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Wanderer at rest: The Denver Wiggle

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By Jamie Balke Columnist

At the end of September, I traveled to New Mexico to cheer on a friend in his doctoral defense. It was a wonderful trip filled with friends, old and new, as well as celebration and lots of food smothered in green chilies. I want to tell you about something that happened en route.

I have made the flight to New Mexico several times during the course of my friend’s studies, and every time it involved a stop in Denver. The terminal corridors at Denver International Airport are incredibly long, and the layovers are often quite short. This can be a bad combination when flights are running even a little bit late. Fortunately, there is a TCBY, which makes it better, mostly – I’ve been dismayed to discover the menu no longer includes strawberry yogurt.

On one such occasion in particular when my flight home from New Mexico was running behind schedule, I asked an airline representative which gate took me to Bozeman. A look of panic crossed her face, and she yelled, “That way, just run!” I made it in time, winded and upset.

During this latest trip, I encountered an entirely different kind of startling experience in DIA. I boarded in Bozeman after consuming a pre-flight fluffy magazine in anonymity, and the flight was uneventful. We passed over the mountain landscape scattered with sage-green high elevation lakes partly shrouded in smoke. I perused the always-entertaining SkyMall magazine and wondered if anyone ever buys the giant Sasquatch or velociraptor statues.

Before long, our flight landed in Denver, and it happened. Upon arriving at the gate, one of the gentlemen on the runway moving a luggage cart turned toward the plane. Grabbing the cart with his hands behind his back, he began dancing. Well, actually it was more of an uninhibited full-body wiggle. It was disarming, hypnotic and prolonged. He smiled mischievously in the direction of the plane – I suppose he could have been interacting with a co-worker, but I choose to believe he was welcoming our plane with what I think of as a “Denver Wiggle.” It turned out to be a good omen for my long layover.

After getting settled with some disappointingly-not-strawberry TCBY, I sent a message to a longtime friend that I hadn’t seen in years. As luck would have it, we were both passing through the airport at the same time and got to spend a few minutes catching up.

This trip was excellent, starting with the Denver Wiggle.

Jamie Balke moved to Bozeman in the fall of 2009. She can generally be found behind the cover of a book, meandering down a trail or desperately trying not to kill houseplants.

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