Matt Meets The Rockies

06/06/2014

Well, having returned from an amazing America multi-centre trip throughout 4 different states, here I am writing about all the fun things that I was lucky enough to see through my weeks’ time in the USA. The trip that I was part of was run by Brand USA who are the tourist board here in the UK for America and they put together 7 different itineraries, each as different as the next, ranging from the west coast of America with LA and Vegas, right across the country to the east coast with Boston.

My itinerary was called meet the mountains and involved Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota then finishing off with a flight to Texas for the grand finale. There were 14 different agents on my trip from around the country, all of whom I had never met until I arrived at Heathrow to board the flight. We all received t-shirts which had the Brand USA logo on and at any big group photo opportunity we donned the trusty t-shirts and wore them with pride!

Upon check in we all noticed we had been given a massive treat... we had been upgraded to Club World (business class) on the flight with BA!!! This was something myself and most of the other agents had never experienced before and it was such an amazing surprise, we were all chuffed to bits... it didn’t live up to expectations though... it far exceeded them it was fantastic! I got to lie fully flat whilst watching a movie and sipping on a cold beer… Now that’s my idea of flying!!

Because there were so many different parts of the trip and so many different places we visited I really won’t go too in detail about them all otherwise I will be keeping you reading this forever but I shall list a few of my highlights:

1.    Denver

The city was something I hardly knew anything about, so I was extremely pleased I got to visit it.

It’s not a massive city and is very easy to get around, the public transport was great and the taxis were inexpensive. It is home to the second largest theatre scene in America outside of New York, so there are dozens of shows that people can catch. The sports teams and their stadiums/venues are right in the heart of the city, so if you are a fan of basketball, American football, hockey or baseball you will be in your element as the events are so easy to get too! The city itself is very cool and has a very cosmopolitan vibe to it.

There are hundreds of really nice bars, most of which has their own brewery attached to it. They actually have more breweries here than any other state and Coors beer is made here, you can even take a tour around the factory! Along with the bars and restaurants Denver has a brilliant art scene too so you will see tons of public art on display in the streets and even more in the local gallery, which is close to the Denver History Museum.

Because of where Denver is located it makes it the perfect place to start a holiday to the Rocky Mountains as the back drop of them can be seen from anywhere in the city and it’s only few hours away until you start seeing the stunning peaks! I would love to get the chance to go back to Denver, its laid back attitude and great night life really ticked all my boxes.

2.    The Rocky Mountains

Wow. Just wow. Everything you’ve seen in the movies or in pictures doesn’t even come close to the natural beauty!

We were staying at a small lodge in the lower parts of the Rockies and we took a coach right up to 11,000 feet, it made my ears pop and I was slightly out of breath due to the altitude but the snowy peaks and vast cliffs made it all worthwhile!

There were various trails that can be found around the national park, all vary in level, so if you aren’t much of a hiker then it’s no problem, there will be a walk to suit you.
There are some fantastic photo opportunities around every single corner, so you will find yourself driving less than a mile and wanting to stop to take more pics. It was really impressive.

As mentioned this is very easily done form Denver by hiring a car and there are plenty of lodges that you can stay in, so you can spend as much time as you like taking it all in.

3.    Sylvan Dale Cattle Ranch, Loveland

This was the day of my birthday and what a way to spend it! 

We went to the only working cattle ranch in Colorado, where we got the chance to ride horses through the open scenery of Loveland in Colorado. We were all given our horses, mine was called Ben, then set off in a convoy for an hour’s trip around the valley.
Again the scenery was great and the guys form the ranch explain the full history behind the ranch which had been in the same family for over 80 years! We then got the chance to try our hand at lassoing! I’ve got to admit I wasn’t very good but some of the other agents were a dab hand at it and managed to rope the hay barrel on their first attempt!

After all that we were in need of a cold one and were treated to a few local beers and a BBQ whilst the cowboys sang around the camp fire, a great way to finish of a great day!

4.    Badlands National Park

After a short stop in Nebraska we made our way to South Dakota and the Badlands National Park. This is a huge area made up of rocks that had formed over millions of years that were once under sea level but now stand towering around everything in the area! It’s what I imagine the Grand Canyon to look like, having never been though I can only say that the Badlands are a place of beauty that I have never seen before and it’s totally unique and indescribable… For the best description you are better off having a look at the photo next to the blog!

Whilst staying in the badlands we had our own log cabin at Cedar Pass Lodge which was inside the national park and around a 20 minute drive to the amazing views. It was a fantastic place to stay and I would highly recommend anyone who has the chance to get it booked. It was gorgeous and only a year old!

5.    Mount Rushmore & Crazy Horse Monuments

I’ve seen it in the movies and on pictures but I never though I’d be given the chance to visit it! It was constructed during the times of the depression in America as a monument to attract tourists to the area and it certainly does!

It features 4 former U.S presidents carved hundreds of feet up into the rock and it really is a spectacle to behold! There is a walk way right around the monument and this gives you the perfect opportunity to find the best spot for you to take a photo... I took dozens!
Not too far a drive from Mount Rushmore is the lesser known rock carving of crazy horse. I didn’t know much about it, if anything but found it to be as impressive, if not more impressive than Mount Rushmore!

Crazy horse was an American Indian tribal leader who fought for the rights of the Indians and is one of their most respected and revered authority figures and this monument was started to honour him. Although decades into the build only Crazy Horse’s face can be seen and it will be another amount of countless years before much else will be seen, it is also around 7 times the size of Mount Rushmore!

I preferred the story behind why they were doing this monument compared to that of Mount Rushmore and the fact that there are only a handful of people that work on it and that they only work off donations (not tax payer’s money) is what really make this place special.

6.    Austin

Austin was the final place we visited and a great way to end an amazing trip! All 100 agents that were taking part in similar trips around the states all met up to share their stories and pictures. We got a few minutes on stage to talk about our highlights and look over our pictures and videos on the big screen.

Austin is the live music capital of the World and near enough every single bar has a different type of singer on, so as you can imagine it is a very vibrant city to visit.

It was very much how I imagined Texas to be, with cowboy hats everywhere and if you didn’t have one, there are hundreds of shops where you can get one! It was extremely different to Denver and was much larger and busier but had a good vibe to it!

Well there you have the highlight of my trip! It was in a total different league to anything that I’ve done before or probably will get the chance to do again, but I’m extremely happy that I got the chance to do it!

If you need any more in depth information regarding anything that i have mentioned or anything that you were thinking of doing along these lines feel free to get in contact and I can help give any advice that I can.

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