We are almost three weeks into our three month visa for the states. We've been staying with our friend Colin. He has a beautiful house in Carbondale nestled in the Rockie Mountains. The house looks out onto Mount Sopris. It's such a beautiful setting. The mountain looks different everyday. At the minute it has a light dusting of snow, which helps reflect the sunrise and sunset. There are humming birds in the garden and deer often pass through. As well as getting to hang out with Colin we have the added bonus of spending lots of time with Austin and Roxy. We originally met Colin, Austin and Roxy in Yangshuo, China in 2014. It's been really sweet reconnecting with them all, climbing, eating and hanging out.
The majority of our time has been spent converting the van that we are going to be road tripping in with Colin. We are all super stoked! None of us have any experience in converting vans, but we are having fun doing it and we are learning a lot. The van was a total shell when we arrived. None of us had a clue what we were doing but now two weeks on the van has been insulated, we've fitted walls, built a bed, laminated the floor added curtains and a whole load more. It really is incredible what you can achieve if you put your mind to it! It will probably all fall apart once we are on the road but it's been fun trying.
In between working on the van we have been out climbing and exploring the local area. We've climbed a lot on Independence Pass which is such a beautiful place. We have arrived just as all the trees are starting to turn. We really have never seen colours as vibrant as this. The Aspen trees are so golden they look like the sun is permanently glowing on them. An interesting fact is that the Aspen tree is one giant organism, they are not separate trees but are in fact all one, this reminds me of Avatar.
We've also been climbing at a really famous spot named Rifle which has been good strength training. The routes are pumpy and the holds all seem to be the wrong way around, the style reminds us a lot of two crags back home named Malham and Kilnsey. On one of the days there we took our friend Danny climbing. We originally met Danny and Skyhe back in October 2014 in Laos, then in Vietnam and also in Thailand. We were in Denver recently and we called around to their house for a cuppa, which was lovely but so surreal at the same time. You really do meet great people when you are on the road and these guys are definitely two of them. Danny drove from Denver to Carbondale which is the equivalent of driving from Leeds to London to cook us dinner and hangout, super sweet of him!
One day we went to Penny Hot Springs which is a natural hot spring based right next to a freezing cold river. Surrounding the river and hot springs are the beautiful colours of autumn. The water was soooo hot! The river was ice cold, it literally took your breath away. We met a really nice woman there called Bella who turned out to be an author for a book on dealing with anxiety and being passionate about providing services for females. As you can imagine we got on fantastically and we talked non stop! Anyway she told me a trick to do in the river that would stop my body feeling cold and would give me a feeling of taking drugs so I tried it. So you get into the river and go into a squat position crossing your arms across your chest, placing each hand on opposite shoulders. Then stay in the water for a minute. This actually worked, before long I no longer felt cold. Once I felt like this Bella told me to get back into the hot spring, this is where the rush started. I actually felt like I was going to pass out, I just had to sit back and relax and roll with it. I was pretty glad when it was over!
We went to our first Blue Grass gig at Steve's Guitars in Carbondale. This was such a small and intimate gig, with a capacity of around 30-40 people. The music was so uplifting, I smiled the whole way through. This music certainly helps to show off people's talent. Zach who is one of Colin's old high school friends was on the banjo and he has the fastest fingers in the west.
So we are ready to hit the road,our first stop is going to be Lake Tahoe in California. Then to the infamous Yosemite. We are going to be climbing super high and learning lots of new technique, we are both pretty psyched(and scared ha ha). Then we will move back east through Nevada and go climbing at Red Rocks. It's only 16 miles from Las Vegas, apparently you can see some of the Las Vegas strip from the top of some of the climbs. When you are camping you can see the light from the Luxor and the other hotels. From there we will head in to Utah, then back to Colorado to clean our clothes and restock. We have to be out of the states by 14th December, so we plan to exit via Texas and into Mexico. That's our plan for the time being but as you know with travelling anything can happen!