As I sit here in my perch I am watching the sun come up in Colorado for the last time for a bit. We are heading out on the latest version of TTG’s Magical Mystery Tour. It is strange and yet incredibly exciting to know that tomorrow that big orange ball will pop up a lot earlier thousands of miles away in Copenhagen. I hope I never lose that childlike enthusiasm for things that are new. I spent yesterday morning as the Shuttle Assistant for the Hike For Hospice in Morrison. It is actually very cool to be in the foothills a mere 30 minutes from downtown Denver. The people, the housing, their way of looking at life are really quite different. Now my title got me a bucket replete with towels and disinfectant in case one of the rider’s dogs got so excited that he or she couldn’t hold it. I kid you not. It was my job description. Lo how the mighty have fallen. The round trip between the parking lot and the base station for hikers was about twenty minutes. Going to, yours truly held court and thanked people for coming. On the way back I struck up a conversation ( surprising huh?) with my driver. Gary. The tale unfolds. It seems he came to America from the former Socialist Republic of Georgia. He and his wife and three kids pled for and were granted political asylum. Six years later they became citizens. The system works. He and his family came to Denver because a cousin had already settled here. He said with the mountains it reminded him of home. For the next few hours between runs he extolled the virtues of the United States and dissed his former homeland. Some were obvious and others were quite intriguing. As so many others he didn’t speak the language at first. He could have remained in the captivity of an ethnic neighborhood but he plunged head-on into learning the speak and the ways of his new home. He wasn’t particularly gifted in book smarts but he had the look and sound of a survivor. And here he was driving for Grey Lines. He kept repeating what a wonderful country we had here. People were friendly, outgoing and courteous. Maybe he bypassed the Big Apple. He said in Russia the locals were quiet and almost demeaning. Never look out for your neighbor. You are in it for yourself. It is a hard life and if you were poor you were shunned as unworthy. No welfare. No food stamps. If you were homeless or a drunk you died from the elements. No one even stopped to pay you any matter. As a resident of a Moscow satellite they hated the so called motherland.They had seen subservience since the days of Stalin and it never sat well. I asked how come the polls say they love Putin? Interestingly he said those were the native Russians not the occupied hinterlands. He said the people were old and naive. The fortunate young and oligarchs had fled or were too busy partying to worry about such mundane things. The remaining ones were happy to rally behind a politico that would rub the sweet salve of nationalism on their broken psyches. As we made our final run I could see a man that maybe had hoped for more in his life but was so incredibly grateful for what he had. At sixty four years of age he had to keep working but that was okay. The sixty or so hours of driving were worth it. When he got home there was a glass of wine and maybe some Georgian music. Life is simple. Just live it. As we shook hands and bade good by I felt a kinship. I thanked him for sharing…for letting me know how lucky I am. I had my new buddy and also so many that had come to remember a loved one. I asked one group who they were there for. A lovely young woman spoke up and said it was for her daughter. She was twelve years old when she died. Another was there for her dad whom I recalled visiting. He was ninety two. Funny how death doesn’t pay attention to time in service. What an incredible day. As I drove home I thought about many things. I looked at the housing developments where Toll Brothers or Shea had carpet bombed hundreds of residences in large swathes. I drove the back streets of Denver and saw mansions and bungalows that go so far back in time. So many people. So many different ways of living. So many outlooks and political persuasions. How are we ever going to get us pulling on the same oar? We are going to many cities and burgs on the Continent. We will meet Danes and Poles. Swedes and Finns. Italians and Brits. Sure there will be museums and churches and palaces of every description. But I am really going to try to meet just ordinary folk. People like Gary. I am going to do my best to ask questions and just listen. I might just have plenty of reason to reinvent myself. God help my poor wife. I will write when I can but won’t guarantee to greet every Wednesday morning. Hopefully there will be lots to ponder and share. I’ll let you know if I run into Putin. Ciao or whatever. As always, Ted The Great Factoids: Until the 1930s most legal immigrants were male. By the 1990s women accounted for just over half of all legal immigrants. Contemporary immigrants tend to be younger than the native population of the United States, with people between the ages of 15 and 34 substantially overrepresented. Immigrants are also more likely to be married and less likely to be divorced than native-born Americans of the same age. Seven out of ten immigrants surveyed by Public Agenda in 2009 said they intended to make the U.S. their permanent home, and 71% said if they could do it over again they would still come to the US. We get an average of 3 million immigrants a year. Denver’s population grew 8.2 percent between 2010 and 2013. Since 2000, Denver has grown 17.3 percent. Must be doing something right. Butterfly Hospice cares for kids under the age of eighteen either in residence or usually in the home. If you want a dose of reality go to your nearest Children’s Hospital, get a cup of coffee and just sit in the lobby. It’s a wake up call.