We were running about an hour behind schedule, but I sat patiently reading some articles and occasionally glancing through the cross-hatched windows with the easterly views.
“They’ll be here in 10 minutes. I’ll take your boarding passes now because they won’t be turning off the engines”,
..the 20-something tan-skinned woman said, nonchalantly. I handed her what looked like a grocery store checkout receipt paper and quickly got back to the journal article in front of me.
When the plane landed, I was pleasantly surprised by the machine – as I was expecting a circa WW2 tin can with wings, thanks to my husband’s recollection of his first experience at this airport. I was also surprised to see that his memorable sights of a lawn tractor pulling baggage was upgraded to an actual baggage cart with the airline name elegantly stickered on the sides. Classy.
I boarded, along with the other 3 passengers – a woman who had an air about her that proudly proclaimed “seasoned local flyer”, a young heavy-set man from Arizona, and a quiet gentleman with a Nike hat and golf shirt. We buckled in, nodded our heads and gave gentle smiles to the co-pilot sharing the mandatory safety briefing and awaited takeoff. He took his shotgun seat in the doorless cockpit and the pilot revved the propellers.
After a few sharp turns, the Sangre de Cristo mountains were quickly and majestically framed by my seat 7a window – a scene I had never seen from this angle. I’ll take it.
This mountain range houses 14000+ foot Mt. Blanca and is skirted by many a high country, crunchy town. I’ve driven the route from Southern colorado to Denver many times. Today, I thought I’d save a few hundred miles – and a 10 hour round trip – and fly out of the valley. I didn’t expect the ride we were about to embark on..
Quickly – very quickly – after crossing over the Sangres and into the foothills and plains southwest of Denver, the smooth ride the pilot and co-pilot said we’d have -and had…- became a body jolting, involuntary convulsion-prompting shakedown.
My dreamy glances of the lakes below and pleasant daydreams of secret trout and sunset landings became clenched fists and mental images of the six of us crawling from the wreckage of a mangled tin can.
The plane jolted again, lifted, dipped, swooped, and shuttered for what felt like an eternity. In the actual minutes of turbulant air, a few hours may have been shaved off my life, but just as quickly as it started, it ceased; a kind voice came over the in-flight intercom, the nose dipped and we made our way for the Denver landing strip.
Off to the next flight, I guess…