It’s a long way home

A better way to fly?

A better way to fly?

The other morning a friend of mine told me about his recent trip home from a convention in Denver. He had to wait three hours in Minneapolis for his connection. I really don’t like sharing stories about travel horror, but that one was far too easy to top.

We had been in Denver for a wedding. My brother Eric and his wife Anke were there, too. After all the festivities, we left Denver in the morning. Eric planned to drive back to Rochester and we took the airplane. We dropped off the rental car at Denver International about the time Eric drove past the airport east of Denver. We breezed through security. There wasn’t much for security in the Nineties. The flight to Minneapolis was uneventful. We arrived in plenty of time to catch our flight from MSP to Rochester. There was a layover of more than two hours.

We called Eric. He was in Omaha. We’d beat him home easy. They announced boarding for our plane and we dutifully lined up to get on board. We stood patiently. One moment, please; a mechanical problem with the airplane. Sit and wait. No problem they said. There’s another airplane available and we’ll get it right out for you all.

In two hours. They moved all the luggage, the food, the crew and all the freight from the hold. Again we dutifully line up to get on board. Nothing to it. We get settled in and wait. And wait.

“Sorry folks. There’s a problem with this airplane.” A cracked windshield. The airline can handle this. Believe it or not, there’s another airplane available for us to go to Rochester. They herded us off the airplane to wait in the concourse for the next bird. They find an airplane, get it into position, move the luggage and freight, wait for a new crew and get everything ready. We are now over six hours late.

Finally the ground crew finished fueling the airplane and hundred or so grumpy people get on board and wait for the plane to back out of the gate. It does! We’re on the way! Takeoff is easy. It’s a short flight, maybe twenty minutes total if there’s a headwind.

A half hour into the flight the pilot comes on the PA. Continue reading

Life turns towards the better

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

I am a rich man. I have friends and family. My brother and his wife took me in when I had no place to go. I looked for a job for seven months to no avail. My younger brother pitched in to buy me a car so I could get around. When the transmission went out all my brothers pitched in to get it fixed. A friend of mine in Denver invited me to come out and try for a job there. All my friends and family pitched in to get me the money to go to Denver for the interview and make the move to a new state for a new start. My brother and his wife in Arvada gave me a place to live while I looked for work.

I was able to get a job with the Denver Public Library as an On-Call Intermittent Security Officer. My friend that got me the job said that to go any further, I would have to do it on my own. He pulled himself from the interview process to make sure that I would not receive any perceived preference. I was able to land a part-time position as a Security/Circulation Clerk at a branch library. Then a full-time position opened up and I was able to land the full-time job.

Lori, Eric, Guy, Wendy and Linn at a Starbucks in Denver.

Lori, Eric, Guy, Wendy and Linn at a Starbucks in Denver.

After almost two years, I am finally back on my own two feet. I am a rich man. I have a family that helped me through an extremely tough time. I have friends that did not abandon me in my time of need. I now have a wonderful partner in life, Lori, that loves me for who I am and not for money. I am blessed. Every day I wake up, I thank God for the countless blessings I have received. I now have a job where I have the opportunity to work with homeless people and others in need of help. I have the opportunity to help others get back on their feet. I love my life, I love my family, I love my friends, I love Lori.

Life is wonderful again.


 

Postscript:
Five years have passed since I wrote this letter. Changes keep coming on a daily basis. I accept them all and give thanks for the blessings every day. Ups and downs still happen. But at least we are completely out of debt, have a nice home that is paid for, and smiles on our faces.
Thank the Lord. Amen.

— Eric H

Spelunking with Joel

Spelunking with Joel

Eric writes:

I was interested in caving for many years of my life. My favorite cave in Colorado was Fulford Cave near Eagle, Colorado. One of the best visits was when Joel was about eight years old. He was in Cub Scouts and was going to go caving with me for the first time. This was a public access cave that a person/group could spend from four to eight hours to see. We drove up to Fulford campground the day before and camped with friends that were going caving with us the following day.

Joel - Then and now

Joel – 1995 and 2007

The hike up to the cave entrance was about a mile up the mountain. Joel and I were getting more excited with each step. When we got to the entrance we all sat for a pre-caving photo. It was a busy cave that day. Some other group was climbing up the ladder, as we were ready to climb down. The entrance consists of a metal culvert dug into the ground at about a 50-degree angle with a metal ladder welded to the inside for climbing down into the cave. When it was our turn, Joel started down in front of me. As we went down the ladder, Joel started to have second thoughts and a little claustrophobia.

He said he wanted to go back up and not do the cave. I kept encouraging him to go on down to the bottom of the ladder because there were people above me on the way down. We had to go to the bottom before he could go back up. When we got to the bottom, I told Joel that he should let me show him around a little before he went back to the surface. We walked around in a couple large chambers for a few minutes as I explained about the rock formations. When I asked Joel if he still wanted to go back without doing the cave, he said he would like to continue for a while. The farther we went into the cave, the more fun we had. We spent the day in the cave. This was a wonderful bonding experience for Joel and me.

I will never forget sharing this wonderful time with him.

— Eric H

College and a good job

College and a good job

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

We moved back to Denver. and moved into JoAnn’s parents’ basement while I looked for work. For a period of time, I did furniture repair work for JC Penney Company and Krause’s Sofa Factory. Eventually, I went to work with my brother. Linn.

This was around 1988. Linn wanted me to go back to college. He felt it was important for me to have an advanced education. He was right. So I started working toward an associate degree at From Range Community College. Then Linn convinced me that I would be better off going to the University of Colorado instead of wasting my time at a community college. So I went to UCD for a couple of years. Eventually, I figured out that in this case Linn was wrong. So I went back to FRCC and finished my Associate Degree and have never regretted it.

I worked with Linn for three years as an office manager/industrial hygiene technician and Phase Contrast Microscopy microscopist. I had experience running a small business, and he had the Certified Industrial Hygienist certification. Together, we put together a pretty good shop. At our peak there were six of us working in the office. We got to the point that we needed to expand and hire more people or cut back on the work we were taking on. I felt, as did Tom, a fellow in the shop, that we should expand. Linn decided to cut back. In fact, within a year he shut down the place and sold out to a laboratory that we used.

We all went our separate ways.

— Eric H

California Sunburn

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

After graduation from High School, Rick White and I took a two-week trip to the west coast to visit his family in Huntington Beach. That was quite the trip.

On the night of graduation, JoAnn and I and all our friends stayed out all night. We went up to Lookout Point Park to watch the sun come up. JoAnn and I talked all night about what we wanted to do with our lives now that we had graduated. We had no clue.

After taking JoAnn home, I went home. Rick came by and picked me up in his 1967 Camaro Rally Sport for our drive to California. It was a fun car. But every time I drove it, the engine would just quit after about an hour. Then Rick would take over and it would be fine. Strange.

It was a 24-hour drive to LA. Taking turns sleeping and driving, we did a straight through drive. When we got to the house, I was introduced to all Rick’s brothers and sisters (10 kids in the family). I was then given the car keys and Rick’s sister had a shopping list. We were off to the grocery store.

I was informed that there are “no guests here, everyone has a job” and I was assigned mine, too.

One morning I felt like going for a walk. I was gone for an hour or two just walking around. When I got back everyone else had gone to the beach. So I went out to the pool in the back yard and was enjoying swimming alone. I guess Rick’s Mom felt sorry for me. So she called a girl on the next block and asked if she would take me to the beach.

It turned out she was a girl that Rick’s brother had been trying to get a date with for quite some time. (She was VERY good looking). We went to the beach and swam and talked for a couple hours. I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I also got the worst sunburn of my life.

That night we all packed up and drove to Disney Land to play. I wore blue jeans and it almost killed me. For the next few days. Rick’s little sister would sneak up behind me and slap me where I was burned. I don’t know if she liked seeing me in pain or what. But it hurt plenty.

— Eric H

Making Sausage

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

My first real job when I was in High School was working at Temptee Brand Steak Company in Arvada, Colorado. My job was to mix spices for the meats, prepare whole beef livers for thin slicing and cleaning of the plant after the days’ operations. I did that for almost three years. It was a pretty good job. My school schedule was pretty free because I would take summer school classes to get ahead. So, my senior year, I only had classes until noon. Then I would go to work in the afternoon and get home by six in the evening. Those were the days. I had lots of money to spend and no responsibilities other than school.

When I was in High School, I would never get my school homework done in the evening. So I would wake up at 5:00 AM. My mom would give me a ride to school. I would get there at six o’clock just as the outside doors were being unlocked. I would go up to the library and turn on the lights. I would sit there and study until class started about 8:00 AM. Seems like a strange study habit, but it worked for me. I got almost straight A’s in high school.

— Eric H

The Girls at the Village Inn

JoAnn and Eric wedding

JoAnn and Eric’s wedding

Eric writes:

The Village Inn Restaurant was the local hang out for all my friends and me. My brother Linn and I were having coffee one night and our waitress was Wendy. Linn bet me five bucks that he could get a date with her and sure enough, he did.

They became friends. As it turned out Wendy and JoAnn were best friends. Wendy introduced me to JoAnn. Our first date May 16 was to go see the movie, “The Towering Inferno”. JoAnn was into theatre at the time and liked to pick a character in the movie and pretend to play her part. Unfortunately, she picked a cute young blonde that died a fiery death and fell from the 80th floor of the burning building.

She was so upset that she had to go sit in the theatre lobby while I watched the movie. It was a lousy first date, although we did become fast fiends and were together for twenty years. We were married for 14 of those years. JoAnn and I had two beautiful children. I still love her to this day, even though I would not want to be married to her again.

— Eric H

Learning to Drink

Eric writes:

Here is another drinking story. The last day of school in the tenth grade, I brought a backpack with me with all my camping gear. John Labriola, Rick Barnes and Mark Ryan were going backpacking on Mount Evans for three days as soon as school got out. We drove up to Camp Rock, which is on the east side of Mount Evans in the Elk Management area. There are lots of backpacking trails there. We hiked up to Beaver Meadows and set up camp. We spent the afternoon playing around on the rocks climbing and swimming in the beaver ponds. Wow, was that ever cold. I didn’t know a penis could shrink so small!

John brought along a quart bottle of Vodka that his neighbor bought for him. We all drank until the bottle was gone. Mark and I drank the most. We were so plastered that we wandered off into the meadows and fell down. We were so drunk that we couldn’t even stand up to pee. We would just roll over and get up on our knees and pee, than fall down again. We lay there and laughed and talked for a while. John and Rick finally found us and dragged us back to camp.

During the night, Mark got sick and threw up a couple of times. I spent a lot of the next few years backpacking up on Mount Evans. I never drank that much up there again though. I look back on it all now and think that I had a problem with alcohol.

— Eric H

Mt Evans
Mount Evans and Summit Lake

Photo by Boilerinbtown (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Learning to Drive

Eric writes:

When my friends and I started turning 16 and getting our drivers licenses, a whole new world opened up for us.

When I look back on it, there were a few times that we could have been killed. One example is a night when Rick Barnes and I went out to a movie. He was already 16 and had his license. I was still 15. Rick had a friend that bought us each a bottle of booze. I remember it was blackberry brandy.

Drive In Theater (by Matt Wade)

Drive In Theater (by Matt Wade)

We went to a drive-in theater where we could drink while watching the movie. I don’t even remember the movie. Anyway, we each drank our bottle of brandy. As we sat there we realized that we were really getting drunk. I guess it got us spooked so we decided to go home before the movie was over.

We started driving up Federal Blvd. At about Hampton Avenue, Rick pulled over to puke. He just stopped, opened the door and puked out the door. He didn’t even get out of the car. I don’t remember anything after that. The next day, Rick called me and asked how we got home. I told him I didn’t remember a thing after he pulled over to puke. He said he couldn’t remember either. That scared us both pretty bad. So we made a pact to never drink and drive like that again.

My first year of High School was at Lincoln High School in Denver. I had a good circle of friends that year and enjoyed school. Tenth grade, I think I enjoyed gym class the most. I had a free period after lunch, so I joined in with the gym class that hour quite often. I was there so much the gym teacher thought I belonged in his class. In the spring we moved to Arvada a month before school was out. So Mom drove Chris and me to school every day so we wouldn’t have to switch schools. Chris was going to Kunsmiller and I was at Lincoln.

— Eric H

Photo credit:
By UpstateNYer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons