The plan for the next six days was to get together with a group of Travel Director friends I have known for many years. A few of them I have worked with as far back as my Contiki guiding days starting in 2009. Contiki was the first brand I worked with in The Travel Corporation Family of Brands. Since then, I have guided for other TTC brands, including Trafalgar, CostSaver, and Insight Vacations.
We started out our meet-up spending three nights at a property owned by Mary’s mother near Fairplay, Colorado. It was pretty epic. Mary had described it to us as a cabin in the boonies, but it turned out to be a tri-level log mini-palace which could comfortably fit a baseball team. In addition to the floor-to-ceiling picture windows and two-story stone fireplace, it also sported a building-length balcony and a hot tub. I have to admit, after sleeping in my car and cheap motels for the past month, it was a little slice of Colorado heaven.
For the most part, we simply lounged around, eating yummy food prepared by our coworker turned master chef, Tasha, drinking, chatting, and playing cards. The game of choice was an old classic I hadn’t played in twenty years: “Presidents and A******s.” The makeshift, paper-plate crown you see in some of the photos was a part of the game.
The town nearest to us was Fairplay, Colorado, with its thriving population of 700 people. Fun fact, though, it is considered the basis for the town in the cartoon, “South Park."
We spent all of 30 minutes checking out the town before heading up the road to the more well known ski resort: Breckenridge. We experimented with social distance eating at one of the local breweries - they had these fun little blocks letting guests know if the table was clean or dirty so we'd know if it had been Covid sanitized.
After lunch, the boys went for a pub crawl and us ladies headed back to the cabin for naps and a short walk.
The next day, Mary planned a white water rafting trip for us on the Arkansas River. We had so much fun with our lovely river guide, Noah.
The professional photos were hilarious. Our favorite was the one where all of us were dunked with the exception of the guide in red.
One of our gang made a hilarious 2020 meme with the pics.
Unfortunately, this was also the day we had a scheduled conference call with our North America head office and were informed that our entire 2020 travel season had been cancelled due to the Covid surge happening around the country.
Obviously, we all had FEELINGS about this. It wasn't a surprise to any of us, but it was still a blow to finally hear the guillotine blade fall. Fortunately, we still qualify for unemployment (until it runs out). Unfortunately, since we are now classified as "laid off" instead of "furloughed" - we lose our insurance. The company offered some lovely COBRA plans we can choose to buy into...for $700-$900 per month. Grrrr.
I was very happy to be with this particular group of people when I found out the news. We are all in the same boat and know exactly what the others are about to go through for the next 10-months. We all adore our jobs and want to stay with the company, but it's going to be a tough financial road between now and the start of the 2021 travel season (May-ish).
We took this picture on the balcony that night and it brings me comfort to know these peeps are just a zoom call away if I start to throw myself a pity party and need some words of encouragement from people who truly understand.
The last three days were spent in Denver at a hotel downtown. Our room had an epic view of the Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Convention Center and the Big Blue Bear which peers in its window.
We spent most of our time on social distancing patios at breweries. I have to give it to Colorado, they really do breweries well. Lots of character, beer choices, and food trucks.
All in all, I had a marvelous time hanging out with these amazing people. We ate too much, drank too much (responsibly), and laughed until our sides hurt. It was hard to say goodbye, but I know I'll see them on the road next year...and on zoom next week. :)