The first five weeks

It has been over a month since I arrived in Denver. I’ve really enjoyed myself so far. I also haven’t had time to get home sick yet and have slipped into a routine. I get to spend Saturday through Monday with Beth doing fun things (granted most of Sunday is dedicated to sports and church) and then work on various websites and learn new things in the mornings for the rest of the week. Tuesday’s I go to the gym around midday for three hours. I cycle there and back (the cycle back, almost all up hill is rather hard going). Wednesday and Thursday I take a break to watch a movie or play games and then get back to websites late afternoon, then Friday I aim to go on a hike or cycle ride with someone local where possible.

That would be a fair summary but it is a little more interesting than that. So what have I been up to? This post got a little out of hand so here are some quick links to sections: sport, adventures, fitness, friends

Watching sports

Well I landed on a Saturday night around 6pm and fell asleep by 9pm. The following day, Beth took me to a church called Wellspring and we then went out for waffles with some seminary students, which was nice but I wasn’t entirely awake. Then in the afternoon Beth and I took a bus downtown to watch Denver play Pittsburgh in their home opener. My tickets at Mile High are high up but also fantastic and it was a great game to get things started with the Broncos pulling out a lead late on and getting an unlikely first win for Manning on a very tough schedule. People have been predicting great things for this Broncos team and after five games while we have some very good players, other teams are clearly better. We also got dealt a tough hand with our schedule this season. I see a 2-3 start as a positive beginning as they could easily have been 0-5. Anyway, we left the Pittsburgh game, got on the bus and I promptly fell asleep. It would take me a week to get over that. On the Thursday we went to ‘old chicagos’ a fantastic pizza place near the Blomberg’s house and watched the Bears @ Packers, I fell asleep in the second quarter, at about 8:30.

We have continued the pasta night tradition over here. We have had people over for our favourite Monday meal every week since we arrived. A week after arriving we had Beth’s friend Sara, who stayed with us in Canterbury once, and her boyfriend Ethan over, there was also a Broncos game to be watched, this result was not such a hoot. Payton Manning threw three interceptions in the first quarter, majorly putting the Broncos on the back foot against a better Falcons side. The team rallied in the second half but the hole was too great. That said, the food and company were as usual great and Sara makes a mean apple crumble.

The week after that it was back to Mile High with the wife to watch Denver take on Houston. Houston are possibly the best team in the AFC this year and so I was not surprised when we lost. The Texans highlighted again major holes in our defensive secondary that will likely hold us back this year as we get deeper.

During the week I then got to watch two baseball games. The Colorado Rockies had a dire 2012, nearly losing 100 games (98). Still it was exciting to go and watch them, even if the weather was poor enough at the first game that they gave us free tickets to a second. It was also good to watch this side that has done so badly pick up a couple of wins to help the close to their season. The weather for the second game was much better and as the final home game of the season it led to a lot of free stuff. Everyone got a t-shirt and a voucher for a free ticket the following season.

Then that Sunday I took Beth’s best friend Jenna to the Broncos vs Raiders game. The crowd was the loudest I had heard it and the Raiders were fairly useless, our boys walked all over them and we ended the day 2-2. The following week we were destroyed by the Patriots but the less said about that the better.

Adventures

Nine days after arriving in Denver, Beth and I drove to Mount Evans. I had been there before on my first trip to Colorado and got altitude sickness at the peak. It also held the title of best cheesecake I had tasted. On our return it was snowing so the peak was closed but we could get half way up and enjoy the snow and excellent views. We also walked around a lake near the visitors centre and got more cheesecake. Unfortunately it wasn’t as good this time but the mountain itself was wonderful. Having driven us there Beth suggested I drive to lunch. I had driven a little since arriving but only around the neighbourhood. I took over from halfway down the mountain, to Idaho Springs, where we ate at the amazing buffalo restaurant. I had a very nice buffalo burger and Beth had stew. From there I offered to drive all the way home and we arrived successfully 45 minutes later.

The following weekend we ventured to Pikes Peak, famous for its hill climb. We originally thought we might take the train up but it was $35 each. In the end we drove and enjoyed plenty of fantastic views (that said how racers drive it in 10 minutes is amazing). It turns out I am not beyond altitude sickness though. Once we passed about 12,000 feet I started feeling light headed. At the summit (which some maniacs had cycled to) I wobbled around a bit, not really enjoying the view until we came down.

It turns out that coming down the mountain is the hard part, at least on your brakes. We were stopped at the check point because our brakes were 400 fahrenheit and after I took over I drove very carefully as we could smell the brakes cooking. We stopped again near the base to give them more time to cool (you don’t want to lose your brakes when the bushes on the side of the road are actually the tops of trees). We had a walk around part of another lake and then pulled over a couple more times on the final stretch to give them more rest. Once we reached the bottom we decided I should drive all the way back to Denver. This journey gave me a lot more driving confidence. It turns out that driving in America is easy, if you ignore the decisions other drivers occasionally make and don’t mind stop signs and red lights every minute or so.

The following week we returned to my favourite views in Colorado which can be found at Daniels Park, about five miles from the Blombergs’ house. From there you can see the Rockies from Pikes Peak all the way north, and often see Buffalo roaming too. It’s a lovely place to go.

Keeping fit

I have a dream of coming back from Denver healthier and weighing less than I did when I headed over there. I figure this would put me in the minority of travelers to America. The Blomberg’s were kind enough to get me a gym membership when I arrived here and I have been putting it to use, going at least once a week to the gym a couple of miles from their house. Beth and I also bought ourselves bikes to use here and I have been using that to get me around locally ever since. It also helps that the local cinema is a walkable mile and a half away and that the train station is about 30 minutes cycle away. Every little helps and I have so far built up my arm muscles and lost about five pounds.

Friends

When I first arrived, I was worried about how I would make friends cooped up in the basement. It turns out that Beth was able to meet some nice people at seminary and that the friends she already had around here are pretty great too. We have met some wonderful people at the churches we have visited and had nice times on pasta nights. It is going well so far.

So…

My time here has been great so far, I am keeping busy, getting exercise, occasionally leaving the Blomberg basement, eating well and having a lot of fun.

My thanks as always go to Craig and Fran Blomberg for letting us stay in their house and I hope that we are not being too much of a bother to them.