Tuesday, August 31, 2010 - Like the kids said, now it's time to say Good-Bye. As directed by our Guides, the luggage was outside the door before 8am so that the Disney Elves could whisk it away once more. After one last gorgeous RCL breakfast-by-the-River, the Group shuffled onto Dan's coach for the 9am call-time. Next came a few words of 'safe journey' from RCL's General Manager, and then we were rolling down scenic highway 128 enroute to Grand Junction, Colorado - just across the Utah/Colorado border. It was there that we'd catch our flights back to our normal, non-cowboy lives.
As always, the scenery was outstanding as rocky cliffs gave way to rolling hills where one could possibly play whack-a-mole with the dozens of Prarie Dogs that always seemed to be watching the traffic roll by. A scant 90 minutes later, we were at the (very small) airport saying our good-byes to our new/old ABD friends. Two of the families had flights leaving within the hour. For the rest of us (including our Guides), we had a solid 4 hours to kill before taking to the skies.
We had considered taking a shuttle bus into the town of Grand Junction for a look-see, but the bus schedules were not very convenient and we'd have spent more time waiting around than we would have spent poking around. Instead, we all built a nest of sorts in the airport 'lounge' to pass the time together. Without exaggeration, I can say we all had a great time sharing stories, laughing a lot, and just acting like old friends. The time flew by, but it was going to be that much harder to say final farewells, I thought.
With the exception of Guide Mike (headed to Florida), we were all booked on the same connector that would take us to Salt Lake City as a jumping off point to lands beyond. So it was there, in the bosom of Donny Osmond country, that we would say our final good-byes as Guide Chris headed to the West coast, the Other Family headed to the East coast, and my family headed for Detroit. It was hard not to get a little choked up.
We had very little time in Salt Lake - just enough to grab sandwiches for our 3.5 hour flight to Detroit. From there, we had another 2.5 hours or so before we'd see London, Ontario through our van's windshield. In between was a border crossing that would be less than uneventful (thankfully!). And if I had any doubts that our vacation adventure was truly over, nothing says 'welcome home' like dragging the trash to the curb at 2:30am.
In the following days and weeks (and months!), it was the usual vicarious thrill of organizaing hundreds of pictures, editting hours of video, and mustering the trip report muse - all for the chance to relive those wonderful Southwest Splendor days. It's mid-November right now, and I can scarcely believe it's been 2.5 months since we saw that sliver of Old West.
Oh what I wouldn't give for some dry heat right about now...