Trip Report


Tim gets plenty of ground time in Austin, but the kids and I miss our Texas time!  On his last trip to Austin, we tagged along. Somehow we got the one weekend where temps in Austin were colder than Boulder! We hit all the old favorites, met up with lots of old friends, and got a day with the cousins down in New Braunfels.

Tim gifted Clyde and I his first class upgrade. My first time!  Upon landing, we headed straight to Torchy’s Tacos.  Clyde’s first Texas taco.  He loved it.

Austin was a mash up of things wrapped in tortillas, running with friends, and hitting up parks.  The kids played on so many structures I think they believe Texas is all playground! We also made it to the Grand Opening of the Filson Store (Santa pics and hot chocolate), Erik’s holiday party (beer and jello shots!), and of course Julio’s breakfast tacos.

Our day with Angel and Craig was also filled with favorites.  “Volcano” restaurant for lunch, and playtime with Guy at Landa Park.  Finished with Dairy Queen!

We still love you Texas, you will always be in our hearts. And blood.  Miles is convinced he was born a cowboy.

 

Thanksgiving break we made a quick drop down to Colorado Springs to visit our outlaws (Mariel’s inlaws).  We met up at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, where the “cousins” reunited over giraffes and a slow sloth.  We then headed to their house for a day and night of playing and a big snowstorm!  We got to catch up with Grandma Sandy & Grandpa Tim too.  Next time we plan to see the Air Force Academy!

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Our first great Colorado road trip took us to Southwest Colorado.  I say first not only because it was the first, but because it will be the first of many.  I’ll let Hazel and Miles tell you all about it.  They each kept vacation journals of our trip.  Mine’s up on Facebook.  These are way cooler.

Roadtripping.  We saw a lot of mountains.  Miles and Hazel played constantly with a beaded hummingbird and fish we picked up at the service station on one of our early stops.  The Sienna was loaded down, we were off!

First stop, Great Sand Dunes.  Created apparently when a massive lake (sea?) evaporated and all the sand blew up toward a mountain range.  For three months a year the wind reverses and blows the other way.  Result: Tall sand dunes that are fun to slide down and incredible to look at.  Also, our first night in a tent camping – it was awesome! Clyde the Camp Champ reigns!

Next up, Mesa Verde.  From an incredible feat of nature to one of man.  We all earned our CO badges hitting up this state treasure, and we learned a lot too.

Camping.  Hazel shows our three nights camping and the anticipation of a train ride to come.  We had so much fun and got lucky with weather and baby sleep.  Everyone loved the outdoors, cooking on a camp stove, and we made a fire the last night!

Photo buddy.  Hazel’s camera battery died in the first leg of our trip, but Miles picked up double-clicking snaps the rest of our trip.  His journal entry below describes a sad moment.

Narrow Gauge Rail.  Hazel, Miles and Tim climbed aboard the open gondola (for the only 4 hours of crappy weather on our whole trip) to make the journey from Durango to Silverton.

Aladdin’s Hut, Silverton.  Finally a night under a real roof! We stayed in a rustic cabin at 10,500ft above Silverton.  We spent the next 2 days hiking and biking the Colorado trail.  Miles and Hazel were rocking it on the single track!

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Ice Lake Basin.  This incredible hike took us up over 12,000ft (I tend to bow out at the tree line!).  The highlight of the descent was when Tim stripped and showered in a waterfall, and we were discovered by another hiker.

Telluride, final destination.  We took the Million Dollar highway 60 miles around to Telluride while Tim went straight up and over Black Bear pass on his mountain bike (10 miles).  Telluride is one special place, made even better by the public transportation option  – gondola!

Imogene Pass Run.  The impetus for our trip!  Tim ran 17 miles over a crazy 13k ft pass and did amazingly.  His time taunts him: 03:00:02.  We’ll be back.  Hazel’s picture shows her running down the street after Tim 400m from the finish.  He didn’t see her, but it was pretty cute.

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Fishing Pond.  Final hours in Telluride, they finally landed a fish.

Huge, huge success!  We had so much fun and got to see some beautiful spots in our state.  We drove past even more gorgeous places, and I took notes for next year!  Tim is going to hunt down that 3 hour time, and we really wouldn’t mind a trip back!

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This Spring Break we had plans to go to Oregon.  Colorado springtime had other plans for us.  We left home at 4am, in some very wet and heavy snow.  We breezed through security, then the airport lost power.  It came back on and we drove the train to our gate.  We boarded (first class!  Sweet upgrade from Tim the super traveler!), then deplaned when there was no power to fuel the plane.  The storm grew worse, the plane got gas.  But then it was too windy and snowy to fly.  So we waited, while all other flights got canceled.  And finally ours did too.  We left, to crawl along the whiteout taxi graveyard of Pena Blvd and finally make it home to a good foot of snow.  Disappointment ensued.

Then we picked ourselves up, went skiing, rode a carousel, had dinner at a brewery, a home projects weekend, and a fantastic snowy Easter!  And we’re rebooked!!

Barely two weeks back in North America and we got a tropical treat.  We all headed down to Cancun for the wedding of Mariel to her very own Tim.  The long weekend was planned at an all-inclusive resort, and afforded us great opportunity to catch up with the Bolhouse grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins while also getting to know our new in-laws (out-laws?) who are also based in Colorado.

Miles, Hazel and I were all in the wedding, and what a gorgeous wedding it was.  Perfect weather, on the beach, with enough personal creative touches by the newlyweds to make it a truly magical evening.

Also magical: knowing the tropics are only a 3-hour discount airline flight away.  For when the mountains get to be too much.  Whew!

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It had been seven years since I last set foot on Chinese pavement, and with the golden opportunity facing us (Tim’s business need, plus fulfilling the strict requirements of the elusive transit visa) we jumped at the chance to stop on our way moving home from Malaysia.  It would be a quick one, a mandated 72 hours or less, but I couldn’t wait to check out our old stomping ground again.  We had lots of bags, plus emotional baggage from leaving Penang, but it turned out to be a great stop.

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Priority number one: cruise at 400km/hr.  Miles loves his trains, and the chance to ride the Maglev was our first stop.  Unfortunately, it was raining on our arrival and they only hit 330 km/hr on the trip to the city.  The return fare sped to the max velocity however, and everyone was happy.

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Priority two: Work.  True, I no longer work at AMD (or at all, as it were, leaving all employment in Penang), but to visit the office I occupied on it’s day of inception was a treat.  I had a very warm welcome, and was surprised to find my former team almost completely in tact!  I’ll take it as a compliment to my efforts there that they were all there working.  I got a fabulous welcome, and they took me to lunch at Taibei Yachu, which was always my choice for welcoming and saying goodbye to team members.  I suppose that day they did both.  Miles impressed them with his eating abilities.  The weather was gorgeous, and the trees blooming around the office let out the sweet scent that is only September in Shanghai.  Nostalgia hit hard.

Priority Three: Checking out the city.  We had one day to see what Shanghai had been up to in our absence.  We walked all over the French Concession, found it to be far less caffeinated than we expected yet blissfully full of noodles and wontons.  Subway-ed around, hit up the Bund, Oriental Pearl Tower (Dong Fang Ming Zhu became a suggested name for New Baby), and ended up at the fake markets in the High Tech Subway stop.  Dinner was more Hunan homestyle food, we could not get enough of this stuff!

And that was the end of our 72 hours in Shanghai.  Onward: homeward bound.

Last year, when our time in the Eastern Hemisphere was extended by a year, we sat and thought about our travel priorities.  For me, the choice was clear – I wanted to make a trip back to Wollongong where I had studied abroad in 2002-2003.  Eight months out, tickets were better than reasonable and we booked it for CNY 2015.  This much anticipated trip snuck up on us, and we had a lot of last minute bookings!

We started in Sydney… 24 hours in one very cool city.  We checked into our hotel and headed straight to Circular Quay for a view of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and city skyline while on the ferry to Toronga Zoo.  The kids’ priority for the trip was clear too: koalas & kangaroos!   Check, check!  Our next morning included breakfast at the park and a visit to the Contermporary Art Museum, where one of Tim’s favorite artists was featured.  Interspersed with this fun, we drank good beer, ate fabulous deli food, and brunched on the green.  Love Sydney!

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We picked up our rental car and headed south to the ‘Gong.  We stayed with friends who, in the space of time since we booked the trip, announced their second pregnancy and had a son!  Such gracious hosts, we all stayed comfortably in their home, and Hazel made fast friends with Elina, their almost-3 yr old.  Our first night was a stormy Valentine’s dinner out (with the kids! no wonder they stuck us in the corner), but the weather cleared for a perfect North Beach day the next day.  We spent the whole of it seaside, swimming, digging, surfing and just soaking up the gorgeous late summer day.  My heart was soaring and breaking at the same time, I love this place.  Tim got caught up in it too, and by the time we hit the Rock pool (a favorite from my uni days) on the way out of town the next morning, he was ready to fill out the immigration papers too!

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The road turned north while Tim’s health went south.  He spent the next two days suffering from the flu whlie we camped near Port Macquarie up the NSW coast.  Still, the kids and I had some highlights from this spot.  The holiday park was amazing, right on the beach with tons of stuff for the kids to do (spash pad, mini golf, giant jumping bubble, playground and pool).  Another great beach day was made even better for Miles with a trip to the koala hospital.  Unfortunately, those noctornal guys are the victims of roadkill and loss of habitat and sometimes end up hurt.  This is the spot that rehabilitates all the reported cases from the area.

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Heading north again, via more amazing beaches (we couldn’t help stopping for a swim and play with Miles new boogie board after lunch at Shell Harbour) we finally made it to Byron Bay.  Our final stop in this Australia tour is a surfers mecca and our holiday park was right on top of the action.  We watched as the surfers walked along the beach to the high point, then surfed the long break all the way to the left before walking back up to the tip again.  Tim, feeling better, joined the surfers, and I even joined an early morning swim group who walked up to the point and swam the rip (you don’t even need to paddle!) 1.5km to the surf club.  Skies were grey and the sea was rough for our one beach day in Byron – a Cat 5 Cyclone was heading in!  My swim was breathe right! breathe right! and a pretty intense ride in.  We soaked up every moment of that day, with both kids taking turns on the paddle board in the relatively warm waves.  By 6pm, the storm had hit and our last 24 hours in Australia were full of driving rain and wind.  We went out for coffee and hot chocolate in our swim suits.  Hit the town barefoot (I only had leather sandals and running shoes – didn’t want to ruin one and needed the other for the flight home!) for shopping and lunch, sampled beers and took a tour of the local brewery (of course) and just enjoyed the view of the surfers from the lodge (they were still out there!).

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Our flight was not affected by the storm, and we headed back to Penang the morning of our 10th day.  I cried on the way to the airport, not at all ready to go.  We truly enjoyed this holiday, all the natural beauty and great food and friends.  And beer, adds Tim.

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