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British Science Festival

Boulder, CO – A Working Holiday Day 6!

After another big home cooked breaky at Allenspark Lodge we went in search for the Allenspark Trailhead. Its quite remote and starts fairly high up. Infact the car park to this trailhead is just a dirt track. On the drive up to the trailhead we passed some very posh looking log cabins with glass fronts! They were nestled in between all the pine trees and looked very pretty.

The trail we took towards Calypso Cascades was a forest trail, which was quite rocky and a little snowy/icy in places. We only saw one other person on our way out there to the waterfall. The trail itself was built after a lightening storm caused forest fires in 1978. So a lot of the trees have been cleared leaving great views of Longs Peak. You can also see places where landslips have occurred.

We ate lunch sitting on a boulder at Calypso Cascades and were pestered by a rather persistent Blue Jay! On the way back to Allenspark Trailhead we saw some the interesting site of a tree growing within a tree (presumably after the forest fire!).

Allenshead Trail Stats:

6.2 mile there and back.
Allenspark trailhead elevation: 8520 ft / 2597 m
Calypso cascade elevation: 9200 ft / 2804 m

After our hike we went back into Estes Park for some souvenir shopping and even found time to sample some ice cream and local beer : )
We are currently staying in the Colorado Cottages and even have a log fire in our room. We had a soak in the hot tub before heading out to dinner (I sooooooo want a hot tub!!!! we should definately have more in the UK!). And finally we have internet and phone reception again so can upload lots of posts and pictures!

Boulder, CO – A working Holiday Day 5!

After a hearty home cooked breakfast supplied by the Allenspark Lodge, Zoe and I ventured out on our first trip to RMNP. We went in through the Beaver Meadows entrance. We started out at Bear Lake ranger station and took the Bear Lake Trailhead. It started out really easy – a concrete path up to Nymph Lake. We stopped here to have lunch amongst the wildlife including a boisterous chipmunk that was trying to get in to Zoe’s backpack, a blue jay and another grey fluffy bird that tried to beg for food. The lake itself was partly frozen over still.

We ventured on and got to Dream Lake which was completely picturesque! Again the lake was partly frozen, and the mountains were in the background. Here we deviated from the path the majority of people were taking. We decided to tackle the snowy and seriously icy trail up to Lake Haiyaha – native American for “Big Rocks”. En route we got some scenic views of Glacier Gorge and Longs Peak. The “Big Rocks” refer to a massive boulder field you have to scrabble over to get to views of the lake.

After a short stop at Haiyaha Lake we began the descent back to Bear Lake – there were some moments where I was ice skating down the trail!!!!

Hiking stats:
Lake Haiyaha Trail – 4.2 miles there and back.
Bear Lake elevation: 9,475 ft / 2888 m
Lake Haiyaha elevation: 10,220 ft / 3115 m
High point of hike: 10,240 ft / 3121 m

After the hike we head into downtown Estes Park to have a look at tourist tat! We found a nice mexican restaurant to eat in – although portion sizes were ridiculous! My fajitas could have fed three people!!!!! We headed back to Allenspark Lodge for a dip in the hot tub after dinner and I was out like a light! I didn’t even hear Zoe get up the next morning to go for her run!

Boulder, CO – A working holiday Day 4!

Today was the last day of the conference, after which we headed to the west of Boulder and up to NCAR (National Centre for Atmospheric Research) which is the sister organisation of NCAS (National Centre of Atmospheric Science – to which Zoe belongs). NCAR is situated perched up on top of a large hill overlooking the entirety of Boulder. In fact from the viewpoint at NCAR we could even see Denver cos of the clear sky.

NCAR has a visitor centre with lots of interactive outreach toys in it [i will upload some pictures soon either here on on the photos page!]. After learning all about properties of the atmosphere we walked the NCAR weather trail which was a gentle stroll with information points telling us about weather and atmospheric conditions of the region.

After our walk we headed north towards Rocky Mountain National Park and stopped off at Allenspark Lodge, Allenspark. It is a breathtakingly beautiful cozy log lodge. Apparnetly it was built approx 75 years ago from reclaimed wood after a nearby forest fire (by American standards it is probably classed as a historical building!!!). The owners are extremely welcoming and make you feel quite at home. The lodge is fairly large, there are three floors, a hot tub, dining room/kitchen with complimentary tea/coffee/hot chocolate, a cozy living room with a fire and a stove and a tv/games room. I have never stayed anywhere so homely before and would highly recommend it to anyone!

We headed out to the Baldpate Inn for dinner. The Baldpate Inn is named after the book ” 7 keys to Baldpate” written by Earl Derr Biggers. It is about some people that each think they hold the key to the mythical Baldpate Inn. The original owners built the building in 1917 and named it after the book, the film was just out too. They planned to give each guest a key as a souvenir of their stay at the Inn. This proved too costly for them, in the end guests started leaving their own keys as a memento! There are tens of thousands of keys in the collection now, including things like the key to Hitler’s writing desk, the key to the gate of Sherwood forest etc. Each key has been donated with a message or letter from the sender.

Boulder, CO – A working holiday Day 2 and 3!

o Zoe and I were up at the crack of dawn (well I woke up at about 6am cos I couldn’t sleep!). We had to head down to NOAA to be “vetted and approved” entry into this government facility. NOAA stands for National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (It’s basically the NASA of the atmospheric/oceanographic worlds!!!!). It is set in the foothills of the Rockies and the view from NOAA is beautiful. They even have an observatory up there!

I was really ill today – Zoe infected me with her lurgi! I was truly suffering by the afternoon and felt quite conscious about coughing through everyone’s talks! As far as the meeting went – I learned lots about what some of the dominant research groups in the field are doing.Zoe and I both gave our talks and got some feedback and ideas on what to do next. The conference dinner was held at Dushanbe Teahouse which was beautiful! they serve about 40 odd teas there including one from Newara Eliya!

Thursday was pretty heavy going at the conference, not entirely convinced i understood all of it. I did learn some new stats methods though, that i shall try out. On Thursday I finally managed to find a swimming outfit and went for 1/2 hour swim in the pool at the hotel. The pool was a bit weird though – it was really warm, like the temperature of a hot tub [I actually started to sweat whilst i was swimming some lengths!]

Boulder, Colorado – A “Working” Holiday! Day 1

So my colleague (Zoe) and I flew out to Denver on Monday for an Ozone Trend workshop at NOAA in Boulder. We were lucky cos we managed to nab bulkhead seats so had oodles of room on the plane (quite ironic bearing in mind we aren’t the tallest of people!!!). It was daylight for the whole duration of the flight so it was a little difficult to snooze on the plane. We arrived in Denver at sunset and had the fun and games of hiring an automatic car (with Zoe only having driven one once and me never having driven one before!). The 40 min drive from Denver to Boulder was “interesting”, but I am glad that I downloaded the CoPilot Live from the iphone app store before i came out here – it meant I didn’t need to read a map in the dark and get travel sick!!!

By the time we arrived at the Boulder Outlook Hotel
it was really late and we were shattered. The hotel itself is lovely, we have a massive room and there is a pool, sauna, climbing wall and video game room! Interestingly the hotel has a “zero waste” policy so almost everything is recycled.

On Tuesday after a much need rest Zoe and I decided to walk the boulder Creek Path. Having lived in Milton Keynes it is like an uber wide redway that follows Boulder Creek from the town centre right up into the mountains. Its very popular with joggers/cyclists. We walked to Pearl Street (the pedestrianised shopping zone), which apparently is really famous for being so different to typical US shopping town centres. To us though, it was like a typical British high street. After having a look at all the outdoors shops and CRAZY Halloween stores(!) we ended popped into the Walnut Brewery where we sampled some local beer! After this we went up back on Boulder Creek path and followed it to Settlers Park. From there we took the Red Rocks Trail and got up a bit higher. We headed back to the hotel by sunset. All in all it was probably about a 10 mile round walk.

My overall impression of Boulder is that it is extremely different to other US cities/towns I’ve been to. Everywhere is very pro recycling and green (lots of solar panels on roofs etc) there are pedestrianised areas and yo ACTUALLY see people using them(!), cycle paths, footpaths, hiking paths etc and more importantly the waitresses/waiters don’t harass you all the time with the really fake banter (I refer back to Tuscon where the the staff at breakfast told Cat she had a lovely English accent (she is Portuguese!)).

Thesis – done.

So last week I handed in my thesis. Four years of toil and torment finished. In all it was 82,217 words, 303 pages, 151 figures and 27 tables. Although a fair whack of that was in the appendix, so it doesn’t really count.

I’ve been working as a post-doc for the last year, so I have been writing up in my spare time, that has not been a great deal of fun I have to admit. The odd thing now is that I don’t know what to do with my spare time, well actually it’s more that I am struggling to sit and do nothing! Ho hum, I am sure the apathy will kick in again when it can be bothered.

Just that pesky viva to think about now.