Friday, August 28, 2009


Bill and I love to drive along the country roads looking for wildlife.  We were lucky to see quite a lot of critters on this trip.

On the wide open meadows, there were lots of pronghorn antelope grazing in the fields.  Deer were as often spotted in yards as in fields.
I especially liked this baby with its mom as the baby's spots were still so well defined.

We rediscovered the adorable chipmunk.  They were quite the little clowns and oh so adorable.

We had forgotten that the town of Cripple Creek is sitting in the midst of open grazing land.  Cows were wandering around in an RV park in town while horses calmly walked down a road.  But best of all are the wild herds of donkeys, descendants of those used by the gold miners.

We never saw any moose but did get to see two herds of elk.

But best of all, one evening as we were returning to the cabin a big ol' bear lumbered across the road in front of us.  I am sure he was heading down the road to a dumpster to go dumpster diving.  We were told by an owner of a small cafe down from where the cabin is located that the bears have learned how to get into the locked dumpters.  They get on top of them, jump up and down until they actually dent in the top and are then able to reach in and retrieve goodies.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Full Moon

One night I went outside the cabin to see if I could see the moon.  Sure enough a full moon was peeking through the trees.

I had fun taking some pictures and playing with the settings on the camera.  Some pictures were focused on the trees while other pictures were taken using the distance focus.
Hope you enjoy these pictures!


Kansas City Barbecue Society Cook-Off in Dillon, Colorado

The day started out with Bill and I driving about 1 hour and 15 minutes to the town of Fairplay to pick up Steve and Carol, friends who were vacationing there.

Fairplay is located in an area called South Park. South Park is a grassland basin located at an elevation of 10,000 feet. Surrounded by mountain peaks, many of them over 14,000 feet high, this meadow covers about 1,000 square miles (640,000 acres) and is one of three large mountain valleys located in Colorado. This vast basin is visible from the International Space Station. This area is a winter grazing area for lots of wildlife.

In 1859 gold was discovered in the streams in the valley and the Colorado Gold Rush began in earnest.
In and around the town of Tarryall, miners were jumping claims which caused all kinds of problems. The town of Fairplay was founded during this time with the attitude that all miners would play fair! Hence the name Fairplay.

Fairplay is at an elevation of 10,000 feet. I discovered that the average yearly snowfall there is 131 inches. Also found out that their growing season in the summer is all of 60 days. Now I'm not so good at math but even I can figure out how long their winter lasts. Hm, I'm not moving there anytime soon. Brrrrrr........

Once we picked up Steve and Carol, we headed north to the Dillon/Keystone area. Our first stop was at the Keystone ski resort to ride the gondola to the top of the mountain.

Next stop - Dillon and the Kansas City Barbecue Society Cook-off.

Now we didn't just happen upon this Kansas City Barbecue Society cook-off event. There is actually a story here. In the month following Bill's retirement, I would ask him what he plans to do with his life in retirement. One night I hear him exclaim "I found it". Well, not realizing that we had lost anything, I went running into the living room to see what he had found that had him so excited. He proceeded to tell me about the Kansas City Barbecue Society competitions that are held all around the country. He explained that if one attended a judging school, one could then be a judge at the competitions. He decided that this is what he wanted to do - travel to these competitions and be a judge. I mean, gosh, think of all the free barbeque you would be eating....

However, after seeing how many contestants/vendors were there - the winner's list showed 68 contestants - Bill has decided that maybe this is a bit more work than he wants to do. So we'll see....

But back to this competition. Here's how these competitions work: None of the vendors accept cash, instead you buy BBQ Bucks for $1.00 each. Each vendor then sets their own prices. Most of the vendors sell a sample of brisket, chicken or pulled pork for $1.00 or a rib for $2.00. All sell sandwiches but we quickly realized these fill you up too fast so samples are the way to go.

Once we figured out how to use the Barbecue Bucks, we were off and running, turning our Barbecue Bucks in for samples of the various meats. Choices ranged from the typical brisket, ribs, pork and chicken to prime rib, lamb and calf fries.

We lost track of how many kinds of barbecue we tried that afternoon but I'm here to tell you it was lots and lots! Some of it was incredibly tasty. However there were a few samples that we tossed in the trash. These might of been okay if we hadn't already tasted some that were just awesome in flavor and texture.

All in all, this was a wonderful experience. We look forward to the next barbecue competition that we come across. I guarantee we'll stop and sample the food.

As we were leaving, Bill noticed a sign on one of the tents that said you could ring the bell for the price of one ticket. Amidst much laughter we talked Steve into ringing the bell.

Lots of money was spent by the four of us but we didn't mind as this is a fund raiser for the Dillon Rotary Club. We read that last year's event sold around 180,000 barbecue bucks. That's a lot of money AND a lot of barbecue.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Today in History....

In 1587, Virginia Dare became the first child of English parents to be born on American soil, on what is now Roanoke Island in North Carolina.

The colony Virginia was born into ended up mysteriously disappearing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Criipple Creek

One day we took the back roads to Cripple Creek.

The first few times we ever went there it was a quaint old dying town with a few shops. It has "suffered' a rebirth in that it has been taken over by casinos. While there are a few new casinos that have been built, most are in the old stores downtown.

Cripple Creek is at an elevation of about 10,000 feet and is situated in a vast meadow.

One of our favorite things to do in Cripple Creek is to go on a search for the wild burros. Seems like it is about every other year that we find these fellows. These burros are descendants of the burros used by the gold minors in the late 1800's in this valley.

This time we found the burros in front of this very old log cabin one block south of Main Street. They were napping in the front yard.

One of the places that we visited was the new Pike's Peak Heritage Center that had opened since we were last here. The Center told the story of the gold rush in the Cripple Creek area.

It was a good preview for the train ride that we next went on. It was a narrow gauge train that took us through the fields of the old abandoned mines.

Before we left town, we once again went looking for the burros. When we went by the house where they were earlier, a guy was sitting on the front porch. I am sure he chased the burros off when he came home. So we circled the block and sure enough down the block were the burros grazing in a vacant lot. So more pictures were taken!

Mother and daughter....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Second Day of Anniversary Trip

We began the day by stopping at the Rocky Mountain National Park Visitor's Center to get suggestions for areas to view. The very nice lady that I talked with recommended that we immediately head over to Bear Lake as it was early enough to still get a parking space. There she suggested we hike around the lake.

Apparently there is not enough parking spaces to accommodate everyone so there are shuttle buses to several of the trail heads for the hikers. By late morning all parking spaces are full.

So armed with this information we headed off for Bear Lake.


Bear Lake turned out to be a beautiful small mountain lake nestled among the pine trees.

To cross the Rocky Mountain National Park, you have two choices. You can take the Trail Ridge Road which is the highest continuously paved road in the U.S., with much of the road on a ridge of mountains above the tree line. The other option is to take a dirt road called Old Fall River Road. After learning that this is a one way road so you don't have to worry about meeting cars, we decided to take this route. This turned out to be a narrow shelf road that clung to the side of the mountain with tight switchbacks. Since I wasn't driving - and much of the time was on the inside portion of the road rather than looking straight down - I loved this road. Poor Bill had to concentrate on driving so not sure he was as good of a tourist as I was. Fortunately it wasn't crowded so we could open all the window to enjoy the fresh air and go slow.

At one point we had to stop while a road grader was grading the road. This allowed us a bird's eye view of the drop off on the road.

Getting closer to the snow pack areas.

As we approached the snow packs, we noticed the streams flowing below them from the melting snow.

Finally reached the tree line.

As we came around a corner Bill spotted some kind of critter lying down by the road. As we came closer we saw there were two bull elks.

Then as we looked up a herd of elk started crossing the road. This immediately stopped all cars so everyone could take pictures.

At the end of Old Fall River Road, there was a Visitor's Center. No parking to be had anywhere but I was fascinated by the snow poles. Looks like the Visitor's Center is covered with snow in the winter.

Once we started down off the ridge, we stopped at a scenic turnout to look down at the valley. While there we talked to a volunteer Park Ranger who told us that a bout 50 mommas and baby moose lived in the valley. She said that sometime during September the bulls would come down out of the mountains and join the females.

When we finally reached the valley, the meadow was absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately we didn't see any moose or other wildlife of any kind. We did come across this wonderful old barn.

No longer was the stream a mad tumbling rush of water over boulders. In fact no more boulders. Instead the rushing stream turned into a gentle meandering creek slowly making its way across the meadow.

After we left the Park, we were driving along and saw a car stopped and the folks looking up in the trees. Now that of course means we must stop and look also. Lo and behold there was a nesting platform on top of a pole with a momma and baby in it. Look closely and you can see the baby's head. Daddy was sitting atop a tree a short distance away watching.

After leaving the Park we headed over to Black Hawk to check out the casinos. Last time we were there, the casinos were just being built. Unfortunately the wonderful old town has been taken over by the casinos, just as in Cripple Creek. Wasn't a good gambling day for Bill so we continued to Denver and dinner and eventually back to the cabin.