The second day of meetings in Billings went well (i believe I shall return, and perhaps this time I'll actually see a river or something), then a quick lunch of a fantastic green chili smoked pork burrito. The table salsa was fiery hot - it was a delight. Then a flight to Denver. I keep forgetting that the "new" airport is so far out there (20 miles from town!), and I get wistful for the days of my youth when we'd fly into Stapleton and be at my Grandparent's within 5 minutes. Also, the rental company was clean out of everything but SUVs, so I was a big truckin' guy in my white 4x4.
I let Ms Garmin GPS guide me immediately to a spot that my boss frequents - Sushi Den. A line snaked around the block for tables. Apparently this place is frequented several times a week by Mike's dad, Don, and just mentioning his name is enough to get a table on the busiest night. I had rehearsed my explanation in Japanese, but didn't need it: there was an open slot for me at the Sushi bar, where I asked the chef Kenji to treat me to Omakase (oh-ma-KA-say) which means "feed me interesting things". So I had 4 rounds of stuff, all delicious. Next to me was an older gentleman from Cedar Rapids IA who had never had sushi before, so we struck up a friendly conversation and I gave him pointers on what to order, how to eat it, and he wound up loving it! Kenji-san was very politely patient with my japanese as well. A good evening.
The next morning, I had a simply terrible omelette in the Courtyard restaurant: The guy would cook up the eggs separately, THEN fold the dry egg cake over your desired (unheated) ingredients. It was like an egg taco. There was no reason for this. No reason at all. I had food jinx later too, as I had an unsatisfying pork dish at Las Delicias - a nearly legendary mexican restaurant in Denver... Apparently I was supposed to order a simple Chicken burrito with green chile sauce - any other order is madness. I wish I had known.
In the morning I dropped in on my Grandparents who were happy to see their eldest grandson: They kept insisting that I had somehow grown an inch or two recently (perhaps my posture has improved?). They were full of stories, and Grandpa was tracking everything very well (he's been in and out of lucidity recently, but he was 100% there for my visit, which was wonderful) Uncle John and cousin JJ also dropped by with the dogs (a Golden and a Golden Doodle) - I tell you, I thought they were happy to see me, but when those dogs walked in, they lit up twice as bright. They do love the dogs.
JJ was just back from a trip to Cooperstown and New York City, and was off to play some golf with a friend. He was proudly telling me that they played well against this team of 12 year olds from Houston: This team is the elite team in the 12-year old league, and parents have to pony up $40k per season per player to pay for the coaches. This struck me as some kind of madness, and happily everyone else thought it was nuts too.
Meetings in the afternoon into the evening, then drinks with the team: I resolved to never again complain about travel after spending time with Jose, a new hire, who has 3 kids at home (2, 4, 7) and a 10 hour each way commute from LA to Appleton every week. We need to keep him on the West Coast somehow. He was certainly not complaining - but perhaps it was because he bore it so stoically ("It's my job") that it affected me.
A 6:30am flight home today, some quick work in the office, and now I'm home while Bella is out splashing in the pool with neighbors, Isaac is napping, and Pamela is getting a tour of the State Capitol with some friends. It's good to be home.