Durango, Colorado

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Colorado was extremely welcoming.  The slopes on Purgatory Mountain were great for skiing and not too crowded, so my elementary-level skiing self could keep up without being ran over.  The staff was friendly and helpful, and it snowed our first five days without reprieve.  I couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfectly white Christmas.  We were supposed to go on a dog-sledding excursion Christmas Day, but there was TOO MUCH SNOW.  That’s the insane amount of snow we dealt with on this vacation.  I was a little bummed about not being able to dog-sled (it’s been on my bucket list for years), but I suppose it was a pretty good excuse for the situation.

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Riding the ski lift with my brother up to the top of Purgatory Mountain.

Christmas Eve we had a wonderful dinner at the restaurant in the Stater Hotel in Durango, with incredible steak.  It was a quaint and tiny restaurant in an old hotel, with tall ceilings that appeared to be original along with the light fixtures.  Near the bathroom were old-time telephone booths.  It bathed you in images of times of the wild west; giggling show girls running through the halls in ripped fishnets, a cowboy or two sipping whisky at the bar, while the barkeep washes a glass with an old rag.  The town of Durango itself has that rustic cowboy antiquated feel, making the strip of old bars oddly comforting.

A relaxing first start of Winter Break 2015, my trip came to a close and it was time for me to fly back to Orlando, where I would begin the next leg of my journey, Washington D.C. for New Year’s Eve.

Word to the wise, if you EVER have to fly out of Durango airport, get there about 3 hours early.  I didn’t have to check a bag, and figured I was safe arriving an hour and a half early to get a bite to eat with the family before I left and go through security.  There was no e-ticket for my flight, but still I wasn’t worried, because I could use the American Airlines Kiosk, print my ticket, and not have to wait in line.  How very wrong I was.

The only airlines that fly out of Durango Regional Airport are United and American.  Unfortunately enough for everyone involved, the majority of flights that day were American Airlines.  The single AA kiosk was broken, and there were only 2 people working the checked bag booth.

Keep in mind this is 3 days after Christmas.

I got in line at 9:45 for a flight that was supposed to leave at 10:44.  The attendants refused to split the lines, they were determined to go in order, whether people were on priority flight, or whether they had a cancelled flight and were trying to reschedule.

When I finally reached the counter,  it was 10:50, 6 minutes after scheduled departure.  The flight had been delayed until 11:15.

I got my ticket with a squeal of joy, ran over to my parents and brother, gave them a quick hug and a kiss, thanked them for all they had done, and ran through security.  I arrived out of breath at the terminal at 11:10, the flight hadn’t started boarding.

At this point I started to suspect that I was going to miss my connection.  I went up to the attendant to ask him if he could tell me where and when they would change my flight to, or if they had already done so and my response was “You’re just gonna have to deal with that when you get there”.

So I was.

We finally boarded the plane at 12:15, and took off around 12:30.  I landed in DFW Airport having missed my connection by only 10 minutes, which in any situation is infuriating, but even more so is that flight was the last direct flight to North/Central Florida for the day.  Any other flight to get where I needed I was going to have to go to Miami first.  Wanting to send me to Miami and then to Orlando, I had every intention to NOT do that so I didn’t get into Orlando at 11:30 then drive 2 hours to Gainesville, to get up and drive 12 hours to D.C. the next day.

When I got to Miami I ran (literally ran) to the next terminal to finagle my way last minute on a flight to Jacksonville, FL.  Begging the attendant, saying I just wanted to go home, she finally gave me a family’s seat that was running even more behind than I was, but I didn’t care, I was finally on a flight home.

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