I decided to take the Amtrak train from Grand Junction to Denver. It is a long trip - one way takes 8 hours if the train is on time and not stopped due to overheating (in summer) or snow on tracks (in winter). However I had been told it was a great way to see the scenery over the mountains and it was still too dicey weather wise for me to attempt driving over the mountains. If it became winter stormy and icy on the roads I would not have felt comfortable in driving there or home.
So I organised for the Friday off from school and set off at 10am from Grand Junction station. It was truly a magical journey. If anyone has the chance to take the train over these mountains, I must encourage you to do so! The vistas you see are amazing and look just like postcards or paintings. I forgot my camera (!!) but had my iPad mini with me for entertainment. This took some absolutely amazing photos on its camera and I have included a whole page of my photos from the train ride (just look to the right at the top of the page for the link to 'Amtrak Train GJ - Denver' page).
I arrived in Denver at about 6pm and met up with Leanne from Pakenham, who I was staying with for the weekend. We had great fun catching up over dinner and drinks at the restaurant Chilli's, after which we took the bus back to her small flat in the basement of a house-turned-apartments.
Snowshoeing at Estes Park
Saturday February 23rd saw myself and Leanne meeting Fiona, another exchangee from Sydney, at her car for the drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. Fiona lives very close to Leanne so it was an easy walk that morning to meet up and get on the road. It took us about 2 hours to get to Estes Park, which is a small tourist town at the base of the national park, and it was here we met up with the other exchangees - current and past - to organise snowshoes and poles at a hire store.
|Getting my snowboots and waterproof pants on ready to go!|
From there we formed a caravan of cars and headed into the park to Bear Lake. It was another maybe half hour from the hire shop, into the park and up the mountain. It was a picture perfect day at the bottom and was not in any way forecasting what we were going to be walking into on our hike!!
We all started together and made the first lake fairly well. After we headed from here, we started getting some wind and interesting weather that reached VERY cold and interesting conditions by the second lake. Due to this, our trek to the third lake was called off and we headed back down the mountain to the start. Despite not making the third lake, I completely enjoyed the walk and will definitely be snowshoeing again - it is so much fun and so easy!
|Leanne, me and Fiona at the first lake|
|Freezing in the windy conditions at the second lake!|
|The second lake|
On the way in and out of the park, I also got an idea why it may be called Rocky Mountain National Park - the scenery was very rocky with not much vegetation (or even snow!)
Following the snowshoeing, we all met up again at Kim and Vern's house. They are a couple who exchanged to Australia a few years ago - and they also are very good friends with people I know from Gippsland! It is a very small world!! We had chilli lunch and dessert and chatted about our exchanges so far. It was great to talk to the exchangees again - a few of them have caught up since Australia Day but since I'm on the other side of the state (and mountain range) I hadn't and it was great to say hello again.
That evening once we had gotten back to Denver Fiona, Leanne and I had dinner at a pizza place not far from their apartments and then Leanne and I headed back to her place. I had to get up at 6am the next morning to head to Amtrak to catch my train back to GJ so it was an early night.
And that brings about the February catchup posts! Apologies for the time between part 1 and 2, I have been sick for over a week and have not been able to do much aside from wake up, go to school, come home and sleep! Hopefully I am getting better as in a week I am on Spring Break - and off to New Orleans with Leanne! Holidays here I come!!
Next post: New Orleans (and other March tidbits)
Keep smiling everyone!!