Interstellar Adventures

August 26, 2005

Wild West Relay Volume I: Dallas Hill Wrangers Travel to Colorado

Filed under: Adventures,Running Life — by InterstellarLass @ 11:47 am

How many suitcases does it take for Lass to run from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs? One, two, three. Three suitcases. (Insert the sound of The Count laughing here.) I spent Tuesday and Wednesday making my lists, washing clothes, organizing piles of running clothes, regular clothes, running shoes, regular shoes, mandatory safety gear, and miscellaneous items needed to ensure a comfortable journey for myself. I packed one suitcase for ‘after the race’ and one suitcase for just race gear. The other was really my small rolling carry-on, so it was more like a quarter suitcase. OK, OK, I’m just trying to justify having three bags for a four day trip. Any other normal trip it would have been one. I promise.

5 am dawned early (like any other day really) Thursday morning. I was so excited about the trip, I jumped out of bed and immediately began double-checking my packing list and trying to not be paranoid about forgetting something very important. I knew we were going to make a shopping trip to Target (see, even on vacation I get my Target fix) before the race so we could stock up on food and beverages and whatnot, so if I did forget anything, I’d be covered.

Nick was so sweet to agree to take me to the airport so I didn’t have to leave my car in remote parking for days. A 10:30 am flight means being to the airport by 8:30 am, and I live about an hour from the airport. Plus, there was morning rush-hour traffic to worry over, so we left my house at 7:30.

Traffic wasn’t so bad, so we got to the airport early. Got my bags checked in with no problem and then waited on the rest of the group. Nick stayed with me till it was time to go through security. He really is a doll.

The whole team, plus two support crew, were there and ready to fly. Keith, Judy, Chris, Bill, Jean, Paul, Gates, George, Celine, Vickie, Brad, and yours truly, plus Janet and Deborah rounded out our motley crew.

Team Photo waiting at the gate.

We boarded the plane on time, not knowing that we would have a significant delay ahead of us. As we were sitting on the plane and preparing to take off, the captain came on the loud speaker and said that there was a small problem that they hoped to have remedied quickly. After a while, he came on again. Yep. Still working on the problem. FYI, this problem was that the co-pilot flight computer wouldn’t come on. The pilot flight computer was fine though. Oh yeah, I’m feeling good about this. Um., can we get another plane please? A little longer…still working on the problem. They actually shut down all the power on the plane in order to try to ‘reboot’ the system they were trying to fix. That does not give one a good feeling about flying on a plane!

Judy and Keith are happy to board.          Somebody’s a happy flyer!

They finally decided to de-plane us. They were going to see if they could ‘borrow’ the necessary part from another airline, otherwise we were going to have to wait for a part to be flown in from another United hub. Great. It was time for lunch, so we went on down to the Chili’s Too, had a beer and some lunch, and then came back to see what the status was on the plane.

Some French guy getting a shoe-shine.       Duck…duck…goose!

We sat around, and sat around, and sat around. They kept giving us updates. The part was here, and they were installing it! Except from what we could see, it was like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Finally, the captain came on and said that the part they flew in didn’t fix the problem! The diagnosing computer was wrong. Hmmm. So, meanwhile, all passengers with connecting flights are being placed on other flights. They have priority since they are connecting. We, as direct flyers, are on the bottom of the list. Except there are 14 of us! It’s easy to re-route one or two people, but 14 of us have to get to the same place at the same time. Dammit! Didn’t they know we were special?

The plane that wouldn’t fly.

So, in all my diplomacy, after the captain came on the last time, asked “So, at what point do you all give us a status as to when the flight might actually be cancelled in order for us to make an educated decision about our options. We know that no other United flight to Denver is going to get us where we’re going, and our option is to spend more money on another airline, or rent a van and drive all night directly to the starting line.” They didn’t seem to understand that I was just asking when the flight might actually be cancelled rather than them giving us a status of ‘we’re still working on it’. I wasn’t trying to be mean, just trying to elicit more information. But, within two minutes, the flight was cancelled. We were standing at the head of the line, so we were able to be some of the first ones places on another airline. We had booked a group rate, and they were able to get 13 of us on an alternate American flight. One girl had booked on her own and got on the last United flight out to Denver. We all felt much better.

Gates & Janet correctly riding the escalator.    Keith needs safety instructions though.

The American flight took off around 5 I think, and was smooth, for flying. I don’t like flying very much. I’m really bad with the take-off part of it. I just try to breathe deep, close my eyes and think happy thoughts to myself. I finished four days of crosswords while on the plane though. That’s a good thing.

The little plane that could!

We got to Denver around 6:30. Picked up our rental vans and headed toward Fort Collins. I was starting to not feel so good since it had been almost 7 hours already since I’d last had something to eat. My body is a finely tuned machine (*cough, giggle, snort*) and must be fueled at consistent intervals, or I start to feel very, very ill. I had a bit of a headache from the canned air smell on the plane. Sadly, there was nothing along the road except for mountains and prarie.

I would spend the next 48 hours in a van with these people. Good thing they’re awesome!

We made it into Fort Collins and found a Carrabas. Good pasta for fuel. I had the Mezza Luna ravioli. It was actually very good. I think I ate half a loaf of bread too. And, had a glass of Rosa Sangria. It was very delicious. I could taste the brandy in the mix, and it made my headache go away. Or maybe it was the Aleve.

After dinner, we checked into the hotel and unloaded bags. I was driving, and while Judy was checking in, she was waving me in to the lobby. I went to see what she needed. When I approached, she handed me a fax. It was from Nick. What a sweetheart. He just sent me a little inspirational note to have a good race.

Then we went on our shopping spree to Target (said with a French accent of course, Tar-jay). Loaded up on water, sport drink, carbs, sweets, etc. Food for fuel for running. Oh, and PB&J. I love peanut butter and jelly. My favorite running food. It’s practically a gourmet meal out there on the course. And how does one make a gourmet PB&J? Lots of peanut butter and lots of jelly. Enough so the jelly squishes out the side when you take a bite and you have to lick the jelly off the side of the bread. MMMMM.

Back at the hotel, it was time to wind down and prepare for the day. Keith & Judy & I were bunking together since I knew them best. I was supposed to room with a couple of the other solo girls, but a snafu with the room reservations gave us one smoking room. So, since Judy said it was her error, and I’m not picky, I stayed with them. I did have a bit of a scare though when Keith opened his suitcase and we were shocked to hear a strange buzzing noise. But it was just his toothbrush. 😉

We sorted through our running gear, laying out our starting line clothes and deciding on a shower schedule for the next day. We made it to bed shortly before midnight. For a hotel room bed, I fell to sleep quickly and slept well.

Next Installment: Wild West Relay Volume II: Race Day Arrives!

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