Colorado - fall in love with green skies, rapids and elk urine
Posted on the 18th Mar 2014 in the category travel

The sky is green, thunder's rumbling and forks of lighting are striking both sides of the giant Colorado cavern I'm about to raft down.

It certainly wasn't like this when I was canoeing with the Boys Brigade on Perry Barr lake but then again I'm in the land of the free and home of the brave. I squeeze my buffalo enhanced frame into a wetsuit and clench my paddle thinking the forthcoming raft ride seems more like stupidy than bravery.

Our captain Clint, Chip or whatever his name was, tells us not to worry about the thunder storm as a rubber boat is the last thing lighting would pulverise. I feel a little better when I look at my four rain sodden shipmates and they look as scared as me.

Until our captain explains one weak link in the team could result in an 'out of boat experience' and to make sure our 'personal flotation devices' were secure. I figure in English that means check my life jacket because it is rather important if I end up OVERBOARD!

The next two hours paddling down the mighty Arkansas river were thrilling, scary, knackering, exhilerating and very very wet. But when we finished dodging rocks and fighting through rapids we all felt we had achieved something special.  

When opting for an outdoor adventure holiday in America I ignored the first bit and concentrated on going back to the good ol' US of A. I'm more of the dawdling wandering type than the sort looking to go on personal achievement goal attaining holidays so I was a bit nervous looking at our itinery which included hiking, off road jeep riding, white water rafting and exploring caves. 

All of which are just a smigden of what Colorado offers and we were not even in the skiing season which attracts snow lovers from across the world. The awesome Rocky mountains dominate the state and it has everything for the any lover of the outdoors

The Arkansas river has taken millions of years to find its course and at Royal Gorge the height of the cavern is over 2000 metres which is spanned by the world's highest suspension bridge built at the start of the last century as a tourist draw. 

And it is here where a 21st century bright spark worked out the breathtaking cavern was the place to have one of the world's most nerve gangling leisure ride. With our hearts in our mouths we set off to The Royal Gorge Slingshot. We were winched horizontally up on a piece of elastic 100 feet above the edge of the gorge, pulled back vertically 50ft and then let go.

Being shot out 100 metres above one of the deepest caverns on earth will stay with me for a long time.
The warm air blowing against my face and looking down at the minature river thousands of feet below was simply amazing albiet accompanied with the forlorn hope that the bored looking acne infested teenager controlling the ride and therefore my life would look just a bit more interested in his job.

Colorado's big country beauty has taken millions of years to evolve and it make you feel a tad insignificant in mother's nature's grand plan.

But for me, what makes America great is Americans.

Friendly, generous, funny, religious, big, small, fat and tall they come in all shapes and sizes and every conversation can be a revelation. They may be a bit niave but on the bright side there are now countless American's telling their friends that the Birmingham accent is actually an afrodizyach in England after believing my blarney.

Being in Cowboy Country I obviously had to go to a Rodeo and what an experience. Snowmass is a 25-year-old village near the world famous Aspen Ski resort which gives the avererage joe a chance to go on the same stunning slopes as the rich and famous.

Despite having some of the best purpose built modern ski complexes in the world the promise of an old fashioned star spangled rodeo floated my boat. The Snowmass Wednesday Rodeo was small but perfectly formed with blue grass music along with all you can eat buffets of ribs, coleslaw and sweetcorn.
There were bucking broncos and lasoeing competitions to take on before the local cowboys caught cows and raced around the arena.

Though impressive, 'Mutton Bustin' on everyone's lips, the part of the show where children hang on to sheep for their dear life as pushy parents cheer them on.
That is why America is great, whereas in the UK Health and Safety bods want kiddie football to be tackle free and played on on a sponge pitch the Yanks put a crash helmet on a seven-year-old put him on an annoyed sheep and 'make him a man'. I don't know why I laughed so much watching these pint sized Rhinestone Cowboys getting flung head first into cow dung but it was priceless. 

Then after thirty children chased calfs around the arena trying to pull ribbons from their tails it was time for the main event. Three men tried their luck to ride bulls for 15 seconds. Two did well but the third ended up trampled on, the crowd hollered and screamed and everyone went home happy except for the fella being carried into the waiting ambulance around the corner.

Another plank of Mid-West American life is country music. In Brum I'm not much of a fan but in The Big Country it made sense. We all sang along to country classics like 'I had a one night stand with my best friend's baby sister' and 'My horse has never done me wrong' as we drove from a picture post card Aspen through the Roaring Fork valley to Denver.

Denver has changed a lot since Billy the Kid used to blow people's brains out for fun and has traded in its frontier town rough and tough reputation for a cleanliving entertainment centre that has everything from modern art galleries to some of America's best restaurants.

And of course vast shopping malls, a visit to the world's biggest outdoor shop was an all american experience to say the least. Bigger than any ASDA in Birmingham, this place had everything the descerning killer, fisher, hunter, gun fan or crazed Vietnam vet could want under one roof.
How we had fun taking aim at the shooting range and marvelling at the countless stuffed animals and hunting nick nacks.

I'm not sure what use concentrated Elk urine in a handy squeezy bottle has in Birmingham but I bought some anyway, after all the great exchange rate means it was cheap at half the price.



  Records 1 to 1 of 1