So I had my first attempt at driving on the wrong side of the road last week. Of course I had worked myself into a panic about it before I got to the car hire place. I dont think this was helped when I nearly got in the wrong side of the car forgetting that the steering wheel is on the other side! How embarrassing, I naturally pretended that I was putting my bag in that side but was praying no one saw! The woman at Hertz had done an excellent job of selling me stuff I probably didnt need so I set off in a bigger car than I had booked (to get over the mountain passes) and insured for every possible eventuality......perfect. Unfortunately I couldnt get "She'll be coming round the mountains when she comes" out of my head which was annoying.
I dropped the car at Gunnison Airport and Julie picked me up in her monster SUV to drive me to Crested Butte. Crested Butte is gorgeous, its a tiny little town that looks like a film set surrounded by mountains. Jeff and Julie took me out for a delicious meal and said that occasionally a bear wanders in to town but there is really no crime so no need to worry about that. Quite honestly I wasnt worried about crime I was far to busy wondering where I could buy a gun to take care of the bear.
I had been to the Tourist Information and discovered that on 4th July the firemen would be making pancakes at the fire station. Count me in firemen and pancakes, two of my favourite things!
On Tuesday I decided to hike to the top of Crested Butte mountain. Well when I say hike I mean get on the chair lift and have a little wander about at the top. The view was spectacular although I felt like I was about a hundred with the thin air making me huff and puff like I smoke 40 fags a day! When I get back to sea level I will feel fit as a fiddle. In the afternoon I sat under a tree reading, thats where I met my new Mexican friend. He couldnt speak much English but he seemed pretty confident that one day I would be his girlfriend, he didnt seem to mind that I was 12 years older and 2 foot taller! I am getting concerned that I am becoming very good at attracting odd people! On the plus side though I did manage to avoid giving him my e-mail address or phone number so well done me!
Met a guy called Hollywood while watching a band at the park , very American. Julie and I went for Sushi today, I have never been to a Sushi restaurant before and I had walm Sake. The great thing about altitude is that the alcohol goes to your head quicker so I am an even cheaper date up here! The food was great and after dinner we went to the Cowboy Bar where instead of bar stools you sit on saddles!! Great gimmick.
Tuesday Julie and I go up to a place called Emerald Lake. Crested Butte is very much about the outdoors life and it is gorgeous. We drive most of the way and then walk the last mile or so. The lake is small but chrystal clear not to mention chilly. On the way there a Mule Deer jumped on to the road right in front of us, a couple of seconds later and he would have jumped on the car.
A Brass Band have arrived at the hostel which has livened the place up, Amy, Lauren and Jeana are my new room mates (they are the only 3 girls in a 20 piece band). The band invite me to join them for a BBQ and of course I accept. We went out drinking after and once again I had a great and cheap night (less alcohol required). When we got back to the hosted Lauren made cookies ......mmmmmmmmm cookie dough!
Wednesday was 4th July and there was plenty going on. Julie and Jeff started off their day with a third of a marathon run which finished in the town centre. I decided to just meet them at the finish line. The bit I was most looking forward to was the pancakes cooked by firemen, I was not disappointed! After breakfast was the parade, some of the floats were pretty imaginative. There were people snowboarding on the back of a float (hard to explain how) and the Mayor of Crested Butte on a zip line over flames and in to a big tub of water. In the afternoon Jeff and Julie and I went to Long Lake and spent a couple of hours relaxing by the water before I went back to watch my new friends in the brass band perform in the Town Park. There were quite a few drunken older ladies in the crowd dancing dressed in the American Flag, all very understated as I am sure you can imagine! The band were great though.
Thursday Julie and I went for a mountain bike ride. Now I have ridden a moutain bike but never on an actual mountain. I was a bit nervous of falling off. Had I have known that a mountain lion had been there a week before, falling off would have been the least of my worries. In the afternoon we prepared food for the family gathering Julie was holding for Jeff on Saturday. Thats right I said WE, I was in charge of peeling stuff mostly. The local police had set up a bear trap a couple of doors away from Julies house as a large 300 pound black bear has become a bit familiar. Apparently he had spent an hour in a condo lobby (perhaps he is considering moving down from the mountain to more modern accomodation?)
On Friday I wandered round the shops and fell in love with a Rhinestone belt ($199), just what every traveller needs! I didnt buy it but it was so pretty and sparkly. I also went to the Cinema by myself, I think I may do this more often as it means you dont have to share your popcorn!
Saturday Jeffs family (including Kooey the dog), Julie and I were going on a short hike. What I discovered though is that a short hike means climbing a 12000 foot mountain which took a mere 5 hours! I have to say that the view was worth it but coming down was better! After demolishing the food Julie had prepare (all really good) we had a few drinks. As everyone left I went out to have a look at the bear trap. The police were outside keeping an eye on the black bear that was sniffing round the trap. This was great on the last night I get to see a wild black bear from the safety of the balcony and it had a police escort! When the police left and we lost sight of it I retreated inside.....just in case.
I have had a great week with Julie and Jeff and Jeffs family. I have been very well looked after and have had quite an active week. Anita (Jeffs mum) is kindly giving me a lift to my next destination in the morning. I am going to see Joe (another of Liz's friends) and I have been warned not to go out for 'a quick coffee' with him. Apparently this is code for lets go and get exceedingly drunk which I think is how Liz ended up in a nightclub dancing in her pyjamas????