Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Very Rainbow Weekend

Last night I returned from my spontaneous trip to Denver. As I mentioned at the end of my last post, the main reason for the trip was to join Meg and their Allstate colleagues as they marched in Denver's 2016 Pride Parade, but I did lots of other fun things as well. I'm fairly certain it's impossible to have a bad time in Denver.

I arrived on Friday, and I immediately trained/bussed my way over to one of my favorite bookstores of all time, The Tattered Cover. (A kind stranger gave me his extra RTD day pass, so I didn't even have to pay for the ride!) While I was waiting for Leta to finish work, I did some work of my own and drank the first of many spicy bhakti chais, as is my personal Colorado tradition. I crossed the grassy expanse of City Park to meet Leta at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and then we headed to our hotel downtown. (Hotel party!) After dinner on the 16th Street Mall, Nick came over and we swam in the hotel pool, which was weirdly warm, like a not-quite-hot-enough bath. Still enjoyable, though. Considering that I live in Vegas, I don't take advantage of swimming pools nearly enough.

Saturday was strange, because Leta was at work again and Meg's flight didn't arrive until late, so I spent most of the day by my lonesome. Probably because I'm an anxious mess, I tend to fill whatever spare time I have with extra work--I'm well aware that I don't give myself enough time to rest. I'd left my computer in the hotel room, so that day I was forced to rest. I walked to Civic Center Park, where the PrideFest was being held. I pushed my way through the crowded pathways, passively accepting free samples of lip balm, beer koozies, salad dressing. (Yes, salad dressing.) I sat beneath the shaded colonnade and read 2/3 of Does Not Love, a book I had purchased at the Printer's Row Lit Fest the previous week. (I'm way behind on my book reviewing--I'll get there soon.) Later I met Leta for dinner at Steuben's, which is apparently a Denver institution. They serve skinny fries, so you know it's good. Leta and I were going to try to meet with Meg and their friends later, but we were exhausted, so instead we flopped into bed and watched Oklahoma! and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on PBS, because we are still musical theater geeks at heart.

I woke up early on Sunday and made my way to Cheesman Park, where everyone was lining up for the parade. I was wearing my rainbow dress, but I still felt outdone by Meg, Tami, and KJ, who had tons of temporary tattoos and beads and glitter. I was pleased to discover that Allstate was marching directly behind the Rocky Horror float--good music was assured. It was 100 degrees that day, and based on my knowledge of the Chicago parade, I was hoping I wouldn't faint after 4 hours on the route. Fortunately, the Denver parade was much shorter--same distance, but less than half the time. I surprised myself with how much energy I had. I was smiling and shouting "Happy Pride!" and handing out pens like I'd trained for months to do it. It was a lovely experience, and I'd be happy to repeat it in the future.

Meg, Tami, KJ, Cici and I braved an hour-long wait to have tasty brunch afterwards at City O'City--I had my second spicy bhakti chai of the weekend while I waited. Then it was back to their hotel room for a brief pseudo-nap, and then on to X Bar. I wasn't quite in the mood for loud dance music, so I met Leta at Tom's Diner, another Denver institution, whose menu lists a 48-cent charge for Stupid Questions. It's right next to X Bar, so we headed over there to meet everyone else once the sun started setting. That night we all had dinner at Blue Sushi, which was absurdly yummy. If you're ever in Denver, I definitely recommend it. After dinner, Leta and I had a late-night bus adventure as we made our way back to her apartment in Aurora, where I'd stay for the rest of my trip.

Monday morning it was back to The Tattered Cover for breakfast and more spicy bhakti chai and some work--Meg & Company were there working, too. I bought a book, because of course I did (I'd nearly finished the one I brought! I had no choice!), and then Leta's friend Eric came to pick us up in his fancy sports car (like, seriously fancy) and take us to lunch at Watercourse and dessert at High Point Creamery. Back at Leta's apartment that night, we made dinner and played Bananagrams and Taboo. Everyone went to bed at 10 and I was wide awake and listened to podcasts for hours until I finally fell asleep. (For the record, More Perfect, the new podcast from Radiolab about the Supreme Court, is fascinating.)

Tuesday was my last day in Denver, so Leta and I kicked it off with a viewing of But I'm a Cheerleader, which I had somehow not yet seen despite the fact that 90's teen comedies are my favorite genre of movie. If you haven't seen it either, think Edward Scissorhands meets Empire Records meets lesbians. It's delightful.

Leta had a job interview that afternoon, so Eric picked us up again, and he and I got--can you guess what we got? Yes, it's chai--while Leta dazzled her future employers. The three of us got lunch at Park Burger, and then it was off to the airport so I could return to the 100-degree-plus temperatures of Las Vegas. Ugh. LeeAnn picked me up, and we promptly got Indian food at Mint.

I love how this is mostly a record of where I ate over the past five days. I ate well and overmuch, I assure you.

In other news, I am typing this blog entry on my BRAND NEW MACBOOK! Her name is Delphi, and she is rose gold, and she is the best graduation present ever. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Layover

Sorry for the long silence! I've been jet-setting, as I am wont to do. I just got back from a trip to Chicago, most of which was spent lounging on my parents' couch, watching Law & Order re-runs and cuddling dogs. But the weekend was rather busy, as I had plenty of friends to see.

On Thursday night I organized the obligatory trip to Moody's Pub, where we sat on its glorious shady patio and consumed burgers and sangria, and more sangria, and also sangria. There was quite the turnout!

I guess they like me or something.

I crashed at Meg's and did some work the next day while they were at the office. Friday night my sister was celebrating her 26th birthday (though in my mind, she'll always be 8). We met her and some of her other friends at Bar on Buena, but it was too crowded, so we walked to Holiday Club instead. During the walk, we managed not to throw a brick through the windows of Profiles Theatre because we are skilled at taking the high road.

Holiday Club was packed, too. I ran into a woman I used to do theater with back in high school, and later we ran into Meg's little brother, because Chicago is the smallest giant city on the planet. Meg and I left fairly early because we are old people and the bar was too loud. We went back to their apartment and watched Bring It On, which, I am happy to report, holds up, at least in terms of humor. It's a film on the cusp of being progressive. The white squad realizes they're in the wrong for stealing cheers from the black squad, and the black squad triumphs in the end. But the movie's not actually about the black squad--that would be too much. *eyeroll*

Ok, rant complete. Saturday morning I lugged my suitcase to Gena's so that she, Marty, and I could attend Jane and Jez's wedding. Well, technically their wedding reception--the ceremony was a few months ago at San Francisco City Hall. It was held at her aunt and uncle's beautiful old house in Evanston, and I have to say, the catered Mexican food may have been my favorite wedding meal of all time. I got to catch up with people I haven't seen in years, and afterwards a bunch of us went to Temperance Beer Company for some delicious local brews.

Gena and I are so cute it hurts.

The next morning Gena and I headed to Printer's Row Lit Fest with her friend Meghan, because what could be better than browsing tents full of books in the open air, wandering down a street lined with historic brick buildings? I grabbed a few titles from two wonderful Chicago presses, Featherproof Books and Curbside Splendor. The purchase at Featherproof was especially great because they threw in two more books for free--it was the last day of the festival, and they didn't want to carry them back. I ran into Marianne and Clancy, Beckah, and later, Leta's friend Nick. Smallest. Giant. City. On. The. Planet. 

Then it was back to the burbs for dogs and laziness. My last night in town, Meg drove up and we went to visit their parents' new lake house. It was last decorated in the 70's, and it has a DISCO ROOM--silver wallpaper, mirrored cabinets and walls, silver leopard-print chairs, and mirrored blinds. It was fabulous. I'm glad I got to see it before their mom rehabs it into something significantly more reasonable. By the time we got there, she'd already primed and painted an entire room. 

So that was supposed to be my summer trip. I was supposed to come back to Vegas and remain here until the next phase of my life is figured out. 

But. There's always a but.

My last day in Chicago, I was Facebook chatting with Meg and Leta, and Meg asked if they could sleep at Leta's place in Colorado. It's Denver Pride this weekend, and it turns out Allstate's float in the parade could use a few more...what do you even call the people who walk in parades? Marchers? Cheerleaders? Supporters? Anyway, as a member of Allstate's Pride board, Meg spontaneously decided to head out there to help, along with some of their fellow board members. Then I got to thinking: flights from Vegas to Denver are usually really cheap. I couldn't help it--my fingers typed out kayak.com, and soon I had a 5-day trip booked. Now I get to see both my best friends at the same time, AND I get to march in the Pride parade! I can't wait.

Basically, I have a one-day layover in Vegas (today), and tomorrow I'm off to another state yet again. I'm flying Spirit, unfortunately, so I have to figure out how to pack my rainbow dress plus my other clothes plus my toiletries plus my computer into a tiny backpack. I'm sure the internet can tell me how to do that.

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Free Government Service

About 260 miles east of Las Vegas, there exists a famous national park, carved over the millennia by the waters of the mighty Colorado River. Yesterday morning, Christine, Shannon, and I climbed into Tim's car and went adventuring. We drove past Hoover Dam into the Arizona desert. We stopped for gas along Route 66. We headed into the stubby pine trees of Kaibab National Forest, and out of them, and back in again. (Seriously, you can't escape Kaibab National Forest--it's nowhere and everywhere.) Finally, four hours later, we arrived at our destination: Grand Canyon National Park--A Free Government Service.

We initially hiked along the South Rim, taking in the geologic wonder of it all. Also, pointing out cute dogs. Also, narrowly avoiding brushes with the aggressive, plague-carrying squirrels. Also, hoping that we weren't going to see a certain set of death-defying teenagers fall off a cliff.

Our first view.

#canyonselfie...#canyongroupie?

Group photo courtesy of our new friend, Claudia the jewelry designer.

Me with messy hat-head.

Christine and Tim, valiant explorers.

We are expert tourists.

After a while, we hopped back into the car and drove 22 miles to the Desert View Watchtower on the extreme eastern end of the South Rim. (And yes, I did climb to the top of the watchtower, as I always climb to the tops of tall buildings when I'm touristing.) Our plan was to participate in what was described as a "Sunset Walk," but that wasn't quite accurate. First, Desert View is apparently the worst place to watch the sunset in the whole canyon--though I thought it was still extraordinarily beautiful. Second, it was not a walk at all, but rather a talk.

For 45 minutes, Ranger Rick (yes, that is his real name) told us the harrowing story of the efforts to save the California Condor. And when I say harrowing, I mean it. The four of us were entranced. Rick is a great storyteller, and by the end I was pretty much ready to donate half my savings to condor conservation efforts. We didn't see any condors--there are only about 70 in the park right now--but we did see lots of turkey vultures and ravens. Or as Tim would say, hawks. Because all birds are hawks. 

I can't even with the Desert View landscape. I. Can't. Even.

I guess this is what hills look like if you cut them in half?

Sunset silhouettes.

Same view, different colors.

On our way out of the park, we grabbed dinner at the Yipee-Ei-O! Steakhouse, a tourist trap in Tusayan. Decent food, though. Then it was just a long drive through the black night, lit only by millions of stars and the street lamps of the occasional town. Tim and I talked and talked and talked, and we made it safely back to Vegas at 2 a.m. this morning.

We are pretty good adventurers, if I do say so myself.