Iceland – Our Mini Holiday!

Hi All!

After our lovely week in England we were lucky enough to have a day layover in Iceland, so we got to see a little of this exciting country! Icelandair, the airline, is both very nice and very heavily interconnected with the Iceland Tourism people. The Iceland tourism people are also extremely active – the flight contained lots of beautiful videos of things to do in Iceland, the airport had lots of local goods and the overhead lighting on the plane even re-created the northern lights!

 

We flew via Keflavik airport, which is both adorable and tiny. It’s also located way over in the South West of Iceland, near all the fun stuff.

Iceland

45 minutes away is Reykjavik (pronounced reck-ee-a-vick), the capital and largest city in Iceland, with a colossal population of around 120,000. For comparison, London has a population of over 8,500,000…

Also nearby are some of the most exciting things-to-do, including:

A Tour Inside a Volcano –

Icelandvolcano
For those who like it hot

A Tour Inside a Glacier –

icelandglacier
For those who like it cold

Several Whale Watching Tours –

Icelandwhales
For those who like water

And finally, the Blue Lagoon:

icelandbluelagoon
For those who really like water

Our layover was only for about 16 hours, 8 of which we were asleep for, so did not allow for all of the above. We opted to do the Blue Lagoon, and hope to get a chance to do the rest on future visits!

First, we arrived into Keflavik airport around midnight, without much hassle. The low cloud cover in Iceland had made for a pretty exciting landing – you break though the clouds about 10 seconds above the runway, so it comes up pretty quickly. It also does not get very dark in Iceland this time of year, so it seemed like dusk when we landed. We had booked a nearby hotel, so took one of Icelands many super-expensive taxis (£30 for 8 minutes) and went to sleep. The hotel was really lovely, and the views out to sea were amazing!

20160722_010706
Figuring out how to get into the duvet sausages was not straightforward, but was lovely once we did!

So, off we headed to the Blue Lagoon (£45 for 20 minutes, damn you taxis) with our swim gear ready and our tickets in hand. The idea was to do something lovely and relaxing before our long flight back to Colorado, and boy did it deliver.

We were dropped off outside the entrance, and got to enjoy a beautiful look around at the Volcanic rock and billowing steam…

20160722_101501
Also, the majestic construction works

And then we headed into the Lagoon itself. The Lagoon contains a large amount of Silica, which gives it its amazing blue colour and contrasts beautifully with the black volcanic rock:

20160722_102030

The idea behind the lagoon is that the Silica and other minerals in the water give it excellent healing properties, especially in the treatment of Psoriasis. There actually seems to be quite a lot of evidence to support this, which was quite interesting. We’re not convinced that it will have added years to our lives, but floating around in the hot water was pretty amazing.

We started our trip with a shower, and applying lots of conditioner since the water pretty much destroys your hair. We then headed into the pool for a nice walk around, and a long soak.

20160722_123044.jpg

It was pretty busy, but without being too crowded. The water was also just the right depth to walk around in so that your head was comfortably above the surface. I however chose a different method of transport, which was to rest my head on Rob’s back and let him float me around the pool. It was truly divine.

We then went over to enjoy our complimentary silica face masks:

20160722_124927
You can see the relaxation is already making me a little drowsy

I even managed to convince Rob to partake, which he described as “strange”. After letting the masks do their work we then went to wash them off in the lovely waterfall:

20160722_125223
Fun!!!!

Before it was time for round two, the Algae face mask! Rob also found this strange, but was also pretty sleepy from the hot water at this point so went with it:

20160722_123705
Although he had this expression on his face the whole time

After that we left the masks to soak again while we enjoyed one of the seated pools, which were unfortunately cool enough that Rob had a chance to come to his senses…

20160722_124321
‘Wait, am I missing the cricket right now?’

So we waterfalled again and Rob went to enjoy a drink, some nibbles and the seated relaxation area. Meanwhile I went to the lovely floaty area at the back, where they give out pool noodles and you can just pass out while floating around looking at the sky. Finally, a tasty smoothie from the floaty bar area:

Icelandbar
All pools should have these

We then got out, and I took a shower just long enough to make us almost miss our flight. Happily though we found the coach going back to the airport, and managed to convince the bus driver to take us by handing him all our remaining kroner and looking at him sadly. He sort of went ‘Pfff!!’ in a way we took to mean ‘Silly English!’ but kindly let us on.

We then enjoyed the scenic ride back to the airport, and got our flight back without any issues. Icelandair were once again flawless in their service despite a small delay, and off we went! We’re now nicely settled in Colorado again, and excited for our next adventure 🙂

Much love! Xx

Island Party!

Hi Again!

As promised we had a very exciting and busy weekend, the highlight of which was my work party! For those of you who don’t know I’m currently working in the customer experience team at Maple, a newly formed New York food delivery company. We make and serve tasty meals that people can order via our website, and working for Maple is a lot of fun 🙂

Maple
Although salivating excessively is an occupational risk…

As well as being fast changing, working for Maple means that I am working in another time zone (Eastern Time) and get to talk to lots of New Yorkers, which is mostly fun! The best thing though is definitely the work events, of which we have now had two big ones.

The first was our Christmas Party, which was a glorious trifecta of Bowling, Laser Tag and free alcohol. Sadly I could not tell you much about it afterwards, mostly because I don’t remember much but also because what I do remember seems very unlikely. Rest assured, this time I was more vigilant in my blogging duties!

So anyway, our work party. We were all pretty excited when we found out it was going to be an Island Party, whilst also being a little confused about what exactly that entailed. It turns out it does exactly what it says on the tin: some lunatic has built a man-made party island, and you travel to this island and party. What a time to be alive.

Party island

The East side of the island! So fabulous:

P1030030
One arrives by boat, of course 🙂

It wasn’t that sunny on Saturday, but that was definitely a good thing. It was still very warm and humid, but without the direct sunlight overhead burning all of our skin off.

face melting
This is what would’ve happened if the sun was out, sensible hat or no sensible hat

But anyway, the dress was of course island themed, and so everyone dressed appropriately. There was a much needed work outing to stock up on hawaiian shirts and dad shirts (both, where possible) and many leis were bought. Our CEO even flew over to party with us, which was outstanding 🙂

IMG-20160611-WA0003
My party gear, complete with Watermelon accessory!
P1020998
Manager/ Papa Stephen on the left; CEO Caleb on the right, throwing out gang signs

There was a lot to do on the island, including but not limited to:

  • Playing on the water trampolene
  • Swimming in the Lake
  • Canoeing
  • Pedaling the Pedalos
  • Roasting things on the Fire pit
  • Partaking in the open bar
  • Volleyball
  • Feeding the hungry and numerous Catfish
  • Eating the tasty food that Papa Stephen cooked for us
  • Chillaxing

It was truly a magical place. The Catfish definitely merit a picture or two because they’re amazing:

P1030021
I believe the collective term is a ‘frenzy’ of Catfish
P1020971
Oh hai there!!

Volleyball also took up a lot of time, with Rob of course leading his team to repeated victory! I was very proud.

P1030005
Papa Stephen with the serve!
P1030011
Go team, Go!

Our intrepid CEO even joined in, but it was not enough:

P1030010
Sweet action shot by the photographer, what top photography 🙂

Anyway, we partied away and had a great time, and we now know that party islands are another fun thing that America has to offer. I am absolutely building a much worse version of this in my back garden when we move home, as soon as I figure out how.

So yes, that was the magic of party island, as well as an inspiring tale of how Rob and I successfully entered a Lake a second time without dying of parasitic infections. Where is your science now, Dad?!

Anyway, Love you all lots! 🙂 Xx

American Food Shopping – A Horror Story

Hi All!

One of the best things and one of the worst things about living in the US is the food, and whilst we’ve shown you a lot of the good food I wanted to show you a little of the less delicious side of things for your enjoyment.

It’s much easier and cheaper to eat out in America, so people generally cook less and eat out more. There are also much bigger wage gaps, so there is a need for some of the food to be very low cost. The good part of this is that the fruit and deli section in most supermarkets (called Grocery Stores here in the US) are extremely awesome:

20160530_125009
Although mostly organic, and you get judged for asking for non-organic produce…

But there are also horrors. King Soopers where we shop is actually really nice, but not nice enough to be free of the occasional catastrope.

The meat section for example has a nice deli, and whilst meat standards in the US can be pretty poor we are generally okay here in Colorado 🙂 That said there is also some ‘pre-cooked’ meat available that is always a source of concern…

20160530_123505
How? I dont understand!!

And there is also a strange tendancy to pack things in cans/ tubes. I’m assuming that this has something to do with making sure that everything lasts longer and can be stored long term, but it’s still a little odd:

20160530_123653
Also, 20% fat?! The struggle to not become obese continues…

What else can you get in tubes you say? Glad you asked!

20160530_123821
Hold back your tears, The French…

Before you ask, no – I have no idea why croissant is spelt ‘crescent’, nor why these are considered ‘dinner rolls’. We have also not tried them, because oh the horror. However we have given another of the canned desserts a try, again as a result of a weird cultural interpretation. Brace yourself, for the English section of the supermarket!

20160530_122716
Always at least 50% Biscuits

This is actually awesome, if not a little expensive. The Bisto gravy is especally appreciated, as are the Maltesers 🙂 However they also have a ‘traditional english dessert’ that is inaccurate at best and a little weird. Behold, the food of our people, according to America:

20160530_122633
Our legacy, if you will…

Unsurprisingly it doesn’t taste that good once you scrape it out of the tin and blast it in the microwave, but it could be worst. And if you buy this as a gift for any American the will be amused and delighted, so that’s a plus!

It’s probably also worth mentioning that the Royal Family is ALWAYS in the news somewhere when you go past the magazines. Based on the titles we’ve seen so far the poor royal family have seen more action that the Game of Thrones people:

20160530_130032
In Touch are all about journalistic integrity, one assumes…
20160530_130253
Sidenote: National Examiner is awesome

Anyway, on to the American section of the store, which is basically the whole rest of the store. If you want anything in a US flat pattern you are not out of luck!

20160530_123955
We’ll start subtle to ease you in…
20160530_124816
Now this is happening
20160530_124935
I promise you that this is completely non-ironic
20160530_124944
Drink it in

I actually think that all of the above is pretty awesome, I love the American sense of National Pride. Take a lesson, England!

Anyway, back to the gross food. More horrors await in the ready meal sections:

I didn’t get any pictures of the ingredients lists, but rest assured that they are not entirely foody… Corn Dogs continue to be a real source of fascination to me, although we haven’t given them a try yet. We probably want to have some medical support nearby before we start eating them.

Speaking of non-ingredients, colours! I hope you like Powerade, now available in the following extremely bright colours:

20160530_130153
Again, we have not dared to give this a taste yet…

And finally, a sweet memory of my old company, still with real cheese!

20160530_125447
USA! USA!

So yes, there are lots of delicious foods all over the place, but many hazards await the unworthy. Be vigilent, friends! And more posts soon 🙂

Much love xx

 

Lake McConaughy!

Hi Again!

We had a free day on Sunday, so decided to do an exciting road trip over to Nebraska to check out the famous Lake McConaughy! This is a very big lake to the west of the state, which totals 4 miles wide and 22 miles long, so pretty impressive. It also has white sandy beaches around the edge and allows all sorts of fun water-sports! Plus we’re like 1000 miles from the actual ocean, so this is our ocean now 🙂

Lakemcconaughy
Woooooo!

But first, we had to get there. Our lovely car is all fixed and working now (it turns out that because there are no MOTs and the oil here is terrible you need to get the oil changed every 5000 miles or less. Now we know!) so we loaded it up and off we went.

It was a pretty long drive of about 3 1/2 hours each way, but we got to drive through parts of Wyoming and Colorado that we hadn’t seen before which was cool. Also Rob fell asleep immediately and stayed asleep for most of the drive down there, so the drive was not too taxing for him 😉 Here is the route we took:

Map
Not to scale

So on the way there we went up through Wyoming, and we came back via Eastern Colorado. As promised both are almost completely empty of anything interesting to see, but we did get to stop at the signs on all the boarders and judge them! Wyoming’s sign was fabulous, and we were very impressed by it:

P1020913.JPG
I made Rob wake up for the picture, which he did not seem enthused by…

We have been to Wyoming a few times before but this was the first time that we had driven in via the I-25, because whilst the sign is awesome the road itself is a disaster. Lots of potholes and cheap tarmac. But I digress!

The Nebraska sign was also nowhere near as excellent at the Wyoming sign, which we found a little disappointing. We liked the green, but where was the wood? Where was the pizzazz? Also it meant waking Rob up again, which he was still not a fan of:

P1020917
“Just pose by the sign. No, pose! Like, move your arms!”

Still, we get to add Nebraska to the list of states visited (between us we are up to 14/ 50!) and I can scratch it off my map of the world.

As for Nebraska itself, it was almost exclusively grassland and an extremely straight road, but visibility was outstanding! We think we could see at least 50 miles away based on what towns we could see from how far out, plus we could see the mountains on the way back whilst still 60 minutes away from Fort Collins. Eventually we got our first peek at the lake!

P1020922
“I can see the sea! Kind of…”

We drove down to it, and tried to find a spot to relax for the day. The lake is actually super full this time of year, so most of the beach was underwater. This was actually quite a nice thing, since it meant that there weren’t too many people there and all the beaches were broken into little tiny hidden beaches. We found a fun secret spot and hunkered down:

P1020925
❤ ❤ ❤

The water did not look very clean, so we set up on the mini-beach and sunbathed for a few hours. Occasionally people would go past on their boats or paddle boards for our amusement:

P1020928.JPG
They fell off a lot, it was great

After a few hours we were extremely hot and sweaty since it was boiling hot and I refused to move into the shade, so once we left our mini-beach we had to make a desperate dash for liquids. Fortunately, you are never far from a bar in the US!

P1020929
Sweet salvation

Rob is still being an absolute hero and not drinking any sodas, but alas I was not so strong. In fact I was extremely unsupportive and chugged down like five pints of coca cola right in front of him, bad wife. It did bring me back to life though, and we had a good time laughing at Rob’s beer. For reasons unknown Budweiser has renamed itself ‘America’ for the next few months, because why not.

P1020930
“I’m done with the America, get me another”

We also got some fries, because so sue me.

Anyway, after our tasty break we went down to a beach in front of the bar and found an even better secret place to call our own.

P1020935
You walk behind the hedge at the end there…
P1020940
And voila!
P1020946
We marked it as our own as proof! ❤

We set up our chairs and towels again, and read in the shade like the old people that we are. You could see more of the lake from here and there were more boats going past, plus there were lots of rocks so you could hear more gentle splashing. It was very zen 🙂

P1020949
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

After some more reading we decided that we should at least touch the lake itself, so did a little paddling and jumping around on the rocks:

P1020951
It was not warm, which was very welcome!
P1020961
So Lake!

It was lots of fun, and as of yet we’re not showing any signs of parasitic infection. Anyone who gets in touch to let me know what parasites we might have (DAD) will be responded to harshly :p

After a little while we had to dry off and head back to the car for our drive back home.

P1020962
Cue artistic shoes and towel photo

We were lucky enough to see this little bird friend before he left, so once again we play name that bird:

P1020963
And I mean name the type of bird. His people name is Kevin ❤

Lake McConaughy is actually very famous for it’s bird watching, and has all sorts of rare birds that live there. However I don’t know anything more than that about it, since it was and is too hot to use my brain. Maybe we will take a more bird focused approach next time 😉

Anyway, we made it home safely and had a great time! We’re now working on planning our next adventures, so watch this space 🙂

Much Love! Xx

Medieval Fair!

Hi All!

A short update on our weekend so far! This Saturday the weather is extremely beautiful here in Fort Collins, it’s 85°F (29.5°C) with bright sunshine and blue skies, so much fun was had!

Rob’s dubious idea of fun was a grueling 28.5km bike ride around the reservoir, with an alarmingly fast top speed of 35 mph on the steep downhill bits. It does not look like an easy cycle:

Horsetooth-12-of-24
Not pictured: flatness

But he said he had a very good time, and saw a horse, a donkey, and some people tubing down to Poudre river! We have not yet tried tubing, but are very keen to do so since it looks like a lot of fun:

STEAMBOAT TUBERS
Soooooon ❤

I decided not to sacrifice my body to bike riding, and luckily got an offer to go a Medieval Fair with my friends Jeny & Linda from work! This sounded like a lot of fun, and something I have never done before, so off we went.

Unlike most fairs there was a very relaxed approach to clothing, so it didn’t matter that we weren’t dressed in costume. A few people did make the effort and were in full medieval dress, but good lord did they look warm:

20160604_150655
I can’t actually see his face but seriously. How is he still alive.

Also unlike most fairs, this took place just next to the beautiful ‘Devil’s Backbone’ in Loveland, which is a really pretty geological feature. There are tall rocks which rise up along a naturally occuring hill, making the whole thing look like a monster spine:

Devils backbone
Stock image to give you a better idea…
20160604_150509
And the view from the medieval fair!

The fair itself was really lovely. It was mostly small stalls in tents with people selling homemade goods, and there was lots of great stuff. I bought a wooden painting of the Colorado flag to hang up, and the others got some great jewellery.

20160604_145020

20160604_145028

20160604_150148
They also had homemade drinking horns, which I was very tempted by!

As well as the cute shops they had lots of performances, including Belly Dancing:

20160604_150438
A common pastime in Medieval times?

And sword fighting!

20160604_151948.jpg

We were pretty tempted by the sword fighting, but it was far too hot to be leaping around fighting. We had a glass of Mead instead 🙂

After that we wandered the fair for a few more hours shopping away and taking pictures with the cool outfits and prop jails…

20160604_152048
Again, not sure this is Medieval, but whatever!

 

20160604_144849
Totally had to fight some kids off to take this

Afterwards we went and got ice cream to bring our body temperatures after our baking in the sun, and agreed to do it again soon!

Tomorrow we are going to be day tripping across to Nebraska, so we hope to have more exciting pictures for you tomorrow 🙂

Much Love Xx

 

Beer & Food Time!

Hi Again!

We’re continuing fun times in Fort Collins with the cousins, so time for an update. On Tuesday we partook in the main form of entertainment in Fort Collins – Brewery Tours! Fort Collins has a population of around 150,000, and a magnificent 21 breweries – so around one brewery for each 7100 people 🙂 This doesn’t compare to the number of restaurants (about 400, so one for every 375 people), but still pretty outstanding!

We started at New Belgium, which is my personal favorite and somewhere that you will definitely all be visiting, to do their free tour! It lasts about 90 minutes, contains tasters of many, many beers and is extremely informative. Plus the New Belgium Brewery is just beautiful and the people are so relaxed, so it’s always fun 😀

P1020804

P1020816
Ignore the uncharacteristic clouds! We blame the cousins…

We started the tour by learning a little about the background of the brewery, which as you can imagine is aiming to produce Belgium style beer in Colorado. Since they started in 1991 they’ve grown massively, and you may have tasted one of their most popular ales which is Fat Tire. We then went on to taste several of their other beers, of which they have a fabulous range:

New Belgium beers
Om nom nom nom nom

We then continued to drink as we walked around the rest of the site in the lovely sunshine, and it was great.

P1020807P1020808

After all the drinking we were feeling a little sleepy:

P1020815

But we partied on. Next stop, Odells!

P1020817P1020818

Odells is another of the most famous breweries in Fort Collins, and widely considered one of the real local treasures. They also do a great range of beers, and have a really beautiful site. We were too late to do their brewery tour, so we tried a few of their taster flights instead and also got some tacos! All whilst enjoying their wonderful patio:

P1020819

P1020823

P1020824

The taster flights were pretty wonderful, and they had a really good variety. Here are some of their tasty beers:

odells
Om nom nom nom zzzz

As you can imagine we were even more sleepy leaving the brewery:

P1020826

But we continued on to Cooper Smiths, which is a brewery in the Old Town Square. It’s very pretty, and has a great games room! We had a great time playing snooker, followed by the magical game that is Shuffleboard 🙂

We played the traditional way – Guys vs Gals – and I’m proud to say that the gals won both rounds! At that point the guys accepted their inarguable inferiority, so we moved on to the also exciting table tennis. Here there were no measurable winners, but the loser was definitely the guy playing pool next to us who was repeatedly struck by our ball, usually in the face mid-shot. We spent a lot of the game apologising.

To restore our dignity we had a few rounds of table football to finish the night. We played Channons vs Cheethams, and Channons just scraped victory over the few games. See if you can spot the common player amongst the winning teams! That night, we slept well 🙂

We continued the fun on Friday with the Fort Collins Foodie Walk! This is a self guided walking tour of some of the food stores in Fort Collins which happens once a month, put on by the stores. They offer free samples and tell you more about their shops, and since they are truly hipster style shops this is pretty exciting. One big highlight is the Tea Store, which is truly wonderful:

20160520_192950
On the left, fancy hand crafted teapots. On the right, fancy bricks of tea from China ❤
20160520_193140
I’m pretty sure they have every single tea in the world

There is also an extremely fancy Olive Oil shop, will sells an absurd range of olive oil.

Olive oil

And yet somehow everything in all of these million bottles is interesting and delicious. Again, you must visit and sample if you come to Colorado. Here is Marie loving the balsamic vinegar:

20160520_193845
So many infusion, so little time

We also visited the chocolate stop, the cheese shop, another chocolate shop and the spices/ liqueur store! Sadly we were too busy feasting to be vigilant with the pictures, so that’s on me…

After the food tour, we went on to get some pizza at the delicious pizza shop Slyce. This was enjoyed by all, but especially by Simon:

It really is top quality pizza. We followed this up by sharing a toffee apple, which we enjoyed initially but soon came to regret. Still, it merited a try:

20160520_203533
We were so young and optimistic back then

After this second round of feasting we decided a walk around Old Town was needed. They’ve just added new flowers to the square and some lovely lights, so it looks rather fabulous:

20160520_205051

20160520_205005
You can see Rob is still recovering from the toffee apple a little…

But yes, so pretty! We ended the night with a drink at a new distillery that has just opened near our apartment called Mobb Mountain. It turns out to make extremely strong Whisky, Gin that tasted like Whiskey, and cocktails that are composed almost entirely of Whiskey. I’m not a big fan of Whiskey so only managed a sip of my cocktail, but the interior was beautiful and I love what they are trying to do!

IMG_1198
Quite an unfortunate picture of Simon, my bad again…

So yes, just some of the delicious fun available in Fort Collins! More of our adventures to follow soon 🙂

Much love xx

The Cousins are here!

Hi All!

Sorry for the long delay since my last blog, we’ve had an extremely exciting visit from my brothers followed by two weeks of working hard and being boring, so not much to tell! Happily now the cousins are here, so this will all change 🙂

They flew in on Friday, and are here for just over a week of magnificent excitement!

The excitement started almost right away, when we visited the amazing Wild Animal Sanctuary!

20160514_151911

I hadn’t heard of it before, but Marie found it online and it looked outstanding. What the Wild Animal Sanctuary does is rehome exotic animals that have been neglected or kept as pets illegally. It turns out that there is no law against owning exotic animals in five states (points for guessing which five!), and there are more tigers in Texas than are left in the wild! So we were happy to support a great cause, and also to see some happy wild animals.

P1020651
One of my favorites is this guy, who is beautiful!
P1020652
And also this guy, who has been a little overfed in his previous home…

The Sanctuary is set up so that animals are slowly allowed to get used to their new surroundings – a lot of them have been kept in very small enclosures and some have never seen sunlight before 😦 Once they are used to being outside they are slowly introduced to other animals of the same type so that they can form packs, and when that goes well they are moved to big 10 acre enclosures where they can live and be merry.

P1020655
Like this!

The park is basically a big walkway over the top of these enclosures, since predators don’t have any enemies from above so are not bothered by what goes on overhead. Here are some more of the amazing animals:

P1020700
Sleepy bears!
P1020706
Pretty Ocelot!
P1020708
Fabulous Lynx
P1020660
And Mr Lion!

It was extremely wonderful, and I strongly recommend giving it a visit if you’re ever in Colorado, or donating generously via their website: http://www.wildanimalsanctuary.org/

Following the magic of the animal sanctuary, we relaxed at home while the wonderful Simon made us dinner and then we sleepily went to bed.

The next day, Exercise! First we went for a quick walk up the reservoir:

P1020718

And then we went over to Lory state park for a hike up to Arthur Rock, which gives you epic views of the town and the reservoir! It is a 3.4 mile round trip, with the first half being quite steep! But very pretty, and it feels much more remote than it actually is.

P1020722
This is literally ten minutes from our apartment

A hard walk to the top, but excellent views once we got there 🙂

P1020732
Pictured: Views!
P1020731
Our heroes, at the peak! 🙂

We had a quick picnic at the peak before heading back down to return into town. We went via the more rural part of town, so got to see some deer chilling in the fields!

P1020733
Not as impressive as the lions, but still great 🙂

We spent the rest of the day at the frankly amazing Fort Fun, which is just always great. We started with a fairly epic game of mini-golf:

P1020739
Epic in pictures, if not in skill…

This was wonderfully fun and we were not good, but that didn’t stop us taking it extremely seriously…

We followed our epic golfing with a quick but terrifying round in the batting cages:

And then fun in the arcade, which made our approach to golf look downright casual. No-one has ever taken arcade games as seriously as we did:

P1020786
Time-cop is inherently serious, so this is fine
P1020803
Driving likewise is a serious responsibility
P1020793
Pump-it-up dance is admittedly hard to excuse

It definitely needs to be mentioned that Rob is AMAZING at the dance game. Never has someone poured so much soul into something with such outstanding results. I fell in love all over again ❤

As you can imagine by the evening we were pretty tired from all the excitement, so we treated ourselves to dinner at the all-you-can Mongolian Stir Fry restaurant. It was, as always, delicious!

FullSizeRender
Om nom nom nom nom

We are now back in the apartment and extremely full, and playing an extremely competitive game of Settlers of Catan. Is it bliss 🙂

More soon! Xxx

Steamboat – Part Two!

Hello all,

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:

P1010985

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!

P1010988
We panic-snapped this on the way in!

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:

P1010993
Good times!

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!

P1020005
And of course pretty chilly!

But fear not, our boys still were still skiing beautifully while Margaret and I were hard at work relaxing.

P1020010
Such form!

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!

P1020016
Whoops!

 

P1020033
He’s free!

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:

P1020038
It’s possible that no-one has every enjoyed a beer more

And Marg was sensible whilst I had a poorly chosen Sangria:

P1020039
It gave me a headache 😦

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!

P1020042
You can see the many runs in the background
P1020046
And the pretty ski-doo posing for the picture
P1020047
And meeee, smiling despite my silly hangover

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:

P1020048.JPG
This, with this sound: “EeeeEEEEeeeeeEEEEaaaiiiiEEEEEEEeeeEEEEEE!”

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.

P1020049.JPG
EeeeeEEEEEeeeeeeMarglookathatmanskiingeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeee!!!

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!

P1010191
Oh hai!

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.

20160323_190013.jpg
No points for guessing where it was located

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!

20160325_200213.jpg
Which we did, in a big way

And then, at least in our case, you have a whale of a time taking silly pictures while waiting for the steak to cook:

20160325_200330

20160325_200545

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.

20160325_200958
Plus we didn’t even get food poisoning!

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 🙂

Xxx

Steamboat – Part One!

Hello!

As you may know we are currently on a lovely holiday with the Channons, skiing in Steamboat Springs. It is BEAUTIFUL, although also extremely snowy!

Steamboat itself is about three hours East of us (it would be closer, but you have to go around the Rocky Mountains) and is internationally renowned as an amazing place to ski. As well as the massive Mount Werner where the ski resort is there are a few other skiing areas, as well as some lovely Hot Springs, which is what the town is named after. There are no actual steamboats, the bubbling springs just make it sound like there are 🙂

I mentioned that Mount Werner is massive, but that probably doesn’t do it justice! The town itself is at 6,732 ft above sea level, but the peak of the mountain is at 10,570 ft! The highest point that you can get to via skiing is near that, at around 10,384 ft. So, quite a long way to ski down! Although this was put into perspective for us when we found out that there are people to eschew the long gondola rides to the top in favor of hiking up the 3,500 ft themselves! Needless to say, we did not…

P1010148

P1010150
So happy not to have hiked up this. You can see the town very distantly down below!

At Barry’s alarming request we started strong on the first day (Monday) having arrived to our wonderful Condo on the Sunday night! So we got up at eight, snaffled down some toast, and off we went on the first lift:

P1010151
Fun side note: All the skin you see in this picture is now red 😦

And away we went! I’m still really not good at skiing so wasn’t anywhere near the guys standard, but they indulged me with some nice Blues and Greens to get us started! Here I am, looking sort of like I know what I’m doing:

P1010154
Weeeeeeeeeeeee!

A lot of the runs are very nice and wide like this one, which makes it much easier for a beginner like me to control my speed by making lots of turns. We skied down a lot of fun runs like this, with brief breaks on the chairlift to rest our legs! After a few hours, we took a nice break up on the mountain. There are a few places to eat dotted all over the slopes that are only accessible via skis, and they had wonderful views! Here is Rendezvous, where we stopped:

P1010164

And here we are enjoying a beverage in the sun! It was an extremely sunny day which is how we ended up a little pink, but we definitely appreciated the warmth 🙂 One of the reasons that I was a bit apprehensive about skiing was that I thought it would be very cold – rest assured that this is definitely not the case! You can see that as soon as we could we threw our ski jackets to the floor and enjoyed the sunshine:

P1010163
And absolutely destroyed our drinks

And then back to it! The preferred approach to skiing with Team Channon is to get the first lift up as mentioned, and to then keep skiing until the lifts close at around 4pm with plenty of snack breaks in the middle. Skiing is pretty exhausting, so doing a full eight hours was a bit of a shock to my squishy body! Still, much fun 🙂 🙂

P1010165
Go Team!

In the evening we explored Downtown Steamboat, with its amazing food and beer! For the next day it was more of the same, although at a gentler pace since my poor legs were a little tired.

Strangely, Barry managed to pick up a hitch-hiker during a slower phase of skiing! Meet our new friend George:

P1010900
Barry chose the name 🙂

We think we picked George up when he fell out of one of the toboggans, which was probably quite a rude awaking from what we assume was his hibernation. We suspect George is a Doormouse, and a very cute (if slightly mussed up) one at that! Upon being woken up and finding himself in the snow he quickly ran over to Barry and hid in the little well under his shoe, and we think planned to stay there until spring. It was extremely cute!

P1010899
But wait, it gets cuter!

I was all in favour of us adopting George and having him live with us forever, but sadly common sense prevailed and we decided to scoot over to the edge of the slope and shoo him into the trees. This turned out to be much harder than expected. To start, Barry skied over to the edge of the slope, with George now riding on the back of the skis:

P1010169

This turned out to not be the most secure place for a little mouse, and he fell off into the middle of the run! He then sat there waiting for Barry to rescue him, which Barry did accompanied by his new assistants – a bunch of young school girls having skiing lessons! As you can imagine, some chaos ensued. Luckily George safely made it to the trees in the end!

For a bit of a change of pace after all the skiing excitement we took a day off to go and visit Dinosaur National Park, which is on the border of Colorado and Utah. As well as being a naturally very beautiful area, Dinosaur is so named because of the large collection of dinosaur bones that have been found there, many of which have been kept in situ for visitors! This all sounded very exciting, so off we went to Utah:

P1010196
It was a balmy 10°C, so on went the sunglasses!

It was about a two and a half hour drive, but well worth it. First, we were very impressed by the Dinosaur on display, which we lovingly named Cuthbert.

P1010201
Tell me that he doesn’t look like a Cuthbert

After a quite long discussion about whether his colouring was accurate (unlikely, but hard to know for sure), we headed on into the actual park.

As I said, the main feature is the big wall of dinosaur bones that have been kept in situ on display. The whole park used to be a river, and so a large number of dinosaur skeletons were located in the river bed either as a result of a flash flood, or a drought. Over the year some of these skeletons drifted apart into individual bones, but others remain in their original shape. When the river bed dried up the bones were buried, and they were excavated in the early 1900s. A lot of the bones we had seen without realising it, including the Barosaurus that is famously on display in the Natural History Museum in New York! But back to the wall:

Dinosaur wall

bones
Apologies for the stock images! Very hard to capture the scale

It was a little bit mind-blowing, and it was fascinating to look at it and slowly be able to pick out individual animals. Strongly recommend a visit if you are in the area!

As well as the dinosaur bones, there were some ancient Petroglyphs! This is art that has been carved into a rock surface, in a similar style to cave art. Again, it was a little mind-blowing to think that these carvings had been around for such a long time, and they were very interesting! There were a few of them scattered around the park, so we did a tour of these. The style is very distinct, and often they are quite high up on the cliff walls:

P1010203

The rest of the park is also very beautiful, you can tell that the whole landscape has had millions of years to take shape. This post will very much become a photo album from now on, since the pictures really speak for themselves! There were some super distinctive layers in the rock:

P1010215
Known as Morrison Formation, for my fellow nerds 🙂

Split Mountain, so called because the rocks are at an angle, which shows a really excellent range of rock colours. Again, it is really hard to capture the scale of this, but at least I’m using my own photos this time 😉

P1010209
The weenie dots near the trees this side of the river are picnic benches

This awesomely named Turtle Rock, which again caused much debate about whether or not it did resemble a Turtle:

P1010216
Five points if you can spot it

The even more tenuously named Elephant Toes Butte:

P1010217
I’ve made spotting this one easy for you

And finally, general awe inspiring beauty:

P1010222
Seriously, just get on a plane and come to the National Park

So yes, much fun! We were in the park for a good long time exploring the many lovely things before returning back to Steamboat for the second half of our wonderful holiday!

P1010198
Bliss

We are here until Sunday, so hold tight for Part 2 of Steamboat!

Xxxxxx

Saturday in Fort Collins!

Hello! Sorry, me again! Rob is writing up a few papers at the moment, but will be back writing posts very soon 🙂

I was going to title this post ‘An average Saturday in Fort Collins’ but to be honest it was a pretty great Saturday. It was also kind of Saint Patricks day, which for those of you who don’t know is a pretty big deal in the US. Like, a way bigger deal than it is in England or even Ireland. Saint Patricks day isn’t actually until the 17th, but it’s celebrated on a Saturday for reasons that will soon become obvious. How is it celebrated, you ask?

Firstly, Parade! A big one! Big and odd…

 

20160312_110651
Does that say Kuck?

 

20160312_110427
Aah! Kuck!!!
20160312_112239
Oooh, balloon rainbow! Order is restored.

I thoroughly enjoyed the parade, it was nothing short of magnificent. I absolutely insist that we in the UK organise and start having parades like this ourselves. So good!

Hopefully for the UK parades we will be better prepared, but unfortunately we weren’t dressed appropriately this time. As you can probably see in a few of these pictures above, green is the colour to wear! And ideally green with an Irish slogan on it. If you want to go all in, you can literally dress up like you’re Irish. You read that correctly. We were deeply impressed by the Walmart selection:

20160312_123717
We felt that it showed a rich cultural respect

Again, the whole thing is kind of awesome 🙂 After a quick trip to Target, we have fixed our lack of Irish wear so that we can better blend in for the big day!

20160312_221232
So authentic

But back to Saturday! After the parade and an amazing breakfast at the Silver Grill (it’s so good! SO GOOD!) we carried on with our day. After the above shopping for our Irish gear we decided on a lovely drink in the sun. The traditional Irish day celebration is to drink heavily, the drink of choice being a beer dyed green, until you pass out in the street – thus the move to a Saturday. Luckily, we chose a classier route with our day drinking:

20160311_134317
Yes, for once Budweiser was the classy option!

There is a big Budweiser factory on the edge of Fort Collins which has an amazing restaurant/ bar/ beer garden. They also for a limited time have Clydesdales! These are big strong horses that used to pull the Budweiser carts back in the very early days, and now kind of act as mascots. They’re also placed for maximum picturesqueness (totes a word) in front of the mountains!

20160311_133917
And they kept grooming each other! ❤ ❤ ❤

They also had some inside the stables, looking extra fabulous and also ginormous:

20160311_134141
His name is Eric!

But anyway, we enjoyed our beer in the sun and it was deeply relaxing. One each was enough for us to be deeply sleepy, and wimpy US pints no less! Only 470 mL, I mean really. So, we returned home to relax in the house for a bit before carrying on with our day.

As you can imagine productivity trailed off quite sharply into the evening, but we did eat healthy salad for tea and pop into the shops once more. We went to get Rob’s skis polished, and to scout out rental skis for me. We also, after much coercing from me, dropped into the Puppy Store! It’s just so cute, I can’t help it:

20160312_173208
Just some of the tiny friends up for sale!

Don’t judge me! What, I’m supposed to just not look at the puppies? I’m not dead inside and I love them. Also don’t worry about the small pens, they alternate getting them out for a run around so they’re only in there when they’re sleepy. Luckily I only looked at the puppies since Rob sensibly did not let me get any of them out for petting. One day!

That’s all for now, more soon! In the meantime, Happy almost St Patricks day to you all! 🙂