Colorado, Go west

Heading south from Denver – Twin Lakes, Colorado

Sandy and I left on our latest big adventure on Saturday, May 11. My cousin Cherie picked us up at the airport in Denver and we went straight across the Front Range through the lingering snow showers to Leadville, then to Twin Lakes, Colorado where we stayed at the Twin Lakes Inn and Saloon, which has been in some business or another (stagecoach stop, brothel, saloon, hotel) since 1879. This was a worthwhile stop and I would love to stay here again. The owner was friendly, the history was fascinating, the rooms were comfortable, and the food was expensive but excellent. The view was worth the stay by itself.

Some of these photos were taken by Cherie.

In the morning, we woke up to more snow on the ground. It wasn’t a problem, though, and we headed on down the road toward New Mexico.

The next two photos were taken on Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado.

Next stop: Aztec National Monument, New Mexico.

Colorado, Florrisant Fossil Beds National Monument, National Parks and Monuments

Colorado, Part III: Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, etc.

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That morning we went to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and saw the petrified stumps of ancient redwood trees. We walked the trails a little. They were gentle. It was a gorgeous day. We were disappointed that we couldn’t pick up fossils, but I guess that’s why it is protected with national monument status. There are many great examples of insect and plant fossils in the visitors’ center.

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Stopped for scenic photo shoots along the road, including an old mine site. There is still plenty of gold being mined up on those hilltops.

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This looks like an oil painting to me:

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Those vistas. Those skies.

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On the way back we stopped at Manitou Springs again and had coffee and walked through several shops and galleries. A beautiful little town, although the parking situation is extremely frustrating there.

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The next morning our flight was delayed and so we went back to Boulder and had brunch at an excellent farm-to-table vegetarian restaurant, Leaf. After we got to the airport, our flight was delayed two more times, and we didn’t get home until 1 a.m. I don’t think that we are going to fly on Frontier any more, although they did give us each a food voucher for $10 at the airport and a $50 credit for flying with them again. Maybe, I don’t know.

Now I’m back home thinking about views like this. But home is good. I like home, too.

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Colorado, critters

Colorado, Part II: Cripple Creek

Early afternoon saw us on the road to Cripple Creek, Colorado with a stop for Mediterranean food in Manitou Springs. We fed a friendly little squirrel pumpkin seeds and saw an elk doe and two fawns on the way.

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Once we got there we checked into Cripple Creek Hospitality House, which turned out not only to be inexpensive and historic but fascinating and beautifully decorated as well. It was the former Teller County Hospital, built in 1901. All the rooms had names of the former use of the room. For example, the room on the left in the photo below had “Quarantine” on the door. Guess I’m glad I didn’t have that room!

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Cherie and I drove and walked around Cripple Creek later that evening, but not much was open other than the casinos, and we don’t gamble. We had a light dinner at an Irish pub that had no stout (!!!) and my food was awful so I won’t mention its name. We did go into the Brass Ass Casino, where they had actual human interaction with roulette and blackjack and craps and that was fun to watch. The other casinos seemed to be only machines, which I find very sad. We saw a skunk run into an abandoned building. We loved the colors and styles of the small turn-of-the-century houses.

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The big animal highlight was the herd of donkeys wandering around town. They are descendants of the old mine donkeys, and they are very well taken care of. They could be a little aggressive if you had something that they liked to eat.

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We ate lunch at the Red Rooster bar in the Imperial Hotel, which is haunted. That is the ghost of Sandy photobombing Aunt Delaine and me. The other ghost, George, was not around. Which was just fine with me.

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Colorado

Colorado – Part I, Boulder

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View of downtown Denver as we flew in

Going to Colorado to see my aunt and cousin and doing a bit of sightseeing has become an annual event for me. I love Colorado and its climate and its beauty and its skies and its mountains and its rivers and its plains. I’ve never been there except in June and September, so I’ll admit that I’ve probably seen it at its best.

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This time we came in late on a weeknight so we took a bus to Boulder and stayed at an AirBNB hosted by an astrophysicist who was the most helpful, accommodating, interesting host I’ve ever had. We took her out for a late dinner, ate breakfast with her, and she and I really connected over early morning coffee. She walked with us halfway to downtown, and explained the way that the sun’s image is projected through the leaves in a tree (or other small spaces) onto the sidewalk, much like a pinhole camera. The round spots are images of the sun.

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Then we walked down to the Pearl St. Mall and moseyed around the shops. I bought a used copy of Frederick Franck’s Art As a Way: A Return to the Spiritual Roots. We had a drink at Foolish Craig’s, where I got this random photo of the ceiling. The phone camera was on the bar pointing at the ceiling and I happened to notice that it had captured something that I like a lot:

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We tried to go back for a meal on Sunday but they were too crowded. Downtown Boulder has lovely gardens, fun statues and shops, and art deco architecture.

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I wish that Boulder and the general area was not so expensive…I would move there in a minute if I could afford it.

Later we both had a grilled peach stout at West Flanders Brewing, then we took a bus to Broomfield where we joined our family for dinner for my cousin’s birthday and stayed at my aunt’s apartment that night and the following morning. (See next post.)

Colorado

Visiting family in Colorado

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^^^My cousin volunteers at a bird of prey rescue and rehabilitation center. It is not open to the public but we were allowed to quietly visit some of the areas and see eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, and one turkey vulture. Adam, the bald eagle in the top photo, is an education bird and whistles and chirps adorably when humans call his name. He wouldn’t pose for me, though! The birds have long enclosures where they can practice flying and hunting safely before they are released to the wild again.

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^^^On Friday, my aunt, cousin, and I went to the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings Museum, where Anasazi cliff dwellings were removed from McElmo Canyon and relocated by train and rebuilt brick by brick between 1904 and 1907. This was just before the 1906 Antiquities Act was passed by Congress and Mesa Verde was protected as a national park. The purpose was to preserve them from destruction.

Before that we ate some of the best Middle Eastern food I’ve ever eaten on Manitou Avenue at the Heart of Jerusalem Cafe.

My cousin drove us home through the mountains near Pike’s Peak which was a beautiful drive. We got to see the incredible destruction of the huge Medano fire in this area which began when Sandy and I visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park on the other side of the range in 2010. I should have taken photos but I didn’t.

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^^^On Saturday, Sept. 17 we went to Longmont, Colorado where we ate lunch at this incredible French bistro and shopped at the adjoining shop. They are located in a former power station built in 1931. Beautiful renovation! We enjoyed walking through downtown for a bit and I looked at the different Craftsman style houses in a couple of neighborhoods to get ideas for painting our house.

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^^^Saturday night my cousin and I went to hear her husband Kenny Perkins and band play at the 20 Mile Tap House in Parker. This couple got up close and personal – they seriously dug the guitar solo. We danced and had a great time.

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^^^Views of the Front Range to help with future artwork. The moon was huge on Saturday night, and hung over the mountains every morning.