Day 29! Home Time

As we were at the airport and then sat on a plane for nearly ten hours I was unable to complete the blog yesterday.

We finished our holiday in the casino of course and once again, left on a high note. If ever you’re there make sure to check out the Monopoly machines. Besides us, we saw lots of people having lots of luck on those machine, they are fun to play.

We are now back in Blighty, reminiscing about our great vacation. We saw so many wonderful things, met so many wonderful people and learnt lots of things along the way and the weather was a mixture of snow, sun and heat.

Our flight was uneventful and we were very glad to see the car waiting to bring us home. The flight was full, 475 people! I didn’t know a ‘jumbo’ held that many. When we checked in we were told the flight was full and overweight! That was a little disturbing.

As you can imagine, a flight leaving Vegas on a Sunday was full of the young, beautiful and single making their way home after a rather lively stay!! Most of them were not interested in having an alcoholic drink, they’d had enough during their stay.

All I have to do now is unpack the cases! We had two bags overweight but the kind lady at check-in just charged us for one bag so $60. Unfortunately for us, our three cases were chosen to be opened and searched by security. I always pack them the way Homeland Security tell us too but still they pick on us. I think they must think we are a couple of scoundrels or some such!!

We were just working out how long we’ve actually been awake and it’s 31 hours! Mind you I did sleep for a couple of hours on the plane, Si never sleeps, and we’ve had a little nod or two this afternoon but all in all we don’t feel too bad.

I think the World Cup has kept Si going and I’ve been catching up with my soaps plus we’ve watched the season finale of Game of Thrones!! Roll on next year and Season 5.

For me, I think the one thing I will never, ever forget is driving up the 14,000 mountain, Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. It was more hairy than driving the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Si’s favourite place was the Grand Tetons. In particular, seeing the Moulton Barn and of course the great privilege of having five photos featured on Flickr’s Explore.

Alas, it saddens me to have to say, once again, ‘farewell’ to all our loyal followers. To thank you for your interest and for the comments you posted. It’s nice to know we are not just ‘talking’ to ourselves.

So, until we all meet again, we would just like to say ………………..

(I do not own the video or its content)

arrivederci, adeus, hejdå, 再见, zoi geen, zai jian, tot ziens, au revoir, tschüss, shalom, ciao, じゃね, anyeonghi gasyeo, poka/Пока, adios, hejdå, tạm biệt, vΘleft, farvel, ya sas, tókša akhé,

 

 

Day 28! Las Vegas

Well, the ‘wind down’ is almost complete!

We’ve said ‘farewell’ to the pool. It was very windy this morning and only 84ºF but the wind ceased and it warmed up somewhat.

England’s playing Italy on the television so that’s keeping Si occupied and I’ve been re-packing the bags. Fingers crossed, we should only have to pay excess baggage on one. The lady at check-in may be kind to us, they don’t always worry so much about baggage weight on the way back!

Oh dear, England lost, not good. Let’s hope they can make amends when they play Uruguay next Thursday!

Goodness, good job we are ‘suited and booted’ as they say, ready for dinner, as the lights in the bathroom have just fused ……………… the maintenance brigade are on their way!!

Some time later:

We’ve been to our ‘farewell Vegas’ dinner. We went to Sensi again here at the Bellagio as we love it there. We had a superb meal. I had just about the best filet mignon I’ve ever tasted, it just melted in my mouth and the mash potato made with wasabi and cream was out of this world. Si had his favourite (no, not ribs) but crispy shrimp and then diver scallops. We both shared the chocolate soufflé for dessert. We won’t need to eat for a week!!

Sand outside Sensi

Sand outside Sensi

Flowers outside Sensi

Flowers outside Sensi

Our Chocolate soufflé

Our Chocolate soufflé

Si at Sensi!!!!!! Not the best photo in the world!

Si at Sensi!!!!!! Not the best photo in the world!

Sand inside Sensi!

Sand inside Sensi!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The evening finished on a high note gambling-wise, so no complaints there!

Tomorrow afternoon we fly home and land on Monday morning so our final post will be from good ol’ Blighty!!

See you ‘across the pond.’

 

Day 27! Las Vegas

It’s busier here today, the ‘weekenders’ have arrived ………. the young, beautiful and unattached!!!!

It’s a cooler day, only in the 90’s, there’s a breeze but it’s not until you come indoors you realise just how hot the sun still is. Shade and lots of suncream still required! We don’t want to come home looking like a couple of leather chamois!!

After time round the pool and food, we went back to the Aria Cafe again,

Si at the Aria Cafe

Si at the Aria Cafe

we went to see Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil. They describe the show as a spirited voyage through an abandoned theater where an extraordinary circus comes back to life. Populated by a motley collection of off-the-wall characters and incomparable acrobats, Zarkana is a visual vortex set in a twisted acrobatic fantasy universe where, little by little, chaos and craziness give way to a true celebration. Zarkana™ is a quintessential Cirque du Soleil spectacular featuring an international cast of 70 world class acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, high wire and trapeze artists.

Sand at Zarkana

Sand at Zarkana

One of the Zarkana performers

One of the Zarkana performers

One of the Zarkana performers

One of the Zarkana performers

It was great and probably the best Cirque du Soleil show we’ve seen. We had fantastic seats and were very close to the stage. There were times when our hearts were in our mouths. One trapeze artist missed his partner’s hands and fell but luckily they had a safety net!!

Tomorrow is our last full day so I will need to start sorting out the suitcases. We are overweight (the cases that is, not us!!) so excess baggage will probably have to be paid!!

 

Day 26! Las Vegas

I’ve been meaning to say that although it’s very hot here in Vegas, even from early in the morning, it’s surprising how chilly/cold the water is in the Bellagio Pool!!!

Anyway, as usual, we started the day around the pool. True to human form, we are sitting in the same place around the pool each day. Si goes down about 9 a.m. to get us a shady spot, that way we can stay out longer. It’s brave souls who can lie out in that hot sun for any length of time!

We’ve had some lovely photographs taken by a professional photographer. We were having dinner at Sensi the other evening and she came round and asked if we wanted our photographs taken. As it’s always difficult to get any decent photos of the two of us when we are on holiday we decided it would be a good idea.

One other piece of news! You remember I said that we had progressed up the reward card ladder after just a couple of days? Well, we have progressed again, we are now at Gold level. One of the perks is that we can go straight to the head of any queue for food!! Hooray! We also get 20% off purchases ……….. what a shame the suitcases are already full up!!

We had lunch at a new venue today, the Aria Cafe at the Aria Hotel. As usual, here’s a photo of Si enjoying his eats.

Aria Cafe

Aria Cafe

Si enjoying lunch at the Aria Cafe

Si enjoying lunch at the Aria Cafe

We have decided which show to go and see. There’s a new Cirque du Soleil in town, Zarkana, so we will be going to see that tomorrow evening.

Here are some more photos of the Bellagio Reception and Atrium and an interesting sight on the Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas showgirls.

Bellagio Reception

Bellagio Reception

Bellagio Atrium

Bellagio Atrium

Atrium 2

Las Vegas show girls

Las Vegas showgirls

Day 25! Las Vegas

Well, thank  goodness normal service has been resumed! I don’t know what the problem was last night with the wifi.

Yesterday’s question of should I be drinking alcohol in the morning has been answered! We both had the cucumber French 75 just after midday, they were delicious.

French 75 is a cocktail made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar. The drink was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris—later Harry’s New York Bar—by barman Harry MacElhone. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun, also called a “75 Cocktail”, or “Soixante Quinze” in French. The French 75 was popularised in America at the Stork club in New York.

The drink’s recipe was first recorded in The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930. The recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book uses gin. A later cocktail book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, by David Embury, claims that the French 75 is a Cognac-based drink but being a gin drinker myself, I’ll go with the gin. All the French 75’s I had have called for Plymouth gin to be used and that, as some of you know, is my most favourite gin of all time!

Whenever we stay at the Bellagio there’s one thing we just have to do and that is to go to the Petrossian Bar for their nibbles, cheese plate and cocktails. The cheese plate is the Chef’s selection of seven cheeses, several of which we haven’t even heard of, together with two types of apple, fig, apricots, raisins, two types of bread and a delicious type of crisp bread.

the Petrossian Bar at the Bellagio

The Petrossian Bar at the Bellagio

Si at the Petrossian Bar

Si at the Petrossian Bar

Sand enjoying her French 75 at the Petrossian Bar

Sand enjoying her French 75 at the Petrossian Bar

Marta playing at the Petrossian Bar

Marta playing at the Petrossian Bar

Petrossian has been named one of America’s best hotel bars by the hospitality industry’s Santé Magazine. These mixologists are the most seasoned professionals in their field. It is open 24 hours a day and has live music in the form of a pianist, today a lady called Marta was playing the Steinway grand piano.

I think the cocktails must have had an good effect on our gambling as we’ve had another very successful day, again with Mr Monopoly at the Aria hotel being very kind to us!!

Sand's a winner!

Sand’s a winner (I think she’s had one too many French 75’s!)

Some of our winnings!

Some of our winnings – not bad for a $20 stake!

We’ve taken a few photos of the Bellagio Atrium. The Atrium is a big draw for tourists. Every season is recreated with exceptionally gorgeous plants, flowers and trees thoughtfully arranged to inspire full splendor. Specially designed lighting spotlights every flower to accentuate its best features. To ensure the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens maintains magnificence 365 days a year, 140 expert horticulturists theatrically arrange gazebos, bridges, ponds, and water features uniquely for the Holidays, Chinese New Year, spring, summer, and fall!

The Bellagio Atrium

The Bellagio Atrium

Snail flowers in the Bellagio Atrium

Snail flowers in the Bellagio Atrium

Frog flowers at the Bellagio Antrium

Frog flowers at the Bellagio Antrium

Flower art in the Bellagio Atrium

Flower art in the Bellagio Atrium

 

 

 

 

Day 24! Las Vegas

Hi everyone, I’m having trouble with the laptop at the moment so can’t log on to the Blog. Everything I typed yesterday has disappeared so I’ll have to start again later. I’m typing this on the iPad but the photos are not on here of course!!

Hope to get back to normal later!!

Hooray, normal service has been resumed!!

All this ‘winding down’ is very tiring! We are up and at the pool by about 9 a.m., have some breakfast, spend about three hours there, in and out of the pool and then it’s off gambling, shopping and dining. When is a person supposed to rest!!??

Bellagio Pool Area

Bellagio Pool Area

Bellagio Pool Area

Bellagio Pool Area

As you would expect, it was very hot again this morning.  It’s 8.00 p.m. now and it’s still 100ºF.

Bellagio Pool Area

Bellagio Pool Area

Bellagio Pool Area

Bellagio Pool Area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like yesterday we were up and round the pool bright and early and had granola parfaits for breakfast. There is a pool service so we don’t even have to move off our beds, we just order what we want from the ‘pool waitress.’ I’ve discovered today that they serve a cucumber French 75!! Would it be wrong to be drinking alcohol before midday? Decisions, decisions!

Bellagio Pool Waitress

Bellagio Pool Waitress

It was time to return ‘the beast’ and Margaret to the rental company today. So we took them back before heading off for dining, gambling and shopping. This year in three weeks we travelled 3,712 miles.

Even though Margaret had her ‘moments’ it was still sad to say goodbye. When we had dropped the car off we went round to the rental office to speak to Fred. You will remember he was so helpful when we collected the car three weeks ago and heard of the trouble we had last year.

Well, he was serving someone but as soon as he saw us he rushed over and shook hands and wanted to know how our holiday had been and if the car had been okay. We thanked him and said everything had been wonderful. He was so pleased that we had taken the time to speak to him.

We were supposed to have gone to see Mac King, the magician, this afternoon but the show was cancelled due to unexpected circumstances which was a shame. We had VIP seating and Si was terrified that he would be asked to go on the stage so I think he was secretly pleased it was cancelled.

So, as our afternoon was ‘free’ after all, we went to have lunch and check out the shops at The Venetian and Palazzo hotels. We ate at another one of our favourite Wolfgang Puck restaurants, Postrio in  St. Mark’s Square of The Venetian. As usual, the food was delicious. When a restaurant serves Plymouth gin you know it’s something special and Postrio serves Plymouth, enough said!

Postrio restaurant

Postrio restaurant

Si enjoying his lunch at Postrio

Si enjoying his lunch at Postrio

Well, at the shops in the Palazzo Hotel they have a Jimmy Choo shoe shop and JC had started their season sale today! How can anyone who knows me well expect me to walk past a JC shop with a sale on! Well, of course I couldn’t, I just had to go in and take a look. It wasn’t my intention to buy shoes on this trip but when a girl is confronted with a 50% shoe sale what is she expected to do? Well, buy, buy, buy of course!! Due to a shortage of suitcase space I only bought one pair of summer shoes.

Sand's new chop's!

Sand’s new choo’s!

You can also take a gondola ride at The Venetian. We’ve done that previously, it’s very pleasant as the Gondolier sings as he rows!

Gondola at The Venetian Hotel

Gondola at The Venetian Hotel

We had great gambling success at the hotels, we tripled our money! Let’s hope it continues.

We got a cab back to Bellagio as it was rather too hot and too far to walk and when we told the cab driver where we were going he said “oh, going home then.” That’s just how we feel about the Bellagio. We’ve been coming here a long time and every time we walk into the lobby we feel as though we’ve come home. Everything’s so comfortable here, it’s like putting on a pair of old slippers!

 

Day 23! Las Vegas

Well, now we are in Las Vegas I’m afraid the photos will not be as spectacular as they have been but we will try and take some interesting ones for you and fill you in on what we are up to.

The temperature today started at 95ºF and rose to 105ºF so it’s been a tad hot!! We started the day by spending time at one of the pools here at the Bellagio. The pool area is beautiful and tomorrow we will take my small camera down with us to take some better photos for you to enjoy. In the meantime, here are two I took on my phone today. The sparrow came to enjoy breakfast with us!

Bellagio Pool

One of the Bellagio Pools

Sparrow comes for breakfast at the pool!

Sparrow comes for breakfast at the pool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MGM Group, of which Bellagio is part, runs a reward scheme called MLife. You get rewarded for hotel stays, dining, gambling and shopping and we found out today that although we’ve only been here one day we’ve already progressed to the next level!! Crumbs, I don’t look forward to getting the hotel bill at the end of the week!!

The Bellagio Atrium is one of the most beautiful places to see and we will be posting some photos later. We need to go down early to take photos before it gets busy with visitors. Each day for an hour they have live music for everyone to enjoy and today it was a guy playing an electric harp. It was very lovely.

A musician playing in the Bellagio Atrium

A musician playing in the Bellagio Atrium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sand at Caesers Palace

Sand at Caesers Palace

We dined early today at one of our favourite restaurants over at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, it’s a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, Spago. The food is always excellent.

Spago

Spago

Si drinking ......... not eating for a change!

Si drinking ……… not eating for a change!

Sand at Spago enjoying a cocktail

Sand at Spago enjoying a cocktail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t exactly excel at our gambling tonight. I did have a rather good spell playing a Monopoly machine but eventually the little man and his dog took all my winnings. We kept our spirits up though by enjoying some cakes, hot chocolate and coffee. Perhaps our luck will be better tomorrow!

Sand losing all her money on the Monopoly machine!

Sand losing all her money on the Monopoly machine at the Aria hotel – no, the drink and ash tray are not mine!

Day 22! Moab, Utah to Las Vegas

Well, we left Moab under cloudy skies and it had been raining! Raining in Moab in the summer, unusual! We only had to travel 50 miles and blue skies were back again and the temperature started to rise. By the time we reached Vegas it was 108ºF, so a little warm!!

We had a very disturbed night’s sleep because for some reason we kept getting rattles around our room. One was coming from the fridge, so in the end we had to get up, pull it out and unplug it. We never found where the other one was coming from so it continued to drive us crazy all night.

If that wasn’t bad enough, this morning we lost Margaret!! Got into the car ready to set our route for Las Vegas and wait ………. where’s Margaret? She wasn’t with us. Now I’m usually a very organised person and I always check the hotel room before we leave but somehow she had been left behind. I returned to our room and just couldn’t find her, panic ensued. I eventually found her hiding in a ‘safe place’ where I’d hidden her the night before when we went to dinner. Relief all round, especially on Margaret’s part. She knew she was heading home and there was no way she wanted to be left behind in Moab!

I must report on last night’s meal at Jeffrey’s Steakhouse. It was, once again fantastic. I had the French 75, gin and tonic and enjoyed a great steak with the largest jacket potato I’ve ever seen. Si had the ‘special’ which consisted of a ribeye steak with shrimp and soft-shell crab. It was my intention to photograph the meal but we got talking to a lovely couple on the next table and all thought of photography went right out of my mind! I think the French 75 had a lot to do with it!

The drive from Moab to Las Vegas was quite boring and very uninteresting but the photographer’s apprentice did manage to photograph a few things along the way.

From Moab to Las Vegas

From Moab to Las Vegas

Water Tower on the road from Moab to Las Vegas

Water Tower on the road from Moab to Las Vegas

From Moab to Las Vegas

From Moab to Las Vegas

The inevitable road works on the way from Moab to Las Vegas

The inevitable road works on the way from Moab to Las Vegas

One interesting thing we saw at a place called Hurricane, about 131 miles from Vegas but couldn’t manage to photograph as it was on the opposite side of the road, was the largest Walmart (Asda) distribution centre we have ever seen. There must have been 500 trailers ready to be loaded up with goodies!

Well, we’ve had a lovely dinner, fish and chicken for a change and managed to actually win a little in the casino. Let’s hope we don’t have any rattles in our room tonight and can get a good night’s sleep!

 

 

 

Day 21! Moab, Utah

So, today begins our holiday ‘wind down’. We came to Moab as we needed a halfway point on our return trip to Las Vegas. Although this is our third visit to Moab we have still managed to find a couple of places we had never visited before and as usual, have not been disappointed.

It has been very hot here today, 95ºF and we think that the mosquitoes must have hatched  because they seem to be everywhere! We have decided that we would much rather hike in temperatures of 70ºF rather than the 90’s. Because it’s so hot we cut our day short but we managed to see all we wanted to.

We started off visiting Landscape Arch in Arches National Park. The hike is just 1.6 miles, with gradual slopes, but it did seem rather longer than that to us but it was well worth the effort.

Sand on the walk to Landscape Arch

Sand on the walk to Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

Si at Landscape Arch

Si at Landscape Arch

Sand at Landscape Arch

Sand at Landscape Arch

 

Desert Bouquet on the walk to Landscape Arch

Desert Bouquet on the walk to Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch is the longest of the many natural rock arches located in the Arches National Park. The arch is among many in the area known as Devil’s Garden in the north area of the park. It was named by Frank Beckwith, leader of the Arches National Monument Scientific Expedition, who explored the area in the winter of 1933–1934, and can be reached by short walk/hike of about 1.5 miles along a maintained trail.

The Natural Arch and Bridge Society (NABS) considers the Landscape Arch to be the longest natural arch in the world, having measured the span in 2004 at 290.1 ± 0.8 feet (88.4 m), which is slightly longer than a measurement made by the Society in 2006 of Kolob Arch in Zion National Park Since 1991, three slabs of sandstone measuring 30, 47, and 70 feet (9.1, 14, and 21 m) long have fallen from the thinnest section of Landscape Arch, prompting the Park Service to close the trail that once passed beneath it.

On 1st September 1991 hikers were actually sitting beneath the arch and thought they heard thunder cracks but in fact it was a 60 foot rock slab breaking off above them. When the dust settled 180 tonnes of fresh rock debris lie on the ground. Luckily, no-one was hurt. It is thought that unseasonably heavy rains for ten days before the incident had filled pore spaces within the sandstone and the the added weight may have finally overwhelmed the rock slab in its timeless struggle with gravity.

Then, we visited Dead Horse Point State Park (that’s where Si went to last night) so that I could see for myself how beautiful it is.

Panorama shot of Dead Horse Point

Panorama shot of Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

The Park features a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. The park is so named because of its use as a natural corral by cowboys in the 19th century. The park covers 5,362 acres (2,170 ha) of high desert at an altitude of 5,900 feet (1,800 m).

The plateau is surrounded by sheer cliffs 2,000 feet (610 m) high with only a narrow neck of land 30 yards (27 m) wide connecting the mesa to the main plateau. Thus it was easy for cowboys to simply fence off this narrow neck, and keep rounded up wild horses from running away.

The Legend of Dead Horse Point: There are many stories about how this high promontory of land received its name.

According to one legend, around the turn of the century the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up these horses, herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only 30-yards-wide, was then fenced off with branches and brush.

This created a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs straight down on all sides, affording no escape. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and let the culls or broomtails go free. One time, for some unknown reason, horses were left corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

One useless fact: The area was also used in the final ‘Grand Canyon’ scene of the 1991 film Thelma & Louise.

One of the fun things about driving around the parks is looking for faces in the rocks, this is one the ‘photographer’s apprentice’ saw!

A face in the rock!

A face in the rock!

Tonight we will be dining at Jeffrey’s Steakhouse. We ate there on our trip last year and it was fantastic so we thought what better way to end our visit here than by eating there again. I will once again be sampling the French 75! That’s a very special gin and tonic. Good job I’m writing this blog before dinner!!

Tomorrow we leave Moab and have another long drive (we seem to be doing a lot of them lately!) to Las Vegas where we will be spending the last week of our holiday lying in the sun, eating fine food and drinking fine wine!!

It occurred to me that in yesterday’s ‘Special Post’ I forgot to tell you what Si’s name is on Flickr, It’s ‘simonsaint’ and also that it might be a good idea to give you a link to his actual Flickr page so you can have a look around if you’d like to. Click here to visit his page.

 

 

Special Post! Flickr Explore

I think you will agree that some of the photos Si’s been taking on our trip have been stunning. Some of you know he’s a member of Flickr and in 2013 on average per day, 1.6 million photos were uploaded to Flickr from people all around the world. I don’t know what the average for 2014 is but you can bet it’s around that figure.

Well everyday Flickr choose 500 of the most interesting photos of all those uploaded and put them on to what they call ‘Explore’. It’s hard enough to get one photo on Explore but our Si in the past three weeks, ever since we arrived in the U.S., has had the honour of having five of his photos shown on there. The highest position for one of the photos being number six.

He already had another three featured on Explore, two from 2012 and one this year.

This is the link to Flickr Explore for all those who may be interested in taking a look.

These are the photos from the past three weeks:

Adam on the Trail Ridge Road

Adam on the Trail Ridge Road

Lone Tree on Lake Yellowstone

Lone Tree on Lake Yellowstone – got to number 6 on Explore

The John Moulton Barn

The John Moulton Barn

Bear Lake

Bear Lake

String Lake

String Lake

 

Day 20! Colorado Springs to Moab, Utah

Today has been another long driving day, seven hours in all. We did stop for some lunch at the ………….. Rib Grill!! Well, where else would you expect us to stop! Here’s a photo of ‘his nibs’ enjoying a few. I had chicken, much healthier ………… well maybe not, they were fried chicken sliders with fries and garlic bread!

Si at the Rib Grill!

Si at the Rib Grill!

We left our hotel in Colorado Springs and said goodbye to Patrick. He’s a young man with a  photographic degree but at the moment he’s working there doing just about everything it seems from valeting the cars to checking people in. A very pleasant young man.

I have to say that Colorado Springs turned out to be quite a surprise. I just wanted to go there because I used to watch Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and wanted to go up Pikes Peak. Si wasn’t convinced any of it would be any good. We were both very pleasantly surprised how lovely it was and how many places to see there were. We hope to return one day.

Colorado is probably the most beautiful of all the U.S. States we have seen, it is absolutely stunning.

Today we travelled through a range of temperatures, we had to cross the mountains to get to Moab and were travelling up hill and down dale, we went from 6,035 feet above sea level in Colorado Springs to 10,600 feet and then down to 5,200 feet here in Moab. The temperatures ranged from 57ºF to 95ºF here in Moab. Crazy!!

Here are some photos of our trip today taken by our photographer’s apprentice!

Road Trip

Road Trip to Moab

Road Trip

Road Trip to Moab

A place with No Name!

A place with ‘No Name’ on the way to Moab!

Road Trip

Road Trip to Moab

Entering Moab

Entering Moab

Tonight, Si went out to Dead Horse Point State Park to take photos at sundown. Here’s one.

Dead Horse Point

Dead Horse Point

 

Day 19! Colorado Springs

First of all a big shout out of “Happy Birthday” to my niece Karen whose birthday it is today 5th June. Hope you’ve had a great day!

It occurred to me today that in my post yesterday I forgot to mention the one big thing about being up at the summit of Pikes Peak ……………. the doughnuts! The one thing you just have to do when you get there is have the world-famous and yummy doughnuts, the only ones made at an altitude of over 14,000 feet and of course we did. They were delicious.

Doughnuts at Pikes Peak summit

Doughnuts at Pikes Peak summit

Well, so much beauty to see and so little time!

Today, we started our day with a visit to Manitou Springs. General William Jackson Palmer and Dr. William Abraham Bell founded Manitou Springs in 1872, intending the town to be a “scenic health resort.” It has been the quintessential tourist town since the 1870s, when visitors discovered the healing waters the Ute Indians had been drinking for years. Many of the town’s mineral springs still function today and the water is free.

Manitou Springs

Manitou Springs

Manitou's original cog railway

Manitou’s original cog railway

After a walk through the town we moved on to the Garden of the Gods.

The Garden of the Gods’ red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC. At about 250 BC Native American people camped in the park. They are believed to have been attracted to wildlife and plant life in the area and used overhangs created by the rocks for shelter. There are many native peoples who have reported a connection to Garden of the Gods, including Ute, Comanche, Apache, Kiowa, Shoshone, Cheyenne, Pawnee and Lakota people.

The Utes’ oral traditions tell of their creation at the Garden of the Gods. Petroglyphs have been found in the park that are typical of early Utes. They found red rocks to have a spiritual connection and camped near Manitou Springs and the creek near Rock Ledge Ranch bordering Garden of the Gods. Other tribes traveled through Garden of the Gods. The Old Ute Trail went past Garden of the Gods to Ute Pass and led later explorers through Manitou Springs. Starting in the 16th century, Spanish explorers and later European American explorers and trappers travelled through the area, including Lt. John C. Freemont and and Lt. George Frederick Ruxton who recorded their visits in their journals.

The area was first called Red Rock Corral. Then, in August 1859, two surveyors who helped to set up Colorado City explored the site. One of the surveyors, M. S. Beach, suggested that it would be a “capital place for a beer garden.” His companion, the young Rufus Cable, awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, “Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.”

Well, I think the sign says it all!

Well, I think the sign says it all!

Si in the Garden of the Gods

Si in the Garden of the Gods

Sand in the Garden of the Gods

Sand in the Garden of the Gods

Rock formation in the Garden of the Gods

Rock formation in the Garden of the Gods

Rock formation in the Garden of the Gods

Rock formation in the Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods

 

 

The Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods

Balancing rock in the Garden of the Gods

Balancing rock in the Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods

Kissing Camels rock in the Garden of the Gods

Kissing Camels rock in the Garden of the Gods

Amish Girls visiting the Garden of the Gods

Amish Girls visiting the Garden of the Gods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panorama shot of the Garden of the Gods

Panorama shot of the Garden of the Gods

 

Cliff hanger at the Garden of the Gods

Cliff hanger at the Garden of the Gods

Busker in the Garden of the Gods

Busker in the Garden of the Gods

Tomorrow we leave our lovely hotel and Colorado Springs for Moab, Utah where even more wonderful sights await us. We have visited Moab many times but it never fails to delight!

We have been staying at The Mining Exchange. It was constructed in 1902 by civic benefactor Winfield Scott Stratton who made his fortune in the Cripple Creek gold boom of the 1890’s. The building’s purpose was to house the Colorado Springs Mining Exchange and promote regional mining companies and their stock. It was, and still is regarded as the most substantial and intact building associated with Stratton that remains. It was the first structure in the city to rise above four stories and housed Colorado Springs’ Mining Stock Exchange in the 1920’s. The building had several steel vaults, preserved to this day, they are used to house hotel supplies.

The building was purchased three years ago by Perry Sanders who then set out to build The Mining Exchange. Extensive and elaborate renovations were made, with a very conscious approach to restore the building to its original grandeur, preserving the magnificent piece of architecture that it presents to the landscape of Colorado Springs. In 1900 a Colorado Springs’ Resident said it was “The handsomest, the largest and most substantial structure in the city.”

The Mining Exchange

The Mining Exchange

 

 

Day 18! Colorado Springs

So, today we decided to ‘do’ Pikes Peak. We set off in what we thought was the right direction, heading north out of Colorado Springs and quickly realised we were going in the wrong direction! I have to say that it wasn’t Margaret’s fault this time because we hadn’t plugged her in. It was human error.

But, all was not lost because when we realised our mistake we were going to turn around when we noticed we were at a place called Briargate and Si suddenly realised that we wanted to go there anyway because we wanted to visit the Apple store that was located there. We needed to buy another portable drive because the one we’d brought with us to back-up the laptop has thrown a wobbly and won’t work! Amazon, expect an email from me when we return!

We headed back south and soon found Pikes Peak Highway. Pikes Peak is known as America’s Mountain. The Highway is 19 miles long, is a two-lane road ascending more than 6,000 feet in elevation to 14,115 and we were going to drive it. The Ranger said the 19 miles would take us one hour to drive.

Crystal Reservoir on Pikes Peak Highway

Crystal Reservoir on Pikes Peak Highway

Panorama shot of Crystal Reservoir

Panorama shot of Crystal Reservoir

Some people travel to the summit by cog railway. It was first built in 1891 and runs continually today.

Cog Railway

Cog Railway

Well, goodness me, it was one hairy drive. I thought the Trail Ridge Road was scary, this was much, much worse. There were sheer drops round hairpin bends, it was like being on a switchback! I dread to think what my blood pressure reading must have been. Si was okay because he was on the ‘safe’ side. At times I just couldn’t look over the edge and was holding on to the car door handle for dear life. Some of the drop offs are 1,000 feet down! We were told to turn off the air-conditioning going up and when driving back down to use low gear.

Winding Roads on Pikes Peak Highway

Winding Roads on Pikes Peak Highway

The views of course were stunning. We were way above the tree line and as we turned each corner and looked up you could see the cars above just getting higher and higher.

Pikes Peak Highway

Pikes Peak Highway with Pikes Peak in the distance

Half way up the road we stopped to change into jeans as we were told it would be really cold at the summit but when we got there it wasn’t too bad even though there was some snow and we didn’t need thick jackets.

Can you imagine racing up this road to the summit. Well, daring drivers have been doing just that since the first race in 1916. The race continues today. Mining magnet Spencer Penrose arranged the race to advertise his new mountain auto highway. The first winner, Rea Lentz, sped to the summit in just 20 minutes and 55.6 seconds. Can you imagine driving at speed on a dirt road. It was only fully paved in 2011! The hill climb is the second oldest race in the US behind only the Indianapolis 500.

At the summit is a memorial dedicated o Katherine Lee Bates (August 12th 1859 to March 28th 1929). She was an American songwriter and was the author of the words to the anthem ‘America the Beautiful’.

The first draft of “America the Beautiful” was hastily jotted down in a notebook during the summer of 1893, which Bates spent teaching English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Later she remembered:

One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse.

Anerica the Beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About half-way up stands the Historic Glen-Cove Inn built in the late teens early 1920s. It has always been somewhere for travellers to stop and refresh themselves.

The Glen Cove Inn

The Glen Cove Inn

Photos from the summit.

Pikes Peak Summit

Pikes Peak Summit

Pikes Peak Summit

Pikes Peak Summit

Panorama of Pikes Peak Summit

Panorama of Pikes Peak Summit

Si at the Summit

Si at the Summit

Sand at the Summit

Sand at the Summit

 

On the way back down there is a compulsory brake check by a ranger. This is because if the breaks overheat they will stop working and no-one wants to be without breaks at this height. Our’s measured 8% so we were given a ‘well done’ because Si was driving down correctly. Well done Si!

Almost back to Earth!

Almost back to Earth!

It suddenly occurred to me that I’ve taken a couple of photos of Si at dinner but have forgotten to post them. So this is me righting a wrong! I decided to have a nice healthy salad …………. this one would last me a week!

Sand with her healthy salad!

Sand with her healthy salad!

Si with his short ribs!

Si with his short ribs!

Si with his Po' Boy shrimp sandwich!

Si with his Po’ Boy shrimp sandwich!

 

Day 17! Rocky Mountain National Park to Colorado Springs

Well, that Margaret (sat-nav), she definitely needs to go back to sat-nav training school. We plugged her in this morning for our drive to Colorado Springs and she said there were no hold-ups and the drive would take just over two hours.

Wrong! We had only been driving for 20 minutes when we came across road works that held us up for 45 minutes!!!! Work was being done to widen a road and it entailed rock blasting! When we eventually managed to drive through I actually saw the man attaching the wires to the plunger to blow up the next lot of rock. I said, “Punch it Margaret” to get our car moving. Didn’t fancy being under that lot of rock when it came tumbling down.

The queue!

The queue!

Following the Pilot Car

Following the Pilot Car

Then, we drive ten minutes down the road and there’s another set of road works. Luckily, we arrived just as our traffic was being let through so we didn’t have to wait.

One sad thing we saw en-route was more flood damage to homes along the river. The homes had just been abandoned with appliances as they were when the waters hit. Very sad!

Flood damage!

Flood damage!

It was quite a pleasant drive until we reached Denver!! I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been driving on little quiet roads for the past two weeks but I was scared to death!! At least four lanes of traffic all the way through Denver, drivers swopping lanes like maniacs and even through road works they didn’t slow down to the required speed. It was worse than driving in London! I just wanted to sit on the floor of the car and hide until we were out the other side!

We did see the ‘Mile High Stadium’ the Denver Bronco’s stadium.

Mile High Stadium

Mile High Stadium

Still, it was all worth it in the end because we’ve arrived at our hotel and they must have known the trauma we had been through because we were given a complimentary upgrade and are now residing in the grandest of suites.  It’s also the hottest we’ve had on our trip so far. When we arrived it was 91 degrees, so nice and warm!!

Tomorrow we start our adventures here in Colorado Springs by visiting Pikes Peak. We now have to go and try out the award-winning restaurant they have here. Bon appetite!!

Day 16! Rocky Mountain National Park

We’ve had a very full day and managed to see a lot of wildlife for a change.

We started out with the sight of Mr and Mrs Duck crossing a main road together but unfortunately didn’t have the camera handy.

At Milner Pass we again crossed the Continental Divide!

Continental Divide

Continental Divide

We decided to go back to the Trail Ridge Road today, to the valley, to look at the Holzwarth Historic Site. As we passed over the summit It wasn’t quite so cold and it didn’t snow.

In 1917, John Holzwarth Sr. staked a homestead claim in the valley with the intent of building a cattle ranch. After the Fall River Road through the park opened in 1920, the ranch was re-developed  into a popular resort known as the Holzwarth Trout Lodge. The Lodge is now part of the park and preserved as a historic site. The Holzwarth homestead depicts the rustic, unpretentious dude ranching of the 1920s.

Buildings from the Holzwarth Ranch

Buildings from the Holzwarth Ranch

Buildings from the Holzworth Ranch

Buildings from the Holzwarth Ranch

A summer National Park project to restore the ice house

A summer National Park project to restore the ice house

 

Prior to the homestead another valley settler, a miner Joseph Fleshuts, homesteaded 160 acres with the intent to live on the land for at least five years. Life must have been hard because in 1911 he abruptly abandoned his cabin and was not heard of again.

Sand at Joseph Fleshuts Cabin

Sand at Joseph Fleshuts’ Cabin

Homesteaders, miners and trappers were not the first people to inhabit the valley. Ute Indians have hunted game and gathered plants there for more than 6000 years. The Arapaho came later in the 1800s. Members of both tribes still return to a place that was once their home.

On the way to the Homestead we passed over a raging river which we discovered was the Colorado River headwaters.

Sand at the Colorado River headwaters

Sand at the Colorado River headwaters

Si at the Colorado River headwaters

Si at the Colorado River headwaters

After that we visited Sprague Lake as the Ranger we met yesterday had told us that a moose and her calf had been seen there. The Lake stands at 8,710 feet and is just a 0.5 mile walk round the lake in very easy conditions and it was beautiful. The lake was built early in the early 20th century to provide trout fishing for guests at a resort owned by local pioneer Abner E. Sprague. The lakeside retreat is long gone but visitors still flock to this beautiful place. We saw a young girl of about seven having a fishing lesson from her father.

Sprague Lake

Sprague Lake

We were very lucky to see a moose but alas no calf. He didn’t seem bothered by the hordes of humans taking his photo as he enjoyed his lunch.

Moose at Sprague Lake

Moose at Sprague Lake

Moose at Sprague Lake

Moose at Sprague Lake

Our last port of call for the day was Bear Lake. The Bear Lake area stands at 9,475 feet and is only a 0.6 miles hike. It has jewel-like lakes with breathtaking back-drops, ice-cold crystal-clear streams that cascade down spectacular waterfalls, great forests of pine, spruce, fir and aspen, soaring mountains summits, amazing wildlife and colourful plant life.

Bear Lake

Bear Lake

As Sprague Lake had been an easy walk we thought Bear Lake would be the same but alas it wasn’t. Most of the trail was covered in very deep snow. Lucky for us we had taken our walking sticks with us.

We met some ladies on our walk and one of them was was telling us how her sons went to the college in the very town we live in! The world is very small indeed.

Here are some other photos we’ve taken today of the Park.

No recycling today!

No recycling today!

Road Works ahead!

Road Works ahead!

Rocky Mountain National Park panorama

Rocky Mountain National Park panorama

Rocky Mountain National Park Parorama

Rocky Mountain National Park panorama

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Holzworth Valley and Colorado River

Holzwarth Valley and the Colorado River

Elk Calf in RoadOn the way back we rounded a corner and there in the middle of the road was a fawn, without its mother. It looked lost and wasn’t sure which way to go. We sat and waited for it to make up its mind. In the end it went back into the forest to find its mother. We also saw another Marmot clinging on to a rock at about 11,000 feet. He seemed very at home. We also saw mature elk.

Marmot licking the wall

Marmot

Buck Elk 1

Buck elk

Buck Elk 2

Buck elk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were very lucky to be able to visit the Estes Park and Rocky Mountain Park area because last September the whole area was devastated by historic floods. Homes and roads were just washed away and businesses devastated and although everything is more or less back to ‘business as normal’ there are still signs of the devastation to be seen.

Tomorrow we leave Estes Park and make for Colorado Springs. A fairly short drive for a change, just 2.5 hours. For those who may remember the television show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, it is our intention to climb Pikes Peak but luckily for us we won’t have to climb it as she did, by foot, we can either drive up or go on a cog railway. As our previous experience of a cog railway was not that pleasant, I think it’s safe to say we will be driving!

Day 15! Rocky Mountain National Park

We started the day by driving into the Park to drive Trail Ridge Road to experience the stunning scenic vistas, vast alpine landscapes and hopefully some wildlife.. It is considered to be one of America’s premier outdoor adventures. The drive is approximately 40 miles long rising to an elevation of 12,183 feet above sea level, where climatic donations, plants and animals are similar to those found near the Arctic Circle. For every 1,000 feet driven the temperature drops 3-5F, just as if you had driven 600 miles north.

We arrived at the first stop-off point, Sheep Lake, where we met and chatted with three Rangers, all volunteers. As you would expect, their knowledge of all things RMNP (Rocky Mountain National Park) was second to none. I have to say, the wind was blowing a hooley and it was very cold. We were so pleased we decided to wear our jeans today instead of shorts.

Sand chatting with one of the Volunteer Rangers

Sand chatting with one of the Volunteer Rangers

Apparently, there was a 10-year dry spell but the last two years it has been wet again meaning that Sheep Lake in particular again has lakes with water and lots of wild flowers have returned.

The views along the 40 miles are just spectacular, although some are rather scary. There are times where it’s just a shear drop over the side. They only opened the road after the winter snows last week and it takes six weeks to clear the snow to enable visitors to drive the route.

The Trail Ridge Road

The Trail Ridge Road

The Trail Ridge Road

The Trail Ridge Road

 

On the Trail Ridge Road

On the Trail Ridge Road

I took this photo through the windscreen so it’s not perfect!

Simon took a video on the way up the mountain.

On the way up we saw many brave souls actually cycling up!! Rather them than me! This is Adam, one such brave soul. It had taken him four hours to reach the highest point on the road. I wouldn’t like to be cycling down in the strong wind blowing today. One false move and it’s ‘goodbye Trail Ridge Road’ and ‘hello, 12,000 feet below’.

Adam 1

When we stopped at Horseshoe Park there was a family of three, the parents and a little girl of about five and she was stood on top of a short wall, just one easy jump before falling 10,000 feet to the valley below. I can tell you I felt sick. The parents didn’t have hold of her and she actually climbed over the wall and was stood on the rough terrain the other side. The wind could so easily have pushed her over.

Well, not one to hold back, I asked the Dad if he was happy that his young daughter was stood so close to the edge and he just shrugged it off. I also voiced my concerns to the Mum but I don’t think she understood English, let alone my concerns!

Horseshoe Park

Si at Horseshoe Park

When we were up at 11,000 feet Si tried to get out of the car to take some photos but the wind at that point was so bad he couldn’t open the door so had to give up.

On the way up we saw a snow plough and on the way down and a little further up the road saw this ice cutter (a Sandra ‘special’ photo, taken on the move).

Ice Cutter

By the time we reached the Alpine Visitor Centre at 11,796 it was bitterly cold. We had actually packed winter jackets and gloves for our trip but where were they when we needed them the most ………….. back at the Inn of course!! Luckily, Si had a jumper, I had a fleece and we both had rain jackets so we were warm enough and we did have our wet shoes on. Another example of not enough planning on our part!!

It’s cold up here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is how deep the snow is in places. Also, when we were leaving it started to snow so we thought we should make a quick exit back down before we were snowed in!

San in Snow Drift

Sand in snow drift!

San in Snow storm

Sand in snow storm!

We decided to have some lunch at the Visitor Centre and Si was very pleased with his German sausage and I with my chicken noodle soup …………… until that is I decided to pour the remains of my soup all over my jeans! I tell you, the older I get the more stupid I get.

We were surprised to find that even at 12,000 it’s possible to encounter road works! Luckily, as it’s Sunday today, they were not working. The pole next to the traffic light sign is the snow pole they use to measure the depth. You can see this one is very tall indeed.

Stick and Traffic Light Warning

It suddenly occurred to us that as we were driving in the Rocky Mountains now would be a good time to listen to some John Denver so that’s what we did, listened to and sang along with his famous song, Rocky Mountain High. This is JD in Australia in 1974.

(I do not own the video or it’s content. Thanks goes to oicurapns for the video)

We didn’t see much wildlife on the drive, just this Clark’s Nutcracker and a Marmont.

Clark's NutcrackerMarmot

Here are some other views of the Park. This first photo is of Long’s Peak, a squared-top mountain standing at 14,259. It can be seen from just about anywhere in the Park. For thousands of years it has been used as a navigational aid to travellers from prehistoric hunters to Ute people who also saw it as a sacred place.

Major Stephen H. Long led an Army topographic expedition to the region in 1802 and the peak is named after him.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Just a last special note to Sam at the Mammoth Springs Hotel!

Sam, if you read this, you will remember what happened with our bread plates? Well we had a similar incident last night but this time with our salad bowls! What is it about us that makes waiters want to remove our china before we’ve finished with it!! We thought of you and had to laugh.

Day 14! The Grand Tetons to Rocky Mountain National Park

So, today was a long driving day of eight hours. It turned out to be a much easier drive than we were anticipating. We just turned onto the road and hey ho off we went. It was more or less, one long continuous road. Some of the scenery was stunning, some boring!

As we spent most of today sitting in the car, we are rather short on action and photos, but here are a few we did take during the drive.

This is the Hoback River. also called the Fall River. It is an approximately 55-mile (89 km)-long tributary of the Snake River. It rises in the southern Rocky Mountains of Wyoming and flows northeast through the Teton National Forest, before turning northwest to join the Snake just downstream of Jackson Hole, near the head of the Snake River Canyon near the town of Hoback.

Hoback River

Hoback River

Our car by the Hoback River

Our car by the Hoback River

 

 

You sure can see some strange things when out on the road and this was just one of them! A horse with his head out of the trailer window taking in the scenery.

Well, the things you see on the road!

Well, the things you see on the road!

I expect you would like to know what we do to pass the time on a long trip like today. Well, today we plugged Simon’s phone into the car USB and exercised our vocal cords by singing along to many of the songs he has on there, especially Holiday Road by Lindsay Buckingham of Feetwood Mac fame. It was used as the theme song for the film ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’.

(I don’t own the rights or anything to the video).

As we are short on action, here’s a little history lesson!

I’m sure some you will have heard of the Oregon Trail. It is a 2,200-mile (3,500 km) historic east-west large wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of the future state of Kansas and nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming. The western half of the trail spanned most of the future states of Idaho and Oregon. The Oregon Trail was laid by fur trappers and traders from about 1811 to 1840 and was only passable on foot or by horseback. This is part of that trail.

The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail

I wonder how many of our older followers remember the television cowboy series, Laramie? Well, we drove through it today. Didn’t see any cowboys though!

On the way to Rocky Mountain National Park

On the way to Rocky Mountain National Park

We are staying at The Maxwell Inn in Estes Park, on the edge of the Rocky Mountain National Park and it’s lovely. A young couple took it over last year and have been upgrading and renovating. They are now rated number one on Trip Advisor out of 29 hotels in Estes Park. They have done a great job, it’s lovely.

As we hadn’t eaten anything all day we went for dinner to a steakhouse and the steaks were great but even though we were hungry we couldn’t finish them. Simon’s was the size of a house ………….. I should have taken a photo. He could only eat half of it!

Thoughts for the day:

1. If we drove for eight hours in the UK we would drive off the edge of Scotland!

2. Just about every American we speak to say they would love to come to England.

3. It seems as though just about every American lady watches Downton Abbey and would love to visit the house. They are really impressed when we we tell them we live about thirty minutes from there.

4. What a shame that blogging wasn’t around in 1988 when we first started visiting the U.S. as we would have had a really big blog by now and a wonderful record of all our visits.

Tomorrow we visit the Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time. Join us then for what we hope will be some stunning photos.