Boulder, Colorado, Covid and a New Entry Port

But the Colorado Rocky Mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
The shadow from the starlight
Is softer than a lullaby
Rocky Mountain high
Rocky Mountain high

From Rocky Mountain High – Written by John Denver and Mike Taylor

A view of Wonderland Lake up to the foothills

If you have ever walked in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado you will understand why this song touches the heart; Sadly John Denver died in 1997, aged 53 in a crash while piloting his own light plane. Fittingly, his ashes are scattered in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. There is a school of thought that the songwriters were suggesting a Rocky Mountain high is more than breathing cool mountain air and gasping at stunning vistas. Either way I don’t think it really matters. Maybe it is fitting that Colorado became, along with Washington the first states in the country to legalise the recreational use of November 2012.

We are privileged, again, to be in Boulder, Co. with Tammy and Glenn and enjoying the unbridled passion of Pippa, Seb and Jess. Seb has just graduated Elementary School from Grade 5 and next school year joins Pippa at Centennial Middle School. Jess continues on at Foothill Primary. They live on Wonderland Lake in Foothill (self-explanatory), Boulder. We are 40 minutes’ drive from Denver.

Seb, in the Rockies foothills enjoying a view of the Flatirons. And yes, he is a soccer player

Travelling in the Covid era has its challenges. Entering the US is relatively simple. New Zealand passport holders need an ESTA or US visa which is easily obtained on-line for USD 14. Got that. Fully vaccinated? Got that. Negative Covid test? We spent our last week before departure in Sydney walking on eggshells. Every person we met or walked nearby was “the devil” – a potential Covid shedder. Should we hug our grandkids when they came home from school? Then where, how to get a test? US regulations stipulate the test must be taken within 24 hours of entering the country. How can we do that when the flight is 15 hours followed by 7 hours transit in Vancouver Airport. The problem was solved by the time differential. We left Sydney on the 25th May. We arrived in Denver on the 25th May. Finally jetlag has its uses. We had heard all the horror stories – tests not accepted, test results not arrived on time and people being turned away at the boarding gate. In the end it was all quite simple. A test (yahoo negative) and a bit of paper work. Canada has just advised no test required but we were in transit anyway.

On our previous trips to the USA we had always entered at Los Angeles. This time we entered via Vancouver. Make no mistake – LA airport is a shithole. It is big, crowded and dirty. Entering the US via US customs is an hour plus ordeal alongside a thousand other tired and crotchety travelers. Once the on-line kiosk sign in is finished you are subjected to a 10 minute grilling of finger printing and questions that make it plainly obvious the officer does not believe a word you say. Then a final sneer, a stamp and you are in. And the airport configuration is always changing. That terminal you are looking for where you caught the shuttle to Denver last time? Now somewhere else. It takes an hour of walking, searching and backache to get where you need to go. The concourse is a mass of moving people and cars. Taxis and buses are everywhere, ushers screaming, horns honking. It is sensory overload. And try finding anything but a burger or a taco to eat. Vancouver airport by contrast was a breeze. We entered the US customs area with, hey, no others. Chatted with a pleasant customs officer who attempted to be stern then stamped our passports with a flourish and sent us on our way with a smile and a “don’t overstay your visas”. So worth the extra two hours flight time.

The Rocky Mountain range has its origin in northern British Columbia in Canada and meanders some 4,800 kms to peter out in New Mexico in the southern USA. We had picked a window seat for the three-hour flight from Vancouver to Denver and the flight route was effectively along the mountains’ western slopes. We had a spectacular view of the rugged snow-covered tops through the clouds nearly all the way before arriving at the brown wheat growing plains of Colorado that surround Denver. And then we were out and into the heaving mass of people that is Denver airport. Denver airport is unusual in that it has one terminal that houses both international and domestic flights. It is quite unusual sitting at a gate for passengers to Los Angeles alongside one for London. We had a happy reunion with Tammy, Seb and Pippa at the baggage claim then took Highway 36 then a drive up Broadway and onto Wonderland Hill. It felt a bit like coming to a second home.

Downtown Denver Co.
Back in my happy place

3 thoughts on “Boulder, Colorado, Covid and a New Entry Port

  1. Looking good…enjoy your time in Colorado. We love exploring the area around Boulder when visiting Bernard’s brother.


  2. Hello Mike, Margaret,
    Your description of Los Angeles airport is almost to die of laughter! I imagine a poor Frenchman arriving there and not mastering the language… Just one question: why under the “Helping hands cannabis” panel you have one hand behind and the other closed…
    Enjoy your trip.


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