For the holidays this year, I took only 4-day passes to save up my terminal leave. I wanted to see my buddy Chris in Colorado Springs before he deployed again, even though his parents would be there at Christmas, I wouldn’t be seeing my own family for Christmas, and Chris was just moving into his new condo so there’d be no furniture.

Then the Denver area had a huge blizzard which closed the airport for the longest period of time it ever has. Chris assured me things would be good by the time I got there but I worried and checked the Denver webcams and weather pages frequently. I also had to check my Frontier flight to see if it was cancelled! But it wasn’t and I made it in at the perfect time. People were still sleeping on the airport floors as I arrived.

I hung out with Chris and his parents over the weekend. We installed his dining room table and had a celebratory first meal along with some pomegranite martinis. The next morning we went up to Manitou, a cool little base town, and the top of Pike’s Peak on the Cog Railway. I posted Flickr photos which showed the change in terrain with the elevation. It didn’t capture the freezing wind coming off the side of the peak though!

Later that day we drove through the Garden of the Gods, a series of red rock formations, and then ate a light meal at a bar in Colorado City. The next day was Christmas and we headed out early to drive to Cripple Creek. We found a small road Chris had never taken before so we took it in his Range Rover Discovery. What followed was a long trek winding through the ridges and valleys, with almost no other traffic along the way. We saw abandoned hunting and mining shacks, mine shafts, and scenic valley views. Eventually we reached Cripple Creek and Chris and I played poker for five hours while his mom played slots. It was nice to sit at the table again.

We drove back and everywhere was closed to eat so we went to the movies and saw Good Shepherd. I liked it although I agree there were weird parts (the son is freaky and distracting) and it was too long. But it’s probably one of the better movies I’ve seen this year. For dinner I had movie nachos and a hot dog. Mmm!

The next day we went to Denver to look at the art museum. First we ate at Chipotle, whose steak fajita burrito with corn salsa I could eat every day until I died. As for the museum, I like the design, because like the airport, its roof resembles a jagged Rocky ridge. Inside is a disorienting, dizzy staircase with Escherish views down. Some of the art inside, like the modern stuff, was dubious — a trash bag doesn’t seem to be much except for Chris and I to laugh out loud at, rudely.

But some of the other modern stuff was interesting and I really enjoyed the old Indian sculptures and engraved doors, along with the Korean things.

Chris and I got into a mini snowball fight outside while everyone else didn’t even crack a smile. It’s SNOW, people! At CHRISTMAS! Have fun!

After that, Chris dropped me off at the airport and I got out, narrowly dodging the next blizzard that would come through in a couple days. Whoo, good timing!

I went back to work for a couple days and no one was there except mainly people whose families lived at Campbell so they didn’t have to travel anywhere. Then I drove back down to Nashville and hopped on a plane to Dallas.

My sweet Julie already posted an excellent summary of what happened! All I really want to add is that I think it was satisfying seeing Julie happy and relaxed, especially at our rural house. Also I got to see her smile a lot and that means I done good. We had an awesome time and the four days were packed!

I got the new iPod Shuffle, some Guatamalan worry dolls, a book by Barack Obama and the new book by Joe Stiglitz (Nobel Prize-winning globalization expert), along with a t-shirt “Baghdad Oilers” by No Mas.

It feels weird returning to base now. I’m sort of on the outs, soon to drive all my shit back home to Dallas, where I’ll be a stranger to the military again. Right now I’m part of a big family but shortly I will be an outsider looking in, and I’m not going to be one of those guys who hangs around military folks being like, “so I remember when…”

In final news, my recommendations look like they will go through after all! So now I wait…and hope…that I will be accepted…