Entry three: Wednesday 8th August:
Politics, politics, politics…
The time is 11:43 pm and I’m sat in my undies in a beautiful hotel room in Aspen, Colorado. (The undies are a result of the heat- we can’t find the air conditioning- I’m not being pervy.) Anyway, having found this beauty online this morning, we made the 150 mile journey from Colorado Springs over here today, driving through the mountains reaching peaks of 12000 feet. I haven’t filled you in on our stay in Colorado though, however, so I’ll go in reverse-chronological order.
We arrived into Denver airport around 8pm local time on Wednesday 1st, having endured a 3 hour delay at La Guardia in New York. The delay was ridiculous- apparently the rain in Chicago delayed our pilots from getting to New York on time, hence we got onto the plane on schedule and then had to ‘deplane’ on account of the delay, supposedly due to post-9/11 security regulations, only to be hurried back onto the plane half an hour later and spend two hours on the runway circling. Why are these people always on strike!?
Anyway, our first full day in Colorado Springs, having settled into my dear Uncle’s beautiful home, said Uncle decided to take the day off work and give us a tour of Garden of the Gods. It was a world away from New York- suddenly the scenery around us was green, not grey- the objects scraping the sky were Rocky Mountains, not Chrysler Buildings. And in general, Colorado had a generally happier vibe to it, rather than New York, which is akin to London in terms of tourism and busy commuters rushing to get to work, people were a lot more chilled here- probably due to the fact that everyone we encountered had a huge, pristine house and some sort of recreational vehicle.
Which brings me of course, to the weekend- Neil very kindly offered to take us camping up in the mountains- something he regularly enjoys with a close-knit group of buddies who all own dirt bikes or quad bikes. We stayed in a campervan and enjoyed the benefits of his friend Noel’s cabin, a beautiful wooden cabin in the middle of a forest with easy access to mountaintops. From there, we tried our luck at quadbiking (exceeding 25mph no less!) and drank in the view- it really is indescribable from 8000 feet in the air. I don’t mean to come across as all hippyish, but it really was beautiful sitting up so high watching the river without the sound of passing traffic to ruin the moment. The fear of bears, on the other hand, brought me back to reality!
Meeting all of Neil’s friends really gave me an insight into the ways of Americans versus the ways of the English. Neil tells me that Colorado is quite a conservative state, and I certainly had some impassioned (drunk) political discussions with some of his friends around the campfire, and got a deeper insight into this Mitt Romney fellow who’s getting so much attention at the moment. Overall, I don’t know if I can go as far as to say Americans are more into politics than English people; obviously it depends on the individual, but they certainly do come up in conversation more often, and they all seem to centre around American patriotism. Talking of which, Americans seem to have so much more pride in their country than we do in England- just attending baseball games which are interrupted by the national anthem told me that much.
Perhaps the American pride is simply a result of their way of life- I honestly felt as though all the people I met had never experienced stress in their lives. During my time in Colorado Springs I went to a lot of people’s houses- all of them were huge, tidy, with various amenities that would be unheard of in England- whole basements dedicated to entertaining, with their own bars, football tables, drumkits, even cardboard cut outs of John Wayne! I guess they’re just happier, particularly in this state, because of the scenery they have around them. I’m sure I’d be grinning from ear to ear on a daily basis if I could see mountains every way I turned. The people of Colorado really seem to take pride in the nature around them- you could tell simply by how often the recent devastation from forest fires came up in conversation.
Comparisons between the Americans and the English aside, Craig and I had quite a few adventures in our short time in Colorado Springs, not including a very uneventful Rockies game. We spent a day in Cave of the Winds, a huge cave underground with all sorts of natural beauty- stalactites and such. I also went on a zipline 500 feet above a forest- which Craig was too scared to go on! We also took our lives into our hands by hopping on a pair of pushbikes and trying out American roads, which was a good enough reminder to stay on the right hand side of the road…
We cycled up to a local five star hotel, the Broadmoor, and managed to blag our way into valet parking- for our pushbikes- and a free walk around the hotel lake. We decided if anyone asked, we were posh little rich kids from England whose fathers were Brian May and Richard Branson. So after being treated like William and Kate rather than Craig and Katie for an afternoon, we got back on the bikes and tried to accustom ourselves to the roads once more…
…which is just as well, as this afternoon we headed over to Colorado Airport to pick up our hire car and begin the real trip- the road trip. After a lot of waiting around, all I can say is-
Thank God for trainees.
We were supposed to be getting a Toyota Yaris- despite the tenacious salesman trying to sell us a ‘bigger car’ after taking Craig’s height into account. However, a young-looking trainee passed our salesmanthe wrong set of keys which happened to be for a Toyota Corolla. The salesman just laughed and said, ‘hell, you’ve been waiting long enough, I’m gonna upgrade you to a Toyota Corolla.’ So that was a very welcome upgrade! A gorgeous, laughably large ‘small’ (by their standards…) car with air conditioning- what more could we ask for? Shame I couldn’t blag free second driver insurance in that giveaway but hey.
After getting a little lost by Colorado Springs airport, Craig had quickly adjusted to automatic transmission and roundabout-less American highways and we were on our way, which brings me into present time, after a four hour drive through some very high and precarious-looking clifftops. We are now chilling out making the most of the free wifi in our gorgeous hotel in Aspen, and look forward to a day exploring tomorrow in our shiny new automobile.
So there you have it- politics, parking and precarious mountaintops, all within a week. Next stop after Aspen is Utah, so watch this space…