That's what friends are for

Trip Start Mar 23, 2010
Trip End Feb 15, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sam: When we left Australia, our good friends, Bec and Mike gave us a farewell package. In it was a bookmark with the quote, “Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world.” I don't think the true meaning of this statement really hit home for me until a couple of months into the trip when we were faced with the reality that we'd be spending twelve months on the other side of the world without our loved ones. Of course, this is the price you pay for the wonderful adventures we've been experiencing, however; we can't tell you how much we'd love to have our friends and family here to experience it all with us. We are often saying, “How much would Alice love this place?”, “Gee, Mum would be in heaven here”, “Dad should definitely do that one day” etc. 

Well, for the last seven days, we've been able to do exactly that! Our wonderful friends Aaron and Lara flew into Denver on Saturday 21 August and met us at Rifle campground that evening. We were attending a local climbing party after participating in the annual end-of-season clean-up. After winning two disposable toilet bags in the raffle (yes, I always win something!) (Lee: even if it ultimately stinks) we'd decided to call it a night. We were walking in the dark down a dirt road when all of a sudden, we heard a squeal and found Aaron and Lara walking up the same road! We then all drove back to camp where we helped the guys erect their newly-purchased tent and kept them up late chatting and catching up on all the latest news from home.

The next morning, I awoke early, feeling like a kid on Christmas morning... Santa had been and had delivered our friends, wrapped in sleeping bags! It was so exciting. (Lee: They even brought a jumbo sized jar of Vegemite for us - stoked!). We spent the next two days with the guys climbing in Rifle, cooking on an open fire, bathing in the creek, spotting famous climbers we'd only seen in the movies, making lots of coffee, eating lots of raspberries and having an absolute ball.

The next day, we packed up camp and hit the road. Next stop was Maple Canyon, Utah. On the way, we stopped back in at Mom's Cafe in Salina for Aaron to try one of the famous scones we'd talked about in one of our previous posts. The look on his face when the “scone” came out was priceless... Lara sampled the homemade apple pie and we all walked away very satisfied.

That night, we all went to bed quite early, exhausted from the day of driving. At about 11:30pm, I awoke to the sound of a car pulling in to our campsite. The next morning, we got up to find Gareth (another friend from home) sleeping in his van next to our tent. It was also Lara's birthday and boy did she get a surprise when she opened the tent and saw Gareth sitting in the hammock singing “Happy Birthday” to her.

That day, team Australia hit the cobble-encrusted cliffs and again, we all climbed until we were totally trashed. I think Gareth summed it up nicely when he said “I think my forearms are broken”. We all then piled into our car and headed into Mt Pleasant for some Cavaliers Pizza to celebrate Lara's big day.

Despite every muscle in our bodies begging us not to, we hit the cliffs for one last climbing day on Thursday and again had another huge day. That night, our last night all together, we sat around the fire and watched the new A-Team movie on Gareth's laptop before crashing into bed for our last night of USA camping.

The next morning, we awoke in the dark, packed everything up, said goodbye to Gareth (did I mention how much I hate goodbyes?) and hit the road for Denver.

“Let's meet at the halfway point... how about Burger King in Grand Junction?” Lee was overheard saying to Aaron as we all drove out of the campgrounds. Now, this is all well and good, however; as Lee and I soon discovered, there are over six Burger Kings in Grand Junction! Anyway, after driving to four of them and not finding the guys, Lee was feeling pretty exhausted and had been doing some very fancy navigating, so he pulls out of the driveway and says “I don't know how to drive anymore, what do I do again?” I thought he was joking until I realised that we were on a four line highway, facing the wrong way! “Ahhhh, turn around quick, go up the gutter, do anything, just turn,” I exclaimed. Luckily, only one car had to brake to avoid hitting us and we made it safely to the correct side of the road in a nick of time.

That night, Aaron and Lara had booked us all into a very fancy hotel in Denver. I swear it was the best bed I have slept on since leaving home. We all had very long hot showers and hit up Applebees for some delicious margaritas, ribs, shrimp salad, steak and fajitas (we were hungry!)

Then, at 5:30am the next day, the inevitable had arrived. Time to say goodbye... nooooo! I had been dreading this moment and of course the tears flowed. As Aaron and Lara boarded their plane for San Francisco, Lee and I returned to that wonderful bed and fell back to sleep, taking advantage of the late check-out the guys had organised for us.

Lee and I are still in Denver for a few days, catching up on some chores (e.g. returning all our camping gear, cleaning the car, washing all our clothes etc.) before we fly out on 1 September for our next destination -- Prague.

Aaron, Lara and Gareth: thank you all so much for making the last week so fabulous. I know it will be a huge highlight for us when we sit back in years to come and remember our trip. Safe travels guys, look forward to catching up when we get home. xx
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Dad on

Wonderfull to hear that some of your Aussie friends came to climb with you both. If your missing us we are sure missing you just as much.
Stay safe, keep laughing and savour every moment.
love Dad and Rob

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