14.12.2010 - 22.12.2010 -2 °C
As my time in Laramie draws to a close, I am trying to remember everything I have done in this past week - the list is a long one! The weather last week was great; clear skies and sun, although very cold (and going down to about -20 C some nights). The weather has closed in somewhat recently however; we had about 8 inches of snow last night and it's still falling now. I've taken this as an opportunity to update this blog and keep everyone informed of my movements over the last week.
Firstly, Tom and I went ice fishing on frozen Lake Crystal in Curt Gowdy State Park, about half way between Laramie and the state capital Cheyenne.
Tom has built his own 'ice house' out of wood and canvas, to protect against the weather on a bad day, which we dragged out onto the lake on skis. However, the sun was shining and most of the time we spent out in the open.
I caught seven fish (not bad for a first timer!) The ice was about 5 inches thick, however now and again there were very loud cracks and the ice would split a good distance. Tom assured me that it was perfectly safe, although I have to say I was a little nervous at first!
Later that day I went flying in Tom's Cessna Skyhawk. I've never flown a plane before and, with a little help, I took off, flew and landed it. The views of the Laramie Basin and surrounding Rocky Mountains were breathtaking. We flew past a few Golden Eagle nests and saw one soaring up close.
Just over the border into Colorado we got a great view of some Hoodoos (rock pillars) and, on the way back home, buzzed really close over Jan's house (well, Tom and I thought it was funny!)
(There should be some videos here - if not please see the 'Videos' section of my profile here on Travellerspoint to see them. If you still can't get them please let me know and I'll try to fix it!)
Then moved on to an old British .303 rifle made in 1941 (I was most accurate with this).
Finally, I had a go with Tom's Dad's Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum revolver (loud and very powerful!)
Tom said he was impressed with my shooting (would've passed US army weapons training, apparently - again, not bad for a first timer!)
Snow shoeing and cross-country skiing were yet more new experiences. We went up into the Medicine Bow National Forest and - for the most part - cut our own tracks in the powdery back country, exploring the silent wonderland we had entirely to ourselves.
That's one of the great things about Wyoming, it's so easy to get away from it all. On our skiing day, Tom and I stopped in the middle of the forest, built a fire and sat by it eating our lunch.
I spent most of Monday with Jan's friend's grandson, Ian. We played a bit of football (soccer) and basketball at the public recreational center. Then we went back to his house and played pool. We are roughly the same age and it was really interesting to talk about the similarities and differences between being a student here and back home in England.
Today I visited the geology museum at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
They have loads of really impressive displays of dinosaurs and other fossils - mostly discovered locally.
They have the famous Allosaurus called 'Big Al' - at home we have a video about the life of this dinosaur so it was quite a surprise to suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, meet him face to face!
(Above, Big Al and me.)
Finally, I had some great news the other morning. St. Peter's College, Oxford have offered me an unconditional place to read law, starting October 2011. I am thrilled to bits!
Tomorrow I'm getting a Greyhound bus to Denver, then a flight to Los Angeles, then a 12 hr wait (can't wait - not!), then another flight to Bogota, Comombia, then yet another flight to Santiago, Chile... A bit of a mission!!
Ok, I think that's everything... Thanks for reading - stay tuned for more!