Departures: Boulder 2019

July 9-12 2019, I traveled to Boulder, Colorado. Mostly, I attended planning meetings with Team Left Out, talking about how to run the upcoming MIT Mystery Hunt. But I also walked around a remarkably small ways and took a guided tour of Rocky Mountains National Park. Summary: Boulder is a nice place to live, but I wouldn't want to visit there (unless I had some way to get used to the high elevation ahead of time).

photo: duo selfie with Debbie and me

Debbie Goldstein and I were coincidentally on the same SFO-DEN flight; since Southwest Airlines doesn't assign seats, we got to sit next to each other on the flight. That was pretty great. Less-great: it took longer than I (naively) hoped to navigate the Denver airport from gate to ground transport, and thus we missed a bus to Boulder. We had to wait for the next bus an hour later. The bad news: I was supposed to host some Team Left Out puzzle writers at my hotel room that afternoon, but was going to be late. The good news: The Denver Airport had a temporary miniature golf course set up. Thus, Debbie and I played nine holes of mini golf while waiting for the bus. (She won; she might be a shark.)

photo: assorted nerds milling

I did eventually make to that meeting that I was theoretically-but-not-really hosting (but in practice, Linda Holman saved the day and stepped in). I wasn't really functional. The night before, I'd discovered that Dropbox had changed how it operated for an "upgrade" and thus broken my computer's backup system. It had turned out to be an easy fix…found after I'd turned into a ball of stress who wouldn't calm down for several hours. Yay, computers. Anyhow.

Most of Tuesday and Wednesday, I spent with members of Team Left Out, planning the upcoming MIT Mystery Hunt. There were some activities which needed a crowd to test; we tested those. Some of us brainstormed puzzle ideas. We tried out an early-draft hunt server.

But there's not a lot I can say about that without spoiling things.

photo: Boulder view of more interesting terrain elsewhere

I'd hoped to explore Boulder while not in meetings. Why put up with travel-hassles just to attend some meetings? (Most Left Outers were here for a combination-reason: these meetings overlapped with the big annual National Puzzlers League convention.) That exploring didn't really happen, though.

Wednesday, the day of the week when new comic books come out, I walked to the nearby comic book store. I bought a comic book. And I walked back. Well, I staggered back. I was used to walking further than this just to buy groceries, but Boulder's thin air knocked me for a loop. I've gone hiking in Yosemite, but Boulder was different, somehow? Halfway back to the hotel, I just stood and leaned against a wall for a while. I walked the rest of the way back slowwwwwly. Back at the hotel, when the elevator didn't come right away, I stepped over to a bench and sat down to wait for it.

For the first couple of hours of Wednesday-meetings, I mostly sat very still.

Boulder, by and large, didn't really reward walking around. It was really hot! (I foolishly assumed it would be cool at such high elevation. But I about what "high desert" means. It means: Boulder is too hot.) By Friday, I was capable of strolling without collapsing from lack of oxygen. But it was still pretty hot. Things were spread out; lots of parking lots, spaces between buildings; the ratio of interesting things to distance walked was pretty low.

I took a tour of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Somehow, the tour guide failed to notice me at the Boulder meeting spot and left without me. With some frantic phone calls, he came back for me, whew. Thus I got to see Rocky Mountain National Park. This is one of the most-visited national parks. That means there's a lot of traffic. We spent a lot of time stopped in traffic.

The park is much higher elevation than Boulder. Wow, that air is thin. The tour van stopped to let us out at a mountain tundra area. There was a ½km mini-trail to a viewpoint. You never saw me "hike" so slowly as I did then.

It was unpleasant. I took some pretty pictures. In hindsight, I kind of wish I'd skipped going to the park and just looked at other folks' pretty pictures.

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