Hat on Top, Coat Below


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Western Weekend

September 8, 2003

Yesterday I was in the mountains of Colorado; today I am at work in Michigan. My brain has not quite adjusted to this change. I know I’m fortunate to have the opportunity and resources to travel as much as I do, but sometimes I wonder if it’s entirely a good thing to jet around and ask my brain to process these sudden shifts in time zone and climate and surroundings. When I am retired, perhaps I’ll drive or take the train more places, but for now flying is the only way to get to the places I want to see in the time I have available. I’ll just have to deal. Rough life, I know.

Mr. Karen and I flew out Thursday night and stayed in a hotel closer to the airport than we usually do. The idea was to do less late night driving than we do when we come out for ski trips and want to get at least part way to the mountains. As it turned out, the hotel was not quite close enough to airport. Instead of being in the first two clumps of easy to find lodgings, this one required some slightly tricky navigation, but we did find it after only a short self-inflicted detour. Next time, I’m going back to the Karen-preferred method of printing driving directions and not just a map.

We spent Friday in Denver, figuring it was about time we saw something more of the city than the view from I-70 on the way to the mountains. First stop after breakfast was a quilt shop. I got a little thrill of recognition on the way there when we just happened to drive by the animal hospital where Emergency Vets is filmed. (I watched a lot of that show when I was off work.) Once at the shop, I spent a long time deciding which of the fabrics I needed to bring home with me and which I’d have to leave behind because there was only so much room in my carry on luggage, and Mr. Karen built up his good husband brownie points balance by not fussing even a little bit as I pondered the relative merits of one print versus another. After that, we did a little window shopping and searched the juice aisle at Albertson’s to see if they had a regional replacement for the late lamented Ocean Spray Cran-Blueberry before meeting Lisa for lunch. It was great fun to hang out with her. Unfortunately, she had to go back to work and could not join us at the zoo for the afternoon. Denver is evidently a hotspot for animal lovin’, as there were lots of zoo babies, including the three very cute tiger cubs, Traquita, Racquette, and Bitey (not their real names). The capybaras did not have any babies, either because they’re not part of a species survival program or because the howler monkeys they’re housed with are entirely too loud to enable one to get in the mood. The worst part of our zoo visit was we did not come across the Dippin’ Dots stand until very late in the day, at which time it was closed. I am choosing to believe it was closed all day and that I did not miss an all too rare opportunity to have the ice cream of the future.

After dinner at a yummy Thai restaurant Lisa recommended (on the way to which we happened to drive by John Elway’s Ford dealership), we headed off toward Vail. By the time we got to the hotel, the one unhealed spot on my incision, which had been bothering me all day, was so irritating that I just had to take off the bandage and see what was going on even though it hadn’t been the several days that those pads are supposed to stay in place. What was going on was blood and pus oozing out of what looked like a little crater; yuck. I cleaned it up and liberally applied the antibiotic ointment in my travel kit– even though said ointment expired in August of 1999– and covered it up with a regular adhesive bandage. On Saturday, on the way to the wedding which was the whole point of this trip, we stopped at the store and I got fresh Neosporin, even lucking into a special offer for a dollar off plus a free sample of the Nexcare bandages I like. Coincidence? I think not. I’m giving the new Neosporin a week to work and then I’m calling the doctor’s office. I should not still be oozing. Okay, enough about my open sore; let me tell you about the wedding. (Just call me the queen of the awkward segue).

I had a hard time deciding what to bring to wear to the wedding because the ceremony was going to be outdoors near the top of a mountain pass accessible only by a drive on an unpaved road followed by a walk up a gravel path, plus the weather forecast was for scattered thunderstorms. I finally ended up choosing an outfit much more casual than I’d normally wear to a wedding: black twill pants and a periwinkle shell and cardigan sweater set accessorized with black waterproof Dansko clogs. Because it had rained rather a lot the night before and even the morning of the wedding, the unpaved road had turned into a mess of mud and ruts and we had to hitch a ride with other guests who had an SUV. It wasn’t raining when we headed up the pass, but it looked like it might, so I wore a windbreaker and carried a bag with a rain hat and a sweatshirt in case it got cold. There were a few puddles on the path to the deck where the wedding was to be held. I was amazed at the variety of attire people had on. There were dresses with high heels and hose, suits and ties, jeans with casual shirts, a skirt with river sandals. It reminded me of the crowd at a Cirque du Soleil show, where it’s hard to know whether to dress up because it’s theater or down because it’s held in a parking lot. While I’m confident of my Cirque attire now that I’ve been to a few shows, I felt a little underdressed at the wedding. I could have worn something nicer– the path wasn’t too dusty and dirty– but I didn’t know that when I was packing. I also didn’t know that the rain would hold off; the sun even came out for a while. When we got back down to the remote parking area, it was clear it had just rained down there, so it didn’t miss us by much.

We had a little bit of time before we had to be at the reception, so we went to Vail Village on our way. Still feeling underdressed, I regretted that it hadn’t even occurred to me to pack a dressier outfit for the reception, to be held in the clubhouse of a golf club and decided to look for a skirt that would go with my sweater (though what I was going to do for shoes I hadn’t figured out, since the clogs don’t really go with a skirt, not with bare legs anyway, and I’d have to have bare legs because a skirt and socks just wouldn’t work either) or a dress to change into. I didn’t have much hope of finding something, given that most of the merchandise in ski towns I’ve been to before has run more to functional than decorative, but this was Vail, and I’d heard Vail was different than most ski towns (somehow I’ve managed never to ski there, even though I’ve done the resorts on both sides of it). Indeed, most of the shops that had clothes had only casual and/or active wear. It had started raining again by this point, so we walked under overhangs when we could and got wet the rest of the time as we went from store to store. We did finally come to one shop that had some dressier clothes and I briefly considered trying on some things before I came to my senses and realized it made no sense to spend that much money (even their end of season sale prices were more than I normally pay) just to ease my social anxiety, especially since the clothes weren’t the kind of thing I’d buy if I were at home. And really, why should I care so much? There were other people wearing similarly casual clothes; if the bridal couple had wanted guests to stick to a specific dress code, they could have spread the word (and they’re not that kind of people by any means). No one was gaping at me or whispering about my outfit (not that I noticed, anyway). This was just yet another instance of me stressing about something minor. Wearing clothes I already had rather than buying something new that I might never wear again (sea green silk evening suit, I’m looking at you) was the right way to go.

Whew, now I’ve spent so much mental energy rehashing my wardrobe dilemma that I’ve got none left to recap the rest of the weekend in any detail (hey, I can hear some of you sighing with relief; stop that). We went to the reception; we stopped by the newly married couple’s house the next morning to look at the first of the wedding photos and so I could meet their dog, whom I’d only seen in pictures and videos; we drove to the airport and came home. The end.


About a year ago, I was writing while on a trip, not afterward.

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