Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Trip to Fort Collins

 After church on Sunday Mr. Keith expressed a desire to go to Fort Collins, Colorado, a 45 mile drive from Cheyenne by the freeway. Of course, we never take a direct route on our sight-seeing trips, (how boring!) so to avoid the freeway, I-25, we took Hwy 85 and also got a quick look at Greeley and Loveland, both attractive towns, as well as driving through a few tiny farming communities. We saw lots of crops in fields, and we were happy to see that they all looked healthy. No drought here! We finally made it to Fort Collins, a beautiful university and tourist city. Both times we've been there the town was packed with cars and people on the streets. Finding a parking place is a challenge! We did, though, and on our walk to our chosen restaurant we saw this startling piano sitting in a courtyard. I was tempted to give it a try, but there were too many people around. Pretty, isn't it?

 I couldn't get a really good photo of the main street itself. The sidewalks are lined with huge flower pots and many benches and flower beds, not to mention crowds of people. These big pots in the photo are actually in the middle of the street, between the two lanes on each side. Fort Collins reminds me a little of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, only much bigger. At the beginning of our trip I posted on Facebook that we were going to Fort Collins for lunch. Our former employer at the Strasburg KOA responded that her favorite restaurant was the HoHut Mongolian BBQ right on the main street, so we decided to find it and go there. Yum, yum, was it ever good! Thanks, Tracy!

 There were street musicians here and there on the main drag, but these were the ones we decided to sit down to listen to. They were so good! In this photo they are playing some jazz. The saxophonist reminded me of my son playing the sax in the jazz band in school.

 The saxophonist, for the next number, changed to a clarinet, and they played an Irish Jig. Wow! I was impressed. It also reminded me of my days of playing the clarinet, though I couldn't hold a candle to this fellow! He must practice all the time.

On the way home we still avoided I-25 by going north of Fort Collins on back roads (there were lots of ritzy ditzy houses out there!) till we found a place to cross over the freeway and back over to Hwy 85. This shot is about halfway between Greeley and Cheyenne. I was intrigued by the old bridge out there without a road on either side. There are actually two bridges there. (Click to enlarge.) The sandstone bluff adds even more interest to the view. We were thinking it must have been the old road from many years ago. We made a decision to go back to Fort Collins soon, straight there on the freeway, and then spend several hours exploring just the town. It will be worth it! Maybe we'll even eat at the HoHut Mongolian BBQ again!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our Day Rocked!

After church on Sunday, a nap, a snack, some lying around, suddenly Mr. Keith said, "Let's go find that pyramid our friend told us about." This friend, Dale, is a railroad man, and he said there was an actual pyramid built by some railroad men, off by itself high in the Laramie mountains. It's about halfway between Cheyenne and Laramie, near the town of Buford on I-80. As you can see, Buford is rather small, in fact, the 2 buildings were boarded up, so we couldn't tell if the one resident was even there!

Approaching the Ames Brothers Pyramid.

From the sign at the pyramid:
"Completed in 1882 at a cost of $65,000, this monolithic, 60 foot high granite pyramid was built by the Union Pacific Railroad Company. It stands on the highest elevation (8,247 feet) of the original transcontinental route. Until 1901, when the railroad was relocated several miles to the south, it passed close by the north side of the monument where once stood the rail town of Sherman." The sculpture at the top is a likeness of one of the brothers, but his nose is missing. Did it fall off on its own, or did some target practicing vandal shoot it off? I wonder!

I always look down as well as up, wherever I am. I love this abundant little yellow flower against the Wyoming red rock.

Beautiful Wyoming colors, looking north from the monument towards Vedauwoo.

Again from the sign:
"The monument serves as a memorial to the Ames brothers of Massachusetts, Oakes (1804-1873) and Oliver (1807-1877), whose wealth, influence, talent, and work were key factors in the construction of the first coast to coast railroad in North America. The contribution made by Oakes was especially significant, even though in 1873 he was implicated in a scandal relative to financing the construction of the railroad."

The monument was quite the thing to see when the railroad ran beside it. Later the rails were moved to a better site, away from the monument, then Hwy 80 was built on the rail bed and also later moved about 2 miles away from it. The result of all that moving is that the monument sits all by itself out on the high desert-prairie. Our faithful Focus sits beside the pyramid to show its relative size.

We've heard many times about the Recreational Area called Vedauwoo. We found it right across the freeway from the Monument, so we drove into the area. "Known to the Arapaho Indians as “Land of the Earthborn Spirit,” the rock formations of Vedauwoo (pronounced vee-da-voo) attract experienced climbers, campers and hikers." We were amazed by the unusual formations. Many looked like someone (Someone?) had piled the rocks up by hand. This pile actually had some hikers up on the top.

The old-fashioned fence here and there seemed to really set off the beauty of the rock formations. Looks like a storm is brewing in the distance. One thing we noticed was that though it was nearly 90 degrees in Cheyenne when we left, the temperature at the 8000 foot level was much cooler.

In addition to the piles of rocks, some formations seemed to sprout singly right out of the ground. Many looked like giant mushrooms. (Click to enlarge these photos.) We enjoyed our late afternoon excursion high up in the Laramie Mountains. I'll give my nephew credit for the title, "Our Day Rocked!"

Monday, July 16, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Where to go, what to do for our 17th anniversary. Well, first of all, we spent 4 hours on our day off continuing to paint the KOA building. Whew! Was it ever hot! We got a lot done, rested, took showers, then headed over to The Depot to have dinner. This building was constructed in the 1860s and is beautifully restored to its former glory, though it is not used as a train station now. It houses a restaurant, brewery, museum and gift shop. There is still a multiple track, very busy train yard right outside the back of The Depot. We saw a couple of trains arrive as we ate our dinner.

This is the former lobby where travelers awaited their trains.

The outside plaza is lovely, with flowerpots, sculptures, bricked walkways, and the famous 6 foot high cowboy boots seen in several places in Cheyenne. I love this horse, made out of all kinds of metal shapes and pieces. The large pink building behind it is the original Wrangler Store, there since 1892.

These enormous flower pots adorn the front of The Depot and were all around the plaza.

Here I am sitting on a boot at the entrance to The Depot. This one features a list of all the Wyoming Governors along with some fancy artwork. The Depot is right at the center of the old town. The street that runs parallel is Lincolnway, which is old highway 80, and looking straight north from The Depot is Capitol Avenue ending with an awesome view of the State Capitol, its dome shining in the sun.

This photo has nothing to do with our anniversary dinner, but we pass by it every time we go into or come from town. We always think about Jody Foster and the movie "Contact", and wonder if Cheyenne is looking for aliens, too!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Around Town

Mr. Keith and I took a Sunday drive just around Cheyenne to check out some places we'd earlier driven past. In late April we visited the Botanical Gardens, but the grounds had not been planted yet. This time there were lovely plots of flowers everywhere. I didn't take any photos of the flowers, not sure why, but we did love this walkway through a swampy area next to a tiny, reedy lake where some boys were fishing. The signposts had little blurbs about life in the marsh. It was a delightful place to walk, teeming with dragonflies and red-winged blackbirds along with other wiggly critters in the deep grass.

There is a larger lake near the Gardens, also. Small groups of people, adults and kids, lined the rail fence with their fishing poles propped up, hoping for a catch. I liked this view of some of the many ducks and geese keeping cool on a hot day. Old, gnarly willow trees shade the shoreline, and huge cottonwoods add to the beauty of this place. I've read that the cottonwood is the Wyoming state tree.

The Wyoming Governors' mansion, built in 1905 at a cost of $33,000 and used to house the Governors and their families through 1976, is a commanding sight. It's open to the public, restored to its former glory to the tune of $1,000,000, and is right near to the majestic State Capitol building, which we will tour on another day. The tour guide showed us a video about the history of the 4 story mansion and then left us alone to wander through the rooms as we liked. Here's a funny - I've begun using my cane when I know we'll be doing lots of walking, just to give some stability to my old arthritic hip, and when she saw it, she told me I could maybe just make it up to the second floor but not the third floor or the basement because the staircases were narrow and steep. Hmm - throw me a challenge! The stairs were indeed steep, but we had no trouble, and it was well worth the climb. The rooms are beautiful. I especially liked the grand piano we found in the library!

Hunger pangs hit us after our visit to the mansion so we headed for fast food. Frequently we will each want to visit a different restaurant. Mr Keith chose Taco Bell and I preferred McDonald's, so we drove through both, got tacos for Keith and an Angus burger for me, and headed down to Holliday Park where we ate and watched the large population of Canada geese and these domestic white geese, with a few Mallard ducks mixed in. I wish I had been quick enough to snap the hilarious sight of about 50 Canada geese following a little boy who was tossing pieces of bread to them. He truly was the Pied Piper! I did put my camera into action when these white beauties came up to the car. They quickly gobbled up the remainder of my hamburger bun, squawking loudly the whole time. We will come another day with plenty of bread crumbs and let ourselves be entertained by these seasoned moochers. There is lots to see in Cheyenne, enough to keep us busy for the rest of the summer!