Saturday, September 27, 2003

Last night I returned to San Diego after an amazing two week stay with Kim in Denver.

When I flew into Denver International Airport, Kim greeted me at the security checkpoint, and we walked over to the luggage rack, awaiting my two checked bags. One bag contained my clothes. The second was my folding French easel. We waited for the bags. And waited. And waited. Then over the loudspeaker we heard, “Paging Tipton. Please go to the baggage office.” Never a good sign. We entered the office and Kim sullenly pointed down. Sitting on the floor was my splintered easel. The top clamp was snapped off. Wood was ripped in half and missing. Screws barely held together. I talked with the desk clerk. As I held the shattered easel in my arms like a sick puppy, our conversation began like this:
Desk clerk: You have to be careful with the parts that stick out. Its extremities. This wasn’t built for traveling.
Me: But it’s called a traveling easel.

He wasn’t compassionate. I thought about aggressively pursuing my case, but knew I was in the wrong. I had nothing to stand on. It's not a resilient apparatus. Before I began the trip, I had even joked with Kim about my doubts the easel would survive the trip, and told her we would probably end up with kindling. Instead of arguing, I played the waiting game and kneeled next to my easel, clutching it to my chest. It was like standing at a bar until it closed, hoping that some girl would simply find pity in you and take you home. Saying anything before that time would only prove detrimental to the cause. Reveal you to be a fraud. Eventually, he relented and gave me a fifty dollar credit on a future Frontier flight. It worked out well. Analyzing the damage I realized I could patch together my $85 easel, and would definitely get use out of the fifty dollar credit.

Fixed with rubber bands and rogue screws, I set up my repaired easel on Kim’s third story balcony a few mornings later, and did an abstract painting of her downtown view.

We spent the first weekend with my parents in Colorado Springs and attended the Air Force Academy football game. It's great because my parents have tickets to the Blue and Silver room so we got to stock up on free beer and food before the game. This room also paid great dividends later, as it was 40 degrees outside, and thus we could go inside at halftime to warm up. As I’ve lived in California for over seven years, my ability to handle cold weather has diminished greatly. Kim said that my California living had made me fragile. “I’m not fragile,” I joked. “I’m sensitive.” It’s all semantics, I know, but it sounds better to be sensitive. The fighter plane fly-overs were powerful – bone-chilling and teary-eye making (remember I’m sensitive) – especially when accompanied by the national anthem.

The second weekend we spent three days up in Breckenridge. We brought Kim’s two dogs, Oscar and JJ, and took an indirect route through Kenosha pass so that we could see the aspen leaves change. It was beautiful. Along the way, we stopped in Conifer to each eat a foot long hotdog, chili-cheese fries, and a shake at hot-dog shaped restaurant. A definite trip highlight. One morning I walked around the Breckenridge shops, ducking into a coffee shop to write, and then wandering through great art galleries. Later, while sitting on a bench, I quietly sketched the ski-trail covered mountain.

This last week we hit two of the big Denver sports venues. On Tuesday (Sept 23) we watched the Avalanche beat the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center. I loved seeing Sakic set-up one of my fave players, and newest Avalancher, Teemu Selanne for a goal. On Thursday (Sept 25) we saw Bruce Springsteen play a two and a half hour show at Mile High.

Sandwiched between these stadium events, we made a trip to one of our favorite places: Boulder. Kim and I walked hand in hand along Pearl Street, and meandered over to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art to check out an amazing exhibit by Jim Byrne. In the late afternoon, we made our way to Chataqua Park, located at the base of the Flatirons, and I set up my easel. The hazy sky and evening sun sliding behind the mountains created a diffused light effect, thus blurring colors and leaving few shadows, so painting was a challenge. While I worked on my painting, Kim laid on a blanket, reading a book, with dozens of hikers and joggers zipping past us, each one glaring curiously at my progress. It was a beautiful day.

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