Wednesday, August 30, 2006

InSpiral Coaching

How exciting! Chris has finally got his website up and running for Inspiral Coaching. I think it looks great. A friend of a friend designed it - all in the space of about 5 days - Amazing - thanks Peter!! For those of you who didn't know Chris studied for his Life Coaching diploma last year and has been doing some freebie coaching over the course of the year. Finally it feels like it's all really happenning with the website up and running! Check it out!! Now he just needs to start making some money so we can carry on travelling!!!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Moab Brewery, Canyonlands & stuff

A few days have passed since our last update. Got back from a great couple of days away in Mesa Verde - what a place! Back in Moab - which is beginning to feel like a home away from home we've been here so long! (for us anyway!) The Slickrock Campground in Moab is super-friendly with a great little pool and hot tubs so we've just loved our time here - and decided that the best campgrounds we've had so far in 20 months are definately down to personality - and this one gets it (the owner base-jumps and talks about buying a Ducati after-all! - clearly Chris made a friend!)

Spent another day out of our little 'home' and ventured 30 miles to Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park the night before last - great state park campground - excellent sites with a fab picnic shelter with electric and even a cupboard!! (mmm - I can see that you might find it a little strange that I can get so excited by a cupboard! - you had to be there!) Anyway this is where they filmed the finale shots in Thelma and Louise where they cruised the car off the cliff. I guess if you're into that sort of thing it would be a fairly impressive way/place to go! Had a great BBQ which we became so engrossed in we missed the sunset - made up for it and watched a sunrise the following morning - only 2 others about that time of the morning - where is everyone?!!?! - Such a beautiful place in summer and there's no-one around?! (the schools are back here on the whole so already we've noticed things getting slightly quieter - good on the whole for us!). Did spend the night out in Dead Horse Point - just camped out at the back on the RV in sleeping bags under the stars - which blew me away - what a sky?!!?!? I didn't want to close my eyes to such a view. Really not much light pollution about in this corner of Utah - nearest town was 30 miles away and that's only small.

Next day spent in Canyonlands National Park. Whizzed round all the main viewpoints and did a couple of short walks out to arches or viewpoints. Nice views of Upheaval Dome - 2 theories on how it got there - either a meteor crash or a salt uplift of the deposits of salt from when this area was covered by oceans - about a gazzilion years ago (I think they are a little more precise with the dates which I don't recall myself right now - but it was a really, really long time ago) Also a FAB arch called Mesa Arch - like a short hike to this arch and this sheer drop off with no warning at all - it was still early and the whole underside was all glowing in the early sunlight - cooooool!

Anway. Back to the present. Back in Moab. Hanging around really waiting for some new tires for the motorbike to be UPS'ed to us here. Have 'discovered' the local Brewery which in itself is a good enough reason not to move on. Spent this evening there for their 'end of summer' celebrations - won a $25 gift certificate (which went some way to paying for our evening out!) in the raffle and enjoyed $1.75 pints - god I hate happy hour prices!!!! Imaginatively named the 'Moab Brewery' I can highly recommend - and their beer and cheese soup is to die for!! (get the extra chilli sauce poured on top to give it that extra kick - mmmmm!!)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Our road trip within a road trip!

We've left old Harvey parked up in some dusty lot back in Moab, UT and we've come away on a little adventure on the bike for a couple of days! Back into Colorado - and Mesa Verde National Park in the south-western corner. (gives us some insight into how travelling into Mexico on the bike will work - and it's going to be tough - we almost filled the luggage as it was for just 2 nights away!) It was only 150 miles so nothing too tough on our first outing with the bike loaded up - will need to do some 'tweaking' at some point to shift the panniers so I can sit more comfortably.

Found a cheap and cheerful motel in Cortez and went to explore.

We had a couple of hours in the park yesterday evening and toured one of the houses open to the public - the 'Cliff Palace'. It's the largest of the cliff dwellings there and it quite well preserved. It's dated from around AD1100.

Found the local brewpub on the main street in Cortez and had a great meal and evening.

This morning we went to Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado - and were done by lunch! Visited the Four Corners Monument - the only place in the US that 4 states meet. There's a bronze plaque and lots of cheesy Indian arts & jewellery to tack the place up!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

More Arches..

Spent more time in Arches National Park. The place is amazing. We've been going in each day before dawn and again in the evening - mainly to beat the heat when we're riding around on the bike. We did a great sunset walk out to Delicate Arch which is probably the most 'famous' of the arches here - it's depicted on the Utah state licence plate and the most photographed - great light at sunset and a lovely walk back in the twilight.

Yesterday we got up at 4.30am to ride out to the far end of the park - 45 mins ride from where we're staying to do a 7 mile hike along a primitive trail taking in several arches along the way. Didn't see a single other person until 9am - 3 hours after we'd started and just minutes before we got back to the trailhead! Lots of great animal tracks in the sand - trying to work out if any of them may have been cougar!!

The afteroon we did a ranger-les walk into the 'fiery Furnace' area of the park - you can't get there unless with a ranger or with a permit. Fiery Furnace is a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons and fins and there's no trails and it's very maze-like so easy to get lost. It was a 3 hour walk with lots of interesting facts from the ranger and really cool narrow ledges, tight squeezes and arches to scramble through

Colo Nat Monument & Arches Nat Park

Our '1/2 Way point'!! In the sense that we have now visited 25 states and today crossed the state line into our 26th!! We've done 28,000 miles in the RV and 7,000 on the bike to cover all these states! This may or may not be the 1/2 way point in terms of time!

What an amazing day! Full of lots of spectacular scenery. Woke up early at our campsite in Colorado National Monument (not a 'statue' or anything, but an amazing red rock plateau over 2000 ft higher than the Grand Valley in western Colorado, near the Utah state line). There was a 23 mile 'rim rock road' to drive - very precarious edges and drops overlooking the valley below and bizarre rock formations resulting from the erosion of the various levels of rocks. Rode out at first light when the temps were great and the roads empty.

Drove on into Utah! The scenic route to Moab. Along the mighty Colorado river past more incredible scenery. I think this is something of things to come in Utah! All Red, all huge, all awe-inspiring. Found a great campground on the edge of town with a great pool where we flaked out for the afternoon.

This evening we rode Donkey into Arches National Park. Mmmm - there's lots of Arches, Balanced rocks and views to gaze at - not enough adjectives to describe it all without being repetitive! Needless to say it's kinda neat! Watched a blazing sunset before heading back to our nicely air-conned RV!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Riding the Million $$ Highway

Yesterday we rode out on the bike along the 'Million Dollar Highway'. From Montrose, through Ridgeway and onto Ouray. The area is often dubbed 'Switzerland of America' - very rugged mountains surrounding a quaint little town full of Victorian buildings. Only the main street is paved - the rest just dirt roads leading off to the edge of the mountains - all very nice. Just after Ouray the road started getting really funky - very twisty and just hanging off the edges of the mountains - I'm glad we weren't in Harvey! We were stopping every 5 mintues to take photos and admire the view. It's called the Million $ Highway coz of the ore they used to build the road - this is a huge old mining area - we also passed lots of old mine works and ghost towns along the route. Silverton is another quaint old town and the terminus for the Silverton & Durango Steam Train - we saw the train in station - which wasn't so much a station as a track dead-ended bang slap in the middle of the road in downtown! More interesting shops, cafes, etc. It was pouring with rain so we just hung out in one of the cafes for a while. Coz of the weather we turned back at this point and back to Ridgeway - and the Orvis Hot Springs - lovely!! Spent the rest of the afternoon soaking in the main pool - around 100 degrees. Popped into the local town for dinner, then back to the Hot Springs for the rest of the evening. Watched a specacular sunset and gazed at the stars until 10pm when we got kicked out and had to zoom the 16 miles back to the campground in the cold/dark!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

..It's a National Park - nah - we'd never heard of it either!! We're staying just outside of Montrose, CO. Very nice. Rode the 15 miles to the park. Did a small hike around the rim area. It's 2000ft deep and no more than 9m wide - much less in places. It's 'black' because it is so dark and dingy and inaccessible it was this great big 'black hole'. Eroded away by a storming debris-laden Gunnison river on a misson - it drops an average of 96 feet per mile - up to 480 feet in a particular 2 mile stretch!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Rafting the Arkansas River

What can I say - awesome! Spent Saturday afternoon getting wet on class III & IV rapids - with names like 'widow-maker' - nice! Such great fun. This was a first for me and Chris had been on the man-made whitewater in Nottingham so not quite the same thing! It was a Saturday so it was a manic day on the river - dozens of rafts on the water - a few hold-ups as others wrapped their rafts but we didn't know any better - we were having fun! The Arkansas river is supposed to be one of busiest stretches of whitewater in North America!

This is my scrapbook page of the event. No photos of our own - just the 'professional' one taken of us when we were in the most 'hardcore' of sections!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Beer Call on Mt Elbert

That's it - the last one I'm doing! This was it - the highest point in Colorado and the 2nd highest point in the lower 48 states. It was 'orrible! No boulder field this time and no full body scrambling which was nice but instead it just went up vertically - the whole way. 1000 feet a mile. Anyway we got there (amidst much grumbling and huffing and puffing from moi) and since it was 4pm on a Friday (in UK. It was 9am Colorado time) Chris was still on RAF time and 4pm Friday means beer call apparently - so he/we cracked open one of Colorados finest brews to sup at 14,433ft! Awesome! Of course the views were rubbish....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Leadville - a town at 10,200ft

Leadville is a groovy old mining town - ugly from the outside driving in, but a really nice, old town main street. It's at the grand old height of 10,200ft!! Pretty fresh up here! Will be basing ourselves here for a couple of nights - plans to hike another 14'er - the highest in Colorado!! (are we nuts?!?!!? - or just sad addicts?!)

Talking of 14'ers - did the easy approach yesterday. Mt Evans is just 9 feet higher than Longs Peak and you can drive all the way there!! It's a designated scenic byway and it definately is scenic. Could clearly see Denver way off yonder. The road takes you all but the last 130 ft to the summit - they expected me to walk the rest of the way!! (and this was the day after Longs Peak!) All pretty darn cool!!

This morning we took a drive by Breckenridge. Nice, nice ski resort. Very hip and trendy, lots of bars and cafes. Had a great 'Rasta Pasta' lunch (interesting Rasta inspired pasta dishes - pineapple chicken curry pasta - yum!)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bagging our first 14'er! - Long's Peak

The day after.....I'm still too pooped to write anything. Chris will guest-present!!

We did our first ever 14er today and I’m feeling it now; particularly in my knees from the downhill. And what a downhill it was too; seemed to take hours; actually it did of course take hours, almost 6 of them!

14.2 miles there and back with an elevation gain of almost 5,000ft, (about 1,000ft per mile and a half!) with an average moving time of 1.8 mph. to put that into perspective we normally average around 2.6 mph in the hills! The first 4.2 miles was a fairly easy trail; even with the elevation gain and the altitude I was surprised how easy it was, but then we hit the boulder field which was exactly that; hopping from boulder to boulder. Then it changed from flat boulder hopping, to steep boulder scrambling for the last 1.6 miles. Lots of hands and feet stuff going up this ridiculously steep climb called “The Trough”, (I thought troughs were usually flat!) then round a corner to an(other) incredible view before we very gingerly made our way along a long open ledge before climbing the last bit called “The Home Stretch.” I really didn’t want to think of the climb down at that point coz most of it would be slipping and sliding on hands, feet and backsides – for 1.6 miles!!! Of course the view from the top made it all worthwhile but we still only spent 40 minutes up there having lunch before it was time to head down again. (Although we were in no rush; it is more than a little recommended to be off the top by midday due to lightning storms coming in most afternoons)

The whole trip from bottom to bottom took us 12 hours and 12 minutes with about 8 hours of that actually walking; starting at 3 am and finishing just after 3 pm. (Obviously!)

The most memorable part for me was after the first hour or so; coming out of the tree line still in pitch black and seeing Denver all lit up some 40 – 50 miles away and 5,000ft below us – awesome!!! Then as we got higher and more people started appearing below us out of the trees there was this scattered zigzag line of torches flickering in the early morning dark back down the trail and into the forest, very cool. And then at about 5 am, an hour before dawn, we turned our light off as there was just enough ambient light to see the trail by. Watching the light change as the sun crept up was stunning; the mountain in front of us lighting up pink and the sky behind us changing colour with every step.

We're knackered but it was worth every aching joint and foot hop spot. I wouldn’t like to do that last half, (down) again though!!!

Long’s Peak; at 14,255ft it’s the fifteenth highest of Colorado’s 54 mountains over 14,000ft – a new me record!!!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

By-bye Pat

Wednesday we dropped Pat off at the airport quite early and made our way to the REI store in central Denver (REI is an HUGE outdoor co-op store that we're members of - lots of really cool stuff and the sort of place we try not to spend a fortune every time we walk through the door!). They were hosting a free seminar about hiking the Grand Canyon (which is something we want to do in the next couple of months). Very interesting, funny and well presented talk by the director of the field institure based at the park - it was a great evening. Rode back through the city at night - actually looked a far more appealing place than it had when we strolled around during the day!

Spent the last couple of days in Denver. Had some strange sounds coming from the underside of the RV which Chris got down and dirty to find and then fix.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Rocky Mountains

Time has gone quickly these last few days with Pat here. We've done some more awesome hiking - Chris & I did a great hike up to a backcountry lake called 'Timber Lake' on the west side of the park - our highest altitude so far - 11,060ft. Lots of wildlife spotting too and it's been great to have someone here that appreciates it all again from scratch - perhaps we get a little bit blase!

Since leaving the National Park we've driven a scenic route through the hills/mountains passing through Granby, Winter Park and now Nederland. It's already Pat's last whole day. Are stopping in Nederland this evening as it has a particularly good looking Indian/Nepali restaurant called 'Kathmandu' then into Denver tomorrow for some last minute shopping!