Sunday, October 30, 2011

Early Morning on the Prairie

  Since we were up and dressed early this morning we made a run to the gas station. On the way home we watched this gorgeous sunrise changing minute by minute.

 Another treat! A buck with a nice rack was watching us pass. We stopped, he stayed, and when I said "good morning" to him he wagged his tail and raised his head a little higher. He made no attempt to run away!

There are many scenes like this across the prairie, old windmills no longer in use. Some are, though. I liked this picture, with the trees having just lost their leaves. It looks lonely there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Denver Zoo, Repeat

 Mr. Keith and I set out to go to the City Park in downtown Denver, planning to decide what to do when we got there. The Zoo won out! It's a wonderful place, huge, very well designed, and the critters are well taken care of and displayed. There are lots of benches, big trees, and goodies to eat and souvenirs to buy. We were there early, so avoided the crowds. Mostly we saw moms with preschoolers and strollers. I'm not posting many photos of the animals, just a couple that we didn't get before. Above you see a tapir. He was sleeping in the sun last time we saw him. Visiting the Zoo first thing in the morning seems to be best, because the animals are more active.

 This beautiful animal is an Okapi. He looks like a cross between a zebra and an antelope!

 The penguins were the highlight of our visit. I copied this from the Zoo website.
"Going, Going, Gone? - The African penguin population has been reduced drastically in the past century and currently only about 120,000 birds remain. The decline in the population was due to several factors including harvesting of eggs, reduction in the penguin’s food, removal of guano used by the penguins for burrowing sites and oil pollution from oil tankers. The Denver Zoo has participated in efforts to rescue penguins affected by oil spills."
 These little guys are so much fun to watch. They are comical, and have quite the personalities. This African species makes a sound like a donkey, so have earned the name "Jackass Penguins".

 We were lucky to be there at feeding time. The caretaker took a lot of time and patience to make sure each penguin got his or her fair share of little fishes. He said they are named and each one knows his name! He called one "Wilson", who turned out to be a female. Some took the fishes right out of the bucket and others waited to be hand-fed. Watching this was truly entertaining and educational for us.

After the Zoo it was time for us humans to be fed. We headed down to the old Lowry Air Force Base, which has been remodeled and turned into a trendy business area with shops and restaurants. Last season we ate at the Pei Wei Asian Diner so decided to try it again. This is Mandarin Kung Pao, a delicious dish that I couldn't wait to dive into! Mr. Keith had Pad Thai with shrimp. It's a wonderful place to eat and we will return. We still want to visit the Air and Space Museum, located at Lowry, so that will be followed by another great meal at the Pei Wei!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Random Ride

 I love the contrast between this freshly planted field of winter wheat, I'm guessing, and the just-bailed hay right next to it. This scene is immediately at the edge of Strasburg. There are still fields of sunflowers around at this time of year, too, very dried up and awaiting harvest. Today we passed fields that were being plowed and disced, being readied for who knows what crop.
 We see an abundance of horses on every country drive we take. I liked these spotted ponies, who seemed to be interested in us, too. Ponies and prairie dogs seem to go together! We stopped to watch the doggies today, but they scampered away and wouldn't come back as long as we were there. It would take a lot of patience and waiting to assure them we are harmless.
The prairie is flat and treeless almost everywhere, except where there is a dry creek bed. We've never seen water in these beds, but there are always lush trees growing for miles along them. Maybe there is water under the surface. Notice the sign warning of possible high water. I wonder when that happens? We enjoyed our random ride in the country today.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Colorful Colorado!

I've seen many a photo of the gorgeous autumn leaves in the mountains of Colorado, but now I can say I've seen it for real! We set out early one morning hoping that we weren't too late for the best display.  We headed northwest to Estes Park, planning on taking the Peak to Peak Highway south through the mountains, and then back across Denver. Last March when we first visited Estes Park we were surprised to find a large elk herd on the grounds of the historic Stanley Hotel. They were calm and unafraid of the many tourists taking their picture. This time we found them at the entrance to town at a park on the shores of Lake Estes. We think they are regular residents of the town, and are allowed to go where they will.

There was one huge "daddy" in the group, many females and quite a few youngsters. There were probably 20 or 30 elk altogether in the herd.

This was our first real view of the golden aspens. I like this photo because it looks like molten lava coming down the mountain. We are on the outskirts of the Rocky Mountain National Park.

I wonder how those aspens got up on the top of that hill?

A lovely view of Mt. Meeker and Longs Peak, left and center. Coming from the east approaching the city of Longmont this looks like one huge mountain with 2 points on the top. Closer up we could see that they were two distinct peaks. Longs Peak is in the "Fourteener" club, 14,255 feet, with Mt. Meeker a mere 13,911 feet.

There are lots of horses in Colorado! It would be quite an adventure to be able to ride horseback through the Rockies, getting the views up close and personal.

We came across a little old mining town hidden in a gulch down from the highway. Like many of the old towns in the hills west of Denver, this one once produced tons of gold, and is now ramshackle, a shadow of its former self. We liked the glimpse we had through the aspens. Of course we drove through it, and later read that the town, Ward, had been taken over by hippies! Interesting!
An old log cabin in Ward, surrounded by the beauty we saw everywhere. I didn't notice any other deciduous trees besides the aspens, mixed in with the dark green firs and pines. Their brightness makes the mountains look like they're on fire — a glorious sight, all too soon gone till the next year's autumn celebration of nature! God has shown us His creative awesomeness in this place!