Diary from Colorado Springs, CO

Trip specs:

Purpose: Work (Grand Opening for Chick-fil-A Inc.) 

Time frame: One week.

Dates: March 11, 2018 – March 18, 2018

Day one: Sunday March 11, 2018

solo flying above Texas
  • First flight ever and also my first time flying alone. I. LOVED. It. Flew from Knoxville to Dallas (DFW is my favorite airport I’ve ever been in btw) and then into Colorado Springs airport.
  • Met my roommate(S/O to Ignasia!)  and another trainer at the airport and then our supervisor picked us up and drove us to our hotel, stopping for food on the way.
  • Trainer Rally!! (Basically a meeting of all the trainers and our supervisors so we can meet and understand a little better our roles, usually there is a type of outing (pizza, go karts, etc). This time around we met at the store and actually started setting up things that still needed to be organized and got the store ready to start training on Monday Morning!
  • It is sort of a tradition with trainers that on the first night everyone makes a Target/Walmart/local superstore run to get all the essentials for the week. Mostly food and coffee tbh. For a detailed list see my post about “how to survive a grand opening”
  • Pretty sure I spent the first night going over my training plan over and over again, I was nervous but excited!
Rocky mountain sunrise from the hotel room
Gorgeous view from our hotel room!

Day two: Monday March 12, 2018

  • First day of training!! I learned so much my first day its not even funny! The crazy part about being is a trainer is that even though you’re there to train them, they always end up teaching you. I grow as a trainer each day I’m with a team and they always know how to stretch me further than I would have been able to on my own.
  • Got off around 3 today, went back to the hotel and took a nap. Training is hard work after all.
  • Out to eat with other trainers! Went to this hole in the wall Mexican place called “Amanda’s Fonda and Cantina” which honest to God had the best Mexican food I’ve ever had and I think about these tacos all the time. (3625 W Colorado Ave for reference if you’re interested) I highly recommend them, however full disclosure, I was incredibly hungry that day.
  • Was a beautiful day and you could really see how amazing the mountains looked from the highway.

Day three: Tuesday March 13, 2018

  • Training day two! Lots of PR going out today so lots of fruit trays to be made and sandwiches to be wrapped!
  • Finished work around 2-3 and had plenty of time to go back to the hotel and get ready for the dedication dinner!
  • The Dedication Dinner is my favorite part of GO week. Basically it is a way for the operator to thank/introduce his new team and get them to know each other and him/her a little better. It is usually hosted somewhere nice, such as a hotel, or sometimes just at the store. This is also a way for the support center to honor and support the new operator and his team. It is always a fun time and I love getting dressed up and eating lots of food so
  • Dedication dinner at the most BEAUTIFUL hotel I’ve ever been in called The Broadmoor, it actually has so much history so if you’re interested in that. At this time I was not eating dairy OR gluten. (I am lactose intolerant with a sensitivity to gluten so that being said I do/can eat both but neither are great for the ole digestive system) Partially dietary and partially by choice, unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot on the menu that was both, I think it was just fruit. But I asked one of the servers if they had anything and they said no, I said no big deal I’d eat some fruit and I could eat when I got back to the hotel honestly no problem. I went on with my time mingling with the trainers and the team members when all of the sudden a server comes up to me with a dairy free sandwich on a gluten free bread and says “we had the chef make this special for you.” I have to say it was honestly one of the best moments and i knew right then why Jim had chosen this place for his dinner. Not because of the food or the magnificence of the place, but because they showed us the same kind of service we hoped to show to all the guests that would come into his store. That was a moment that really resonated with me and to this day I think of it. (ps. The sandwich was awesome)
  • Afterwards we all really wanted to do some exploring, and there was talks of some people going up to a waterfall, but we were all dressed up and didn’t want to go change so we headed back to the cars and decided to find something in town to do.
  • Spoiler alert: there is very little to do in Colorado Springs at 9:00 on a Tuesday in March.
  • We ended up going for ice cream at a place near the hotel before returning to the hotel where some of us joined up and relaxed in the jacuzzi (or hit the gym for some) and then turned in for the night.

Day four: Wednesday March 14, 2018

  • Training day three! Day before opening day! (fun fact: All new Chick-fil-A restaurants open on Thursdays!) first 100 day!
Travel blogger enjoying rock climbing around at Garden of the Gods
  • After work a few of us trainers went for a drive through Garden of the Gods. It was truly spectacular. As someone who has grown up in the Appalachian mountains I thought I knew what to expect. Wow I was wrong. It was SO different! So orange! So much dirt and rocks! I know that doesn’t exactly sound amazing, but trust me it was beautiful. (actually, don’t trust me, check out my pictures and see for yourself!).  I can’t wait to go back one day and go climbing looked like there would be some serious climbing fun to be had. (Shout out to my climbing buddies if you’re ever down for a 2 day road trip!)
  • Another group of trainers went up to pikes peak that day and the day before and I wish I hadn’t been working and able to go, the pictures looked stunning and it is definitely on my list of places to visit when I go back to Colorado! (PS Pikes Peak was about an hour away from where we were staying and with limited number of rental cars and everyone having different work schedules only so many people could go at once)
  • That evening we celebrated another Trainers birthday at a place in downtown Colorado Springs called Bingo Burger! Great food but I was disappointed there wasn’t any bingo. It was a great time with about half the trainers, we had so much fun just hanging out and getting to know each other better!

Day five. Thursday March 15, 2018

  • ITS GO DAY! Grand Opening day is always full of excitement! Lots of anticipation and ready to see how everything falls into place, which of course it usually doesn’t but this GO day ran pretty smoothly all things considered.
  • Worked 5:00am-8:00pm today went home and worked on more training and got myself mentally prepared for the next day
  • Coffee count for the day: 3 (Starbucks cold brew bottle brought from the hotel, one Chick-fil-A cold brew iced coffee, one Starbucks run after lunch)

Day six. Friday March 16, 2018

Snow on the distant rocky mountains from a Colorado Highway
  • Second day of being open, the best part is at least now you have a better understanding of what to expect and can start to identify your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Depending on the sales volume of the store, if sales are high there is a good chance you’re still in “survival mode” as we call it.
  • Got to try dutch bros coffee, changed my life and even though it’s overpriced I can’t wait to be back west and get my hands on some more.
  • Worked 4:00 am- 9:30 pm today (had to come in early and help with truck).
  • Spent time in the jacuzzi when I got off work, desperately needed a foot massage but a soak worked wonders for my back.
  • Coffee count for the day: 4 (Starbucks cold brew bottle brought from hotel, 2 Starbucks runs (one am one pm) and one Dutch Bros Coffee)

Day Seven. Saturday March 17, 2018

  • Last day in CO 🙁
  • Worked 5:00am-8:00pm said goodbye to my trainees and imparted (hopefully) some last bits of wisdom, thanked Jim the most gracious and grateful owner I’ve ever met on our way out.
  • Went out to eat with some trainers at a chain restaurant close to the hotel. Ate chocolate cake for dinner. Piled 7 people into a 5 seater car (shh don’t tell the GOS’s) and went out to get donuts. I fell asleep on a bench at the donut place and that was our cue to head back.
  • The last night was a great one, the day shifters stayed up in the lobby almost all night just watching tv and hanging out and being extremely goofy (we were all delirious from running on no sleep and coffee for three days). The hotel manager was the sweetest lady who hooked us UP. she set us up in this lounge room with snacks and drinks and pillows and blankets and we basically just had a big slumber party down there until the night shifters got off around 2:30 and joined us. We had an even bigger “party” until it was time for us with early flights to go upstairs and get packed and get going. A group had to leave for Denver early (Denver is about 2 hours from Springs). I was the only one who stayed up all night waiting to leave. I of course packed at the last second and was at the airport by 5:30 am.
  • Coffee count for the day: Honestly no idea. Whatever I could get my hands on at this point.

Day seven. Sunday March 18, 2018

  • Early flight out of springs, through Dallas again, and finally back home to Knoxville where I went to my parents house and fell asleep approx. at 2:30 in the afternoon and did not wake up until Monday around 3:00pm. Post GO sleep is the best sleep I’ve ever had.

Post trip notes.

This trip was full of firsts. Here are my top 5.

  1. First time flying alone
  2. First time flying EVER
  3. First time in the rocky mountains
  4. First time being a grand opening trainer for Chick-fil-A
  5. First time trying dutch bros coffee.

The biggest take away for me from this trip would be realizing just how independent and self reliant I have become as a person. There was never a moment on this trip where I felt “alone” in a bad way. Maybe it was because I was surrounded by a great team of supportive people and because I felt like I had a purpose, a mission so to speak, for being there. But for some reason I felt more comfortable trying new things half way across the country alone with strangers than I ever have here at home. This was the trip that taught me I can do anything and relit the spark in me for service. Serving my team at home, serving my community, serving my friends and family, but most importantly for me was serving my God. This is a trip i will never forget and my only regret was not taking more chances and more pictures.

Till next time CO,

-Morgana, GOT.