Returning from Denver was both eventful and noneventful. Having woken up Saturday night with a tear-inducing sore throat, fever, and body aches, I couldn’t imagine anything I wanted to do less than get in a car for 1.5 hours and then a plane for 4.5. In addition, the idea that I might get others on a plane full of recycled air, sick, had me on the phone with United asking about their policies regarding changing flights due to illness.

Turns out, they don’t really have one. Really? Ok, well, maybe I needed to speak to someone else. United’s official policy is that you can change your flight if you’re sick—if you pay $150—and then if you receive a doctor’s note about your illness, they will refund the $150. For my travel partner and I, betting $300 on the possibility that I might be able to get a doctor’s note confirming I was contagious was a little more than we could afford. So we decided to fly. If anyone on my flight caught a sore throat, please take issue with United, not me. I did sequester myself away from as many travelers as possible and tried not to breathe—for 4.5 hours.

More eventful however, was what we experienced in the airport itself. As we drove toward the circus tent (and for anyone who hasn’t seen the Denver airport, while meant to evoke the Rockies in winter, it does look like giant travelling circus tent), billowing stacks of looming dark clouds shifted across the horizon. Behind us, the Rockies were all but obliterated from view, as thunderheads came across the plains and bumped up against their majesty.

In all the approaching storm’s beauty, I was left awestruck. My love of Western thunderstorms melted away the aches and pains of my throat as I sat in the car, enthralled by the looming power of these enchanting clouds. There is nothing I love more than the deep, heart palpitating rumble of thunder as it spreads across an open prairie.

Under the Circus Tent

Under the Circus Tent

In the airport, the thunderstorm hit. We were seated in the upstairs section of the big tent nibbling on snacks, when the canvas ceiling started rippling with the sudden downpouring of rain. Rivulets of water erupted from the sides of the building. It was incredible, and also, somewhat shocking. As much as I had thought the building looked like a giant tent, I never imagined that the roof was in fact some sort of canvas tension material (to read more about the architect Curtis Fentress, click here).

The rumbles, the deluge, the wind, and lightening (sadly only distant rumbles of thunder) were amazing to experience from the main concourse. The storm passed through ferociously,  albeit briefly. And amazingly, despite the weather, our flight was not listed as delayed.   

Of course, just because it’s not listed as delayed doesn’t mean a delay won’t happen. We then sat on the tarmac for an hour. Luckily, I promptly curled up to the sound of rain and the hum of the plane engines, and fell asleep.

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