Day 9: Denver
I had planned to get up early and start doing my homework, but lo and behold, 10 AM rolled around and I was still in bed. The silver lining to this was that everyone else woke up around the same time as me, so we solved a crossword puzzle and had a nice brunch with our hosts before we left to explore the city. There was a light rail station about a five minute drive from our hosts’ house, so the two guys who were going to the nature and science museum drove the rest of us to the station before heading off on their own.
About fifteen minutes later, at 1:30, we arrived at union station, and I split off again to look for my coursebook at the bookstore my hosts had recommended to me. It was a nice store, but again, no luck finding the book I needed. I hopped on the free mall shuttle, and rode it down to the civic center, where the Denver Public Library stands adjacent to the Capitol and the City and County building. The two other guys with whom I rode the light rail had gone to the Art Museum, but I had work to do. After wandering around a couple of library floors looking for an empty carrel, I settled for a table in the non-fiction section, where I continued to read Faulkner and worked on a French essay. The library was fairly peaceful, and I happened to overhear some veterans discussing their employment plans and their problems with the VA. Soon enough, it was 5 PM and the library was closed. My work for the day completed, I went outside to meet some guys who were going to dinner.
At least, we thought they were going to dinner. It turned out that they were being hosted downtown close to a bunch of restaurants, so after they parted ways the rest of us looked for a restaurant. We ended up at a burger bar, where we ran into even more Glee Club members, bringing our number to 10. Although we had to split into groups of 6 and 4, the burgers were tasty, and there was an ice cream shop next door where I got some tasty coffee ice cream.
It wasn’t too late yet, so we walked to the civic center bus station and waited for a bus to take us to the hotel where about half of the Glee Club was spending the night. Once there, I learned how to play a rather fun game called “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes,” in which a bomb defuser and a bomb expert must work together to defuse a bomb within a certain time limit. The bomb defuser doesn’t know the rules for defusing, and the bomb expert doesn’t know what the bomb looks like. But working together and communicating clearly, they prevent everyone from blowing up. At least that’s the idea. We had a few accidental explosions, but got the hang of it by the time it was time for us to leave. (To clarify, this is a computer game. No actual bombs were defused.)
We drove back to our hosts’ house, and spent the rest of the night talking about a mathematical concept called bisection envelopes before going to sleep.
Day 10: Colorado Springs
In the morning, I showered and packed up my suitcase for the last time. The guys who had chosen to go to the Art Museum the day before had to do work today, so there were only two of us who got on the bus at 10:20 AM to visit Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods. After saying goodbye and thank you to our host, I caught up on a little more sleep on the way there; I knew that we were going to take a red-eye flight back to Boston that night, and wanted to be prepared. When we arrived at the city park, which is completely free, I snapped a few pictures from the visitor’s center before the bus took us to the trail heads. As I hiked around the west side of the central rock formations, I enjoyed the fresh air, only slightly marred by the piles of horse poop scattered along the trail. On my left, the giant red rocks seemed almost at eye level, due to the way the path cut up and into the hillside. Every once in a while, one of the guys I was hiking with would pause to balance rocks on top of each other, or clamber onto a spur of rock to get a better view.
Eventually, we diverged from the path, cutting in towards the Center Garden Trail to get a closer look at those red rocks. Up close, their immense size was much more impressive, but their colors were a bit less rich. Technical rock climbers can scale these large rock faces if they have a permit, so we got to watch a rock climber navigate part of a wall before it was time to go back to the bus, and drive into downtown Colorado Springs for lunch.
Our quick lunch consisted of deli sandwiches, and with the two hours we had left, we decided to walk up to the Fine Arts Center. However, upon arriving at the park adjacent to the Fine Arts Center, we decided that our time would be better spent relaxing on the grass instead. The sun was shining warmly, and the grass had soaked up a lot of that heat. The mild wind didn’t make it significantly colder, so it was a nice way to spend the rest of the afternoon. We walked back to the bus through the park, which had a small river running through it. One of us jokingly christened it “the Grand Canyon,” as a reference to the two glee club members who decided to make a detour to see it earlier on our trip.
Once we got back to downtown Denver and picked up the rest of the singers who had not gone to Colorado Springs, we drove to the Avenue Grill for our tour banquet. Our tour manager decided to invite our bus driver as a way to say thank you for putting up with all of us crazy kids, and I ended up at his table. He entertained us with stories of his time in the Navy and driving around different tour groups, and it was really interesting to hear what was basically his life story. At the end of the banquet, the tour manager and poet laureate gave out a few awards, some in jest (guy who fell most on the ski slopes, guy with the most unexpected sass) and some in seriousness (a big thank you to our tour manager, the appointment of the new poet laureate). Some of the seniors also gave small speeches thanking the rest of the club and explaining why touring meant so much to them. With a “Domine” and a “Glorious Apollo,” we thanked the restaurant and walked back to the bus, which took us to the airport.
This tour was different from last year’s “South” tour, but no less enjoyable. I had a great time getting to know all the freshmen, and our hosts were absolutely wonderful. I appreciated all the free time, and all the time that went into rehearsals, because that ultimately helped us give some great performances. I’m currently writing this on 2 and a half hours of sleep, so I apologize for any lapses in lucidity or omissions.