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Mr. Toy's Train Travel Tales

The California Zephyr, August 2000

Page 5


Denver
Friday, August 11

View of the Denver Tech Center from our room at the Holtze.

Debbie had blocked a group of rooms for the entire family at the Holtze Executive Village. We spent our first three nights here. The Holtze was a very nice facility. Two types of rooms were laid out in a very functional arrangement. One room was pretty standard, with a bed and bath, the other was a larger room with a living area, fireplace, kitchen and separate bedroom. The larger room could be combined with a smaller one to create a two bedroom, two bathroom suite. This is what we had for the four of us. The property consisted of several three story buildings (no elevators) each with the same room arrangement. At the center was a community room, where a well stocked breakfast buffet awaited in the morning. Outside the community room was a swimming pool. Because we were getting a group rate, the cost of all this was very affordable for a family on a budget.

This morning we began to feel some minor affects from the altitude. Nothing serious, but now and then we would feel just a bit out of breath for a moment, often for no apparent reason. One deep breath would take care of it. This feeling passed by the end of the day, and never reappeared. The weather was very hot. Although tolerable in small doses, I preferrred to stay inside as much as possible.

Our first task was to go over to the nearby Marriott to pick up a rental car. We selected Hertz, because they had offices both here and downtown fairly close to Union Station.. Hertz said they could get us checked in on Tuesday morning and delivered to the train in just a few minutes. Avis, which also had a downtown office, could not promise to get us to the train on time.

We had lunch at the groom's house in Littleton. I expected this town to be just more endless housing tracts, but was pleasantly surprised when we drove through the city center. It was very old fashioned and quaint. I imagine it was once a very quaint small town before Denver sprawled up to it.

The southern areas of Denver reminded me a lot of the unrestrained growth we have seen in Silicon Valley. There was little to distinguish this city. Except for the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, I didn't feel like we had ever left California. For that reason I dubbed Denver "San Jose of the Rockies."

Back at the Holtze Liz and I took advantage of the coin-op laundry facility to clean up the things we wore on the train. Late in the afternoon it was time for the wedding rehearsal. The church was a very modern place. Instead of hymnals, they used an LCD projector connected to a computer to project the words onto a motorized roll-down screen. Along the front of the stage, microphone jacks were placed in the step risers at regular intervals. Up in the balcony was a station for an operator to control the sound, computer, and video equipment. This was one high-tech church!

After the rehearsal we went directly to the Denver Buffalo Company for dinner. It was located on Lincoln Street not too far from the state capitol. Driving in along Lincoln street passed by some beautiful old houses, some of which had been nicely fixed up. I thought that since the freeway ran north and south that Lincoln ran eastward. But I later learned that Lincoln ran north, and the exit was at a gentle westward jog in the freeway which got me turned around. It wouldn’t be the last time.

After dinner we drove past the beautifully illuminated capitol building. We then drove around downtown and got thoroughly lost, due to the quirky street arrangement. There is one grid of streets that rund N-S and E-W, while a second grid in the heart of town runs at a 45 degree angle to the first. It was very easy to lose one's bearings. But we eventually found our way back to the Buffalo Company, and from there we found our way back to the Holtze.

Saturday, August 12

Around 6:00am I woke up briefly after dreaming I was on the train. I looked towards the window and saw the buildings were not moving, so I wondered where we had stopped. I reached over to the nightstand to read the timetable before I realized where I was. I put my head back down and went back to sleep.

This was the day of the wedding. Though it was not scheduled until 5:00pm, there was a lot to do in the meantime. My wife was playing the piano for the service. We went to a nearby Kinko's to photocopy some music so she would not have to flip books open during the ceremony. Debbie's stepdad and I went to a nearby deli and bought a pile of sandwiches so everyone could get lunch.

The ceremony itself was wonderful. Mrs Toy played beautifully. The bride and her mother cried. The minister skipped one whole line of the Lord's Prayer. Oops.

Dinner was at The Pinery, a country club several miles southeast of Denver. Although it was out in the country, we anticipated that Denver would be coming to its doorstep within a few years, due to the unrestrained urban sprawl that was not too far away.

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