Some airports really do give up trying the moment you're outside.
We are in Denver, or rather the attractively named DIA, which may be the most unimpressive large air-travel establishement I can recall. At least today. It’s so far out, and the area around it so nondescript; we had to drive around a bit after getting the rental car to pick up Wife’s brother and his traveling companion, and it’s . . . it's like a modern version of geological stratification.
Once we had collected everyone, we set out for the 65-mile trip to Breckinridge, where we would attend a wedding. Traffic was horrid. Every now and then it would just coagulate, and cars would turtle along at a plodding pace. Construction, of course. After we got out of town, the same - people heading up to their places in the mountains, I guess. We used Waze to juke around some of the obstructions, but there are only so many side roads when you’re out in the sticks.
The sights were awesome, and not in the “intensifier everyone uses to respond to the simplest of queries.” Having not been out here, I was fascinated by the age and the variations and the ancient stories told by the angles of the rock layers. Makes you wish you knew more, even though you knew the basics - collision of plates, great grinding forces shoving up the sedimentary layers. You wonder how much ancient life lies fossilized in these endless thick sheets thrusting up into the sky.
It’s enough to make one feel ancient, as it should, but there’s not much you can learn from that, or feel with particular intensity. It’s the old human relics that make you feel a connection.
You can imagine the hardships and the hope and the work and the struggles, the remarkable work of building a civilization. That means something. A fossilized fern does not. It’s hard to say “this was once an ocean," because when it was an ocean, it was not this.
Hey, it's a tunnel! The Eisenhower tunnel.
Eventually we arrived, as usually happens, and the town of Breckenridge was delightful. Touristy, with a Main Street filled with cafes and cookie vendors and shops. Our hotel:
Families and dogs and the general sense of “this is normal, again.”
In the evening, a pre-wedding feed, where I got to talk to some smart folk - the groom is a neurochemistry wonk and has a lot of friends in the field, so you find yourself sitting next to a guy, ask what he does, and he says “research on audio neuroscience,” and you cannot help leaning over and saying “what?” And then he gets it, ha ha. Drinks later at a small patio, the local bourbon: delicious. At the end of the day, great relief and satisfaction: out in the world again for the first time since the Bad Times began. Everything feels normal, but what’s remarkable is how you don’t think this feels normal. You’ve slipped back into it without comment.
Ah, a spare moment, let's check Twitter . . . CNN: SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR CAREFREE POST-COVID SUMMER
Annnnd shut the app and put the phone away and just enjoy.
Slept better than I have in years, even though the bed seemed to conspire with my airline seat and car seat to wreak bright discomfort on my lower back. The bed frame was metal, exposed, and quite close to the wall, guaranteeing a shin-bark on the trip for nocturnal micturation. I told the front desk about this the next day, and they said they'd make a note of it, and I said good, because this exchange had drained the need to to say something about it on Yelp, after which the management would enter the conversation and apologize and say they are looking into it. I've done my part for shin and country.
The wedding was nice, short, involved no singing on anyone’s part, and was followed by another meal, which would precede the evening meal. Weddings are like a theme-park ride. You sit down, strap in, and are dragged from one tableau to the next, a passenger in the rituals.
But. It’s been good to see people I haven’t seen in years, and nice to explore on my own while wife and brother-in-law-plus-one went up into the hills to walk around. Visited the history museum, and paid respect to the tintype ghosts:
It is a prosperous town and so the museum is quite professional, with recorded voices of an old author who wrote a book about how the gold dredging was destroying the environment. The publisher wanted her to add a romance, so this she did, although I gather that the strong-solid-man who woos a local lass might not have come from personal experience, since the exhibit noted that she lived with another female writer for 30 years. I guess it all speaks for itself. They had one of her covers:
Literature was a hard sell to the paperback crowd. Had to rope ‘em in with the promise of some ripped blouses and heavin’ bosoms.
The other exhibits had additional examples of the difficulties people experienced trying to make a world up here - I can’t imagine what it took to get the trains up, but they did, and now people could get goods from the outside world at greater speed. Photos showed the interiors of the log houses, stuffed with Victorian gewgaws and bric-a-brac and gee-brac and bric-a-gaws and so on. Main Street stuffed with loud odorous bars; the ladies forming a glee club. You feel awe and sympathy and horror and respect.
Tomorrow: little more but the way back, and how I saved it - or ruined it - for everyone.
Now, as ever, the Matchbooks.