Written by aboutthatplace on 26 Sep, 2010
DAY THREEExhausted from the long drive of yesterday we decided to simply enjoy the lake. First, we sipped coffee from the deck with the mist rising into the tall pines as we read the news. Next, we plopped down with books on our…Read More
DAY THREEExhausted from the long drive of yesterday we decided to simply enjoy the lake. First, we sipped coffee from the deck with the mist rising into the tall pines as we read the news. Next, we plopped down with books on our deck, then lunch still overlooking the lake, and a walk next to the waters. Dinner was take-out from Schank House Bar & Grill (17460 County Road 501, Bayfield). Juliana’s grilled chicken salad was a delight, but my "broasted" chicken was fried well but bland. I fired up the laptop to begin my IgoUgo article, and opened the bottle of white Colorado wine, a Gewurztraminer from Cottonwood Cellars. Halfway through the article, and the nearly too-sweet bottle of wine, Juliana asked "I wonder if they use local water on the grape vines?" I pondered the amount of silver iodide now in my wine glass.DAY FOURAwaking early, we herded sheep. Technically, on our way into town, just a few miles from the cabin, we became part of a herd being led from their summer pasture to their winter grazing fields. For a few moments we thought we were in Scotland as herders tried to clear a path for our car.Sheep-free, we headed back to Durango to stroll the Animas River Trail, which is a hard-surface trail running seven miles to the south from 32nd Ave. and E. 2nd Ave. The trail crosses much of the city, through parks and across five bridges, one of which is an old footbridge relocated from nearby Smelter Mountain.After fortifying ourselves with another French lunch (see my note on Jean Pierre’s Bakery earlier) we tried to locate a Colorado ghost town - I am a big ghost town fan. The town was named La Plata. Here’s how to find it: Take 160 (also called the Navajo Trail) north out of Durango, past Hesperus into the San Juan National Forest. Turn right on county road 124. Look for two sign postings down in a small dip to the right of the road. You’ve missed it if the road turns into a teeth-rattling rut. Two wheel drive is okay to get to the ghost town, but to go further, you will need four-wheel drive. (Which we had but there’s no way we were going much further.) Do not try this in winter! Also, please remember that this is bear country. They can and will tear apart your car to find food. There are no disposal units so its best to eat lunch in town.Like many Western towns, La Plata was established due to gold, which was first discovered in the area in 1775 by a Spanish explorer, Juan de Rivera. The town sprang up a hundred years later when a larger gold vein was located. By the early 1900s the gold, and some silver, mining was in decline. One mine, the Bessie G, remained open until 1955. Now, the only remains of the town are the two posted signs explaining the history of La Plata. (La Plata is also the name of a river and a mountain peak nearby).On your return from the ghost town, you’ll pass a large stream on one side and a decent-sized waterfall on the other. It’s the perfect place to play for an afternoon. Close
We awoke to drizzle, which became rain quickly so we opted to take a drive around Vallecito Lake. Within a mile or two we were dismayed to discover that the pine beetles, which were destroying the Rockies, had also infested this area. To…Read More
We awoke to drizzle, which became rain quickly so we opted to take a drive around Vallecito Lake. Within a mile or two we were dismayed to discover that the pine beetles, which were destroying the Rockies, had also infested this area. To add to the problems, the lake had been reduced by a third. Large stretches of muck took up miles of shoreline and the marina was now stranded inland.Apparently, low water levels have plagued the lake for several years. In early 2008 three agencies partnered up with the idea to "seed" the clouds. Basically a minute amount of silver iodide is sprayed across a propane flame which helps the particles to rise into the clouds where it causes moisture to freeze, forming ice crystals. With any luck these crystals fall over the southwest Colorado area as snow.Silver Iodide is also used in photography for processing and in antiseptic medicines. Approximately 50,000 kiligrams a year are used for rainmaking in the U.S. Under the guidelines of the Clean Water Act by the EPA, silver iodide is considered a hazardous substance, a priority pollutant, and as a toxic pollutant. After some research it appears that cloud seeding may -- or may not -- work, and may -- or may not -- be harmful to the environment.Next, we headed towards Durango, a city much larger than anticipated (population 15,501). Originally, we thought the city a wash as we ran into quite the construction mess and took a detour seemingly to nowhere. Finally, after several circles and backtracking we found the visitors center where an elderly gentleman directed us to the "historic area" where all of the shops and restaurants are located (roughly Main to 3rd and College to 9th. On a sidenote: there are numbered streets running east to west and north to south.). I also grabbed a handful of brochures and maps.Scanning our literature we decided that there wasn’t much to do in Durango on a rainy day with two small dogs. We opted to find a take-out lunch and eat it at a park. Main Avenue is a wonderful area in which to locate amazing restaurants, cafes and Mexican eateries, a pub and steakhouse all line up to offer great cuisine. I chose to run into Jean Pierre’s Bakery & Wine Bar (601 Main Ave.) While I was awaiting our order, my better half stayed in the car with the dogs to browse through maps to find us a lovely park (Buckley Park, down the street on Main) in which to picnic in the car.When we return to Durango next, we’ve found our spot. Jean Pierre’s truly French cuisine was divine. I had hot piping hot tomato-Chevre soup and one of the best ham quiches that I’ve ever sunk my teeth into. My better half had the veggie sandwich. She cooed over the croissant. For dessert, both a lemon and chocolate tart. We were fully satisfied. She had also found a scenic drive nearby called the "Million Dollar Highway" or route 550 from Silverton to Ouray. It roughly runs parrellel with the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for 25 miles. The original road was built as a toll road in 1883 by Otto Mears. In the early 1920s the road was rebuilt under the federal highway system. The nickname allegedly stems from the fact that it took a million dollars to build or another legend claims that the road was built with fill dirt containing gold ore.The highway passes through an area known as the "Switzerland of America" and was the backdrop for such John Wayne films as "True Grit" and "How the West was Won". It passes over three 10,000+ foot peaks with nary a guardrail and numerous "S" curves. Many of the brochures state simply: "Bring a camera." I would add, "Bring nerves of steel."The fall foliage report states that we are passing through the area at 30% change in Aspens. (The peak of change should occur within the next few days). The result are bursts of yellow, orange and red popping out of the forest of pines. This is intermixed with gurgling mineral springs which change the color of the streams to yellow, decaying mining implements and structures and waterfalls too numerous to count (we stopped at 20).We turn around in Ouray, a Victorian town restored to its mining boom glory after stopping in Mouse’s Chocolates (520 Main St.) for something to nibble on, and rich, creamy cocoa. You can watch truffles being made by hand, and for chocolate lovers, this is a must stop. (Try the toffee-covered chocolates).Then, back towards Red Mountain, which are actually three peaks covered in reddish iron ore. The change of direction revealed a whole new vista of views. The Million Dollar Highway is part of the San Juan Highway System and if you have time to drive the entire 236-mile loop, we recommend driving from Ouray to Silverton.One of the highlights of the trip was a family of deer crossing the highway. I pulled the car over and grabbed the camera to gently slide out for a few photos -- hopefully. I scared the leader back towards the woods for a moment. Then, he stepped forward, watched me and approached the road again. No one was coming so he bounded across, followed by a doe and youngster. All of this occurred just yards away.As we made our way back to the cabin, we stopped at Honeyville (33633 Hwy 550, Durango). Since 1918 they have been producing honey, jams, syrups and chocolates mixed with honey, as well as honey wine, beauty products and candles. Their bumbleberry (a mixture of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries) jam with honey is delicious.Once back to the cabin we opened the "King Arthur" honey wine (or mead) made by the Meadery of the Rockies. The wine was to offer an aroma of wildflowers, the taste was of orange blossoms and honeysuckle and the finish dry. At least thats what we were supposed to feel (according to one wine magazine) but we never could decide what food to serve it with or if we actually liked it. Instead, we toasted a spectacular sunset over the lake from our porch. Close
A couple of weeks ago we explored the Rocky Mountains, and, at a friends suggestion, decided to also take in the scenery around the Durango and Vallecito Lake area. This time we had four full days, and the same two small dogs.The northward drive…Read More
A couple of weeks ago we explored the Rocky Mountains, and, at a friends suggestion, decided to also take in the scenery around the Durango and Vallecito Lake area. This time we had four full days, and the same two small dogs.The northward drive to Colorado from our Santa Fe home was spent mostly on the rolling route 84. It was a much more scenic option than the I-25 we traversed last time. And, just over the border we got our first glimpse of the craggy peaks and pine forests broken up by alpine meadows dotted with purple and white flowers.Looming overhead are unusual rock formations, one of the most bizarre being Chimney Rock, located within the San Juan National Forest and Southern Ute Indian Reservation. Roughly a thousand years ago the Pueblo Indians created permanent structures (totalling 200 individual rooms) and a couple of dozen work camps around the twin spires. The Chacoan-style Great House atop the Chimney Rock’s high mesa is thought to have been constructed to take full advantage of the lunar cycles. Every 18.6 years (the last was 2007) the moon rises between the dual rock formations.For lunch we stopped at the first restaurant coming into Pagosa Springs, Junction Family Dining at 401 E. Pagosa Street. My burger and fries were barely average, and my better half’s club sandwich was soggy. The waitress was distracted or hated her job, we couldn’t decide. The only positive was that they allowed dogs on their deck. Our Westie would like to note that my taste buds are "undeveloped" when it comes to burger.In Bayfield, as recommended by the owner of the cabin that we rented, we stocked up on supplies. Either right next door or across the street (E. Colorado Drive) are the grocery, bakery, gourmet and butcher shop, and wine/liquor store. The last stop before heading towards the lake was the wine shop. I was curious about Colorado’s wines and inquired about which was best to the clerk. Unenthusied, she replied, "Colorado has a growing wine industry. Any is as good as the other." I selected one of each to test her theory later.We checked in and received keys to our cabin. What a splendid view from the deck. We could look right down at the rippling waters, and across to the pine-covered mountains. Then we discovered the usual "dog friendly" cabin cycle. The cabins are erected as "luxury" cabins, a decade later they are rented as "rustic" for a couple of decades, then for forty years, or until a land developer comes along, the cabin is rented to dog lovers. Inside I discovered the flooring, faux paneling and kitchen cabinets from Grandma’s 1974 mobile home. We were surprised that this cabin lacked a fireplace because when you think of a mountain cabin that’s the first amenity which pops into mind. More startling was the nearly-obsolete stove and gurgling toilet. We’d make do. They did allow dogs, which was wonderful as the "heated" cabins had their heat supplied by one small plug-in heater which you had to stand nearby to feel anything. The dogs became foot warmers once we went to bed.That night for dinner we did manage to make a pasta feast on the two-burner stove. To accompany we opened up the "table red" from Plum Creek. I endorse the clerk’s statement about Colorado wines. Close
Written by aboutthatplace on 07 Sep, 2010
The Continental Divide runs through the middle of the Rocky Mountain National Park, creating two distinct climates, and is home to seven large mammals, countless birds (including eagles) and an abundance of wildflowers. That’s all we needed to read before deciding to become…Read More
The Continental Divide runs through the middle of the Rocky Mountain National Park, creating two distinct climates, and is home to seven large mammals, countless birds (including eagles) and an abundance of wildflowers. That’s all we needed to read before deciding to become one of the 2.9 million visitors this year.We got up before the roosters -- why, I’m not sure, other than my family has done this for three generations -- to start our road trip. By the time the sun awoke, we were crossing from Northern New Mexico into Colorado. We discovered that this is where the deer and the antelope play. Hundreds of antelopes took over the hills, grazing casually, sometimes intermixed with cattle, a close cousin.At a rest area just over the border, we got out with our two dogs to stretch our legs. We surveyed the land, now transforming from high desert into mountains. I counted six types of wildflowers along the sidewalk alone.That night we settled into our cabin near Allenspark. It was rustic to say the least, but what can you expect from a last minute, dog-friendly reservation on Labor Day weekend? We were relieved to find no cell coverage or television, just books and WiFi. We satisfied our hunger with hot dogs, watermelon and a crisp, lively Pinot Gris.The next morning we were also up early. In the communal area the hosts -- a young, friendly couple -- provided breakfast, which more than made up for the simple accommodations. We stuffed ourselves with strawberry, banana and peanut butter burritos. Hearty and sweet. (Sunshine Mountain Lodge, 18078 Colorado 7, Lyons)Trail Ridge Road: BYOBPB... Bring Your Own Brown Paper Bag.It seems that when a road is labeled "scenic," it also means death-defying. This is the case with Trail Ridge Road, 54 miles of winding asphalt which begins at Estes Park and ends at Grand Lake, providing you make it that far. The beginning is easy with meadows and small lakes. Then the climb to the twin passes starts. Don’t ever think that you’ll reach the speed limit of 35 m.p.h. At times we crawled along at 15 m.p.h., and not because of the traffic -- there were no guard rails. On one side the road simply drops away. Because this is a National Park I doubted that there were little white crosses below. We continued our praying.Up we climbed across the Continental Divide (10,758 feet) and Fall River Pass (11,796 feet) and onwards to Iceberg Pass (11,827 feet) where there was a high wind advisory. Yes, it was white knuckles on the wheel, as the road on both sides plunged straight down and the wind whipped around the tiny car. We felt so temporary and miniscule compared to this mountain that could kick our butt six different ways.There were several pull-offs for us to regain our nerves, and we ended the drive at a stunningly beautiful lake. This also gave us the time to find a different route than US 34. No way should this be tried twice in one day.Once safely down the mountain we discussed the seasonal changes of the Rockies. Nearly half of the trees were brown or some shade of gold and orange. We thought that this was peculiar as we didn’t believe that pine trees were anything but green. Indeed not. We saw a sign describing "pine beetles". We had noted that nearly half of the trees on one side of a mountain were brown, and there were large patches of brown scattered amongst the other mountains. Pine beetles have infected the largest area in history throughout the Rockies. In 2006 they killed a million acres of trees but spread in 2008 to double that size, and this year they are predicted to double the size again.These pests dig into the bark of pines where they spend the winter, then grow up to 7 mm long by spring. In early summer they leave their tunneled out nests to fly to new trees. Some experts have predicted that Colorado’s mature trees will be eliminated within five years. The priniciple means of controlling the pests is removal of dead trees and prescribed burns. The result is piles and piles of brown, decaying pine trees. Worrisome to say the least.Grand LakeFor 10,000 years Native Americans visited "Spirit" Lake (attributed to a mythical buffalo) seasonally. In a particularly gruesome episode in of history, a war party made up of Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians ambushed a hunting and fishing party of Ute Indians. As the warriors defended their village, Ute woman and children boarded rafts to row to the center of the lake. Instead of finding safety, a gust of wind tipped over the rafts and they all drowned. For years, Ute warriors saw their ghostly figures dance across the blue waters.Then, as was common in the American west, French trappers discovered the abundance of animals in the area. This led to a large number of midwesterners settling onto the land, and huge parties (100+ members) of European hunters slaughtering the herds of deer and wildlife which grazed the area. By the 1870s both gold and silver set off a mining boom. A permanent settlement of Grand Lake (city) sprung up, though the mines went bust by the 1880s. Now, its home to 60 shops, restaurants and galleries. I recommend finding Bears Den & Paw Pub, located on the main strip at 612 Grand Ave. Grab some sandwiches (their French Dip is one of the best that I’ve encountered) and continue along the shoreline towards a chain of lakes. Between Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Gramby there are numerous pull offs and each has a spectacular view. Perfect for lunch. If you can find it, try Boylan’s Birch Beer. Since 1891, this tiny, local soda company has been producing this reddish root beer.Union ReservoirThe next day we opted for something easier, a picnic by Union Reservoir. There weren’t as many photo opportunities, but we didn’t need a brown paper bag to breathe into either.The last ice age dug out Calkins Lake, one of the few natural lakes within Colorado. In 1903 a tunnel was drilled, releasing some of its water into St. Vrain river, forming Union Reservoir. The reservoir is located seven miles west of I-25, in Longmont.This crystal clear reservoir is managed beautifully. Everyone has their own little spot -- from a beach, to marina and off-leash dog area -- complete with bathrooms, snack bar, picnic benches, parking lot and a small fee of $8 per car. Oh, and for the fishermen, wipers, walleyes, gizzard shad and catfish are regularly caught here. (Note: no campfires or grills allowed).As we packed up the car the next morning to head back to reality, we realized that our time was far too short. We promised to come back again, and as I looked up to pitch the last piece of luggage into the trunk, a moose stood chewing his cud just beyond our cabin. He watched me as I watched him. He seemed reluctant to move on, as were we. Close
Written by whenilk38 on 13 Jan, 2010
Today I only did one sightseeing activity, but it was the "ultimate Trip" for this whole itinerary. Imagine riding on the world's biggest and scariest roller coaster, and you might come close to this, but not quite close enough. I drove up to…Read More
Today I only did one sightseeing activity, but it was the "ultimate Trip" for this whole itinerary. Imagine riding on the world's biggest and scariest roller coaster, and you might come close to this, but not quite close enough. I drove up to the summit of Mount Evans on the highest paved road in the USA. It was fourteen miles of two-lane road with no guardrails, numerous blind hairpin turns, and bicyclists competing with the automobiles. Around every turn was a new surprise. sunday is probably not the best day to drive to the summit, as there is more traffic than on any other weekday. I won't even attempt to name all the peaks and lakes and such in the photos, but most of the mountains in the area are over 10,000 feet high, and I was looking down at them. After all, the summit of Mount Evans is 14,164 feet above sea level, 54 feet higher than Pikes Peak. It was a cloudy day on the mountain, and there was some rain and light snow as I reached the higher elevation. In a few breaks in the clouds, Denver was visible in the distance forty or so miles away. About halfway up the mountain is a parking area for Summit Lake Park. There are hiking trails down to the frigid lake, and it is situated in a mountain bowl that towers over the surface. Oh, I should mention that the parking lot is not paved, so the going can get rough in there. Summit lake is a photographers dream, and it is seen in many ads and other media where an alpine setting is called for. I'm not sure where the name for the lake came from, since it is nowhere near the summit of Mount Evans.There were signs at the parking area at the top of Mount Evans warning of altitude sickness, dizziness and worse. I thought it more appropriate to post those signs at the beginning of the road rather than at the top. I did feel dizzy and short of breath, so I took it slow and easy on the descent, and stopped often for pictures.Overall, I'd say Mount Evans is the pinnacle (pardon the pun) of John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" for the feeling of exhilaration it gave me every moment I was on that road. I hated to have to leave. I hope you have enjoyed the descriptions and the pictures. They were taken with a simple point-and-shoot Kodak camera, but I can’t say enough about how good they turned out. If you have any plans to travel the route I took, I hope you will do as I did, and use computer aids like Google Earth to scope out the sights to be seen. I couldn’t have done half of the things I did without the advance planning I did. As for me, I’m already planning my trip next summer. I think I’ll travel around Lake Michigan with emphasis on the Upper Peninsula and stops at every lighthouse I can find. I like lighthouses anyway, and there are about a hundred on that lake alone. Close
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 19 Jun, 2008
Before leaving Idaho, I spoke with David, one of my co-workers in the Electrical Department about our trip cross-country. When I mentioned we were staying in Amarillo, Texas on our third night on the road, David asked me which route we were taking.…Read More
Before leaving Idaho, I spoke with David, one of my co-workers in the Electrical Department about our trip cross-country. When I mentioned we were staying in Amarillo, Texas on our third night on the road, David asked me which route we were taking. I told him we were connecting onto US 87 somewhere in Colorado and going into northern Texas from there, but David said US 287 into Northern Texas via Raton, New Mexico was a better route. After work that day, I checked out David's suggestion in my road atlas and decided that would be our Day 3 route cross-country. Best to take advice from someone who lived in Northern Texas like David.
Mom and I got a later start on Day 3 because we needed extra time to recover from the hellacious ride from Utah into Colorado the day before. Our plan was for both of us to wear our Red Sox World Championship t-shirts in order to say "nyah nyah nyah" to any Colorado Rockies fans we passed by, but Mom's t-shirt was buried in a suitcase that wasn't coming out of the trunk come hell or highwater. Luckily for me, I was able to dig out one of two of my Red Sox t-shirts I had packed for the trip (the other five Red Sox t-shirts I own were being shipped to Erika's during our trip), and my gray Red Sox 2007 World Championship t-shirt that Mom's side of the family sent us last Fall was on my back that morning to announce to all of Colorado who our favorite sports team was!
Getting onto I-25 South at the connector near our hotel was a little tricky being the end of rush hour, but it was smooth sailing after that. Mom and I were happy to have the worst of the roads behind us and more flat, open roads for the rest of the trip.
We also got a later start that morning in order to straighten out the car which looked like a hurricane hit it. I stacked Zoe and Xena's carriers in one corner of the back seat and stuffed some of our stuff into them, and Zoe and Xena would be riding with us for the rest of the trip giving Loki some needed space in the back seat. I don't know who pissed in their Fancy Feast that morning, but we had to deal with two cats in a bad mood for the beginning of the trip. Xena was uppity about not being able to sit on Mom's lap, and showed her disappointment by biting Zoe's tail as she slept on Mom's lap in the front seat. "This is going to be a fun day!", I thought, but after a while Xena gave up trying to de-throne Zoe from the front seat and went under the passenger's seat for the rest of the trip.
Loki didn't fare better at the beginning of the trip. He was not in the mood to come out of the backseat when we stopped at Trinidad, Colorado, near the New Mexico border for gas and a stretch. I walked him around the gas station in order to let him stretch out with me, and poor dog got sick at the gas pumps. I was a little embarassed, but it was better puking in the car and suffering from the stink the rest of the trip. Loki was a little bit loopy after getting sick, but it didn't stop him from mooching the muffin I bought at the gas station in Greenwood Village that morning. To paraphrase Bill Paxton's character in Apollo 13 after he threw up in space, that dog could "eat the ass off a dead rhinocerous!" On the way out of the gas station rest room, a hitchhiker caught me passing by and wondered if the Celtics were going to take the NBA Championship. "I hope so," I said. "I have many friends who are Laker fans that I want to razz when they do." The man then asked me what the previous night's game score was, and I said, "The Celtics lost 98-91, unfortunately." I am glad he didn't ask for a ride because we didn't have any room for him, and I don't pick up hitchhikers. The joke at my old Home Depot was that I was supposed to tie David from Electrical to the roof of the car with duct tape and do it the Saturday before I left, but I joked to Karla to tell my old boss, Papa Duane that I was sorry I couldn't take David with me because there was barely enough room for Mom, the zoo, and me!
After Trinidad, Loki stayed in the car for the rest of the trip, and we gave him water on breaks to keep him hydrated. Southern Colorado was a very scenic part to go through, and we saw Chimney Rock outside of Colorado Springs along with other rock formations before hitting the flatlands of Northern Texas.
Upon entering New Mexico near Raton, we needed to connect onto 287 South. It was a rural highway and traffic was light most of the way to Amarillo. Mom and I were surprised at the number of small towns we passed that were almost ghost towns. Many of the buildings and gas stations were abandoned and boarded up, and we knew they were victims of the latest Bush recession. This area of Northwestern Texas is also where the great movies There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men were filmed, and I joked with Mom I was "expecting Javier Bardem's sadistic Anton Chigurh character to come jumping out from some sagebrush and blow us away with that funky helium compressor gun used in the movie!"
By the time we hit New Mexico, the winds picked up, and we were driving against the wind for the rest of the trip. We stopped in the small town of Clayton, New Mexico for gas, bathroom breaks, and then Mom saw the Dairy Queen next door and got a sudden hunkering for ice cream. So, she ran inside while I kept an eye on the zoo and let the wind gust through me. Mom came back a couple of minutes later with a couple of hot fudge sundaes for us, and we ate them outside the car. The wind blew syrup all over our shirts making us a little sticky for the rest of the trip.
About 410 miles into the trip, Mom and I hit the Amarillo city limits. Mom and I needed to get onto one route that would get us onto I-40 East, but somehow we wound up in one of the business districts on the way into the boonies. Finally after coming to a dead end right before TX335, I had to pull over into a shop there and ask the lady for directions. The lady said we weren't the first people looking for help, and she was very kind to get us onto 335 S that would connect to I-40. Right after getting onto 335, we hit a brush fire that made visibility tough for a minute, but we got in the right direction towards our hotel in Amarillo, and we finally dragged our butts into the Motel 6 parking lot near 6 p.m., which was later than we wanted to get there, but rush hour was no prize in Amarillo either. Amarillo is Spanish for yellow, and I was wondering if dingy and desert-like was a more appropriate translation for this place in the middle of nowhere in the Texas Panhandle!
After getting checked into our hotel and got pizza delivered for dinner, Mom and I were happy to settle in for the night and have some extra time to rest because Day 4 was only 363 miles to Duncanville, Texas outside of Dallas.
Please check out Day 4 of our cross-country journey in my entry Don't Get Pulled Over By A Bandit In Texas.
Written by mlmeredith on 16 Jan, 2008
Living in St. Louis, we’re fortunate enough to be able to travel to Beaver Creek via America’s Main Street (aka Interstate 70). The beauty of that is that you can drive there in 16 to 18 hours. If you’re hard core, you can…Read More
Living in St. Louis, we’re fortunate enough to be able to travel to Beaver Creek via America’s Main Street (aka Interstate 70). The beauty of that is that you can drive there in 16 to 18 hours. If you’re hard core, you can do that in one fell swoop. But we like to take a break, usually somewhere in Kansas. A lot of people give Kansas a bad rap for being flat and boring, however we usually see enough to keep things interesting. There is a favorite highway spot of ours, just west of Topeka (I think it’s near mile marker 334, but don’t hold me to that). Near a farm/ranch house perched atop a hill north of the highway, is a silhouette sculpture of a cowboy on a horse. The first time we saw it, the time of day tricked us into thinking it was real. Okay, it’s a real sculpture, just not a real cowboy and horse. Now we look forward to seeing it, like an old friend or a favorite restaurant that serves a kickass piece of apple pie.There are plenty of other interstate-touristy attractions or sites along I-70, like the Sternberg Museum in Hays, the Cathedral of the Plains, and one place advertising “the world’s largest prairie dog” (uh… okay). My point being, that in this day and age many parents are doing their kids a disservice by providing (insisting?) dvd/video babysitters in the back seats (even more disturbing to me is the notion that each kid has to have their own screen with their own programming… now that really encourages sharing and team work!). But I’ll get off my social commentary soap box for now and return to the travel review. A couple other notable locations along the I-70 corridor include the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene; and Fort Riley's Cavalry Museum, which includes the Custer House (now there's a historical figure that's guaranteed to stir a thought or two).If driving cross-country isn’t your cup of tea (and there’s nothing wrong with that), it’s hard to beat Denver International Airport as a destination. It’s one of my favorite airports in the country, and there are ample bus and van services that will take you on to Beaver Creek. Or, you can fly on to Eagle County Vail Airport and be only a short shuttle to Beaver, Vail, Breckinridge, Copper Mountain or Keystone.Once you’re in town, getting around is easy. It’s possible to just leave your car at the hotel and use the local bus system without spending another dime. If you want to go to Vail for dinner or a day of skiing, the bus there is only $3 each way. Close
One of the more appealing aspects of Avon and Beaver Creek is the large number of western-themed bronze sculptures. I’m an admitted fan of sculpture both traditional and modern, and the bronzes here are wonderful.Almost immediately after you exit I-70, you’ll be treated to…Read More
One of the more appealing aspects of Avon and Beaver Creek is the large number of western-themed bronze sculptures. I’m an admitted fan of sculpture both traditional and modern, and the bronzes here are wonderful.Almost immediately after you exit I-70, you’ll be treated to a herd of wild horses in the first roundabout south of the highway (within sight of the Christie Lodge), then there is the cowboy roping another mustang, and the touching one of a boy on a horse reaching over to pet a colt.There are a number of other little "gotcha" pieces in the area. One such is a statue of a young boy holding a folded flag, a tear rolling down his cheek. Another, up in the Village features an Indian boy nose to nose with a huge bear.Spruce Saddle Lodge, up on the mountain is guarded by a large bronze elk, and a little family of beavers. And for reasons that I can’t explain, a large pig keeps watch over the Avon Public Library.As I said, the predominate theme is western bronzes, human and animal… art for the masses if you will. Should you prefer more edgy styles, you might be disappointed.If you want to take something home with you though, there are a number of galleries in Beaver Creek Village that feature a wide range of quality art… some affordable, and some pieces with prices that fully reflect the quality of the work (I mean that as a compliment). My favorite gallery is PISMO (so much so that there is another review here… with pictures!).There are a lot of galleries, but two others that left an impression on me are By Nature Gallery and J. Cotter Gallery.By Nature Gallery ( www.bynaturegallery.com) is unique in that most of the pieces are not necessarily "created" by artists, so much as just "finished" by them. Sound strange? It’s not as strange as it seems. Most of the pieces are fossilized rocks, crystallized mineral specimens and other natural works that have been adapted for display as the true works of wonder that they are. A lot of places offer geodes and other minerals, but By Nature has far, far more. Say hello to Bogey, the canine greeter that likes to rest in the middle of the aisle. They also have a location in Aspen if you’re going there.J. Cotter Gallery bills itself as the gold and silversmith of Vail and Beaver Creek. From the unique selections that they offer, I’m willing to buy that as a valid statement. I’ve not seen quite so many unique metal workings in one location. Maybe at a few places around the world, but not many.There are plenty of other galleries as well, offering traditional sculpture, wildlife photography, kinetic sculpture and paintings. If you like to browse, buy or simply want to expand your art knowledge, don’t pass up the opportunity. Close
Written by SeenThat on 07 Aug, 2006
The Mile High City is smaller than its title when measured horizontally and its center can be leisurely explored by foot in less than a day. Despite the method of arrival, downtown and LoDo are the first places to visit since they contain all the…Read More
The Mile High City is smaller than its title when measured horizontally and its center can be leisurely explored by foot in less than a day. Despite the method of arrival, downtown and LoDo are the first places to visit since they contain all the urban attractions. As a big regional center, Denver hosts a plethora of cultural events, and a visit there should be preceded by a check of any coinciding festivals. I wasn't lucky with that, but downtown kept me busy enough.Downtown Denver and its LoDo (Low Downtown)contain the main urban attractions and are small enough to explore within a few hours. The main public buildings of interest are arranged along the Civic Center and the main commercial area is nearby along the 16th Street Mall, which leads to the LoDo, the main nightlife zone. State Capitol Building was built in 1894 and as a golden dome and an impressive onyx interior. The tours are free on weekdays and from the top there are awesome views of the Rocky Mountains. It is located at the Broadway and Colfax Avenue junction. Nearby, two blocks away on 1340 Pennsylvania Street, is the Molly Brown House. It stands amidst many elegant buildings dating back to the 19th century and is easily spotted due to the two sculpted lions guarding it. Margaret Tobin survived the Titanic Catastrophe and became famous due to her courage while helping other survivors; later, a musical telling her story was named the Unsinkable Molly Brown and the named stuck to her home.Colorado History Museum, at 13th Avenue and Broadway, has a fine collection of Anasazi pottery and exhibits detailed dioramas of the life in the west, including mining, frontier forts and buffalo hunting.In front of it is the Denver Public Library, a post-modern attraction worth of a careful inspection and just across it, at 13th and Bannock streets is the Byers Evans House and Denver Museum, built in 1883. The guided tour there shows the life in the area just after the World War I. Nearby, the Denver Art Museum, of Italian design and finished in 1971, occupies a 10-story structure at 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway. The structure reminds a jail and it houses a large Native American art collections, arranged geographically, showing thus the intercultural connections. Artists from the rest of the world are also featured. (Tue-Sat 10:00am-5:00pm, Wed 10:00am-9:00pm, Sun 12:00pm-5:00pm)Further around the Civic Center is the US Mint, on 320 West Colfax Avenue and Cherokee Avenue, an Italian Renaissance solid building that offers free tours on weekdays and expensive souvenirs.The 16th Street Mall is a long pedestrian zone hosting the main commercial center of the city; it has a free shuttle bus, restaurants, fountains, coffee shops and trees.The D&F Tower Clock overlooks the 16th Street Mall, at its junction with Arapahe Street, and was the tallest structure (almost 100m) west of the Mississippi upon its completion in 1910. The structure is a close replica of the campanile at San Marco in Venice.Larimer Square - 1400 block of the same name street - hosts many commercial institutions on beautifully restored Victorian buildings.LoDo (Low Downtown) is bounded by the Union Station, Larimer Square, Coors Field and Cherry Creek and is the hottest spot in town. It has two main attractions, the Six Flags Elitch Gardens amusement park and the Coors Field, amidst a former warehouse district full of shops galleries and nightspots. Coors Field at 20th Street and Blake Avenue is the home of the Colorado Rockies, a baseball team. Close
Written by SeenThat on 05 Aug, 2006
The USA provides many surprises to the visitor. Before arriving for the first time, I thought that through the many Hollywood movies I have seen, I had a clear idea of how the cities look. In addition to that, articles read elsewhere, convinced me that…Read More
The USA provides many surprises to the visitor. Before arriving for the first time, I thought that through the many Hollywood movies I have seen, I had a clear idea of how the cities look. In addition to that, articles read elsewhere, convinced me that in these times of global warming, I would find a huge wasteland among the scattered and polluting cities. Traveling in a big circle encompassing New Mexico, California and Colorado, I found a different reality. Nature thrives here - at least for now.I saw many natural forests, wild mammals of different sizes and many signs warning of wild animals. I had a strange feeling of being in a northern version of an African safari.Yet, the image of the place is different, and foreigners attribute an undefined sense of ugliness to the country. After almost completing the big circle of my trip, the reason for the cognitive dissonance became clear, at least in my eyes. When I wake up in Europe or in Asia, one look out of the window is enough to recognize the city I'm visiting. Amsterdam is Amsterdam, Rome is Rome and Vientiane is unforgettable. However, in the USA, vaguely, Berkeley is Albuquerque and Oakland is Phoenix. The places differ only in the way they mark their streets; in my tour, Sacramento won the insipidity contest with plain numbers and letters to name its perfect grid.A downtown area with skyscrapers and no people living in it and many suburbs with nothing but houses describe many of the cities I've seen here. At the mornings, you need o drive a long distance to buy a piece of bread for breakfast.Arvada, a western suburb of Denver, is not different. Beautiful houses amidst spacious gardens, wide streets, a spacious library with huge windows allowing bright light in, and not even one grocery store.Is that all? Not exactly. Visiting large cities in the USA, usually means staying at one of its suburbs, far from the commodities cities have to offer; the art is to choose those with something special. Gorgeous mountains provide a wonderful background to two lakes within huge parks. The first is called the West Lake Park and is within the town limits; next to it is the Standley Lake Library and further toward the mountains is the Standley Lake Regional Park, which strictly speaking, is part of the City of Westminster, yet another suburb. Both offer wonderful opportunities for a stroll and maybe an afternoon picnic. Close