28 December 2012

Finally some mountain biking

So after not riding a mountain bike off road for almost 2 years I managed to hire a bike and get out on a ride on Thursday by myself then got really lucky and joined a group ride on Thursday evening.
It was the first time I had ridden a fat bike which is a Mountain bike with extra wide rims and tyres (4"wide) and it was great fun.

This is a stock image of the bike I was on
907 Fat Bike

Casting long shadows at 2pm
Following tracks
Looking back
There is a lake under here
This is the route we took during the group ride and I had a blast, snowy singletrack forest trails.  The bike rides kind of like a tractor and climbs really well over just about anything.  Can't wait to ride one with the brakes set up the right way around.  

Since finishing the ride Amanda and I have taken the hire bike back and ordered two bikes for ourselves.  Can't wait until we get them, hopefully mid January.  Once again thank you to Amanda for being such an amazing wife so I could be a little selfish and get out for a ride.  

17 December 2012

8 States of running

2012 has been an interesting year for the Blades family during which I have managed to go for a run in eight States in the USA, we didn't plan this but sometimes things just work out that way.  While filling out this post I realised I missed an opportunity to run in Kansas so looks like we will be returning one day to Kansas so that I can run in all 50 States of the USA!  During these runs I have managed to cover a variety of terrain from beaches to snow.

So here my 8 States of running for 2012

1. Florida
Beach run with Amanda

2. Texas
Shoe test during our short trip to Texas

3. Oklahoma 
5km race on closed roads and I won a medal :)

4. Colorado
Near the airport from another hotel, least this was at a lower elevation compared to where I had been running.  :) 

5. Nebraska 
Gravel road running in the heat :) followed by water skiing.

6. Missouri
Cool and windy, should have turned the other way from the hotel and picked up the bike trail, oh well live and learn.

7. Arkansas
Warm run with nice drivers.

8. Alaska
Brrrrr!!! Moose stopped play, didn't think I would ever be writing that.

13 December 2012

A Train, A Train.....

A train a train
 Since we had confirmation that we would be leaving Colombia and heading to Alaska Amanda and I have been telling Fiona that we could ride a train.  On Saturday the 8th December we came through on our promise when we took the Christmas trip on the train up here in Anchorage.

The trip lasted 2 hours and was an out and back trip.  On the trip Alaska rail had enlisted the help of some singers, a magician and jolly fat man in a red suit to entertain the children.

Waiting at the station
We were at the station at 9am for the 10am train, I think they were staggering people to try and avoid big lines of people, it worked for us as there was no line, later on that was not the case.  At 10am we had boarded the train and set off on our ride.  First we got to experience some singers, they performed all the usual Christmas songs, next we had a magician, then judging of the colouring competition and finally for our car we had Santa and Mrs Claus.

The scenery we saw whilst on the train was fantastic and not driving enabled Amanda and I to both look at it rather than one person drive whilst the other takes fleeting glimpses.  All in all the trip was a huge success although Fiona was having nothing to do with Santa even though she had been telling us she wants a green and red present and a present for someone else who Santa won't be able to bring one for which was rather cute.

Ice Climbing road start
Look do you see it
Freezing before getting on the train
Ahhhh Santa Claus!

In other news
We are now living in temporary accommodation, this is until we can move into a house which we are trying to buy, yes we found one though it is not a sure thing yet we are still working out the finer details.

The current place we are staying in is so much better than the hotel for a few simple reasons :-
  1. It has more than one room
  2. It has a garage so I don't need to clear the car off all the time.
  3. It has a kitchen as eating out was wearing really thin.
  4. It feels like a home although there is way to much stuff on the walls for Amanda and I.
  5. It has a garden with fresh snow so Fiona could do this!
Snow Angel

    We have enough space for a Christmas tree.
    Mini tree
    And finally for this post, on Tuesday night Amanda was told at work to bring her computer home since they were expecting a storm to move in overnight and driving would be difficult during rushhour.  Luckily for Amanda the snow wasn't so bad first thing in the morning, about 3" fell overnight.  After dropping Amanda off I was not so lucky since Fiona and I needed to get things on Wednesday so we were prepared for the arrival of the cats that evening. It is safe to say during my shopping trip the blizzard conditions arrived and during the remainder of the day we received another 6" which made driving a little challenging.  Here is a photo taken after a 1 hour trip to Walmart.
    Post Walmart
    PS - I still find it strange that when it snows here the whole world doesn't come grinding to a halt... UK please take note!

    03 December 2012

    First weekend in Anchorage, Alaska

    So we arrived in Anchorage Alaska on Wednesday evening.  Due to the colossal amount of luggage we were travelling with we asked nicely at the car rental desk and we lucky enough to get a free upgrade to a minivan so at least we could all travel together to the hotel.  

    Travelling light
    First impressions were it was cold!!!   Thursday was spent running errands and our first visit to the Doctor with Fiona since she arrived with a really bad cold from Bogota, we think of this as Bogota's leaving present for us.  For the UK people who are unaware cough medicine is only available as prescription here boo! however Fiona is definitely on the mend yey!  We also stopped at the Subaru dealership to look at cars and actually bought one, well tried to at least.

    Morning after breakfast

    After our breakfast trip to Ihop then a trip to find car insurance where we really got lucky,  Friday was spent looking at houses which left us a little downhearted, lots of money and not so great houses.  We followed this trip with a visit back to the car dealership where we managed to get our new car, yes you can buy a car that quickly if you are lucky and have a sales person who is willing to work on his day off.

    Saturday was more shopping, setting up a P.O. Box and looking a houses again.  We also returned the really nice purple coat we had bought for Fiona as it already had a small tear at a seam after only one day :(.  So far we have not seen any houses that meet our criteria but we shall keep looking.  With a bit of luck we will find a great house.

    Sunday we went shopping yet again but we finally think we have at least some warm weather gear that will last us a while.  We also took a trip out to Earthquake park so Fiona could throw some snow at Daddy which is one of the big things we (Amanda) have (has) been telling Fiona she will be able to do once we arrive in Anchorage.  Lucky for us Fiona really liked the snow and didn't even seem to mind the cold though that could be because she had lots of warm clothes on.  Mum and Dad only had jeans on which was big mistake :)
    getting ready to stay warm
    About as high as the sun got today
    Throwing snow at Daddy
    Snow shower
    Amanda's car,  studded tyres are an excellent addition.
    Ok that is all from me for now Amanda is now at work and Fiona is currently sleeping which is not really surprising since we had to wake her this morning before we went to breakfast.  Next week we are going on a train a train where we will probably meet Santa.... We may have even found a suitable house by then although I think I see some pigs flying by the window :)

    27 November 2012

    Leaving on a jet plane...

    Once again the Blades family are on the move, next stop Alaska.

    Packing up started on Saturday 17th November when we managed to get rid of our trees from the balcony.  We talked with the guard and he said just bring them down so we did about 11am.  By 5pm when we went out for dinner the trees had gone.   We think that one of the other apartments in the building took them but whoever did we are thankful as there was no way they would be able to travel with us.

    The next big thing was sorting out the cats.  Since we failed to realise that it  was thanksgiving (hence kennels had apparently been booked since July!) when we wanted to originally ship the cats we have had to fall back to our tertiary plan.  The cats are currently staying at Animalunos where we got Susan from.  On the 11th December Lucia will ship the cats via air freight to us in Anchorage.

    Friday, Schlumberger took the furniture which we had chosen not to buy from them, this did leave us with the situation where we once again had no furniture or Fridge and Freezer, washing machine, dryer, bed well you get the idea, it also upset Fiona her biggest issue was that we wouldn't be able to have omelette in the morning as there was no refrigerator, real first world problems :)

    We managed to get by the weekend without to many major problems.  Friday night was spent at a thanksgiving/leaving do with our friends here in Colombia hosted by the fantastic Audra and Gary Webber.
    Saturday we went out for Breakfast and started the endless task of sorting things out in our apartment.  Sunday we took our final trip to Usaquen where we (by that I mean Amanda) negotiated a favourable discount on two paintings.

    new pictures
    Monday was the day of the packing, the packers turned up at 8:30 and finally left at 17:00 after packing all our belongings.   Fiona so far has been fairly quiet although she has mentioned that the men came to pack up her toys.... we may have problems in the not to distant future since we were informed that the shipping of our items could take anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 months.

    Some of the 60 boxes of things

    Tuesday our final day in Colombia, we handed over the flat very easily.  It seemed they were impressed with the condition we had left it in so well done us. :)

    Empty Flat

    So this is my last post from Colombia now the next chapter of our lives begins so long weather like this and hello to this.  
    Bogota Weather
    Anchorage Weather

    12 November 2012

    Another Colombian holiday....

    So once again we had another holiday here in Colombia.  This one was for the independence of Cartagena which happened on the 11th November 1811.

    Since we are leaving Colombia soon we decided to head into town to see the Botero Museum which Amanda has not yet visited. Audra and Gary also joined us since they had also not visited the museum.  

    The Museum is not just Botero exhibit it has other works of art and a section on the history of money in Colombia, best of all it is free. 

    Since my photos of the art work are not so great here is the link to the google art project so you can see much more of the works I failed to take pictures of.  

    Gearing up for Christmas
    Botero work
    Fat horse
    More Botero
    Skeleton Guitar my favourite
    Colombian coins
    More coins
    Happy before lunch

    For the bathroom
    Not sure buying a Guitar was the best idea for a two year old., my ears are already hurting, see video below.  If you can't see it I think it is probably because you are using an apple product... or on a mobile device, sorry guys :(

    09 November 2012

    Alaska and the cats

    Things are progressing well for our imminent Alaska move with the only outstanding hurdle being the cats.
    Amanda and I have decided to ship the cats since wrangling baby and cats through 3 airports would be a distinct lack of fun. Stupidly we bought two hard cages during our last trip to the USA without reading the shipping regulations, these kennels are way to small, note if a cat flies as hand luggage it appears there are no issues with how small the cage you use for them is so long as it fits under the seat in front of you. 

    On realising our mistake I went about trying to source a kennel which would meet the requirements.  We ended up with this one which Ron is kindly modelling.
    Lack of ventilation
    Even though this has a meets IATA  standards on the label I am 99% sure it fails one of the first criteria.  Kennels must have ventilation on all four sides.  On realising our second mistake, trusting labels on a product you buy from Home Sentry. I set off to get hopefully kennels which meet all the requirements I found them at a store called Agrocampo, kennels were half the price of the one I bought from Home Sentry which was an added bonus.  From the kennel side all that is left is to try and get our money back from Home Sentry rather than store credit. :(

    And here are the cats trying out their transport prisons.
    Ahhh cat prison, least the doors are still open.

    So apart from the cages what is difficult about shipping the cats, well we had a plan which all fell through once people in Alaska finally decided what they were doing. 
    The plan was to send the cats slightly ahead of us and kennel them in Alaska until we arrived.  The problem was we had forgotten that it was Thanks giving the Thursday before we fly  (so it seemed had the first kennel we talked to in Anchorage) so all the kennels are fully booked.  The second issue is that the cats can't leave the day that we do incase there is no space for them and they end up having to go on the next flight.  

    The solution is having people here who are willing to help us combat this problem.  Current plan is that Ron and Susan will stay in Bogota at Animalunos until around the 12th December when our fantastic nanny Lucia will then take them to the airport for their three flight trip to meet us in Anchorage. We are currently still booking all of this so things may change as we move along, other bridges we have yet to cross is getting all of the certification sorted out but that we will leave until next week.

    04 November 2012

    Eating at Andrés Carne de Res in Chia

    So we finally managed to make it to this restaurant to have a meal.  Thanks to Audra and Gary for taking us there, definitely some of the best food we have had while in Colombia.
    Not a phone booth
    Cow Zebra - Cowbra? or Zebow?

    Andrés in Chia is a unique restaurant other words that could be used to describe it would be flamboyant, big, colourful, busy.  The restaurant will seat 3500 people, fortunately for us it was not that a busy while we were there.  Outside the restaurant there are a series of sculptures, a theme that continues inside. Once inside and after Fiona and I had our wrist bands so she didn't get lost we were taken to our table.  Menus are currently in a magazine style with over 30 pages of food and drinks options, this can make choosing something a challenge.  Lucky for me Amanda picked what we were going to have and it was fantastic.

    Gary and Audra
    Table Name

    Section of the Restaurant
    By the time we had finished eating it was starting to get dark which meant all the lights outside the restaurant were coming on, changing the dynamics of the restaurant again.

    A cow