1998: American holidays, walking and avoidance tactics

Monday 21st December 1998


It is the first day of our Christmas holidays and what do we do? Book up an MOT and service for the Primera for 8 o’clock. So it was a walk home from Stacey Bushes for me as Fiona had the deserved lie in.  Back by nine with bacon rolls from the bakers shop at Heelands. What was she doing when I got back? First day of the holiday and she is marking. Apparently she couldn’t sleep in, so decided to get some out of the way. So much for romantic gestures of breakfast in bed then. As she had started she wanted a clear run of a few hours or so. I might as well go in the Micra and get some Christmas shopping done. Bottles for family, Fiona stuff bought but not written here just in case. Fi has sorted out presents for MIL and her side of family. All done within two hours and back when phone call comes through with results of MOT. All ok, just service costs and two new tyres. Fiona dropped me off and I drove it back for 3.

We have a few days before we head off to Tunbridge Wells. Nipped down to Albert at 6 for an hour or so with Ray and Andy. University Challenge at 8.30. Finished writing out cards for people we forgot and for posting tomorrow.

A fairly boring first day of the holidays. Life in 1998 was fairly boring, routine and as such we were pretty happy with our lot. We could recognise when things were not looking good and as always we tended to avoid rather than confront the problem.

5 Avoidance tactics for the Stedmans in 1998.

  • In October, Don’t’ drive to matches on the Motorway. The cars you pass will be full of students and their parents heading off to University for the first time. I would be the first to crack and this would set Fiona off. The only solution was to pull off the road, head for Little Chef and plan a different route over an Olympic Breakfast.
  • In December, go to nativity / concerts services at our schools as singles. Fiona had three the week before and I had two. If we went together it would set off the inevitable caring questioning about our sprogless existence.
  • Don’t play happy families with my family. They are all fully childrenised and understandably put their every need well to the fore. Best leave them to it. Don’t get too involved with being the uncle and auntie. Be there in the long term future but not for now. That wouldn’t be fair to the parents
  • Fill our time with activities that wouldn’t be possible with children i.e. pub, football, American Holidays etc.
  • Carol Singers / Halloween / bonfire days (It’s for the children isn’t it?) – No, no, no again, (As I type this I have been interrupted by the first and hopefully only one of the year. No doubt I will have a parent moaning at me tomorrow for sending the young beggar way with a flea in her ear)

Talking of holidays. In 1998 we returned to heading off to America for our main trip. This year was fully documented in Fiona’s diary.

Italics are diary entries, non-italic comment:-

Thu 23 July – Gatwick 12 – Houston – 8.45 Colorado Springs – Taxi – Ramada

Houston airport offered Fiona a much wanted fag break. What I remember was going from air conditioned airport to the street that was a hot and humid 35 degrees C.

Friday 24 July – McDonalds – Alamo – AAA – Country Inns – Woodland Park –  P.O. – Shopping – Hungry Bear – Swim – TV – Baseball – Pizza

We had first days down to a fine art. Get hire car, paid for at home every time, find the AAA office and get a hotel guide, find first hotel, stock up on essentials for self-catering e.g. gin, tonic, beers, wet wipes etc. Find Internet café locations and book a baseball game to watch live.

Sat 25 July – C Sp – Citadel – Big and Tall – Downtown – Thunderidge – beer – Penrose Library – Voyager! – G+T – Tres Hombres

We usually find one bar and go back regularly. Even over a couple of days it [pays to be a regular visitor. Tres Hombres was, as you might guess, a Tex-Mex bar in C Sp or Colorado Springs.

Sun 26 July – Flourisant Nat. Fossil Beds – Heritage day – Cripple Creek – City Market – Swim – Tres Hombres.

First touristy day. Pick up maps, do own guided tours, get back early evening and eat out.

Mon 27 July– Alamosa – St Ives Pub – NCS – Durango BW G+T on Balcony – Downtown – Carvers B Brewery – Shops

Driving day – get large distances in one day but arrive early enough to get motel and find a bar. Even better to find a brewery bar.

Tue 28 July – Forest Ranger Station – Stonehouse subs – Hermosa Creek Trail – Washing – G+T on balcony – Lady Falconburg Trolley bus – Rodeo

Walking day – using maps bought downtown yesterday. Rodeo was a very tourist trap evening event. Pretty naff.

Wed 29 July – Mesa Verde via Marcos – “Bean Here” – Balcony House Museum – Petroglyph Trail – G+T on balcony – L F;s

Brilliant self-guided trail.

Thu 30 July – Billion Dollar Highway – Silverton – Ouray – Telluride – Manitou Lodge – B+B – Town – Flora Doras – lunch – Doss – Pizza and Beer  (Baked on T)- Baseball

Long drive to Telluride. I loved these days but need regular stops to stretch. Baseball would be on the TV. The motel in Telluride would probably be my favourite hotel location ever. Full stop. End of story  No competition. The best.

A week into a holiday we were now pretty relaxed and for a moment very very happy. To get to the point of dossing, reading and remembering doing nothing is so rare that is sticks in my mind. I can name three points in my life when I was totally happy. They are August 10th 1985 in Tunbridge Wells; 30th July 1998 in Telluride; and 6th August 2003 in Bandon Oregon

Fri 31 July – Bear Creek Trail – Butty from Deli downstairs – Shopping – Gondola – Mt Village Internet Café – Doss – Fat Alley – Beer at Last Dollar Saloon

Deli to stock up on lunchtime sandwich. Gondola to take out the uphill strain. Long walk between pistes and off trail, generally heading downhill. Finish at a café / bar. Perfect.

Sat 1 August – Rain a.m. – Mong in town – Jazz in park – Butty 8D – San Miguel River Walk – Internet shock! – Gin and baseball – Lasagne and Calzone

The internet check would be around getting Rovers scores. The stroll involved chatting with locals and sitting in park just listening to music.

Sunday 2 August – Gondola – St Sophia Walk – Prospect Basin Trail – Mt, Village – SM River walk – Elk Park – Coffee and read – Romas – Baseball – G and beer

More relatively easy walking along river valleys and up to the tree line.

Mon 3 August – Grand Junction – V Centre – French? – C Inns of America – Downtown – Rockslide – sleep – swim – drive – city – M Bread and Cheese

Move to Grand Junction. Rockslide became bar of choice in next few days.

Tue 4 August – Arches Nat park – Moab Park Avenue – Windows – Turret – Delicate – Skyline – Landscape – Appleby’s –  Chinese take away – Beer and G+T

National Parks in America are super organised and the Rangers do an excellent job in getting info for people like us who like to guide ourselves.

Wed 5 August – Denny’s – Colorado National Monument – Rockslide – G.J’s – Internet – sleep – read

Thu 6 August – Vail – Lodge at Lionshead – Hubcap – Town – Betty Ford’s Alpine Gardens – Lionshead – washing – Hubcap – Walk around town

We returned in other years to Vail and the Lionshead. The advantage of ski resorts in summer is the price of rooms. The gardens were pretty boring but we needed a bit of a quiet afternoon.

Fri 7 August – Safeway – Piney River walk – Gore m/s bag – Safeways – swim and read – Hubca

More walking with self-made picnic

Sat 8 Aug – Lie in – Internet – (2:1) – Crazy Golf – Verbatim bookshop – Read on balcony – Hubcap – Coffee on balcony – Voyager

Sun 9 Aug – Safeways – Dillon – Internet – Dillon Marina – Lunch – walk Shrine Pass – Safeways – swim – Hubcap

Mon 10 Aug – Denver – BW DTC – Lunch at Walnut Brewery – Doss – LoDo – 16th Street – Rockbottom – Thunderstorm – Rockies 6 Montreal 2

Final stop is here in Denver. Arrival to coincide with baseball game. This was almost washed out by storm but delayed a few hours. BW would be a Best Western Hotel

Tue 11 Aug – Breakfast in bed – Denver Zoo – Cultural Connection trolley – State Capitol – Internet at Tattered Covers – 1-1 L Orient – Wynkoop Brewing Co, – Bus back- baseball

Wed 12 Aug – Park Meadows – Gordon’s Suitcase – Jason’s Deli – Cherry Tree Park – Beach – swim – pack – Walnut Street Brewery – baseball

Thu 13 Aug – To Colorado Springs – 11.40 Houston – 3.40 – London

The record of American trips were:-

1990 New England

1991 California

1992 Chicago to Dallas via New Orleans Road trip

1993 Colorado, Montana and Wyoming

1995 Colorado and Arizona

1998 Colorado

2000 New England

2002 Seattle and Washington

2003 Portland and Oregon coast

Some photos of the 1998 trip.


Fiona being dragged against her will to yet another Brewery


Arches National Park


On the search for another Geographical feature


Typical hiking pose


G and T on the balcony


View from Motel balcony in Telluride


Mesa Verde National Park



Rockies Baseball

On the teaching side Fiona was looking to move school. She was being encouraged to go for senior teacher jobs in other schools in Milton Keynes. If ever there was a reluctant applicant it was Fiona and she would return happy to have found a reason not to accept the job or even better not be offered it. Wendover House was ticking along for me. I was a little worried about the regularity that teachers and care staff were being given gardening leave while investigations were being carried out. Even more worrying was that I was asked to take on the Union Reps role at the school. I was happy to do so but it was soon followed by a casual comment from the head as to what a brilliant reference I would get should I look for a post elsewhere. So it was that I looked to move on and applied for my next job at Lealands.

The job as advertised as usual in the Times Educational Supplement. It was described as a Social Inclusion Manager post. I visited the school and it was quite clear that they had money for a new post but absolutely no idea as to what the role would be or who should apply. At the first interview they decided not to appoint anyone. The local authority representative was, like me, pretty unhappy with their disorganisation. A few weeks later I was asked to reapply for the post. They now knew what was wanted. Moreover, my new best mate, Chris Ginns was willing to spend the time discussing with me exactly what I thought the role would involve. There was of course no guarantee of a job but a second interview session ended with me being appointed to the post and we had the summer of 1999 to decide what it would involve. I had a job and I was genuinely excited by the prospect. So 1998 was in hindsight a pretty good year for me.

On this day:-

1991       Bristol City H 3-2

1996       Wycombe H 3-4

2001       Swansea A 1-2

2002       Cambridge A 1-3

2006   HOSPITAL Heart Attack Wycombe Hospital

2013       Portsmouth H 2-0

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