Our trip continued to be full of entertainment! We hung around the hotel lobby being entertained by an ADD guy who was training to be a Methodist minister as he continually hopped on the computer and muttered to himself as he sent emails or something and asked us the same things about Australia. He was very informed and intelligent and was waiting for the train too which was going the opposite way, but still in the wee hours of the morning. When Raye picked us up and dropped us at the station just after midnight he was still there with a chain smoking man from New York who had been waiting to be picked up by friends since that morning!!! After the train east left, another guy arrived to catch our train, who was training to be a pastor as well. All the time, a Christian radio station was playing Hillsong music in the station. Ahhh, it must be Sunday.
The train trip was good. The conductor was friendly with a great sense of humour and he found us a double seat each across the aisle from each other so we were able to sleep for the 5 hour trip. We woke up as we pulled into Denver. We walked out of the station and caught a free bus up the mall, which is about 2 km long. As it was early there were no shops open so we just rode the bus up and down until we found a coffee/ breakfast place. Then we went to the information place and decided we needed to book a car over the internet so found a café with free WiFi and ended up picking a car up from Enterprise in the Hyatt lobby which worked out really well as not only was it the cheapest and closest company but they had what we wanted available immediately, so no more lugging heavy bags!! Hallelujah.
From Denver we headed straight up to Estes Park in The Rockies, stopping on the way at Boulder - a Uni town where we got slightly lost but found a great Farmers Market where we were able to buy healthy food - our first since leaving home. Estes Park is absolutely gorgeous.We stayed in a hotel that had probably seen better days but was clean and had a comfortable bed and was right on the river - location location.
We walked back into Estes Park in the bright sunshine, with me wearing ¾ pants and a t shirt with sleeveless vest. While we were wandering around the shops, it started snowing!!!! So I had to walk back the 2 kms with my arms tucked in my sleeveless vest!!! That night we dined on game meat at the Hunters Lodge restaurant.
Next morning dawned bright and sunny, so we dressed in a similar fashion, but this time I threw in my windproof jacket just in case, as we were heading to the National Park for a 7 km hike. When we arrived at the car park, after driving past snow at the side of the road, we noticed everyone was wearing gloves, beanies, ski pants, jackets etc. We discovered why fairly quickly as the beginning of the trail to Bear Lake, which was rated "Easy", was covered in ice. As we continued on past the lake to Alberta Falls, the track continued to be icy with snow either side. People were using those walking poles which I had always thought to be a little over the top, but soon I was using 2 pine branches Sam got for me!!! The track further on ended up being an unimproved track and was covered in ankle deep snow - fortunately we were able to follow people's footprints to find the way. I fell down a hole on the track, twisted my ankle, cut my shin spectacularly and put both hands into piles of snow. This, added to the fact that we were now 3000 metres above sea level at this stage and I was suffering altitude sickness, led to a minor meltdown on my part. The track continued up to Lake Haiyaha along cliff faces and through wind storms, and then descended past Dream Lake and Nymph Lake back along an icy track to Bear Lake. Total walk about 11 kms and time taken over 5 hours!!! All this was done with a small bottle of water and a container of trail mix after no breakfast - we broke all the rules of course. It was one of those many " Glad I did it once it was over" experiences that I seem to regularly have with Sam.
Went to an Elk viewing spot on the way back to our room. We decided we needed a coffee so we found a coffee shop called "Kind Coffee" as it sold fair trade coffee and then collapsed in the hot tub at the hotel before having dinner at Ed's Cantina and Grill - buffalo stew and a Marguerita!!
On our last day in Colorado we drove back into the National Park to check out another trail - fortunately no time to hike it!!!, then up a bit higher for some views before doing some final shopping in Estes Park, including the op shop. On our way back down to Denver we stopped and checked out Capernwray's Ravenscrest School - a beautiful place..
After returning the car, we caught the airport shuttle bus - driven by a woman still learning the job. Halfway there we were pulled over by the cops as she had not turned her lights on - a ticket and fine - bit rough I think personally, but things got worse. After being dropped off at the airport, we walked over to catch the free hotel shuffle to the nearest hotel to the airport (as we were due at the airport really early next morning) only to discover that my phone had fallen out of my pocket on the bus. This caused me to go hysterical and Sam to run around trying to find a way to retrieve it. 2 hours later we were at the hotel, still minus my phone, although we had managed to find its whereabouts but the only way of getting it back was to spend $100 on a taxi fare and spend all night getting it!!! My phone is now on its way home to Adelaide I think, and I miss it!!!
Our complicated trip to New York was via Atlanta, Georgia, and Raleigh - where we had a lovely visit with Tempe, Rick, McKenzie, Jackson, Margie and Van. The plane to New York was a little small for my comfort - only an 80 seater, and we had to move passengers around to get the right weight balance - but we made it safely.