don’t want you guys to be all concerned about me and stuff on your vacation so I’m going to do THIS so it’ll be easier to leave.” And you know what, it worked. Thanks Coop!

We arrived at Love Field and decided to grab some breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts kiosk. I was OBSESSED with this place as a kid and yet I don’t think I had ever eaten at Dunkin Donuts until this trip. And the result is…meh. The thing about donuts is chain donuts are the worst. They’re so corporatized and streamlined. Donuts from the standard mom and pop shop around the corner beat the Dunkins, the Krispies, and the Shipleys of the world every day of the week. I like to think normal donuts consider Dunkin Donuts to be total sellouts.

After a below average breakfast, we began boarding for our flight and things got serious. Southwest Airlines does that group seating bit so we stood in line waiting for our group to be called and my Spidey Sense started kicking in. Actually, it’s less of a Spidey Sense and more of a Creepy Weirdo Sense. As a general rule, I’m extremely observant. I’ve watched far too much 24 to be caught unawares, especially in a group setting and thus, I notice everything. Well, the dude standing in front of us in line was a whole bag of crazy. He kept looking around nervously and fidgeting with his bag. This continued through the ticketing process and into the jet bridge, at which point he then began COUNTING PEOPLE and doing calculations under his breath while moving his fingers. I began putting together a text message to a couple of friends identifying the man should our plane explode in transit and contemplated whether I should get the attention of the flight attendants or just Liam Neeson this guy in the throat when, thankfully, someone seated in the middle of the plane waived at him and it became apparent that he was just looking for his lady friend and wasn’t sure if she’d already made it onto the flight or not. Note to that guy: KNOCK IT OFF! You have no idea how close you came to an ill-advised, probably ineffective throat chop.

Once on board, I promptly pulled out my brand new iPad mini and signed on to the Wi-Fi….which didn’t work. NOOOOOOO!!! How can I be expected to sit through a two hour flight without an Internet connection? The world is terrible.


We arrived at the Denver airport having survived only minor seat kicking and no explosions being set off by County McGee. The Denver airport is the exact opposite of the Salt Lake City airport. SLC is known to be populated by beautiful people. Beautiful women, beautiful men, beautiful children…everyone is beautiful. But their airport, much like their city in general, is completely devoid of anything resembling entertainment. Which is really the second most important thing in an airport besides, you know, the safety of the planes: you’re stuck in a large public space, sometimes for hours on end, and you desperately need something to distract you. Restaurants, shops, free Wi-Fi, homeless people fighting on the concourse, anything to take your mind off of waiting in an airport. SLC has none of that. They just have beautiful people. Denver is the opposite: That airport is killing it with the amenities. So many things to take your mind off of your wait! But the people? Let’s just say this was not the most attractive group of humans the world has ever assembled.

From the airport, we were shuttled to the Dollar Rent-A-Car lot. This was the last piece in our vacation planning and when I say “last piece”, I mean Lindsey booked it the day before we left. As such, it cost an ABSURD amount of money. Next time this happens, I’m going to find one of those car dealerships that offers a 30 day trial period and just buy a car. The down payment would have to be less than what we paid.

When I finished up at the desk, the attendant told me to step outside and choose any car from the line marked “M.” At this point she told me most of the “M” cars were Kia Optimas which was disheartening because I would probably rather drive a rickshaw than a Kia Optima. (Apologies to you Optima owners, but I hate your car.) Fortunately for us, I stepped outside and found the “M” line to be completely empty. An attendant recognized my plight, heard me muttering under my breath about the Optima thing, and came back with a freshly washed Nissan Altima, which was supposed to cost more. No one has ever been that excited about a Nissan Altima.

About 30 minutes down the road, I realized my backpack wasn’t there and we had left it at the rent a car place. I swung around and flew back in the direction of Dollar while Lindsey tried to get ahold of their office to have someone grab the bag. Dollar Rent-A-Car, however, stinks so badly that the customer support line did not have a way (or would not provide a way) to contact the storefront. Lindsey talked to three different people, all of whom told her she could file a claim for the lost goods online but none of whom would acknowledge that the store even had a phone line. Meanwhile I discovered that Denver residents cannot drive and was stuck, time and time again, while racing against the clock to get back to my bag. I prepared myself for the worst. Fortunately, however, when we arrived at the building, the bag was sitting undisturbed and I was able to hold my iPad again, while whispering, “I thought I’d lost you forever.” I might be addicted to my iPad.

After this close call, we headed straight to the hotel. We splurged a bit (read: “A LOT”) on the hotel because we planned to stay with friends for the second half of the trip and thus, we found ourselves at the Warwick Denver International Hotel located in downtown. It’s a pretty stinking fancy place but because I am a nerd, I could only think of it as the Warwick Davis Hotel, which might have been even cooler. They were kind enough to throw in free Wi-Fi, though not free parking. A word to all hotels, motels, condos, etc.: Parking at your establishment should always be free. I’m paying you an exorbitant amount of money, essentially for the use of a bed; the least you can do is let me park my car for free. If I’m ever the President, number one you should leave the country because I am in no way prepared for that job and number two, if you do stick around, you can bet that you won’t ever have to pay for parking at a hotel (until the North Koreans overthrow our weakened government, at which point all bets are off).

Eventually we headed out to dinner with my cousin, Zack, and his wife, Michelle, who just moved to the area last year. We drove approximately 4,000 miles and yet somehow remained within the general Denver geographic area. I had been told that Denver was similar to Dallas in its structure but really it is way closer to Houston, which spreads across an area larger than square mileage of Australia.

Having successfully navigated the horrible Denver drivers and the myriad of ways in which the Denver road system attempted to flummox me, we arrived at The Rock Wood Fired Pizzas. You might think The Rock would be the chosen pizzeria of either Dwayne Johnson or Alcatraz enthusiasts but alas, the name refers more to the establishment’s predisposition toward rock ‘n roll memorabilia. It’s kind of like a Hard Rock Café that specializes in pizza and is propagated by Nickleback fans. But we ate at a Rock in Seattle a couple of years ago and it is mighty fine pizza so as long as you’re sitting on the porch and not listening to “Cherry Pie” on a loop, it’s totally worth it. They have candied bacon as a topping, after all, which covers over a multitude of sins in my book. We had an excellent night of laughs and conversation with Zack and Michelle before making our cross-country trek back to the hotel where we both promptly passed out because no baby meant we could really live it up which, of course, meant we could fall asleep before 11. Party animals.

DAY TWO For me, being on vacation without a baby means I can conceivably stay up as late as I want and sleep in as late as I want. For Lindsey, it means falling asleep at a reasonable hour and then waking up at a reasonable hour so that she can have some quiet time in the morning. As such, Lindsey was up by 8 and I barely made it out of bed in time for lunch. I’m happy with my life choices so back off!

For lunch, we walked (because in Denver, you walk) down the block to a place called Steuben’s where we met our friend Katy. Steuben’s slogan should be, “Comfort Food for Hipsters.” The menu was chock full of choice, filling entrees and the staff made the crew at Freebirds seem conservative. I’ve lived in the South my entire life and I’m not afraid to admit that the fried chicken I had at Steuben’s was the best I’ve ever had. Your move, Colonel Sanders.

After lunch, we had planned on going down to the 16th Street Mall which is (probably) the world’s largest outdoor mall. Instead, however, we succumbed to thin Denver air and went back to the hotel to nap. After all, I had been awake for AT LEAST two hours so obviously I couldn’t be expected to walk around much longer without respite.

The nap gave way to absentminded channel flipping which brings me to my biggest pet peeve about hotels. No, how about my biggest pet peeve and then a general suggestion for all of hoteldom. Here goes: There is no point in advertising “HDTV’s in every room!” if you’re not going to spring for HD service. A 36 inch, brand name television might as well be a 13 inch black and white Zenith if you’re going to stream that standard definition rubbish through it. Pick up the pace, Warwick Davis. Also, I would spend at least $10 more per night and ALWAYS stay at the first hotel chain that offered DVR service. For a TV junkie such as myself, going from a 500 hour DVR plus Netflix and an obscene number of Blu-Rays/DVDs to 30 measly channels is tantamount to torture. The first hotel chain that takes me up on this will get my business for the rest of time.

In the evening, we walked down to the 16th Street Mall and took a special bus that runs the length of the mall all day down to our stop. Public transportation usually makes me a bit nervous but this system was top notch and our only real issue came when an elderly Asian man entered the bus dragging a small cart loaded with two 12-packs of Sprite. He looked like the kind of guy who rides this bus all of the time and knows exactly how to do it until the bus actually started moving and he almost fell down 700 times. He was good natured about it and turned down the opportunity to take someone’s seat but that didn’t stop him from continuing to almost fall time and time again. It was uncomfortable.

After an early dinner, we walked (ugh, enough with the walking!) down to Coors Field to see the Rockies take on the Cardinals. I love visiting new baseball parks and this was my first trip to Coors so I was pretty stoked. Once we got close, it became readily apparent that the rules regarding ticket and merchandise sales in Denver are significantly different than the rules at home. Every street corner for five blocks was covered with vendors selling all manner of wares, from water to t-shirts to sunflower seeds and ticket scalpers openly shopped their tickets within ear shot of the cops. It was like entering a third world bazaar and/or Northeast Mall.


We made our way to our seats which, oh by the way, were stinking awesome. Our pal Katy came through in a big way by securing front row seats in the club level right behind home plate. These were the kind of seats where you have a dude who brings you anything you ask for because it’s a real hassle to get up and walk 20 feet in the middle of a baseball game. The seats were great, the stadium was beautiful, and the weather was PERFECT for a game. If only I hadn’t been distracted by the two gentlemen sitting next to us who were sharing a plate of nachos that sat in one man’s lap. Guys, it’s not okay to share nachos in such a way. Ever. Under any circumstances.


We also happened to be in the house for the final homestand of Todd Helton’s career. Now, you may not know who Todd Helton is and that’s okay. Far from a household name that everyone in the world knows regardless of their affiliation with baseball, Helton is simply a good baseball player. He’s been a steady, everyday ball player for 17 years, all of them spent in Colorado. Helton had announced his retirement a couple of weeks before our trip and the Rockies spent the final days of the season honoring him in one way or another. There’s something special about being in the house for a player’s final go ‘round. I’m not a Rockies fan by any means but I am a baseball fan and as such, I stood and cheered with the rest of the crowd each time he came to bat and even got a little choked up when he slapped a double to the gap in right field as the crowd got louder than they had the entire game. For my money, the entire vacation was worth it for this experience.

Once the game got out of hand and Lindsey had had enough baseball for one night, we headed back to the bus thinking our fun for the night had come to an end. But Denver had other ideas. While we waited for the bus to arrive, we heard a raucous noise coming from the street beyond us and watched as approximately (and seriously, I’m not exaggerating here) 500 people rode up on bicycles. There were standard bikes, bikes with training wheels, weird tricycles, a rickshaw that was pimped out to look like a sort of bike, every kind of bike you can imagine. And they were driven by every kind of human you can imagine, too. There seemed to be a pirate theme running loosely throughout the crowd as there were more than a few eye patches and wench-like ensembles but it seems that pretty much anyone with a bike was invited to join this Mile High Bike Ride. Things got weird, guys.


DAY THREE When the morning came and our Pirate Bike Ride had faded with the dawn, we packed up and checked out of the Warwick Davis. I threw everything into the Altima and it was at this point that I realized all of the parking spots that were reserved for “Baker/Hostetler” were not, in fact, reserved for a huge staff of hotel bakers and hostetlers (whatever that is, I assumed some sort of pastry chef) but rather for the Baker-Hostetler Lawfirm. I feel like I’m smarter than this but perhaps the evidence suggests otherwise.

After checkout and humiliation time, we hit the road and headed out for a day trip to Breckinridge. Other than the baseball game, the drive up through the mountains was probably my favorite part of the trip. Winding mountain roads and cool scenery are what Colorado is all about in my book (besides marijuana, obviously). We couldn’t get out on the highway, however, without navigating through a sea of homeless people and almost running over two guitar-carrying hipsters who literally walked out in front of a moving car for no discernible reason. Maybe accidentally killing drifters is what Colorado is all about.

On the way out to Breckinridge, we stopped off in Idaho Falls for lunch at a pizza place called Beau Jo’s and let me just say AHHHHHH!!!!!! Best pizza ever!!! All my life I have been looking for the best pizza ever and now I have found it. What makes it so good, you ask? It’s the honey-infused crust that gives you the feeling that you’re getting to eat a tasty pastry immediately after having eaten your pizza. And really, isn’t that the dream?

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We arrived in Breckinridge and were immediately disappointed. I realize that we came during the down period between summer and winter but man, this place was dead. The gondolas were running when we drove in so we parked at the end of the shopping strip and walked all the way back down to the beginning of said shopping strip only to discover that they were not open. They were just running. Empty. For no reason. (Insert sad Price is Right buzzer here.) We turned back around and wandered through the street of Breckinridge and stopped off at a few dozen little shops and boutiques.

Now, I’m a fan of this sort of shopping/browsing because I like the element of the unknown.IMG_1438 This is why I still shop at bookstores and why I still go to movie rental stores because even though I could find anything online for a cheaper price, you can’t beat the randomness of a shop. But this was not the case in Breckinridge as it seemed that every single store was selling the exact same merchandise for the exact same price. Oh, you were wanting a jacket with the Breckinridge town crest embroidered on it but you forgot to look for one in the last shop? Don’t worry, there are seven dozen other establishments within a two block radius selling the same thing.  And one thing that Breckinridge is REALLY into is the honey badger. Guys, I love the honey badger. Quotes from the honey badger video worked their way into my everyday vernacular years ago and I’m pretty sure they’re here to stay. But I’m not sure stamping a cartoon version of the honey badger (always wearing sunglasses, no less) on every item in your town is the way to go, especially in 2013. My favorite was the one where the cartoon honey badger in shades and shorts is smoking pot. Classy.

The one real saving grace that came to Breckinridge’s defense was a cookie shop that I don’t know the name of so I’ll just call it, “Manna from Heaven Cookie Shop.” You know when you buy those glorious Nestle cookies from Target that come in packs of 20 which is really cruel because you can’t stop eating them and 20 cookies is way too many cookies for a person to eat? (Clearly speaking from experience.) These cookies laugh in the face of those Nestle cookies. We’re talking a cookie sandwich held together by a big gob of delicious frosting. JUST LIKE GOD INTENDED WHEN HE MADE COOKIES. I’m not saying these cookies were worth the trip to Breckinridge but I think Lindsey is saying that.

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On the way back to Denver, we found ourselves a little ahead of schedule and thus had some time to kill. And what do you do when you have time to kill on a Brian Gill vacation? You stop off at historical landmarks! Does this guy know how to party of what? We swung by the gravesite of famed Wild West showman Buffalo Bill because I cannot resist a historical gravesite/landmark/battle site/etc. I once stopped off to see Billy the Kid’s gravesite even though I was exhausted and starting to have hallucinations. Buffalo Bill’s grave was presented with little fanfare but we did get an opportunity to snap a couple of scenic photos looking out over the mountains and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to come to Colorado without doing so.

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After crossing off another name on my personal Wild West Gravesite Bingo board, we met up with Katy and her husband Tim, with whom we stayed for the final two nights of our trip. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Katy’s dog Little Bit, who was dressed like a bee. I had never met Little Bit before but I talk trash about her constantly because Katy insists on dressing her in ridiculous outfits. Having met her, though, I must, Little Bit is pretty solid. She doesn’t yap, she seemed to like most people (always questionable with little lap dogs), and apparently she makes a habit of trying to track down and murder rabbits. Respect, Little Bit.

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For dinner, we hit up a burger joint called Crave. Appropriately named! I am a very unadventurous eater on almost every front. I know what I like and I tend to stick to those things at every opportunity. But there’s something about an exotic burger that makes me want to venture out. This place was right up my alley as the entire menu was filled with crazy, exotic, borderline insane burgers that had all manner of toppings piled on. I got the Campfire, a buffalo burger topped with raspberry BBQ sauce, pepper jack cheese, and coffee-dusted onion strings. Tim even went so far as to order the Luther, which came equipped with a fried egg and bacon and served on a doughnut. A DOUGHNUT. I wanted badly to join in this insanity but I’d had so much sugar in the recent days that I was at risk of going into a diabetic coma. Next time, Luther, you are mine.

Our post-dinner plans amounted to going back to Tim and Katy’s and immediately passing out because we are all old.

DAY FOUR In the morning, I did nothing but dig deeper into my book, Ready Player One, which is probably the nerdiest thing I’ve ever read and I have read MULTIPLE novels from the expanded Star Wars universe. Nevertheless, it’s awesome and I highly recommend it. The 80s references alone are probably worth your time.

Once Katy got home, we headed out for brunch at a place called Snooze. I never eat breakfast but I’m all about breakfast foods at non-breakfast-y times, especially French toast. I am an expert in three food-related fields: burgers, French fries, and French toast. If I’m at a new place and they have French toast, I have to order it. So, yeah, I got the French toast which coincidentally was covered in salted caramel sauce and agave soaked strawberries. It’s okay to be drooling right now. One strange observation about Snooze, however; and really this is more about Denver than it is just Snooze. For a place that calls itself an “A.M. Eatery”, they sure have a LOT of liquor available. Denver is serious about their booze. Mimosas and Bloody Marys are one thing but Snooze was stocked to the brim with choice tequilas and beer on tap. It was weird.

After our boozy brunch and some more laziness, we began our tour of Katy’s family members. We started with her sister and kids who had just gotten out of school and were pretty serious about showing me all of the cool toys they’re currently into. Now, I had never met these kids before but that’s never a problem because kids love me. This is due in part to the fact that I’ve been working with kids for a long time and know how to interact with them and in part because I really understand the intricacies of Angry Birds: Star Wars and the importance of the Pixar movies. Basically, I’m just a big kid. We got along swimmingly.

We did a lot of driving on Day Four and that brought to my attention two observations:

1.) There are more Subarus in the state of Colorado than there are people. Seriously, Subura shouldn’t even bother advertising in other states as I’m quite confident at least 85 percent of their sales come directly from Coloradoans. 2.) Colorado has a LOT of options when it comes to license plates. Texas does too so I’m not judging, but in all of my travels, I’ve never seen any state that rivaled Texas on the license plate choice front. At one point we drove by 8 cars in a row that all had different types of plates.

For dinner, we decided to pick up Macaroni Grill and head over to complete our tour of the Wallises by visiting Katy’s parents. When we arrived at curbside to-go, Katy produced a coupon on her phone and Tim handed it off to the hostess. She looked at it, confusion rolled over her face, and then she said, “This says it’s for your next visit.” We all got quiet and stared at her blankly. She stared back blankly. Then finally, one of us said, “Well…this IS our next visit.” This caused even more confusion, requiring an even further explanation: “Last time we visited we got this coupon. So now this is next time.” I’m not sure if she quite understood even then but she took the phone in and showed it to her manager who, I’m assuming, was no less dumbfounded than we were and applied the discount. No the finest moment for the to-go hostess at Macaroni Grill.

Having successfully received our next-visit discount, we collected our goods and headed to the Wallis household which was DOPE. I feel like our house is a “grown up” house, a place where we’re very likely going to stay for the remainder of our lives and one that we’ll be quite happy with. But this place was like what you construct in your brain when you imagine having a lot of money but also too much taste to build a gaudy monstrosity of a mansion. If the Wallises put in an indoor basketball court, I would move in with them tomorrow. They are also extremely kind people, they live in the same neighborhood as Peyton Manning, and we got to talk about Breaking Bad for a while so all in all, the night was a huge success.

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Before heading to bed, we sat down to watch a couple episodes of Island Hunters which is like House Hunters except it features people buying entire personal islands. This is OBVIOUSLY something that is in my future given the tremendous amount of money I make working at a church so I was completely in on this. The first episode we watched featured a Wisconsin businessman looking for an island in the Florida Keys which makes sense because if I lived in Wisconsin, I would do anything to not live in Wisconsin anymore. The problem was, the first island he saw was priced half a million dollars outside of his price range. Here’s the thing, Wisconsin businessman: If you can’t afford to drop an extra $500 grand on your own personal island, then you don’t need to be buying your own personal island. Just a thought.

DAY FIVE The final day of vacation is always the worst day of vacation. It’s not just that you’re leaving your care free life of no responsibilities behind and heading back to the Land of Washing Bottles All of the Time Every Day, it’s looking into the teeth of the taunting task of traveling home. Traveling TO vacation is always so much easier than traveling FROM vacation. I’m sure it’s partially psychological but it seems like the crazy stuff saves itself for the trip home.

After lunch, we said our goodbyes and headed to the airport. On the way in, I noticed that in virtually every highway median we passed, someone had erected these strange wooden barriers. I’m not sure if these are designed to prevent snow from building up or what but it occurred to me that perhaps Denver is continually on the lookout for roving bands of highwaymen and brigands that attempt to storm the airport. I guess you can never be too safe.

We navigated the Denver airport which, just like the Denver road system, seems to have been laid out in the most confusing way possible, perhaps in an effort to alleviate the concern about brigands. Once we fought our way through TSA and witnessed a REALLY old woman being forced to get out of her wheelchair and walk through the metal detector, we sat down approximately five hours before our flight departed. Really, it was probably closer to two hours but the Wi-Fi in the Denver airport is abysmal and I tend to turn into a whiney six year old when my iPad doesn’t work so it felt longer. Seriously, boost the Wi-Fi, guys. I thought about using this time to charge my phone but the closest charging table had been bombarded by a guy who had three different devices plugged in. I can’t say what happened to this man because I blacked out and that will be my defense in court.

We finally boarded our plane and were immediately vexed by the obnoxious family that sat down behind us. Every member of this family was, shall we say, rather large and by looking at the mom’s face, you could tell that just walking to the mail box was an iffy proposition. They sat down behind us and, in between labored breaths (I’m not saying that to be mean, I’m saying that because literally every breath was a chore for these people) they began conversing with the little girl at the top of their lungs. Every single word was yelled as if they were sitting at opposite ends of the plane. New rule: if you’re sitting within five rows of the loudest people on a plane, you never have to store your electronic devise. I really needed my headphones in this moment.

You know what, I’m going to take it a step further: We’re done with this whole, “power off and store all electronic devises during landing and life off” bit. It’s dumb. We all know that, in 2013, my iPhone/iPod/iPad causes exactly zero stress to the airplane and its communications. People go crazy on airplanes, y’all. I know this to be true because I am a fairly normal, extremely logical human being but if someone so much as touches the back of my seat on a plane I lose my mind. We need all the distractions we can get on planes. Just let me read my book and listen to Arcade Fire, please. Otherwise I might stab someone like I did that guy who was taking up all of the outlets back at the airport I have no memory of that incident.

We had a layover in Albuquerque. Do you think the people of Albuquerque are happy about the success of Breaking Bad? I mean on the one hand it’s brought attention to a charming little town that was previously only been known as the place where Bugs Bunny missed his exit. On the other, that attention centers solely upon the sale of methamphetamine. I had been off the plane for less than 10 seconds before I tweeted out a meth-related joke. That can’t be the best thing for town morale. Even worse for town morale: We had been inside the Albuquerque airport for almost 30 minutes before I realized that we had, in fact, been in this airport before during our trip home from Seattle two years ago. That should be the town slogan: “Albuquerque: For Better or For Worse, You’ll Probably Forget You Were Here in a Week or So.”

We had enough time to eat so we sat down at the only restaurant in the airport for some overpriced bar food. Mind you, this was the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday, the airwaves are literally jam-packed with football games, and we were in a sports bar. And yet, the entertainment option that had been chosen for us on every screen was some local cable access show called “Pet TV.” It’s exactly what it sounds like. I died a little.

After a below average meal and some educational programing regarding the pros and cons of having a raccoon as a pet (mostly cons, I would say), we boarded our flight to Dallas. I tried to go all the way to the back of the plane so that at least no one would sit behind us and kick my seat (I may need to seek therapy regarding the seat kicking thing) but the flight attendant was standing in the back row and didn’t want to move. Of course, she moved out of the way on the double when the large family made their way back there and so we got to share yet another leg of our trip with the loud talkers. To top it off, there was another family sitting two rows in front of us who will clearly be the sort of family where the parents buy the kids beer as long as they promise to drink it at home. Not a lot of control with these kids. We were stuck between a very loud rock and a wild and crazy hard place.

Families with small kids should always be seated first. Always. Whether they go to the front or the back, it doesn’t matter to me, just as long as I have fair warning as to where they’re going to sit so that I can avoid them. Again, I work with kids, I love kids, and probably the next time I fly, I will have a kid in tow. But on planes, all bets are off. Welcome to the Thunderdome, y’all.

90 minutes and 376 seat kicks later, we rolled into the Dallas-Fort Worth airspace. My joy at being so close to home was immediately throttled, however, once the taxiing began and the guy in front of us began regaling his seatmate with tales of how he regularly drives while playing Candy Crush. I can’t decide whether I’m mad that this person is out on the road or happy that he’ll soon die in a one car accident. Probably a little of both.

Finally we de-boarded, navigated ourselves through Dallas Love Field to baggage claim, and into the loving arms of our giant baby boy who promptly spit up on Lindsey. It’s good to be home.

Our dog killed and ate a rabbit while we were gone, Brian