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Started: 2011-07-20 12:56:37

Submitted: 2011-07-20 14:02:50

Visibility: World-readable

My alarm woke me up at 03:30 MDT on Saturday. Kiesa and I each checked our flight status one more time (still paranoid that our flight was going to be canceled again) and, confident that we'd actually have a plane waiting for us, headed to the airport in the pre-dawn gloom. We bought breakfast and walked to the gate with Calvin watching the planes.

Calvin at DIA

Kiesa and Calvin got seats next to each other toward the front of the plane. I got a window seat by myself at the back of the plane. We flew just south of South Boulder Peak, at an angle that let me stare straight down the Flatirons and study Shadow Canyon, then continued west-northwest over Niwot Ridge where I studied the snow conditions around Isabelle Glacier and saw that some snow had melted from the center couloir on Shoshoni Peak in the two weeks since I climbed Shoshoni Peak but the couloir still appeared to be in.

The cloud cover in Portland occluded the volcanos as we descended and landed. On the ground we picked up our rental car (after dodging the agent's attempts to upgrade us to an SUV; we needed a full-sized sedan to carry all of our luggage but we didn't need to pay extra for an SUV) and stopped just outside the airport to get a booster seat and snacks at Target. The produce selection was decidedly underwhelming so we headed further into the city and stopped at Trader Joe's in the Hollywood neighborhood right off I-84, for the produce and the cultural experience. I couldn't help thinking of the sketch comedy show Portlandia as we walked into the store. Inside I found a toddler-sized cart for our groceries and let Calvin push it around, which he managed with a fair amount of success.

Calvin at Trader Joe's

Kiesa found frozen dosa masala in the freezer section and I was briefly overcome with the urge to move to Portland and live next to Trader Joe's. As we were passing the trail mix display an employee named Brett came up and asked if we were finding everything ok and said the display had been recently reorganized. I said this was our first time in the store and that we were visiting from Colorado. "Am I to understand," he asked carefully, "that this is your first time in any Trader Joe's anywhere?" We confirmed that it was and he bade us to wait right there as he hurried off excited. I wondered, for a moment, whether I had in fact stepped into Portlandia as he ran to the front of the store, rang a bell hanging from the wall, and hurried back. "We have a tradition," he explained, "that I can give you my favorite thing from the store for free as a first-time customer. I have a very important question: Do you like chocolate and peanut butter?" We indicated that we did and he hurried off to the candy aisle before returning with a package of chocolate-and-peanut-butter-covered pretzels and a package of dark chocolate peanut butter cups. We chose the later and he presented them to us as first-time customers.