Despite the fact that as I sit and type this my house is filled with a hazy smoke emanating from my oven, I’m very happy to be here. Yes, last night’s dinner dripped onto the bottom of the oven and as this morning’s cinnamon rolls cook, those drippings burn into a black sludge and fill our home with a haze of smoke you’d a seen at an Iron Maiden show circa 1983. Still, I’m okay with that. I should’ve cleaned the oven before getting those A.M. confections a baking, but I was just excited to be making rolls in MY oven, in MY kitchen.
Since last Wednesday we’ve been slumming it in the Denver Rock City. Denver, Colorado for you folks not familiar with the inside of my head. The family headed to Colorado for the wedding of my wife’s cousin. We’ll call him Josh, since that’s his name. Very nice guy and his blushing bride is a great gal as well. It was a lovely wedding that took place in Castlewood Canyon State Park. A beautiful service with the maid of honor being their dog(the rings were even tied to the pooches collar.) Knowing we were going to be sitting out in the elements we all coated ourselves with sunscreen. Well, it seems my thinning hair doesn’t protect my noggin at a 7,000 ft elevation like it does at -500 ft elevation in the crevice I live in. I got one hell of a sunburn on the top of my head. It looks like a red halo that starts just above my forehead and goes across. It’s not like I don’t know what the sun does to my pale, Eastern European-rooted complexion. I’ve just never been that f*****g close to the f*****g sun. Hopefully I’m not scarred for life. If I am, I’m going to have to come up with some great story about it. Face transplant thanks to the witness protection program? Like Kid Icarus, I flew too close to the sun? Grilling accident? Well, I’ll go on the assumption I’ll just peel and everything will go back to normal.
This trip was the first flight for our kids. They had no problems with the plane ride. My son was a little nervous at first, but once we got on the jet and it took off he was good. Since we were going to be out there for four days we rented a house instead of staying in a hotel and driving each other insane. The house didn’t look like much on the outside, but the inside was remodeled and was rather cozy. My wife only heard fighting and bottles crashing on the last night we were there, so that was a plus. First day we were there we found a Wal-mart so we could stock up on some food(and beer) for the week. As we made it to the cash register we were all corralled back to the rear restrooms as a tornado was spotted just down the road. The girls were scared, and despite my calm outward appearance I was a little worried myself. It sounded like the place was being torn apart outside as we huddled in the Walmart bathroom. After 45 minutes we were finally on our way out. There was an employee shoveling piles of hail out of the way of the doors. Interesting. That was day one.
Day two we headed out to Red Rocks. Well, we started off by just heading into the hills with no particular place in mind. We stopped at DW’s 285 for lunch and were quite delighted by the grub. Great grub, for sure. After lunch we headed out to Red Rocks. Luckily it wasn’t too far from where we ate. It was a cool thing to see, despite allergies making the whole breathing thing a chore at times. I think we were at 6,500 or 7,000 ft elevation. It’s easier to breathe in 100% humidity. Anyways, we made it up a flight of stairs and onto a walkway that went around one of the many red rocks when my wife’s iPhone shot out a weather warning. Oh, another tornado warning. The color on the kids’ faces went to a whiter shade of pale instantly. Time to head down the mountain again. Despite some rain, the weather didn’t get too shady. On our way back we hit a great little hole-in-the-wall record shop called Wax Trax Records. Creaky wood floors, dingy wall, and a bathroom that would make CBGB’s blush, it was the perfect record shop for diggers. I snagged Tom Verlaine’s first two solo albums, Elvis Costello’s This Year’s Model, J. Geils Band’s Love Stinks; as well as new copies of Yo La Tengo’s Painful, Merchandise’s Desire, and Blonde Redhead’s 23.
Friday was the wedding. A small ceremony and a very laid back one as well. A handful of friends and family were in attendance(and a couple dogs as well.) We did a little sight-seeing at the canyon before heading to the bride and grooms’s house for barbecue. By the time we left I was good and burnt and ready to soak my head in a bucket of ice water. We stopped at Twist & Shout Records for the hell of it and found what seemed to be the biggest “small” record shop I’ve ever seen. It was huge. The front was filled with all kinds of toys, games, and novelty stuff, while the back was this massive collection of vinyl. Really, the amount of vinyl was unreal. A lot can be said for the hole-in-the-wall vinyl shops that you have to dig through piles of vinyl to find that gem. But, I can also appreciate a clean, well-maintained building with tons of records in an order someone not high or mildly insane can understand as well. I snagged Wooden Shjips’ self-titled and West on original purple vinyl that you could only get from the Thrill Jockey pre-order. Word. My wife picked out a couple hats for us(I desperately needed one to cover my first degree burns.) On a whim we went to Tattered Cover bookstore next door and were floored at this place as well. Love independent book stores. LOVE them. Especially when they have incredible iced coffee. Oh, and great books, too. We snagged a t-shirt while my oldest bought $60 worth of books. A stop to get some Aloe Vera for the burn and we were home.
On Saturday we went to the Garden of the Gods. This is essentially a place that has some of the most amazing rock formations you’ll ever see. This was the highlight of the sight-seeing for sure(next to the record shops of course.) We climbed and explored and shot lots of pics. By 4pm I was spent, so we headed back to the house to do laundry and get ready to get the hell back home on Sunday.
After one flight and one connecting flight we were back in South Bend at 3:30pm and on our way back to what we call “home”. I realized that we can do that whole major travel thing. It wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it would be. But I also realized that I truly am a homebody and a creature of habit. Spontaneity is something better left for music in my world. I enjoy the trip on the beaten path every once in a while, but I prefer structure any day. And I much prefer my own kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom, bed, and television. Having said that, I’m glad the family had this little adventure.
Gotta go, the smoke alarm just went off.