We concluded our stay in the Denver area with two wonderful events.
The first event was the retirement dinner for my Sister-in-law, Sandi Madia. The dinner was held in downtown Denver at Fogo De Chao a Brazilian Steakhouse or Fogo Churrascaria. It is one of those places where the waiters bring around long skewers of different meats all prepared to demanding standards. The evening started with a trip around an amazing salad bar. We had been warned to go easy on the salads so we would have room for the main event. That in itself was very difficult because there were some amazing creations on the bar. With the salad course complete, a nearly endless stream of servers came in with a variety of meat. There was beef, lamb, pork and chicken on the menu, but more than one cut of each meat was paraded around our private dining room. Fortunately, you could control the amount of each meat received just by saying “that’s good”. That fact made it a little easier to not hurt oneself. When you thought you had enough on your plate and/or in your stomach you simply turned over a disc on the table and the servers left you alone until you turned it over to the go ahead, hurt me side again. Connie and I did surprisingly well at sampling everything without overdoing it too much. The food was fabulous and the service over the top. I would go back in a minute.
It was fun meeting some of Sandi’s former co-workers and sharing in the celebration. Everyone had a wonderful time and no one left hungry.
The next night, Friday, Connie and I met John and Sandi and our cousin Heather Crawford at another super restaurant, The Saucy Noodle. This restaurant has been at the same location for well over thirty years in the Cherry Creek area of Denver. They brag about their sauces and liberal use of garlic. We were not disappointed. It was another wonderful dinner. More importantly it was a great opportunity to catch up on the goings on of Heather. Heather is the daughter of my first Cousin, Laura. We have spent way too little time together and far too much of the limited meetings we have had were centered on funerals or very large family reunions where there were far too many people to really connect with any one individual. Heather is a remarkable woman doing some amazing work. It was delightful to get to know her better. Our visit was too short, but really enlightening. Did I mention that Heather shares my passion for running? We are committed to run a half marathon together some day.
In my last post I mentioned that one of my chores before leaving Denver was to try to figure out why we had been getting an intermittent check engine light on the motorhome. I was not able to figure it out with the limited resources at my direct disposal, so after physically checking everything I knew to check and bouncing my problem off a couple on-line sources without success, I made an appointment with the Freightliner shop in Cheyenne for Saturday. We arrived at the shop just after noon and the coach was pulled into a bay by 2 PM. By 3:30 we were given the initial diagnosis of a bad ECM (Electronic Control Module). The plan was to install a test ECM on Tuesday (holiday weekend) and see if that was truly the problem. Come Tuesday afternoon when I called to see what the status was we learned that they were running an estimate on the replacement of the turbo-charger. That got my attention in a big way. When we returned to the shop I asked how we managed to go from bad ECM to bad turbo-charger. As it turns out the fault code was that the ECM was unable to control the turbo. The test ECM performed the same as the installed one. Therefore, the turbo-charger was the problem. A new turbo-charger was put on order and we got the coach back for the night. I did a little looking under the hood, so to speak, and learned that the access to the turbo-charger was going to be really tough. I asked the mechanic how he intended to access same and he said from the top, side and bottom. That meant Connie and I had to remove everything from under the bed. Fortunately, we had moved a lot of stuff from under the bed before leaving Texas, so, it was a pretty easy task to clear the area. Near the end of the first shift we learned that the mechanic was having a hard time getting the turbo-charger out. There were several issues, not the least of which was the corrosion that has accumulated on all the fasteners. He had to soak everything in penetrating oil to get fasteners to come apart without breaking.
We have now spent our entire time buffer here in Cheyenne thereby removing our planned trip to the Dakotas while on the way to Yellowstone. In fact we are now starting to worry about getting there on time. The service writer thought the mechanic could complete the job on Thursday before his end of shift, 3 PM. Unfortunately, early on Thursday when the old turbo-charger was finally on the ground the mechanic realized the replacement was not the same model. The correct one was located in Denver and put on a truck to Cheyenne. As of this writing it is four hours late in getting here. We are still hopeful we can get out of here sometime tomorrow thereby allowing us a short stop in Sheridan to see my Aunt Rose Marie.
Let me get to the really good part of our visit in Cheyenne. On Saturday afternoon we went to my childhood friend, Stephan Pappas’ home for an afternoon and evening of grilling, good friends and story swapping. Our good friends Jim and Beth Crookham were there as well as Stephan’s parents, Andy and Theoni Pappas. Andy and Theoni were my second parents while growing up. I probably spent as much time at their house as I did my own from about third grade through high school. It was really wonderful to see them and catch up with them. Together they had a great influence on my character development and it was just great to be able to spend time with them as adults. Stephan’s and Kay’s two adult children, Greg and Alexis Bellack and their spouses, Tara Pappas and Nick Bellack also joined the party as did one of Stephan’s sisters, Valerie Mitchell. I remember Valerie as a very young girl. Now she looks like I remember her mother. As I told her, that is a compliment. Later in the evening one of Stephan’s brother’s wife, Christine Pappas, and son, Kosta, dropped by for dessert. It was a great get together and my mind was taken completely off the crisis with the motorhome.
On Tuesday after dropping the coach off at the shop we drove the fifty or so miles over to Laramie, Wyoming. For a few years now we have been looking for another of the people who was instrumental in my development, Kenny Sailors. I was finally able to reach Kenny’s nephew early on Tuesday and he gave me Kenny’s telephone number. When I called Kenny he seemed as excited to hear me as I was to hear him. Connie and I met him at his home outside Laramie. We spent some time there learning about his near past. Then we went into Laramie for lunch and a lot more talking. I was introduced to Kenny in the early 60’s when he was running for the US Senate. He and my father were great friends and Kenny offered to take me to his ranch for a few weeks during the summer. That was my introduction to the Heart Six Guest Ranch. My relationship with the ranch would last some six or seven years and it was a great relationship. Kenny would be there only for the first two summers I was there. He and his wife moved to Alaska and that would be the last time, until this past Tuesday, I would see him. I have several vivid memories of the days and weeks I spent on the ranch living and learning about life. Kenny was truly a very strong influence on me and it was all very positive. To me he was just Kenny Sailors, my friend. What I didn’t really appreciate while in his presence all those years ago was his contribution to the game of basketball. Kenny was one of the first basketball players to shoot the modern jump shot. Many have branded him as the inventor. He is far too modest to fully accept such a strong statement. He certainly capitalized on the use of the shot. In addition he was a super ball handler. During his first tryouts for an NBA team in the late 40’s his coach told him that all that dribbling would never work in the NBA and what was with this jump shot? During Kenny’s tenure as a player with the University of Wyoming Cowboys’ basketball team he led the team to its only national championship while earning All-American status three years in a row. He was truly a super star in his time, but when I knew him in the 60’s he was a cowboy trying to introduce dudes to the way of the west and guiding fishermen and hunters into some of the best fishing and hunting areas of Wyoming. Just to finish, at age 92 Kenny has finally been inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. He and the other inductees, class of 2012 were guests of the Final Four this spring in New Orleans. Kenny said it was a wonderful experience that humbled him. To me he remains Kenny Sailors, the man who helped me through adolescence.
I haven’t taken but a few photos in the last week or so. I particularly liked this young male Pronghorn we found lounging on Warren Air Force Base, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Hopefully by the time you read this we will be on our way out of Cheyenne heading for the next phase of the adventure.
|Note the very small horns emerging above the brow. Aren’t those some great eye lashes?|