Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thank You, May I Have Another

Last year, I lamented that I had poorly planned my vacation periods, allowing way too much time between them. I apologized, you'll remember, for seeming infantiley obsessed with cruise planning and multiple vacation periods. I explained that my employer, a municipality, requires me to work most holidays, but affords "days off" instead that I can take whenever deployment allows. An introvert, you'll recall, embraces these moments and uses the inevitable planning sequence as ancillary "vacations of the mind and soul." Still, it was a lesson learned and I would hesitate to repeat it.

So, of course, I signed us up for another cruise in December. I'm not sure about you, but this makes perfect sense to me.

Now you may ask yourself, what is he talking about? (No, I'm not going to channel Talking Heads). Couple of things.

First, there are few things in life as pure as boarding an airplane with my wife, on the way to vacation. I've said this a hundred times, written it a bunch and even had people pay me to read it. The walk down the jetway (we routinely call it the gang plank) is nothing but bliss. Last time, we were on the way to Ft. Lauderdale for a cruise. Clutched in hand was a delicious Schlotzky's sandwich Pat had scored, which I washed down with a perfectly serviceable pre-mixed mojito. Fresh from mid-winter Denver we had the cab driver roll down the windows in nearly eighty Ft. Lauderdale.

Second, we usually choose something closer to home for our spring vacation, leading to my second-favorite pure couple's moment - driving away from our neighborhood on the way out of town. Last year we pulled the popup to Moab, enjoying an anniversary dinner of Eddie McStiff's beer and pizza, our dogs looking on. This year, we left the dogs home (not literally) and did a bed and breakfast trip through Colorado.

We stopped off in Raton, New Mexico and visited Pat's sister Susan, husband Mike. Two relaxing, wonderful, blissful days with a couple with whom we'd be friends even if we weren't related. Easy-going, funny, hospitable folks - Mike and I did a bit of shooting at a neighborhood range, and even got Pat to bang away a couple times with an M4 carbine. Leaving was bittersweet.

We stayed in a nice B&B in Taos (next time we'll stay a little closer to town), a luxurious one in Ouray (the Captain's Quarters at the China Clipper) but the gold standard was the Rose of Crested Butte. You may tell yourself....

Chocolate-dipped strawberries greeted us in our room, along with a nice card wishing us a happy anniversary (I'd let all of them know the reason for our trip - Ruby was the only one who bit). The room was "cozy," the sure description of small, though hardy cramped. We ate at a delightfully-local pita place, drank Australian red while we watched Galaxy Quest (a vacation staple) and slept well. The only ones in the place, breakfast could easily have been Pat and I chatting, served graciously and left alone.

Pat and the owner hit it off in a big way. Chris is a recovering lawyer (my wife is married to one), a college professor and an entrepreneur with fireproof optimism. Two hours later, delightful inkeeper Cassie reminded Chris that he was now late for class at Western State. We think he passed us on the road to Gunnison - we were doing 65 and he was...not. They talked leadership, especially in the context of running college-level programs. They talked nonprofits. They talked.

We could have stayed. We could have invited Chris and his wife out to dinner, to continue an extremely compelling conversation. We could have done a lot of things, but what we did was head home to our beloved dogs. And cats. Of course.

But this December - gang planks and cruise days and a couple's massage.

We're headed for Jamaica, mon.

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