LCC 2008 – Part 3/Suspicious Super Shuttle

The ride from the airport was, at least for the first 20 minutes or so, uneventful. The landscape was flat, covered with brownish gray scrub brush and patches of dirty snow. I could see mountains in the distance. I didn’t notice any immediate affect of the higher altitude, but my sinuses didn’t have much nice to say about the lack of humidity.
Lots of industrial complexes and hotels as we got closer to the city, Day’s Inns and Applebee’s territory. The driver exited the freeway (or do they call them ‘highways’ in Colorado?) into hinky looking industrial part of town, lots of chain link fences, graffiti’d brick walls, safety bars on windows and padlocked doors. The occasional bar, greasy spoon eatery (and one strip club) broke up the monotony of warehoused auto repair stores and parts manufacturers, but I didn’t see any people.

My mind immediately went to ‘this would be a great setting for a zombie movie!’ My mind often travels this path in its spare time, along with ‘if I were here when the zombie apocalypse hit, what building would be the most easily fortifiable and practical?’ Hey, I’m not the only one I know who thinks this way.
Before I could decide if I’d rather hole up in a bolts manufacturing company (totally surrounded by chain link) or Zeke’s Autoshop (solid sliding metal doors and next door to a Mexican restaurant that could be raided for supplies), a large car, Cadillac or Buick or some other big American gas guzzler (the old fashioned kind, before Humvees came into popular use – damn you, Ahnold!) pulled up next to the driver’s side of the shuttle. Both drivers saluted each other with a wave. Ours rolled down his window; the front passenger window of the Caddibuick was already open. Both cars reached a red light and a conversation commenced in a foreign language I didn’t recognize. Which means it wasn’t English, Spanish, French, Gaelic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Polish, Russian or Japanese. I don’t know all these languages, mind you, but I do hear them on a semi-regular basis here in San Francisco.

What I didn’t assume (using one of my barometers for logical thinking, which is ‘what would George Dubya NOT do’) is that the drivers were Islamic terrorists on a suicide bomb mission. Then, of course, my mind started concocting a South Parkian/Team America scenario in which it WAS a terrorist plot to destroy the Adams Mark Hotel and take out the mystery writers of America. Why? Didn’t matter. I was having fun picturing myself and the SinC members I’d met so far as Thunderbirds style puppets.
Meanwhile the stoplight changed to green and both cars moved forward about 20 miles an hour, conversation still going. I exchanged looks with my fellow passengers. This was kind of weird, not to mention potentially hazardous to our health if other cars came along and our driver didn’t start paying attention to the road.
They reached another stoplight and our driver picked up a white wrapped package next to him and tossed it into the passenger window of the Cadibuick. Eyebrows raised all around this time. “Some extra money on the side?” said the woman next to me just loud enough for us to hear. The driver was oblivious, still talking to his buddy as the light changed and they began rolling again. They reached a fork in the road and our driver went straight while his friend/business acquaintance drove off to the left.
I was dying to ask what it was all about, but didn’t quite dare as the super shuttle driver settled back into stony-faced silence. Chain link fences and graffiti gave way to a much more upscale downtown area and we reached the Adams Mark Hotel in short order. I got out along with the man in the backseat.
Heh. If he was another LCC attendee, I wondered which of us would use the incident in a book or story first.

LCC 2008 – Part 2/Arrival in Denver and the Evil Airport

    This was the first time I’d flown Frontier Airlines and so far, so good.  Their planes are tiny – something like 24 rows in total – and, like all economy sections, leg and aisle space are in short supply.  But they boarded when they said they were going to board and my flight actually landed at Denver Airport a few minutes ahead of schedule.  This was a very good thing as the Denver Airport is one of those sprawling multi-terminal hubs.  Half airport/half shopping mall, with flat moving escalators stretching across the length of the building.  Signs pointed the way to ground transportation and I set off confidently in that direction, tote bag propped on top of my wheeled suitcase to make things easy on my shoulders.  I ignored the moving escalators.  They were for wusses afraid of getting a little exercise!   And the free train?  Hah.  I had plenty of time.  I’d walk it.
Five, ten minutes later I found myself dead-ended in another terminal, having somehow missed the turnoff for ground transportation.  My suitcase/tote bag had doubled in weight (or so my arm was telling me). True, I had a half dozen copies of MFH squirreled away in case the box shipped by my publisher got lost in transit, but they were paperback, fer crissake!  Okay, trade paperback, but still…
I switched arms and trundled off back the way I came, my stride a bit less jaunty.  I kept a lookout for signs and arrows pointing me in the right direction.  Even still, I missed the turnoff again and not because I’m directionally challenged.  Seriously, I’m usually a damned good navigator.  But there were elevators, escalators, pedestrian overpasses scattered next to and above one another and the arrows pointing towards the elusive ground transportation seemed to indicate all directions and choices at once.
By this time both my arms were burning from the strain of lugging my  magical weight-gaining bags and I honed in on the first uniformed person I saw and asked if he’d point me towards the Super Shuttle.  He pointed and gave me a series of lefts and rights and ups and downs that left my head spinning. I became increasingly stressed every minute and discovered it’s impossible to practice deep yoga breathing when you’re walking at a fast clip and hauling lead baggage.
To cut an embarrassingly long story and seemingly endless hike short, five friendly, well-meaning airport employees later I finally found the Super Shuttle kiosk at what must have been the furthest possible point from my arrival gate.
I huffed and puffed like someone who’d just tried to run a mile after years of sedentary living, both arms felt like they were going to drop out of their sockets and my hair flew every which way but neat.  The woman behind the counter raised an eyebrow as I collapsed on top of the counter and gasped, “Adams Mark Hotel, please.”
“One way or round trip?”
“Round trip.”
She typed on her computer as I caught my breath and looked at my watch.  Still plenty of time to make my panel.   As she handed me my receipt, the gal smiled and said, “They leave every 15 minutes.  So relax.”   She pointed the way to the exit and the waiting
And in a total anti-climax as I immediately boarded a waiting shuttle along with two other passengers.  The shuttle departed within minutes and we were on our way to downtown Denver.