Today I awoke to one of the best views of 2016 for sure, surrounded by the Rockies in the middle of nowhere in complete silence. What a blissful life. After I finally dragged myself away from the view we sat and had amazing omelettes courtesy of chef Brooks while I poured over an awesome atlas I found in the cabin planning a million different trips around the world. It got me thinking about the absolutely spectacular travel year I have had. A year ago we were exploring amazing Austria with a new years bang in Slovakia. In February Carolyn and I reunited for Mardi Gras in New Orleans and then took a road trip through Mississippi to see some beautiful antebellum homes and Florida for some epic cavern diving and swimming with manatees. In March I headed East on my third trip to India, this time visiting the Eastern coast for diving in Pondicherry before heading back to Delhi for Holi and then one of my favourite Indian cities – Varanasi, I felt so at peace there. April led me down to South West England to see the famous Stonehenge, beautiful Bath and a catch up with a great friend. In May I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday in Italy visiting magnificent Milan and then watching Adele live in the Arena di Verona – will take something epic to top that. July saw me heading back to Copenhagen for a few days of utter food delight in preparation for the epic Asian Food Eating experience in August visiting Singapore, Malaysia Thailand, Hong Kong and China. That was a fantastic trip with highlights being seeing my first whale shark (definitely moment of the year), visiting Shanghai Disneyland and hiking the Great Wall of China as well as all the food! September allowed for a change in job and so a between positions trip back to Madrid, my favourite Spanish city – we did a lot of drinking and eating tapas on this trip. October saw my first Scottish dive trip, after completing my new years resolution to get my dry suit specialty. Lochaline was fantastic with a lot of wrecks and a little side trip to Tobermory on Mull. November saw some winter sun in Barcelona and a Gaudi overload before the annual Christmas market trip to Strasbourg for Christmas cheer and everything mulled. Finishing off the year in Colorado was definitely the icing on the cake of a spectacular year of travel. Do it now they say, anyway I do digress.
After breakfast before packing up we took a short hike down to the creek which crosses the land that Brook’s parents own and round the perimeter. It was a beautiful walk and a nice way to waken ourselves up after the warmth of the cabin with the wood fired stove. It was a tad icy so we had to be careful and at one point accidentally realised we were walking on a frozen river – I have learnt from chilly experience that never ends well. It was nice to see all of the footprints in the snow and guess what they were – the large ones were definitely elk but they have moose and even mountain lions and lynx in the area. We headed back up to the road for a final view of the cabin in all of its wonderful glory before heading back to pack up. Just as we arrived at the door we bumped into Brooks’ dad who had sneaked in as we had been out hiking and gave us quite a fright. We had some chat with him before heading off back to Denver for our final amazing drive through the snowy mountains.
Carolyn and I headed off to catch up with her sister and her family who I had never met while Brooks headed to her place to get ready for later. It is so strange meeting people you have heard about for the last 4 and a half years finally. Carolyn’s sister was lovely and we sat having really interesting discussions about politics and the craziness going on with everything at the minute. It was nice to sit and chill while also having really open interesting discussion and get to know Carolyn’s family a bit more. We said goodbye after a few hours and headed to Taco Bell for a quick $1 tostada and free juice courtesy of the friendly server. For a dollar, it was surprisingly tasty and the cherry coke was also good.
We had originally planned to stay in a hotel in downtown Denver but Brooks had offered for us to crash with her and so we cancelled our room and headed over for a final girls night with her. We picked up some sparkling wine to get ready with and had a proper girls night of make-up, hair and dressing up ready for the final night of the year! Brooks had invited her boyfriend James with 2 of his friends Mick and Dan round so we all did a cheers to the night ahead before piling into her car ready for the first stop – Matsuhisa. When Carolyn asked what I wanted to do for new years the main part had been eating and this restaurant. The chef was the originator of the famous Nobu chain but this branch-off combines a mix of the traditional Japanese with flavours of Peru where the original restaurant is. It was a one-off splurge and what better way to say goodbye to 2016 with a phenomenal meal. We were joined by another 2 friends of Brooks for dinner making a total of 8. The restaurant was very pretty, with lots of wood and fountains. I picked a nice Napa Valley merlot before ordering; scallop tempura, edamame, black miso cod, spicy tuna rolls, grilled oyster special rolls, shrimp ngiri, yellowtail sashimi and salmon roe rolls. It was an absolute feast and completely delicious. Considering the buzz of the restaurant and how much we ordered I was pleasantly surprised by the $50 bill each but they did forget to add our $60 wine to the tab and who was going to remind them?
We headed out into the Rino area of Denver for a rhino hunting pub-crawl. The name of the game (that we had cleverly engineered) was to take as many selfies as possible with rhinos while we headed from bar to bar. The only issue being that only Carolyn, Brooks and I seemed to want to play meaning a winner didn’t really happen but it was fun nonetheless. First stop was Our Mutual Friend Brewing for some local Colorado brewed beer. I again opted for a fruit one which unlike the fruity Belgian beers is just a light sort of lager with a slight fruity aftertaste. Still nice to sample the local stuff, Colorado is home to micro-brewing in the US so a definite must. Afterwards we headed along the street which was absolutely freezing to Bar Fausto to shake things up with a glass of wine, always my tipple of choice managing to spot a few rhinos along the way. Our final bar of the night was C Squared Ciders – for you guessed it, local cider. It was really nice and since it was almost midnight our waiter brought us some free jello shots to celebrate the new year with. We even managed to catch a glimpse of some of the fireworks displays around the city from the various windows. What a fun night! I was relatively sober (which was nice) although VERY sleepy and so we headed back to Brooks’ apartment to continue the party. Happy New Year to all and to all a good night.