I know, I know...I should have had this up and posted days ago.
Last Friday I ended up working 12 1/2 hours, so, by the time I got home all I wanted was sleep. So much for my plans of being packed and ready to go the night before. Add to that the fact that I failed to set my alarm had me running around like mad that Saturday morning. I managed to get stuff packed and get out the door with time to have a relaxing drive to the airport, check in and still not have to rush to catch my flight. I left Salt Lake for Denver (which was surprisingly flat). I somehow always pictured Denver nestled against the mountains, but I did get a glimpse of them far off in the distance as we sat on the tarmac outside of the airport...stopped because one of the passengers decided to remove his seatbelt the moment we landed on the runway so he could use the bathroom...the pilot actually stopped the plane and we waited until the embarrassed man finished, re-seated himself and strapped his seatbelt back on, to the applause of a group of travelers who were in Denver for a U2 concert.
This is the largest airport I had been in, and I was amused to step off the airplane and be confronted with a large and prominent "Tornado Shelter" sign. Denver airport is HUGE, with a series of escalator style moving walkways, which came in handy when trekking from one end of the airport to the other in order to make my connecting flight. I had a long layover in Denver, but thankfully I had downloaded episodes of the new Sherlock series onto my Ipod, so I was covered.
Back onto another flight, a gorgeous sunset outside my window, and then I was slowly descending into San Antonio airspace. By this time I had been traveling for over 6 hours and I was tired, so I followed the crowd towards baggage claim, and pulled out my cell phone to send out texts letting everyone know I had arrived safely.
There I was, fairly oblivious to everyone around when I hear this voice from my side say, "Hi, are you here for Richard Gregg?" I look to my left, and then had to look down to find the owner of the voice, for this gal was fairly short. A momentary feeling of being the Jolly Green Giant flashed by me (she wasn't quite 5' as compared to my 5'9") before I found my voice to reply, "Yes". The imp by my side flashed a grin and pointed behind me, "You just walked past him" she laughed.
Aw man....what a way to create an entrance.
I turned to see Richard walking towards me, sheepish grin on his face. I knew Richard was a good 2" shorter than I was, but I admit (and he knows this) that the first thought that crossed my mind was, dang he's a lot smaller than I had thought he'd be, closely followed by, he's also much cuter in person. I should probably clarify these thoughts... Richard and I have been Skyping for months now and, while I knew he was shorter than I am, its another thing to actually stand there face-to-face. The laptop on his end doesn't broadcast the clearest of images either. Regardless, he's not as, uh, husky, as I had thought, but, after those first few moments, I didn't think of it again.
this image was taken later in the trip, but this is Richard
He pulled me into a hug, asked if he could kiss me, and then gave me the sweetest, tenderest kiss. Then, holding my hand, he introduced me to the imp, who turned out to be his niece, Felicia, who had begged to come along. We made our way to baggage claim, where he manfully extracted my heavy bag, re-claimed my hand, and then escorted us out to his car, dragging my bag behind him.
Well, San Antonio is certainly humid and muggy, but that evening it wasn't too bad (but then, by now it was nearly 10 at night by the time we collected my bag and headed out of the airport). There was a few moments of awkwardness, and then everything just fell into a sense of comfort and like we'd done this for years. Richard was a total gentleman and opened doors for me (something I am very much not used to) and we started chatting easily as we drove to my hotel and checked me in. We tossed my bag into my room and then all three of us drove to a local Tex-Mex restaurant for dinner.
Tex-Mex....now there's an experience for you. I figured before I went down that it would be no big deal...after all, we have Mexican restaurants down here. Wrong! The menu was mostly items I'd never heard of and, understandably, given Spanish names that my poor high school Spanish (what little is left of it) failed to translate. I finally had to throw myself on Richard's mercy and ask for translations of what the dishes are, and ended up ordering his suggestion of Carne Guisada, sort of spicy gravy with beef chunks that you eat with spanish rice. Absolutely delicious. I definitely need to get a good recipe of this.
Felicia asked Richard if he'd get her some pico de gallo, and he asked if I'd like some as well. He was concerned enough (he knows I don't like overly spicy stuff) to ask me to try it before I dumped it on my dinner. Silly me was thinking, I eat pico all the time up here in Utah, but dutifully dipped a finger in and tried it first.
Just as I thought, it was just fine...so I dumped it on my dinner and dove in....only to take that first real bite of pico and have tears come to my eyes. Apparently, in Texas, pico is heavily laced with jalapeno. Dang that was hot. So off came most of the pico.
We all talked for awhile and ate our dinner before we finally decided to end the evening and they drove me back to my hotel. Richard walked me to my room, gave me a kiss goodnight and then they left for the evening, with the promise of Richard being back around 7:30 in the morning, as we were going to drive to Mission (4 1/2 hours to the south on the Mexican/Texan border) to go to church together at Richard's ward.
So our time together was short, but it was a very nice end to a very long day.