I-76 Christmas

Every other year we travel to Colorado for Christmas. You could do worse. Colorado is cool place. It has mountains, a crap ton of microbreweries and both of my sisters live there. It was also 65 degrees in the middle of December. Not too shabby. This trip not only gives us the chance to spend time with my side of the family but also affords us the opportunity to really evaluate the interstate system, grade the exits and their dining opportunities along with the scenery along I-76.

So, Colorado, you have legal pot now. I am sure this reality has drawn a certain demographic to settle within your borders. Congrats, I guess. But you did not have to hire all them to work at the Department of Transportation. Because one of two things is happening as a result. Either the Colorado DOT forgot to take care of their roads because they got hungry or Colorado isn’t using any of the pot tax revenue on its roads. Granted, you probably have other needs which need funding. Off the top of my head, I guessing more law enforcement. But geez, c’mon Colorado, you suck at highways. Badly. It’s like you deliberately laid each concrete section of I-76 a half inch off of the last one. Describing it as washboard effect does not do washboards justice. The right lane going west was like driving on the brain waves of Nancy Pelosi. So we switched lanes to the less annoying but still shoddy asphalt in the left lane. It was like we were driving on pillows. And not the crappy Wal-Mart pillows, the expensive ones at Pottery Barn. Regardless, how about throwing some of that new drug money at the interstate?

Now, if you find yourself traveling on I-76 in eastern Colorado, here’s a few things to remember:

First, your cell reception will be as reliable as a French armored division in the spring of 1940. Two, if you enjoy watching barbed wire fencing, cattle and a complete lack of trees, you’re in luck. If you’re driving west and you forget to get gas in Ogallala, here’s a rundown on your options just over the pot frontier in Colorado.

Julesburg. We’ve never made it past the Shell station or Wagon Wheel right at the exit so I can’t comment on the town itself. The Wagon Wheel has more room and nicer bathrooms. Also it has an impressive about of trinkets and baubles.

Segewick. I’m not sure what Segewick looks like or actually entails. Lucy’s Café is right off the interstate and had a couple gas pumps. Lucy also had a General Store. I assume the General Store sold more than gun powder and sasparilla. But one thing Lucy’s didn’t have was pavement. I don’t want to cast aspersions upon Segewick or Lucy’s Café and General Store but we haven’t been back since we stopped there in ’08.

Sterling. I recommend stopping here. Although we never have. It appears to be the biggest small town you’ll pass until you get to Ft. Morgan. So I guess there’s less chance you’ll be mauled by a rabid elk or something.

Atwood. There’s a Sinclair station. We stopped there on our way home. It looks like its located on the moon. And there was a small café-type restaurant attached. We were there pretty early on a Sunday morning so it wasn’t real busy. Not that anything is busy at any time anywhere on I-76 in eastern Colorado.

So, in conclusion, getting gas before you cross the Nebraska-Colorado stateline is a good idea. Also having a large capacity bladder.


Uptown Funk’s Parental Application

Nothing brings teens and soon to be teens together with their folks better than Mom and Dad liking the same songs they like. This also gives you the chance to introduce your kids to your stuff. Mom, the girls and I have been bonding over this song:

It is impossible not to like that song if you’re a Gen Xer. Might not be your favorite, but you like it. Not as much as a 15 year-old girl, but you still like it. Why do you like it so much?

This is why:

Morris Day and The Freaking Time. This dance ain’t for everybody, just the sexy people… Uptown Funk clearly has drawn some influence from Morris.

Furthermore, somewhere deep down in your childhood, this song has taken up residence:

I got bodyguards, I got two big cars, That definitely ain’t the wack, I got a Lincoln Continental and a sunfoofed Cadillac. You’re welcome. Bruno Mars is awesome and everything, but let’s not forget Sugarhill Gang cause Bruno obviously hasn’t.

I really wanted to add Parliament Funkadelic but I don’t think Bruno Mars really sounds like them. You don’t remember hearing P-Funk. But you did. You were over at the neighbor’s house and their teenager had it going on the record player and without you knowing it, you identified this stuff as cool because you were 8 and a teenager was listening to it. And teenagers could drive. And swear.

Yeah, Merry Christmas. You’re going to be singing this stuff all day.

Christmas is well underway

Every year I lament the tendency of, well, everyone to jam as much stuff into December as possible. For whatever reason, we all feel the need to schedule EVERYTHING for December. Its not like December is longing for more stuff either. It already has NFL football with playoff implications and Christmas. But we have to fit a Christmas lunch in for every single group with which we have even a passing involvement. Every activity in which girls participate has to have a Christmas performance. Every brewery has to sell us a Winter Lager or a Christmas Ale. Granted, that last one really isn’t that upsetting.

Bails recently had her orchestra concert. It is the third and last of our 5th grade Winter Orchestra concerts. This makes us happy. For the first time, the concert wasn’t held in the junior high’s gym, it was held in the high school’s brand new Performing Arts Center. Rumor has it the stage is equipped with a massive hydraulic lift system. Yeah, that’s taxpayer money well spent…

So she’s supposed to be at the Performing Arts Center, or PAC as the cool kids are calling it, between 6 and 6:30. But like I said, this is our third 5th grade Winter Orchestra concert. If the PAC is anything like the gym, then we need to be there at 6:00 if we want a seat. After she eats dinner, I tell her to get ready. She’s dressed and ready at 5:45. Weird. Ready with a few minutes to spare. What happened next should not be a surprise however.

“Bails, get your viola and music stand in the car, we gotta go.”


Quick review of the relevant facts: She’s been home for over an hour and at no time did it even occur to her that she’d need a viola for an orchestra concert. It’s almost 6:00 which is H-Hour if you want seats and it also happens to be the time in which the school locks down. There is an after school program that ends at 6. You ain’t getting into that school after 6:00 unless you have leverage with the janitor. And the janitor isn’t a cool janitor like Carl from The Breakfast Club. Our janitor is the guy who wields the power of the keys over all who need access to the building and her rooms. Like Lando with his limitless power in the Cloud City…wait that’s a bad example, Lando didn’t have power to do anything except cave to the Galactic Empire.

So we have 11 minutes to get to school before it locks. And we have to hope that the music room isn’t locked. Then we also have to hope that we can make it to the high school in time for me to get a seat and save one for Mom who is coming right from work. Since I’m not a community organizer, I don’t like to base strategies on hope.

My truck is pretty cool. It seats five and has a trunk underneath the bed. The trunk also has a drain so it can double as a cooler. I know, right? But one thing it doesn’t have is the cornering abilities of a Corvette. But we have 11 minutes. Depending on your activity, 11 minutes is a good deal of time. For example if you are watching the Steelers in the playoffs and they have the lead with 11 minutes left and you have to depend on the current sieve of defense, 11 minutes may seem like a lifetime. Or if you have 11 minutes left in an Insanity workout, it seems like a really, really long time. When you are racing to school on a residential road with a speed limit of 25, then driving through a parking lot with an unnecessary amount of speed bumps, then hoping the music room is unlocked, then racing up another 25 mph street before guessing what door is the right door to enter at the massive new PAC, 11 minutes really doesn’t seem like a very long time.

Somehow we did it. Not only did we make it to school before 6:00, but music room was unlocked. Only problem was we parked on the wrong side of the high school for the concert. But we found our way through the building and Bails made it to the stage with plenty of time to spare. I began the dreaded seat search.

No parent likes this process. No parent likes to save seats. No parent likes to continually ask if these seats are saved. So I just thought, hey this place is massive, I’ll just go up to a corner near the top and grab a couple seats. Easy enough.

I find two seats in a row near the top right on the aisle. Sweet. I sit down, begin taking off my coat to place on the seat next to me and the woman three empty seats away from springs into action. She had the speed and quickness of an NBA point guard. Within seconds of my arrival, she goes from mom reading a book not really aware of her surroundings to the Darth Freaking Vader of Seat Saving. Out of nowhere, three coats arrive on the three empty seats next to me. Not kidding. It was like she used some kind black magic to conjure up some coats to save the seats. It couldn’t have been more than 5 seconds from the time I sat down to the time I took my jacket off to the save the seat next to me for Mom. I was too slow. This woman was a seat saving savant. Or a huge jerk. Either one. You choose.

Once Mom arrived, I stood. Not too bad. But the place was about 800 degrees. Millions of dollars to build this place and it retains heat like a brick oven. But the concert was only six songs. 5th graders can’t really behave longer than that.

Christmas pic of the day: