‘My nerves turned to excitement’

The seatbelt light flicked on and the pilot came over the intercom, preparing us for takeoff. I clenched the arm rests as the plane taxied out of the gate. The plane straightened out and I pressed my head back, not sure what to expect.

We slowly moved forward, but my heart was racing. I thought for sure we were on the runway.

Then the plane started turning again. So I guess we weren’t on the runway, but now we must be, right? We kept moving slowly, around 20 mph according to the screen in front of me, which my eyes were glued to. Then we took another turn.

I was anxious. This was my first time ever on an airplane. I just wanted to yell, “can’t we just take off already?!” I couldn’t tell if I was nervous or excited.

Suddenly the plane came to a stop. At this point we had been taxiing for what seemed like a long time. I was a little more relaxed. But then out of nowhere the plane accelerated. My body tightened up and my head pressed back against the seat.

I felt the plane lift off the ground, but it seemed like my stomach stayed. Gripping the arm rests, my fingertips were as white as a ghost. I looked out the window and saw Boston slowly getting smaller. Time went by, my heart was pounding, and I looked out the window again and literally saw a cloud.

It was at this point that I realized my nerves turned to excitement. This was one of the coolest things ever. The views from the plane were surreal. I had seen pictures, Instagram posts and Snapchat stories, but to see it right in front of me was jaw-dropping.

I was on my way to Colorado. Previously I had only travelled on the east coast, so this whole west thing was new to me. My family and I were going to spend a few days in a town outside of Denver and a couple days in Breckenridge.

I’ll tell you what, it was definitely weird looking at my phone on the plane to see that it was 9:00 a.m. and then checking my phone an hour or so later and it was only 9:15. I had completely forgotten about the time zones. We departed from Boston right around 8:00 a.m. and arrived in Denver close to 10:00 a.m., even though it was a four hour flight. My mind was confused.

Now when you think of landing in Denver, you’d think that you’d be landing in a city, right? I mean, it’s Denver. At least that’s what I was expecting to see as we descended past the clouds over Denver.

All I saw was flat, dry land. Once again, I was confused. Where were the skyscrapers? Where was the housing? Where was civilization?

Anyway, I’m watching this map in front of me and I see our altitude is still at 6,000 feet. We must still have quite a while before we land. But as I’m looking out the window, it looks like we’re getting awfully close to the ground. At around an altitude of 5,000 feet, suddenly I feel the plane hit something. Have you ever had a mini heart attack before?

Then I remembered. It’s the MILE HIGH city. It all made sense. I was okay.

Colorado was crazy. It was sooo much different than Vermont or Connecticut, where I’m from. It’s so flat you can literally see for miles as your driving down the road. There would be stretches of nothing but land and then suddenly there’d be this huge housing development or shopping plaza out of nowhere.

The city of Denver literally looked like it was dropped from the sky into the middle of nowhere. Here’s this vast flat land and suddenly off in the distance you see skyscrapers. It was crazy.

Then of course the altitude was something to get used to. I drank tons of water and my mouth was still dry. I needed like an IV of ibuprofen to keep this nagging headache away. And that was only in Denver, which is a mile high.

In Breckenridge, we were 10,600 feet in the air at one point. That’s over two miles high. Just when you think you’re used to one mile, double it. We were on the second floor of this hotel, I’d go up five stairs and be gasping for air. It was a tough weekend for my self-esteem.

The green mountains are like foothills compared to the Rockies. Those mountains are massive. I don’t know how anyone has the guts to ski down those babies.

The trip was eye-opening to say the least. From Red Rocks Amphitheater to Coors Field to Waterton Canyon, it was all absolutely beautiful. But there were two parts of this trip that stuck out the most.

First, we were in Breckenridge taking a shuttle to downtown and the driver hit us with a fun fact. The road we were on was the road that Jim Carrey (Lloyd) and Jeff Daniels (Harry) drove down on that little moped in the movie Dumb and Dumber. That was awesome.

Second, as an avid Steelers fan, it was absolutely amazing being in a state where the majority of people hated the Patriots, just like I do. In a family and state surrounded by Pats fans, for once in my life I felt like I fit in.

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