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Animals

Feedback from family (grandparents) and friends is that they are enjoying the holiday pictures, so we will continue…

We watch a lot of nature documentaries. Gorgeous Man and Gorgeous Girl are committed bird watchers and Gorgeous Girl has her own life list of birds that she adds to. [Side note: if you are coming to Papua New Guinea and you are interested in birds do get in touch Gorgeous Man frequently hosts visiting bird enthusiasts].

One of the documentaries that we watch often is about North America and has a segment on elk who wander through a town during the summer. The town featured on the documentary is Estes Park, so we were really hoping to see some of the native wild life while we were visiting. We had a competition going to see who could spot the first animal. I won with a sighting of these elk. These were spotted as we were driving to the National Park.

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I have to say I was really charmed by the beautiful houses in Colorado. I’m very partial to the use of wood and there were lots of wooden houses around.

Inside the Rocky Mountain National Park we spotted these mule deer.

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I love the new camera I got for an early birthday present last year. It has a much larger zoom than my old one which makes taking animal photos much more satisfying.

More deer having a rest.

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But we didn’t have to go into the National Park to see animals. There was great excitement (from all of us) when these guys turned up in the front yard.

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There were quite curious, but didn’t stay for long.

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We also saw these guys up close in town.

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But much to our disappointment didn’t spot any moose.

Snowshoeing

Keeping with the theme of outdoor winter activities…

We booked in for a guided snow-shoeing walk in the Rocky Mountain National Park. These activities are offered for free and are conducted by rangers and volunteers, but you do need to book in advance.

We once again hired equipment and headed for the park. We were early and so took a practice walk before the group was due to meet up.

We walked across a frozen lake to this frozen waterfall. I discovered that I quite like snow-shoeing. I think that if I lived in a snowy place it’s something I’d like to do much more of. I certainly felt more comfortable doing this than sledding and it was much less painful than the ice-skating.

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It was really cold. As we were waiting for the group to assemble it started to snow. The ranger checked the temperature and announced that it was -13F (-25C). During the pre-trip briefing she said that if anyone in the group felt too cold to continue at any time they should let her know and one of the volunteers would escort them back to the starting point (car park). About 4 seconds later Gorgeous Girl informed Gorgeous Man that she was too cold to do the walk. So she and I sat in the car while Gorgeous Man tromped through the snow.

It was this day that we realised that the winter clothes that Gorgeous Man and I had with us were inadequate for the weather and on the way back from the National Park we stopped at a thrift store and purchased a warmer winter coat for the princely sum of $5 each. The cabin we were staying in had a washer and dryer, so a few hours later they were ready to wear.

Ice skating

Are you tired of reading about our trip yet?

In keeping with our winter sports theme, Gorgeous Man also took Gorgeous Girl ice-skating. They purchased a day pass at the YMCA in Estes Park and this gave them access to the frozen pond and skate hire.

Gorgeous Girl took to ice-skating very well and enjoyed thoroughly. If we lived in a different place I suspect we’d have a winter athlete on our hands.

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We all went back a second time. I tried ice-skating. I used to love it when I was a kid, but it just caused too much pain this time (not surprising given all the trouble I’ve had with my feet over the last few years). On our second trip to the YMCA Gorgeous Girl also took advantage of a friendship bracelet making class that was on offer. I sat  in and learned how to make a new design from the ones I’d made in high school, so that was cool.

As a result of this class we made a trip into Fort Collins to visit JoAnn’s and pick up some embroidery cotton, among other things.

An added bonus to the ice-skating is that Gorgeous Girl discovered yesterday that she’s much more confident and sturdy on her rollerblades.

Sledding

We had a quiet Christmas. Fresh snow, a sleep in, roast lamb and vegetables for lunch and an open fire. We didn’t exchange a huge number of gifts because a) we were travelling and b) the trip itself was part of combined Christmas birthday gifts for everyone and I believe that experiences are more important than things.

After Christmas we had some fabulous clear sunny days and so decided to take Gorgeous Girl sledding. We hired some sleds from The Hiking Hut in Estes Park (which doesn’t appear to have a website) and headed for Hidden Valley in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Here Gorgeous Man and Gorgeous Girl are dragging their sleds from the car park. Anticipation was high.

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There is no filter on this picture. When we arrived the slope was quite empty (it filled up before the day was through though).

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A nice gentle slope for first time sledders.

Gorgeous Girl squealed a bit the first time, but then took to it like she’d been sledding all her life. She was leaning and using her hands to steer the sled (this became more critical as the slope filled up) around other sledders. I was very impressed at how well she did.

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The concentration was high, sledding is serious business.

I took a turn.

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It was fun.

Gorgeous Man took many turns. Both solo

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and with Gorgeous Girl.

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We created some wonderful memories that day.

Scenery

Colorado was just beautiful. I love mountains. We spent quite a few days in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was cheaper for us to buy a year’s pass rather than pay for daily entry. Here are a few of my favourite shots.

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I have to admit that while the views were spectacular it was kind of nerve wracking driving on the roads (I didn’t drive, I left that up to Gorgeous Man and he was unphased by it…).

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Same road on a different day.

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Still driving carefully.

Aren’t the mountains fabulous?

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I feel very privileged to have been able to visit such a beautiful place.

Glass Blowing

Estes Park is a truly lovely little town, though very oriented towards the tourist. We spent a few hours wandering around the town. Gorgeous Girl was very taken with the taffy stores and made a point of looking in the display windows every time we drove through town to see what colour was being made that day.

One of the stores that we really enjoyed visiting was Mountain Blown Glass. During the day you can see glass being blown and turned into beautiful things. I’ve always been fascinated by glass blowing. I know that I am too clumsy to be trusted with molten liquid glass, so taking it up as a hobby is off the table, but I love watching masters at work. This is Dave who made a cranberry coloured Christmas ornament while we watched.

(Pictures taken with permission).

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Isn’t it pretty? I admire the skill involved in this so much

A visit to the snow

In which we take a break from craft blogging and inflict holiday photos on my readers (mainly so family and friends can view at their leisure…).

A few days after my graduation, my Mum returned to Perth and it was time for Gorgeous Man, Gorgeous Girl and I to make the long journey to the United States. I was presenting a paper at a conference and we decided to go over early and have a holiday beforehand. We flew with Hawaiian Airlines and I have to admit that we weren’t really impressed with the travel experience.

We had a ten hour layover in Hawaii, so we left our bags at the airport and explored the city for the day. The layover was nice, but it meant that our travelling time was extended and we were exhausted when we had finished our journey.

Gorgeous Girl was so excited to see snow on the ground that we had to stop in the car park of a service station (parking lot of a gas station) so that she could get out and touch it. We were after a white Christmas and we figured that Estes Park, the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park was a good place to find that. We spent our first night in Colorado in a hotel near the airport and visited Walmart and Target to outfit Gorgeous Girl in winter clothes before heading up to our accommodation. I had passed through Colorado very briefly 22 years ago while back-packing around the USA and was excited to spend more time there.

When we got to the cabin it started to snow.

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Gorgeous Girl was very impressed.

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We woke up the next morning to a winter wonderland.

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Gorgeous Girl raced out to make snowballs.

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She didn’t last long outside :P But when she saw Gorgeous Man shovelling snow she was so excited she rushed out without her shoes.

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I loved being able to wear my hand knits and sit by the open fire knitting and just relaxing. I like winter…

 

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