Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My

December 20, 2010

We’ve had a glorious day’s walk along the Arkansas river today but – sunshine, warm December days and mountain views notwithstanding – signs like these:

Make me quite glad our rural hazards are generally a little tamer.


The other half would like it on the record that he thinks Britain would be vastly improved by the addition of mountain lions.


Eyeholes, Earholes and …*

December 17, 2010

I think one of the reasons why I find shopping in America a little disconcerting is the differences in the ingredient lists. ‘E numbers’ might have been the scary bogeyman of my childhood, but over the years we’ve got used to them and somehow ‘E250’ on a list of ingredients looks a lot less scary than ‘sodium nitrite’ even though it’s exactly the same thing.

Mmm, delicious

And then there’s the sheer level of detail, which goes above and beyond what was strictly necessary. I’m fairly certain that European chorizo contains exactly the same parts of the pig as this American version does. And I’m just as certain that I preferred it when I didn’t know.

Still, that’s supper tonight sorted, as long as we can bring ourselves to eat it…

*if anyone can find the link to the ‘checkout girl’ sketch on the Fast Show about rissoles, I’d be grateful

We’re Going on a…

December 16, 2010

…bear hunt*, we’re going to catch a big one, it’s a beautiful day, we’re not scared…

Oh no!

It’s never a good sign when the path you thought you were following turns out to be a gully full of tumbleweed. But then again, it never fails to amaze me that they have actual tumbleweed here, and not just in a metaphorical sense.

We can’t go under it, we can’t go over it, looks like we’ve got to go through it.

Fortunately, it turns out that tumbleweed is easy enough to wade through and the gully rejoined the path and everything

Swishy-swoshy swishy-swhoshy swishy-swoshy swishy-swoshy

And we never did catch any bears.

In other news, if the weather forecast is anything to go by, it looks like the weather gods have figured out our whereabouts and are coming to get us, so enjoy these shots of blue skies and sunshine while stocks last.

*this one is for Ffion.

In Case of Emergency

December 14, 2010

There’s a town up in the mountains round here that we like to visit. It’s one of the few places in Colorado that I could imagine us actually living in.

I’m not entirely sure why.

Except that it seems to have its priorities right (actual number blacked out to protect the innocent)

And the views in the forests around it don’t hurt either.


December 13, 2010

I think the other half is getting a little tired of me flinching away from him when he’s been down in his Dad’s basement playing pool. It’s not him, exactly – it’s just that after he’s been walking around on the basement carpet for a while, the dry desert air means he’s nicely charged up with static electricity and the next person to touch him gets a shock. Well, they do say you should try and put that spark back into your marriage whenever you can. Only I think that the electricity between you is meant to be mainly metaphorical.

Not, you know, that I’m complaining. We cycled out along the river again this morning and it wasn’t just that it was sunny, it was downright hot on the way back. It’s not forecast to last, and we’re making the most of it while it does, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that the Weather Gods have lost track of our whereabouts, and as soon as they catch up with us we’ll get what for. But you know what? It will have been worth it all the same…

The Trail Runs Ever On and On

December 11, 2010

I was on my own today (the other half and his folks having to drive up to Denver to take his grandma to catch her flight) and, left with the choice between sitting at home with my father-in-law’s chocolate chip cookies and going out on the bike, it was no contest: I would take the chocolate chip cookies with me on the bike. Just down the road from where we’re staying there’s a river trail that runs right around into town, and then on and out to the reservoir beyond. I wasn’t quite up for the 36-mile round trip the reservoir would entail, but, it being another beautiful day, I was up for a bit of exploration.

The weather was perfect: crisp and cool and very clear, with no wind and a light scattering of cloud. The ride down to the trail was worryingly downhill all the way but once on the trail it was gently undulating, following the course of the creek. Mindful of the altitude and the need to get back up the hill at the end, I took it at a steady pace. In fact, that was pretty much all my borrowed bike – having spent the last decade or so in the garage – was going to do. We must have looked quite a sight as we travelled down the path together, me in my flat cap and waxed coat, sitting bolt upright, it enjoying its first proper outing in years. The bike had been a little neglected and I could only really get three useful gears out of it and the back brake was purely advisory. But at the stately pace that we were going, it didn’t really matter. And besides, on the trail the only real hazard I was likely to encounter was apparently a rabid skunk.

Oh, and my fellow cyclists. For having stopped on the bridge to take a couple of photos, I heard the familiar whizzing of wheels and clicking of gears. ‘On your left’ they cried and zipped past me as I flattened myself against the parapet of the bridge, fwooom, fwoom, fwoom, all lycra and shades and helmet-mounted cameras. I said good morning but they were going too fast to hear, and besides, I don’t think they recognised me as a fellow cyclist. Clearly, I was but a person on a bike. Or maybe they thought I was about to talk to them about God?

But never mind all that. I could have ridden on forever, lured by the endless trail, but caution prevailed and I stopped at some curiously elaborate picnic tables and had my cookies in the sun and then I mounted my steed and made my way home again with my shadow running before me. By the time I got home I wasn’t even out of breath, and I’m hatching plans now for exploring further afield, and dragging the other half out with me too.

But if it wasn’t for the trail, I don’t know how much cycling I’d want to do around here. The streets around my in-law’s house are fine, enormously wide (I think the road that leads up to theirs is as wide as Big A-road at home) and very lightly used and everything so far has given me a lot of room, even when I was on the right side of the street.* There’s even the odd bike lane painted on some of the roads. But all the other roads are multi-lane monsters and the entry level car around here appears to be a pickup truck the size of our house. Even if I could stick to the proper side of the street, I wouldn’t want to be in amongst more than the lightest traffic and the quietest roads. The rest just looks too scary to be fun. I’ll stick to the trail for now, and take my chances with the rabid skunk.

*There might *ahem* have been one occasion when I found myself cycling happily along on the left. But it was a very empty road, and honestly, anyone could have made the same mistake…

Bicycle Evangelists

December 10, 2010

So, yesterday being a lovely, sunny morning, the other half and I took our jetlag out for a walk. It’s been a while since we were over here so we were getting acclimatised to the altitude, the actual sunlight, and the need to say ‘howdy’ instead of ‘morning’ when we passed someone on the street (the locals always love it when you make the effort to learn a little of their language, I find). Then, as we rounded a corner and headed back for home, my eye was drawn – of course it was – to the sight of two cyclists labouring up the hill towards us. ‘ooh, look, bikes,’ I said. ‘And they’re normally dressed too, that guy is in a suit and tie.’ This, surely, was the very embodiment of Pueblo cycle chic.

The other half, being a little more alert and a little less entranced by the sight of anyone on two wheels, started to pick up his pace a little. Especially when they spotted us and veered across the road towards us. After all, nobody wears a suit and tie around here, where formal requires your best cowboy hat and cleanest jeans. There’s only one set of people likely to be wearing a suit around here, as we discovered: evangelists.  ‘Have you ever had a conversation with missionaries?’ one of them panted as he came to a halt (the hill was rather steep). ‘Ah, no thanks,’ we said as we hurried on. Well, certainly not missionaries on bikes.  And definitely not one that got past the ‘sorry, not interested, thanks,’ stage.

I suppose this serves me right for all the times I’ve managed to shoe-horn bicycles into a perfectly innocent and un-bicycle-related conversation, with the light of a zealot in my eye. But I am encouraged to discover that the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses or whoever have an eye to their carbon footprint in this world, as well as the likely fate of the next. Or is it just easier to catch up with an escaping sinner on a bike?