The holiday season means travel, whether it’s air travel home, a quick drive to the high country, or light rail downtown for the New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Are you ready?
As one of the nation’s busiest airports, Denver International Airport gets a little nutso around the holidays. Leave plenty of time to make your flight, although if you’re flying out at dawn, know that there is no place we know of on the concourses to get coffee before 5 a.m. FlyDenver.com is the place to get updated parking and transit information, security wait times, and notifications of closures or delays.
That said, airport folks do their best to reduce the stress of flying. Activities at DIA include an outdoor holiday marketplace, live entertainment in the Jeppesen Terminal’s great hall from Dec. 16-31, and free ice skating from Nov. 25 to Jan. 1. An ugly sweater contest and outdoor screening of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation happens Dec. 16.
Public transit to the airport includes the much-heralded “Train to the Plane” (the new A Line from Union Station) or RTD’s Skyride bus service, a bargain at $9 one way. Buses and rail arrive and depart from the DEN Transit Center, under the new Westin Hotel to the south of the main terminal. Coming from Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Vail or Glenwood? Take the Bustang to Union Station and connect to the A Line.
The TSA says doesn’t search for marijuana. Its official policy, if something that looks like cannabis turns up during a search, is to “refer the matter to law enforcement.” Both DIA and the Colorado Springs airport have cannabis bans that impose heavy fines, and planes are federally regulated.
To find the flatlander on a mountain road, follow your nose. The pungent smell of overheated brakes can be avoided by engine braking — shifting to a lower gear while headed downhill. On narrow roads, the car going uphill has the right of way, and if more than three cars stack up behind you, pull out and let them pass. Keep an eye peeled for bicycles too.
Conditions change fast around here. For road conditions, traffic cameras and advisories, bookmark the Colorado Department of Transportation at COTrip.org, or dial 511 for road updates. You can also sign up for e-mail and text alerts or follow CDOT on Twitter @ColoradoDOT.
Snow tires or chains are now the law when driving in snowy or icy conditions in the high country, and could cost you $650 in fines if you get stuck and block the road. Fun fact: Good tires provide better traction than all-wheel drive. CDOT reminds you to “Bow to the Plow” -- don’t tailgate or try to pass.
Don’t wait for the first snow to put a scraper, snow brush, extra water and windshield-washer fluid in your vehicle. Real Coloradans leave them in their car trunks all year round, anticipating that beautiful spring day when you go to work in shirtsleeves, only to discover four inches of snow at quitting time.
RTD’s New Year’s gift to everybody: free bus and light rail service from 7 p.m. Dec. 31 to midnight Jan. 2. Trains and buses are an easy way to get downtown, avoid traffic and parking hassles, and enjoy the holiday lights, theater and musical performances, Skyline Park skating rink, shopping and New Year’s fireworks.