Monday, 14 March 2016

Sunshine Adventures : Colorado & Utah

Seeing as I started writing this weeks and weeks ago I thought it was about time I got round to finishing and sharing the second part of our epic January holiday adventures!

At the end of our first week's holiday down in Cornwall we packed up and started the drive back to Cambridge (via the amazing Gloucester services again!) for one night only before we were to set off in the morning again for the airport.

It was a tiring trip all round but after all the driving, a cheeky stop off beer in Iceland and a lot of inflight films we finally made it to Denver, where I could not stop singing the theme tune to one of my old favourite cartoons...

We only stayed in Denver over night so we didn't really see any of it other then the HUGE area of hotels not far from the airport. In the morning on the drive out though we saw some stunning views of the rockies stretched out in front of us and took some amazing winding mountain roads up and over to Colorado!

We arrived in Ouray, Colorado just before dark and aside from some jet lag niggles slept very soundly until morning when we were greeted with AMAZING snow filled, mountain views. After stocking up on supplies (food and gear) we ventured out into the lovely historic town and went for a walk around the Ice Park where we would be spending most of our days...

Ouray Ice Park is a man made ice climbing venue in a beautiful natural gorge. There are pipes running along the tops of the gorge and at night the water is turned on to build up ice ready for hundreds of climbers to tackle and enjoy.

Some of the climbs are super high but we started off on the kiddies wall while the boys refreshed their skills and I got to grips with the basics. I'm not going to lie... I was petrified but after a couple of practice swings with my ice axes and a bit of stomping around in my cramp ons and boots I felt confident enough (just!) to give it a go and get on the rope...

It was hard work but great fun and I really enjoyed it in the end, even more so than rock climbing which also slightly terrifies me! As the week went on we tried larger climbs and by the end of the holiday I was pretty chuffed with my efforts and how high I had managed to get up some of the routes! Will and his Dad did much harder stuff than me on a few occasions but it gave me more time to toddle off and explore the snowy wonderland scenery!

When you're not climbing or hiking around the park looking for routes it gets pretty chilly so at the end of the day we often made a b-line for the incredible Hot Springs that were at the bottom of the road - just past the park full of deer! It was the BEST way to relax and unwind after being out all day and I only wish there were natural hot springs down the road from us in Cambridge so we could do it more...

While we were over in Colorado we also had the chance to take a couple of trips out of town to take in some different sights and activities - more adventures! YAY! In the middle of the trip we packed up the 4x4, left the snow in the mountains and headed out to more snow in the deserts of Utah.

It was a stunning drive and once we were there, exploring the national parks which were dusted in snow was incredible. We managed to get out to Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands in the two days we were there and the views did not disappoint! 

When we arrived back in Ouray after our mini adventure to Utah we were greeted with a tonne more snow which made the surrounding mountains and town look so beautiful and serene! It also encouraged us to look into finding nearby ski resorts so we could make the most of being out in the mountains with so much fresh powder around.

Half way through our second week in Ouray, we decided to venture out along the Million Dollar Highway, up and over more mountains and down in to Durango where there was a HUGE ski resort. It's been a good few years since I've been on a snowboard and being with two skiers is always a pain but after a few tantrums and tears I finally 'found my feet' and started to enjoy the slopes and stunning sunshine that joined us for the day... not to mention the apr├ęs ski beers!

I think that covers most of our activities and adventures in and around Ouray and Colorado, hopefully with the right balance of words and pretty pictures for you to look at? I think it's safe to say that we had the most incredible time and although I spent a lot of the trip out of my comfort zone I would do it all again within a heartbeat! You can't beat the outdoors and the thrill of trying something new... and most of the time you often end up surprising yourself with what you can do when you put your mind to it (and have an amazingly patient and kind other half to teach you scary things properly!) 

Oooh and I guess it wouldn't be a complete adventure if I didn't mention FOOD or DRINK! I can't say I was won over with any of the American cuisine we sampled (apart from a super tasty and enormous rack of ribs I had one night!) but it was fun finding marbled rye bread and trying different 'candies' and local ales. 

We also stopped at a Taco Bell on the drive back to Denver, I have always seen and heard Taco Bell mentioned in TV shows and films so have always wanted to go! Sadly though, it was not as amazing as I had imagined and certainly not as exciting as the packaging on my taco made out...

...still... "when in Rome" eh? And the disappointing Taco Bell was made up for by another stop off at the most pretty little ski town called Frisco and a naught nutella and pretzel based treat!

So there you have it, the end of our incredible January jollies and an adventure of a lifetime! And here is the Sunshine doodle I started while I was out there and finished in colour on the way home, it was tough trying to capture everything but I think it does the trick...

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope you like the doodle too! Thank you for reading and please do get in touch (via the comments or email) if you'd like to know more about any of the trips we've been on!

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