Well we left our little rock to travel to the big rocks of the Rocky Mountains. It was actually our first time leaving Vieques and that felt a little strange, but we knew we were coming back – we just signed a one-year lease and are ready to settle in even more when we return.
But travel has never really been my thing. In my high tech career I was never the classic road warrior. I always told my bosses that I would travel where the need was, domestic or overseas, but I wouldn’t be the first one volunteering. I viewed air travel as a necessary evil. Well, not evil, but a necessary drudgery let’s say. And that kept me off a lot of flights to China that I could have been on – there were a few people at work who wanted to see the world that way. To each his own, I say. But I did fly to Japan, to California (a lot), to New York, Chicago, Florida. I was in Japan so long I forgot I had a bunch of clothes in the hotel laundry and flew home. My coworker from back then (thanks Marty!) had to bring them back to me at the end of his trip! So no, I’ve never been a great traveler.
And it was the same in our personal lives when we went to Florida (a lot), California, Hawaii, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Germany. We even went to another planet once, a place they call New York City. That was eye opening and surprisingly fun, so thanks to the folks in the Big Apple back then for not chewing us up and spitting us out! Deb has a similar attitude about travel – we always say we don’t like to go places but we do really like to be places.
So how did we end up tooling around the Caribbean in our early retirement? That’s a long story that starts here, but let it suffice to say we’re happier when we are on our own little island enjoying it to the max, rather than always looking for the next destination.
Now we also realize we pulled up stakes and left a lot of loved ones behind in the States, and we want to see them when we can. And there was the little matter of our son’s wedding as well, so off we went with excitement in our hearts and only slight trepidation over bringing the dogs this time. We knew it would be easier than flying with them internationally, and it was.
We laughed when Deb recalled the time on the tarmac in Roatán, Honduras when we were standing there waiting for them to unload our bags. The Littles were still in their travel bags and Kirby was quiet as usual. But Maxwell was so excited the bag was literally rolling down the tarmac like the tasmanian devil as he struggled to get himself and us going. He rolled that thing over 4 times before we got ahold of him!
This time, we just needed the standard health certificate to fly, which involved a short visit at the vet. We didn’t have to do anything special with them in the Vieques airport either, except show them to the friendly gate guy. They got loaded last into the cargo area right behind us in the back row of the 10 seat Islander prop plane (there was just a mesh screen between us so they weren’t too bad off). We took off early and dropped into San Juan International Airport in a half hour with no problems. That was the transition from small town to big city life and airports.
Things went well in San Juan, but the rest of the trip was about long layovers, flight delays, and sitting on tarmacs for hours (with no explanation). All that resulted in a series of whiney texts to my son, except for the part where we figured out we could use United miles to buy beers in the Newark airport. Yay beer! We left our island home at 8 am Atlantic Standard Time and arrived at our destination at 5 am the next day (3 am local time, with the actual travel taking 21 hours). Very, very tired, we finally made it and only a little worse for the wear.
After 3-4 hours of sleep we crawled out of bed, got in the car and started looking around. Some of the first things we noticed were just the roads themselves: traffic lights (the first ones we’ve seen this year) and wide roads. I mean really wide roads, and not just the highways. This may be specific to Colorado, but even the side streets are really wide. I’m sure they’re safer than our skinny little island roads, but wow. And they don’t have horses, chickens, mongooses and iguanas on them either. Or any potholes to speak of. So good for you Colorado, but I have to feel you are really just showing off with these roads.
Then, we went to Walmart. Holy smokes! You people are so spoiled in the United States, haha! We had truly forgotten what it’s like to go to a store and buy shorts and t-shirts, and then get groceries without having to get in the car and go somewhere else because they don’t have what you need. But it was the selection that blew me away the most. How many different kinds of mustard in the world are there? I don’t know, but they have most of them in Walmart. Same for all other condiments, orange juice, bread, yogurt, nuts, granola, and the produce section is a dream! Such variety and high quality, we were really impressed with this store, after having been away for so long. We really need to get out more!
We do already miss the beaches and the weather. It’s been warm and nice here, but we’re truly spoiled with our island weather. I should say it just suits us perfectly. We’ve gotten used to temperatures ranging from around 78F in the morning to 88F in the afternoon. In the winter those numbers shift down only about 5 degrees and we wear t-shirts and shorts every single day. Here in CO right now, the highs are about what we’re used to, but it’s in the 50’s every morning. So we start off every day with cold fingers and toes before getting to thaw out later in the morning. The dry air here allows for these wider swings, and most people like that. It’s really hard to complain about Colorado in the late summer, I’m struggling to do so, but let’s just say we’re happier with our new normal weather in Vieques.
We’re definitely enjoying this time though, with friends and family. It’s exciting to see everyone, and we’ll get to see a lot more people in the coming weeks. But in many ways it’s like we never left. Facetime and phone calls and texts and pictures have kept us connected over the last year, so this life is not completely unfamiliar.
And just like old times, we’re getting a few things done like eye appointments, etc. while we’re here. We’re also going to buy and ship a few truly random things that we can’t seem to get shipped to Puerto Rico.
In the meantime, we’re enjoying the Rocky Mountain region, playing golf, hanging out in brewpubs, and exploring like we’re new here. In a strange way we are – we’re looking at this place with fresh eyes.
So that’s the beginning of our trip. We’ll blog more later because the USA is such a strange place – I’m sure all the statesiders would agree! 🙂
TODAY’S SPECIAL: “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh – we spent the last “week” Rocky Mountain Way. 🙂