Sunday, June 10, 2018

High Times: The Sutherlands Go to Denver

The Sutherlands' love of baseball is at all-time high (the Sutherland boys at least. Paige and Traci both find baseball excruciatingly long and boring, which isn't exactly untrue). So I decided the best thing to do was to watch some more of it.

The day after school let out for the summer, we packed up the minivan and headed to Denver to go watch a couple of Colorado Rockies games.

On driving

Other than one 10-hour trip Disneyland six years ago, our longest drives are the four-hour trips we make to St. George each year. We were a little nervous about driving eight hours to Denver, but everything went okay.

The Wyoming scenery was a touch monotonous but the soothing obnoxious sounds of Spongebob Squarepants DVDs, a handful of sessions of How Many NFL/NBA/NHL Teams Can You Name, and loads of treats helped the time go by. 

On waiting

After eight hours in the car, we were ready to unwind in the hotel. No such luck.Even though we arrived around 5 p.m., our room still wasn't ready.

"I'm really sorry...everything's booked...Memorial Day weekend..." the clerk stammered. "Called in sick...understaffed...and then the Taylor Swift concert really screwed things up."

Taylor Swift. Hmmph. Always getting in our way.

Traci and the boys stuck around in the lobby. Paige and I went wandering and found some pretty cool street art.

It took about an hour before the room was ready. It was worth the wait -- the hotel waived the $30/day valet parking charge as a concession. I'm always happy to save a few bucks, especially when the service is of little value. The first time our valet brought us our car, it took 10 minutes, and he brought the wrong one.

On church

Feeling guilty about doing a little Sabbath breaking to go a Sunday afternoon Rockies game, we tried to even the righteousness scales by going to church first. There's a saying in Mormonism, "The Church is the same everywhere."

That's mostly true. While the teachings are the same, it's nice to see how different the experience can be from place to place.

We visited a ward in downtown Denver. Instead of the standard standalone church building, it was in a four-story office space. (The boys were blown away when they saw an elevator in a church.) Instead of boring old white shirts and ties, there were a lot of bushy beards, t-shirts, tennis shoes, and even some dreadlocks.

It was the day before Memorial Day so it wasn't surprising that an older gentleman, wearing a stars-and-stripes necktie, was one of the speakers. He spoke about his time in the military, his love of his country, and how he was Mormon from time to time. And then he said, "With the okay of the bishopric, I'm going to do something a little unorthodox. I'd like everyone in the audience who has served in the military to stand up so we can recognize you."

That was a nice gesture.

And then he said something that I had a feeling would turn out badly.

"I'd like to invite them each to the pulpit to say a few words about their time in the military or anything else they'd like to talk about."

Five or six people stood up, most of them in their 70s or 80s, and one by one they came to the stand. They talked about Korea and Vietnam. About service and patriotism. About responsibility and freedom.

The last gentlemen who walked to the stage was probably in his 30s. He was wearing a long beard, shorts, and sandals.

"I became a member of the church in 2004," he said. "And then I stopped going almost immediately after. In fact, I kind of forgot I'd eve been baptized at all."

"But then today, I was walking by the church and I had a feeling I should come inside."

People's ears started to perk up. We were about to experience, firsthand, one of those faith-promoting stories you hear in Sunday School about the guy who walks into the church, feels the spirit, and immediately decides to turn his life around.

"I fought in a little-known battle in the Panama Canal. I was taken prisoner by my own government. That's when I learned that we have enemies within our own military. I guess sacrifices have to be made to feed the machine."

Everyone started to squirm uncomfortably in their seats. This went on a for a few minutes.

He continued, "And that's because of the #$%--- government. They've taken my children and my wife away."

That's when the bishop stood up, walked over to the gentlemen, and whispered something in his ear.

The man stopped mid-sentence, left the stage, and walked back out the front door of the building.

At least church wasn't boring.

On Sunday afternoon baseball

It was an absolutely beautiful day for baseball. Around 80 degrees and a gentle breeze. 

The boys were excited to be in such a big stadium and they paid attention to every single play. They learned the players' names. They watched the pitch count. They eyed the scoreboard on the right field wall to keep tabs on the other scores around the league. 

Even the ladies had a good time. Paige said to me later, "It wasn't as boring as I thought it would be. Plus I got to play a bunch of games of Words with Friends with Mom."

There were home runs and stolen bases and bunts. The Rockies beat the Reds 8-2. A practically perfect afternoon. 

On science

On Memorial Day, we spent the morning at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Lots of cool stuff to check out. 

Thousands rocks and gems. Millions of animal displays. Space displays and dinosaur bones.

Two mummies and an exhaustive explanation of the mummification process that left Tate and I both a bit queasy. Plus some life-sized walruses that carry a decent resemblance to our youngest child.

On monsoon rains

After the museum, the boys wanted to go to another game. I happily obliged. (Paige and Traci decided to sit this one out, opting instead for a trip to the outdoor 16th Street Mall.)

But it turns out that spring in Denver is just as fickle as in Salt Lake City. When we started our 20-minute walk from the hotel to the stadium, the skies were slightly overcast. By the time we'd walked three minutes, we were caught in the middle of a torrential downpour.

We found shelter in an Avis parking lot, but I couldn't help feeling disappointed that the game would be rained out (and also that I'd lose the money I spent on the tickets).

Soaking wet, we walked back to the hotel.

On crying in the tub

What do you do on a rainy night in Denver? Swim in the indoor pool with Tate, of course.

For the first 30 minutes or so, we had the place to ourselves. We were just about to get out of the pool and into the hot tub when a 50-ish-year-old woman beat us to it.

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love a good tub. Regular tub, hot tub, hot spring, whatever. And my coworkers and I always joke that the best thing to do in a tub is to have a good, long cry. (Something I always plan to do, but never quite get around to.)

This woman got around to it. In a big way.

At first, it looked like she was just rubbing her eyes in a boy-this-hot-tub-really-is-hot type of way. So Tate and I got in there with her.

Once we were in the hot tub, it was easy to see that she was, in fact, sobbing. And then sobbing quite loudly.

At this point, we could have gotten up and left her on her own. Or said, "Are you feeling okay?"

But why would you want to stop someone from having a perfectly good cry? And, more importantly, why would we want to get out of perfectly good hot tub?

Then her friend (or partner) came down and sat with her. I couldn't hear what they were saying but I could tell that the sobbing turned to howling, which is made in more intense by echo chamber that is an indoor pool in the basement of the Hampton Inn.

We probably would have just stayed until we turned to raisins but Traci came down, pointing at her phone.

"Twitter says the rain delay is over. The game starts in a half hour."

We jumped out of the water and headed to the baseball game.

(Leaving the bather and her friend to continue to cry in the tub.)

On the best night ever

By the time we got back to the park, the skies had cleared up. The boys were even more excited about the game than they were the day before -- partially because they knew what to expect, and even more because I told them I was willing to buy them a souvenir. (They both ended up with Charlie Blackmon jerseys.)

Per the boys' request, we sat out in the outfield, right above the bullpen. We ate hot dogs and peanuts and sunflower seeds and giant pretzels. Life was good.

The Rockies didn't have as easy a time with the Giants as they did with the Reds the day before. They were losing most of the game, but tied it up in the 8th.

Could we be so lucky as to get extra innings at first-ever weekend of Major League baseball? Yep.

Could we get even luckier and watch the Rockies win the game on a walk off single in the bottom of the 10th? Yes, indeed.

Tate: SLC?! That's where I'm from! 

The boys were so pumped up by the win that they talked about it the ENTIRE way back to the hotel. And then they recapped the entire game for Traci and Paige before they went to bed and then again when they woke up.

The baseball trip was a resounding success.

On coming back home

Before we headed out of town, we stopped by a place I've always wanted to see.

Obviously, I'd choose a Broncos game over a Rockies game, but it was fun just to walk around the house that Elway built.

A Broncos game (in Denver) is probably the next thing on my bucket list.

Instead of driving back home through Wyoming, we took the more scenic route through Vail and Price. The mountains were nice. But the two hours of twisting and turning was tough on a few stomachs in the back seat. Luckily no major incidents. 

When the aux cable on the DVD player shorted out, causing Spongebob to go silent, we had bigger problems on our hands. 

Luckily, Glenwood Springs, Colorado is large enough to have a Chili's and a Target. Traci took one look at the scenery and said,"I could live here." Then I reminded her that Glenwood Springs probably has winter. She immediately rescinded her prior comment. 

Between car sickness and Target stops, the trip home took about an hour longer than the drive there and we were all ready to be back home. 

Within five minutes of walking in the door, Tate's baseball coach called and asked if the boys wanted to come hit some balls at the bark. After a weekend of baseball, I thought they'd be exhausted. 

Nope. They grab their mitts, their bats, and their Charlie Blackmon jerseys and headed out the door. 

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Spencer you are such a great writer! I love your blog. I cry, laugh, laugh some more and enjoy hearing about the Sutherland antics.