I headed to Denver on January 26 with three past exchangees - Linda, Carolyn and her husband Geary - to attend the Colorado International Teaching Exchangee League (CITEL) orientation meeting and Australia Day party. It was a magical drive through the mountains from Palisade to Denver - we drove past ski fields and small little towns that were huddled against the sides of the mountains. There is a long tunnel - over 1 mile - which is tiled with white tiles and as such has to be cleaned regularly due to the car exhaust and snow-cleaning chemicals that get sprayed from the cars as they drive through. Glenwood Canyon is a majestic part of this drive - the freeway was specifically built to curve and snake through the canyon and not take away from the beauty of these canyon views. I was so taken by the views (and the conversations we were having in the car!) I did not have my camera handy. However I have grabbed two pictures from the Internet to give you an idea (source listed at bottom of post):
The orientation was fantastic. All the Aussie exchangees who are here in Colorado (and even one who is in Oregon!) were there and we had a good debrief about our first few weeks and what we had found regarding banks, cars and car insurance - the big three!! After an hour or so we headed to the main event of the day which was the Australia Day party being held at the home of one of the past exchangee's houses. Not only were all us Aussies there but also about 40 or so past exchangees who had been to Australia. Everyone was warm and welcoming and very interested in how we were faring during the first few weeks of our exchange. A lot of people I met offered beds if needed when travelling over to the Denver area or advice on where to go and what to see while I was here in Colorado. I had a great night and met some wonderful people!
Linda, Carolyn, Geary and I stayed overnight at the house and then headed back to Palisade / Grand Junction mid morning Sunday. We stopped for a few rest stops on the way and had a look at a few of the tiny, beautiful towns. At one town we stopped and spent a few minutes watching cars drive around a race track on an iced over lake. We also saw a group of deer just meandering through the houses!
The drive to Denver takes about 4 hours, depending on the conditions of the road. Last weekend it was fairly clear and dry but it can get very snow and ice covered if they have a weather system move through the mountains.
Celebrating Australia Day at Nisley
The Friday before Australia Day I took some little pieces of Australia into school to share with the fourth graders. We celebrated Australia Day at the end of each writing session with cold Milo, Vegemite on crackers and Caramello Koalas. I expected the kids to absolutely hate Vegemite - this is what has happened every time I have seen or heard Americans trying it. However, most of the kids declared they quite liked the salty taste! I was blown away - not quite so surprised when a few teachers who tried it declared it was horrible :-)
The following Wednesday I took in morning tea treats for the staff, having cooked for the prior three nights straight. Nisley staff were treated to two Pavlovas, homemade Lamingtons, Scones with jam and cream, and the big one - different flavoured TimTams!! All went over a treat once I cleared up the names (scones are very close to what they call biscuits over here, and they call biscuits cookies).
I was very proud of my cooking ability by the way - I have NEVER cooked a Pavlova before OR Lamingtons from scratch. Everything worked awesomely and even my sconces were the best I have made. I am wondering if this had anything to do with the high altitude here? Anyway, I am glad it all worked out and the staff enjoyed their taste of Australia!
Side note - finding ingredients to use when cooking these recipes took me an hour and a half solid in City Market! I did have to order coconut from home as I could not find dessicated here in the store - and I admit I used one Pav egg :-)
Glenwood Hot Springs
Saturday I headed out on my first day trip in the area - a teacher at Nisley, Sara, invited me to go with her to the Glenwood Hot Springs. We headed off at 8:30am and were in the pools by 10am. There are two pools at Glenwood - the main pool is 405 feet long x 100 feet wide and is kept at around 32 degrees celcius. The second pool is 100 feet long and is kept at a temperature of about 40 degrees celcius. The water comes from a spring which delivers around 3 1/2 million gallons of water every day at about 51 degrees celcius!
Sara and I spent about 4 hours at the pools and then headed to lunch at RibCity. We then stopped for a quick look at the memorial to 14 firejumpers who died in the South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain in 1994. It was a great day and I enjoyed getting to know Sara more as well!
Before we headed home, I had to take my picture near Sara's big truck - just for those of you at home who have been wanting me to buy one of these!!
* Hanging out with new friends
* Planning some day trips around the local area
* February 23 - CITEL Snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park
Hope all teachers and students started back at school well last week - I was thinking of you all! Have a great start to Term 1! It has started to get warmer here lately.....I am crossing my fingers it will get back to what I am told is 'normal' winter weather - around zero and above! I will keep updating the blog with my travels and adventures every two weeks or so - feel free to leave comments and I will do my best to reply to all!