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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Thursday, September 27, 2012

We were very excited to hit Colorado as the visions of green were much anticipated after the brown grass of nearly everywhere else. We went straight into Rocky Mountain National Park to a RV campground for our first shower in days, bliss. We were there in time to cook tea which Liz got onto straight away, just as she was finishing up Alex went to the toilet, in her absence a big bull elk doing a mating call come to visit. When it got to about 10metres away Liz decided to finish cooking and shift all the gear to the other side of the van, at about 5 metres away she jumped in the van with all the food and hoped it wasn't hungry, thankfully it decided Liz wasn’t the lifelong mate it was looking for, and moseyed sideways before walking directly in front of the van and down the grassy patch. Alex came back at this stage and we both hung out the window taking photos of it. The next morning Alex went for a run and came across 4 bull elks fighting, she decided to detour from her jogging route. We thus decided the campground was aptly named –Elk meadow.

The next day we took the drive through Rocky Mountain National Park to a cute town on the other side. It’s pretty high up in old Rocky Mountain. Just walking up a slight incline to the toilets had us puffing at one point. We feel justified in this as it is the highest continuous paved road in the USA, its highest point being 3713 metres. Luckily we acclimatised quick enough. We saw some weird furry creatures on the way and some more elk and deer lower down. It was really pretty, this took up most of the day so when we got back to our side we had a quick squiz at the shops in the village before heading back to the RV park.

On Saturday, we were told that to get to the point where we wanted to do walks we had to be on that road by 8am before they closed it to traffic because of road works. The previous day we had seen our campground advertising the famed biscuits and gravy for breakfast, not having had this American delicacy yet we signed up. Thus at 7.30am we showed up at the lodge awaiting our breakfast, we were both surprised (and a little scared) that the gravy was white, but the American’s serving were stunned we hadn’t had it before and raved about how good and delicious it is. The 'biscuits’ which were not as good as scones, but looked like scones, were dripping in this white peppery sausage filled sauce. It was one of the most bizarre things we’ve eaten and our bodies were sorely regretting it as we began our hike for the day. Why America? Why?

Our hike on the other hand was gorgeous, we stopped at 4 different lakes and walked through beautiful forest and crazy rocks, it was just marvellous. 10 miles later we were starving, that’s miles people! We didn’t realise at the beginning how long our planned walk was and only having a little bag of free pretzels that we grabbed at breakfast we were very happy to see the van that afternoon. Stupid us however, had boiled up potatoes the previous night to have for lunch, naturally this would be quite nice, but having had biscuits and gravy for breakfast and then potatoes with salad dressing on them for afternoon tea, it was a highly disappointing food day.

That evening we headed to Denver to see Alex’s friend Lance, from her Nepal missions trip. He is hilarious, a typical American, we loved how many times he said dude, we wished we counted. That evening he took us out for pizza, food day redeemed! The following morning we went to his church and bible study, got free Korean food, then out for Chinese/Vietnamese for lunch, mmm so good. Aching to do some baking we planned a kiwi dinner for Lance and his friend. We cooked up Kiwi burgers, afghan biscuits and pavlova. Ahh, a little slice of heaven. It was good fun hanging out with Lance and co. we love him and his friends. On Monday we went to the Denver museum of natural history and science. We loved it, Alex got to see Pompei all over again, and wear a lab coat to do tests on herself. Liz got to study the stars and watch a video on super volcanoes. We both watched this awesome 3D IMAX film about tornado chasers and this guy who built a vehicle that could withstand being in the eye of a tornado, it was awesome.

After 2 days in Denver we went down to Colorado Springs to stay with another friend of Alex’s from the Nepal trip. It was so nice, we got to shower for the 5th day in a row, talk about extravagant! (It all went downhill from here however) Erin was great, we baked afghan biscuits for her too (mainly so we could eat them) and she took us to the Garden of the Gods, a crazy giant rock park nearby. We then made our way to Aspen where we hiked to a beautiful reflective lake surrounded by autumn trees and snow topped mountains, we love Colorado! It is our kind of state. We then headed back into the township of Aspen to do a little bit of shopping for presents and snowboarding gear. Whilst walking down a main street a kind gentleman pointed out to us the black bear above our heads in the tree. What the?!? It was so awesome a young black bear was happily munching away on apples in a crab apple tree. Woohoo, tick off seeing a black bear, stoked! We took a lot of photos! Standing right underneath the tree the bear couldn’t care less about us tourists. We were told that earlier he had scampered down one tree further away and up this one. So cool. We then headed to Colorado Junction for the night and saw Colorado National Monument, a park full of big canyons and crazy rock formations.

Wednesday, we headed to the acclaimed state of Utah. Every American we met raved about the national parks there and how we had to see them. Hmm turns out Americans don’t know us very well and we were surprised to discover the vast lack of anything green in all but 1 of these parks. In fairness to them, they were very unique. Alex liked them more than Liz who by rock park no4 was a little tired of rocks. The first stop was Arches National Park, we arrived in the afternoon and it was hot, so we boosted it through the park leaving the walks till it had cooled down a little. There were some pretty funky arches. We then went to Bryce which has these weird things called hoodoos which are basically a gazillion pillars inside canyons, very strange. Next was Zion National Park, which thankfully had some green and we enjoyed all the walks we did in that park, taking full advantage of the free shuttles which dropped you at the head of each trail. We stayed the night in St George and managed to find a lovely community church to attend Sunday morning. We quickly lowered the average age just by walking through the door, it was awesome, they had hymn books in the pews, which we used for every song, little communion glass holders and pencil holders in the pews.

It was straight to Arizona from there and the mighty Grand Canyon. We arrived there in the evening with just enough time for Alex to see whether there were any spaces free for her to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and stay the night. Luckily people had cancelled their booking and she could go. Liz was too chicken to do it. We were told it was an 8-10 hour hike from the bottom of the canyon back up and we both imagined switchbacks up a sheer canyon wall. Liz did not relish the thought of paying $45 for the torture of walking uphill for likely 10 hours and declined the opportunity. Alex with a few nerves (especially as the man also told her about the lady who died walking up and showed her the book they have all about people who have died in the grand canyon) signed up and began mentally preparing herself for the journey. The next day we took a shuttle out along the eastern wall of the canyon and walked parts of it, both of us were most surprised at the width of the canyon and the fact that it doesn’t go straight down. We had a very early dinner and went straight to bed (as Liz said she would walk down the first of the walk with Alex). Up at 4.30am we caught the shuttle to the trailhead and began walking down at 5.30. By the time we got to the way down point the sun was rising and we got to sit and watch it for awhile before parting ways. Liz stayed there until the sun was completely up before heading back up the path, which took the same time to get up as it did to get down, which was less than an hour. Liz was most disgusted to learn from Alex the following day that that was probably the hardest part of the trail. Hmm these canyon people talk it up a bit too much. Back up the top Liz then walked along the rim trail, filling her day with reading and walking and making tourists scared by how close she stood to the edge, it was marvellous.

Meanwhile, Alex made it to the bottom by 9.30am and got to spend the rest of the day exploring the bottom of the canyon and sitting by the deer on the river’s edge. At night time the ranger took her on a scorpion hunt, they also saw a ‘ring tailed badger thing.’ Alex was up before the crack of dawn to face up the mighty challenge of the walk back up wanting to ensure she wouldn’t have to walk too much in the heat of the day (this was on a different path that had water stops on the way up) she arrived at the top in just under 5 hours. Hmm once again we feel very mislead by these people. Thus she had to wait at our arranged meeting spot for a good 3 hours as Liz was not expecting her back till after lunch. That afternoon we had a glorious shower and did some much needed washing before beginning the drive to Vegas baby.

As we all know what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. See you in California :-p
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