Fall Drive!

Hi All,

Long time no blog! Apologies for that, we’ve had a pretty busy couple of weeks. Let me tell you all about them πŸ™‚

Firstly, two weekends ago we decided to go on a drive around Northern Colorado, to see the fall colours. There are a lot of Aspen trees throughout Colorado which change a beautiful orange/ yellow colour in Fall (a.k.a Autumn), and because the temperature changes quite abruptly between seasons you tend to get an intense few weeks of Fall here, rather than a few months of Autumn. Not wanting to miss anything we plotted out quite a long route, which took us most of the day to cover:

A casual 155 miles, with 5,711 ft elevation gain!

The route is mostly quite small dirt roads, and since we felt that our poor car couldn’t handle such things without shaking apart we went ahead and booked a rental car. We asked for a smallish SUV, but somehow ended up with what I think might be the largest car in existence…

Rob had to pose because I couldn’t get my elbow up on the bonnet…

That, my friends, is the Dodge Ram 2500 – it has a 5.7 litre engine, weights around three tonnes, and is two meters tall. We both had to run and jump to get into it! It was most definitely capable of handling the back roads though, so off we went.

The first part of the drive was around 90 minutes long, and we took it slowly so that we could do some sight-seeing. The views and trees were beautiful, and the remoteness was extremely peaceful. We also got to see this guy, posing nicely for our pictures!

Cute bird, but scary talons…

It was not easy to sneak up on him in our gigantic car, but somehow sneak up on him we did! I think he’s a young Golden Eagle, but name that bird at me if I’m wrong πŸ™‚

As well as the great wildlife, the forest was very beautiful – and like I said you can see the roads are nothing if not rural!


Our first stop was the cheerfully named Deadman Lookout, which was stunning. It’s home to Deadman Tower, one of the last remaining fire lookout towers, and has great views across Northern Colorado and Wyoming:




We were the only people there, and probably the only people around for quite a way. We had a wander around the area looking at the sights, and then settled down to eat the sandwiches we’d brought with us. We were going to eat these at the picnic table there, but sadly the table was under a few feet of snow… instead, we took the long climb up into the back of our pickup truck and ate there πŸ™‚

Rob basically had to throw me up there…

This had the added advantage that if any bears came sniffing around, we could run down and hide in the truck πŸ˜‰

Once we finished our lunch we drove on, heading towards Diamond Tail Ranch. This is something that I hadn’t heard of before, but is apparently a full Bison farm just two hours from our house! We were promised that we would see huge herds of Bison, but they were apparently hiding for the winter. We’ll go back for them another day, and for now we enjoyed the beautiful views and the many friendly cows:




Sadly the pictures don’t capture the colours very well, since it was such a bright day, but rest assured that it was absolutely stunning πŸ™‚ We drove nice and slowly through the ranch so that we wouldn’t upset the cows (who were basically lying around everywhere, including in the road) and took lots of pictures. There were a lot of calves there, so I got very excited watching all the tiny calves run around together ❀

The stretch of drive back down towards Poudre Canyon looked very Alpine, and was almost completely lined with Aspen trees. These trees looks especially bright against the grey mountain backgrounds:



I loved it!

Finally, we got to the Chambers Lake turning which would take us back home via the Poudre Canyon. Again, Chambers Lake was one of the Lakes that we hadn’t visited or even really heard about, although we must have driven very close to it a fair number of times. It was very pretty, especially with the mountain view in the background and despite the clouds!


We stopped here briefly to have a look around, and then made our way home via the Poudre Canyon. Lots of bumping around in the car and some very nice views!

We were extremely sad at the end of the day when we had to give our car back, since we’d become very accustom to such an insanely high vantage point and such tough suspension. We finally did agree to return the car, and had a quite scary ride back to our apartment in our considerably lower-to-the-ground Subaru! All in all a great day though, and we’ll definitely have to find a similarly awesome Winter drive once the snow comes…

More soon πŸ™‚ Xx

Seattle – Part Three!

Hello again!

Welcome back to Seattle, where after the fun of the aquarium we decided to double down on Nature and visit one of the many state parks in the area…


Washington State, especially around the Seattle area, has a whole bunch of spectacular forest. Not just any forest though, but Old Growth Forest! This is basically what it sounds like… very old forest that has been undisturbed for a long time, so is massive and has lots of rare plant growth.

We started our Nature exploring with Squak State Park, and what we thought was a nice short four mile hike…

The forest itself was beautiful, and there was almost no-one around which made it even better. As with all things American it was also very big!

Tall tree time!
Even taller tree time!!

The whole hike was supposed to be about a four mile round trip, which we thought would take us about three hours if we were going slow. It certainly helped for Rob and I that we were once again back near sea level, where walking is a much easier task! Mum too was in her element:

Pro-hiking tip, always carry a stick

We walked for about two hours whilst going uphill the whole time, which suggested that perhaps we were not as quick at walking as we thought we were. The humidity was also an exciting challenge, and something that us Mountain people had completely forgot about! Feeling good, we decided to risk getting attacked by bears by sitting down and having a lovely sandwich break. Possible bear attacks are another advantage of Old Growth Forest πŸ˜‰

My lovely family, seen here hoping a bear will attack me for their amusement…

Full of sandwiches, on we went!


The whole hike really was stunning, although all in all it ended up taking us about six hours and was most definitely not four miles! A lot of US hiking trails only list the one way distance as their overall distance, especially on there and back trails, so it’s very possible that the map reader (…me) made a very understandable error there.

Despite my shenanigans, we did eventually make it back to the car πŸ™‚


After our fun with the forest we decided to continue our nature theme the next day, but with much less walking about. We booked in to do the thing that I was extremely excited about… Whale Watching!!

Specifically, Orca/ Killer Whale watching! We booked in with one of the local tour groups, put on all our warm clothes, and gripped our cameras tight. To see the whales we actually had to go quite far out to sea, and even briefly cross into Canadian waters. Fortunately while some whale tours offer smaller boats so that you can get really close to the killer whales, we opted for one of the big, comfortable boats and the reduced chance of getting eaten.


This meant that we ended up having a few comfortable few hours boat trip out to the San Juan islands, and got to do some top quality bird watching on the way! And yes, I like bird watching now. Pity me. But at least I got some good photos out of it πŸ™‚



I probably would’ve got more photos, but about an hour into the trip the fog descended! It was actually very beautiful, although did obviously have a pretty detrimental effect on visibility…


Pictured: Birds?

The picture above was literally as far out as we could see in any direction for almost an hour, which did make us start to worry about our whale watching chances. Fortunately once we got a little further out it cleared up again, and then all we needed to worry about was how much ocean there was. It sounds silly, but seriously – so much ocean.

Now pictured: Whales?

You can see a few ships in the picture above, and we ended up doing what is done in most nature watching tours… follow the other ships until they find something. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long!!


Very exciting times! There was a whole pod swimming along together, and I got somehow even more excited once I spotted the baby whale ❀

Do you see him??
Seen here blowing water! Aiiiee!! ❀ ❀ ❀

It’s actually a miracle that we didn’t capsize the boat – the whales could stay underwater for a few minutes at a time, so when they disappeared everyone would run around the top of a boat in a panic trying to figure out where they were, and then run over to the same side once they were spotted again. So freaking cool!

After a half hour watching the wales we stopped off at a port called Friday harbor for a quick spot of food and some sightseeing…



Then back to the boat!

On the long way back towards Seattle we were treated to even more delights, including some seagulls, cormorants and extremely sleepy looking fur seals:



As well as this, more whales! Or possibly the same whales coming to eat the fur seals, it was hard to tell.


Whatever the case these whales were definitely more lively than the ones we’d seen before. You can see the whale above blowing water, plus one of them treated us to some breaching! This is where the whales jump out of the water nose first, for reasons that are not at all clear to me. Here he is just leaving the water…

Whale zoomed

At which point I decided the two thousand photos that I had of whales/ empty ocean would be enough, and instead focused on shouting “DID YOU SEE THOSE WHALES??” at literally anyone who came close to me.

Well played, Nature. Well played.


More soon! Xx

Seattle – Part Two!

Hi All!

Sorry for the delay since the last post, we were having too much fun in Seattle to keep up with blogging so ended up leaving you hanging. That is about to be rectified though with a flurry of new blogs, and no more than half of my 3,000 holiday pictures… promise!

So, back to Seattle and on to day two where we started our day by visiting the famous Aquarium. The Seattle Aquarium is at Pier 59 on the waterfront, and integrates the waterfront into it’s displays. It’s famous for it’s great exhibits, as well as being a big promoter of Marine conservation.

One of the first exhibits that we saw were the frankly amazing Giant Pacific Octopuses (Octopi?), which were charmingly named Taco and Umbrella. Umbrella was pretty standard as far as octopuses go, whereas Taco was a complete lunatic.

This guy…

Apparently he’d only been in the aquarium for a few days, and he spend the whole time we were watching him shooting around his tank like a maniac.

To start with he fired himself at some children who were watching, and actually managed to get a few tentacles out of the water at one point:


After that he fired himself around the tank a little more, then stopped to take a break that mostly involved puffing himself up and changing colours:


Whoa, Taco!

He stayed still for almost a minute changing from white to red and back again, before resuming his shooting around. Apparently the Octopuses will turn white or mottled when they’re resting or trying to blend into the rocks, getting more red the more engaged they are. I’m not sure what it means when they turn spiky, but that’s what Taco did next:


The Octopuses are one of the first things that you come to in the aquarium, but we probably spend a good half hour standing watching him. Finally we managed to drag ourselves away to the other exhibits, which were made up of slightly calmer animals.

They had a great group of Harbor seals and Fur Seals, both of which had wonderful views out to Puget Sound from their cages. A lot of the aquarium is actually outside connected by piers, so it’s very scenic throughout.


You can see that the walkway in the picture above is cement, as is most of the aquarium. It gives the whole thing a really nice industrial feel, which I loved!

About halfway around the aquarium we reached what might be the most famous exhibit – the Sea Otters! I confess that I lost my mind a little bit when I saw them, they are so damn cute. Many children were pushed out of the way, and many pictures were taken. We were lucky enough to get a Dad Top Tip from my father, which is to visit the aquarium early in the morning – since the animals hadn’t seen much happening overnight they were pretty interested in the first guests of the day. Here is a Sea Otter checking us out:

Oh hai! ❀

They’re actually bigger than I thought they’d be, they were about four feet in length including the tails so about twice the size of the River Otters that you usually see in aquariums. When they weren’t checking us out they spend some time lying on their backs and relaxing, which was so freaking cute:


I love them ❀

After those guys we moved on to the River Otters, who were considerably harder to photograph! One stopped and looked at me for a minute just to tease me, and then shot off just as I was taking the picture…

“Mwa-ha-ha, blog this”

Still,, at least I tried!

After spending another hour wandering around, at least half of which was devoted to spending more time watching Taco, we headed out to walk a little further along the waterfront. The whole area is very pretty, and actually not that dissimilar to an English waterfront:

Complete with Ferris wheel!

Rob, Uncle Chris and I then spend some time playing the various games that were along the front while the rest of the family stopped off for cake. This included a very energetic game of table tennis, hindered only slightly by the damaged ping ping ball:


We also checked out the arcade and had a great time at the only-slightly-terrifying shooting gallery:


We all got high scores despite the fact that the bear thing is clearly haunted, and at one point moved to look directly at Rob…

Nightmare Fuel

Eventually we regrouped, and got ready for the treat that Auntie Mary had planned for us for the afternoon – a food tour of Pike Place Market! We’re all pretty keen on our food, and the tour looked frankly awesome.

The meeting place for the tour was one of the famous features of Pike Place Market – the Gum Wall! Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like:


The Gum Wall has gradually built up over time – the wall is outside the Market Theater, and so people waiting in line used to take their gum out, place it on the wall and stick a coin to it. This apparently was quite pretty, but had the problem that people kept sneaking in and stealing all the coins… This is how it ended up just being a gum wall, which was voted the second germiest tourist attraction in 2009! We were told that the theater workers have tried a few times to take the gum down, but it always gets replaced quite quickly. We were not willing to touch the wall in order to add gum of our own, but we did see a few people who were brave/ foolish enough!

After this not very appetising start to the food tour, our excellent host Danny showed us around the area. We tried an excellent mix of food, highlights of which were the freshly cooked donuts, the Filipino longganisa sausage, the Greek yogurt from Ellanos, the Chukka Cherries and Etta’s Crab Cakes. These were just a few of many tasty samples though, and after two hours we were starting to struggle! We also learned more about the ethos behind the farmers market. The idea is to get food directly from the producers, and that the food follow the ‘FLOSS’ guidelines – Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sustainable.

Here we are eagerly waiting for our award winning Clam Chowder sample, spoons in hand!


At the end of all this excitement we managed to fit in a tiny bit of dinner, then home for movies and early bedtimes!

More soon πŸ™‚

Seattle – Part One!

Okay, I hope you’re all caught up with the Moab blogs because we’re moving quickly along with our holidays this month!

Rob’s parents have returned to England (boo!) but have been replaced by my parents, and my aunt and uncle (yay!). Rob and I had a few days to adjust and get some work done, and now the lot of us have made our way over to Washington State. We’re staying in Seattle for the week, and we’re very excited about it! As is now the norm, be prepared for many pictures…

We flew in yesterday afternoon and got set up at our holiday home, and today is the end of our first day actually exploring the area!

We started off by getting a bus downtown and exploring the famous Pike Place Market:


Pike Place Market is one of the iconic landmarks in Seattle, and has existed since 1907. It’s right on the waterfront, and has a very impressive range of stores! Lots of fresh fruit, tea, seafood, spices and the buskers provide the live jazz. There’s also a very lovely urban garden on the roof which was a pleasant surprise.

After enjoying the Market we wandered a little further afield, and quickly found a lovely little park. This was right next to the water front and very serene, despite being so close to the city center:


It was also next to a very tasty seafood restaurant, which we decided to try out for what will hopefully be the first of many fishy lunches…


I had a big bowl of mussels, and was very pleased with my choice πŸ™‚

Once we were nourished we continued on, and finally got our first view of the famous Space Needle!


We were eager to get closer, but resisted the temptation since we wanted to take a quick peek at the Olympic Sculpture Park along the way. This is very much what the name suggests – a big, beautiful sculpture park right by the water.

More art πŸ™‚

I haven’t described it in detail since there really isn’t much to say that the pictures don’t say already, but I definitely recommend giving it a look if you’re ever in the area.

After the sculpture park we made our way inland, and got to the base of the Space Needle! It’s a really lovely area, and happily covered with free wifi courtesy of Microsoft (Bill Gates has a house in Washington!) so we didn’t have to struggle to much to find our way. Behold!


The Space Needle is 605 ft tall, but surprisingly (alarmingly) narrow… only 32 ft wide at the narrowest part! We’ll definitely need to get some good views of Seattle at some point during our visit, but today we were not brave or patient enough to scale the great heights. Instead, we decided to have a look around the fabulous Chihuly Garden and Glass!

Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibit showcasing the work of Dale Chihuly, a Seattle based artist who works with glass in a natural setting to create beautiful pieces. We didn’t know much about it going in and were a little skeptical, but my goodness was it stunning.

One of the first pieces that we came across was this large column, which was made up of lots of individual glass pieces and very beautifully displayed:



The column filled the room it was in at about 15 ft tall, and the dark walls and reflective base made it seem even larger. As you can see it’s also very carefully lit, so the whole piece is illuminated.

Another piece that stood out was the Persian Ceiling, where the glass pieces are arranged above and the light filters through them:




Dad and I were both taking pictures the whole time, as you can see in the picture above πŸ˜‰

Another awesome piece was the Underwater Scene, that took up a room the size of our whole apartment:




Oh, and the boat floating on the water containing sculptures was awesome…


As was this chandelier!


Okay, perhaps I should calm down with the Chihuly…




Just kidding, we haven’t even gotten to the gardens yet! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Seriously, this Chihuly guy you guys
The glasswork was incorporated throughout the garden
Plus you could see the Space Needle!
How could I not take a million pictures of this?!
Plus the greenhouse! Have you SEEN this greenhouse art?
❀ ❀ ❀


Okay, okay, I’m done for real now. But I loved it, and couldn’t resist sharing far too many pictures with you all πŸ™‚

More soon! xx

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…


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.

Om nom nom ❀

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


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 πŸ™‚

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:



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.

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!




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:

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:

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…


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 πŸ™‚

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!

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…

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!

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…


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!



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…

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…


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:


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…


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.

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!



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.


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 πŸ˜‰


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:


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…


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…


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?

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!


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.


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


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…

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!


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!


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 πŸ˜‰ )

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 πŸ™‚

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

More soon!

Bike to work day

One thing I love about Colorado is the sun. It’s not just that it is uplifting, or that it makes outdoor sports more fun, but it’s much more pleasant to cycle in. Fort Collins itself is absolutely bike crazy.

There are 28 Bike shops in Fort Collins (this compares to 9 in Coventry (UK) which is twice as big as Fort Collins – 316900 people vs 156480 in FoCo), and there are lots of good biking events like races, fancy dress events, trail routes and bike to work day.

IMG_3357On Fort Collins bike to work day, there are 60 Breakfast stations set up all over town, most of which have Bike tuning stations. My work colleagues and I were kindly given the early part of the morning off by our boss (Chuck, in the red top in the background) to go and tour around these stations, get some free breakfast and get our bikes tuned up.

We also ran into Smokey Bear, a US mascot who warn’s of the dangers of Wildfires, so naturally we got a picture together:

20170628_083710.jpgAfter several more stations and loading up on OJ, breakfast burritos, granola and fruit, we made our way to the New Belgium who were reportedly doing beermosa’s (though they had run out by 8.50 when we arrived, so I ended up withΒ Fat Tire and a pizza bagel).


To top off the morning and digest our beer, we played Rolle Bolle. It’s a game, a bit like shuffleboard / curling where you have to roll a ball that looks like a cheese wheel along a cylinder and try to land it at the other end without going off.

roly-poly.jpgNeedless to say, it’s pretty fun and just the right amount of mental exertion after a morning of cycling and half a beer.


PS/ For those wondering, I was wearing my new Softball Top for the Quantum Mechanics, and I went with the name ‘Ringo’ as ‘Rob’ is too difficult for most Americans to understand in my accent.

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:


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:


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!



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



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…

“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!

Aced it

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



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!


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:



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 πŸ˜‰

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!


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!


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:


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:

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 πŸ™‚

❀ ❀ ❀

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):


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.


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.




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…

It’s missing something…

Once we got the pictures, we were off!


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:

Stunning rocks!
Blue Skies!

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…

“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:


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.

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.


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

Mad skills

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

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 πŸ˜€


More soon! Xx