Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm going to be a bridesmaid!

I am soooo excited about my best friend getting married! Marc and Adele are two amazing souls, who have decided to tie the knot. Marc proposed to Adele while on Holiday over Christmas, and I am the lucky gal who get's to be bridesmaid.

Congrats you guys, Can not wait! See you in March.

The right choice

Many of my friends and family have been asking us if we made the right choice, a, moving the the USA and b, choosing Denver as the place to settle down.

Chris and I have been here 8 months now, and probably seen more of the US than most Americans. After travelling to places like San Diego, Phoenix, San Francisco, we thought that Denver was the place to be. We have now been through a very hot summer, an amazing fall season and now, a very cold and snowy winter, and glad to say, still loving it.

I have travelled to places like Kansas City, St Louis, Dallas, Houston, Palo Alto..... and even though some of those places are amazing, I still love Denver.

So, what do I love so much about it;
1. The Blue sky's and sunshine - 300 days a year
2. the friendly people
3. the hikes, river rafting, cycling, swimming, running, walks, in the summer
4. the skiing and winter sports in the winter
5. wearing my Uggs and wrapping up on cold days
6. the snow falling as I look out into the garden right now, a winter wonderland
7. quaint downtown Denver, with it's night-life, theatre and amazing restaurants
8. the view of the mountains, no matter where you are
9. no fence, burglar bars or alarm system in my home
10. the squirrels in my garden and seeing the elk and buffalo as we head into the mountains

and the list goes on.....

What I miss:
1. My friends and Family
2. Pilansberg, Kruger and the bush

I count my blessings every day and hope to share this with all of my friends and family some day. However, I am and always will be a South African, I am proud of where I come from, the beauty of the country, my accent and everything good about SA.

but, remember; life is a journey, not a destination....

with that said, who knows what the next chapter of our lives may bring!

All Aboard - The Ski-Train

A child-hood memory of mine was re-lived on Saturday. I'm talking about taking a train-trip, on a proper train, not these new age electric-trains, into the mountains. Ok, so the train trip I remember was not nearly as spectacular as a trip through the Rockies, but anyway.

Chris go invited as a VIP guest (luckily I got to tag along) on the famous Ski-Train. This train is an old train which leaves Union Station and goes all the way up into the mountain to Winter Park Ski-Resort.

We got up early at 5:30 and arrived at Union Station Downtown at 6:30am, for our prompt 7:15 departure. We were in the VIP Car, right at the end of the train, where you could act like Harry Truman Waving to his fans from the back. The car looked historical and still had all the old furnishings and decor. We were served breakfast and soon, we all discovered Cranberry Vodka's, which we needed to survive the cold and heavy snow fall.
Boarding the Ski-Train - Still dark outside - brrr

Chris carrying our ski-gear (my personal porter)

Inside the dining car

The bar - mmmmmmmm

Leaving the station - The Denver Sky-line in the distance

Loving the old decor

The views were just amazing, the scenery changing from the misty foothills as we left the city, soon changing, seeing some sunlight and the majestic mountains, tunnels to a snow storm as we reached the high mountains.

Approaching one of many tunnels along the trip
Another snowy tunnel
The amazing mountains scenes

The eerie Mist

After 2 hours we arrived at Winter Park, where we were given ski passes and sent off to explore the slopes. It started snowing even harder, and at time I could not see through my goggles.
The slopes were a little daunting and seemed to merge from Green (the easy ones) into Blues (more difficult), wearing out my legs.
All geared-up

Chris loving the snow - nothing like fresh powder
View of the ski-slopes

After a great couple of runs, some lunch was in order, at a beautiful mid-way restaurant on the mountain. After a warm meal, and revived strength, I was ready to take on the slopes.
Mid-Mountain restaurant

Chris is skiing like a pro, and as his normal self, was very patient with his slow coach wife, either crawling along, or flying past him at some ridiculous speed, out of control.

After getting off the slopes, we all met up and enjoyed a Apres-ski before boarding the train for our trip home. Clearing the snow off the tracks for the ride home.

Dinner and cocktails awaited us as we boarded, and feeling warm and cozy as we left Winter Park, we all admitted to having the most amazing time.

Barely seeing the tracks through the thick snow.

We also met such a awesome bunch of people, some who I am sure will become good friends, true to that Denver friendly manner.
The gals, Leah, Me, Amy and Robin.

Robin and I

The Rocky Mountains

The whole gang!

I was really sore and tired as we pulled into Union Station, sad that the day had come to an end, but so privileged to have experienced it!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fresh Powder and the joys of skiing

It's the new year and Chris and I are adamant to get as much skiing done as we can.

The alarm went off at 5:00am, and at 5:30am we were on the road, on the way to Breckenridge (or Breckenfridge as the locals call it). The drive started off dry and cold, but soon we were driving in heavy snow as we hit the mountain passes.
Icy snowy roads to Breck

It snowed all the way to Breckenridge, but Chris and I were early, so did not battle to find parking near the gondola. We went up to peak 8, where most of the cool green slopes are located, and waited in the warmth of the restaurant overlooking the slopes until they opened.

The Gondolo Lift station
Soon we were all ready to go, ski's on, goggles and mask set, we hit the slopes. The snow continued to fall and provided the perfect skiing conditions. Chris and I were among the first to come down the slopes, loving the fresh powder.

All wrapped up - you need it in these conditions
Doing it like a pro
Cris and I did so well, considering this was our second time skiing. We both cruised down the slopes, Chris acting like a pro. I was very proud of myself, managing to not fall at all, the whole morning. Chris and I did 6 runs and then when our legs started wobbling, we decided to call it a day and head back home.
When we got back down the mountain, my car was snowed in, over, snow just everywhere. We had to do some snow shovelling to be able to get back on the road.
On our way home after a hard run

My snow covered car

I had to laugh at some of the cars totally covered and unrecognisable, with all the snow.

Snowed In???

Lake Dillon - All iced up

What a fantastic day! What's great is that we are so close that we can get to Breck, spend the whole morning skiing hard, and then be back in Denver by the afternoon, to enjoy a great diner out downtown.

This is life, I know that I'm making a few people green by now, but what can I say..... I'm living the life! (-:

Happy New Year

One great thing about living in the Coventry Community, is the amazing neighbours we have. There are many young couples in our neighbourhood, most with young families.
Our wonderful neighbours - Amy & Doug, Chris & I, Todd & Cassie and Scott & Christina

For new years, we got together with 3 other couples, for a house hopping New Year party. The evening started off at our place, where we had to kick the evening off with some appetisers and cocktails.

Our new dining room table - all ready for the New Years Party.

I made some awesome asparagus tarts, or should I say, my Mom made them, thanks Mom, with tomato and pesto toasties, olives and cheese. The Martguerita's (which I;m a pro at making after Mexico) and wine were flowing.

After everyone was warmed up with cocktails and appetisers, it was time to head off to Scott and Chrissie's place. Some yummy pomegranate martini;s were waiting when we arrived. Chrisie had a game planned, mysterious questions about who's who.

The 3rd leg of the evening saw us all migrate to Doug and Amy's place. After guessing who was who from the interesting list of questions we had to answer, we started on the karaoke. We were all well on our way, so our inhibitions did not stand in our way to show off our singing talents.

After counting in the new year, we continued with a girl / guy duet of Summer nights, and eventually gave up.

The last part of the evening ended at Todd and Cassies place, where the baby sitter was ready to hand all the kids back to their parents (just joking, these kiddies are really cute). After just one more for the road, we all headed back home. Lucky for us, we just walked across the street and after a 30 second walk (-:, got home and into bed at 2am.

My folks and us.

Just another great reason of why we love living in Denver.

Mexico - Sun, Sea and Martguerita's

4 days after my folks arrived, I packed everyone up again and off we jetted to Mexico. This was my first trip to Mexico, and I was not sure to expect. I had heard both good and bad views, but being the avid traveller that I am, I was keen to see for myself.

What a wonderful surprise it was. I was half expecting rural culture, poor roads and so-so service. Everything ran smoothly, from start to finish. After catching a flight at 6am from Denver to Phoenix, and then connecting for our last leg to Cancun, we were all a little tired. Our shuttle was waiting for us when we arrived, and transferred us to the Grand Mayan on the Riviera Maya cost-line, about 30 minutes from Cancun. The roads were brilliant and the traffic not too crazy.I never expected to see what I did when we drive into the entrance of our hotel, The Grand Mayan.

The view from our apartment

One of the many pool areas

The Beach at the Grand Maya

AMAZING, STUNNING, OUT OF THIS WORLD. Had I died and gone to heaven?

The resort was well layed out on an amazing golf course. Birds, trees and plants all of the place, with a river flowing through the course. Our apartment had 2 rooms, a kitchen, lounge with a balcony, complete with a splash pool on the patio and a Jacuzzi in each room.

The pool area and beach were absolute luxury with white beds and covered lounge areas as well as deck chairs. Pubs in the pool and happy hour made sure that you were not short on the Martguerita's.

The resort had approx 5 restaurants to choose from, all various types and themes.

Playa del Carmen - 20 minutes away, was a interesting a lively little village. We shopped for our groceries and local Mexican goods, while also enjoying the local beach life and cocktails on the beach.

Cris got to spend his birthday in Mexico, and we spent the day on the beach, sipping pina-coladis and Marguerite's, and we enjoyed a Mexican festival dinner. Not a bad way to spend you birthday.

Christmas day was rather quiet, just another day at the beach, with the odd person saying "Velis Na Vida" Merry Christmas.

Ahhh, this is the life!
My Mom achieved one of her life long dreams and went swimming with the dolphins. She loved it and just wished she could spend more time with the dolphins.

My Dad living the life

Just as we started enjoying our time there, it was time to come home, and our Mexican vacation had come to an end. I know that Chris and I will definitely be back.