After leaving Dearfield, it really started to sink in that our amazing road trip was coming to an end. The fun times we had in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, and Wyoming now seemed like a lifetime ago. We had a few hours before we needed to return the rental car and get checked in for our red-eye flight home. We decided to use up the rest of the time by making the one-hour drive from Dearfield to downtown Denver. The Denver skyline with its skyscrapers looked so foreign after more than a week of riding through vast landscapes that were generally void of buildings. We were surprised to learn that there is a permanent amusement park downtown called Elitch Gardens. We did not stop there. Instead, we parked and took a stroll through the pedestrian street of Larimer Square. There are several restaurants and shops to explore there. We continued over to 16th Street Mall where there is a mile of chain restaurants and stores. There is a free shuttle bus that travels the length of 16th Street, but we did not use it because Traci was determined to get steps on her pedometer. We strolled the street reading restaurant menus. We went as far as the State Capitol Building before turning around. It was heartbreaking to see all the homeless people camped across the street from the Capitol. We also saw quite a few people on benches and sidewalks who appeared to be strung out on drugs.
16th Street Mall
We eventually chose the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery as our dinner spot where I had an excellent flatbread pizza topped with buffalo brisket. Buffalo meat is a common menu item in this part of the U.S.
I got turned around trying to return the rental car. Airports are always a challenge for me because of all the signs I'm trying to read at the same time I am trying to navigate traffic to get to the correct lane. We ended up on an employee access road before we finally found our way to the Avis car rental returns lot. Fortunately, I was not charged extra for returning the car a few minutes after the 9 PM deadline.
The real problem occurred when Traci tried to check us in for our red-eye flight home. The machine could not find our reservation. When we went to the counter to talk to an agent. He showed us that we had booked our return flight for the wrong day! We were supposed to fly home the previous night! Yikes! As many times as we reviewed our travel itinerary, Traci and I were dumbfounded as to how we missed that detail. Of course, the agent hit us with that familiar line we hear when there is a problem with a reservation: "...and unfortunately, I'm showing that this evening's flight is fully booked."
The agent quickly reserved seats for us on an afternoon flight leaving the next day, but Traci and I were willing to take a chance on flying standby on tonight's red-eye. If that did not work out, we would have to get a hotel. Just then, the agent decided to call the gate. He hung up and delivered us the good news. They had two seats available on that evening's flight - Hallelujah! Traci and I would not be sitting together and we would have middle seats, but we did not care. We thanked the agent profusely and made our way to the gate for our flight home. What a wonderful adventure this trip has been. Main Page