Denver, Colorado

My sister Kathleen lives in Denver with her husband Antony, their daughter Susan and dog Max, and Susan’s new hamster Nibbles.  Kathleen’s family only uses two of their three garage spaces and her family is graciously letting me leave my car in their third spot while I’m overseas.  So Denver was the last stop on the first part of my Big Trip.

 

Kathleen, Antony, Susan, and Max

 

Susan and Antony

 

Max

 
I rolled into Denver the afternoon of Monday 7/26 and didn’t fly out until Wednesday morning, giving me almost two days to visit with Kathleen, Antony and Susan and also take care of a few last-minute travel preparations.  Susan didn’t waste much time challenging me to some Wii games, and – while I managed to hold my own in bowling and baseball, she crushed me in tennis and embarrassed me badly at Mario Kart.  Thanks to the thrashing she administered I’ve started having nightmares involving banana peels and flashing arrows that inform me I’m going the wrong way.  (Has it really been over thirty years since I was the young kid making short work of adults on a new video game system?  Atari 2600, how I loved you…)

After several Wii beat-downs, Susan agreed to pose for some photos.

 

Susan Surrounded by Stuffed Animals

 

Susan and Max

 
I expected to be mildly frantic on Tuesday as I wrapped up my preparations for such a long trip, but it wasn’t too bad.  No one loves a good spreadsheet more than I do, and for over two months I’d been refining a couple of lists – one for the things I’d pack and another for the things I needed to do before I left.  By Tuesday night I had checkmarks next to every item on both lists and felt ready to go.

Just one problem:  too much stuff.  I tried my best to pack as little as possible, but my photography equipment makes it tough.  The bare minimum I feel like I need includes my camera body, one upsettingly heavy lens (28-300mm), one light lens (17-40mm), a compact tripod with a mid-sized ballhead, and a range of filters, cleaning materials, memory cards, etc.  Then to store all the photos I need portable external hard drives (I’m starting with two 1TB drives), and to process the photos I need a laptop.  In a future post I’ll go through my packing list in more detail, but you get the idea…  The photo-related stuff alone is heavy and takes up a lot of space.

Still, everything did fit into my two bags – a camera backpack and a carry-on with wheels – so I decided to accept the seam-bursting overload for now.  I’m sure I’m taking things I won’t ultimately need, but until I’ve spent some time living out of those two bags I don’t think I can differentiate the must-have from the can-probably-live-without.

My alarm went off at 5am Wednesday morning.  Kathleen was nice enough to make green chili cheese eggs for breakfast and then give me a ride to the Denver airport.  Not even fully awake yet I found myself flying west towards Vietnam and the very start of my overseas trip.  Thanks again, Kathleen, Antony, and Susan!