Wednesday, 11 March 2009

11/02/2009 - Texas, New Mexico, Colorado

11/02/2009 - 12/02/2009 - Del Rio, Texas. Back in the US. We were going to try and spend a couple of nights in Texas to just tidy up a few things, but we arrived in a park that only had one night available. We settled in and Dave started to unpack the Boot, whilst I was doing a bit of cleaning up inside. Well Dave had everything out of the boot including our snowboards, bikes, suitcases, chairs and a lot of Dave's tools when from inside I hear what appears to be an approaching thunderstorm, I opened the door to Stubbie and all I could see was dust flying around (later on we found out that the winds reached over 100mph) and Dave running around trying to hold everything down, of course I did the right thing and shut the door to Stubbie as quickly as I could. No - I was out there running (ok crawling) around everywhere as well, trying to salvage our goods. Obviously we had missed the warnings, because we were the only ones running around likes chooks with their heads cut off. We had never seen anything like it, apparently this is what they call a wind storm. The next morning we woke up and their was a layer of dirt on everything inside and outside. So after a bit of a clean up we set off again.

13/02/2009 - 23/02/2009 - Albuquerque, New Mexico. We spent a night boon docking at a Rest Area before we arrived in Albuquerque. We have a few things that need to be fixed on Stubbie so we make appointments at the RV Centre and the Ford Centre. Looks like we will be in Albuquerque for over a week - a little bit longer than what we had planned. We did enjoy a nice relaxing time in Albuquerque. We went to see a couple of movies and we tried to get our Visa's extended. When we first arrived in the States in LA, we requested a permit for 12 months (the normal time period is 6 months) after a bit of talking we were told that they would stamp our passports for 6 months and that if and when we were still in the country to go to an immigration office and they would give us another 6 months. The immigration officer at LA advised us that he had made a notation on our files to say that the next 6 months had been approved. So after making our appointment at the office in Albuquerque and getting all our paperwork together we went to the immigration office only to be told that we need to go to an office that is a point of entry office, this office doesn't even have the stamp. The next point of entry we plan on visiting is Seattle - so now we just need to see what is going to happen at Seattle. Of course we plan on being in Seattle around the end of March and our Visa runs out on the 30th March.

23/02/2009 - 07/03/2009 - Colorado. We finally leave Albuquerque on the 22nd and are heading up to Longmont, Colorado (just outside Denver) to see Peter (our great Austrian friend, we met whilst travelling around California when my Mum was with us). After spending another night boon docking we arrive in Longmont in the afternoon of the 24th we park Stubbie across the road from Peters Townhouse. It was great to start catching up with Peter (oh and his dog Mozart), of course, soon as we arrived we had drinks in our hand. The area that Peter lives in is really gorgeous and has a great feel about it. Within about two hundred metres there is 3 restaurants, a bar, a hairdresser, a yoga centre and a coffee shop. Also from his back balcony you can see the Rockies. There are a couple of parks spread throughout the suburb - it really has a great feel. So after a couple of hours of drinks and chatting Peter advises us that we are heading on over to his local bar (about 75 metres away) for Fat Tuesday - apparently the day before Ash Wednesday all his neighbours are getting together at the Tusk Bar for a few drinks. Well, I'm not sure what time we got home, but we did get to meet a lot of Peter's neighbours, enjoy several drinks and not have anything to eat. For me this adds up to a nice little hangover on Wednesday (I guess I'm not used to drinking wine after those Margarita's in Mexico). At about 8:00am on Wednesday Peter calls us to say breakfast is ready (I don't know if I mentioned this earlier, but Peter is a chef - it just keeps getting better). So across the road to Peter's place we go for a great breakfast of omelette's, toast, jam and cheese plus coffee to wake us up. Peter let's us know that we are going over to his Mum's house in Frederick to have lunch and to meet his Mum, Grandmother (who is out visiting for a month) and his step-father plus his wife (it's a long story). So after breakfast (I'm starting to feel a lot better) we travel for about 15 mins to his Mum's place. They speak minimal English but they make us feel very welcome. I'm sure it is the European style, there are kisses and hugs everywhere - even for the Big Fella. We had a lovely afternoon and then headed back to Peter's place. We let him know that we will be cooking dinner tonight. Also, Peter has lent us his 2nd car (Mercedes Benz) to drive around whilst we are staying in Longmont. Dave says it is a lot easier to drive than Stubbie. We are very grateful.

26/02/2009 - Boulder - When I found out that we were going to be near Boulder one of the things on our list to see was Mork and Mindy's house (Nanu Nanu). In the morning I had a long over due hair cut and highlights (it had now been over 5 months since my last cut / colour). So after my hairdresser appointment we drove to Boulder (about 30 mins) found the house, stopped long enough to get a few photos and then had a stop in the Pearl Street mall for a little look around. The mall is a vibrant pedestrian zone filled with shops and restaurants. We popped into one of the little restaurants for a drink and a quick bite to eat. Boulder is described in the Lonely Planet as a university town with a yuppie crunch attitude and a love of the outdoors - we found this to be oh so true. We phoned Peter on the way home and he let us know that he had dinner all organised.

27/02/2009 - Eldora / Longmont - Today, Dave and I headed up to the local ski field of Eldora. We still had the use of Peter's car but unfortunately no chains. We had heard that there had been some light snow overnight. So of course as we are getting closer to the mountain it is still snowing, but the last stretch was slippery so the Big Fella had to take it really easy. When we got to Eldora we realised that it had definitely had more than some light snow, we later learned that overnight and during the day they received about a foot of snow. We had a great first day back on the boards - fresh powder and hardly anybody there which equates to no waiting on the lifts. So after a great day - we are feeling a bit tired and sore - we go out to dinner at one of Peter's friends house (Barry and Nikki). It seems to be a quiet a regular event. About 8 people from the neighbourhood are all invited. There was 3 main meals: Peter had made a delicious Elk Stew, Nikki had made a scrumptious South African dish (something like a curry lasagna), and Rick had made a Fillet Steak with a red curry and cream sauce, served with basil pesto rice. I made a salad. And of course if that wasn't enough then Barry came out with some home made crepes with a cream/honey filling - of course this is where the Big Fella fell in love and needed to have seconds -but this time they really spoilt him and added melted Lindt chocolate. The men did most of the cooking in the kitchen at Barry and Nikki's place, it was great to sit back, sip a glass of wine and watch. It appears that all of the men really have a passion for cooking - I don't know what happened to Dave. After talking to their wives / partners they appear to do most of the cooking and they are really great at it. So after dinner was all done, the crew decided to go over to the local - The Tusk Bar to continue. After such a divine and huge meal and a days skiing the Big Fella and I decided to pass. I did stay (for about an hour and a half) at the hosts house and look after her young daughter - I did a bit of a clean-up and of course packed a doggie bag for Dave and I. What another great night - no wonder we love this town.

28/02/2009 - Longmont. Overnight the temperature dropped to about -6 degrees (just a bit chilly) so of course as Murphy's law would have it - our batteries decided to stop working, (It has been three days since we hooked up to any power and we haven't ever thought about conserving any power - the furnce fan is the big power consumer) so we made a quick move closer to Peter's Townhouse - so we could connect to power. The next morning we decided to move to an RV Park so we could dump our tanks, refill our water and connect to electricity. We still have Peter's car and he has told us that we are still expected for breakfast every morning. Tonight we had been invited to yet another local's 40th birthday party for dinner and drinks and then over to the Tusk Bar. It was a fancy dress and you needed to wear an outfit that was in fashion the year you were born - so off to the Op Shop we go and for $10 we have both secured our outfits. We had left the Mercedes at Peter's place whilst we were moving Stubbie etc. So we caught a Taxi over to Sophia's (the birthday girl) house for yet another delicious meal (actually after some more thinking - I don't think that I could live in this town, I think I'd be huge). Peter had made yet another delicious meal - Lasagna. Their was also another South African dish made - the meat was cooked for a long time in the oven, the meat was just so tender it fell apart. So at about 9:00pm everyone starts heading over to Tusk. I have been wearing a pair of boots that have like a 4 inch high heel and are two sizes to big for me - so we head home. This again appears to be another ritual - you go to someones house for dinner and then at about 9:00pm everyone goes over to the local bar - how good is that, you have a good feed before you go out and if you are the host everyone is out of the house by about 9:00pm - I love it...

01/03/2009 - 02/03/2009 - After two big nights in a row for Peter, it was time to have a little rest so we watched a few videos, went over to his Mum's place for a late lunch and then Dave and I called it a day and went back to Stubbie for an early night. The next morning Peter, Dave and I, in Peter's Ford F350, drove up to Winter Park for a day of skiing / snowboarding. We met two friends of Peter's John and Kelso at the slopes. John does volunteer work at Winter Park and had organised free lift passes for all of us - fantastic. Peter, John, Kelso were all on skis whilst Dave and I were on the boards. We mentioned to the skiers that we are prepared to go anywhere, but would prefer not to do moguls or tracks. Well we had a warm up run, the first part was moguls but after that it was all good. They decided that we could handle the other side of the mountain, so we headed on over. The first part was a long track in which I fell over and then there was no hope of me boarding further, so I take my back foot out and I'm prepared to push (arghhhh). Peter comes to a stop right beside me and tells me to hop on the front of his skis, so with snowboard in hand, I hop on the front of Peter's ski and that's how I made it to the lift (it was about another 1 km). Peter had started skiing when he was about 2 - and it showed. After a couple more runs and a quick bite to eat my knee was starting to ache (and the Big Fella told me I was boarding like a Gumby) and Kelso had hurt his calf, so we decided to head back early and have a drink. It wasn't long and the rest of the crew arrived. We had a great day skiing/boarding. After the day on the slopes Dave drove Peter's car up to Steamboat were we met up with another couple of Peter's friends (Jonathon and Katherine). Jonathon and Katherine had so kindly agreed for us all to spend the next couple of nights with them. Peter cooks us another lovely meal and we have a couple of glasses of wine. Katherine was a professional Mountain Bike Rider and was once ranked no. 1 in the US. They have a beautiful dog named Boo who has one blue eye and one brown eye. He is a bit crazy (he was a rescue dog who had been mistreated) so it took him a little time to warm to everyone in the house. They are both so fit and all the food in their house is healthy and organic.

03/03/2009 - 04/03/2009 - Steamboat. Dave, Peter and I have decided to go for a little stroll into downtown Steamboat and then get half a day's skiing in. Steamboat is a really lovely town, it reminds us a bit of Banff in Canada - just a lot bigger. When talking to Jonathon he tells us that Steamboat is a town first which just happens to have a great ski field - apparently you come here for the Winter, but you stay for the Summer. The scenery in the Rockies is absolutely breathtaking. We have a lovely brunch in down town and then we head up to the Mountain. Jonathon works up the mountain in one of the bars, so after a few runs we head on up to the bar where Jonathon works. After a couple of drinks we ask Jonathon for the bill and he says that he does recieve a few freebie drinks and that these drinks are on him - what great people. The snow was a little slushy and slow as they had been receiving some unusually hot weather - none the lesss we still had a great day. That evening it was Jonathon's turn to cook another lovely meal - we do offer to take them out for dinner - but no he prefers to stay home and cook - so all we need to do is supply some more wine. We hope to see Jonathon and Katherine again either in Colorado or back in Australia. We said our goodbyes and headed off. Peter took us on a bit of a sightseeing drive around the Rockies and some of the other ski fields. Dave and I were both really surprised at the number of ski fields that are in this area. It was an absolutely breath taking drive. That evening yet again Peter cooked us another great meal. Once again we did offer to take him out for dinner but yet again he said that he would prefer to cook, as when he goes out he invariably gets disappointed - how fantastic and all I need to do is stack the dishwasher - he is also a very clean cook. Dave did tell Peter that he would cook Friday night - I never opened my mouth.

05/03/2009 - Today we went for a quick trip down to the Red Rock Amphitheatre and park and then for a quick drive into Denver. The Red Rock Amphitheatre was really quite spectacular with many well knows stars like the Beatles etc. playing here. It would be a fantastic place to go to a concert. Unfortunately the photos don't do the Armphitheatre justice, the true brillant color red of the rocks has to be seen to be believed.We went for a quick drive through Denver and then we headed on back to Peter's place.

06/03/2009 - 07/02/2009 - Longmont. Today is our last full day before we head off, so we do a few things to get ourselves organised to leave tomorrow. Tonight Dave has cooked a really lovely meal which we shared (along with a few bottles of wine) with Peter. The evening was just getting to much for the Big Fella and he needed to have a little party nap. The next morning we packed up and headed on over to Peter's place - to take him out for a late Breakfast - apparently this is the only meal that Peter enjoys going out for. Peter's Mum, Step-Father and Grandmother all come over to say goodbye. It was a sad morning, but hopefully we will catch up with Peter when we get to Alaska in May / June. Peter has been just so generous and hospitable, that one day we hope that we will be able to show him the same type of generousity and hospitality.

07/02/2009 - Today we started heading over to Aspen. Of course in the area we are in they have been having record highs - but not today - a snow storm has swept in. The Big Fella was very nervous driving as this was Stubbie's very first experience of driving in the snow. We did have some chains in the boot if we got into any trouble, but Dave just took it very easy and we made it safely to our next overnight stop at an RV Park in Glenwood Canyon - Wow. The scenery was just magnificent - I know I've said it before but the Rocky Mountains are just breathtaking - so much more than what I had expected. We had a great nights sleep.

08/02/2009 - Today we headed up to Aspen to have a look around the town and to get a few trail maps, the drive from the Glenwood Canyon to Aspen was spectacular, the houses around Aspen are huge and magnificant. There are 4 mountains - Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass - from the maps and talking to some of the locals we decided that tomorrow we will head on up to Snowmass. We had a nice relaxing day wandering around the streets of Aspen and taking in some of the signs. Aspen is definitely for the wealthy for example the gas / petrol is about another $1.00 a gallon and some of the shops looked like we couldn't even afford to step inside. We drove to the free car park and settled in for the evening.

09/02/2009 - Snowmass / Aspen. Wow what a fantastic ski field, by far the most impressive that I have ever seen. We had an amazing day, snowboarding and taking in the brilliant views. After a great days skiing we need to keep moving so drive for about 2 hours and decide to settle into an RV park at Fruita, Colorado. Once again the drive was just magificent, following the Coloroado River through the mountains and canyons. This RV park has cable and laundry facilities so it looks like we will settle in for a couple of nights.

10/02/2009 - 11/02/2009 - Fruita, Colorado. I really misjudged how much the Big Fella had missed watching a bit of English TV. It was after 1:00 before the King got out of bed - just in time for lunch. I was summoned a couple of times to bring in the coffee. A rest well earned.

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