Friday, November 9, 2012

A whole year has passed . . .

November 2012, and a year ago I was in Steamboat in the middle of a trip which took me back and forward across the country, ending with the escorting my Blueberries Quilters from New York to Houston.  2011 was a big travel year for me so have lots to tell.  What I am going to do is work backwards to the beginning of 2011 and try and catch up.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Wagga Artists "Art on the Levee"

I came upon a magical setting on the banks of the Murrumbidgee - a group of artists who exhibit once a month beside the river. They have been provided with a wonderful weatherproof hanging space which was full of great paintings and as I wandered around enjoying the art, the artists sat and chatted in a creative ring under the huge Murray gum. It was such an inspiring scene I wanted to move to Wagga immediately and join their group. Fresh air, sunshine and creative spirits made my heart soar.

Wagga Farmers Market a true farmer's market

Nothing is is more exciting than finding a farmers market on the weekend you are in town. Wagga Wagga has a beauty the second Saturday of the month - with real farmers selling their produce! Potato growers, cheese maker dairy farmers and olive growers pressing oil and pickling gorgeous olives of many varieties. The setting is by the lagoon on a wonderful grassed area surrounded by Wagga's rich art precinct and along with live music and eating areas, you have a foodies paradise!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Devils Thumb Ranch, Winter Park

I had planned this special stay at Winter Park so we could just hang out and catch up with my family.  Devils Thumb Ranch is magnificent and we commenced our stay with a bottle of Verve watching the sunset looking for moose along the river banks below and then enjoying a beautiful meal in the Lodge.  We had an open fire and comfy couches and were able to chat long into the night - perfect!

We had planned on hiking with Matilda on Friday and Kate and Chris were going to go mountain biking, christening Katy's new bike.  However, we are now having our first bad weather - it is cold and raining and more than likely to snow.  So we just hung out and had a late breakfast/lunch and did some shopping and enjoyed this beautiful place full of antiques and art and huge open fires.  Winter is coming and it arrived in the early hours of the morning blanketing the whole valley in snow and making the drive to Boulder fairly treacherous over Berthoud Pass.  This is the Colorado I know and love!

Boulder was warmer and sunnier fortunately as we were headed to Folsum Stadium for a college football game between Colorado University and TexasTech.  The tradition is to have a tailgate party in the car park of whereever you happen to be.  Such fun as where we were was the Best Western, so the bbq was set up on the black top parking lot of the motel.  It was fantastic.  Chris cooked delicious brats from Middle Park Butchery in Kremmling and we shared lots of good food and laughs before heading to the game.

This was another great American experience.  The stadium was packed mostly with yellow supporters with a few red Texas Tech followers.  The huge college band played and the cheer leaders performed.  I loved it and feel enriched for the experience.  Not only that but the motel was opposite the 29th Street Mall so we could put in a couple of hours shopping before dinner.  Heaven!

Matilda stayed at a doggie B & B in Boulder complete with a pumpkin patch for Halloween.  Back to Steamboat now and a few days to unwind before heading home.

Amtrak Grand Junction to Winter Park

This is one section of the trip I have been feaful of, mostly because I knew it was going to be a big job to get Joy and the luggage onto a train from a station where there is no platform as is the case in the US.  It was a little easier than I had expected, thanks to the help given by a wonderful conductor called John.  US trains are often double stories which I was unaware of and since Joy could not really get up the steps we took a seat in a really nice downstairs section where nobody else was sitting, and prayed that we were going to where we wanted to go.

It turned out that this was a special disabled section, not really open on this trip as it required the purchase of a special ticket.  However, the train was under loaded and we stayed there anyway and the journey was fantastic.  I am not sure I will do it again but I got out of it exactly what I wanted - a chance to follow the Colorado the whole way to Winter Park through Glenwood Canyon and in particular remote Gore Canyon.  The cottonwoods and aspens were golden and the river twisted and forged its way in the opposite direction to us.  Many people were using the river in float boats fishing, rafting and fly fishing all along.  I felt we were following further, the history of this mighty river and its inhabitants as each little ranch or town or settlement seemed to tell a different story and purpose for being.  Five and a half hours later we stopped at Winter Park and into the arms of the anxiously awaited Martins - Katy, Chris and Matilda.  A spectacular sight for me!

Sorrel River Ranch Resort

I found this beautiful resort scanning the iPad on Google Earth - a great place to spend our last night on the road and a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World chain.  It was position right on the banks of the mighty Colorado River and was a world of green grass, horse riding and a vista to compete with everything we had already experienced.  It was nice!  We watched some rafts float by and enjoyed the sunset on the imposing buttes and cliffs at our backs, then dined in the restaurant and congratulated ourselves for making it this far.  It was a magical place and I could imagine the less intrepid enjoying a few nights here, where they offer all the off road experiences in Arches and Canyonlands you would want.

Thursday morning we head for Grand Junction and into Colorado.  Lusty Leroy the sat nav narrator directs us through Cisco which I am sure is a ghost town which in the early morning light looked particularly scarry.  The road from Moab to Sorrel followed right along the banks of the river and in the morning we continued the route until we joined the I-70 east to Grand Junctiona airport to return the car and make our way to the Amtrak Station.

Moab, Arches NP and Canyonlands

We drove north for a short distance to the bustling city of Moab, Utah - centre for all things action from canyoning, rafting and rock climbing - I felt slothful watching all these people running and riding and being quite early were able to venture into Arches NP for a great afternoon.  I liked the effect of the afternoon light on the very red, remarkable rocks.  We could be forgiven if we were canyoned-out after where we have been, but we enjoyed Arches just as much as all the others.  Overviewing the whole NP it was interesting how the features, including the massive naturally occuring arches, were clumped in unattached areas.  It was hard to comprehend that these features were made by water and winds.  I was able to take the usual 40 min trek to offset American food and enjoy the fresh air. 

To finish quite a relaxing day we enjoyed Italian take out from Pasta Jays which came recommended from guests at Valley of the Gods and certainly did not disappoint.

Canyonlands was on the agenda tomorrow morning and in particular Dead Horse Point I had read about and was high on my list of "must sees".  Canyonlands was probably our least favourite if we are going to rate them at all, but I could see that for active holiday makers it would have been perfect as the mountain biking and hiking was accessible for all levels with great diversity of trails.  Dead Horse Point was spectacular enabling a vista of a gooseneck of the Colorado River and the "canyonlands" for 360'.  I was able to trek out along the rim of the canyon in complete isolation - very peaceful and spectacular.

One highlight on our return to Moab was Shafer Canyon overlook where we ran into Lauri and Chuck from Valley of the Gods - what where the chances of that happening and it was like seeing old friends.  The feature was a road or trail into the bottom of the canyon immediately below where we were standing.  We watched in amazement as a couple of regular vehicles descended and ascended the presipices and switchbacks without any barrier for protection - more adreline junkies!  Our good weather continues and our road trip is coming to an end on Thursday.