By Brian Fischler
Hasta la vista, Ed ! It’s been fun. Ed had to get back to NYC for work, so it will just be Wesley and me for the rest of my Flight for Sight adventure. I got up in the morning and headed down to Jimmy’s on Broadway, as I wanted to get my omelet again before heading off to the airport. I went to order the same omelet that I had the day before, the three-meat omelet without the ham, but today I was told I could not order it without the ham. I told the waitress that I did order it without the ham yesterday, and she told me well they changed it as you no longer could make any changes. Weird, I guess I was the last person ever at Jimmy’s on Broadway to ever get the three-meat omelet with only two meats. Good for me. I decided to get scrambled eggs with some bacon and coffee. The waitress went back to the kitchen where some divine intervention must have occurred because, when she came back, I was able to get the omelet with only two meats. Hallelujah!
After enjoying my two-meat omelet, I headed upstairs to finish packing. Every time I pack on this trip, I keep my fingers crossed that my suitcase will close and not burst open, as it was packed as full as it could go. Plus, now I had to pack my new Flight for Sight sweatshirt. Amazingly, with some packing skills, I got the sweatshirt in my suitcase and the bag closed without ripping.
I headed downstairs and went to check out when the Silver Cloud Hotel hit me with a whopping $130 bill for my laundry! Wow, that was absolutely shocking considering that it was not that much clothing. Where did they send my laundry to be washed? Paris, France?
Sean, my new ride share friend called me up and asked if I had eaten and offered to pick up lunch for me if I had not. What a guy. Again, if you are ever in Seattle, you must call this guy for any ride share needs. He swung by to pick Wesley and me up, and we were off to the Seattle airport.
We got to the airport pretty early, but considering I was traveling on my own, the more time to deal with checking in and security, the better. I breezed through checking in to Southwest security was actually really fantastic to Wesley and me. They were all laughing that Wesley was running around like a character with his leash in his mouth. They thought he wanted to hand it to me. Honestly, the dog was just entertaining himself.
A nice gentleman walked me to my gate and then I checked the notifications on my phone. That’s when I learned that my gate has changed, and since I am flying Southwest, I am a little concerned. There are no seat assignments, so I don’t want to miss the pre-boarding call for people with disabilities. The bulkhead row on Southwest flights is huge and perfect for Wesley and me if I can snag it. A very nice airport employee walks me over to my new gate, and I get there in plenty of time to catch pre-boarding. We begin to board the flight and are told that it is overbooked. I get the bulkhead seat and a woman sits on the aisle seat, leaving the middle seat open. I have never, ever seen the front door to a plane stay open this long. We are 20 minutes past our departure time and the door to the plane is still open. It seems like they are waiting for one last passenger, and of course, this passenger will end up sitting right next to me, so I am voting hardcore for the plane door to close. Eventually it does, and even though this flight was supposedly overbooked, no one sits in our middle seat. Yippee.
The plane touches down in Denver, and there is an airport employee there to greet me and get me to the Lyft pick up area. Again, I am amazed at the size of another airport, as the Denver airport is huge. We get to the Lyft area, and thankfully, even though it is 90 degrees, my guest services employee waits with me until my ride shows up. It is always nice to have sighted assistance when locating a rideshare at the airport when you are blind, since drivers often do not stick around for long.
This is the first stop on my trip where I will be staying with a friend instead of at a hotel. It will actually be very nice to no longer be staying in hotels, mainly so I don’t have to deal with inaccessible elevators. I am actually staying with a friend of a friend named Barbara Bielinski, who is a fellow Guiding Eyes for the Blind grad. The ride to her place takes about an hour. Fortunately, a lot of people mentioned that the Denver airport is now located in the middle of nowhere, so the length of the ride is not a surprise to me. We get to Barbara’s house, and a gentleman comes up to me and asks me where I am going. I tell him to a friend’s and he asks, “Barbara’s?” I say yes, and how odd, it turns out the Lyft driver has dropped me off at the wrong house. I’m glad to learn that it’s not just NYC where the ride share drivers leave you at the wrong location. Barbara’s house is a couple of houses down and her nice neighbor walks me to the front door.
I get into Barbara’s and we gradually introduce the two guide dogs to each other. They seem quite fond of each other, and Barbara has a big backyard where both dogs can run around together. Wesley gets fed, and Barbara asks if I want to go out to eat, or stay in. Honestly, I am so tired from traveling that we stay in and Barbara grills some burgers. Wow, I can’t even operate the stove and here Barbara is grilling out back. Barbara and I compare some notes on ride shares experiences, talk guide dogs, sports, and other things, and eventually call it a night.
Barbara has some limited vision and lights help her navigate her house. She has smart lighting in all her rooms and she has renamed my lights to “Yankee’s suck lights.” (She’s originally from Boston.) Very funny, Barbara, but I am in 100 percent agreement with you: the Yankees have sucked for the past three years. We will be seeing these sucky Yankees at Coors Field tomorrow night.
The next day we get up, get the dogs fed, and prepare to meet a big group of Denver blind people at a restaurant called Old Town Tavern and Grill. We are not sure how early we may have to leave for lunch, as booking a ride share with one guide dog is challenging, but we will need to book a rideshare for people with two guide dogs. Fortunately for us, Deborah Schultz one of the people we will be having lunch with, offers for her and her son to pick us up. Yippee, no idiot rideshare drivers to deal with.
We get picked up and head over to Old Town Tavern which is not far from Barbara’s house. We are the first to get there, and get a table for eleven, as we will be a large group. Old Town Tavern is my kind of place. When we walk in and The Doors are playing. Nice. If I lived in Denver, I could see myself hanging out here.
The large group begins to arrive and is made up of us, Andrea Brandies, Jamie Lee, Robert Lee (and yes, his middle initial is E.), Amy Lee, Debora Schultz, and Diane Verhayden. We all get to know each other very quickly. No one in this group of totally blind, low vision, and fully sighted people is shy. We talk about Flight for Sight, living blind in Denver, and of course some of the humorous stuff that has happened to each of us living the blind lifestyle. Our waitress is fantastic at accommodating us and the lunch is a wonderful time. I conduct brief interviews with everyone, which you will eventually get to hear on the Flight for Sight podcast.
It’s funny because when I initially planned out my Flight for Sight travel adventures, I was hoping to get these blogs and podcasts up as I traveled around the country. I didn’t realize that the whole point would be getting out there, doing things and meeting people, so I wouldn’t have time to write or edit the podcast while traveling. Wishful thinking, but last I checked there are still only 24 hours in a day.
We get back to Barbara’s house, get cleaned up, and get ready to get picked up by Cameron, a friend of Mike Walsh’s who is awesome enough to head to a Rockies game with two blind peeps he has never met before. As crazy as the world is these days, I am learning there are still an awful lot of good, kind people around. Cameron shows up, we do the introductions, and then pile into his car with the two guide dogs. We hit a bit of traffic on the way to the game, as some small-time artist named Taylor Swift is playing Mile High Stadium tonight where the Denver Broncos play.
Cameron finds a garage to put the car in and we walk the rest of the way to Coors Field. When we get inside the stadium, we immediately head to guest services only to learn that Coors Field does not have the live broadcast player for blind people to listen to the game in real time. It is unfortunate, as Barbara and I discover that my AM/FM radio is a good 30 seconds behind real time. Barbara tries getting the game through the MLB At Bat iOS app but that broadcast is at least two minutes behind the real time action on the field.
Coors Field is pretty awesome otherwise. Even though I can’t see the Rocky Mountains, the ambiance of the ballpark is spectacular. We got to our seats in the bottom of the second, and to no one’s surprise, we end up missing all of the runs the Yankees score for the entire game. They had two in the first, then took the rest of the game off. The Rockies cruise to an easy win, which is funny since they’re one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball, but the Yankees are not far behind. We enjoy a beer at the game, which Cameron and I ran off to get, and stay for the entire game.
Cameron drives us home and, the minute we get into his car, a massive rain storm starts. Wow, this came out of nowhere. I had not even thought to check the day’s weather. I have been really fortunate on my entire trip with the weather, well aside from some extreme heat.
The next day I’m up early, as I have to begin the long ride to the Denver airport. From there I’ll be off to Cincinnati, the final stop on the first part of my Flight for Sight journey.
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Listen to the Flight for Sight podcast Episode 7 “Denver Who Knew There Were So Many Blind People in the Mile High City” here!
Photo Description 1: A group of nine people meetup at Old Towne Tavern in Arvada, Colorado. Brian’s guide dog Wesley is also in the picture.
Photo Description 2: Barbara, Brian and his guide dog Wesley are at Coors Field. The field is in the background.
Photo Description 3: Cameron and Brian take a selfie at Coors Field. The field is in the background.