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What you are about to read is the thrilling adventures of Paul and Sue on their recent visit to Colorado, USA in February 2004. Sue grew up in Colorado, and we went there to visit the "folks" - Gloria & Dave, Sue & Kirk, ( - can't leave the rest out can I?: Tiffany & Sean, (spelt Jon apparently?), Levi, Sheri & Larry, Mel & Ev. And then Sue's friends Kari & Richard, Ed & Jody, Ted & Janice and apologies to anyone I've missed out).

Naturally, I had my own 'tourist agenda' as well. This included taking several hundred photographs - with always the thought in the back of my mind as to how this was going to look on the www. And here we are :)

As you can see, we had some fun while we were out there. This particular photo was taken in a lovely Mexican restaurant called Casa Bonita in Denver. Apart from the great western photos, the food was quite good as well. Oh yes - it also had a 27ft waterfall which members of staff in various outfits and disguises would launch themselves from into the diving pool below whilst we all munched and drank the night away. It was a place to remember alright! (And definately worth a visit if you happen to be in town).

It's true what they say about Denver, it is a "mile high" - and your nose does bleed a bit - or at least mine did. (No - I didn't get punched by a cowboy - or indian. It's an altitude thing, not an attitude thing :). And the folks are very nice there. In fact, in every store we went into we were greeted with a "How y'all doing there?", and even if we didn't buy anything we left the store with a "Have a great day ." Not just a 'nice' day - but a great day. And we did - everyone of them. But enough of this waffle - let's get on with the show. In true Petrocelli fashion....let me take you back..... (cue wavy lines.....).....

The Idea
Okay, it was Sue's idea...lol...:). But we had been to see the folks in New Jersey for Thanksgiving back in 2002. And we had got married in Texas back at the end of 2001. And Sharon & Ray had stayed over with us during Xmas/New Year period just gone. So, it seemed only fair that we finally get around to seeing the Colorado part of the family. We purchased the tickets last May through a company called Airline Network, who have served us well in the past. The tickets arrived quite promptly. We were all set to fly to the States with US Airways.

Now looking at them in action - the US Airways boys & girls on the planes - they just look like regular trolley dollies, right? (Perhaps the guy does look a bit like Dr Mark Greene from ER - what do you think?). And the grey-haired lady could easily have been his mother :). Anyway, it all looks like a typical scene on board an international airliner as the staff go about feeding the whinging masses, right? Wrong. For those of you who missed my little intro to this whole tale, (back on the main page), it went something like this...
And here we are 38Kft above Donegal on a Saturday afternoon. Down below, after racing donkeys on the beach & charging American tourists extortionate amounts of euros to take a trip in his "jaunting car" to the actual place where "The Quiet Man" was filmed (...ahem...),  Seamus O'Flynn is quietly supping on a large pint of cold Guinness in his local hostelry.

Seamus is drinking a whole measured pint. No ice. As he steps out into the  beer garden, (the back field), his head tilts up slightly & he drains his glass. Through the irregular shaped bevellled base of the glass drinking pot he can see a vapour trail of an airliner crawling quietly across the upper stratosphere. There is no noise. There is never any noise in the Western part of Ireland except the complaint of an American tourist to the hotel receptionist that his kids can't get MTV in their room.

Seamus lowers his glass, squints up into the sky through the hazy winter afternoon, and smiles to himself. He remembers the one time he went on a plane. It was a short flight from Cork to Dublin to see Donegal play at Croke Park, Dublin, in the the All Ireland Hurling Final. He doesn't remember who won, as he never got to the game. He met some friends at a local bar, and the rest, as they say... is history :) Licking his lips, he swivels on one foot, turns, and wanders causally back into the pub for another pint.

Up at 38Kft the drinks are less measured. There is no high school drop out with a soda gun here, (as you'd find in your average fast food outlet). There are a team of highly trained air stewards & stewardesses. The drinks are flowing. The soft drinks are free. Alcohol is five bucks a shot whatever you're having.

The soft drinks are free, in a can, and therefore, everyone gets the same measure. However, I have observed "ice racism" going on. Who would have believed it?

I remember reading that one of the great cultural differences between English & American folks is that an English person will go into a "McCafe", or some fast food place/bar & ask for a soda with no ice. This, of course, is totally unacceptable for the soda gun toting high school drop out who has been rigorously taught to fill the cup to the brim with ice - and thus only getting about a quarter of the cup filled with soda.

At 38Kft, on US99 flight, the  US Airways airliner is serving drinks. We are seated in  11A & B - a few seats back from 5A :). In the 4 or 5 rows of seats the steward has served with drinks, I have noticed his casual use of "ice racism". All Americans got asked whether they wanted ice or not, and all the English/Non American people got a cup full of ice. So, what can one conclude from this?: (From a pro-American point of view):

1. The ice is made from local UK tap water, (presumably), and therefore is very hard & not all pleasant to drink - so the less ice the better.

2. The drink won't be diluted as much & therefore taste better.

3. "Isn't it nice of the stewadrs to ask?" - for those Americans who thought all stewards were from the high school drop out soda gun school of bartending.

On the other hand, from a positive English/Non-American point of view one might think:

1. "All that ice! That will keep my drink cooler for longer"

2. "All that ice.... etc + and at least I won't have the embarassment of having to ask for another one." (Because we English are quite reserved at that kind of thing).

3. "Isn't it nice for the steward to ask?" - for all those English/Non-Americans who thought that all Americans are brash & bone-headed, and who think that etiquette is a kind of French chocolate.

In conclusion, I can definately say - "Yes - "ice racism" exists" on US Airways. Although I've yet to understand in whose favour it manifests itself towards

 378 Miles From Philadelphia

Philadelphia. Apparently it's a Dutch word for "woven cheese cardigan, (as worn by the original settlers).

At 39Kft, 378 miles from Philly puts you somewhere over Portland, Maine. Portland is named after "Simple John Portland" an English explorer who had traversed the North West Passage & founded a coastal town named after himself - in Oregan. On his return with a boat load of cheese sweater wearing Dutch settlers - in Maine - the town was "...not there..." - so they built another one & named it after him. He is the only English explorer to have this honour accredited to him.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch everything was going according to plan. The drinks had been distributed - with or without ice, as per the whim of the steward, and then the heated metal boxes were traversed around the aisleways with the delicious choice of chicken or pasta. Yum yum. I choose the chicken. I really don't know why, because they both seemed to smell the same and had the same sort of look about them. In the end food is food, no matter what you may think of it, and so we munched into or high altitude snacks. At this point I had visions of astronaut food appearing in my head. Not a dissimilar image, right? :) Incidently, the steward asked Sue whether she wanted ice in her drink, because he had heard her accent. By default he then asked me - assuming that I was also American. I chose to have ice. I figured that at 38Kft, I had far greater things to worry about that may kill me apart from the ice in my drink. For example - the plane dropping out the sky and tearing through the clouds at 200mph and  stabbing into the ground like a f**king dart....it's only an example, though :).

One of best parts of the outward flight was the views from the plane. Here are just a few of them...

This was up really high - I mean skirting around the edge of the atmosphere. This is no word of a lie now - there was a woman co-pilot on board, and I was getting a bit concerned at this point as I saw the Earth disappearing below me :)

This was a surprising snap, as I didn't really see what I'd photographed until I had a look at it later. I do believe I may have snapped New Jersey?

On the connecting flight from Philadelphia to Denver, just as the sun was setting I snapped a little desert surprise....

If you look very carefully at the bottom of the picture, you'll see a small baseball diamond lit up. As this was a Saturday evening, around 7pm as we were passing over, I guessed it was some local team playing/practicing. There are no other lights around indicating any small towns etc. Maybe the country boys travelled from far afield, (literally), to get a chance to play ball? :)

So, almost  20+ hours later, from getting up in England, we were now arriving in Denver, Colorado, USA for a week of fun & photos....

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