Sunday, September 25, 2011

09_25_2011 Estes Park and other stuff

Dad's last full day in the Boulder area was lots of fun. We started with breakfast at the house, then headed east on Arapahoe to see the fifth wheel. It was fun visiting it and just sitting in it. We need to get it out soon!

Next up was headed to the bird store to pick up some bird feeder supplies. I am actually sad that this store doesn't have a single item that I don't already have. It's fun to take home new bird paraphernalia.

Then we headed to Estes Park by way of Left Hand Canyon, Ward, Peak-to-Peak Highway, and Allenstown. It was a madhouse in Estes. The Aspen are changing and the Elk are out in droves. Everyone is out to see both of these cook events.

It is easy to find most Elk - just look for the crowds of people. We saw several groups. None bugled - seems this is more likely in the evening twilight. We weren't there that late.

After enjoying the elk, we headed to bear lake to see it. It is almost at 10k foot elevation. Quite beautiful with the clear alpine late water and the aspen turning gold in the background. Nice time there.

By then, it was getting late so we headed back to Boulder for some Vaughan margaritas. There are none better than those served here. We also chowed on some delicious chicken quesadillas. As dinner was being cooked, dad and Pente made friends. Pente dressed up for her date. Dad fed her chicken. It was a match. Following dinner, I took dad back to the hotel. His flight is sort of early so he'll be on the 6:42am bus. Early!

Hoping he had a good time. I think he did. I certainly enjoyed all the places we went - most of which I'd never been to before. I also posted a few pictures from a few nights ago. My birthday is sneaking up so I got to open a gift from TX early - some owl pajamas. These will absolutely get used. Thanks!

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

09_24_2011 Gold Hill, Banjo Billys and Casa Bonita

Picked up dad this morning and headed up Four Mile Canyon to have coffee and a muffin at the Gold Hill Store. This ride would offer nice views of Boulder and the Rockies, but also a a view of a tiny bit of burned area from the Four Mile fire that was a little more than a year ago.

Unfortunately, the Inn wasn't open yet though we got a chance to see the tiny town. And we got to watch some silly Black-Billed Magpies. They are like black and white and shimmering blue macaws. When they fly, their tails flow behind them like long streamers - just like Macaws do.

It was a clear day so the view of Longs Peak and other mountains in the Rockies was nice. Just a little outside of Gold Hill, I spied a marker that had a Masonic emblem so we stopped.

Turns out it is a marker for the site of the Rocky Mountain Lodge and it discussed Chivington who was the First Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Colorado. Later in the day we'd learn more about Chivington and his leading at the Sandy Creek Massacre. Not a bright day in the history of Colorado or man.

We headed to our next stop - a tour of the history of Boulder. En route, we stumbled on the aftermath of an armed robbery at the US Bank on North Broadway. Officers were still scrambling around with weapons drawn. We saw many others in the crowds in downtown looking for the suspect - male, business clothes, in his 30-40s. Second robbery in two days.

The one yesterday happened two little shops over from where dad and I grabbed lunch at the Pharmaca on South Boulder. That guy just wanted drugs.

We next went to the Boulderado to wait for our tour bus. The Boulderado is a beautiful old hotel in downtown and was opened 102 years ago. It was here that our tour vehicle arrived from Banjo Billy's. I think dad approved.

The photos are cool, but what I couldn't capture was the bus' horn that could do a wolf whistle, a horse whinnying, and a dog barking. These were used frequently as we drove through Boulder. When a pedestrian yelled at the bus, all the riders yelled "YEEEE HAWWW!!" Good times!

The inside of the bus had all sorts of crazy music, the seating was upholstered chairs, and the decor whimsical. Our drive, Glen, was excellent. We made numerous stops to learn about different parts of Boulder's history. Some I knew from Silvia Pettem's books, some I didn't.

One of the first stops we made was the first house in Boulder with an indoor toilet, hot and cold running water inside and a ghost. Seems there are a lot of ghosts in town.

We passed what was recently Tom's Tavern (now Salt) and the driver informed everyone this was the cities morgue for decades. Now a restaurant. :/

The other places we stopped were generally haunted and the driver shared stories about it (including the Boulderado). Everyone had a great time.

They do a similar tour in Denver - going to have to hop on that bus when I get a couple of free hours.

After the tour, we headed into Eldorado Canyon so dad could watch some climbing. It was a perfect day so there was a fair amount of activity. Dave was out there, but on the West Ridge out of our view.

By then, it was time to make the drive to Casa Bonita in Denver. Dad was last there in 1974. Yes, 1974 - the year it opened. We had dinner then listened to Mariachis sing spanglish Happy Birthday several dozen times as some actors screamed and repeatedly dove off the cliff into the water.

There was excellent people watching to be had. By the time the last sopapilla was devoured we were both tired so we came back and dad checked his email at the house. With Dave out of the house, and a guest in the house, Pente did what Pente does....she hopped on the dining room table to beg for some loving. It never fails to work for her.

Tomorrow is Estes Park and perhaps heading up Trail Ridge Road (weather permitting). Maybe we'll see some critters.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

09_23_2011 Wildlife Sanctuary - Lions, Tigers, Bears and more!

Today's big adventure started in Louisville at a restaurant called Karen's Country Kitchen. It was an exercise in flexibility in that it appears Karen's closed eight (yes, eight) years ago! A new restaurant (it's 7.5 years old) is now there - Huckleberry. It was nice. Good French Toast to prep us for today's adventure.

We headed to the Wildlife Sanctuary. I'd been wanting to go for some time, but had saved it up to see if dad also wanted to go. We made the drive and it was worth it.

The place is full of carnivores that people thought would make good pets. Epic Fail People! Carnivores never make good pets as all these owners discovered. Most animals, when growing up, were then abused or neglected. Authorities often stepped in though in some cases, the owners relinquished the animals to the sanctuary.

All of the animals there were born in captivity so there is no chance they can be released to the wild. Many spent their entire lives in pens so small they couldn't turn around. This includes bears, lions, tigers, cougars, wolves and lots of other exotic animals.

We learned there are now more tigers living in Texas - outside of a zoo - than exist in the wild in the world!

The place is about 340 acres and the animals are brought back to health, socialized with others of their kind then slowly released into larger pens as they can psychologically handle it.

This was no zoo. There is no whistling, yelling or trying to get the animal's attention. No running or screaming. Pure calmness to keep the animals happy.

I worried we'd feel bad seeing a bunch of animals in cages, but it was nothing like that. These were some happy animals!

Do you know what the largest cat that purrs is? A cougar! It's a neat place to learn lots of fun things. They ask a 10$ donation to come in and it's well worth it. The entire place runs on donations. Their annual feeding bill is two million dollars. Wow.

There was even a German Shepherd riding in a four wheeler. Nothing new to my family as Bud does the same at my parent's home. Thought he'd enjoy seeing a blurry photo of his relative doing the same in Colorado. Totally recommended!

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