In late June, I spur-of-the-moment decided that we absolutely had to get out of town over the Fourth of July. The question was where to go, and since the Fourth fell in the middle of the week, the answer was easy: to visit my brother who works weekends and is therefore only available to entertain on weekdays. In record time, I had conferred with him, Jeff, and booked flights. Trevor was kind enough to get us a sweet deal on the hotel adjacent to the former-hotel/converted apartment complex in which he lives. The TripAdvisor reviews were troubling, but for once, I had boots on the ground. Both Trevor and Michael (a former hotel employee!) assured me that the property was certifiably bed bug free and actually quite nice. And I’m not going to lie, the price was amazing. Now, if it was just a few yards further from the train tracks, or if the train didn’t insist on blowing its whistle directly outside the window at 3 a.m., the situation would have been pitch perfect. As it was, it was still quite excellent. And the customer service could not be beat.
But even better was the company and the scenery. We flew into Denver and had the best rental car customer experience that we can ever hope to receive in our lifetimes. Although, come to think of it, we did get a really crappy “new Beetle” car which had some issues with cruise control and seat movage, but on the other hand, its brakes worked well, which became important later. Our drive from Denver to Steamboat was gorgeous! Colorado is really the jewel of the United States, and I can see why Trevor never wants to leave. I didn’t want to either.
Upon arrival in Steamboat, Trevor and his off-the-hook dog, Obi (whose name might actually be spelled “OB” but which I prefer to spell in the StarWars way in order to avoid unfortunate tampon connotations), greeted us upon our arrival. Obi’s vet was nice enough to say he’s not a pit bull so that he can have a roof over his head, and we all slyly looked the other way, but you be the judge:
As it turns out, pit bulls get a bad rap. Obi is the biggest baby you have ever met in your life. He needs to sleep on a king-sized bed with blankets on top of him. He whines when you have been sitting in a room too long without talking to him. He also has large footprints, by which I mean that when he goes cruising past you at warp speed on a treacherous mountain pass, you probably won’t fall off the cliff, but nobody would be surprised if you did. But aside from jumping all over us and possibly rendering Jeff infertile, he was a very sweet pup.
Trevor was an excellent host, and it is only a matter of time before we impose upon him again. He brought us to all the hot spots in Steamboat, including a bar along a creek that sells powerful-strong drinks, a brunch locale that serves cinnamon buns the size of a basketball, a Beatles-cover band Fourth of July extravaganza, a free ski-lift ride up the mountain to see the range in all its glory (and the one percent’s mansions), a hike that ended abruptly upon lightning sightings (and possibly his sister’s alarming huffing and puffing. . . the altitude, you know!), a terrific barbecued Fourth of July feast on Trevor’s portable grill, a burrito joint with an indescribably delectable sauce and unimaginably bad art work on the walls, and best of all, a surreal trip to the hot springs, at night, with no light (artificial or moonlight), and a misting of rain. Jeff and I keep asking each other how we had gone that far in life without visiting a hot springs, which is now among Earth’s greatest wonders, in our opinions. It was like swimming in a hot tub, in the middle of the mountains, surrounded by nature, and possibly a nude dude who hit on Jeff but not me (clothing was optional, but I assure you that we were suited up).
We also had the distinct pleasure of meeting Trevor’s ladyfriend, Shannon, who is a delightful, kind, smart, hard-working and very pretty girl who merited the Ashley Stamp of Approval. One thing (of many) that I like about Shannon is that she totally keeps Trevor in line but in a subtle, non-obnoxious way (something that Jeff will tell you I have not mastered), and what I liked about watching them together is that they treat each other very respectfully. That is inspiring to me.
Our trip came to an exciting and memorable conclusion when we all drove to Denver to attend a jam band show at the famed Red Rocks outdoor concert venue. We drove our rental, as we needed to fly back the next day out of the Denver airport. Trevor and Shannon drove Trevor’s car, which merits a brief aside. Trevor’s car was the dustiest, dirtiest, filthiest thing I have ever seen. He was lucky in that I did not find mold, but I did find everything else, including approximately $17 in spare change and enough dirt to keep that character in Charlie Brown in dust clouds for a decade. Obviously, I could not let him continue living that way, so off we went in extreme heat to vacuum that sucker out. He was not amused, but I prevailed. That is what big sisters do best. Shannon was thrilled (another reason I liked her). While being chauferred around by Trevor later, we learned that he has never changed his windshield wiper blades, which led to an extreme case of metal-on-glass scraping whenever it rained. We distracted him whilst at a nearby shopping complex, and Jeff secretly bought new wiper blades and installed them before we’d even left the liquor store across the way. Trevor later admitted that Jeff had probably saved both his and Shannon’s life.
You see, on the way to Denver, we encountered sheeting rain, while driving on mountain roads that screamed, alternatively, “fancy car commercials for cars with excellent handling” or “Late Breaking Headline: Bus Plunges Off South Pass Ravine, Dozens Feared Dead.” Of course I was driving when this happened, and in that hour and a half of white knuckling it, I am convinced I gained 56 new gray hairs. Trevor and Shannon made it through unscathed, although we can only speculate what might have happened had Jeff not saved their lives with the new wipers.
Upon arriving in Denver, we checked into the hotel and ate at Chipotle (shockingly, T & S had never been to one – wha??). Then we proceeded to Red Rocks, where the fun was about to begin. After waiting in line approximately 30 minutes to get inside, the sheeting rain found us again. Within seconds, we were soaked to the bone, within a minute, it felt like we were wearing clothing that had been through the washer but had skipped the spin cycle. Worse, ominous lightning was striking all around us. We hightailed it back to the rental, where Jeff promptly lost the keys to the car. Finally, Shannon told Trevor to go back to the hotel (which she might have done just to score points with me, in which case, she scored bonus points). We dried out, and an hour or two later, those freaking scumbags put the concert back on!!! So we couldn’t get a refund. Trevor valiantly suggested going back, but by that point it was 11 p.m., and we had an early flight the next day and needed to drive another 45 minutes to our own airport hotel. We said a sad farewell and left, ONLY TO HAVE THAT FREAKING SHEETING RAIN FIND US ONCE AGAIN. It was like the dreaded herp, only worse, because I was driving and convinced it would not end until we did.
Magically, that little Beetle just kept on chugging, and we survived, only to wind up at a beautiful, quasi-new Hyatt near the airport where the rooms were junior suites. We dutifully hung up our clothing to dry and fell into a sleep coma. The next morning, I enjoyed some Hallmark TV (an old movie starring a teenaged Jennifer Garner) before we packed up and headed home.
On the way, we both commented that we needed to leave town more often, and we definitely needed to visit Steamboat again, and soon. Thank you, Trevor, Shannon, and OB for a fabulous mini-vacation! I’m so glad we didn’t die!