A Mile High with Slight Altitude Sickness

Another 5 weeks in the US and the first part is a 9 day round trip starting and ending in Denver.  The start of the trip was not the best…for a variety of reasons. We also don’t normally take internal flights in US but this year was an exception.  There is a lot to cover in these 5 weeks.

Unfortunately our flight was delayed in Sydney by an hour due to traffic congestion on the runway.  That, combined with what we knew would be a long entry process in Dallas, meant we would not make our connection to Denver.  Qantas staff rearranged our Dallas to Denver flight whilst we were in the air.  We now had a 5 hours layover in Dallas airport so instead of arriving in Denver at 3.50 pm we would now arrive around 9pm.

We picked up our hire car at Denver airport, checked into our hotel in Cherry Creek, showered then found somewhere close to hotel to eat before falling into bed. I didn’t get much sleep on the 16 hour flight…I don’t sleep well in economy lol.  We’ve flown business class or premium economy for the past several years (mostly business class) and it’s very easy to get used to travelling that way.  I have decided (Ty agrees) this is the last economy flight overseas we will take. We will just have to be frugal in other ways to achieve this but achieve it we will!!

Our first day in Denver was spent meeting with friends, CA, Randy and his wife Sandy, for lunch and then shopping.  You all know I love my outlet shopping and CA also knows this.  We spent the afternoon at Castle Rock outlet centre.  I was, however, very careful to keep my hands in my pockets ….we had an internal flight to New York and our baggage allowance was 23 kgs …mine was 18kg leaving Aus.  I did very well….very proud of myself ….my purchases included a pair of Skechers and several items from the Jockey shop.

Saturday evening we had dinner with our other friends, Jackie and Chuck. So good to catch up with them.

The lovely CA picked us up again Sunday morning and we took a drive to Georgetown and Breckenridge.  Georgetown is 2,600 metres above sea level (8,530 feet) and this picturesque little town is in the Clear Creek valley.

This was a silver mining town and a camp was established in 1859.


Today historic Georgetown is a popular tourist town…..in summer months!  Not sure I’d like to visit in the winter…it would be beautiful but so cold.

After an ice cream and a little bit of people watching it was time to move on the Breckenridge. A further 300 metres higher than Georgetown at 2,900 metres (9,600 ft) above sea level. Altitude sickness was starting to kick in, sore ears, very dry throat and nose, a slight headache and a feeling of pressure and a little short of breath.  The air was very dry.  It can take 2 or  3 days to adjust to the higher altitude in Colorado… I learnt on a previous trip when we travelled to Pike’s Peak that I can’t walk as fast as I normally do or I’ll run out of oxygen and fall over at these altitudes…..without partaking in a glass of wine.  Actually you also feel the effects of just one small glass of alcohol faster at this level too.

Back to Breckenridge…this town is a very busy ski resort in the winter. When our friend, Gorging Gonz, heard where we were he told us he learnt to ski here…..many years ago.

Not surprisingly there is an oxygen bar in Breckenridge – as I mentioned above the base elevation is 2,900 metres however there is a summit elevation of almost 4000 metres (13,000 ft). I should think the oxygen bar would be very popular.  If skiing isn’t enough thrill for you there is an Alpine Coaster ride.  It has 2,500 feet of track on which a 2 seater car twists and turns around the ski slopes and through the forest. It’s open all year round.

The town was extremely busy but luckily we didn’t need to find a restaurant for lunch just a vacant park bench which, surprisingly, we found quite easily. CA had come prepared with all sorts of food for a picnic. The simplest things in life often make the best memories and this was no exception.

Why was I affected by altitude sickness? Well, our little town sits on the edge of Lake Macquarie and is listed as being 5 metres (16.4 ft) above sea level so that could have something to do with it!!

After a walk around town and a visit to the souvenir shops it was time to take the drive back to Denver via a winding mountain road where we reached 3517 metres (11,539 feet) above sea level.

Dinner in Denver tonight with CA and Jerry before we start our round trip to Rapid City, Mt Rushmore, Billings, Yellowstone National Park….or should that be Jellystone?? and back to Denver.

The mountains surrounding Denver still had snow visible on their peaks. Colorado is such a State of extremes… I found it odd that the temperature was almost 37 degrees (98) in Denver and there was still snow on those mountains. It was quite a warm day in Breckenridge as well.



We had an early start this morning…Ty woke at 2.30am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Around 3.30 he suggested we should get up and get on the road. You can guess what my reaction was can’t you? We finally left the hotel at 5.20 am precisely.


For those readers that prefer to see likes/dislikes list here it is…..

What I liked:

  • Gina from Elite Private Transfers who transported us to our airport hotel
  • Qantas rep who redid our seat allocation for us and suggested seats in the centre where the exit rows were on either side. A little extra leg room
  • catching up with good friends in Denver over lunches and dinners
  • CA for chauffeuring us around – again
  • beautiful scenery around Colorado – snow on the tops of the mountains and high 90’s below
  • Applebee’s margaritas


What I didn’t like or found disappointing:

  • on printing our boarding passes at the airport we found our pre-booked seats had been changed and we were no longer sitting together
  • flight delays
  • didn’t receive our requested upgrade to either business or premium economy
  • the family behind us with 2 children under 7 who thought it was a fun game to play chasing through our seats…stepping on our feet or jumping over our legs. I eventually became the grumpy woman and told them to stop.
  • long delays getting through customs and immigration at US airports
  • being affected by altitude sickness….very annoying
  • getting up early for the drive to Mt Rushmore