Pioneer Potluck: Trip to Colorado, Part II: What memories are made of

Pioneer Potluck: Trip to Colorado, Part II: What memories are made of

This week’s recipes: Susan’s Insta-pot beef teriyaki and Mexican chocolate-cherry cake

  • By ANN “GRANNIE ANNIE” BERG For the Peninsula Clarion
  • Tuesday, October 29, 2019 11:11pm
  • Life

We arrived in Denver, after I got my purse strap untangled from my wheelie luggage at the airport in Anchorage. I slung that overloaded purse over my shoulder the rest of the trip.

Arriving in Denver International Airport (DIA) and getting to our luggage was uneventful.

The airport is situated in the middle of a large cow pasture in the middle of nowhere, east of Denver. Bernie’s good friends from Erie, Lillian and Chuck, picked us up and took me to Boulder where my sister, Ginger, and Mom lived. Bernie went home with Lillian. Our stay was very eventful at times!

My Mother was so glad to see me in her own little fashion. She was frail and old, suffering from the first stages of Alzheimer’s, but full of big smiles.

I unpacked the next morning and showed Mom a hat that Bernie had made for me out of cute purple flower fabric. The brim could be bent and shaped in any form you chose. It also had a big purple fabric rose pinned to the side. Mom fell in love with it.

I wore it, she wore it, I wore it and she would take it off my head and put it on hers. We played the hat game all day. The next morning the purple hat was resting on the dresser next to my bedroom door. I looked up just in time to see an old wrinkled hand with a crooked finger grab the hat.

Mom poked her head in the door of the bedroom, slammed the hat on her fuzzy, gray-haired head and skip-ran down the hall, smiling and laughing, “tee-hee, tee-hee.”

She pulled out a chair and sat down at the breakfast table and started eating her oatmeal with the purple hat on. If I came near her she would grab the brim of the hat and pull it down around her ears and say with a big grin, “IT’S MINE!”

She wore the hat off and on each day I was there. We had so much fun with the purple hat. When I left the hat was in her bedroom and I told her she could have it. “Thank you!” she said with a big, big grin. I have a feeling that hat was hers the very first day!

When she passed away, my great niece Kaylia wore it and then sent it to me. I wore it off and on and gave it to Susan so she could wear Grandma’s hat.

I treasure the memory of My Mom and the Purple Hat. Thank you Bernie for the wonderful memories.

Make sure you make memories every day. They are important!

Our trip was over after visiting our relatives in Colorado, and it was time to return to Alaska.

I was at Ginger’s in Boulder and Bernie was at Erie. We decided to take a shuttle bus to the Denver Airport and save on all the time it takes for Ginger to take us to and then return home, which would be about four hours.

Bernie came to Ginger’s house and the shuttle came by her house and took us to the hotel where we loaded more passengers in 98 degree heat and 99% humidity. The bus was sweltering hot! We tried to pry on the windows open — they would not open!

The driver of the bus got on. “Heheheheh,” he says in his Aussie accent. “Anyone know where the airport is? And by the way our air-conditioning is kaput — sorry!”

He settled down in the driver’s seat, started the bus and chugged along 30 to 35 miles an hour, sometimes slower than a snail, all the way out of Boulder, onto a cow path of a road.

We went through several small towns, all the way to the airport. It was built several miles from Denver. Bernie was patient, but noisy about the hot air and no air conditioning. As for me — this old Alaskan gal was just plan HOT!

We finally got to the airport in a little over an hour. We dragged our wheelie luggage across the large expanse of the airport and checked in, and had time to spare.

So what do you do with Bernie in an airport? You go eat! We ate something very nondescript and looked in all the shops on our way to the passenger boarding area.

We sat and we sat and we sat. Finally, Bernie jumps up and says, “I’m going to get a drink of water and go to the bathroom. You stay with our luggage and then you can go.”

“OK,” I say. “But hurry! They just may want to board any minute now.”

Bernie looks at me and says, “OH POOH! We have lots of time.”

Off she goes looking into windows and disappears into the bathroom just as the boarding lady announced, time at last to board the airplane!

I waited for all the passengers to board and watched and watched for Bernie. The boarding lady asked me if I was getting on, just as Bernie comes sauntering out of the bathroom, slowly saunters across the hall to the water fountain. I hollered “Bernie! Bernie! They are boarding!” She did not hear me! I said to the lady “Shall I go get her?” “No!” she says. “‘Just get on the plane!”

I started waving to Bernie, she saw me and waved back! “Hurry! Hurry!” I shout! Finally she got the message!

We were the last ones on the plane. We sat down in our seats after getting our wheelie luggage stowed above our heads. The door of the airplane slams shut and the airplane slowly backs up, then it stops!

We wait and we wait. “It’s HOT in here,” I say. “Wheeie! YES IT IS!!” says Bernie. Just then the pilot announces, “Ladies and gentlemen we will be sitting here for a few minutes until the thunder and lightning and rain pass over. Please be patient.”

Now Bernie in all her wisdom, cannot understand, first why I was in such a hurry for her to get on the airplane that was not going anywhere.

After a few minutes, about 10, she jumped up and shouts to the stewardess. “Can’t you take this airplane back to the terminal and let us off? I am not through shopping yet or at least you could serve us something cold to drink!”

Some of the passengers applauded and agreed. They brought her a bottle of cold water, probably just shut her up. The other passengers want to know where she got the cold water. So Bernie, the most helpful and accommodating person I know, runs back and forth arranging peoples’ lives and getting them something to drink.

I hid my face and tried to ignore her friendly jabber. Finally after an hour, which Bernie thought was an hour too long, we were in the air. We slumped back in our seats and slept.

Because we had stayed so long on the ground in Denver, in a hot airplane, our arrival time in Anchorage was late. That made our connection with the little airplane to Kenai almost late. Bernie announced to me, “Now when we get in the airport we will have to run to the boarding gate, so when we get off, just follow me — OK?”

Landing in Anchorage, we grabbed our wheelie luggage and we hit the terminal on the run. Bernie takes off to the left and I follow, thinking she is in control and always has a plan and knows exactly what she was doing! Wrong!

The airport was jammed with passengers. We ran down behind a big, long line of waiting passengers in the main lobby, pulling our wheelie luggage. The big overloaded purses were slung over our shoulders.

We ran and bumped down some stairs, down the long hallway of the old airport, all the way to the end.

Bernie stopped. “I catch up!”

She says to a man, “Where’s the airplane?”

The kind man says, “What airplane?”

“The one to Kenai,” Bernie says.

“Oh, this is the old part of the airport. They are in the other end at the new part.”

The man pointed in the same direction we had just come from. “Oh, I forgot! Thanks.” She turns her luggage around shouts, “Come ON!”

Off she runs in the same direction we came from, pulling her wheelie behind her. I had a very hard time keeping up with her. As we dragged and bumped our way up the stairs and behind all those people we just ran passed, I saw smoke coming out of her luggage! I shouted “Bernie your wheel is on fire.” She stopped and looked at me like I was crazy. Everybody was looking at us like we WERE two old crazy ladies running a marathon in the airport.

She flipped her luggage over, grabbed the wheel and burnt your fingers! “Ouch! That darn thing is hot and look I have a flat tire,” she said with a big grin! “What in the world?”

Knowing we were on a deadline she flipped the flat tire wheelie over and ran off pulling that poor worn-out piece of luggage sideways down the hall, screaming at me, “Come on! Hurry up — let’s go, we are going to miss our plane!”

We made it to the boarding gate just in time. “Well, you ladies are lucky, we’re just about to close up and fly away!” We laughed all the way home — crazy ladies — yup!

So glad to be home the next day I unpacked.

P.S.: Apparently while we were running through the airport, first one way and then the other, the wheel of her luggage got stuck and the friction from the carpet finally caught it on fire.

The whole side of the plastic wheel had been rubbed off before it finally caught fire. The statement, “Bernie your wheel is on fire,” and her shouting to me, “Look I have a flat tire!” caught the attention of all the long lines of waiting passengers.

Bernie called me in total hysteria! While we were running up the down the hallway, some of our neighbors, distant acquaintances and good friends, were standing in line, watching us. First, the wrong way, then watching us running back to the other end of the airport. They watched us shouting at each other about a flat tire and wondering why the darn thing caught on fire. They watched us, on the run, round the corner and down the hall to the new part of the airport. They said it was quite entertaining, especially because they knew us!

And that is the end of this story of our 1995 trip to Colorado. We are still good friends and laugh about our memories of our special trip.

By the way, Bernie proofread this and by the end of this story we were laughing tears again.


Brown strips of sirloin steak in a separate skillet.

Place beef in an instant pot and add one can of beef broth.

1 large chopped onion

1 tablespoon ginger

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Small amount of Sesame oil

1⁄4 cup teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Set the instant pot on meat/stew.

Turn to 10 minutes to cook.

Let stand 10 minutes and then quick release using a spatula to release the extra steam.

Thicken the sauce with cornstarch, stirring into the instant pot.

Serve with stir fry vegetables and snow peas on rice.


The base of this cake is my Mayonnaise Cake recipe — with added ingredients.


Put dry ingredients in a mixer bowl:

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup cocoa

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons soda

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

In a smaller bowl mix together the following:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 1⁄4 cup strong cold coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place wet ingredients in large mixing bowl and mix until very smooth, about 2 minutes.

Butter two 8 x 8 pans. Pour in batter and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Test to see if done. Cool completely and frost.

Chocolate Cream Frosting:

1 8-ounce container Cool Whip, slightly thawed

1 small package chocolate instant pudding mix

Mix with 1 cup of milk.

Stir the pudding into the Cool whip and mix until blended

Open a can of cherry pie filling:

Place the first layer on cake plate and frost the first layer around the edges and one inch on the top to form a ridge of chocolate frosting.

Place the cherry pie filling, using most of the cherries and small amount of the filling inside the middle of the first layer of cake. Place the other half of cake on top and frost with the rest of the frosting, smoothing out the sides and swirling the top. Place a small amount of cherries in the middle and it’s done! Good, moist and has an excellent flavor. ENJOY!

• By ANN “GRANNIE ANNIE” BERG, For the Peninsula Clarion

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