Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy New Year everyone!

I spent the weekend in Colorado and had a great time.

Normally I fly to Denver via Frontier Airlines. It's an easy and direct 2 hour flight. At the airport, you know those first class assholes that get to skip to the front of their own line while you're waiting 20 deep in the loser line? Well for a whole year, I got to be one of those first class assholes. It was wonderful and spectacular. For some reason, Frontier gave me a first class membership card for the 2005 year, so I got to skip to the front of the check-in line, bypass the security line, and board the plane first. It was beautiful. The thought of having lost my priviledges makes my eyes tear up.

Well to save $40 on my airline ticket, I opted to fly America West instead. And that my friend, made all of the difference. I flew from San Diego to Denver with a layover in Phoenix. It sounds like a simple flight, but perhaps it's the extended simplicity that makes it seem so tedious and long. I had an hour and fifteen minute flight from San Diego to Phoenix. An hour layover in Phoenix. And then a two hour flight from Phoenix to Denver. It just makes for a long evening.

But once in Denver, everything was aglow.

Kim planned a fantastic New Year's Eve for us. We started our evening by eating at the Highland's Garden Cafe. It was one of the ten best meals I've ever had. Normally restaurants of this size and sort have a fixed entree list of five or six items. This menu had 20 entrees available -- all of them amazing. Half of them were seafood, and no fish was duplicated. You could have thrown a dart at the menu and I would have been enthusiastic about the selection. It was the hardest time I've ever had selecting a meal. Since I'm a whore for Spanish food, I opted for the seafood paella. My plate arrived and it was a work of art. There was a towering pillar of seafood piled on top, including an enormous lobster claw posed brillantly at the apex. We capped the meal by sharing a delicious cheese cake.

The rest of the evening would be spent at the Oriental Theater to see Devotchka perform.

We arrived before the doors opened so we grabbed some coffee across the street at the charming and friendly Parisi. The Oriental Theater doors opened at 8pm, but we still found ourselves standing outside for twenty minutes. Remember, this is Colorado in December. It wasn't warm. It was the theater's grand opening, so I'm guessing that they still had some kinks to iron out since during our wait, we saw people carry bags of ice and cases of beer from their cars to inside the theater.

The main theater floor has a tiered arrangement where there are five plateus. Fortunately, Kim and I were able to grab some chairs and pull up to the front of the third tier, with a perfect view of the stage. There were two opening acts. First up was The December Question. They sounded great and gave off an infectious energy. The lead singer, Becky, has an amazing and powerful voice that resonates. Definitely catch them if you're in Denver. The second band was the very interesting Mannequin Makeout. From an image perspective, it looked like each member was plucked from a completely different band and placed on the stage. There was the school girl outfit. The guy in the ruffled tux shirt. The girl in the sweater. A guy that could be a lumberjack. And a guy that seemed like John Belushi in a fraternity. From a music perspective, it was a bit like organized noise. Each musician seemed to play whatever he or she wanted. It was like someone called out the key the song should be played in, and then everyone went at it. From an entertainment perspective, it was top notch. I couldn't stop watching. It was like performance art with a soundtrack.

And then out came the headliner. Devotchka. You've got to see them. It was an amazing live show. They carried us past midnight where the whole theater toasted. It was so much fun. Their musicianship and songwriting is superb. You could pick out any member of the band, watch them solely through the whole show, and be completely engaged and entertained. You throw all four of them out there and your eyes are wandering furiously across the stage.

On Monday we dropped down into Colorado Springs to see my family. Kim, my dad, and I went to Garden of the Gods. The visitors center offers a great view of the park and Pikes' Peak.

And a closer view of The Peak....

We drove through the park and stopped at a few sights. When I lived in Colorado Springs there were at least a few deaths every year from inexperienced people climbing the rocks and falling. You can see a few people climbing in this photo.

The remaining scattered days were spent throughout Denver. The weather was relatively nice, although the wind gusts were powerful and frequent.

I returned to San Diego last night. My flight from Denver was delayed by an hour because the airplane's toilet had a leak. They had two options. Repair it and potentially delay us longer, or clean up the mess and keep the bathroom locked during the flight. They opted for the quickest option and went with the latter. We flew into Phoenix and mere feet upon touching down, the pilot reved the engines, aborted the landing, and took off again. He either made a bad approach or there was something on the runway. Neither option was good. He circled again and proceeded to deliver one of the roughest landings I've ever experienced. There must have been enough criticial mass traveling to San Diego on this plane, because they delayed the launch of the Phoenix to San Diego flight so that we could all get on. Despite being over an hour late. I finally arrived in San Diego tired and glad to be in my own place.

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