Moab – Part Three!

Hi All,

Welcome to the third and final part of our Moab weekend!

On our final full day we went to the spectacular Monument Valley, down at the Utah – Arizona border. It was just over a two hour drive, but most definitely worth the time spent.

First stop, Mexican Hat! This is a rock feature just to the North of Monument Valley, so named because it looks like a person wearing a Sombrero. Observe…

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As well as the resemblance to a person in a sombrero, Mexican Hat also continues our theme of unlikely rock formations that seem very precariously balanced. We stood to view it for a while, and then continued to admire it whilst enjoying the jam doughnuts that we bought with us for the journey.

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Om nom nom ❤

After our doughnuts and scene viewing we continued on, and got our first view of Monument Valley…

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Woo!

It’s very remote, and you can see the large monuments from a long way out. It’s a very iconic scene that features in lots of movies and posters, and it was very exciting to see it in person 🙂

We drove slowly closer towards it, and stopped to take many, many pictures on the way. We also stopped off at one of the Navajo jewellery shops on the side of the road, since the Navajo in the area are famous for amazing silver and turquoise jewellery. We picked up some beautiful jewellery and had a nice chat with the people there, which was a strong start to the visit!

Here is another shot of three of the large monuments, with some teeny cars and people in the foreground to give you the scale:

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My favorite formations were the East and Western Mitten Buttes, which are the two large monoliths off to the right. These looks quite a lot like hands, and are considered to be like the hands of a deity protecting the valley.

To continue exploring the area properly we next headed in to the Navajo Tribal Park. This allows you to donate to the culture and see restricted areas of the park, included the 17 mile Valley Drive between the monuments. As a bonus it’s a little less touristy than most areas, and in theory looks basically the same as it did 3,000 years ago.

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Okay, the flags are new…

We got in our car and set off driving down the extremely bumpy road. No tarmac for the Tribal Park, just big bumpy dirt roads that you could only access if you had an SUV. Thank goodness we were renting, our poor Subaru would most definitely not have made it!

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I wish I had stunning facts for you, but as with the previous parks what you see is pretty much what you get! Everything was massive and beautiful and remote and I loved it – I think these red stone scenes and mesas are my favorite type of landscape, even more so than the lovely mountains and lakes of Colorado (dare I say it).

After fully exploring the park and having our bones thoroughly shaken up by the drive we headed back to Moab for the evening! We had a very tasty meal, and then got to try our hand at some night time photography… We headed back into the Arches, and sat under the window arch to watch the sun set. A very relaxing evening! I managed to get a few pictures in the semi-darkness, which I was quite pleased with:

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My first stars!

But clearly still a long way to go with the night photography, since I couldn’t really get any pictures once it got much darker. I will continue to practice, and hopefully have some better photos to show you soon!

The next day we said a sad goodbye to lovely Moab, and headed back to Fort Collins. On the way though we stopped into Breckenridge, which is a very nice and very well known Ski Resort. Unlike a lot of ski resorts though, Breckenridge is big enough and awesome enough that it continues to be an excellent place to visit all year round despite the lack of snow.

We walked around the town looking in the various shops and art galleries for an hour or so, and I treated myself to what was a truly ridiculous Iced Raspberry Mocha at a French Bakery in town:

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Literally translates to ‘The French’…

It’s hard to see in the picture, but it was basically a very nice iced mocha with a few scoops of freshly made raspberry mousse on top. There are no pictures of me actually consuming it, since this happened too quickly for photographs to capture.

After some more walking around town, we finished the holiday in the truly excellent Breckenridge Brewery. We have had a few of the Breckenridge Brewery beers before since they’re available at a few places in Fort Collins, so we were very excited to see the original Brewery!

As with all things Breckenridge, it turned out to be extremely cute…

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We drank a range of drinks, including Avalanche and Agave Wheat, both of which you must try if you get the opportunity. We also split a large plate of very tasty looking chicken wings, which were exactly as messy to eat as you would expect!

All in all, a magnificent long weekend 🙂

More soon! xx

Moab – Part Two!

Hi Again,

On to our second day in Moab, we continue to explore the beautiful mesas of Utah!

Whilst Rob and I have visited Moab a few times before these have only ever been quite short visits, so we’ve only seen a little of the town and the Arches National Park. Just a little way further out is Canyonlands National Park, which we’d heard is spectacular but never visited. Like Arches, Canyonlands is very accurately named!

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Canyon time!

The park itself is massive, at 527 miles squared, so we only visited the North side of the park which is called ‘Island in the Sky’.

As with Arches, capturing the scale is basically impossible. Zooming in on the above picture gives you a little more idea of the scale, but only slightly…

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Much canyon

For scale, the first level below (the White Rim) is 1,200 ft down, and the lower canyon goes down another 1,000 ft.

We loved it, and took many pictures!

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Thank goodness for my husband and his long arms ❤

As with the Arches we did a nice mix of short walks and stopping at viewpoints, although mercifully we abstained from doing any longer hikes since the heat was still a toasty 105oF… Rest assured we were well marinaded in both sun cream and bug spray, and weighed down with plenty of ice water!

Let the short hikes through the sand begin…

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Our fist stop was one of the most famous views from the park, the lovely Mesa arch. Not as big as the Arches from the first day, but it does frame a view of the canyons very nicely. We got a few nice pictures, and managed not to fall off the completely-unfenced-off-in-any-way canyon edge!

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It’s not tooooo far down…

It’s hard to get the scale of the canyons, but it is very easy to get a beautiful picture. The colours are just stunning, and the sky is very blue so high up. Once we finished our photography and battled off the strong sense of vertigo we continued off on our short hike. A very sweaty two miles total, then back to the car for the sweet, sweet touch of the air conditioning!

After cooling off we soldiered on, over to the Green River viewpoint. The Green River, which flows into the Colorado River, is a beautiful 730 mile long river that runs in part through the canyon. It’s a pretty massive river, but looks rather small from the viewpoint…

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Can you see it??

We gaped at this in awe again a little longer, and then on to the next viewpoint! And it’s a good one…

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Ooh!

This viewpoint overlooked White Rim Road, which you can see in this picture is the narrow, winding road that absolutely does not look safe in any way. We discussed it briefly and agreed that regardless of what the road led to, we didn’t want to see it. Happily though at this viewpoint we saw the first fence we’d seen all day, so decided that we were willing to get close enough to the edge to get a team photo:

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It’s not the sturdiest of fences, but at least it was there!

A little further round were what were technically fences, but could more accurately be described as little piles of wood…

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Happily the great view mostly made up for the sharp drop!

After our little walks and our great views we were ready for some refreshments, but unfortunately for us the National Parks Service here in America generally doesn’t provide snacks in the parks as a way of cutting down on littering. This is probably a good thing overall, but at the time we were hungry hungry hippos!

Fortunately, a gift from the gods. We left Canyonlands National Park to explore the nearby Dead Horse State Park, and were delighted to see that they had a food truck parked at the entrance! We pretty much threw our wallets at the truck, and refreshments were purchased.

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Plus a bench in the shade! Bliss!!

After drinking as much Coke as we could manage and then rubbing the cold cans on our faces, we headed on to actually explore the park that we’d come to see.

The name of the park is probably the least appealing name I’ve ever heard for anything, but the park itself is very nice! There were no dead horses anywhere we could see, so hopefully all was well…

The main attraction of the park is the viewpoint at Dead Horse Point, which is stunning as promised. Again, brace for pictures!

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The sun was just starting to go down at this point so the lighting was stunning, and you can see in the picture above at it was raining way off in the distance. Behind the rain on the left you can see the La Sal mountains, and just in the front you can see the salt drying pools. As well as that Green River makes an appearance again on the right!

These were stunning views, and we stood and stared. I confess I was briefly distracted from the stunning views by this extremely cute Chipmunk who was having a nap under a rock, but look at his little face. I couldn’t resist…

Such, such cuteness.

We went on another short walk along the viewpoint, and got to see some slightly better views of the salt pools, which are a really excellent shade of blue.

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You can see that the rain is now really coming down on the mountains! They’re almost completely obscured.

Last picture! Although again, I have about 1,000 more should you want to them 😉

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Once we were done being amazed we got back into our car and headed back to town. Next thing to see, Monument Valley!

Until next time…

 

Moab – Part One!

Hi all,

We’ve just come back from an excellent long weekend away in the lovely town of Moab, Utah, so strap in and get ready for some beautiful pictures! Barry & Margaret are visiting us from England, so we took the opportunity to show them one of our favorite places in the US.

Moab is at a similar altitude to Fort Collins, but is over the boarder and on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. It takes about six hours to drive over there, but luckily it’s a very scenic drive that takes us past several famous ski towns (including Vail, Breckenridge and Frisco) as well as many spectacular views. The town itself is quite remote and surrounded by amazing landscapes, most of which we managed to visit during this trip.

First things first though, on arrival we headed straight to lunch at one of our favorite locations – the spectacular Moab Brewery:

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Very eccentric decorations, as well as delicious food and beer! As an extra bonus there is a signed Joe Biden (Obama’s vice president) picture on the wall from his visit here where he declares “this place rocks”.

After eating our tasty lunch and drinking several pints of ice water we headed over to the Arches National Park. We’ve visited it a few times before so apologies for the repetition, but hopefully our fancy new camera will give you some previously unseen views…

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Oooooooooh…

As always it’s very hard to capture the epic scale and the stunning colors, but alas I must try. Something that did give a glimpse of the scale was the crow helpfully sitting on top of the balancing rock…

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The balancing rock is the one to the left, so named because the top part of the rock seems to be very precariously balancing on the bottom. Can you see the crow?

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There it is!

So yes, if you like big red rocks this is the park for you!

After admiring the scenic rocks we drove further into the park for a hike. Unfortunately I was on antibiotics at the time so decided to have a sleep in the car rather than hike around in the 105oF heat, but Rob bravely carried on and kept taking pictures.

They hiked all the way over to the famous delicate Arch, and got some lovely shots!

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You can just see the La Sal mountains in the background, looking rather spectacular, as well as the big bowl in front of the arch itself.

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Stunning as always, with the blue skies and the red rocks.  The park itself is massive (almost 120 sq miles) and the views on the hike back to the car park continued to impress…

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On returning to the car park they drank several more pints of water (seriously, it was so hot!), woke me up and we headed off to see some of the more accessible arches. On the way we saw this little lizard friend, who was also hiding out from the heat…

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New game – name that lizard!

After pressing our faces against the cold air in the car we headed on, and saw the Skyline Arch for the first time!

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This was in a much more remote section of the park, so it was wonderfully empty and quiet. Many pictures were taken, and much scenery was enjoyed!

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We continued our exploring late into the afternoon, with our body temperatures slow approached those of Johnny Storm.

(+10 points for anyone who gets that reference! I couldn’t resist 😉 )

Eventually the park closed and we returned to the hotel for very cold showers and more attempted hydration.

That evening we went out to the delicious Steak restaurant in town, called the Moab Grill. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures since I was too busy stuffing my little face with a big steak and local beer, both of which were very delicious! Barry and Margaret treated us, for which we will be eternally grateful 🙂

That night we rested well, ready for more adventures in part two…

More soon!

Horsetooth Falls!

Hi All,

You’ll be pleased to hear that we’re continuing with our healthy weekend hikes! This weekend we decided to try the Horsetooth Falls hike, since we’ve heard great things but never been. Happily this is also a relatively short hike, since it’s 10 billion degrees and we’re still not quite hardcore enough to walk ten miles uphill in such conditions.

Once we layered ourselves in our bug spray/ sun tan, we were off! It’s a pretty hike, and we were treated to nice views almost immediately:

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I think the net elevation change throughout the hike is only about 300ft, but it did seem to go up and down quite a lot! We bravely hiked up and down the slopes, and were also treated to very nice views overlooking the town:

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You can just see a patch of water in the picture above, which is the Horsetooth Reservoir. It was very pretty, despite the fact that there were an absolutely obscene number of people boating about. It turns out that a large number of people in Fort Collins own their own boats, and I’m still surprised whenever I see people casually driving their boats through town.

Before long, we reached the top of the waterfall!

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That meant two things, if you’re doing hiking properly…

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Selfies!

And…

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Snack break!

My wonderful husband packed Cheese and Crackers, so we snaffled these down while resting our legs. We also drank plenty of water, because hydration is king! Before long though, we set off again…

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“Get Moving!”

We walked back along the stream at the top of the rocks, which feeds into the waterfall. I was very excited to see that there were some butterflies sunning themselves by the water, since it made for some fun picture taking opportunities!

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Aced it

As well as the butterflies, the pools themselves were very pretty.

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I would absolutely have gone splashing around in them if I wasn’t slightly worried about accidentally falling over the edge… Maybe next time!

After we were satisfied with pretty views we headed down to the bottom of the waterfall, so that we could actually see the mighty waterfall for which this path is named!

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Hmm…

Possibly this is not the optimal time of year for waterfall viewing, but the sound was very soothing nonetheless!

On the way back we were treated to some more open spaces and beautiful views:

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Then before we knew it we were back to the car, and ready to head home. This open space is also the home of the famous Horsetooth Rock, which is the next hike we’re hoping to do. This hike is a more challenging six miles, with a cheeky 1,761ft of elevation gain! Possibly one to try out on the visitors 😉

This weekend is Independence Day here in the US, so we have a lovely four day break which includes Rob’s Birthday! More fun to follow!

Xx

Red Rocks!

Hi Again,

As you may have guessed from the blog title, we’ve finally got around to visiting Red Rocks!

The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a large, naturally occurring amphitheatre not far from Denver that is very famous both as a music venue and a park full of beautiful views. Famous musicians who have played there include Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and my personal favorite Tool, but this is naming just a few!

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At 6,450 ft above sea level the Beatles apparently needed oxygen tanks, poor things!

As you can tell from the picture Red Rocks has been around for quite a while, the amphitheatre opened in 1941 and has had regular concerts since 1947. The actual amphitheatre is of course considerably older, and as well as the great views the park is a great place to check out fossils! As an extra bonus Red Rocks is the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in existence, and was once listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

As you can imagine we were pretty hyped to check it out, although we were a little wary of the weather which our car assured us was very hot:

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Noooooooooooooooo…

The park has very little shade and the thin air at altitude means that you burn and dehydrate very quickly, but what is life without challenge! We rounded up a lot of water, and slathered on sun screen as fast as we could:

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Never before have two people put so much trust in a product…

After gearing up, we were off! Between the sun screen, the bug spray and the fact that we were immediately very sweaty we felt a little like we were being marinated, but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment of our arrival one bit. As promised, it is BEAUTIFUL 🙂

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❤ ❤ ❤

The visibility is ridiculous, if you look off in the distance in the picture above you can see Denver in the background (zoomed in below):

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The two largest monoliths surrounding the seating area for the concert are Ship Rock and Creation Rock, both of which are over 300 ft tall! The third monolith is Stage Rock, which as you can imagine is behind the stage. It’s hard to get the scale in the picture, but rest assured they’re pretty spectacular.

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I should also mention the crazy people that you can see in this picture… as you may know people in Colorado are in insanely good shape, and part of this is because exercise is just so popular as a form of recreation. It’s apparently a fun local activity to start the day with a run up and down the amphitheatre steps, or to run the length of each step in turn before going up to the next one. It was way too hot to be doing such a thing, but power to them!

We checked out the views by walking down some of the steps, and tried not to think about the time when we’d have to walk back up.

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There was a truly excellent statue of John Denver at the start of the trail that we had to stop and get a few pictures with…

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It’s missing something…
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Perfection!

Once we got the pictures, we were off!

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Mercifully we decided to do the shorter of the two trails, so our hike was a mere two miles. The second hike is a brave six miles, so we’ll wait until it cools down a bit for that! On our scenic hike we saw the usual beautiful things:

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Stunning rocks!
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Blue Skies!
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Birds!

I will say that while the last of those was definitely beautiful, the bird was not very relaxing. It looked a bit like a vulture and was circling the area, possibly waiting for the weaker hikers to drop off the trail and be eaten. It definitely had an eye of us…

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“Are you running low on water yet?”

…but happily this story does not end up with us being devoured by predatory birds.

After a great walk we got back to the base of the stairs:

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Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo….

But before long we were back! We finished the hike with a quick victory selfie (in which my husband managed to catch me off guard with a bad joke) and with that done we were ready to be inside.

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As you can see I was somehow redder than the rocks…

Before heading out we decided to see the Red Rocks hall of fame, which is quite reminiscent of Hard Rock Cafe, and documents famous musicians who have played the venue.

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It also has some large fake instruments on the wall that we had great fun pretending to play…

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Mad skills

As well as merchandise donated by various bands. One band in particular gets a special mention!

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I love Tool so much you guys

After one final look at the stage we got back into our boiling hot car and headed home! It was a sweaty day, but definitely a fun one 😀

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More soon! Xx

A Day in the Life of Unemployment

Hi All,

Sorry for the delay in new blog posts! We’ve been hard at working trying to find a new job (in my case) or be awesome at the job we have (Rob’s case) which sadly has not left much time for adventures! We’re doing what we can to line up some excitement soon though – suggestions always welcome – and in the meantime I thought I’d give you a sneak peak of how I’m spending my days now that I’m temporarily without employment.

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m not just sitting on my butt watching Netflix, especially now that the weather is getting nice and hot! The temperature is hovering around 25°C – 30°C with the lack of humidity making it feel extra toasty 🙂 Because of this the last few weeks have actually been a fun mix of house cleaning, long awaited task doing and getting out and about.

My day today started very nicely with brunch with some lady friends at a restaurant in town called Avogadro’s Number, which is located near the University:

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Because of course it is

As well as having a great name Avogadro’s has a very nice sheltered back patio so that you can enjoy your food out in the sun without getting burnt.

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The food was super tasty, I had a vegetarian lasagna and a large coffee both of which I snaffled right down. We talked, we hung out, we caffeinated – solid way to start a day!

After brunch I spend some time back at home doing boring grown up things:

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Clean kitchen – check!
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Laundry – half check!

I wouldn’t say our house is spotless by a long spot, but at least it’s a little cleaner that it was this morning!

I’m also babysitting some guinea pigs for our friend for a few days, so I made sure to feed those chubby little guys:

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So chubby!

The feeding was then of course closely followed by snuggles with the tiny friends, and letting them work off some of that chub by running around the apartment.

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Disclaimer: at no point did they approach anything even near a run, but they did try and nibble my nose…

After that I went over to another friends house for an excellent afternoon of video games! We sold our game console before moving over here so it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve even touched an Xbox, and my goodness it felt great to break that streak.

We rocked out playing Call of Duty Black Ops 3, the latest in a series which is partly famous for it’s ‘Nazi Zombies’ side game. Yes, that’s what it sounds like – you get to shoot Nazi Zombies while running around trying not to get eaten. I think the idea is that you’re doubly justified in shooting them, which may or may not be how morality works. Either way, it’s truly magical:

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Pictured: Relaxation!

I should take a minute here to mention some good news – I have successfully lined up a new job! Not just a new job – an EXCELLENT job 🙂 🙂

I’m going to be working for a company called Penton who basically do marketing for marketeers, so gathering lots of data on the industries that they may need, and then putting together reports based on that. My job will be to make sure that the relevant part of that data is organized and accessible, which I know sounds a little dull to the layman but to a spreadsheet nerd like me it’s a dream come true 😉

As a bonus the team look completely awesome, and they have a history of celebrating all major holidays with bring-your-dog-to-the-office-in-fancy-dress competitions. I’ve suggested to Rob that this means that we need to get a puppy of our own, but he remains unconvinced.

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What monster doesn’t want to be part of this??

So yes, I start next week! Whoop whoop 🙂

More soon! Real excitement next time, we promise!

Learning to Home Brew!

Hello again!

As you know we’re loving life here in Fort Collins, and Fort Collins is an amazing town. While here we’re trying to enjoy as much of the local experience as possible, and so we decided to give one of the major past-times a try – home brewing! Despite the fact that there are an insane number of local breweries lots of people also try their hand at brewing their own beer, as well as the occasional wine/ moonshine.

First things first, we had to buy the equipment. Not much is needed for home brewing since there are really just two main steps – boil it all up and then leave it to sit for a while 🙂 For the boiling we just needed to buy a large enough pot, and a thermometer to monitor everything; For the fermenting we needed a storage container, an airlock and a second thermometer. Finally, a siphon to move the beer between containers and sanitizer to keep everything nice and clean. Generally people make beer in five gallon batches, although we decided to just do little one gallon batches to start with. This is quicker so it lets us do more experimentation and means that we’re not spending lots of money on ingredients if our beer is going to taste weird 😉

This brings us to part two – buying the ingredients! Again, this is fairly straightforward. To make beer you need malt extract (or grain, if you’re feeling fancy), hops, yeast and water. We started off nice and easy using malt extract, which meant that we could skip the whole business of extracting malt extract directly from the grain. Don’t worry though, we have given that a go since.

And now for the hard part – actually making the beer! First things first, get a pot of water and get it boiling. While doing this you want to weight out your malt extract, which is kind of like treacle in consistency:

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Mix that into the boiling water, and make sure everything is nicely blended. This then boils away for an hour, and you add hops throughout the boil depending on what kind of flavor you’re going for. For this recipe, which is an Amber Ale, we need to add hops right at the start and then some more right at the end:

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Hops!

 

I wish I could somehow convey the smell of the hops through this blog, because they smell amazing. This made up for the fact that the hops look very much like rabbit pellets…

Once we’d thrown a few hops into the mixture and got the thermometer set up (all of which made my inner Chemist very happy) we left it to boil away for a little while:

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Again, this smelt truly amazing ❤

We start off with about two gallons of liquid boiling away, and this boils down to just one gallon over the hour. Once it’s all boiled down you throw in the rest of the hops, give it another five minutes and then move the whole thing over to some ice water to cool right down:

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The ice melted immediately, damn this heat

It’s kind of hard to see in the picture but the resulting liquid is now pretty cloudy and not looking that great. This is why you need to be careful while filtering, to make sure you don’t end up with an overly chewy beer…

Whilst the beer is filtering you get to sanitize everything else that is going to be used, since you definitely want to avoid getting any foreign bacteria in the mixture. These will result in a bad tasting final result, and if you’re very unlucky the extra gas production may cause the whole thing to explode. Not ideal in a rented apartment, so we sanitized hard! After that we siphoned the beer over to the container…

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The face of confidence…

We then checked the alcohol content to make sure that we weren’t going to accidentally blind ourselves, and continued to cool the whole thing:

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The beer really needs to be kept below about 25oC while fermenting so that the yeast doesn’t die, which is not that easy when the ambient temperature is 30oC…

Once the beer finally cooled down we put the airlock in and left it, and it now needs to sit in the dark for a few weeks to figure itself out! After two weeks fermenting we take the airlock out and replace it with a seal so that the beer can carbonate, and voila.

Fingers crossed we get a tasty final result, so watch this space!

 

 

Casa Bonita!

We’ve been very lucky that during our time in the States we’ve gotten to see some really amazing places, and some places that are truly unique. Casa Bonita was both, but also somehow a total mess… There really aren’t the words to describe the experience, but nonetheless we will do our best!

For those who don’t know Casa Bonita is a Mexican Restaurant for families near Denver that was made famous after it featured in an episode of South Park. It was already quite well known (for reasons that will become clear) but the South Park episode was extremely funny and portrayed it as a place of true lunacy. We’d been meaning to go for a while, despite the fact that the food is widely regarded as some of the worst in Colorado, so we mentioned it to Pete and Jonno who were both very excited to find out that it was a real place.

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Surely such a place can’t exist?

It does. It exists.

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As you can imagine we did not have a lot of trouble spotting it from the road, and we were impressed right away!

We’d read a little about Casa Bonita before going, and the first thing that was surprising was the capacity. Casa Bonita seats over 1000 people at once, and the entrance to Casa Bonita is not unlike a theme park. We walked a little way to the first till, and placed an order for our meal. We then walked even further in order to pick up our meal, and then carried that over to a server who told us where to sit. Strangely the advice we’d been given from friends was to avoid actually eating anything that you ordered, and to instead just consider it the price of entry into Casa Bonita. If we absolutely did want to eat they suggested either ordering something not-Mexican (odd, for a Mexican restaurant) or ordering something so cheap you wouldn’t be disappointed. It became clear why when we saw our food appear through what we named ‘the food hole’:

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Oh dear

Undeterred we carried our plates over to the server, and requested a table near the waterfall. Oh, did I mention? There is a freaking waterfall in the middle of the restaurant:

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?!

It’s no excuse for a waterfall either, it’s a ridiculous 30 foot high. The waterfall then leads into the diving pool, into which Cliff Divers jump every 15 minutes or so. Again, yes, you read that correctly.

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Woo!

We had a great timing watching Bo the cliff diver do his thing. There weren’t many people eating and Americans love participation so we had a great time yelling out our dive requests, although our lack of dive knowledge meant that the requests were generally either ‘front flip’ or ‘back flip’.

As promised the food was truly awful, and the very strong smell of chlorine from the pool wasn’t a big help. There was a lot of it though!

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Both at the start of the meal, and once we were done

The highlight was probably the Sopapillas, which are little pastry pillows that you eat with honey. The flag on the table was excellent – you raised it if you wanted attention, or if you needed anything refilled. Here is Rob using the flag to cover his mouth so that he’s not tempted to even try and eat any more:

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‘Server, please please take this food away’

After the food came the true treat, which was exploring the restaurant itself. As I mentioned it’s very big, but also very much compartmentalized. It’s split across many levels and each area is decorated with a different theme.

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We were in the island section, overlooking the waterfall
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Caverns…
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Caves…
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Mine Shaft…
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Fancy area?
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Even fancier area!

It was very confusing, and there was much weirdness along the way. Sights that we witnessed included this random fake(?) dead body hidden in the mines:

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AAH

This corridor, which had a list of previous employee names up on plaques:

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Pete suggested that these may be the names of people who died carrying out their Casa Bonita duties, and having tried the food that was definitely a possibility.

After that weirdness we were granted a wonder – the view from behind the waterfall!

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Magical!

Rob was very excited, although he’d forgotten to let his face know:

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He’s smiling on the inside, I swear it

After this brief flash of beauty we were treated to the true horrors of Casa Bonita, starting with the fortune teller!

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Possibly a real human woman once…

Pete and Jonno bravely put a quarter into the machine and received their fortunes, which surprisingly were not ‘you will get severe food poisoning’ or even ‘help me, my soul is trapped in here’…

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“When you speak honestly and openly others truly listen to you” – Nice!

We then moved on to the puppet show, which mercifully was not playing when we were there:

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Fun fact – his eyes follow you everywhere

This was next to this blatantly haunted, screaming tree

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I didn’t blame him, I too was screaming

This all lead up to Black Bart’s Cave, which was actually pretty fun. It’s basically a dark, enclosed cave filled with spooky stuff that jumps out at you or spits you with air. We genuinely did scream a few times, and I think as a child it probably would’ve broken my fragile mind forever.

By this point the mixture of strong chlorine smell and extremely salty food meant that we all had headaches, so we decided that it was probably time to head out! That said, it was an extremely exciting afternoon, and we definitely recommend visiting if you get the chance 🙂

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Truly

 

Wild Animals: Seeing and Eating!

Hi All,

Sorry or the delay since our last blog, we’ve been having a great time hosting more friends, the lovely Pete & Jonno! They’re exploring the area for 10 days, and we got to have a great time joining them in their adventures last weekend 🙂

Our fun times revolved mostly around experiencing various animals,  initially by eating several of them. Before you start to be concerned, rest assured that we haven’t gone insane! There is an amazing deli in Old Town Fort Collins called Choice City that does a range of tasty sausages, and we’ve had our eyes on them for a while now.

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Choice, indeed

We treated ourselves to a whole range of meats, and were very excited:

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Such colors!

Here are our tasty specimens up close:

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Sorry babies! We couldn’t pass up the chance to try Rattlesnake…

We were extremely lucky that the wonderful Pete offered to cook for us, and he decided to pair the sausages with some veg as well as mustard mashed potatoes ❤

We cooked up the tasty sausages, and all got very excited by the assorted meat smells:

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The sizzling sounds were also outstanding

We were very happy with the final result, beautifully plated up by yours truly:

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From top to bottom the final sausages are: Antelope, Boar, Bison, Duck, Rabbit & Rattlesnake.

They were all pretty great, so we were very satisfied by our assorted sausages! My favorite was probably the Antelope which was really nicely seasoned, and least favorite I think was the Duck. The Bison was super juicy which was really nice, and the Rattlesnake and Boar are definitely not to be sniffed at. All in all, our exotic meat meal was a success!

After this deplorable display, we decided to give the Wild Animal Sanctuary another visit, since it is an outstanding place. Happily it was still outstanding this visit, despite being almost impossibly windy!

All the regular favorite animals were there, so please enjoy the highlights of what we saw. There was some excellent camouflaging on display, so keep your eyes open!

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This stealthy leopard friend
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A sleepy wolf, pretending to be a log…
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This Arctic Fox (who I love so much!) blending nicely with the snow
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This Fox is not even trying to camouflage himself, but he did give us a smile ❤ 
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This guy was doing something very cool, which kind of surprised us. He was walking up and down the edge of the cage, but was taking care to step into his own footsteps every time he did so. You can see in this picture that he’s standing in previous imprints, which blew my mind
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This bear looks very sad that the snow hasn’t melted here yet…
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This very pretty white tiger is okay with it, and is making no effort to walk in his own footprints
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Fat tigers were OF COURSE the main attraction, they’re so chubby and I love them so much 🙂
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The lions were pretty great too though
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Especially this gal, who seems to be pretending to be a sausage 🙂

Finally, there was an unexpected treat with this visit! Not part of the sanctuary, we were lucky enough to see these two Bald Eagles hanging out together:

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I’m guessing the one on the bottom is a juvenile since he’s still very puffy, but despite his youth he still did a great job posing for photos:

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USA! USA!!

If you want to see 1000 more pictures of these two eagles just shoot me an email, I got extremely snap-happy when I saw them 🙂

That’s all for now, but part two coming up shortly where you’ll get to hear all about our amazing visit to the truly ridiculous place that is Casa Bonita…

Enjoy!

Living Like Rock Stars

Hi Again,

The end is almost here, but luckily we managed to fit in plenty of excitement in our last full day here in Tulum!

We started with a treat that was part work/ part fun, and visited the Hard Rock Hotel on the Riviera Maya. They are well known for their amazing destination weddings, so I wanted to do a tour around so that I could learn a little more about what they do. Rob tagged along since he was interested to see the inside of this extremely fancy resort, so off we went.

I’m pleased to say that it was pretty damn awesome right away, and the whole thing reminded me of Vegas a little in how very over-sized and extravagant everything was. The first lobby that we came to was also totally stunning, of course:

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Heaven indeed

It was made even lovelier by the fact that the above is in the ‘adults only’ section of the hotel 🙂

After seeing the main lobby we went straight ahead into the nightclub, which was pretty darn awesome. There is a conventional club area where you can party away, but we were way more interested in the club/ pool/ bar chill-out zone:

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If they’d let me we would’ve stopped the tour here and just reclined the day away

We then headed outside into the beach area, for those who insist on sunlight, sand and sea. It was being used as a relaxation area while we were there, but you can also get married at several points along the beach including here:

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Again, probably would’ve taken a quick break from the tour here and taken a nap if they would’ve let me!

We then moved over to the alternative wedding space, for the more traditional people. They have a chapel which is surprisingly tasteful for a rock hotel:

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The shades were down to keep it cool when we were there, but normally they open it up so that everyone can see the ocean. It was very lovely.

After the wedding specific stuff we went and looked at the more generic hotel stuff including one of their several ridiculous pool areas:

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Because the ocean is a whole ten meters away

And their fancy hotel rooms:

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The resort is very big, so it was actually a nice time to be inside looking at the rooms. It took us about 90 minutes in total to walk around the whole thing!

Once we were done with the tour we also took some time to check out the rock merchandise, and I definitely had a favorite:

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Cannons!

These are the cannons that AC/DC fired during one of their shows at Download in Donnington! I’m not sure of the year, but was impressed by how sturdy the cannons are. Given that Donnington is right next to the airport I’m pretty surprised that these were allowed, but I’m guessing they didn’t get a lot of advanced notice :p

I’m also going to give an honorable mention to Elvis’s Pajamas, since I know that my mother would never forgive me otherwise…

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A bold choice of robe, to be sure

The final cool thing that I thought deserved a mention was the webcams that they have in the gift shop. They are constantly showing live footage from other stores around the world, so it’s a little window into other hard rock hotels. I liked it, and would definitely set up a little ‘window to England’ in our apartment if there wasn’t laundry all over everywhere all the time 😉

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I’m trusting that this footage is actually from these locations, for how big the resort is it’s definitely possible that these were just other gift shops within the hotel…

Anyway, we had an excellent time visiting the hotel and I’m glad that we went. I’m also very glad that we were able to resist the frequent offers of strong, alcoholic drinks that persisted throughout the tour (okay, I had one…) because I think we would probably have missed our next day flight. It’s great that they’re complimentary and I’m sure the guests love them, but my poor liver!

After our tour we headed back to Half Moon Bay since we’d had such a nice time relaxing there before and we were hoping to drink a couple more coconuts before we left. We dug in among the fabulous hammocks there and read in the sun by the sea, which was very relaxing. The bay is also great for snorkeling so Rob did some more swimming with the fish, while I remained semi-conscious in my hammock home. The only pause in the lounging around was the tasty cake we had as a snack, to sustain ourselves:

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OMNOMNOMONOM

You would be horrified to have watch me eat that chocolate brownie, it was gone in seconds. Rob had a strawberry cheesecake, and the guy brought us two spoons for each just in case we wanted to share. We did not!

Once we could lounge no more we headed over to Akumal bay next door, which is the place that is home to the turtles. The water was a little clearer today so visibility was better, but we weren’t too optimistic since I’d been very lucky to see the turtles the day before.

It’s still a lovely beach though so we set our stuff up and then went for another lovely swim in the sea. The turtles were poking their little heads above the water again which was so very cute, so we stood there for a little while and watched them.

Then, lightning struck again! I guess the turtles really like the Sea Grass on the people side of the rope, since another little turtle friend swam over to snack away. This was later in the afternoon by this point so there were not many people around, so I guess that’s why he didn’t mind swimming over. As you can imagine I lost my mind a little, and half drowned Rob by forcing him to get the snorkel on and go see the turtle. Again I don’t have any underwater pictures, but it was almost exactly like this:

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Rob named him Philip ❤

It was a definite treat on the last day!

After we were done bothering Philip (we actually stayed way back since we didn’t want to scare him off!) we headed back to the hotel to tidy ourselves up. I’d booked us a tasty dinner for the evening, so we thought it would be good not to be totally covered in sand.

For dinner we went to the Kitchen Table, which is in the south of Tulum near the beach. The restaurant itself is actually in the jungle next to the beach, and the whole place is pretty much outside. As well as that the kitchen is out in the middle of restaurant instead of being tucked away, so every table is basically a chefs table.

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There were regular bursts of fire, which was excellent!

As you’d hope from a beach-side restaurant they had some tasty fish options, and I had the very delicious Tuna Steak:

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It’s like steak and sushi had a baby

I then focused entirely on eating my meal, and failed to get a picture of Rob’s Pork Ribs. They were equally beautiful though, and he assures me that they tasted delicious!

We ate ourselves very full, and then sat there and digested for a little while whilst listening to the noisy jungle birds. Definitely a meal to try if you’re in Tulum anytime!

After our meal we had been thinking of going out to get a drink somewhere, but we were so tired that we ended up just heading back to the hotel and going to sleep. We had to get up pretty early for our flight and wanted to make sure that we didn’t miss it by accident – intentionally missing it was still up for debate 😉

We did end up making the flight okay, and without any complications thank goodness. We’re now back home and getting back into the rhythm of day to day life, and our sunburn is almost totally gone! Looking forward to our next adventure though, and we’ll be sure to keep the blogs coming from Fort Collins 🙂

Much love! Xx