Sunday, September 23, 2012

My 1st USA trip: Keystone, Colorado

From Denver it takes ~3 hrs without jam to get to Keystone which had a base elevation of 2830m already. The highest town/resort I have been so far. 

I was here for a 5d4n conference, 
the 1st day it was already snowing and everywhere was covered with snow and looked grey

The snow was really deep, if it wasn't for the clearing of the snow on the roads, it would be so hard to walk on them. Your leg can just sink in them and it's hard to pull yourself up.

However during the following days, there were one or two great mornings that got everyone eager to move their legs and get out and up there to get some snow!!!

River run, one of the base for skiing

Well, I haven't ski before so nope, I did not ski. So I took the summit post gondola up. 
The gondola passes through "Summit house" on top of Dercum Mountain (3547m) from the base (2830m) then going to "the outpost" on north peak (3553m). 

Pretty much photography was what I was after. 

Looking at those people who ski, there were not just kids or teens, but people of all ages including the aged ones. It's UNBELIEVABLE to see them jumping off a pretty much 45 degree slope in couples!!! I can see that these old couples/people really enjoy the activity and must have felt young being able to go down that slope again (ar...the good old days!!!), haha.

My lunch at Summit house, somehow I managed to have the balcony to myself. Everyone was enjoying the warmth inside where as I must be the idiot, braving the cold, haha. 
But the view from the balcony was simply breathtaking and having a bird's eye view was amazing.

The bird that stayed with me throughout lunch and trying to steal my fries!!!

Somehow getting up from the base to the Summit house was alright for me.
But from the summit house to the outpost, I found that I was grasping for fresh air inside the gondola. 
I certainly didn't felt comfortable and felt like I was caged with 4 walls without oxygen!!! 
Sleepiness definitely came to me which I reckoned was because of the less oxygen within the gondola.

Watching down towards these sky-bound pine trees was one of the highlights!!!
It was really mesmerizing looking down at the different heights and levels of the pine trees. 
Always have I seen them in National Geographic or discovery channels, 
and now I got to see them!!!!

In the gondola, I wished I could open something for some wind or air coming in, but luckily each time once I got out of the Gondola, I'm backed to normal state, happy to take photos again.

On the second last day, all the participants of the symposium were given their own free time to engage with any activities.  Of course, many who knows how to ski, brought their snowboard/skis went to do their stuff.
As for those who don't, but want to get involved in something like me, we signed up for activities.
One of them offered was snowshoeing which I gladly signed up for. 

It turned out many took the same activity. 

We were brought up to summit house via gondola and started our walk from there heading towards one of the peak (seems so, but apparently not, haha)

The walk was really great as most of the time it's u and nature, unlike standing at summit house whereby you can just walk around in a limited boundary as everywhere else are all runs for skiers unless you wana get knock over by a skier/snowboarder.

The feeling of walking amongst and pass the christmas tree-like pine trees was a great one!!!

The grand view as we approached higher. 
The empty white slopes running down was Breckenridge, another ski resort.

me and one from NUS, another from Taiwan. Apparently the Taiwanese just follow his boss to SEE, how nice of his boss to bring him along!!! (Ooops, I didn't send the photos too, haha)

Sorry, 1 year and half gone, and I still haven't send you the photos!!! haha

This was where we stopped and turned back :(
If I'm not mistaken, this place is called "the windows"

Some sort of snow bicycles, but apparently it's not that easy to manoeuvres too. 
Didn't try too as one needs to rent them.

WELL, you might be wondering did I ski in the end?? 
The answer is YES, but no photos. 
Took up a beginner's lesson, it was not easy for me somehow.
You have to learn how to move forward, how to brake, how to turn left and right, how to slow down when you are speeding down a slope.
My left knee don't seem to listen to my command which makes it hard to turn and slow myself down when going down a slope.
Fall couple of times, but it was fun. At least the snow there was POWDER-like and SOFT compared to those in OZ, haha. 

The last day of the conference was ended with a disco/dancing session. I must say westerners, be it Aussies or the americans, and even europeans, they LOVE to dance and move their body, haha. Though they need a push to get their butts on the dance floor. It was a nice dancing session though. 

The conference was great, met the authors of many papers I have read and the big scientist that I have read so much but finally get a chance to talk to them!!! Learned alot and met some friendly and awesome people. Wished I was doing my PhD in USA in their labs back then, haha. 

Oh well...haha.