SFO777 The First Class Travel Blog

The First Class Travel Blog

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Moving Back to Colorado

Moving Back to Colorado
Moving Back to Colorado
May 2021

After 5 years in Southern California, we're joining the mass exodus and leaving... for us heading back to Denver. Orange County was wonderful... except for the fact that is in California. Our OC home was under contract within 48 hours so I'm off for a quick one day trip to Denver to check out some houses that we liked, at least online. With a 3am wake-up call and a 5:30am flight, there was no way Mrs. SFO777 was making this trip. With no traffic on the 405, I made the 60 miles drive to LAX in 45 minutes. OMG, lots of other crazy people taking this flight.

Los Angeles LAX-Denver DEN
United 1037
757-300
5:30a-8:45a
March 2021
 

Gorgeous sunrise over SoCal.

Breakfast, United First Class style...

Deconstructed...

Beautiful scenery on the way.

Downtown Denver.

Lining up for Starbucks.  Really?

With SFO777Jr scheduled to pick me up at 10am, I headed off to the try out the new Centurion Lounge in the C concourse.

And breakfast with wakesetter93 and his GF on their way back to Dallas after a weekend of skiing.

The fabulous Centurion Lounge French Toast.

And then off to meet SFO777Jr.

I met SFO777Jr just outside Door 612 on the departures level, and then headed out down Pena and E-470 south to Parker. While I had hoped to see four homes today, the Denver real estate market is as hot as if not hotter than Orange County as three of the four on our list were under contract by the time I landed. Yikes.

Nevertheless, it was good to see an area of the metro that we were not very famiiar with.

There are some beautiful homes here but just not sure about the massive amount of ongoing construction.  Some of the homes we liked, all under contract, but willing to take back up offers.  Seriously?

After a few hours of exploring, we decided to stop for lunch.  OK, now we're talking.

OMG, the smells were amazing.

And back home at Jr's place, our crazy platter.

At around 4:30pm, we headed out for the 25 minute drive to DIA where I made the mistake of heading for the North Security Checkpoint.  Ugh. 

After security, time for a quick stop at the Delta Sky Club.

The Sky Club has a much better selection of food than typical Admirals Clubs offerings.

While the main areas of the SkyClub were crowded, the room to the right of the main entrance was pleasantly empty.

The adjacent Admirals Club... not even open.

At T-45, I headed down to our gate.

Denver DEN to Los Angeles LAX
Delta DL 1005
737-800 
6:32p-8:00p
March 7, 2021

 

While United has the earliest LAX-DEN flight, Delta offered the best option on my return, reasonably priced and seat blocking gets me an empty seat next to me.

Ancient 738 means actual padded seats, unlike the newer slim line seats.

But with small seat back video screens.  But Good Morning??  LOL.

I sincerely hope not.

And the ridiculous new DL safety video with full frontal masking.  Sheesh.

Beautiful night in Denver.

Delta's pathetic First Class domestic service consists of a back of water, Goldfish and Clif Bar, the same baggie handed out to all passengers .  Fortunately, I was not hungry after my BBQ feast.

Delta doesn't even serve soft drinks on board, so I took an extra can from the SkyClub to enjoy in flight in my DIY tumbler.  And the ice was a special order from the galley as DL doesn't even offer ice to passengers.    

With an on time arrival, I was home in South County by 9pm.  Great to see SFO777Jr and family but not a very productive house-hunting trip today.

Our first sale contract fell thru when the buyer's bank preapproval turned out to be not worth the paper it was printed on.  We immediately went back into contract with a more solid buyer and all contingencies have been removed, so this one looks like it's a go.  So Mrs. SFO777 and I are headed back to Denver, this time to look for an apartment to rent for a year, while we figure where we want to buy or build, and for the market to cool down or crash.  With only few ridiculously priced SNA-DEN flights ($1,000+ one way First... LOL), we're off to LAX where competition produces many more flights at reasonble $200 one way First prices.  Unlike a few weeks ago, today LAX was overrun with passengers as Garages 3, 4 and 5 were full or at least advertised as full.

Today we are flying Delta departing from Gate 141 in the Bradley Terminal.  Still pretty dead here.

No one ahead of us in the PreCheck lanes.

One of the benefits of departing from TBIT is the Amex Centurion Lounge.

Unforunately, it was still closed but offering a grab and go food bag.

Then off to our gate in a dead TBIT.

Los Angeles LAX to Denver DEN
Delta 425
737-800
1:32p-4:45p
April 17, 2021
Seats 3C and 3B with Seats 3A and 3F blocked

 

Mrs. SFO777 across the aisle in her two seat "suite".   While Covid-era Delta doesn't serve any real food on domestic flights, they do block the seat next to you if you wish.  

And despite four other couple in First, apparently we were the only ones that knew this or at least took advantage of it.

Delta's lunch offering today... sparing no expense for First Class passengers.  

All of the US3 have gone cheap and serve only plastic disposal cups.  Apparently environmental wokeness takes a back seat to saving pennies.  Older and occasionally wiser, I now travel with a DIY tumbler. 

On the other hand, so glad we stopped at the Centurion Lounge for our Amex grab-and-go lunch.

Mrs. SFO777 enjoyed the crispy chicken wrap, while I tried the sweet potato wrap.  It was actually OK. 

We both agreed that the Amex grab-and-go cookies were fablous. 

More pretty scenery on the way to Denver.

And back on the ground, arriving 20 minutes early in the A concourse.

So much for social distancing.

And lovely DIA construction.

Since it was downright frigid (by SoCal standards), I offered to take the bus to our rental car and come back to pick up the Princess.

Not bad for $28 a day with my Presidents Club upgrade.

JW Marroitt Denver Cherry Creek

Late Saturday and fortunately not much traffic on I-70 to the Colorado Blvd. exit.

We (or rather Mrs. SFO777) decided that we should stay at the JW Cherry Creek instead of my Cherry Creek favorite, the Jacquard.  Once a really nice hotel, The JW now just an OK hotel in a good location.  But at least we were able to use our Bonvoy free night certificates so our only cost was the $49 a day valet parking fee.

Our room 521 was nice enough but that's where it ended, with the JW and Marriott taking full advantage of Covid B.S. excuses to provide no amenities or service.  And housekeeping was on request only with a minimum 24 hour notice.  No glasses, no robes, no slippers, no coffee cups, no water pitcher for the water station down the hall.  And no sign of our pre-requested humdifier.  Oh yeah, and no Do Not Disturb sign... I guess because housekeeping is on demand only.  Sheesh. It only took 30 minutes for housekeeping to deliver all of the above while I walked around the corner to Whole Foods to save $100 on bottled water for the weekend.  

The only redeeming feature about the JW is Richard Sandoval's Toro Latin Kitchen.  His Denver-based chain has 50+ restaurants around the world including the fabulous Toro Toro at the Grosvenor House in Dubai.

We met SFO777Jr and Mrs. SFO777Jr in the lobby for our 7:15pm reservation.

The Sweet Corn Empanada was wonderful.

Blackened Tuna Tacos. Yummy.

Octopus Anticucho.  Really good.

The Salmon was spectacular, with achiote marinade, dashi braised bok choy, bacon morita bacon jam and achiote ponzu.

The Lomo Saltado, beef filet with creamy jasmine rice and sweet and sour heirloom tomatoes, was outstanding.

And some great sides.

For dessert, OMG... La Bomba was to die for.   A chocolate sphere with cooke crumbles, seasonal berries, assorted sorbets and ice creams.  And what a show.  Our server smashed La Bomba onto a plastic sheet, and we had at it.

Yeah, we did a number on it.

When we sat down at our table, we had been told that we had 90 minutes time limit.  LOL.  Well, nearly four hours later we were still there, apparently having ordered enough food and wine to justiify our squatting. 

Back to our room, not surpisingly the same trash from five hours earlier was still by the elevators.  It was also there the next morning.  The carpets in the hall were filthy and looked like they hadn't been vacuumed in a week.  When I mentioned it to the front desk manager, he apologized and said he would have housekeeping vaccum the hall.  Nothing came of that and the carpet had still not been vacuumed by the time we left two days later.

Denver Apartment Hunting

I headed out for the nearby Starbucks for Mrs. SFO777's grande triple shot caramel macchiato.

Breakfast.

And exploring a few options, this one in the heart of Cherry Creek.

And another option...

Next up, lunch.... at nearby North Italia, just up the block from the JW.

Delicious Wild Shrimp Scampi with amazing grilled bread.

And yummy Bolognese with tagliatelle.

After a relaxing afternoon, we headed for dinner at Nobu's nearby Matsuhisa.

As good as ever.

Next morning, back at it with more potential Cherry Creek apartments.

And then downtown to Parq on Speer.  Very cool.

And Parq Barq in case we want to get a doggie.

As temps plunged, the snow started but we made it to tonight restaurant, the wonderful Root Down in The Highlands, just west of I-25 and downtown.

Cool decor.

With amazing food.  Colombian Arepas... Corn Cake, Mozzarella, Poblano Pistachio Pesto, Achiote Crema & Pico de Gallo.. Wow.

And the incredible Devils on Horseback...Tender Belly Bacon, Smoked Almonds, Gournay Cheese Fondue, Peppadew Peppers & Sherry Gastrique.

Risotto... Peas, Asparagus, Roasted Mushrooms, Mascarpone, Pecorino, Black Quinoa & Pickled Rhubarb. Yum.

Diver Scallops... Plantain Hash, Kale, Edamame, Fried Capers, Pickled Red Onions & Lemon Habanero Tartar Sauce.

And amazing mains...

Moroccan Roasted Chicken... Charred Broccoli, Harissa Carrot, Medjool Date, Lentil Salsa Verde, Preserved Lemon Yogurt & Black Tahini.. OMG.

And wonderful chocolate and banana cream desserts.

Back at the JW, winter is back with snow and temps down in the teens.

 Back to Southern California...

After yesterday's mere 3" snowfall, this morning was brilliantly sunny with warming temps that quickly melted the snow.

One more JW service failure.  This water was here 12 hours ago.

On our way to DIA...

We pulled into the Avis lot and asked for Curbside Delivery.  For $35, an Avis rep will hop in your vehicle and drive you directly to the terminal.  PreCheck moved quickly and we were thru and on the train 5 minutes later.

Since we had an hour before departure, we decided to eat in the terminal rather than having to suffer thru United's horrific wraps or infamous snackbox.  Elway's had a 20 minute wait, so we headed to Wolfgang Puck.

OK, now Wolfgang's pepperoni pizza was really good.

At around T-40, we headed to our nearby Gate B42.

Denver DEN to Los Angeles LAX
United UA 215
737-800
11:44am-1:00pm
April 20, 2021
Seats 3EF

 

Boarding began at T-35.

United gourmet options today.  LOL.

Mrs. SFO777 wisely passed while I took the carb-box mostly for the photo op.

Back at LAX, we trekked over to the T-6 garage and our car for the hour drive south to South Orange County.

Thanks for following along so far.   We rented one of the apartments we saw and we'll be back in Denver in a month.

On the road to Denver...  

Two days of packing, one day of loading and we are temporarily homeless.  Tonight we're staying at the Residence Inn Dana Point/San Juan Capitrano, the first night of what turned out to be seven consecutive nights at Marriott properties in three states, getting me closer to Marriott Platinum status.   Convenient location for us...

... but this place has definitely seen better days.

Our suite with a lovely view... of a wall.  

"Breakfast" the next morning. 

While Mrs. SFO777 showered, I headed over to nearby Costco twice, to fuel up both of our vehicles...

And a car wash...

After a day of final organization and making sure the cleaners did their job, we headed out in tandem for the long, slow drive in rush hour traffic. 

The first two hours were simply brutal with mostly bumper to bumper traffic.

We finally made good time and progress and then stopped in Barstow for a bit to eat.

And back on I-15 again.

Tedious drive with a few interesting signs and "landmarks" along the way.

OK, there must be a story to this one.

The culprit for yet another traffiic back-up.

Gorgeous sunset as we approach the Nevada border.

Good-bye California, hello Nevada.

And finally to Henderson and one of the nicest Residence Inns of the trip.  And only $125 a night, breakfast included.

Same layout, but much, much nicer than last night.

After a good night's sleep, down the hall to check out breakfast.  

Breakfast and dessert all in one.  This was pretty darn tasty.

First stop this morning was to fuel up both cars.  How can I pass up a name like this and gas prices $1 a gallon less than the PRC.

Back on I-15 thru downtown Las Vegas...

Into Arizona, where the scenery starts to get nice.

...and spectacular at times.

Lunch and refuel stop in Beaver, Utah

Yikes, there was a reason there was no line at Carl's Jr.

Now on I-70 for the next four hours or so... across some beautiful parts of Utah.

We pulled off for a short break at the scenic view area.

OMG... seriously?

The exit to Moab and iconic Arches National Park which we visited a few years ago.

Wow, I hope they got a good deal on that color.

And finally Colorado.

And Grand Junction, our stop for the night.

And Summerhill Suites Downtown Grand Junction.  Clean and pleasant.

With a nice-ish view.

Cute downtown with lots of restaurants.

We opted for Rouge Restaurant, a French restaurant owned by a couple from Avignon.  

Outdoor seating on a perfect 75 degree evening.

Mrs. SFO777's onion soup was authentic and delicious.  All of our dishes were excellent.

What a treat to find this gem tonight.

The next morning in the lobby.

And breakfast area.

After a refuel at even lower gas prices, we're back on I-70 for the last three hours.

Now this was cool, but apparently the closest I'll get to long-haul trains with Mrs. SFO777.

Past my favorite Colorado ski area...

11,158 feet elevation...

And finally Denver, on Route 6.

Across town to Glendale and The Residence Inn Cherry Creek, just four blocks from our apartment. 

Our home for the next four days and nights.

After we settled in, we headed across the parking lot for an early dinner at a familiar place we'd been to a few times when we lived here before.

Down in the lobby the next morning...

Breakfast back in the room.

The room across from us.  

Apparently, Stehanie was too lazy to toss her trash in the large trash can at the end of the hall.  Let's see how long this stays here.

We got the keys to our new apartment this morning so we were able to unload both cars with boxes of personal items, food and liquids that the movers wouldn't take.   A little later, lunch from Whole Foods.

And then dinner at Hillstone Cherry Creek.

The next morning, Stefanie's trash is still there.

Off to our apartment again this morning to organize a little more, and stops at Whole Foods, King Soopers and Safeway.

Then to True Food Kitchen to pick up dinner to take over to SFO777Jr and family.

And the first in person visit at our new grand-daughter.  Awwww.

Back at the Residence Inn for the night and breakfast the next morrning.

Still there the next morning. You go Stefanie.  Apparently housekeeping wants no part of this as well.

Off to the apartment for a while and then lunch next door to the Residence Inn.

Yummy.

And back to the apartment where I spent quality time trying to figure out Xfinity.   So easy a caveman can do it.  Right.

For dinner tonight, we sampled another restaurant adjacent to the Residence Inn. 

Sushi Kai, an odd combination of Japanese and Mongolian food.

Despite the odd combo, the food was very good.

Next morning, mercifully our final morning here.

One more stop at Home Depot.

And back to the apartment to meet the movers, who delivered what had not gone to storage.

Oy, what a mess.

Our first dinner in our new home.  Still looking for plates and wine glasses.

Take away from North Italia.

The next morning, settling in.

Since much of our furniture was too large for an apartment, it went into storage.  And replaced by smaller scale stuff.  I discovered Wayfair and ordered a few things.   The big box is balcony furniture.

OMG, you have to be kidding?  No wonder the prices are so cheap.

But a little more than two hours later, voila.

Everyday we make progress and in another week or so, it may feel like home.  And then in a few months, we can start house hunting and prep for yet another move.