Trump is finally gone, a vaccine for the coronavirus pandemic is here, and the days are noticeably longer.
Take a breath, Aurora — just not a deep one, yet.
As is almost always the case this time of year, our bleak reality is exposed as the grinding seasonal cold and darkness recede.
Sure, it’s all good and better news that Trump has been exorcised by voters, Congress, Twitter and even the quivering Sen. Mitch McConnell. No longer able to blame Trump for the weather and bleach stains on my T-shirts, reality is now settling in that there are other demons and ghosts to contend with.
No longer the only person in Aurora curious if In-N-Out phenom is worth the wait, I now know.
No, Virginia, it’s all a double-double hoax.
Since the thing opened last summer to lines that are hours and hours long, the California icon has been a mesmerizing sideshow to Cirque De Trumpe and watching the buggy-clad Corona DeVils fight with store employees over their God-given constitutional rights to not wear a mask inside Walmart.
Curiosity got the best of me this week when the cold spell broke and I saw what I thought was only a smattering of cars waiting. The mirage of auto queues and cones turned into 45 minutes of feeling like a fool while I added to the climate change problem.
When you get to the end of the maze, run by off-duty Aurora police and really nice kids in snappy nostalgic burger bar uniforms, freezing their butts off, you get, fast food, folks. Who knew?
If you thought school lunches were the bomb, you’re gonna love In-N-Out burgers. They have spongy white buns, yellow ediblish cheese, California winter tomatoes that are bursting with color and nothing else, onions that I can still smell in my car and the ubiquitous orange secret sauce the world has come to love to scrape off as fast as they can.
The burger? Pretty sure it was beef. After getting halfway through the regular-regular cheeseburger, I realized I’d been had-had. Like just about everything California, the trailer never lives up to the show. The only exception is Far Niente cabernet and the otters at Sea World. You want real Mexican food? It has to be made with chilis from Pueblo and beef from Karval.
Elsewhere in Aurora, there’s little to no waiting at NGL Burgers, Five Guys, Freddy’s, and Sam’s No. 3. And you can get a respectable slopper at La Costa and Jesus Mexican Taqueria. Don’t sneer at the Menudo Burger, available only on weekends.
Maybe if you’re from Highlands Ranch or just can’t’ face another MRE, waiting for french-fry shaped mash potatoes in snazzy sacks is a good way to pass a few hours. If you’re from here, however, you’re not going to sit in your car twice.
It wasn’t just the world’s best burger hype that got by me as we trudged through the horror-thriller show AKA “Our Pandemic Lives” over the past 12 months. Why is there trash everywhere?
As my wife, Melody, frequently and rather insensitively is keen to point out, “I could be butt naked and burning and you wouldn’t notice most of the time.” But even I can’t help but discern the virtual trail of trash along just about every road and highway in the metro area.
I’m not talking about the piles of stuff at the end of exit ramps that a growing army of people begging for money leave behind. Each day as I throw expert stink eye along the highway to the hundreds of drivers of cars sporting license plates from everywhere but here, I’ve had to dodge mattresses, a billion plastic bags, lumber, shoes, pillows, dishwasher doors and ever so much more, every so much where.
Aurora’s infamous fence canyons along Chambers Road and Sixth Avenue have virtual drifts of trash piled along the corridors.
Recently, driving north on Interstate 76 toward Brighton, there was a full-sized bathtub crouching up against the inside median Jersey barrier, clearly fearing for its life, as the torrent of cars rushed by.
I get that the pandemic has pretty much ended the crews of “volunteers,” providing court-ordered community service by wandering the sides of our roads and highways, bagging our lowly litter. But it seems that if city, county and state road departments don’t go to Plan B, Plan C will be to send out plows to keep the most important routes clear and open.
Now that I know longer have to stay up late, past 7:30 p.m., fretting over my chance to get the world’s best burger and tell someone, anyone, about my trashy obsession, I can get back to hanging on the phone all day with Kaiser to see if I’ve moved up past Vaccine Recipient No. 15,321 and if Costco has toilet paper today. I’m going to miss the comforting routines of pandemic life.
Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]