Here goes nothing. The riveting, more details than you ever cared to know tale of my journey:
Last Wednesday, thinking I had until 2AM to do the last minute preparations for my trip, got a nice surprise when my dad (the one taking me to the bus station) said he'd be over in a little over an hour. Thankfully, I'd done most of the hard work the night before, out of excited anticipation.
The bus ride up to Phoenix was a blast. About 60 miles outside of Sucktown, heading up, is a Border Patrol checkpoint and this stop includes agents boarding, asking citizenship, and checking documents. One man sitting across the aisle from me was woken up for this and got very testy when asked if he was a US citizen. For the entire rest of the way 100+ miles, he was grumbling about that and about the driver and another passenger talking.
However, he started to freak me out when his grumblings started to include things like "bitch nigger" (aimed at the driver), "motherfucker", "shut the f*** up", and on three separate occasions he stood up and spit at the back of the passenger talking to the driver, none of which seemed to be noticed. If it was, they ignored the man.
I certainly sympathized with wanting quiet -it was a 3:05AM departure for me and he had been on when I boarded- but he really had me worried. To make things more exciting, when we arrived in Phoenix, while still on the bus, he pushed me and with a grin said, "Oops." I got myself to the airport and things went smoothly from there.
Once I arrived at Denver, I followed all the nice big signs to the baggage claim -though, I have to admit to nearly taking the wrong turn once- and there was Steph and the kids. She gave me a big old hug, which I loved, and then the introductions to the kids were had. We proceeded to walk over to where Brian was working -he was a level below us- and we played a lovely game of Where's Waldo? Funnily enough, I found him before Steph did. We tried getting his attention but it wasn't working, so off we went to the parking lot, in an attempt to beat the clock (clock won, unfortunately). The devil horse waved goodbye as we left; he really does have the creepiest eyes.
I had my second peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever and the first in 7 or 8 years on the ride to downtown. That bread was...mouthgasm worthy. Steph made it. I want to marry her (more on that later).
We found parking and then walked 16th Street, which is one of the coolest, most vibrant downtowns I've seen. I was in love with the functional, painted pianos that littered the streets.
Being the goobs we were, we kept forgetting to check the meeter time, so we rushed a bit where we didn't need to but really, I was quite satisfied with the look I got. We saw the Capital Building -I joined the non-sexual mile high club for a moment- some wicked awesome churchs, and nearby, the Molly Brown house. We then popped over to the Denver Art Museum and got swept away by the sights (cue me inserting picture here to make that pun more obvious...only, I'm lazy, so you get other pictures).
From there, we went to Casa Bonita, which is only the most awesome restaurant a person could ever go to. There is a diver, pinatas, gorillas, mariachi bands...and damn good sopapillas. Hello, liquid honey; I've had it on my trail mix, as in baked in or whatever, but not like that. De-freaking-licious.
Afterward, we headed out to a little trail/park in the Red Rock area? Wherever it was, it was gorgeous. Trees, a stream, horse or cow manure...Following that, we headed back to the airport so I could finally meet Brian face to face. Poor guy was occupied, however, with finding out from Steph why all three of his children were crying just then. What it amounted to was: long day.
There was the potential for hand puppets on the ride back, talk of pirate party (lots of that), etc. When we got to their house, there was a little small talk but basically, everyone was tired, so off to bed early.
Day two! The boys were ever so excited to have a guest because they were my alarm clock. That was amusing, waking up to big ol' eyes staring at me and big ol' smiles on their faces as they at first quietly told me to wake up, then got louder and more physical. I make for an excellent trampoline, I think Brayden would tell you. It was adorable.
After we got moving, Tyler went to gymnastics, we later went to Good Times, which is amazing fast food and then went to the store for cheese. LOTS of cheese. (That was that day, wasn't it, Steph? I'm awful in the memory department). We dropped stuff off at the house, then onwards to the zoo!
Guys, I have to say, I think my chances of getting Steph to marry me are pretty good. I mean, you know
what happens with Pwebbers at the zoo, right? She was totally planning to make a move on me (more on that
Two parts of the trip to the zoo really stick out:
1) the agenda (giraffe) who had his head up against the wall, in an "Oh, FML" way.
2) the midget monkeys. So, we're standing there, looking at the most adorable little monkey you've ever seen when all of a sudden, he opens his mouth and screeches this really high pitched screech. We couldn't hear it in full force but we got the gist of it. A few moments later, his little friend runs over and throws himself down at the first guy's feet. First guy proceeds to lick his armpits. And then the rest of him. I think that's one thing we've learned at the zoo that can never be unlearned.
Much tiredness later, we went to the house and there was the most heavenly homemade mac 'n' cheese ever. There were also peas (a first for me not eating around them) and they were pretty darn good. Guys, Steph can cook.
After the boys were put to bed, Steph started making me some flowers to wear in my hair and asked, for the second time that day, for me to share my Pweb knowledge. Wouldn't you know it, I was like, "Uh, durrr?" I had no idea what to say. Then again, she knows way more about that place than she made out initially. Tricksy woman.
Brian showed up, played some game that may have had the word monkey in its title, and then we all went upstairs to their room. Bow-chicka-bow-wow. Kidding, kidding. We really did go upstairs but it was so they could show me the most hilarious, oft repeated commercials for TomTom, featuring Vader and Yoda. There were also pirate videos. I learned an important lesson that night: pirates don't play put-put gold, they pillage it! Or something like that.
Day three! Why, hello there, first ever poptart. It was tasty, in a totally bad for you way.
We -and by we, I mean Steph- packed things for the day. That was ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK DAY! Before that, however, we stopped a few places, such as her parents' house (I saw the piano from the Dave and Rahl drive to EnderCon video!) and where she and Brian took engagement pictures. It made me really happy to see these places out of Steph History. I was especially impressed with all the local art (sculptures, mostly - best looking sculpture park I've seen since the Walker in Minneapolis).
But moving along, we made it up to Estes Park, where we tried to see the Stanley Hotel; very famous, I hear. Wanting to mull over whether or not it was worth springing $5 to park there, we kept moving along and eventually ended up having a sandwich picnic in the Park.
We then walked around Sprague Lake (yes?) and feeling weather that is normal for our "winter" season, I fell in love with life. It's crazy how automatic that is but I really couldn't have been less happy at that moment than I was. We hopped back in the car a bit later and headed to the top and I was just blown away, I mean blown
away, by the views.
I would have stayed forever (I found a tree to camp underneath) but we had to head back. We stopped at a pizza joint on the way back in and the guy who called our order (and said my name correctly, brownie points to him) reminded me a lot of Wind Swept-Chris. I was sad I didn't have a Sharpie, because I was fully prepared to write "Pweb" on one of the bricks. Back in the car, off to the house. Heard the most fun little wallpaper song ever.
After the kids were put to bed, there was some Chess
. Who the hell knew chess could be so impassioned? It made me so mad, but in a really good way. Soon after, there was sleep.
Day four! I think this was my favorite day, if I had to choose one. We woke up, ate a nice meal prepared by Steph, then headed to church. I could have opted out of that but being in church makes me question things that I should be questioning more often. Not sure I want to get into that at the moment. Needless to say, it was a positive experience.
We went back to the house after and the quest to make the most awesome lasagna ever started. Pretty shortly after that, Erica and Phenious showed up and okay, it was a teeny
strange at first but we got comfortable with each other soon enough. Brian showed his world record stuff, Steph did an amazing job stoking the conversational fires, Erica got me to confess to being all of Pweb. Before we sat down to eat dinner, there was some Lego SW and Erica and Tyler compared tattoos - I eventually ended up tattooed myself. I even managed to talk Phenious into registering...rather, I talked Erica into registering him but close enough.
Dinner came and went, I was so stuffed with good food I could have stranded myself on a beach, and we decided to play LIFE. LIFE may have hated Phenious at first but it ended in me really sucking at it; I came in last. BUT! I got to marry Edward Norton just at the end. We followed up LIFE with dessert, a yummy pie Erica and Phenious brought along, and then we called Adam and there was much laughing. Seriously, my stomach hurt from all the laughing. We came up with some new terms and ideas for the Pweb lexicon. If you are not Real, you are real but most likely not a potato. We discussed whether or not this PwebCon counted and decided it was lower case "r" PwebCon but that someday, we'd have a Capital "R" PwebCon. Brian, it was decided, put the "arrr" in this "real PwebCon."
Then it was time to take the group picture, so Steph did her hair and thankfully helped me with mine; I even got to use her flower.
Now, I got to set up my camera and turned to find, there was no space for me on the couch. "Just lay across us." I felt really bad, as I'm not a light person at all, but it worked out alright in the end; no one ended up terribly bruised or crushed, I don't think. What's great was, after a second attempt, I got felt up in the general area of my backside. I thought maybe one of the kids was doing it because they're kids and messing with body parts is fun, but no, no, it was guess who? That's right. Steph copped a feel. She wants me.
Following that was some really fun, really cool piano playing by the mister of the household. The guy has a gift and that gift got us some "My Little Buttercup" from Three Amigos.
After Erica and Phenious left, Steph and I stayed up very
late/early talking. I think that helped her figure out I can in fact speak, something I think she was questioning for a few days given my complete and utter lack of social skills. There were so many things about this trip that I loved but I think that was my favorite.
Day five! Saddest day ever.
We woke up, dressed, and went to get cinnamon rolls for breakfast and geez Louise, were they huge and damn good. After we ate what we could and boxed the rest (I later ate these on the bus ride home), we headed to the parking lot to hit up the Peach Man so I could have my very first peach. Sweetheart that he was, he gave us peaches for free. I devoured mine in the car but the boys had to wait until they got home.
While I got increasingly sad over it getting closer to time to leave, Steph and family signed my book. Or...did that happen before breakfast? I think it was after. I read that on the bus ride and for the fifth or so time that trip, I got dangerously close to crying. There was moisture to be sure but I wouldn't let myself cry this trip. See, I have this awful habit of crying during every single Pweb trip for some silly reason or another, so I said none of that here. I almost lost it, though, when Brayden asked where I was going when I reached for my luggage and said it wasn't okay for me to go home.
We left for the airport, were serenaded with Bill Nye music by the boys, and then were in for a little, temporary shock. My seat was not guaranteed because of the time I was checking in and thanks to their overbooking the flight. What?! Can't go home? Darn...Steph was getting pretty upset over it, though. I tried to tell her things would work out fine, no worries and lo and behold, they did. (Brian was my escort to the gate...like how Steph was getting fresh with me and then made her husband be my escort? I'm in like Flynn with that couple.)
I didn't get to give hugs to everyone, so I'm hoping she'll do that for me.
So that was the blow by blow. The thing is, that doesn't begin to do the trip justice. I hardly mentioned the kids, who were a ginormous and pleasant part of the weekend. Kinley, who I've decided is my Pweb goddaughter so nyah to all you others who wish you could have that job, got over 20 compliments/comments while I was there; the boys had me laughing (and Steph nearly crying) most of the time. There were jokes that were hilarious to us, namely pirate, TomTom, or monkey related, that I don't think are nearly as funny to anyone who wasn't there.
There was never a moment I felt like Steph and family were strange internet people. They welcomed me into their home and into their family so well, so fully, that I question how there was ever a time I wasn't part of it. I marveled at Steph and here is probably where she thinks I'm lying but guys, she is an amazing
woman (and is married to an equally amazing man); to use a word Tyler was throwing around left and right, she is fierce. She's also stronger than she thinks, loving, warm, comforting, open, and friendly. That woman has no clue, no clue
how phenomenal she is and how much of a powerhouse she is. Anyone who doesn't take the time to get to know her, I mean really get to know her, and spend time in her presence is living a poorer life than they might otherwise.
I tend to question my religion, religion in general but I can't deny, on some level, I truly believe there's something in the universe that is magical because this trip was exactly what I needed, at just the time I needed it.
Anyhow, I've said more than enough so I'll end with this: Pwebbers are amazing and I sincerely hope we can make a group thing happen and sooner rather than later.
P.S. I was fascinated with all the damn clouds. Have a s***** of pictures.
Store that made Steph think of Ali
Downtown, misc. buildings
Molly Brown House
Building by the Denver Art Museum - w0ot! clouds
Casa Bonita gorilla
My favorite cloud picture; it looked like a painting to me
Kinley, Erica, Phenious, Steph, Tyler, Brian, Brayden, Alea