Colorado & Utah 2019:
Day 9 - Denver


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Colorado and Utah 2019: [Day 1 - Steamboat Springs] [Day 2 - Grand Junction] [Day 3 - Moab] [Day 4 - Moab] [Day 5 - Cataract Canyon] [Day 6 - Cataract Canyon] [Day 7 - Boulder] [Day 8 - Denver] [Day 9 - Denver] [Day 10 - Denver]

Sunday, May 26, 2019: We may have slept in a little too long but it was so nice to not have an alarm for the first time in a week.
We took a few photos of Dianne's house.
Aren't those windows beautifully clean? Dianne cleaned them just for our visit.
They had done a major kitchen remodel a few years back and it was just stunning.
Other Tom showed us the shed he built on to the side of his garage ...
... to store his cool scooter. Not shown: the LED lights on the ceiling to light it at night. Is there anything this guy can't do?
Back inside, Elisa was holding Tortuga again. This sweet girl loves all animals, but Tortuga is one of her favorites.
Debbie noticed that Dianne also had a copy of "The Midwestern Table," a cookbook written by Amy Thielen, who is also a Macalester graduate. Dianne wasn't aware of the Mac connection, but had her own interesting story of how someone gave her the cookbook after meeting at a foodie event in Colorado.
For brunch, Dianne warmed up two quiches she had previously made. One was quiche Lorraine (mmm, bacon!) and one was spinach, and both had made-from-scratch crusts. They were so delicious. After this, much time went by as we all got showered and packed up.
We were all amused by Tortuga's timed cat feeder and her fondness for standing on top of it while she ate.
Other Tom had given Tom a tour of his basement workshop the day before but Debbie hadn't seen it so down to the basement they went. These amazing paintings on the wall over the staircase were painted by Other Tom's very talented mother.
We passed by the guest room in the basement where Nancy and Jim were staying and then looked around in Other Tom's study for a bit.
Other Tom is a musician and he has some treasures in here, including this banjo ...
... and this guitar he built himself, ...
... featuring actual mastodon tusk for the inlays on the neck.
The workshop consisted of multiple rooms. This room contained an impressive collection of electronics and hardware, ...
... including a collection of small hardware so beautifully organized it made Debbie weep.
It also had this treasure: a vintage phonograph cutter. It could record sound directly onto a blank record. So cool.
True electronics nerds would appreciate this collection of boxes and switches and knobs. It was all so beautiful.
Meanwhile, Tom was upstairs snapping a picture of this Glacier National Park Red Bus toy. Dianne's late mother had worked at Glacier as a young woman, so this was a very sentimental object.
Around 1:00, we said our goodbyes and got one last photo of sweet Tortuga.
We headed to Wings Over the Rockies, passing the Lowry Sundial.
But we realized that we had one more chance to get a snack at Winchell's Donut Shop, so we quickly changed course, ...
... and headed to the Winchell's on Evans Avenue.
They didn't have any regular glazed French crullers, ...
... but they did have strawberry glazed crullers, so Debbie was happy once again.
We headed back to the Wings Over The Rockies area.
This area used to be Lowry Air Force Base, and it has since been converted to other use.
That large rocket tells us we must be getting close.
We started to head in ...
... when Debbie was once again sidetracked by an interesting drain grate. This one reminded us: "No dumping. Drains to Rivers."
We were just two months away from Apollo 11 festivities at the museum. This was going to be a very big summer for every air and space museum in the country!
Let's get started. Here's a mockup of a manned maneuvering unit (MMU) used on three space shuttle missions in 1984. This mockup was used by NASA to train astronauts on its use.
After visiting so many, we were seeing the pattern that many air and space museums have a display featuring their state's astronauts. Here's the wall listing Colorado's astronauts.
We were excited to see the moonrock display. To commemorate the 35th anniversary of human exploration of the Moon, NASA created the Ambassador of Exploration Award in 2004. Recipients of the award include all astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. Each award recipient selects a museum or other educational institution where their awards are publicly displayed in their name to help inspire a new generation of explorers. This was the third we had seen in five months, including Tucson in December and Wisconsin in March.
The sample reads: "This is a portion of a lunar sample returned by Apollo 15 Astronauts who traveled to the moon in July/August 1971."
The plaque reads: "Ambassador of Exploration Lunar Sample Presented to the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum In Memory of John L. "Jack" Swigert On behalf of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Virginia C. Swigert."
Tom checked out the display on Jack Swigert ...
... and gave the Space Shuttle model a nice pat on the shoulder.
TITAN I!
Aw, what an adorable little playroom for the tots!
This interesting model speculated what a lunar colony might look like. It included lunar material-moving bulldozers, a nuclear power plant, living quarters, observatory, communications center, and lunar fueling station.
This room displayed vintage communication equipment and headwear for pilots.
There was even one head display for girl pilots.
When we saw this display, we texted Debbie's rocket scientist dad to ask if he recognized it. His reply: "No, that looks different than the rocket I worked on. It was a Centaur but on top of an Atlas and it only had one motor. This looks like two."
This was a model of the Apollo 15 spacecraft, including the command and service module (Endeavour), lunar lander (Falcon), and lunar rover.
This is a replica of an early Apollo Guidance Computer which was programmed in binary code.
This display case, holding the Apollo 15 spacecraft model, showed the mission patches of all of the Apollo missions.
This is Apollo Command Module Boilerplate BP-1101A, one of 60 boilerplate mockups constructed to test safety issues involved in returning astronauts from the moon. This particular boilerplate was used for flotation tests in the Gulf of Mexico in 1965.
No. Way. A Dream Chaser? Dream Chaser is a reusable lifting body spacecraft built by Sierra Nevada as part of NASA's commercial crew competition. It lost the competition to SpaceX and Boeing, but won a slot to haul cargo as part of the second round of the commercial cargo contracts.
Wouldn't you want to go to space in this? More importantly, wouldn't you want to come back from space in this?
Let's go to space in this!
Another time capsule! This was the third one we had seen on this trip (including Boulder and Dairy Block), so obviously, we have a new collection. This one was sealed January 1, 2001, to be opened 100 years later.
Some sort of program was just wrapping up over in front of this airplane. We have no idea what it was.
This display was provided by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a non-profit whose goal is to stimulate interest from private companies in doing science on the International Space Station.
There were displays an both sides of the "tube," ...
... including a space station timeline that included fictional space stations, presumably because there are so few real space stations to display.
This variant of the A-6 Intruder is known as the EA-6B Prowler, which is an electronic countermeasures version of the all-weather attack bomber. The cockpit canopies are lined with gold to reduce radiation exposure to the crew from the electronic equipment.
This is a car, but it contains the same J-79 engine that was used in the F-104 Starfighter, so we guess it can be in an air and space museum. Named the "Sonic Arrow," this car was going to be used by Steve Fossett to try to break the land speed record, but he died before he made the attempt.
Looks cool. Probably maneuvers terribly in traffic though.
This Velocity XL homebuilt aircraft is based on the Long-EZ design by Burt Rutan. It has a 1000 mile range and can carry four adults. It is a crazy thought that this arrives in a crate and you build it yourself.
For reasons unknown, there were two Star Wars models on display. This one was an X-Wing Starfighter on loan from Lucasfilm.
It had a working R2D2 onboard and had been signed by various Star Wars celebrities.
Here's the back of the model.
Nearby was a Podracer model. It had been built by Nintendo in 1999 for the release of one of their video games, then donated to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. They loaned it to Wings Over the Rockies in 2014.
With annoying little Anakin Skywalker in it, they were probably thrilled to get it out of their storage sheds. We assume it was in storage because we visited the Museum of Flight in 2004, and we definitely didn't see it there.
There was even a diorama featuring the Millennium Falcon. Why? Who knows?
Tucked away in a corner were these adorable kiddie planes that probably come out for children's birthday parties.
Here's another random thing tucked off to the side. It probably comes out for Frontier Air company parties.
This mosaic is titled Progress of Flight. It used to be located in Concourse D at the old Stapleton Airport, which was replaced in 1995 with the Denver International Airport we know today.
Here's the key to the items in the mural.
This aircraft, named "Little Angel," is a Bede BD-5J Micro homebuilt aircraft. There were only a hundred or so kits sold, and it holds the record for the lightest single-engine jet aircraft. It only weighs about 350 pounds.
This building used to be Hangar #1 of Lowry Air Force Base.
This was a Flight for Life helicopter. Having just heard a story on our trip about someone needing one of these, it was interesting to see.
On our way out, we passed the Harrison Ford Welcome Theater which was visited by pilot Harrison Ford in 2014.
We were on our way at 3:00 PM, an hour after we started. We are very efficient air and space museum visitors.
Our next stop was the Black-eyed Pea. Colorado has its own separately-owned chain of restaurants, so even though the Texas-based chain gets smaller every year, this chain seems to be doing just fine.
Fortunately, the food is nearly identical.
Lord have mercy, look at that amazing list of side dishes. There appear to be waaaay more options at this chain.
The rolls were just as tasty, ...
... and our meals were everything we were hoping for, ...
... with one exception: the server thought Debbie had ordered plain broccoli. As if!
Within moments, the error was corrected and she had delicious broccoli rice casserole on her plate along with delicious fried okra and the best meatloaf on the planet. It was all so wonderful.
It was time to head to the airport. We passed an amusing billboard that we wouldn't ever see in Indiana. It confirmed that "budtender" is, indeed, a word around here.
The mountains were looking beautiful as we drove away, but then we got an alarming series of texts. First, Southwest told us that our Early Bird purchase had been refunded. But why? A text a half hour later told us that our flight had been cancelled. Yay.
So we stopped in a parking lot and booked replacement flights for early the next morning, then arranged a hotel room for the evening and child care for the next day. It's a good thing we were planning to come home on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, so we had Monday in case things went wrong. At this point, we still didn't know why our flight was cancelled, even though the sky was trying to tell us.
Tom dropped off Debbie at our hotel with our luggage.
We were staying at Best Western Plus Denver International Airport Inn & Suites.
Debbie looked out the window to see that it had started to pour outside.
Meanwhile, Tom was at the airport after having returned our rental car. He took pictures of the hail that started coming down.
Yeah, that's pretty good-sized hail.
He took the shuttle back to the hotel ...
... where we settled in for the night. It turns out that nearly all flights were cancelled because there were tornadoes around the airport. Yes, tornadoes. Because sun, rain, hail, and blizzards weren't enough different types of weather for this trip.
We ended up watching more episodes of "Big Bang Theory." Thank you, TBS, for airing stress-relieving television.

Day 10 >


Colorado and Utah 2019: [Day 1 - Steamboat Springs] [Day 2 - Grand Junction] [Day 3 - Moab] [Day 4 - Moab] [Day 5 - Cataract Canyon] [Day 6 - Cataract Canyon] [Day 7 - Boulder] [Day 8 - Denver] [Day 9 - Denver] [Day 10 - Denver]

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