Tag Archives: denver

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Superheroes

Our flight to Iceland left out of Denver, Colorado on the first day of November. We had decided that it would be a good idea to fly into Denver a couple of days early. The kids had never been there and had never seen the Rockies. Uncle Apple and Aunt Megan were going to be in Denver during that weekend as well, so we could get together with them. Breaking up our flights just seemed smarter than doing them both back-to-back, anyway.

One upshot of this plan was that, although we wouldn’t be at home for the holiday, we would still be able to do something to enjoy Halloween. The Wife had bought secret new superhero pajamas for the kids that could double as Halloween costumes. RU’s was Wonder Woman, Z got Spider-Man (although he was usually in the carrier strapped to the Wife or I, so there was never any point in putting it on him), and, despite the fact that her costume included a sparkly skirt and had a bow on it, MeToo was Superman not Supergirl.

While casting about for something to do, we stumbled upon the Colorado Railroad Museum. The museum was going to have a “Trick or Treat Train” on the 31st. The train, so we read, departed every thirty minutes and you could “visit all the town’s special shops” to get treats. Somehow, we convinced ourselves that this meant the train would actually travel to different places outside of the museum, perhaps some of the little former mining towns that are along the old railroad lines as you go into the mountains. We imagined a leisurely ride inside “vintage passenger cars” to three or four not-too-spookily decorated stops where the kids could get out and get candy.

The reality was that we made two loops on a track that circles around the yard of the railroad museum, giving you a view of the various machines and locomotives scattered about. The Halloween-themed locales were small areas around the place — a pumpkin patch just big enough to stage a picture in, a boxcar draped with fake spider webs.

Given the disparity between what we had imagined and what it was actually like, the experience ought to have been utterly disappointing. However, there were two things that saved it. One was that one of the “special shops” was a face-painting booth. The girls had been wanting to have their faces painted since… Well, pretty much all year, I think. Somehow our efforts to make that happen had been consistently stymied, but now we’d finally succeeded in making it happen and the girls had masks and tiaras painted on to accompany their outfits. The biggest factor that kept the outing from being an enormous waste of time, effort, and enthusiasm was the same thing that makes every lame Halloween activity fun: seeing other people in their costumes.

A constant stream of families poured into the museum, despite the fact that they seemed to know better than we did what to expect there. We saw Ninja Turtle families, Elsas and Anas, other superheroes, and one girl in a dress that evoked a rebel pilot’s uniform from Star Wars. That’s the part of Halloween that I have always loved the most. I enjoy getting to see what everyone is pretending to be, admiring the really imaginative or elaborate costumes, and the overall sense of play that seems to come with it all. It’s like everyone is part of an enormous parade (or attending the same Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror convention).

So that was the Colorado Railroad Museum.

The Wife and RU on a short hike
The Wife and RU on a short hike

That evening, we were able to actually go trick-or-treating for a little while. While planning for this trip, Granma Cake had the brilliant notion that we should rent a house to stay in together rather than all have separate hotel rooms. The house sat in a quiet, suburban neighborhood that was just perfect for getting in a little of the traditional All Hallows Evening candy shakedown. We hit a few streets until the Wife and I felt that we had enough sweet things to snack on during the flight to Iceland. Then, having made sure that our kids had experienced just enough seasonal fun to not feel cheated out of their childhoods, we returned to the house to prepare for the following day’s adventure in international travel.

To The Airport!

We possess the efficiency of a Medieval army. We’re slow and we have to bring the kitchen sink.

-The Wife, on our flight to Denver     

The rule of thumb is to arrive at the airport thirty to sixty minutes prior to your flight. That way you’ll have plenty of time to check in, go through security, and get to your gate. Once you have children, though, you need to add on additional time for potty breaks, meltdowns, and the simple fact that they have real short legs and no interest in standing in lines. Babies will inevitably need to nurse and have their diaper changed. On top of that, you also have more luggage when you’re bringing children along — possibly including carseats, strollers, and diaper bags — yet your additional personnel are next to no help when it comes to hauling all this extra stuff around.

By the time you have three children, you need to plan on getting to the airport eighteen hours prior to your flight. I’m only kidding a little bit. On a different occasion, our flight was one of the first ones of the day and we ended up getting to the airport so early that we had to wait for it to open. Really, if you have an upcoming plane trip with your children and you’re not sitting at the gate as you read this, you’re already running late.

For this trip, we started packing in earnest the day before our flight. Even so, we were rushing to be ready the following day, with the Wife zipping the suitcases closed as I was strapping the kids into the van. We brought along five suitcases, three carseats (one with a base that traveled as a separate piece), two backpacks, a diaper bag, and a belt pouch. Thank goodness for curbside check-in!

We checked as much as we could, but decided that we needed to keep all the carseats with us. If our stuff got lost or delayed, not having carseats would result in the biggest hurdle — can’t leave the airport without a safe way to transport the kids, after all. So one carseat got hooked onto the handy rolling frame we have (and highly recommend for anyone needing to get a carseat through an airport), with another flipped upside down on top of it. Z’s bucket seat, minus the base, is pretty light and easy to carry by itself. Z himself was strapped onto the Wife. The backpacks were strapped onto the kids (for as long as they could maintain forward momentum). The Wife wore the pouch. I carried the diaper bag which bulged like an elephant pregnant with another elephant. Whoever wasn’t dragging the carseats would hang onto the kids.

As usual, getting through security at [Undisclosed]’s airport was no more onerous than it had to be. There’s no getting around the fact that you have to unburden yourself of all your party’s carefully balanced crap (and your shoes) and then gather it all up again without seeming like a maniac, which can be a challenge. The Wife is usually able to keep the kids from darting into secure areas without making sudden movements herself. I’ve almost perfected a way to heave the diaper bag onto the scanner’s conveyor belt that will simultaneously flip me out of my shoes — for, y’know, efficiency’s sake.

The [Undisclosed] airport has gotten rid of the play area it had between some of the gates and replaced it with a bar. Because with all those bored kids sitting around with pent-up energy, the adults are gonna need to do some drinkin’. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long before getting to lug our circus onto the plane.

We had an uneventful flight. That means we had a couple of hours’ respite from carrying our stuff but had to spend it keeping the children entertained. We’d brought a whole backpack of things to keep them distracted with, but that was for the big flight to Iceland.

It couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid.

-The Wife, regarding MeToo passing out on the plane after having kept herself awake for 45 minutes.

Actually, I lucked out and didn’t sit next to the rest of my party. The Wife sat with MeToo and Z (who was able to have a seat as the flight wasn’t entirely full) while RU sat in the row behind her with Granma Cake and Grampa Shim. I sat across the aisle and got to occasionally hand them things from our carryons. For the most part, though, I had elbow room and some time to myself.

That was reversed once we landed in Denver. The Wife and Granma Cake immediately headed to get the rental cars, which required a shuttle ride to somewhere far from where the kids and the bags were. Once we’d reassembled our mountain of luggage, Grampa Shim “remembered” that he was carrying the IDs that would be needed at the car rental counter and headed for the shuttle. That left me to get the kids and all the luggage outside where we could eventually be picked up.

I have commented before about how boring airplane rides are. Airports, too, are some of the most boring places on earth. Maybe there are things to do or see or shop for if you are on your way to the gate or waiting to take off. Once you land somewhere, though, the place is just dead. They don’t bother to put up a bar or a souvenir shop next to baggage claim. Everyone’s on their way out. So Heaven help you if aren’t able to leave right away and have a couple of entertainment-starved children in tow.

When the other adults finally felt like coming back to pick us up, there was a flurry of activity. Only two of the carseats and most of our suitcases could fit into our car, so one of the girls and a bag went into the grandparents’ vehicle. This would set the precedent for the rest of the trip for the girls to bicker over who got to/had to ride with grandma and grampa.

All of this was something of a warm-up for our flight out of the country a couple of days later. In the meantime, though, we were in Denver. More importantly, we were done with airports and airplanes for the day.