I feel like I probably should've maintained some sense of mystery or suspense and NOT just blurted that out right off the bat. But here's the kicker with this story; it's actually not all that much of a story. Remember how I wrote about a million words the last time I did something like this, when I met Jim Craig and Buzz Schneider? How I planned that encounter for months, paid a lot of money, and watched the whole thing go to hell only to ultimately work out really awesomely? Well, this experience was the exact opposite. (Except it also worked out really awesomely!)
Last Wednesday, I was doing my usual thing on social media when I saw this:
I’ll be in #Boulder this week! Come 2 the @NewtonRunningLab 4 a meet & greet w/me this Thursday from 12-1pm! #HelloBetter
— Apolo Anton Ohno (@ApoloOhno) July 30, 2014
So I hesitated. That's kind of far to drive for a quick afternoon, especially by myself, especially on less than 24-hour notice, and especially in a car thats radiator is cracked and could blow whenever it so chooses. And besides, at this point it had been raining for a solid two days -- would the roads be flooded?
But within about five minutes, I realized that I had no idea when or if I'd get another chance to meet Apolo, and that I'd regret it forever if I decided not to go. So I decided to go.
I made sure I was on the road bright and early the next morning -- or, well, it would've been bright if it hadn't been raining -- because I was prepared for the absolute worst. I mean, seriously, after getting my phone stolen and then getting lost for an hour in New Jersey in my pursuit of Buzz Schneider, I was leaving absolutely nothing to chance. I was prepared to get lost, to get a flat tire, to be unable to drive through flooded roads... hell, I half expected Buzz (the car) to blow up.
...But the sun broke through the clouds within fifteen minutes, and the drive was absolute smooth sailing. Buzz did not blow up. The roads were perfectly dry (though holy construction zones, Batman!). I did not get lost, and didn't even have to drive around in circles to look for parking once I arrived; there was a parking garage about one block down the road, and parking was FREE! And I got there a flawless 20 minutes early. It was honestly the complete antithesis of what I expected.
There was a fairly small line of people when I got there, and they were all clutching copies of Apolo's book or old newspaper clippings for him to sign. I felt distinctly awkward at my lack of things, and thought longingly of my copy of his book and my extensive Vancouver 2010 magazine collection, all at home in New York. Alas.
They set up a table in the corner of the store, and then Apolo was led out -- quietly, casually, with no fanfare -- and the line started moving. He'd spend a little time chatting with everyone, sign the photos the store was providing and anything else anyone wanted him to, and pose for pictures.
I thought briefly of getting a selfie with him (how awesome would that've been?!), but ultimately asked the dude in line behind me if he'd take a picture for me. Going to meet-and-greets alone is kind of a struggle when there's no official photographer! So thank you, kind stranger!
I'd decided to wear my Sochi U.S. Olympic Team shirt that day, for fairly obvious reasons, and as soon as it was my turn to approach the table, Apolo took one look at me and said, "I like your shirt! That is awesome." (I knew wearing that shirt was a good idea! Victorious!)
Then he asked for my name, for autograph purposes, and I gave my usual spiel. "Darci, with an -i, not a -y."
"Okay, so D-A-R..."
This happens just about any time anyone writes my name, ever. So as he was signing his name, I said, "So I commiserate with your 'Apolo with one L' struggle."
He laughed. "Ohhh yeah!"
As he came around the table and take a picture with me, I handed my phone to my temporary photographer and said to Apolo, "Just so you know, it was on my bucket list to meet you, so this is very exciting."
He chuckled and said, "Well, you just got it! You got that check!"
And THEN we took a picture together!
I shook his hand and thanked him, grabbed my autograph, and skipped out of there. I was still half expecting something to go atrociously wrong, so you best believe I was all about quitting while I was ahead. So I left, and texted my mom something incredibly eloquent (I think my exact words were "YEEEEEEEE!").
There was a little sandwich place and a lovely courtyard right across the street, so I grabbed some lunch over there and ate outside, because instead of 60 degrees and raining it was about 80 degrees and sunny. That was a pleasant surprise! And instead of getting my phone stolen, I had a nice chat with the very friendly guy who took my sandwich order. I tell ya, I adore New York, but sometimes Colorado just does things better.
But that was not the end of my day! Since I was already in Boulder, I decided to swing by the Celestial Tea Factory and check the final item off of my old Colorado bucket list! I'd been wanting to go there for almost literally a year, but Boulder is (like I said) kind of a drive. But meeting Apolo had given me an excuse to go to the tea factory, and the tea factory had given me an excuse to meet Apolo, so it was just a total winner of a situation.
The Celestial Tea Factory was probably about a five-minute drive from where I was in town, and it's reeeeeally on the outskirts of everything. Tours of the factory are free, and when you walk in and get signed up, they give you a little ceramic mug for sampling and a single teabag as your tour ticket! My tour was the Sleepytime decaf tour. It was adorable.
They had probably about 10 or 12 different types of tea you could sample while you waited for your tour to start -- and obviously, I tried all of them. The tour itself takes you right onto the factory floor, which was so cool! You actually get to see the teas getting packaged on the assembly line, and go into the various rooms where they keep the different ingredients. The peppermint room is a game changer, man. Wow. Talk about clearing the sinuses.
The tour doesn't allow photography, though, so you'll just have to take my word for how neat it was. The lack of photography is actually kind of a blessing, because they make everyone wear hairnets. That is a look I decidedly chose not to immortalize in a selfie, thank you very much.
Unsurprisingly, the tour finishes up in the gift shop, where I unsurprisingly bought myself an absolutely beautiful mug and some cold-brew peach tea. And then I decided to also get a dainty four-leaf clover necklace too because, what the heck, everything else that day had been free! #treatyoself
And then I headed home. There was traffic, but all that did was let me take a quick picture of the scenery! Nothing got stolen, I didn't get lost, and it barely even rained. I'm still kind of shocked.
I'd call this day a success.