We had booked tickets on Amtrak two days prior that would deliver us from Grand Junction to Colorado’s capital city by early evening from a weekend in Cow Town. The following day we had plans to meet family from both sides of my wedded aisle and see the Colorado Western Stock Show — now in its 112th year of celebration — before jumping back on the train early Sunday morning with a projected arrival back in Grand Junction of 4 p.m.
Things went swimmingly well. On Friday the train left the station at Highway 6 and 50 in Grand Junction right on time, and we steadily crept up, up and over the Continental Divide passing through 40 tunnels and at least a dozen bald eagles before pulling in to Union Station just after dark. Being car-less, and a bit challenged as for using mass transit, I chose a hotel that was right next to the train station so that we could find our lodging right away upon arrival, while also being close enough to the boarding platform early Sunday that we wouldn’t require a cab for our return trip. My mom’s sister, who lives on the Front Range, had agreed to taxi us Saturday morning from our lodging over to the Coliseum where the marvelous rodeos and trade shows are held. We met at 10 a.m., received a quick tour of downtown Denver, and got to the 2018 inaugural rodeo Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
We had a great day. We watched the cowboys duel with the cows, and saw cowgirls run cloverleafs around barrels in super-fast time. We wandered through an original Western art show, and picked our way past tacky rubber tomahawks and rhinestone-covered ball caps. There was something for everyone there. My aunt and I even considered buying new vacuums! By mid-day we said goodbye to Aunt Brangwyn who had another obligation, and we grabbed bags of popcorn and sodas to watch a second rodeo. After the show I indulged myself in a new felt wide-brimmed hat that was custom-fitted to my head, and then we left the arenas behind in search of finding other family members from another side of my family who were playing in a band out in the suburbs of Denver.
Thanks to the help of Uber we were delivered to a dive in Lakewood, upon which we got reacquainted with cousins I hadn’t seen for years. We listened to great old rock and roll music, nibbled on classic bar burgers, and danced to a few sets. After saying goodbye to our cousins, we grabbed an Uber back downtown and hit the hay.
Our Amtrak tickets reported an 8 a.m. departure from Union Station, so bleary eyed, we showed up at the ticket counter Sunday morning only to be told the train was eight hours late. It took a minute for the stunning information to sink in, but I told my husband, “There was a reason I had you keep your room key. Let’s go back to the hotel and get some sleep.”
There are times in our lives — and we all have them — when you lose a day to quirks in scheduling. How to get through such unplanned disruptions without too much disappointment is the key. When the information sunk in, I admitted to not being surprised that the westbound Zephyr would be impacted by the terrible winter weather on the East Coast. Just like planes and other forms of traffic, trains were having a tough time getting unstuck from the cyclone vortex of snow that had exploded over the Midwest and New England.
Exhausted from the prior day’s whirlwind of events and visits, we had been eager to get back on the train and relax all the way home. But now we had to wait eight hours before taking a tiring ride back over the mountain in the dark, with no lovely scenery or wildlife to watch. If we’d had the option to fly home, we would have given it serious consideration.
While I think that Moab got slighted by SkyWest’s desertion of its previous air service contract a few years back, and I feel that our tax-funded capitalistic airline deal should serve our capital city and not Colorado’s, that’s how big business and politics often shakes out. Some local business folks argued in favor of the Denver route in the belief that it would funnel more tourists to Moab. And the Grand County Council agreed. But the route won’t be helpful for many of us who have business meetings, college students and medical appointments on the Wasatch Front.
Still and all, come next May when SkyWest gets fired up here again, flights from Denver will give me an option for travel. Especially the next time my train is late.