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Fort Collins Trip Summary

I'll break this up a bit for those folks who really don't give a rip about the trip. If you're interested in things at all, read on ('tis a bit long). But I've been writing this, and catching up on things from being gone, which is why you don't have any regular blogging (and it's still probably incomplete, but it's at least there).

Anywho...

All in all, the trip was fine. It had its high points, it had its low points, and it had its "Huh?" moments. We'll just try to touch a bit on some of the points I remember off the top of my head, in no particular order.

The Wedding
The trip was obviously all about the wedding. And getting off the plane, it was apparent that things still weren't quite ready for it to happen.

My brother (the groom) was somehow put in charge of the bulk majority of planning for the wedding. The bride, who is a very sweet girl who I love to death, didn't seem to be as involved in the process as most wives-to-be typically are. It was a bit chaotic, but we got it all organized.

The one thing we were concerned about was the weather. It was an outdoor wedding, and it had been raining all day. My brother managed to get a tent from the company that was renting us the chairs, and manged to get them to come out and setup the tent. But before the trip, he just wrapped up his finger with a bunch of tape and kleenex, and told us where to hammer things (this is all an hour before the wedding, mind you). So while the maid-of-honor (nice lady as well) ran him to the hospital, we were tasked with getting the tent up, along with setting up refreshments, chairs, etc... . But we got it all up, with the help of the wedding photographer, musicians, and videographer (who were all friends of my brother's, so they didn't mind helping out at all).

It was a nice and small wedding, held at the Avery House in Fort Collins. It was actually a great location for the wedding (pictured at right, w/out the setup). It was a good thing we managed to get a tent, as it rained quite a bit.

The reception was held afterwards at the bride and groom's house. We just bar-b-qued some burgers and such, nothing really fancy, but there was lots of food (coming from three BBQs, two of which were donated from his neighbors), lots of beer from a local brewery, and lots of wine as my brother got a great deal from the folks at Vintages Wine which is one of the most unique wine-buying concepts I've seen (got to meet the owners, too -- really nice folks). A great time was had by all, and I met a lot of my brother and now sister-in-law's friends, and they all were just nice folks. If any of you are reading this, you guys are welcome to Central Oregon anytime, and I've got a spare room for you.

But all in all, it was a good reception and a good wedding, and all the work we put forth made it worth it. That, and seeing my little sister hammered drunk was pretty entertaining as well.

The House
One thing many of us hadn't seen is the house my brother and wife had moved into just a couple months ago (I'd post a picture, but don't want people stalking him). It's an older home, about 900 sq. ft. located in the old-town area north of campus and west of downtown. It's in a great location, just north of city park. It's an older home, needs work (my dad helped my brother with some things as they got there a couple days before I did), but it's got a lot of potential. I helped him wire up some speakers to his iMac so he could have music outside for the reception.

But it was a good thing they bought now when they did (I have no idea how much they paid) because, at least according to a couple folks I talked to at the reception, they're going to implement a building-permit freeze in Fort Collins in 2008. So after that there will be no new building, so house prices are going to shoot up big time.

One thing I had completely forgotten about this area of town, too, was the Fort Collins trolley. The tracks for the trolley (pictured at right) run nearby my brother's house. I didn't get to see the trolley running while I was there, so the grass-covered tracks are the best I could do.

The Day After
The day after the wedding, we had a full day to just kind of play around, but the weather kind of put a damper on things. I had originally planned on trying to find tickets to the Rocky Mountain Showdown, but after calling about 25 people on Denver's Craigslist who were selling tickets but had already sold them, we gave up and just decided to watch it on TV later that day.

Before the weather got really ugly, we managed to hit the Spring Creek Gardens. This garden is absolutely amazing, and is (from what I can tell) a co-op between the city and the University. I took a ton of pictures there (had some issues with my auto-focus -- see below). A few of the pictures you can see below. There were some really cool plants along with signs as to exactly what they were and where the seeds came from. I took about 60 pictures there so I could show my wife some ideas for our garden (as Fort Collins and Bend have similar climates).

  

garden3.jpg  


Afterwards, we went exploring downtown a bit (one of the fountains I came across pictured at right), I bought a few things for the girls. I really enjoyed the bit of downtown I did see, especially enjoying probably one of the coolest kitchen stores I've ever been to. Unfortunately, the weather was getting ugly and grandma was getting tired, so we really couldn't go exploring as much as we would've liked. But the uniqueness of the shops and stores down there was a lot of fun.

We spent the rest of the day either at our hotel room or at a bar (whose name I forgot) watching the aforementioned showdown on TV as well as the Duck game (which was on national TV, thankfully).

Day Of Departure
Our flight wasn't departing from Denver until 2:50, so we had some time to kill that morning. I told my wife that I'd try to get some pictures of campus, but I didn't have any time the previous couple days and the weather was ugly. The weather wasn't much better, and I only had about 45 minutes to wander campus, as we were all going to go to breakfast at Cracker Barrel on I-25 on the way to Denver. I basically just wandered campus shooting pictures of some of the buildings I spent some time in. I also couldn't get into any of them as it was Sunday
at 9AM, so not even the Student Union was open (I spent a bunch of time there, too -- mostly at the bowling alley which apparently isn't there any more due to the floods of 1997).

So the picture to the right (below) is about the only picture that came out relatively decent as my auto-focus was out of whack and that I actually could tell you anything about. It's of the indoor track facility of which I spent a bunch of time. Woohoo, really exciting stuff there. The other is obviously a campus sign. Yippee...

 campus1.jpg

Commute Home
After landing in Portland about 10 minutes ahead of schedule, my sister, who was heading back to Salem, dropped me off at my aunt's house in Oregon City (I'd parked my car there). I started heading back home. It was still daylight until I got to Warm Springs and then I realized something: One of my headlights was out, which made it really hard to see on the dark, newly paved, barely-striped roads outside of Warm Springs. I pulled over to see if I had an extra headlight in my glovebox, which I fortunately did. Installed it, and went about my merry way, making pretty good time on the way home.

Other Random Thoughts
Autofocus: Like I mentioned above, my autofocus on my camera was a bit messed up when I was shooting in my camera's non-dummy-proof settings (which is required if you want to shoot RAW). It kept focusing on the top-most focus point, which was really annoying as when you're taking pictures of landscapes and skylines that don't actually have something to focus on at that point. I found out later after I found the manual that I'd apparently accidentally hit the focus point selection button that's directly below the shutter button. Once I put things back to normal, the thing works fine again. Too bad I didn't figure that out until after I'd shot most of my pictures. I'll be sure to be careful around that button.

Grandparents: My grandparents are totally different in their own little ways. My mom's mom and husband are loud (mostly because they're basically deaf), outgoing, alway-have-to-be-moving folks that never slow down. They never like to stay in one place for very long. They always were shouting at each other and turning up their TV really loud as they couldn't hear each other or the TV. They both have hearing aids, but don't use them unless they're at church.

Then there's my dad's mom, who was at the wedding as well and came to Denver with my family. She isn't nearly as lively as my other grandparents. She requires a lot more watching over and hand-holding, is a bit in denial about a few things, moves really slow, and required a lot of our attention during the trip. It was tiring, and by the end of the trip, everybody was getting really annoyed with her. Was it her fault? Hardly, as she can't help it that she's just getting old, and has all the problems that come with it. But if she were just to admit to some of her issues instead of flat-out denying them and making them everybody else's problem, I think everybody would've been happier. For example, she snores like a chain-saw, and has for years. I got stuck sleeping in the same room as her, so I didn't sleep for most of the weekend. But if you mention that she snores, she flatly denies it. My mom says she's snored as long as she's known her (and my parents have been married 30 years).

So that was a bit annoying, and I wish I would've worn socks with my sandals, as the floors at the Denver International Airport are cold and nasty. It took quite a while to get through security at DIA, but PDX was nice and quick (it's obviously a much less busy airport).

I also knew my checked bag would get inspected, as it contained a bunch of large kitchen knives that my sister bought for her new apartment. Sure enough, when I got home there was a little TSA "Your Bag Was Inspected" note with generic apologies if they had to break my locks (which they didn't as I had the TSA-approved locks).

Final Thoughts
All in all, it was a pretty good trip. I would've liked to have gotten a bit more sleep and more pictures, but when you're part of the wedding (I was the best man) and the weather wasn't all that good, you're certainly not going to risk damaging a camera that isn't yours.

Posted by Jake on 09/13/06 @ 12:51 PM
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