Archive for September, 2015

Cliff Climbing, Art, Green Chili’s and Atomic Bombs

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Santa Fe, known for its style of architecture, the Spanish Pueblo Revival look, which was based on work done restoring the Palace of the Governors. The sources for this style came from the many defining features of local architecture: vigas (rough, exposed beams that extrude through supporting walls, and are thus visible outside as well as inside the building) and canales (rain spouts cut into short parapet walls around flat roofs), features borrowed from many old adobe homes and churches built many years before and found in the Pueblos, along with the earth-toned look (reproduced in stucco) of the old adobe exteriors.

After 1912 this style became official: all buildings were to be built using these elements.

Tourism is big in Santa Fe with lots of Art Galleries of very nice, expensive goods to admire and hopefully for the Artist you will need to purchase one for your home!  We just admired.  Georgia O’Keefe spent most of her life very close to Santa Fe and so I visited the art museum while Paul and Duke enjoyed the fresh air!  Very interesting works.

Amazing colors in her paintings of flowers

Amazing colors in her paintings of flowers

One of her more interesting phases

One of her more interesting phases

Our purchase was hats to protect our heads from the sun.  It’s hot here!

Red or Green is a choice with  meals in New Mexico where they are talking about the chili’s.  We of course tried both!  Paul likes a green chili cheese burger and I like the chili on just about anything!  We tried it on pork, beef, chicken and eggs; the breakfast burrito is the best!

To work off all the chili’s we explored a bit outside of Santa Fe at Bandelier National Monument  The ancestral pueblo people inhabited the region for over 400 years, and their homes, carved from the rock walls of the Frijoles Canyon, are the primary attraction of the monument.  It is just too cool



Getting a close up look at one of the dwellings in the side of the mountain.  Bandilier7

Even the early Pueblo’s knew the value of a nice view!

If you look beyond Paul to the grassy clearing below you can see the footprint of where they lived condo style!  All those grids are individual remains of a homeBandilier18

Bandelier National Monument is right near Los Alamos, home of the LANL, or where the Atomic Bomb was created and our National Security and Research is being done today.   All very top secret although they let Paul and I drive through!  The town of Los Alamos looks like any other small town in the desert but most of their residents have something to do with the LANL.  We enjoyed the Bradbury Science Museum, named after Norris Bradbury the Labortory Director during the time the bomb was being discovered. I learned what the atomic bomb can do and why today we as a nation put so much energy into nation’s nuclear deterrent.

Outside of Santa Fe is the Rio Grande River, which we crossed several times and never got wet!
RioGrande5 (2)

RioGrande5 (8)

It’s a long way down so getting into the river at this point is difficult.


Adobe is a very popular material in the area and an example of how well it holds up.  Actually it is quite strong but the number of crumbling structures is just as plentiful here as in so many other areas.  We are amazed at the number of structures around the country that when they have passed their usefulness they are just abandoned and a new structure is put up right near.  My question is,  “Is it really that expensive or difficult to remove the old before you install the new?”  Just curious.


Art being displayed everywhere.  This was painted right on the side of a building near downtown; no special business just one that didn’t want a blank wall.

Colorado Springs

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Starting our descent to the lower states with a stop in Colorado Springs where I got to meet up with a couple of the girls from growing up!

I told you!  You made the blog!!!  It was so much fun seeing where they have been living the past 15 and 20 years, catching up on family gossip and just talking.  I miss getting to just hang out with friends,  Thanks Virginia and Cheryl.

Colorado Springs is right at the base of Pikes Peak, it really doesn’t look that large but when you start up the road which is a toll road you realize just how high you are going.  When we made it to the top I hopped out of the car and immediately realized that even though the car said it was 49 outside that 49 was very cold with the wind!

The air is so thin that I felt a lot light headed!  Whoa, Imagine having a smoke up here?

The air is so thin that I felt a lot light headed! Whoa, Imagine having a smoke up here?

Not even sure you could see all the way to Colorado Springs but I am sure it is out there.

Not even sure you could see all the way to Colorado Springs but I am sure it is out there.

The drive was spectacular and we are even starting to see some Aspens getting their fall colors.  There are three reserviors that provide water to the city below.  The views are spectacular.  I don’t really  love the alpine terrain but it is interesting.

Aspens peaking out of the evergreens

Aspens peaking out of the evergreens




Breakcheck  area on the descent

                                Break check area on the descent

Pikes Peak,  a beautiful drive with views that are breathtaking.   The air was thin so I cannot even imagine hiking up here, so we didn’t.  It was a driving tour and very enjoyable.

Manitou Cliff Dwellings right near where we are staying was not exactly what I was expecting.  Sometimes research beyond the brochure in the tour racks is a good idea.  Located only 2 miles from where we are staying and something I have always been interested in seeing are the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi Indians however they did not build their homes in Manitou Springs,  they were relocated here in the  early 1900’s to be preserved.  They lived and built their cliff dwellings in the Four Corners area, several hundred miles southwest of Manitou Springs. The Manitou Cliff Dwellings were relocated to their present location in the early 1900s, as a museum, preserve, and tourist attraction.  That last sentence is exactly what it is.  The dwellings are cool however right after you pay to enter the site you download the app and the first thing it says is they were relocated here to be preserved and you can see them on the hill just past the gate (around a corner!)  They were cool and probably a great fieldtrip for 5th graders as a great learing tool but I wanted to really see cliff dwellings that had not been refurbished.  Oh well.



We are staying in a great location in a very nice park with lots of things very close by.  Garden of the Gods while a tourist location is definitely a much better deal – FREE!  It’s a park with pretty well marked trails once you figure out the map and beautiful rock formations.  The central garden is definitely the spot most people go to with the most formations and lots of rock climbers. We did some of that and then found a trail that had very few people and good views of the rocks.  The best part about this park besides being free is the dog is welcome everywhere!  Love that.






Always have to add at least one photo of us!  It was very hot this afternoon and staying out of the sun was difficult, hence the floppy hat and long sleeved shirt.

Its been a busy week but the weather has been favorable so we are taking in way more sites than usual.  Next day was the town of Canon and the Royal Gorge area.  The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park are all new this year as everything burned down in 2013 except the bridge.

Royal Gorge Bridge

Royal Gorge Bridge

Spectacular views and although this is definitely a tourist local it seemed kind of worth it at the senior price and the $2 coupon which includes everything except ziplining across the gorge and the bunge drop ride.  The tram is brand new so Paul was willing to ride it one way.  We walked across the bridge and then rode back

Trams passing above the gorge

Trams passing above the gorge

Crossing the bridge

Crossing the bridge

Getting ready to cross the gorge on the tram

Getting ready to cross the gorge on the tram

The Arkansas River rushes below the bridge through the gorge

The Arkansas River rushes below the bridge through the gorge

The town of Canon has a winery right in the middle of the desert.  The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey was a fun find in the tiny little town.  I enjoyed the wines while Paul enjoyed the picnic area.  Of course I bought one!  Then we were off to return back to our home taking a couple of back roads through Cripple Creek a town that has been revitalized by building cute building fronts to the casinos.  The drive to Cripple Creek was not your ordinary drive.  We followed Apple Maps and quickly we were alone on dirt roads with an occasional local that I am sure was laughing at the California tourists traveling through!

After about 4 miles we did see this sign!

After about 4 miles we did see this sign!

Amazing views,  very little roads!

Amazing views, very little roads!

Cute goats wondering why we are stopping and taking pictures!  I don't think they are use to tourists

Cute goats wondering why we are stopping and taking pictures! I don’t think they are use to tourists

Once we made it through Cripple Creek the views of the fall colors became brilliant.



I love this part of Fall

I love this part of Fall.  

Thats Colorado Springs!  Definitely you can tell you are in the high desert but there is so much beauty here until the snow comes!


Work week

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

Reality check!  Paul is back to working and I am back to entertaining myself within walking distance of the Elks lodge.  There is a couple parks nearby, 3 Starbucks, 2 Walmarts and several fast food spots within 2 miles in several directions.  I’m having a blast.  I had Starbucks 3 days in a row, bought groceries (that fit in a backpack) dropped jeans off at an alterations shop and stopped into the Pet Express just to look around.

We met our niece and nephew,  Sarah & Eric in downtown Denver for dinner in a very up and coming neighborhood one evening.  So much fun seeing them and hanging out with young people.  Dinner was in a food coop made up of freight containers, sort of!  Excellent food, then across the street for some German beer tastings.

Saturday is our weekend just like everyone else this week.  We headed off to Golden Colorado for the Coor’s Tour.


Coor's Brewery

Coor’s Brewery

Interesting place, you show up, park and then wait in line for 1 hour until your bus comes to pick you up and transport you across the parking lot.  You arrive .25 miles away from your car, enter the brewery, they take your photo, check your ID, slap a wristband on you and hand you a device for your self directed audio tour through the brewery.

It was pretty informative but you don’t see much other than displays.  Being Saturday we knew it would be slow but we thought that we would get a tour, especially because we had to wait an hour.  In the middle of the tour they give you a two ounce pour of either Coor’s or Coor’s Light and then the highlight is the end of the tour, which by watching most people they were going right to the tasting room where you get up to 3- 7 ounce glasses of 5 different beers!

Coor's Brewery Beers

Coor’s Brewery Beers

The tasting was very nice, almost like going to one of the local breweries but you didn’t have to pay.  I had no idea all these beers are produced by Coors!  That was a bonus cause I like Blue Moon,  that was one of my tastes today.

Colorado has also made theirselves known around the states as the place to get high!  So far, all the high we have seen is up the mountain at 12K elevation.  There are not pot shops anywhere,  you have to hunt for one.  We have not even smelled any.  I’ve seen more pot in Arizona at the RV resorts than I have in Colorado where it’s legal

Strip Mall Pot Shop

Strip Mall Pot Shop

We did find a shop after using Yelp to find one.  Interesting, not very attractive and the people I saw going in were not my peeps.  Did we go in?  I’ll never tell.


Paul is a Lucky Man!

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

Grand Lake is on the West side of the Rocky Mountain NP,  Estes Park about 45 miles away on the Eastern side of the park; We are in Grand Lake and Starbucks is in Estes Park.  Denise wants Starbucks because she does and it is a cold, rainy day and we have nothing else on our schedule today.  So we decide we will take another drive through the park, see if we can see anymore wildlife and get Denise a Starbucks.  That’s the benefit of not having a strick schedule!

As we are leaving the campground Paul states that we need fuel.  Fuel is back into town 3 miles or in Estes Park, 45 miles away!  How bad do we need fuel?  Well the car says we have 60 miles of fuel and the fuel light has not even come on.  Ok,  we should be able to make it so Paul thinks!  I’m thinking, the car is not that reliable in its estimate and the road through the park goes up to 12,000 feet, lots of elevation gain means extra fuel.  Paul is sure he is right and we head for Estes Park.

About the time we hit the summit, or half way our fuel range is 1 mile!  It’s raining really hard, there is lots of traffic, not a good situation.  I was sure we were going to get stranded and who knows how long it is going to take for a tow truck to get up to the summit.  The good news is we hit the summit, we can coast.  That’s just what Paul did.  The guy infront of us was coasting to, although I think it was to look for wildlife.

We descended the mountain and for 20 minutes our fuel range gauge said we have 1 mile left!  Pulling into Estes Park, traffic was terrible but we made it to the gas station.  We refueled and according to the owners manuel we had about 1.5 gallons left!

Lesson learned is this car gets really good fuel mileage and the fuel light is way more reliable than the fuel range gauge!  Lucky Paul.  He was sweating!

Holy Moose and baby too!

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Today was a much better day!  No rain, sunny skies and we are off to do some four-wheeling!

Duke too!

Duke too!

Our campground is right at the base of the Arapahoe National Forest and there is lots of ATV trails, infact many campers bring their own ATV’s.  We rented one for a couple hours and equipped with a map that showed green and red trails and trails to stay away from, we head out and immediately I feel lost, things are not that well marked.

This is one of the really wide trails.

This is one of the really wide trails.

You can really see how bad the beetle infestation is in the forest as we traveled along.

Eagle,  Top of the mountain!

Eagle, Top of the mountain!

What an amazing view!  Grand Lake, Grandby Lake and a valley that appears to be endless.  We enjoyed lunch on the top of the mountain and then headed out to more 4-wheeling!  Paul loved it,  Duke and I were just ok with it!  A smoother ride would have been nice,  this thing has no shocks!




It was a beautiful ride. Lots of fun, something different, not sure I would want to do this every weekend.

We returned the ATV and headed back to the Colorado Trail for a hike down to the river.  We did this hike earlier in the week and really enjoyed it.  And Duke gets to come along.  The hike is about 2 miles wandering through the woods with a short loop at the river with a great spot to hang out.

So we are hiking along,  about 1.5 miles in,  I look ahead and see dark brown moving!  Yikes!  I’m thinking a bear cause it is really big!



She was beautiful.  In the picture you can see her baby hiding behind the downed logs.  She was beautiful.  We got to within about 20 feet away, still on the trail.  We have Duke and I am sure he is going to bark or something.  Paul did quickly put him on a leash just incase.  Duke could have cared less, he was probably wondering why we were stopped and why is mom taking so many pictures.



Mama and baby

Mama and baby

So now our trip to the Rocky’s is complete; we saw a few deer, three long horn sheep, lots of herds of Elk, one bull up close,  a moose across the lake, a bull running through our campground and this beauty.  Amazing!



The river was pretty nice but the moose was definitely the highlight of the hike.

Duke loves to swim, apparently

Duke loves to swim, apparently



Saturday, September 5th, 2015

We are really enjoying our time in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  Up early on Saturday to join a ranger lead hike through the Alpine area of the Park.  It was a 4 mile hike one way and then the ranger shuttled us back to our cars.

RMNPAlpine1 - Copy

The weather here is definitely fall like and it was about 40 degrees with wind at the 12,000 foot elevation where we started the hike.  I had on 2 shirts, one of them long sleeved, a sweatshirt and my raincoat!  It was cold for the first 2 miles as we walked along the ridge.   There was also a family on the hike from Colorado and they along with the ranger were very interested in finding the critters that live in the Alpine tundra as well as the plants that are able to grow in the environment, me I was cold and wanted to get to the trees where the wind would be blocked.  It was beautiful on top of the mountain and the day was perfect so you could really see forever.  We could here Elk in the distance blowing their horns – this is the beginning of rutting season.

The hike was beautiful and then on the trail was what I thought as dog dung!  Wrong,  there are no dogs up here!  The ranger and family were very interested in the scat, the ranger even took out pictures to see who it came from!  I have no idea what they eventually determined as I continued to walk because I could see the big trees not far into the distance!

We finally made it to the protection of the trees and enjoyed a much more relaxing hike through the part of the forest I am familiar with.  The trees in this area have been brutalized by the beetle which according to the ranger is a natural occurance and happens as part of the natural cycle.  It is worse than usual because all the elements are perfect for the beetles to be destructive.

Most of the tall trees are dead

Most of the tall trees are dead

wildflowers1 - Copy

wildflowers - Copy

Lots of wild flowers, small but beautiful

Lots of wild flowers, small but beautiful


The hike was awesome.  We probably would not have tried it alone as it would have been an 8.5 mile hike roundtrip and it was cold!  We learned more about the Rockies and a bit about Scat that I hope to forget very shortly and had a very nice morning.

The Wild Side

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Trail Ridge Road thru the Rocky Mountain National Park had many exciting moments today.

Just us and this guy

Just us and this guy

This lonely Bull was right on the trail and we got a great view of him from within 6 feet of the car.  We saw so many herds of Elk today but this one was the most exciting as he was all by himself along the Fall River Road which is a one way trail off the main road that most people do not take.  It was beautiful and worth the extra miles.

One of the large herds we saw

One of the large herds we saw

RMNP Elk Herd 4

A necklace. I guess she is special

A necklace. I guess she is special

Another Bull watching over his herd

Another Bull watching over his herd

We got an early start and were very lucky to see a Moose at our first stop.



We had stopped to enjoy this lake and then I saw someone stopped in the road and people getting out and running.  That is an indication there is wildlife somewhere close and sure enough this guy was enjoying the lake.  Very cool, I think this is the first Moose I have actually seen in the wild and he was close enough to really see, although the binoculars gave us a much better view.  This evening on our way back into camp we saw another moose wandering right through the meadow in front of us.  He was moving pretty fast and it was getting dark so the photo is lousy!

Moose 2

Back to the trip through the park.  Climbing Trail Ridge Road we reached the Alpine area where the air is quite thin and it was pretty cold this am.  Paul took a short hike to say he reached 12,000 feet while I enjoyed the gift shop and the herd of Elk relaxing in the Alpine Meadow.


RMNP 9  Then we continued towards Estes Park.  Our next wildlife viewing was three Big Horn Sheep grazing right on the side of the road.

RMNP BigHorn 2

The horns are so big, I would think they would be uncomfortable

The horns are so big, I would think they would be uncomfortable

The temperatures are definitely dropping and we are seeing fall in the landscape everywhere.

Aspens are changing

Aspens are changing

Nature is such a wonder.  I love every opportunity we have to enjoy one of our National Parks.

The Rockies

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Another of natures beauties.  Driving I-70 from west to east through the Rockies goes from high desert to amazing rock formations to majestic mountians with lots of rivers and streams along the way.  At the west entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park is a perfect little village and lake,  Grand Lake.   We have been to Grand Lake and the park before and really like the area.  This trip we get to stay in our own home and explore for more than a few days.  We are here through the holiday for a bit of a vacation.  I know, everyone thinks we are on vacation everyday and we are but sometimes we get to stop in beautiful spots and do nothing other than relax, have campfires and explore.

Home for as long as Paul will stay in one place

Home for as long as Paul will stay in one place

Lots of wild flowers, small but beautiful

Lots of wild flowers, small but beautiful

Our first stop was to the visitors center to gather a map and information on hikes that would be good for us.  The rangers were very helpful and even assured us there is no poison oak in the Park, nor poison snakes.  She did say there are snakes but very few.  I’m excited by that because snakes just scare the hell out of me.  We took our first hike in the park to Cascade Falls just above Grand Lake, a 3.5 mile one way hike with a elevation gain of 300 feet.  This was the perfect hike to get used to the thin air.  The air is thin but we seem to be handling it so more hikes are in order for this week.

Cascade Falls 2

The beginning of the trail is along a fire road through meadows and a very calm stream.  It was very quiet and the mountains reached right up into the brilliant blue skies.

Cascade Falls 3

Soon we were climbing with cliffs and large rock formations along the trail.  The trails are pretty wide and well maintained.

3.5 miles

3.5 miles

We made it to the top of the falls.  The waterfalls were more of splashing water over beautiful rocks.  It was loud and very easy to get right down to the water.

Cascade Falls 10

Cascade Falls 11

Thats the look of total relaxation

That’s the look of total relaxation

Soon, he was laying back on the rocks and snoring.



Me, I chose to edge closer to the splashing water.  It was definitely icy cold.  Soon we were gathering ourselves for the return trip.  It always amazes me when you take the same trail back it seems like a completely different trail.   We passed a few hikers going up and even one couple that told us there was a moose about a 1/2 mile up.  Great because we had not seen much wild life other that lots of grass hoppers, a couple of squirrels and one small snake!  I know,  she said there were only a few in the park.

We continued along the trail on the look out for a moose and soon, about 1/3 of a mile past the couple I spot some wildlife!  Another snake!  I thought she said there were only a few snakes in the park and we see two in only a couple of hours!  Of course I screamed!  That’s what I do when I’m startled!  Paul doesn’t get it.  He says, you see it, its not under your feet, it’s going away from you why do you scream?  Hmmm,  31 years of marriage and he still doesn’t understand me! He keeps trying.

So we can handle the elevation if we take it slow, the wild life is elusive, and there definitely are creepy crawly things that along with watching for rocks and roots on the trails I need to be watching for snakes.  We will do several more hikes this week and a lot of lounge chair time here in the Rocky Mountains.

Duke, says enough nature, let me in!

Duke, says enough nature, let me in!




Still Wondering

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015
Riding where?

Riding where?

Grand Junction Colorado was our first stop this week and our home for two days was one block off the main avenue in downtown.  The downtown area is just like many downtown areas with many boutiques, antique shops, ice cream shops, restaurants, clubs and lots of outdoor seating to enjoy the day.

Downtown art work always intrigues me and Grand Junction did not disappoint!  Make sure you scroll to the end, my favorite is the second to last photo.

Grand Junction Art 32

Grand Junction Art 31

Grand Junction Art 30

Grand Junction Art 28

The artwork is a collection of permanent pieces and many temporary pieces that change regularly and they are for sale!  The collection left me thinking that is for sure.

Grand Junction Art

Grand Junction Art 33

Grand Junction Art 26

Just what my feet feel like after wearing high heels!

One of my favorites that I have seen in other downtowns

One of my favorites that I have seen in other downtowns

Grand Junction Art 13

This one had me taking a second, third look.

Grand Junction Art 11


Grand Junction Art 23

Grand Junction Art 20

Grand Junction Art 19

Grand Junction Art 18

Grand Junction Art 17

And then there were the just plain weird!

Grand Junction Art 3

Grand Junction Art 7

Grand Junction Art 10

And of course Duke had to get into things

Grand Junction Art 21

I smell that. Do you smell that?

Grand Junction Art 15