My grandbaby was born and my son decided to arrange a travel junket on the spur of the moment to go meet this newest family member. While the two hour window to be ready didn’t exactly appeal to me, he relented and made reservations for the following morning. It was my first out of state air travel and I was not prepared for exactly how horrific the reality would unfold verses the news reports:
Denver airport is fast becoming one of the major hubs in the US and has been undergoing massive expansion for the last 2 years unabated. Construction continues despite the near empty terminals. Long term parking is empty – no shuttles. Short term parking, charging premium rates is perhaps at 10% capacity with front row seats everywhere. The only choice.
Inside the airport most stores and eateries are shuttered, although the larger chains remain viable. Chick Fil A was swamped, the line snaking perhaps five lengths. There was absolutely no line at the TSA gate, making the costly preferred check-in worthless.
Once seated on the plane, a demonstration of their ‘cleaning and health efficiency methodologies’ scrolls endlessly on the mini TV screen ending with the final coup detat wherein a hazmat suited person holding a rocket launcher spray gun demonstrates the aerosol toxins that are released like a veritable cloud throughout the cabin. Shitake Mushrooms!
The stench was intolerable! All I could think of was how many people will be dying of Agent Orange flight diseases sometime in the near future.
Booking a hotel room on his phone while driving en route was easy given hotels are operating at perhaps 5% of capacity. Our twenty story hotel was quite nice – which we shared with perhaps 6 other people the entire time. Of course, there was no food service, no maid service, and the two free drinks had to be taken outside for consumption.
As such we walked the streets drinking alcoholic beverages consumed in plastic cups. And that was legal.
The streets were littered with homeless. One luxury block would give way to as many as 5-10 homeless per block, mostly asleep in the middle of sidewalks. My son’s girlfriend decided to get a pedicure one afternoon. Walking back to the hotel wearing the foam slip-ons provided by salons she had the unfortunate experience of watching as a homeless man got up from his pile, labored into the street, pulled down his pants and ‘toileted’ the street brazenly wagging all his privates for passersby.
She couldn’t run given the stupid foam slip-ons, and no person in their right mind would ever walk barefoot on a city street! As such, she was rather horrified.
Stores were shuttered. Restaurants were shuttered. It was dirty. Plants were shriveling. It was cold. Bitter cold.
There was one restaurant around the corner that was open with barricades setup in the street to accommodate picnic tables. It was only open on weekends because there were not enough customers to support it otherwise.
Walking to the pier there was a children’s park open to the public. It was packed! Despite the outdoor mask mandate – no one at the park wore masks. Children can congregate at parks in droves, but they can’t go to school. An entire generation will be left behind intellectually.
But it isn’t just the education that will create vast unemployable young people, the sports industry is about to realize they have no one to recruit. Football, baseball, basketball, dead given high school sports no longer exist. Gymnastics – dead. Skating dead. What will become of this generation?
A yoga class on the lawn behind the playground was accommodating perhaps 50-75 adults – social distanced.
A homeless man covered by a full head veil walked past us screaming, ‘get away’ while giving us the finger. Parking lots were empty. Buses and trolleys continued their journey, albeit empty. Banks were closed. Buildings boarded. Face shields abounded. Double masks, gloves, and an odd lack of police were fairly common.
And then, by chance we found an enclave – Little Italy. Taking over a lane on each side of the street, outdoor dining crowded into small spaces, tents with heaters, and lively chatty people proclaimed some bizarre reality. While open door restaurants were devoid of tables, the streets were now open for dining! Hurrah. Perhaps three blocks of some gaiety prevailed. Good food, better wine, and friendly eyes lifted the veil, the shroud, levied by Gruesome Newsom. All doggies allowed.
Still it was bitter cold and my flimsy Colorado jacket was not the right choice for southern California’s global warming weather.
In the end, we cut our trip short and came back a day early. Changing the flight the day of was no problem given it was only 40% capacity. Despite the fact that instead of the ‘normal’ 4-5 flight choices per day, there were now only two.
Upon arriving back in Colorado, we were happy to be home. Carefully placing the parking ticket in the CD slot of my car, my son drove to the gate, accidentally pushed the ‘play’ button and watched with horror as the ticket stub disappeared forever. Twenty minutes later, with much discussion and ado, we paid the proper amount and were allowed to leave the airport behind.
Outside of visiting family, there was one interesting bright side to the excursion. I imagine dog rescue facilities are virtually empty. Adoptions must now require a lengthy waiting list given everyone seems to have relinquished the agencies of available companions. Seemingly everyone on the street and at the park had at the very least one dog, some two or three!
Despite the new reality, the doggies were happy!