So yup its true, I went to Colorado for the weekend. So what does that have to do with Route 66 cycle ride you may ask. Colorado isnt anywhere near Route 66 right? Okay it kinda doesn't and was really just an excuse for going to see Big Country play, twice as luck would have it, and to walk up the spectacular vail mountain trail.
However there are several good excuses I have come up with which will reveal themselves if you want to read on.
I was lucky enough to have a voucher for delta airlines and it seemed rude not to use it. So Colorado bound I was on Thursday. I arrived, via detroit and a particularly horrible security and customs ordeal (apparently when there are loads of people waiting to get into your country its a good idea to remove some of the people behind the counters), at a reasonable hour and found myself once again in a car, on the 'passenger' side, with no clutch and saying out loud to myself at every junction "drive on the right"! REASON NUMBER 1: Driving practice!
Oh and as a footnote to the airport ordeal, they have signs greeting you and signs directing you to the tornado shelters. Well it struck me as a bit unusual....
I crawled (and I'm not joking) to my hotel, conveniently situated at the airport, and promptly got texted with an offer of a drink at the hotel by beki hemmingway, a person have only met once, at the Gathering (Alarm fans will know what I mean). How nice is that! Fortunately I didn't have to drive anywhere as we went to a real American diner, with a neon 'diner' sign above the door. How cool!
Then collapsed in my bed, slept for what felt like 10 mins, woke up at 5am and trying to make the most of my day got ready sharpish and set off for the zoo, yup I know it was early but didnt have long as beki and kelley dooley creek were going to take me to Red Rocks park, and I refer back to the previous paragraph re my snail's pace driving!
The zoo, well I wanted to go to the zoo mainly because I knew they had a polar bear and we don't have any in the zoos in the uk. I wasn't disappointed because they did have one, but it was kinda, "wow that's cool" , followed by unease because this lovely animal was in captivity and not in the wild. I did get some lovely pictures of it tho ( found on my facebook photos.) A quick whizz round the rest of the zoo and then off to meet beki and kelly for a walk around the stunning Red Rocks and the amphitheatre there. You will have to look at my pics on facebook ( when I finally get home and post them) to fully appreciate how cool this place is. Highlight of the walk. .... me : "if you see a rattlesnake let me know! Kelly: don't worry, you will know about it from my screaming! Lol!
oh and I RAN up all the steps at the amphitheatre!
So then a brief pause, and off to the Big Country gig and a quick drink beforehand. Mike Peters popped in for a quick chat, got to watch soundcheck and met up with the ever cool Rob Rushing, who was patient with me in explaining the differences in the swabbing process between the usa and the uk . REASON NO 2: 'helping' to swab people at the gig for Love Hope Strength Foundation. I met some real cool people who were doing the swabbing that night (yes im deliberately sounding american) who have it down to a fine art and didn't need my hinderance!
Then Big Country were on the stage, nuff said, and a cracking gig it was too! Mike and the boys did a fine job but (and maybe I do the americans an injustice) people were more sedate here, no jumping in the mosh pit for me, here wasn't really one. Nonetheless once again the lyrics of The Journey, Hurt, broken promised land et al were blaring out into my eardrums making me one happy person.
Gigs in the us start later, well this one did, and as a consequence, I didn't start the drive to vail till gone midnight! Well I say I , but actually the very nice Rick/Rich drove me up there, following Rob in his car to arrive safely in time to get a whole 2 hours of sleep before we were up, ready to face the day, and a hike up Vail mountain, at altitude, for VAIL ROCKS!
REASON NUMBER 3: Fitness training (okay okay poor reason) really walking up a beautiful mountain with Mike Peters, James Chippendale, Cy Curnin, Brett Dennon and a few hundred fantastic people who have raised a bundle for Love Hope Strength Foundation! The walk is difficult to describe in one long narrative so here are some snap shots!
People signing Mike's guitar with their names
Chatting to many different people along the trail, making new friends along the way.
Realising that the altitude was suddenly noticable half way up, but using the wonderful scenery as an excuse to take a photo
Music breaks along the way
Mike making it to the top a week after treatment
Breathing fresh mountain air
A couple getting engaged at the top of the mountain , lovely people both and congratulations
The sense of cameraderie
Following the above : a restored faith in the basic goodness of many people
Sunshine ( no not burnt this time) and complaining about the heat ( lol)
And so many other little bits and pieces to mention, hopefully the photos on my facebook site will tell the story more eloquently than I ever could. Those who climbed with Lhs uk up Snowdon and Ben Nevis in the uk or have participated in any rocks events will know what I am trying and failing to adequately describe. Not only have Mike Peters and James Chippendale founded a charity that has already saved many lives but one that has its own . ...... (insert the word you think is appropriate)
So walk over ( sorry I admit, I took the gondola down, with 5 very cool people) ( photos on fb, please tag yourselves!), it was down to the lhs stall to set up and begin the swabbing. Damn it was a laugh and so great to talk to all the people who came over and spared 5 mins of their day , having already walked up a mountain, to swab, GET ON THE LIST, and potentially help save a life. It didn't harm that the booth was in the perfect position to see the stage, and for me that Mike and James kindly signed my Vail Rocks t shirt, giving me the perfect souvenir! 225, yes that's 225 swabs later, BIG COUNTRY came on stage (lol twice in 2 days, cant get better than that!) And now for the highlight of my weekend. I was so lucky and got not only to sing (OR SHOUT) from the side of the stage but got to join mike and the boys on the stage along with some of the other volunteers for a rendition of Love Hope And Strength!
Yet another highlight to add to the memory bank.
Then it was all hands on deck to pack up, Including the stage Lol , which for me was the perfect ending to this perfect weekend.
So it is at this point in the post where I shamelessly self promote my bike ride and say thank you soooo much to all the people who have kindly offered help, emergency contacts, places to stay, tour guiding on my odd day off, said they would folow my ride with interest, said they would help set up donor drives along the way, said that they would join my bike ride for a day ( or more commonly volunteer someone else to join my ride for a day) And offer friendship and help to a total stranger! It is at times like this that I am reminded how lucky I am (without descending into sentimentality) to be a part of the wonderful cause that is LHS, and to have these opportunities to experience all that goes with it. I think I have already thanked everyone I could think of and if you are still reading this, fair play, I thought you would have given up reading long ago.