The 50th Wedding Anniversary Trip – 2004 VII

Instead of taking my usual route north on U.S. 285, I opted to head east on U.S. 50 to Canon City where I split off on CO 115 to Colorado Springs. As I headed north on I-25, a light rain was coming down and at Monument where the highway climbs to around 7,000 feet, snow flakes started pelting the windshield. The traffic was heavy, as usual, so it was turning out to be a very adventurous drive. In south Denver (or Englewood), I exited at Arapahoe Road and drove over to the Perrons. I just happened to catch Jerry alone at home before he had to return to work at the children’s clinic where cousin Paula was still laboring. I gave him two “gift-wrapped” framed prints of Buffalo Bull’s Back Fat and Along the Washita. I used their phone to call Tom Reilly, my of architecture buddy from the Denver days, who said, “Come on by, Billy Bob. We’d like to see you.” I was still batting a thousand when it came to finding friends at home. Actually, I had called Tom ahead of time to make sure he was going to be home to receive my “super gift”.

I had been tuned in to the local station KOA which was reporting a massive traffic jam on north bound I-25. So I took an alternate route north on University Blvd. through parts of south Denver I had never seen before. I easily found Tom’s house and presented him and Fran with another of my prized gifts, a framed rendering of the Chrysler Building. He had hinted on a previous visit that it was his favorite building. When he unwrapped his present, his jaw almost dropped to the floor. All he could say, shaking his head and smiling from ear to ear was, “Wow, this is super!” I have to tell you, I got a little misty-eyed seeing Tom’s reaction. It was a memorable moment. I loved the guy. We then winded our way to an Italian restaurant in east Denver somewhere. While we were waiting for a table, I had to apologize to Fran for my cruddy-looking Converse high-top sneakers, which I explained was the only comfortable footwear I had. She said in all honesty, “Who cares what kind of shoes you’re wearing.” I said, “Yeah, you’re right. Nobody really looks at your shoes.” The food was superb as was the company. After getting back to their house, I drove over to King Soupers on Capitol Hill and called cousin Paula. We had a good talk and she thanked me for Indian portraits. I said, “I knew you would appreciate them since we both have some injun’ blood in us.” I then checked with security to make sure it was alright to spend the night in the ancillary parking lot.

I awoke to a very chilly morning with the temperature in the 40s, and finally, no wind! I parked in front of King Soupers and bought some delicious meatballs from the deli. When I went to start Ol’ Blue, it was like Monarch Pass deja vu. I continued pumping the pedal like crazy when a young man walking by noticed my trouble and came up to the window. He said, “You’re flooding it. You can smell the gas. Just mash down on the pedal and hold it for a few seconds. Then try starting it. Trust me. I used to have an old Chevy van.” Son-of-a-gun, on the second try she started right up! I couldn’t thank him enough. I thought: “Now what if I had known what to do on top of Monarch Pass …hindsight didn’t cut it. What a twist of fate! What if that particular guy hadn’t walked by at that particular moment? I’d still be helplessly pumping away.” After 23 years, I was still learning about the idiosyncrasies of the old truck. Amazing!

I drove over to a nearby Capitol Hill CONOCO station to purchase some petrol. I remembered hearing a slight squeaking noise from a fan belt when the engine was cold. I mentioned it to the attendant and he said. “Pull it into that first stall and we’ll have a look at it.” Yes, it was another genuine service station. An elderly mechanic tightened the alternator belt and installed a new right windshield wiper blade (upon my request). I had to say, “This is great seeing there’s still a real service station around.” He said, “Shucks, they’re probably seven or eight in the area. There’s one at 7th and Franklin, 13th and Emerson, 6th and Humbolt.” And so on and so on. I said, “Get outta town. Where I come from real service stations are on the endangered species list.” He gave me a sympathetic smile. As I was about to pay, I grabbed an up-to-date Denver City map off the rack to add to my bill. I looked at my disintegrating 1978 addition, recalling it was one of the first items I purchased when I had moved to Denver. It wasn’t exactly a collector’s item, so into the trash can it went. I was thinking what a treasure trove it would be to have a 1940s or 1950s map of Denver. I thanked them for their assistance. They were really a bunch of helpful guys.

I drove down to the center city and parked a block away from Coors Field. I was listening to the ballgame between the Rockies and Dodgers, that team from sunny Southern California. It was slightly amusing to think about the Los Angeles team having to play in drizzly 40 degree weather. Coors Field was truly an urban ballpark situated within walking distance of office towers and high-rise apartments and condos. A twelve-storey apartment (or condo) building rose up from behind the left field stands reminiscent of venerable Wrigley Field in Chicago, A light rail commuter line along with buses provided up-to-the-gate access, which explained the minimum of adjacent land allocated to surface parking. There were even bicycle racks all around the perimeter of the stadium. To top it all off, the area was replete with restaurants and retailers. Coors Field was definitely fan-friendly.