Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Need Spring!

 Yes, I need spring! We've had a fairly mild winter here on the prairie east of Denver, with not much snow, but after awhile the brown fields and  grey trees and bushes get old. So...I looked through my photos of last summer and found these cheerful scenes. They are all located in Montana, in the hills above Missoula. I love the Indian Paintbrush, with its bright red color in contrast to the fresh green grasses.

This is one of my favorite scenes. The delicate, new grasses and pale green needle sprouts on the ends of the fir trees, interspersed with several different varieties and colors of wildflowers, is an amazing sight! I identified some Indian Paintbrush but the other flowers I'm not sure of. They are all beautiful! I once read a statement that said, "Looking into the face of a flower is looking into the thoughts of God." I feel that's so true! I see God in each one!

 We took this photo at lovely Seeley Lake in the hills east of Flathead Lake. Pond lilies are always a  gorgeous sight. There are a few reeds in there, too, standing tall in contrast with the flatness of the lily pads on the water. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Matt. 6:28-29 Come, Spring! I'm ready for your bright, and carefree flowers!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More Old Colorado Mining Towns!

We see this scene every time we get in the car for our excursions west. The Rockies are magnificent! This photo was taken on Hwy 36 near Watkins.

In my post from last week I showed a photo looking down into a gorge with a road running through it. We determined we just had to go on that road! It's Hwy 6, going to Central City, our destination for the day. There isn't much snow in the area, but you can see how cold it is by frozen Clear Creek.

We'd heard that the old mining towns of Black Hawk and Central City, even though on the National Register of Historic Places, had been turned into gambling towns, much like Deadwood SD. These huge casinos completely dwarfed the original town, which has also been restored and made into gambling places. This is Black Hawk.
(Click to enlarge.)

This sign greeted us as we drove into Central City. Central City is located 35 miles west of Denver at an elevation of 8, 496 feet. Mr. Keith, always the jokester, rolled down his window and asked a flagger, "If it says 8,000 feet, does that mean there are 4,000 people in this town?" He even asked a policeman that question, and got some good laughs.

In 1859, John Gregory discovered "The Gregory Lode" in a gulch near Central City. Within two weeks, the gold rush was on and within two months the population grew to 10,000 people seeking their fortunes. William Byers, founder of the Rocky Mountain News, and some companions pitched their tents on open ground squarely in the center of the mining district. Thus Central City was born and was soon the leading mining center in Colorado. It came to be known as "The Richest Square Mile On Earth". Gregory's discovery is commemorated by a stone monument at the eastern end of the city. I don't know the time period, but Butte MT has also laid claim to being the richest spot on earth! In this photo you can see the old downtown, Main Street, restored.

We liked the Courthouse. All the buildings except the main street are perched on the side of the gulch. It seems all the old mining towns we've visited are like that — a narrow gulch with the houses marching up the sidehills. The streets are tricky to drive, very narrow, since they were originally made for horses and buggies.

This cute little house caught my eye. All the houses were tiny. Some looked like they were built for very short people. I guess they were shorter way back then! We noticed, for example, that in the ghost town Garnet MT we had to actually stoop down to get through the doorways!

There were about 5 or 6 cemeteries in Central City, just outside of town. This one was labeled Central City Cemetery, and was quite neglected. Groves of young aspen trees had grown up all around the headstones. That's me walking through there. I am fascinated by very old graveyards. I always wonder how the folks lived in those days, and how they died. (Click to enlarge.)

Here we saw quite a contrast between the new apartment buildings (probably to house the casino and hotel employees) and the ruins of a once sizable structure. This one has a chain link fence around it and concrete applied to the tops of the walls to prevent further erosion. There was no sign to say what it used to be.

We just had to visit a brand new KOA Kampground above the city, and this is the view from there! It is the whole town of Central City spread out below. We were thinking we would love to be able to stay there in the summer and look at this panorama! It was quite a narrow, winding road to get up there, which would be difficult for a big rig like ours, but worth it. (Again, click to enlarge.)

The main office and store for this KOA is made to look like a mining shaft. Not your traditional A-Frame KOA building! Altogether, it was a wonderful day of sightseeing once again! In our efforts to stay off the freeways we've found many beautiful valleys and gulches to go through on the west side of Denver.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Golden, Buffalo Bill, and Red Rocks!

 Mr. Keith and I did a marathon of sightseeing on a warm day in Colorado! We drove quickly across Denver, looked around for awhile in Arvada, then headed out to the hills around Golden. We found a winding road called Lookout Mt. Road just outside the town. Here is the view from the first wide spot in the road. As you can see, Golden is dominated by the huge Coors Brewery in the center of the photo. The Colorado School of Mines is the next biggest complex to the left. (Click on the picture to enlarge.)

 This was a gorgeous view — the Windy Saddle Park. Down in the very center of the valley we spied Highway 6. The cars down there looked so tiny! Again, click to enlarge so you can see the highway.

 From higher on the mountain we could look out and see downtown Denver and all the way across to where the prairie disappears on the horizon. I think Strasburg is probably a little too far to see from here! Mr. Keith used his telephoto lens to get this perspective.

 We were surprised to find that Buffalo Bill is buried at the highest point of Lookout Mountain overlooking Denver. I've visited the huge museum honoring him and other old west characters in Cody, Wyoming, but did not know about this site.

 We learned that Buffalo Bill Cody requested this site for his burial. He died in 1917, and his wife was buried in the same spot 4 years later. At his funeral and burial, there was a huge procession of Denverites and others attending the ceremonies. Later there was erected a museum, with a gift shop and restaurant next door named the Pahaska Teepee.

 Just foolin' around!

 Next we meandered on down the mountain to the Red Rocks Amphitheater. I would perhaps compare it to the Gorge, near Quincy, in Washington. We'll not be able to attend an actual concert here, but it was fun to see! This tunnel leads right up to the amphitheater.

 This huge rock is on one side of the top of the amphitheater, and its twin, even bigger, is on the other side. The seating and stage are placed right between and below these monoliths.

Looking down onto the stage, you can once again see the Denver skyline way up in the center of the photo. I imagine it's an amazing sight at night when the city lights are visible off in the distance. Click to enlarge so you can see the city.
To complete our day, we ate dinner at Ruby Tuesday in Aurora. A fitting end to a wonderful sightseeing trip!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Glorious Sunrise!

This is the amazing sight we saw from our 5th wheel window this morning! That's one thing about living out on the prairie. The sunrises and sunsets seem more vivid and more visible. Praises to God for His handiwork!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Found a Treasure!

 It's been so cold and snowy the last few days — we wanted to get out for awhile. I suggested we drive to Kiowa, a tiny town 30 miles south of us, and have lunch in one of the two restaurants we've seen there. We enjoyed Kiowa on previous trips. It's reached by partly paved and partly gravel roads which today had a light coating of snow and ice. In Kiowa all the streets have Indian names and it is an attractive town of perhaps 700-800 people, established in the 1800s as a stage stop. Here we are parked in front of the Kiowa Creek Cafe´,

 I made my way back to the women's restroom and in there I was intrigued by this old fashioned style tin, six inches high, used as part of the western decor. Now, here is something I've never done before — I came out and asked the waitress if I could buy the old tin, since it had the Wilson name on it and some cute kitties. She said she'd check with the owner, and a couple of minutes later she presented me with the tin, saying they didn't need it and I could just have it! Wow! I was amazed! We finished up our very good hamburgers and fries, and gave the ladies a super big tip for their great service and for their gift to me. I probably won't put my yarn and thread in there, but will think of something useful for it. I definitely found a treasure in an unexpected place, in the ladies' restroom!

On our drive the road turned west for a few miles and we were treated to the usual prairie view of a long straight road with the Rockies in the distance, only this time everything is covered with snow. The tree lines around here always signify a usually dry-looking creek bed. We're told the water runs under the surface. I assume that sometime in the spring all these gullies start running with water above the ground as well. It would be a pretty sight to see when the trees turn green, but we'll be gone from Colorado too early to see that, I'm guessing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Curious Question

I've been feeding the birds for a few weeks. We have sparrows, starlings and ring-necked doves who regularly wait for me to sprinkle seeds on the ground and on two picnic tables nearby. I have a question. The sparrows descend en mass to the seeds, peck once or twice, then ascend en mass back to the tree branches. They do this over and over and over! What signals the ascent? I know what signals the descent — the birdseed, but why do they fly up in a group? Sometimes there is one little sparrow who stays longer, till he notices the others have gone, then he joins them till they all fly back down again. Curious phenomenon!