Friday, October 26, 2012

Zombie Crawl

The Zombie Justice League

What better idea than to join tens of thousands of other Coloradans in the annual Denver Zombie Crawl to welcome Amy out to Colorado. With some last minute organisation we threw together some costumes from a few pieces of consignment shop clothes, with a few cuts, stitches and throwing on a bit of make-up, latex wounds and fake blood we were ready to go. Part of the Justice League, made up of our Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batwoman, Robin and the Green Arrow.

We headed for the afternoon parade along the 16th street mall in downtown Denver. The mall was an apocalyptic scene with thousands of adults, children, animals and pensioners dressed with wounds, blood and all array of fantastic, amazing and disturbing costumes. We proceeded into the evening to attempt to drink the bars of Denver dry. 

I'm really in the mountians!

So I am really loving living out here in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. On a nice day I can look out my window to clouds rolling behind the mountains right behind my place or on a cold, miserable day, look out to see a new dusting of snow just off up in the hills. My room has windows on three sides, and a balcony, so just they just get soaked with sun or rain drops and soon they may pile full with snow!!!!

So like usual I try keep busy, and I have been brewing beer as usual, feeding myself well with some good organic meals and I have started some woodworking projects too. I scrounged some small logs and bought myself some basic tools of a hand saw, hammer and chisels and am attempting to knock together some alpine style log furniture, and its coming together well.

2012 logoLast weekend Phil and I went out to the Redcliff Mountain Man Competition. Phil was actually competing, as he was writing an article for the magazine he works for about competition. Events included: axe throwing, keg tossing, bow shooting, wood cutting and the sorts. Having a wild mountain man beard just added to your credibility. Therefore with my straggly months growth I had no credibility whatsoever! Located in a small town not to far from here, there were over a hundred people competing and heaps more spectators, all squeezed into the car park of the town's pub. It was such a good vibe, everyone was really friendly and cheerful. 

So keeping with the mountain theme, on Monday at work, the boss yells over to me "Hey Thomas, look up there on the path", and what had wandered its way into the work site? A huge male moose! Startled at the sight of the beast, I scampered back as I wasn't totally comfortable being 10 meters away from such a massive wild animal. He was not at all bothered by us or of the construction of the new Vail gondola, and he casually just stepped over a 1.5 meter fence and headed for the site gate and off up the mountain! What a animal, giant paddle antlers with the most shiny beautiful black coat.

So it seems I have really found myself out in the mountains, just what I wanted!
Unfortunately this is not the moose is saw but just in case you
 didn't know what one looked like, they looked just like this!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Off to the mountains

The picturesque town of Avon, Colorado
So after the summer that never seemed to end, I thought it was time to change it up and get some real winter action lined up. After a wee bit of planning, that being booking a flight and telling my friend to collect me from the airport, here I am. Avon, Colorado is now my home! I am deep in the Rocky Mountains, Eagle County, which is ski and snowboarding heaven. There is also heaps happening round here during summer but it's just starting to transition into its winter wonderland mode. We have been getting dustings of snow on the high peaks, progressively getting lower and lower and the ski fields are snowmaking too. The temperature my first weeks were of warm days and cool nights but now are at freezing mornings, mild days and very cold nights.

I have come out by myself, as Amy picked up some wok relief teaching in Stamford, but she'll be out here mid October. It's been tough being apart, but has allowd me to get all setup out here and settled into work and the lifestyle. I have worked all sort of jobs already since being out here, but found a position with a landscaping company, where I'm working real 40 hour weeks! I'm currently sub letting a huge room in an appartmnt till the end of the month with some young, fun and friendly people.
Keona and I after a few hours walking in the Rockies
So the plan is to get jobs working on the mountain with the Vail Resorts Group. This will entitle us to season passes for all Vail ski fields of which there are five within 45 mins of here. The closest being Beaver Creek, which you can take the 10 min shuttle up the road from town to get to the base. Vail is just down the road along with A-basin, Keystone and Breckinridge just a bit further away again.
My little town of Avon is a beautiful wee spot, population of 8,000, set amongst Spruce and Aspen covered mountains. There's a picturesque river running through town and there are heaps of walking and cycling paths. I skate, walk or Bike everywhere, and its good. Now the biggest thing about being out here is actually being up here. Avon sits at 2,265 meters elevation and everything else is up even further, eg the top of vail ski field is at 3,530 meters. This was a bit of a challenge to get used to, I was breathless, was always dehydrated and had wicked headaches. Took about a week to sort that out but now its all good, but you still notice the thin air when being active.

Holy Cross City abandoned minning town

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bye Bye East Coast

Thomas and Amy in NYC
 So with Thomas booking flights to Colorado, we decided to do a few fun things during his last week on the East Coast. The first thing we wanted to do was surprise, surprise: go surfing! This being the last chance for Thomas to even see the ocean before heading to land-locked Colorado! So we decided to head just south of JFK Airport, to Long Beach, Long Island. This is the beach we had been to a few times earlier in the year, and thought it would be the easy 45 min drive for some amazing waves. The waves were scheduled to be monstrous, due to the hurricanes that were pushing up some swell from further in the south.

Evening beach picnic

We left pretty late, around 3 pm, and unfortunately hit some crazy New York traffic once we got into Queens. We decided to disobey the GPS and get off the highway and drive the back rodes all the way through NYC and Long Island. This might not have been the best idea, as it ended up taking us nearly 3 hours to get to the beach, but the highway wouldn't have been as interesting at least! The waves were far too large and scary for me to go surfing, but I enjoyed laying on the beach, reading, writing and taking heaps of pictures of course! There were hundreds and hundreds of surfers along the beach, but Thomas jumped right in! I couldn't tell him apart from the rest of the surfers out there though!

 Thomas came out once to make some sandwiches for dinner with me, and then we both enjoyed watching the sunset, me from the beach and Thomas from the waves! He stayed out there far after it had gotten dark! It was quite strange to be at the beach and watching an amazing sunset while NYC could be seen in the distance!

Shreading it!!!

Thomas on the Esplanade

So I managed to convinced Thomas to come into Manhattan with me one more time before he left so that we could do a few things we had both wanted to do for awhile. First on our agenda, was to go to the 9/11 memorial. We decided to go into the city on September 12th, so it was appropriate to pay our respects at the memorial so close to the anniversary. Before we visited the memorial we walked around one of my favorite places, South Street Seaport, and the new esplanade by the Brooklyn Bridge.

We didn't know what to expect from the memorial, first impression was a long queue and some hefty security. Again, because it was the day after the victim's families came for a private ceremony at the memorial, flags, photos, letters etc. were everywhere. It is a wounderful memorial, the way the water cascades down into the pools then down again in the centre to where you cannot see the end of the cascade really makes it feel as if the water is pouring into the centre of the earth, somehow I found this a beautiful tribute to the lives lost.

North Tower Refection Pool

I only learned about the High Line earlier this summer, but since the moment we learned about it, Thomas and I have been waiting for the perfect day to walk this amazing park. Built in the 1930s, the High Line was originally an elevated freight train line lifting the trains above the streets to prevent accidents and deaths. In 2010 it was transformed into an elevated public park. Wildflowers, trees, grasses, train tracks, vendors, lounge chairs and a cafe make the park a fantastic escape from the street level hussle and bussle of NYC, along with the charm of this amazing historic structure.

The High Line from street level
The High Line from High Line level 
We decided to walk all day, eventually going from from the WTC to the High Line, ending up in Times Square, about 6 miles! I don't know anyone who has ever walked nearly half of Manhattan before! The High Line is quite possibly the coolest free attraction in NYC. I was in awe of the whole thing, and yes took wayyyyyy too many pictures, but it was MAGNIFICENT!

Pie Face!

Once off the High Line we kept walking all the way up to Times Square. We walked to the new Pie Face! The Australian pie chain that just opened a few months ago, and is the first in the US! It had been awhile since we had an authentic pie, and it was so nice to get one, but their sausage rolls were the best!

Soon after, we meet up with my friend Elaina and her boyfriend at a bar near Times Square. We sat outside on their balcony and enjoyed a few pints before stealing the pint glasses and catching our train back to Stamford. It was a nice way to say good-bye to the East Coast.

Amy and Elaina at "The Perfect Pint" bar

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Our Narragansett Holiday

Lounging at Narragansett beach
About a week after our beach holiday in LBI, Thomas and I decided it was about time for another holiday! We soon got sick of being back in CT, and really wanted to go surfing again. Thomas had been to Narragansett beach with John and Kel, and decided that we should take two days there in Rhode Island, just the two of us! It had been quite some time since the two of us had some alone time, and so we packed up all the camping gear we collected during our road trip, and our surfing gear and off we were. We drove two hours on the southern coast of CT, and opted to get off the interstate for the last hour and passed some adorable historic coastal towns, and eventually got to our destination. We decided to do this trip "road trip" styles, meaning we'd go to the grocery store, make our own meals and camp in a state park. So the first thing on the agenda was to get some lunch supplies, and in typical "Thomas styles", we sat on a stone ledge right by the beach, and made yummy sandwiches, some kiwi chippy sandwiches too!

Just like Thomas, John and Kel had to do, we had to nonchalantly jump over the stone ledge and get onto the beach, avoiding the entrance fee into the beach. We managed to do this quite well, with our surfboard too! Unfortunately the waves were quite small, just 1-2ft, so Thomas went out just once for a quick ride, but then let me surf for the rest of the afternoon! The waves weren't the best for me either, but I still enjoyed myself a lot! The water was gorgeous and warm, but the seaweed was a little much!

Home for the night
We spent all day at the beach, but finally decided to drive to our camp ground. We found our site, pitched our tent, and unlike the many cold, uncomfortable nights on our road trip, I made sure we brought pillows and numerous blankets with us, and boy was it luxurious!

We only had one night there in Narragansett, so we opted to drive to the port where the ferry to Block Island is located and walk around the little town there. It wasn't much of a town, with maybe one bar/restaurant, and two souvenir stores, so we ended up walking along the beach for quite some time. Eventually we got to the Point Judith Lighthouse, right at sunset. We watched surfers catching some amazing waves, right onto the rocks and saw and built some cairns right on the beach (my favorite thing to do!) all the while listening to the obnoxiously loud foghorn that kept going off!

 We spent the next day at the beach, played in the waves, and left around noon to head home. We wanted to leave early and stop at other beaches on our way home. We stopped at the well known Misquamicut beach. We found ourselves on a private beach, and walked up the beach past gorgeous beach homes and private clubs for about an hour and a half! Thomas made sure to let me know how lucky I am to have a boyfriend who enjoys long walks on the beach!

Thomas and Amy enjoying the Rhode Island sunset

Long Beach Island

A 6am departure was scheduled as usual for the Sierpina annual family holiday, this year with two Deversons and a Loliet in tow. The destination, Long Beach Island, on the Jersey Shore. This has been the location of the Sierpina summer holiday for the last 22 years, the first year being when Amy was just one year old. This is something Amy has told me about over and over again, and was so happy to finally share with me.

So the plan was to pile the car full of beach gear, supplies and people and off we were on our nearly 3 hour drive. We had a full eight days and arriving very early on Saturday we headed to Amy's Aunt Margaret and Uncle Steve's beach house. We caught up with them, got into our togs and off we to he beach, even before we can set up camp at the holiday house.

John and Thomas safe under the umbrella
Our beach setup
The route was laid by the experienced LBI holiday goers: head to the beach early, set up camp involving a beach chair per person, umbrellas, towels, beach games, boogie boards, and chilly bins of water, drinks and snacks. All set up everyone could sleep, read, swim and just hang out. Watch out for that sun though. Amy's family being of Greek and Italian decedent, they just acted very Mediterranean and laid in the sun all day long, as us papaw hires huddled for shade and shelter.

 We would either buy lunches, e.g. I did not, or make sandwiches at home, e.g I did. After an hour or so lunch break, more beach going till very late afternoon was on the agenda, and then we would head to the traditional dinner locations of pizza, seafood, wings and maybe a bit more seafood. Mini golf is a favorite past time for the holiday week, Amy and I both put on some stellar puts and took out a few wins!

Early in the week, Amy and I drove John and Kel to Atlantic City, the East Coast Casino metropolis. Together we walked the boardwalk, hit up a few casinos, ordered some free drinks then left the two for a few nights of 25th floor glamour. Back at the beach we continued with the routine of sun, swimming and sand! I managed to crawl out of bed one morning for a tidy wee surf, I won some clean little 2 ft waves.

On Friday, we had to shoot J & K off to the airport as they were off back to Australia via Hawaii, for some more beach action. We had a crazy ride back to LBI from NYC in some pouring rain, really having to crawl along the highway with all cars deploying their hazard lights just in order to maintain sight of each other! But we got back to the beach in one piece, and enjoyed a few more nice days on the jersey shore. And let's be honest, it's not such a bad gig there at the beach, despite the life guards blowing their whistles at anyone nearing the edges of the flags, throwing balls or swimming out too far. That was me doing all those things, but you would have already assumed that though wouldn't you??!
Thomas, Amy, Kel and John on the Atlantic City Boardwalk