Special Events


Halloween Fun!

I remember thinking when we arrived in the US that Halloween would be one of those days I would look forward to due to the fact that it’s just not something we participate in, in Australia (though from the look of photos on facebook, it seems we are catching on to this event more and more each year).

The night before the big day, Kristin, Mat and myself set off on the hunt for the perfect costumes. Our staff theme being Superheroes and Mat’s work being, dress up if you want. I think Mat was most excited! While looking around one of the Halloween shops, we turn to find Mat standing in the middle of the shop asking if we approved of his He-Man costume (like a kid in a Candy shop!). He was pretty excited! Kristin and I, though, were finding it more difficult to find the perfect costume due to the fact that most super-hero female costumes were just not appropriate to wear to school. So, thinking outside the square, Mat came across Super Mario and Luigi, suitable for school and pretty funny.

Mrs Mario

Preparing that morning for the change from Mrs Baker to Super Mario, I dressed ready to greet my 4th graders. As I opened the door, there were many shouts and screams as they realized their teacher (AKA Mrs Mario) had now put on about 100 pounds and had also grown a mustache. Knowing that the day would be quite wild, I had planned many Halloween activities to keep them busy before the parade and parties. After the party, I then sent them on their way with plenty of candy and junk food to keep their parents happy!

Later that evening, we were invited to Shelly and Rich’s house for yet more Halloween events. We were able to give out candy (which we were pretty excited about) to the many trick-or-treaters that came to the door and carve our very first pumpkins. We had a stready stream of kids knocking on the door for around 3 hours, all parading excellent costumes and pillow cases filled with plenty of goods.

It was a pretty funny day, especially seeing people grocery shopping, driving in all kinds of costumes (us included!), Mat driving to work dressed in his lycra padded He-Man costume and wig and being the only one dressed up. The next day, school was much quieter, maybe due to the fact that I had around 6 kids away with a “Sugar-hangover”.

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Labor Day Weekend

Rocky Mountain Showdown… Go CU!

September 1st to 3rd was Labor Day long weekend and we started the weekend with a Colorado must do, the Rocky Mountain Showdown. The Showdown is a college football game between local universities Colorado University (CU)  and Colorado State University (CSU). Otherwise colloquially know as the Buffs Vs. the Rams. The game was played at Mile High Stadium in Denver and after the previous week’s tail gating experience we were all set for another few hours of drinking, snags on the barbie and some further corn hole practice. That said I do not think we were quite prepared for the new level of partying the college kids brought to tailgating……. perhaps it had something to do with the fact that they all knew what we didn’t, and that was it was going to be a dry game, that is no alcohol sold within the stadium. Either way college kids know how to party!

Royal Gorge

So when Nat suggested we visit a place called “Royal Gorge” I pictured National Park, a place of natural beauty to be preserved for generations to come. Some of the things I did not imagine were Carousels, Giant Swings, Zip Lines, Miniature Train Rides, Magic Shows and a Zoo. Royal Gorge Bridge and Park located approximately 130 miles south of Denver (which is technically not a National Park as far as I can tell) is certainly a place of natural beauty, however, featuring all of the aforementioned ungainly sights.

The Park also plays host to the highest suspension bridge in the world standing at over 1050 feet clear of the Arkansas River. The bridge and the Gorge itself were certainly incredible sights to witness but the other shenanigans were nothing more than over exploitation of the natural beauty of the impressive Canyon and accompanying bridge. We walked the bridge and caught the cable car back across for a good vantage of the bridge, however, our best view of the Bridge and Gorge came from within the Canyon itself aboard our raft as it made it’s way down the Class 3 and 4 rapids of the Arkansas River.

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Bicycles, Music and Football

Lyons, waiting for the cyclists

August 20 through 26 saw the USA Pro Cycling Challenge come to town. Stage 6 was set to see riders making their way from front range town Golden up into the mountains and back down through Lyons and then finally onto the stage finish in Boulder. Since we already had tickets booked to Lyons music festival “Rocky Grass Festival”, we thought we better get along to local pub “Oscar Blues” to book ourselves a good vantage of the passing pelaton. We spent the afternoon knocking back a few pints of local drop “Dale’s Pale Ale” and almost missed the 15 seconds it took the pelaton to pass by. Shortly afterwards we wandered up the road and around the corner to the Bluegrass music festival. The air was rich with the pungent scent of marijuana, their was hippee’s as far as the eye could see and banjo’s rang out long into the evening.

Tailgating before the game

Returning to Denver the following morning we hit the local Sports Authority to get ourselves kitted out in Broncos gear in preparation for their preseason match up against the San Francisco 49ers later that afternoon. We had heard of this seemingly bizarre concept of driving on down to the stadium early and loitering in the car park prior to kick off referred to as “tailgating”, so we thought we’d better check it out for ourselves (not to mention we had ourselves the perfect vehicle for tailgating). So with the esky filled with tinnies we made our way down to Mile High Stadium and drove on in to the tailgating experience. There were literally people everywhere, I had never seen anything quite like it. People cooking up a storm on full gas grill BBQ’s, people standing around drinking and eating, people watching the pre game coverage from couches on their 50 inch tv’s powered by their RV generators, people throwing footballs and playing corn hole a game which involves throwing a bean bag through a hole in a wooden box…. incredible!

Of further noteworthy mention is our luck in finding the parking spot we did. Not so much so finding the spot per se but rather the wonderful people that we landed along side of. Hadley “Hads” Bradbury along with his gang made the afternoon one not to forget and Hads kindly extended an invitation to join himself and his mates for the opening Broncos match at his place.

Oh and by the way the Broncos lost and super star $96 million dollar man Peyton Manning only played half the match.

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Girls Weekend

After a farewell high tea lunch with mum and dad I said a sad goodbye to them as they left for home after their Colorado and USA tour. After dropping them at the airport I made my way back into Denver where I had a girly weekend organised downtown with Sammy and Liv…

Dinner at Tag Restaurant

While the boys were away on their rafting/ camping trip doing boy stuff, us girls thought we would dress up and live it up in downtown Denver. We stayed at the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, a beautiful old hotel located in the heart of Downtown. We had dinner booked at Tag Restaurant on Larimer street, a beautifully lit up street full of trendy restaurants, bars and lots of people. We enjoyed our dinner and desserts despite the fact that we felt we were posing for a lady who was photographing us for the 5280 Magazine they have here in Denver most of the time! We have been on the look out for these shot, but luckily for us, they have not surfaced yet!

After dinner we strolled two doors up to a champagne bar where we enjoyed a tasty but slightly expensive glass of Bollinger champagne. To finish the night, we had cocktails at another one of Denver’s speak easy bars, Green Russell, disguised as a pie shop. The “Pies” were very tasty!

The next morning we had booked brunch at the hotel and I’d have to say that I have seen nothing like it! The amount of food was far beyond what any normal person could eat. The chocolate fountain and chocolate bar was my favourite!

It was a great weekend, thanks girls!

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Our Cancun Honeymoon- Summer Vacation Part 1

Six months overdue, however it was worth the wait! We arrived at Cancun International Airport in Mexico on Saturday, June 2nd after finishing up with school and work the day before. We were off to the Royal at Playa del Carmen (recommended to us) a beautiful all inclusive resort for the next 5 days… 5 days of relaxing, eating, drinking cocktails, massages and more eating and drinking.
After arriving and being greeted with beer and cocktails we allocated one day to do some touristy stuff and the other days we would just sit around and do all of the above mentioned things.
So, it had been around 6 months since we had been to a beach, so first things first, we


headed straight there! After a quick swim in the very warm water of the Caribbean sea,  it felt like home again with the smell of the ocean and sand under our toes. Soon after we made our way to the pool bar and that’s where we stayed for the remainder of the afternoon.

Hot stone messages were first on the agenda the following day (yes, life’s tough!). Mat had never had one before so he was in for a treat! As we arrived for our massage, we were shown to the private men’s and women’s change rooms which both contained 2 large hot tubs, 1 plunge pool, a sauna and steam room. After our very relaxing massage, Mat came out looking like he had fallen asleep (which he had) and very relaxed!

Chichen Itza

On the Tuesday we were off to Chichen Itza, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Chichen Itza was around 3 hours away and is a Mayan City on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It was established before the period of Christophen Colombus and is exactly 24 metres high. We spent the very, very hot day following our tour guide (the bowling ball as Mat referred to him!)around the ruins and learning about the Mayan culture. It was very interesting and I’m sure if it were Mat writing this post, you’d get a very detailed description of the history! So next stop was to visit a Cenote, a deep natural pit, characteristic of Mexico, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. It was beautiful and cool to swim in, perfect after the amount of sweating we did walking around the mayan ruins.

So back to relaxing eating and drinking for our last few days, and saving the best for last we decided to book an in suite spa and massage followed by an eight course meal at one of the restaurants located at the resort. Let’s just say the massage was beautiful but dinner only lasted 3 courses due to the fact that Mat doesn’t have an iron stomach such as myself! Nevertheless, he recovered eventually!
I guess you could say that our honeymoon was everything a girl could dream of… rose petals on the bed each night, chocolates, massages, good food, cocktails, spectacular views and beautiful beaches and pools to relax by.
Next stop… Florida…

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At the Finish Line

So I’m writing this post as I’m sitting on our flight to Cancun, a flight I thought we would never get on! I don’t know what it is, but whenever I fly, I have such bad luck! So this time the guy who checked us in thought my US Visa was my Aus Passport info, which meant I was flagged down at the gate and not allowed on the plane until my passport info was verified. So, normally this would be a simple process, but no, the computer system had gone down between us checking in and us arriving at the gate! Come on! Well, after delaying the flight for more than half an hour or so, they finally let me on and as you can imagine, there were a few interesting looks from waiting passengers on the plane. Opps! However, they did offer us 2 free round trips and the exit row!

Anyhow, back to the post…

Just under a week ago, Mat and myself, along with Daz (Bobby) and Sammy participated in the BolderBoulder, which is a 10km fun run held in Boulder, Colorado. I guess you could probably compare it to the City to Surf for us, except that there is no surf, just mountains and elevations of around 5,000 feet.

Team Matalie showing their synchronised swimming skills!

After attending Sammy and Bobby’s Aussie BBQ on the Sunday afternoon in Fort Collins, for the staff at Bobby’s school, we made our way to Boulder early the next morning for Memorial Day, ready to be at the line for our 9:05am start. Around 50,000 people participate in the BolderBoulder each year, so as you can imagine, parking and getting around wasn’t easy.

So, “team Matalie” and the “Canberra Duo” were ready for the big race, entering the mostly jogging/walking group. We set a cracking pace for around the first 3 km then slowed down to take in the interesting costumes, bands and entertainment along the streets of Boulder (and mostly due to me being unfit!). As we approached the 9 km mark, we were attracted to a familiar sound coming from a band on the street. As we got closer, we realised that the song playing was none other than Down Under by Men at Work! Inspiring us all, we soon found our last bit of energy and ran into a crowded stadium to finish the race!

To recover, we found a spot amongst the 50 odd thousand people in the stadium and enjoyed our beer and snacks and watched the international womens and mens races and Memorial Day ceremony. We then made our way to a pub and enjoyed more beer and wings to end a fantastic day! Needless to say, the body and legs were a little sore for the next few days!

Some photos from the day…

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The Fray, The Stanley and Mini Golf Challenge

Tailgating at Red Rocks

Red Rocks is a popular concert venue for many well known artists located in Morrison Colorado about 20 or so minutes from our place. As the name suggests, Red Rocks is comprised of rock structures which happen to be red and, moreover, rocks that form a natural amphitheatre with ideal acoustic conditions. Local Colorado band “The Fray” were scheduled to play at Red Rocks and we managed to acquire tickets along with the usual suspects, Nash, Olivia, Bobby and Sam. The setting was amazing, the band not as flattering, however, their three hit songs amongst  the myriad of other B siders went down great (even despite the crappy weather).

The Stanley Hotel

The following day while Sam and Bobby had a romantic night planned away at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Nat and myself had been invited to stay at the “Green Chalet” AKA Nash and Liv’s place, also in Estes Park. As we were making our way up the mountain, we received a call from Bobby (El Presidente) stating that he and Sam had been upgraded to the Presidential Suite boasting some 3 separate rooms. Needless to say we did not delay in accepting their kind invitation. You might be familiar with the Stanley hotel through movies such as “Dumb and Dumber” or “The Shining”. I was particularly impressed to be sitting at the very bar were Lloyd painstakingly waited for Mary to arrive for their date and, moreover,  discovered Man had landed on the moon….. No Way! That’s Great… Also interesting was the company at the bar and in particular the couple of girls keenly watching their ghost detector….. supposedly the Stanley is renown for paranormal activity…. we did manage to get some photos of one or two of the resident ghosts 😉

AUS vs USA Mini Golf Challenge

After a pleasant and not to mention ghost free night’s sleep in the giant king sized bed it was down to business representing Australia in the AU Vs. US Mini Golf Challenge. After Bobby and Nash were cleaned up in a game of golf  by the Americans (notionally Kerry who happened to go to college on a full golfing scholarship), Nash had organised a rematch to allow us the chance to regain some dignity. Names were drawn out of a hat (a hat which also happened to have corks attached to it) to select pairings. The rules were such that the winner of each hole would score a point for his or her respective country. Not entirely sure what the finally score was however the important result was that after 18 holes we enforced a crushing defeat upon the Americans on their home soil. Following the mini golf game we were kindly invited back to Larry and Dave’s log home just down the pass from Estes Park where Dave had prepared lunch featuring an incredible pulled pork. After lunch and some beers we returned home knackered ready for the coming week seems to becoming a fair common trend nowadays…..

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CITEL Function

Nash, Nat and Daz

Friday, May 4th was another Furlough day for myself as well as the day of the CITEL function for all exchange teachers located in Colorado. The function was held at the Capitol building and then afterwards at Croc’s Mexican Restaurant in downtown Denver.

Seeing as I had the day off, Kristin (my fun committee partner at work!) and I decided we would head into downtown a little earlier and pamper ourselves with manicures and pedicures.

After feeling refreshed, we made our way to the Capitol Building, where we met the other Aussie exchangees. My Principal, Rita as well as school colleague and friend, Angela also came along as supporting spectators. We were taken on tour of the Capitol building, where we caught a glimpse of the Governor, John Hickenlooper, had a quick lesson on the US Government, sat on the Mile high step and we were back to receive our certificates before heading off to Croc’s Mexican Restaurant for the rest of the night.

As you can see from the photos at the restaurant, a few tequila shots were had which made for a small headache the next day! I awoke only to find a Mexican Sombrero and stick on Moustache on the bedside table!

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Bobby’s Bonza Weekend


Fellow exchangee Darren “Bobby Bobs” Roberts being the profoundly organised educator we have come to fondly know had kindly planned and invited us along on an action packed weekend involving perhaps some of my favourite things in life; Sport and Beer…. Not possessing the capacity to decline such an offer we headed downtown one Friday afternoon to join Bobby, Sam and their visitor “Damo”, for happy hour at one of the bars local to the Pepsi Center, and, subsequently to a Mammoth’s game. The Mammoth’s are the local Lacross side here in Denver, although 98% of their stellar competition leading line up is comprised of Canadian’s. The match was a first vs. last place affair and sure enough the local team i.e. first place went down in a huge upset. The game was a very

The gang

interesting experience with the crowd quite comparable to sitting on the hill at WIN stadium for a Bulldogs match, or perhaps a better description of the experience is likening it to fronting up to the SummerNats.

The following morning we were up bright and early and headed out to Sam and Bobby’s place in Fort Collins for a 9.30am start (and we were told not to be late). Bobby and Sam had planned for us to hike to Horse Tooth Mountain, a mountain in the foothills of the Front Range west of Fort Collins renown for a large rock formation known as Horsetooth Rock. The hike was approximately 1 hour each way and served as the perfect segue for our afternoon tour of the New Belgium Brewery.

New Belgium Brewing Company are regional brewers of what is known as “Craft Beer”,  which is as I discovered nothing more than a marketing buzz word. The brewery opened in 1991 after founder Jeff Lebesch commercialised his brewing passion with the pioneer and flagship “Fat Tire” drop. Some 20 years later the Fort Collin’s based brewery brews over half a million barrels of beer per annum making it the third largest craft brewery and seventh largest brewery overall in the US. I personally am very fond of their Indian Pale Ale known as “Ranger”.

To round out the day we headed back down to Arvada to the “FIRST Bank Center” to watch the Denver Rollor Dolls. Well if we thought the Mammoth’s game was interesting you should have seen the girls go at it…….. I am convinced that some of these girls have more balls than Bobby and I combined.

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Furlough Day

A little behind with my posts sorry…

April 11 was a Furlough Day (no school for teachers and students in order to cut costs and save money!) for all schools in the Jeffco District, which meant that I had a day off school! Yeah! Angela, my friend and school mentor (who might I add is a fitness freak and excellent mentor!) had organised a day of Stand Up Paddle Boarding for myself and Mat at Bear Creek Lake, a lake in the city of Lakewood, just near Angela’s house.

The afternoon before, I had gone out after school to pick up the paddle board, which I hired for Mat and I to use. The guys at the shop had told me that it was the first one of the season! They strapped it to the truck and we were ready for a day on the lake.

We left nice and early to get full benefit of the calm morning, only to realise that once we arrived, we had forgotten the paddle! Whoops! Well, not long after, we were enjoying the beautiful sunny weather, gorgeous surroundings and calm waters. The one good thing was that neither of us fell in, and luckily as the water was around 50 or 60 degrees F – a little too cold for my liking! It was lots of fun and very relaxing, we also finished the day with a lovely picnic lunch, prepared by Angela and her husband Rob, as well as an ice-cream from Morrison, a small town right near Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Gotta love Furlough days!

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