Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Journey to Leadville (Los Angeles to Denver to Leadville)

Got up at about 5am (after a few hrs of sleep) on Thur 18 Aug and packed whatever that remained lying around into my luggage bag before chilling out on the sofa and sneaking in some time to watch the news of TV.  When the time came (6am), i lugged my luggage down the steps and proceeded to the ever bright lobby of Los Angeles Adventurer All Suite Hotel to check out of my room, 272 and to request for the shuttle to LAX.  The shuttle was currently out on duty & would be back in about 10mins so I took the opportunity to slip my laptop out and check out what's happening on Facebook.  When the shuttle appeared, i scrambled to shut it down & slipped it back into my backpack before hopping onto the shuttle for the short 10min ride to LAX airport.

Checked in at the kiosk easily enough & went to join the baggage drop queue, which moved quite fast.  Scanned my boarding pass, and out popped out the baggage tag, which was attached to my check-in luggage by the staff.  And i was ready to join the looooonnnngggg  queue of to-be-x-rayed-people.  They had to divert some of us to another floor, where another screening facility was set up.  Had to remove our shoes, laptops and jackets before walking through a scanner where i had to stand stationary and lift my hands overhead, like being searched as a suspect.  The machine 'screened' me & i had to be 'molested' by a staff as the machine highlighted i had some suspicious item in my left thigh (it was because of the zipper i guess).   Well, nothing was alarmed.. retrieved my stuff and scooted along the departure lounge, searching for some reasonable food to intake.  Pounced on 2 x Sausage McMuffin With Egg and happily munched on it whilst browsing through my newly-purchased Sep 2011 Runner's World magazine.

Vacated my seat not long after finishing up both McMuffins, allowing others the chance to have a seat to eat their purchased McD food.  I then proceeded to my boarding gate for my Southwest Flight.  Oh, and they have boarding queue no., according to A, B, C, which i think is based on who checks in 1st.. this number is printed on our boarding pass at the kiosk.  So it was very orderly, with Signs & Posts indicating where we were supposed to stand before boarding call was made.  Soon, we were allowed to storm the plane and get our butts onto whichever seat we liked.  Free seating for all.  Complimentary non-alcoholic drinks & snacks were available and served by friendly stewards/stewardess on board.  I managed to secure a window seat, at the 2nd last row of the plane, with promises of Grand Canyon views, which i wouldn't miss for anything in the world.

Soon after the flight departed LAX, i stayed glued to the window.  And i whipped out my Panasonic all-weather camera to snap the beautiful landscape below. World Wonders!! Such awesome landscaping the world has.  Held me spellbound for most of the 2hr flight.  Captured by my eyes and my camera.

Touched down at Denver International Airport (DEN) at about 11.45am.  Had to take a train ride from Gate C all the way to the main terminal to retrieve my baggage on one of the belts.  And the luggage collection belt is next to the entry to the car parks/driveways.  So convenient.

Made prior arrangement for someone to pick me up from Denver Airport to bring me to Leadville Hostel, where i'd be staying for 5 nights.  And there he was, holding up a cardboard with "Leadville Hostel" in red text.  "Crazy" Howard is he.  And he immediately brought me to a deli to buy 1 bottle of water.  He insisted I started hydrating myself with immediate effect.  Very critical, due to dehydration effects in the high altitude of Leadville at 10,200 ft.  I listened obediently and bottoms up!

Waited for another person to pick up at the airport.  Which took quite a bit of time as he (Luis Guerrero, who would later become my friend on Facebook) didn't appear at his respective luggage collection belt.  Howard had to go around, ask the staff if he came on the flight, etc..  and i was sitting at one of the lounge seats until i dozed off.  Was stirred up from my slumber after god-knows-how-long by Howard... Luis was finally found.

And off we went, our journey from Denver Airport to Leadville, a city 2 miles high and about 110miles away from Denver airport.  It was amazingly hot in the car and had to move my hands occasionally to protect from the burning sun. Sunglasses were a necessity. And soon we were heading into the mountainous region.

Staring in awe at the beauty of the mountains, with lakes at the fore... simply astounding.

And Luis, had already done 6 times of Leadville 100 mile race.  Truly amazing feat.  Only to be surpassed by someone whom i was introduced to later....

Howard introduced me to the small town of Leadville as we entered it.  A very historic town, brought alive by the Leadville events, otherwise would have faded into the past, with post-mining history backing it.

And soon after a 2hr drive,we arrived at the steps of Leadville Hostel.  And finally met the owner, "Wild" Bill.  A very hospitable host he is, showing us around the place and bringing us to our room, no. 6, located at the basement.

In the room, he told me, the person who would be sleeping under my top bunk bed, is Bill, finisher of 27 Leadville 100 Mile runs!!  He only missed out the 1st one.  AWESOMENESS!!!  2 extremities in the room existed, with me at one end, a newbie.  Wow!  4 other room mates were also very experienced ultra runners and I am in good hands :)

Stuffed my luggage into my locker & set out orientating myself around the hostel.. Toilet-checked. Water-checked.  Loaded myself with water again before heading out to the race pack collection along Harrison Avenue, the main street in Leadville.

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