Monday, February 11, 2008

Denver Trip Report: Part 1

As I mentioned in a previous post I headed out to Denver over Super Bowl weekend to visit my brother John and his wife Nancy. They actually live in Ponca City, Oklahoma but are in Denver (Aurora, to be precise) while JT recuperates from a double-lung transplant.

After getting up wayyyy early to drive up to Philly International (it was the only way to get a non-stop red-eye on Sunday night) I got through security, which is always a delight, and settled in with a magazine. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot open in the airport at 5 AM (not even a Starbucks?), so I was glad I'd brought along some coffee and Fat-Free Fig Newtons for the trip.

I should also mention that while Chris, Ryan and Charlie stayed home in Maryland, I wasn't alone on my journey. Our nephew Liam is a second-grade student in Massachusetts and his class had provided me with a travel buddy for the trip. "William", as he'd been dubbed by Chris's folks, had already been to Naples, Florida and was the perfect companion. Silent and small enough to fit in my carry-on bag, William posed for some pix along the way (see above) and never asked for a bite of my Newtons.

While I've come to view airline travel as one step above taking the bus, I must admit that I enjoy flying Frontier Airlines as much as I enjoy flying any airline. (There's a compliment in there somewhere.) The seats are fairly roomy, even in the economy section, and at 6'2" I don't feel too cramped.

Better still, they have DirecTV built into the headrests and for 5 bucks you can get 20-some channels including various ESPN incarnations, MSNBC, the Food Network, HGTV and a cartoon channel called 'Boom' that features stuff like 'Jonny Quest', 'Dyna Mutt', etc. Oddly enough, the channel was showing the same episode of 'Jonny Quest' that I watched about 18 months ago on the way back from Phoenix. (A faux Race Banion takes the place of the real Race, only to be unmasked as an impostor when a woman from Real Race's past shows up in the middle of some godforsaken jungle and kisses Fake Race!)

The trip out went about as good as I could hope: nobody in the seat next to me, some serious dozing fueled by the drone of the plane and the droning pre-Super Bowl chatter on ESPN, and a Fat Free Newton or two after I slept through the "meal service" which I believe amounted to a cookie and a beverage.

Arriving in Denver slightly ahead of schedule I made cell phone contact with JT and Nancy and headed off to meet them. Having never been to Denver I wasn't sure what to expect in the airport. Vegas has dazed looking gamblers, carpets that smell like feet and slot machines. What would Denver offer? Hordes of John Elway look-alikes? Desperados brandishing six guns? Marlboro men in suede jackets with lambswool piping?

Had you asked me what I expected, I guarantee that a huge mural that looked like this wasn't on the list...

Unfortunately, while the Denver Airport may be huge and feature scary paintings on the walls it completely lacks informative, helpful signage. This is something I've never understood about airports. If a large percentage of the people coming through your doors are not from there and may have never been in your airport, why not have some useful signage – and mall-style "You Are Here" directories don't count.

In my first attempt to hook up with my brother I ended up on the wrong side of the terminal. He was over on the Terminal East side, I guessed wrong and ended up in Terminal West. Once I got turned around and made my way East, I followed what little signage there was to ground transportation, only to be alerted by an overhead announcement that if I was waiting for a non-commercial pickup I was on the wrong level.


One wrong terminal and one wrong pickup level later I finally hooked up with my brother and sister-in-law. I can't do the moment justice when I saw him get out of the car. It was the first time in over two years that I'd seen him without an oxygen canister and the first time I felt like he'd gotten a new lease on life.



Aj said...

I stared at the full-size photo of that painting for about fifteen minutes and I still can't figure out what the hell is going on there? Nazi stormtroopers with swords? A line of wailing women in headscarves? A rainbow? All I can say that is probably the LAST thing I'd want to see after I got off of a four-hour flight.

Then again, for Comic-Con this year, I have a layover in Salt Lake City. I can only imagine the airport art.

John said...

It does look sort of stormtrooperish, doesn't it?

Does Frontier fly out of BWI? If so I might investigate flights to SoCal for the next time I go out there. DirecTV in the plane sounds too good to pass up!

BTW: Good to finally meet you this weekend, Dan.

Dan said...

Crazy, huh? Imagine you've been up since 2 AM and *that* is what greets you at the end of your trip... AHHHH!

I'll have to see if I can find some info about it on-line. I'd love to know the background.

John: Not sure if Frontier flies out of BWI anymore. We flew Frontier out when we went to LA and Phoenix back in 2006, but I couldn't get a direct flight to Denver the weekend I was traveling so I went to Philly. My only complaint, which I'll get to in Part 2, is that it can be a bitch to get your credit card to swipe properly on the headrest and they no longer take cash for it.