Sunday, August 2, 2009

Colorado Day 8 (Last Day)

Friday, July 31, 2009: We didn’t have to wake up real early today, so we slept until about 9am.
The girls and I ate breakfast at the hotel while Bruce walked to Hardee’s. Once we were ready, we left and headed to the US Air Force Academy, which is on the north side of Colorado Springs. We went to the visitor’s center and then walked on our own to the chapel. From the chapel, you can look out at a very large piece of land on campus. It might be their “quad,” but I am not sure. Anyway, there were 10 groups of cadets all dressed in camouflage who were lining up to march. I think there were about 135 cadets in each group. Eventually, after lining up on one side of the square, they began marching and marched right past us. We were standing above them, on the huge walkway of the church. It was neat to see. The church is HUGE and very pretty! We headed back to the gift shop and looked around a little while. The girls bought some post cards, which they have now decided to collect (along with B2’s smashed pennies!). We continued north towards Denver and decided that since Littleton, Colorado is a suburb along our way, we would go there and look up Columbine High School. This is where 12 students and 1 teacher were shot and killed by 2 other students on 4/20/99. Since Bruce and I are both high school teachers, things like this are very interesting to us. We found the school with no problems and when we drove around it, a couple of the vantage points were familiar from seeing them on the TV footage 10 years ago. We asked a couple people and eventually found a memorial dedicated to those fallen in a park next to the school. The memorial was nice, yet sad. We left there about 2:45pm and since our plane wasn’t departing until 8:25, we had some more time to kill. We found a movie theater on the way to the airport and went to see the movie “The Proposal.” We liked it and it was a great way to kill 2 hours! After that, it was on to the airport! We first had to fill up the tank on the car. (By the way, we put 1376 miles on the rental car in 8 days (that’s an average of 172 miles per day!) and it was a bit dirty on both the inside and outside when we turned it in. We even considered taking it to a car wash but upon further discussion decided not to do so because we think that Hertz is a rip-off rental car company and being that we were paying what we considered to be tooooo much money in the first place, they could just clean it themselves! Ha!) We turned the car in, got our receipt, and boarded the shuttle to the airport. Once there, we decided to check in outside the actual terminal, checked all but one of our suitcases (we had to purchase an extra suitcase last night in order to be able to bring home all the crap we bought! J ), and then headed to security. Once through, we decided to eat dinner. I had some Mexican food and Bruce and the girls had McDonald’s. Our flight
boarded on time but didn’t leave until about 15 minutes late because one family was having trouble with their tickets. Anyway, once up in the air, we had some turbulence and had to maneuver around a storm. The pilot said we basically flew to Canada to get around it. I don’t know how true that really was but I do know we got into St. Louis about 30 minutes late, even with a 75mph tail wind after getting past the storm. At that point, the pilot said we were traveling at just over 600mph! The girls thought that was cool! B2 didn’t like the turbulence too much and chose to close the window by her seat! When we got off the plane and headed to baggage claim, Bruce spotted Todd Worrell (former St. Louis Cardinal relief pitcher) in the airport, waiting for someone on our flight. The luggage arrived very quickly and all our pieces were there. We next rode a shuttle from the airport to intermediate parking where we were reunited with our van. We arrived at home about 12:45am. We brought the luggage, etc. into the house but didn’t unpack anything. We just headed to bed, which felt so good!

I think the length of this vacation was just about perfect. Had we driven instead of flown, we would have had to add about 3 days drive time to the trip, but considering we flew, 8 full days of sightseeing was perfect!

The chapel at the US Air Force Academy

The cadets lining up on campus

Marquee at Columbine High School

This isn't a very good picture. It was raining a little. I don't know what that little puff of smoke is either. This was the vantage point I remember seeing on TV.

Bruce and I liked this quote.

The short brick walls with the stone on top have dedications to the killed students and teacher. On the ground you can see a "ribbon" in the stone. And on the far wall are many quotes made by other students, teachers, parents, and people of the community (even one from former President Bill Clinton) about the tragedy.

Overview of the whole memorial area

This is at the entrance to the memorial area. If you click on this picture, you can probably read the words.

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