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Letter 3 (page 3)


We have seen quite a lot of Colorado since I last wrote. There is a public holiday at the end of May called Memorial Day which is like our Anzac Day since it honours soldiers and their sacrifice for the country. We therefore had a long weekend and we drove west to a town called Grand Junction near the border with Utah. This was a spectacular trip as we passed through several gorges and past snow-covered mountains. On the way we took a 2 km hike up a hill to see a lake with a very attractive waterfall spilling into it. The town itself is famous for dinosaurs but we didn't see any. We did see impressive geological formations at nearby, however.

On the way home we stopped at Meeker, a town famous because of a massacre of US troops by indians. The local tribe (the Utes) had been pushed from their land and the final insult was a government agent who ploughed up the area where they raced horses. Sensing that he had gone too far as the indians were looking threatening, the government agent called in the army for help but they were ambushed before they arrived.

At Steamboat Springs, an expensive ski resort, we saw an elk (right), natural hot springs and the great waterfall on the outside of the envelope.

A week later, we drove through the Rocky Mountain National Park which opened a week late because there was so much snow (as seen on the outside of the envelope). Normally it is closed for winter. We went up over 11,000 ft and saw snow 5 m deep!. Very impressive.

I climbed Mt. Evans a few weeks ago. At 14,264 ft (4350 m) it is one of the taller mountains in Colorado and indeed, in the US. I have to admit though that it was made easier by having the carpark at about 14,000 ft. Although this is America, there was no escalator, or even a concrete path with handrail, to take you to the top; you had to do that last bit over the rocks & snow. It must have taken me at least 10 minutes.

We drove south to New Mexico on the July the 4th long weekend. We saw Santa Fe which is famous for its indian-inspired adobe (mud) architecture and Taos where there is an indian reservation featuring a five-story adobe structure. Although they need the income that tourists bring, I felt guilty by just being there. I saw a poster which proclaimed "Christopher Columbus: Wanted dead or alive" and went on to note all the tragedies that had occurred since he arrived. At the end it said, "Go ahead, steal this poster. You've taken everything else."

On the way home, we called in at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument. Sand dunes 250 m high exist in the middle of a green mountain range. The sand came from a large nearby river that changed its course; a combination of the prevailing winds and a creek keep it in place at the foot of a mountain. Remarkable.

We had some trouble with the car on this trip. It would die and then recover for a while before stopping again which made driving quite stressful. It turned out to be the EFI fuel pump which I learned wears out quickly if it ingests air when the tank is near empty. The pump has been noisy from the day I bought the car but I hadn't realised it was an "I'm about to die" type noise. Fuel economy has been good though - almost too good to believe but I've checked the odometer. For the last 7600 km we have averaged 5.6l/100 km or 50.5 mpg (imperial gallon).

In my last letter, I mentioned that when I bought the car, it wasn't clear who I'd bought it from and it turned out not to have a roadworthiness certificate. I'm pleased to report that the State of Colorado is taking someone to court over what happened, though it is unclear if I will get back the "taxes" that I paid him.

Lan's knowledge of geography is improving rapidly. She told someone that to travel south from Canada, you pass though Minnesota, then Idaho before reaching Colorado. This is not quite true; have a look at a map to see.

Finding the time to see the countryside has been made so much easier by not having to worry about a garden that needs taming, or a house that is trying to self-destruct.