US of Awesome – Finale

Waking up in Boulder on Sunday at our wonderful friends place is definitely a highlight of the trip. Beat and Jill have a beautiful home up on Flagstaff Mountain, surrounded by mountains and Hummingbirds. We had breakfast and spent lots of time chatting and catching up. A nice quiet rest day after a busy day yesterday. They had some other friends coming over for dinner that night too, so we were spoiled with a lovely pasta dish and salad from one of Jill’s Anchorage friends Kim and her partner Taylor. The storm rolled in over the mountain as we drifted off to sleep.

On Monday we had another (lovely) sleep in, did some washing and organised to meet Beat at his work for lunch, he works at Google in Boulder and apparently their lunches are  of a very high quality. So we jumped in the car with Jill and headed into town, met Beat at the Foyer and he took us for lunch and a tour of the office. For lunch I chose some roast beef, vegetables and rice, then for dessert I had a fruit salad and a frozen yoghurt topped with crushed cookies. I’m pretty sure this was the healthiest meal have had while we have been in the USA (minus the dessert, ha ha). How do I get a job at Google? Such good food, although maybe that would be dangerous…!!  

After lunch Jill headed to the gym and we headed to REI Co-Op, Neptune Mountaineering and Boulder Running Company for some shopping, the running gear in USA is fantastic and better priced than back home. I bought a few summer running tops and socks, something to spoil myself with once I get back into running after the baby arrives. Then we drove back to Google so I could drop off Roger, as he and Beat were going to run (hike) home. I drove Beat’s car back to their home and as I got there a big storm rolled through, it didn’t last long but I hoped it wouldn’t make their trip home any harder (or more dangerous). I spent the afternoon having a nap, catching up on some news back home and my blog, I couldn’t believe we only had a few more days in this beautiful place but I was looking forward to seeing our doggies and my own bed. 

The boys got back close to 8pm and they had had a tough but fun slog, scrambling up Green mountain off-trail, one of Beat’s adventures. They had big grins and were covered in sweat, it looked like they’d had a lot of fun. We sat down for late dinner and crashed soon after as everyone was feeling pretty tired. 

Tuesday would be our last full day in Boulder and I really wanted to get out for a hike to move my legs before sitting on a plane for hours and hours. Beat suggested a trail that was only a 1km walk from their home and started at the Ethol Harrold Trailhead, and there was an out and back to the gorge we could do that was a short option and very pretty. So Roger and I had breakfast, geared up and walked down the first road to the trailhead. It was a beautiful day and the trail was mostly smooth dirt which made for easy hiking. We decided to do the Walker Ranch Loop which the sign said was about 7.8 miles, I hadn’t really prepared myself for something this long but it didn’t seem too technical and didn’t have much elevation.

The day grew warm and we hiked along chatting with other hikers and taking in the views and the pretty wildflowers that were everywhere. The signs on the trail were not very helpful, as one of the Trailheads was not sign posted so we had no idea where we were, and then some mile markers started halfway through the trail too, but they were not reliable. Eventually we came to the gorge with its roaring water supply, and decided to wet our buffs and feet, it was ice cold but very refreshing. We hiked and hiked, passing many of the same hikers who were also doing the same loop in a different direction, and many of whom seemed to not have enough food and water with them. We headed down a steep, technical section with big stairs and it took us down towards the gorge again, so loud and powerful. I managed to also get a photo of a squirrel and a chipmunk in the same shot before they hurried off away from us, so cool. That day we also saw a rabbit, a deer and a snake on the trail, but I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo. As the time passed we both were looking forward to getting back to the trailhead, as I didn’t have much water left and I knew Roger was getting down to the last of his food and water too. Thankfully we hit the trailhead and hiked back up the road to our friends place for ice cold Bundaberg Ginger Beer and a nice cold shower. 

Roger cooked dinner for us all that night, a delicious steak meal and roasted vegetables, I scoffed it down and had a second helping of vegetables. We were also spoilt with some ice cream for dessert too. 

I had a nice sleep in on Wednesday and Roger got up early to go into town and meet with a friend from Hoka. I did some washing and got my bags packed, then sat down to get up to date with my blog. Eventually Roger made it back and we did the final clean and pack, then jumped in the car to Motomaki where we would meet Beat & Jill for a late lunch before heading to the airport. I had a chicken burrito and Roger had a Poke bowl, they were both delicious. We said farewell to our good friends and jumped in an Uber to Denver airport, both of us sad to be leaving this beautiful place with it’s never ending mountains, but happy to be heading home to our doggies and our own bed.

Thankfully we had a friendly man at the airport tell us about an express line and we were Checked-In and through Customs within 40mins, that must be a new record. We had allowed plenty of time before our flight too, as we knew it would have been both peak hour on the road and at the airport, so we were super early. Unfortunately our plane to LAX got delayed and we ended up leaving more than 90mins after our original departure time. This made me very nervous as we only had a 2 hour transfer to get to our Sydney flight at LAX. I was pretty sure that we weren’t going to make it, which meant we would possibly spend a night at a hotel in Los Angeles depending on when the next flight was available.

The universe had other plans, and when we landed in LAX a kind lady was waiting for us and had held a bus to take us directly to our Terminal so we could try and make our flight. As we jumped off the bus she gave us directions to Gate 41 and we ran (me, waddled) to the gate just as they were closing the flight. We were the last people to board. Yay!

After a bumpy flight, a kid who liked to kick the back of my chair al flight, and a snoring person across the aisle, we eventually landed in Sydney to a cold, grey sky. We were both in desperate need of a shower and a toothbrush, and my brain was fried. But it sure was good to be home….

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