Monday, March 20, 2006

Travel Log -- DAY 1

Denver danger

After staying the night in Denver at my grandparent’s house (I honestly don’t remember much of the trip as I was focused on the interior of my eyelids while Chris motored through Utah and Colorado), we gathered our over-night gear and prepared for another day of travel. My parents traveled from the mountains to see us off. My dad was as teary as the day I got married. It was very sad to leave my family, but I was honestly too tired to cry.

We had a heart-wrenching farewell (you’d think we were dying), and left to make one stop before hitting the road.**

**On an important side note, since we decided to move to D.C. my dad said things like, “You’re moving to the murder capital of the U.S.” and “You’re going to get mugged then murdered.” He’s not a rain cloud, he’s just a poor sport. I know he wants us to pursue our dreams, but he’d prefer our dreams be closer to Colorado. Plus, he was very grumpy about not visiting Utah as often to go to his favorite restaurant – Café Rio. The place is delicious – who can blame the guy?

We pulled up to a gas station with our overloaded Penske (car in tow) to the closest pump by the store. The station sits on the corner of two somewhat busy intersecting roads. And I should preface what you’re about to hear with a disclaimer: my grandparents live in an upscale, safe, quiet, nice and mild Denver suburb away from the city and all things criminal (at least most).

Chris and I exited the truck and were chatting near our gas tank as it filled (and our wallet emptied). I heard sirens. I looked in the general direction of the sound, which increased in volume as it approached, and figured it was probably fire trucks (based on the whole safe neighborhood thing). The sirens became screaming loud and I suddenly spotted a speeding car leading the pack of flashing lights.

Before I knew what was happening, the car made a sharp turn into the gas station. I remember very weird details about the following sequence of events: the car was a metallic lavender Nissan Maxima (probably a ’98 or so) with a few missing hubcaps. The guy had dark hair and he looked injured by the way he was driving with one hand. His window was rolled down. And his eyes – totally freaky.

He sped within 10 feet of where we were standing, through the center section of pumps, and looped back the way he came. His tires screeched and I’m not kidding when I say his eyes were crazy – he looked like he would take any steps necessary to ditch the law. As he drove towards us, I kept saying, “Chris,” “Chris,” “Chris, what do I do?” I found myself huddling behind one of the gas pumps between me and the maniac, trying to hide. I didn’t want him to shoot me. Chris was pretty much frozen. Not what we expected on a routine gas/treats run.

Finally the outlaw made it back out to the road, and sped away trailed by at least 40 speeding cops/fire trucks, etc. Everyone at the gas station was in shock. It sounds cliché, but the whole incident seemed like slow motion, although it was over less than a minute after it began, and my life did, to some degree, flash before my eyes.

We hit the road and I think I cried. When we made it to the Interstate, I called and relayed the entire story to my parents and grandparents – with an “I-told-you-we’re-not-going-to-die-in-D.C.-we-nearly-died-in-Denver” jab for my dad.

After watching the evening news, my family reported the high speed chase resulted from a domestic dispute between the vehicular maniac and his girlfriend. Said maniac led the cops on a 45-mile chase which ended with him shooting and killing a cop, and a cop shooting and injuring him.


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