Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Denver booty

The line at Dunkin' Donuts was longer than at security at Providence airport. Since the United States was on alert level orange — the second highest rung — this was a good sign.

To pass through hand luggage checks there were three lanes and an array of chunky men overseeing our passage.

My moisturising cream fell foul of the detectors. I was called back, given a friendly tip on procedures and was offered a transparent plastic bag so the cream and I could continue our journey.

Since the trip to Denver was child free— it all seemed so quick, so easy, so quiet.

The other side of the checks was a different story though. As United flight 1103 to Chicago O'Hare was only going to proffer a beverage, we had to store up from before.

The last time we went from Providence to Denver in August 2005, I seem to remember a similar queue for Dunkin' Donuts. Perhaps because it's good solid all American fayre. Perhaps it's because it's so much cheaper than the other shops.

We queued and about 15 minutes later came our prize.

Ann had the scrambled eggs, cheese and bacon on an English muffin.

I went for the old fashioned donut. We shared a small coffee which at 400 gallons seemed just about right for our underdeveloped Euro palates.

We got seats together which was a huge advance from our American Airlines experience on the flight from Paris to Boston.

But they were in Exit Row 11.

This might as well have been Death Row 11 from the way I fretted after being told I might have to work the door in an emergency.

The steward asked me if I was comfortable with the responsibility, I pointed at my partner and said she was capable.

He warned she might be out of the equation in an emergency. I digested the doom scenario and said that I would carefully study the instruction manuals.

That I did was a good thing as we were also placed in a Death Row on the way from Chicago to Denver.

When the steward on that flight appeared to ask whether I was competent, he was met with a confident, testerone driven nod.

How travel improves the mind.

The last time we went to the Mile High City to visit my old university friend Frances and her family, we spent a day in Denver before going up into the Rocky Mountains where they had rented a cabin in the national park.

Obviously giddy by the lack of air at 200 million feet, I joined the locals for a game of tennis, further exerting myself by swimming.

Rounding the day off with steak and red wine seemed like a good idea until the next morning.

Poor unacclimatised fool; going outside for fresh air only exacerbated the throbbing.

This time there was no such bravado. I played tennis and I swam but this was at their club.

Skyline is my dream venue. There are half a dozen tennis courts separated from a 20 metre open air pool.

I borrowed a racquet and knocked up with Frances's eldest, Zach, my godson and then while he and his father played a set — I wasn't ready for competition — I went for a dip in the pool.

The perfect introduction to a getaway weekend. Contained, low-level activity.

But I still got a taste of the great open spaces. But this time it was inside at Outdoor World.

This vast space houses everything you could ever want for a huntin, shootin' and fishin' trip. Tents, bags, rods.

Fun and guns for all the family for there was a tank between floors with assorted big fish. While on high there was the arms zone.

I shied away from that.

While I probably wouldn't have had too many problems picking up a high powered rifle, Frances's husband, Rusty, couldn't find what he wanted.

So we consoled ourselves with drinks and snacks at the restaurant attached to the predators' paradise.

Back at home It was steak for supper that night — a meaty link to our last stay. But this time I wasn't so bovine and embraced moderation.

How travel improves the mind.