Last Friday, our friends Jaclyn and Willie invited us to see an American event that we had not previously even really been aware of; the Toughest Monster Truck Tour. My words cannot possibly do justice to just how fantastically American this event was, but I will do my best:
It took place in an Ice Hockey arena where local Colorado team “The Eagles” play in a town south of Fort Collins called Loveland. Before the event even started, everyone stood up and sang the National anthem towards a big US flag, then the announcer made all the Veterans in the audience stand up and have a round of applause from the audience for protecting our freedom. We were surprised and impressed by the patriotism (considering most English people don’t even know the words to the 2nd and 3rd verses of God Save The Queen) and we thought the applause was very sweet, although neither of us knew the words to the anthem!
Anyway, the trucks themselves were massive, like really really big and impressive:
Size: 10 ft high, 12 ft wide, 18 ft long
Weight: 9,500 lbs (roughly 3 mini coopers, and even the tires weight 500 kilos!)
Fuel: Methanol (56 yards to the gallon!)
572 cu in Ford Racing V8 engine, with a 871 BDS supercharger, in a Ford F150 body.
The sound was ridiculous and everyone had earmuffs on. Also the cars were really getting through fuel, so the whole arena smelt of weird nitro/alcohol fumes. We were lucky enough to see the tour championship and see 6 Monster Trucks (Big Foot, Quad Chaos, Heavy Hitter, Over Bored, Dirt Crew and Dawg Pound) perform three challenges;
A knockout race for fastest Truck:
And a freestyle round featuring some fantastic air:
The eventual winner – Big Foot 22 driven by Dan Runte – stormed the show and won his 5th consecutive championship (Big Foot is also the original Monster Truck so that was pretty cool), although he might have been beaten by 2nd place ‘Heavy Hitter’ had its front left tire not become detached from the axle half way through his freestyle performance!
Not wishing to let people’s adrenaline return to safe levels at half time, we were treated to a BMX and Freestyle Motocross show featuring some cool BMX backflips (which we didn’t get a picture of) and some pretty impressive Motocross stunts:
My favourite was actually this one below. The resolution isn’t great, but the driver us actually lead down on his bike with his hands behind his head like he is napping:
How is one expected to get a decent night’s sleep after all that excitement?
You’ve almost reached the end of our adventures with the extra Channons, but we definitely have some more great pictures to show you before we’re done. After our week skiing we all headed back to Fort Collins, so that we could show Barry and Margaret our wonderful town.
As you may know we adore Fort Collins, so we were very keen to show them the sights. As well as that our local area has a staggering number of things to see, so there was plenty to keep us all busy.
First, we went to see Estes Park which we have visited previously. We had a great time even though everything was still very much under 50 inches of snow, including visiting this awesome frozen waterfall:
Not pictured in the shot is the small child that was sitting behind the waterfall refusing to come out. The two people on the left are the concerned parents, who were trying to convince their son to stop trying to knock icicles above his head…
Still, it was a beautiful day! We enjoyed a life of contradiction, spending the first half of the walk around tutting at people being loud whilst we quietly watched the wonderful birds, including several of these pretty guys:
We then decided we’d had our fill of sophistication and birds and started lobbing snowballs at each other and making a right scene. Heartwarmingly, we managed to inspire a Sri Lankan family who were visiting and had never conceived of such an idea! They started having a big snow ball fight of their own and seemed to have a great time. I’m ashamed to say I was most definitely not the winner of our showdown, but I did get a couple of great shots in! Tired out, we walked around and enjoyed the rest of the park in a more sedate and respectable manor:
As well as Estes Park, we went further south to see Manitou Springs (a very cute town) and Garden of the Gods. Both were excellent, despite the scorching hot weather! You can feel that summer is starting to kick in a little now, so hats all round.
It was very pretty, and we walked around the town for a while before stopping for lunch. Our lunch included some of the local spring water that the town is famous for, which tasted very fresh and lovely! I also finally caved and bought a Cowboy hat to keep me cool, which is actually extremely practical at keeping the sun off my face. I love it so 🙂
After Manitou Springs we went just around the corner to Garden of the Gods, an amazing national park.
Garden of the Gods is quite unusual in that it features a lot of tall and strange rock features, often features which seem very unlikely. Here is one of the most famous views, the balancing rock:
It was hard to get far enough away to take the picture properly, but needless to say it’s a pretty big rock balancing on a pretty small one!
With all these rocks around climbing was inevitable, and extremely good fun:
Selfies were of course also inevitable, but we had to wait until Barry wasn’t watching so that he couldn’t be disappointed in us…
We also spent far longer hiking than expected! We parked the car so that we could step out and have a quick look and ended up hiking for well over an hour. It really was gorgeous. Here are just a few of these wonderful sights:
So yes, super pretty and a new must visit spot for us to take visitors to!
Sadly despite our best efforts and wonderful tours we didn’t manage to convince the parents to illegally defect and stay in Fort Collins forever, so they are now safely back in the UK. That said it was a magical two weeks and we had such a good time, so we’re looking forward to convincing them to visit again soon!
Sorry to keep you waiting so long on part two! We have been far too busy having fun with Barry and Margaret, but will be catching up on our blogging this weekend 🙂
So, back to Steamboat! At the end of the last blog we’d just returned from Dinosaur, so were ready to get back to skiing. Or more accurately the boys were going to go skiing, and Margaret and I were going to see the sights!
The first wonderful sight that we saw was Strawberry Springs, arguably the most famous hot springs in Steamboat. These are natural hot springs up in the mountains that have been carefully structured to provide pools of spring water at a range of temperatures for lovely bathing. They are awesome:
You can see the big main pool in the foreground is only very slightly heated (and so is slightly iced over) whereas the raised pool is steaming quite a lot. You may also notice that outside of the springs was rather chilly, which made the prospect of putting on a tiny bikini and running through the snow towards the pool a little daunting. Still, bravely we entered the pool!
The walk down to the pool may be the coldest I have ever been, and first entering the springs was probably the hottest. The ambient temperature was about 20°F (-7°C) and the hot spring shown was at 105°F (41°C). I use Fahrenheit because it sounds way more impressive to say that there was an 85°F temperature increase, although now that I think of it a sudden 48°C temperature increase also sounds like a lot!
Anyway, once we were in it was absolutely beautiful. The springs are very remote so it was nice and quiet, and there are lots of little waterfalls that feed the pools into each other so you can hear them bubbling away, as well as the lovely birds that were flitting around. The only thing that could, and did, drag me away was the hour long massage provided in the naturally heated stone grotto. The grotto also had some of the hot spring water running through and under it, so you had more soothing sounds and nice warm stone underfoot. We even, bravely, did a cold plunge! Here we are after a few hours, looking very relaxed and rosy:
So yes, lovely! Meanwhile, the boys were shooting around on the mountains doing increasingly crazy runs through the trees in the very deep snow. It snowed about 16 inches while we were there, so it was at some points knee deep!
But fear not, our boys still were still skiing beautifully while Margaret and I were hard at work relaxing.
On seeing this pictures I did ask them if they were just lost, but they assure me that this is what advanced, off piste skiing looks like and that they were very capable of handling it. Although the next few pictures suggested otherwise!
We did laugh at the pictures of the fall, and then had a lot of fun playing the picture in reverse so that instead of slowly getting out from under the tree it looks like Barry slowly crawls under and buries himself. Perhaps he leant many things from George the mouse! But teasing aside this was the only fall during three days of extremely difficult skiing, so we were very impressed 🙂 Rob also fell over, but I’m afraid you will have to contact Barry for these pictures!
It was very nice and sunny on the last day, so Marg and I got the Gondola up the mountain to meet the boys for lunch and very well deserved beers:
And Marg was sensible whilst I had a poorly chosen Sangria:
The boys then returned to their shenanigans, and Marg and I had a short walk around the top of the mountain which was extremely beautiful!
We then had what was some of the most fun I’ve ever had, which was the Gondola ride back down the mountain! It is a great tribute to Margaret that she did not insist on riding in a separate carriage as I squealed like a child and threw my arms around. It was a lot like a rollercoaster – the carriage starts moving in the bay, then the floor drops away and it accelerates wildly! I had far too much of a good time:
And obviously, it was completely beautiful the whole way down. It was so much fun that, with Marg’s reluctant permission, once we got to the bottom of the Gondola I insisted on going round again. Since having an English accent in the US is a little like having a superpower, the guy very kindly let us go around twice.
I was so happy. Although a little embarrassed when I had to explain to the boys why our 20 minute trip home took just under an hour! Still, worth it. It turns out the boys also had a fun journey down, meeting/ almost crashing into two Moose on the way!
These were excellent pictures and we were very impressed and jealous. We also debated how to pluralize a collective of Moose for some time. I was sticking to my guns with “A bunch of Mooses” but sadly common sense prevailed with the relatively dull “A herd of Moose”.
For dinner, after a tiring week all round, we went to an amazing Steakhouse for dinner called 8th Street Steakhouse.
This was a very fun place, were you actually cook your own steak on the big hot grill provided. As someone who works in food safety this was a little alarming for me, but so much fun! They had a butcher style counter where you pick your steak, and the lovely New York man talks you through each one. Luckily the lovely New York man tells you how to cook your steak in great detail, so that you don’t fluff it up. Next, you head to the grill!
And then, at least in our case, you have a whale of a time taking silly pictures while waiting for the steak to cook:
We were doing very little to off-set the stereotype that all British people are silly. Eventually, our steaks were cooked and we could enjoy them. I was very proud of my effort, and enjoyed the steak all the more for it.
At the end of the night we managed to squeeze in a little dessert, and then back to the condo to pass out. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful week!
The next morning, we packed our bags and headed back to sunny Fort Collins to show our parents the town we love so much. Stay tuned for our sunnier escapades, which will be up very shortly! Thank you for reading 🙂