Saturday, 26 October 2013

October catchup.....

The month of October is nearly over and I am back to catch you up on my travels since my last post!

Monument Valley sunrise

After driving to Monument Valley and catching up over dinner with two awesome families from Korumburra, I spent the night at Gouldings Lodge. The next morning I made sure I was up in plenty of tie to catch the sunrise over the valley - and it didn't disappoint!


Four Corners Monument

I headed south east from Monument Valley towards Four Corners Monument - the only point in the US where four states meet at a particular point.........

Canyonlands National Park

From Four Corners I headed back into Colorado and drove north west to the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. This area is spectacular - the rock formations are HUGE and you drive along the base of them feeling very small and insignificant. The landscape just went for miles and there were differences in the views as I drove further into the park. See what I mean below - :-)

Crossing back into the state of Colorado

First viewpoint on the drive in

Very cool seeing these old drawings on the rock!!

Arriving at the "official" entrance

The Shoe


Travelling to Chicago

The first weekend in OCtober I travelled to Chicago, hired a car and drove and hour to Portage, Indiana to stay with my host family from 12 years ago. I had been on exchange in 1999 during Year 11 to the US and stayed with the Engel family. I have been back to visit them a few times and I could not live in the US all this year without seeing them again!

We had a great time catching up - I arrived Friday evening and chatted with Phil and Judy, my US Mom and Dad. I even got to say hi to their oldest Jared via FaceTime, surprising him greatly I think! Saturday saw Madi, their daughter, join us for lunch and some time at the outlet shops nearby. At the end of Saturday we had a quick look at the lake and made it back to the house just as the rain began. Madi's husband joined us for dinner and then a movie night. Sunday morning I headed out after a quick hello with their youngest, Wesley.

Phil, Judy, Me and Madi

I did have some troubles on the trip home - some traffic on the Interstate, I drove past my first available exit to the car rental place, I missed my flight in Chicago by 5 minutes....... but with the help of a wonderful United Airlines representative, I was placed on the last flight to Denver. However in Denver, I arrived to find my flight to Grand Junction was cancelled, which meant I was booked on the next flight out the next morning. However, this did not work as it arrived at 8am, which was when I was meant to be at school! So I had to rent a car and drive 5 hours over the mountains home. I arrived at my house at midnight - which made for a very tired Ms Huntly the next day at school! :-)

Snow is here!!

So at the start of October, it got a bit fresh in the valley. I didn't think much of it - until I was flying out to Chicago and looked out the window of the Grand Junction airport to see snow on the Bookcliff mountains! I was very excited - and combined with the information that this month was when all the colours changed on the Mesa, I was eager to get up there and go for a drive to see this change of season.

So Sara and I headed off for a drive over the Mesa one nice Sunday afternoon. It was pleasant in Palisade - I was in a light 3/4 cotton top and jeans. However, as we headed up the mountain the temperature got cooler and cooler and the colours began changing more and more ...... until we were driving through snow and slush and freezing when we got out for pictures!! The views were gorgeous though and I have shared some of my pictures with you below:


On the 13th (Saturday) I received a call from my parents to say that my beautiful Nan had passed at home. It was devastating to hear and with Mum and Dad's urging, I decided to fly home for the funeral. I booked a flight from Grand Junction Monday night, arriving on Wednesday morning. Travelling 25 hours in total, it was great to be on Aussie soil again - despite the delay I faced in Phoenix meaning I had to run to my plane in LAX and my suitcase did not make the flight!

What made the trip home just a bit easier was that the McLean and Hewitt families were on the same flight as me, heading home from their holiday!! Having them to chat to through the flight made it a little easier than if I had been on my own with my own thoughts for the whole time. I send a big thanks to them for keeping an eye out for me at LAX and giving me some light hearted relief during the long flight!!

I was home for three and a half days and travelled for 56 hours - but I am so glad I went home.

Rest In Peace Nan - give Pa a hug and kiss for me xxx

Christmas 2012

Nan and Pa - as I remember them!

At the family gathering - with my gorgeous teenage cousins
(somehow I ended up the smallest in height!!)


More to come following this week's Halloween celebrations.......

Keep smiling,
Candice xx

Monday, 14 October 2013

Catchup time!!

Hello all......

So I am back! Apologies for the absence. I was enjoying my travels over summer so much I did not have time to update once I was on the road with my parents! So much to see and do and catch up on :-) Hopefully you all were able to see my photos though. I posted links to the Shutterfly photo albums I had made up of my 10 week summer vacation. If you have not seen my awesome trip through pictures, please feel free to have a look at them - they were in the previous three posts. Any question, send them my way - basically though it was a fantastic whirlwind trip east, west, south and north of the whole country!

Back at Nisley.......

A new school year started on August 5. That week was purely teacher only - we had two days staff development meetings, one day with the entire district staff and then two days in our own rooms and with our teams. This semester I am teaching Math to all fourth graders instead of writing. We have a new team member in fourth grade and she has taken over the Writing syllabus while Theresa (and me until December) is taking over Math.

One thing I noticed straight away is the difference between teaching Math in a Title 1 school in Colorado and teaching Math in Victoria. Due to the transient nature of the Title 1 school population, state scores and the low socio-economic nature of most of the school community, our school is directed by the District to teach a particular syllabus following a pacing guide for the year. This allows students who move from school to school to continue their learning at the same place in the syllabus. This is different to how I was teaching in Victoria with our continuum framework of skills we teach as students need. A change but it is an exciting one to see how another school and district looks at the development of student mathematical understanding.

When I started school in August, I spent a whole day setting up my classroom, rearranging things and finding new spots to store all the math equipment that came into my room! Below are some pictures of my classroom in the first few weeks:

Looking in from my door

Looking in towards the back of the room and the courtyard door

Class Library - I halved the number that was here last year
to make it easier to keep organised!!
Also have two shelves for my Aussie books :-)

Corridor wall and door (my desk at the far back)

Teacher area :-)
 Since August I have introduced Math Workshop to the classes. The students have a bit more independence in getting their work done and I am able to meet with small groups every day. It has been a struggle in some areas developing this independence but the students really seem to enjoy the rotations: Teacher Choice, Math Facts, Hands On and At Your Seat.

School has also been interesting as we began - I participated in a drill Lockdown situation for 10 minutes, which was followed up one week later by an actual Lockdown situation (on September 11 too!) that lasted 25 minutes and was ended by a GJ policeman unlocking my door. Kinda scary and weird - am looking forward to not having to go through these again when I go home!!

Loving my Life in Colorado.....

I had travelled for so long over summer break - 8 1/2 weeks of the 10 weeks I was on the road away from GJ - that it was extremely nice to get back to school and stay in the one spot!! I spent August and the start of September getting back into the swing of things at school and spending time with my awesome friends.

The middle of September saw the Palisade Wine Festival occur three blocks from my house. Janel invited Katie and I to volunteer in the morning in return for free entry into the event. So we met at my place and walked around to the festival which was being held in the park behind my street. After spending an hour unpacking boxes and filling grab bags, I stood at the entrance with an iPod and scanned entry tickets using a QR code. In one hour I scanned 700 or so people through the gates! However, I handed over the scanner without question when my shift was over as that meant it was time to check out the Wine Festival!! Janel, Katie and I spent six hours wandering around booths, tasting wines and having some great food samples as well! I'm kind of glad it all finished at 5:30pm though - the samples were VERY good!! :-)

Katie and I stomping grapes!
Janel and Katie
It was really cold and gross!
Our gorgeous feet when we finished!
Our first bottle bought and drank with lunch!
We loved this label :-) Very fun!

Didn't try these but we loved these labels also :-)

A pink fire engine for Breast Cancer Awareness :-)

The following day, I headed to Glenwood Caverns and Glenwood Springs with Sara and two of her friends Richard and Mark. It was a hilarious day as all three are very funny people - added to that is the fact Mark is a Pom so we had some extra fun giving each other a hard time over all sorts of country issues :-D

The weekend following, there was a CITEL Grand Junction Weekend. A lot of the Aussie exchangees and some American ex-echangees came over the mountains (from the east and south) to stay in town and check out some of our wonderful local areas. Fiona, one of my friends in Denver (from Sydney), came over and spent the weekend with me. Together with Sara, we spent Saturday at the Fruita Fall Festival, which is a town festival on the other side of the valley. It was a great day that began with breakfast at the Dickes', watching the town parade, wandering the stalls, spending money (I bought Xmas presents and a Colorado Love hoody) and having lots of laughs in the beer garden area in the afternoon.

Sara bought an AMAZING beanie - Minion Time!

Fruita has a lot of sculptures around the town square, just like Palisade!

Enjoying small town America!

Last travels begin........

On September 29 I headed to Monument Valley to meet up with the McLean and Hewitt families. They were travelling the National Parks for a few weeks in RVs and we had organised to catch up this night for dinner. I was looking forward to seeing people from home!

The drive up to Monument Valley was absolutely gorgeous. It took me 5-6 hours to get there but the last half was amazing to look at as I drove........

Anyone want to run a marathon?

This rock was balanced very well!

Driving south through Utah, the countryside got redder and redder
as I got closer to the Arizona border!

Driving through Utah ...... different landscapes only half hour apart!

My view as I near Monument Valley

The view from my balcony at Gouldings Lodge

What a great way to relax and unwind - looking at the gorgeous scenery!

The lodge was built to blend into the rock formations

Overlooking Gouldings Lodge and the Valley


After arriving and settling in, I went down to the RV campsites and had a wonderful catch up dinner with the McLean family and Hewitt family from Korumburra. They were travelling the National Parks for a few weeks - it was wonderful to see Aussies again and have a catch up about what was going on back home at school and in town :-)

I even got an amazing present!! :-) Yummo!!

More to come.......


There is much more to come, including my drive back from Monument Valley where I visited Four Corners Monument and the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. However, its time to post this catchup before it gets TOO long!

Keep smiling,

Candice :-)