The first weekend of December I headed to Denver for the final CITEL event for this year. While some people were unable to attend due to other commitments or the weather, it was wonderful to catch up and say farewell to most of the Aussies and CITEL members who had been with us for most of the year.
The week prior to this we had had some winter weather hit GJ and across the mountains. However, this didn't phase me as I was going to Denver as a passenger, not as a driver. The I-70 can be very dangerous in areas during winter as a result of ice and snow, but I felt confident in being a passenger with experienced drivers leading the way. My friend Linda and her friend John offered me a ride and on Friday afternoon we headed off on I-70 for Denver. Unfortunately, we hit ice just over an hour into our trip. We slid left into the left hand lane, then slid back across the road into the right lane, slid down the embankment and slammed into the wildlife/deer fence, hooking the car onto the wire. It was a scary moment and thankfully there was no cars near us on the road for us to hit. Thankfully again the fence stopped us, or I am sure we had the speed and angle that we were on target to flip. No one hurt, just shaken for a few minutes :-) After waiting for the fire rescue squad to make sure we were okay, the state patrol to come and take an accident report and then the two tow trucks (the first was broken and couldn't pull us up the slope), it was at least two hours before we were allowed to (slowly!) drive the car into Glenwood Springs. Here we left the car to be checked, rented another one and got back on the road to Denver. I will admit I spent the rest of the ride either with my eyes closed or looking at my iPad. I finally got to Fiona's about 9:30pm and was very glad to end the night with a glass of wine!
Saturday was the CITEL Christmas brunch and farewell. It was a wonderful afternoon catching up and saying farewell - but us Aussies were also the entertainment! I made a PhotoStory movie of everyone's pictures from the year; Lindsey wrote and performed an original song; and Stuart wrote and recited an original poem. We're very talented us Aussies! I do have video of all here - I will update here so everyone can see them when my computer is feeling like liking me again :-)
Following this lunch, Fiona and I hit the shops at Colorado Mills - particularly Forever 21 and Eddie Bauer! Then we went for dinner at a small eatery Fiona was wanting to try before she left called The Beast and the Bottle. It was a gorgeous atmosphere and the food and wine was deeelish! We even splurged on dessert......
On my departure from Denver, I chose to head back over the mountains on the Amtrak train. My nerves appreciated my decision as I woke in the morning to light snow falling again. Despite a few hours delay, I did find the return journey more pleasant than if I had gone back via I-70.... Just not quite ready to test the roads again so soon!
On my return to Palisade, I decided I needed to clear the inch or less of snow that was sitting on my driveway to prevent an accident. It was becoming slick as it was melting in the sun and the re freezing overnight, and the sun was not quite strong enough to melt it away completely.
So one night when I arrived home at 6:30pm from work (pitch black due to winter), I got out the snow shovel and headed outside. Rugged up to the nines, it took me 30 - 40 minutes, a lot of swear and sore shoulders to clear the driveway and footpath in front of the house! I felt very successful and will post photos when I transfer them from my camera :-)
Nisley - School of Excellence
This year I have worked with an amazing group of educators. Prior to my arrival, they had been awarded a Colorado School of Excellence award for student growth in learning two years in a row. This year, they were awarded a National Title 1 Distinguished Schools award - one of 100 in the nation and one of two in Colorado. Then recently they discovered they had been selected as a Colorado School of Excellence for the third year in a row. These teachers are humble and are constantly doing this for their students - I congratulate them on their recognitions for all their hard work.
Some of the staff at the School Board meeting where they were recognized for their latest achievement
Nisley Staff Xmas Party
The Saturday before school finished for Xmas break, we had our staff Xmas party at a venue in downtown GJ. While not every staff member attended the night (it seemed like about a third to a half attended), it was a wonderful night of laughs and interesting moments :-D
Following the venue wrap, a group of us headed out to a few pubs downtown and then went to a staff member's house for the early hours of the morning. I got in my house about 3:30am - a tiring but awesome way to kick off my Colorado farewell week! :-)
I was interviewed by the Daily Sentinel - a GJ paper - about my experiences here during my exchange year. I was happy to talk about my year...... Just didn't expect it to end up on the front page a week later!! Must have been a slow news week ;-)
I have tried to include the link here - hopefully it works........
Book Club Goodbyes
I have been attending a book club once a month while here with a friend from CITEL. During the last week of school, we had a potluck dinner to celebrate a few birthdays and say goodbye. I really enjoyed getting to know these interesting ladies and will look forward to seeig which books they read int he next few months!
The Final Farewells are to come.......