Sunday, July 31, 2011

Following the Peak to Peak to Allenspark

The drive from dinner (in Lyons) to Allenspark took us on part of the Peak to Peak Scenic and Historic Byway. It was a beautiful drive. We could definitely feel the rise in altitude and were glad we had reconsidered making this our first night. Lyons was officially 5,375 and Allenspark is 8,520 feet above sea level.

We stayed in this charming three-story lodge that was begun in the 1930's and added on to several times.

In the evening, I enjoyed a hot bath in a claw-foot tub as the full moon rose over the mountain. A deer walked past our car out front. 

The sun rose so very early; by 5:45, it was quite bright. The plentiful breakfast was very nice and we enjoyed the conversation at our table with probably a dozen other guests and one of our hosts. There was a second table, as well.

Here is a peek inside the original sitting room.

This collection of riding tack adorns one corner of the porch.

We liked the bumper sticker on their truck.

Just down the road, was this colorful metal sculpture: a pelican. I thought is seemed terribly out of place. A crow, maybe. Or a woodpecker. Even a buzzard. But a rainbow-colored pelican?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lyons: Quite a Mix of Old and New

Leaving Boulder, we started climbing higher and I could feel it. It never seemed to bother B, but I did all those things they tell you to do to ward off altitude sickness and that was probably what helped me to just keep going.

Because we were staying the night at a bed and breakfast in a rather isolated area, we needed to make sure we had our supper in Lyons. We arrived in town too early to think about eating, so we walked around the couple of streets that make up the "downtown." We wandered in and out of shops and there was interesting stuff to see, such as this wacky newspaper box.

This large mobile swung in the breeze, with its parts spinning.

The old buildings, planters and  benches are made of the red sandstone that is still quarried just outside the town. This stone is famous for its beauty, strength and versatility and has been used world-wide. Lyons sandstone is being used to make the memorials at the sights of the 911 tragedies. Many of the settlers came to farm but soon discovered their pay-dirt was actually rock. The  building below, dated at 1917, now houses a large antique shop. 

The church is a little older.

We thought it had a very interesting, formidable look. Not much snow is going to pile up on the roof!

Down the street, however, this place simply confounded me. It was an Asian restaurant. The "Open" sign was lit (in a Christian fish symbol---??) but....

The sign by the door read:

Well, they are .....close.
And then the "chair" sign in front of another shop read, "Have a seat! Try it out!"
We might try, but we will not  buy.... for the asking price of $450.00.

We had a good dinner at Oskar Blues, a microbrewery. Sitting by the window, B watched a flatbed semi-truck, loaded with huge slabs of sandstone, chug its way through town.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Oddity on the Road to Lyons

Our plan was to have dinner in Lyons, Colorado before going  up higher to Allenspark. The road between Lyons and Boulder goes through a wide valley. There were folks on a hiking trail, but my thought was that the view really did not change as you walked through  rocks (not boulders) and tallish grass for miles.

As we drove along, we happened by this sculpture in a trailer park yard:

Yes, they are electric irons! And there are a lot of them! If I counted correctly, there are twenty on the bottom row.

There may well be a story that goes with this display, but we needed to "press" on.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Boulder Falls

Our second day, we drove up the winding road into the mountains above Boulder, following Boulder Creek. If it was flooding at the bottom in town, it was foaming and wild up  higher.

Eventually, we came to a confluence with another creek and hiked just a few yards to see Boulder Falls. It was quite impressive. If you click on the picture below you can see the people on the left at the base of the upper falls.

It was at this site that we came upon a professional photographer, snapping away. I asked her if  she could help us by identifying a couple of trees. Her authoritative response was, "They are evergreens; you can tell by the cones."  (We were hoping for something a little more specific.)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Dushanbe Tea House

Boulder has a tea house that was a gift from its sister city in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The tea house was constructed in various places in that country over a period of three years. Each part is hand painted, hand carved,  hand-worked metal. It arrived in 1990 in 200 crates. I think it is interesting that while it took three years for the craftsmen to create it, it was eight more years before it was assembled and ready for the opening. A crew of Tajik artisans even accompanied the teahouse to assist with the assembly. Sounds like they may have run into some "red tape," doesn't it?  (Having been formerly part of the Soviet Union, you might have expected that they would have been familiar with that. Red, get it? Oh, well.)

The lovely front entrance:

We did not go inside and I think that was probably a mistake. Looking online at the photographs, shows that it was stunning in where they were serving dinner.

Here are the pictures I took of some of the details of the exterior. Most of what you see here are ceramic panels. The designs are Persian. 

Such colors in the patterns!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Everybody Likes Boulder

Everybody likes Boulder and we could see why. It has the  university and art and nature and shopping. It is walkable and bike-able. When we were there the temperature was mostly pleasant.

We ate pizza in a microbrewery in the outdoor Pearl Street Mall. Later, we joined many others in a stroll in the comfortable evening air. There is a shop that specializes in Swiss Army Knives. Supposedly there is a neat museum in the back but the place was closed. We thought the display in the shop window was interesting. It was stripped trees, made to stand and as you can see, they had stuck Swiss Army knives all in them.

There are lots of bike paths in Boulder and we were interested to see this bike rental station. Notice it is powered by the sun. There are return stations all over.

 We enjoyed a walk along the Boulder Creek path that begins here.

It had been raining more than usual and there was still snow melt run-off and so the creek was flooding in places. This bench might not be your best choice of seats.

The wildflowers along the path were lovely and entirely new plants to us.

Cottonwood and other trees lined the way. Here are two giant cottonwoods. Sadly, it was rotten between them. 

A fish observatory is built into the bank of the creek. Because  of the flooding, it was full of mud by the windows. But the water was so turbulent, you could not see anything anyway.

The white in the picture below is rushing water in the creek.

I'd say the only thing that I found disturbing about Boulder was the presence of teen beggars. Panhandlers are found in most places, but I am not used to seeing teens with signs. There were not great numbers of them, but they were out in the Pearl Street Mall. Other than that, it was a really attractive town.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Around REI in Denver

Our next stop was the REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) store in downtown Denver. (Think Bass Pro shop.)  In a word: HUGE. It is in an old (1901) powerhouse beside the river. We found shopping on three (sometimes disconnected) floors.

Yes, that is a rock climbing wall in the middle.

There had been--and continues to be-- a lot of rain in eastern Colorado and, along with the snow melt, the rivers and creeks are running full. People were white-water canoeing and kayaking in back of the store.

Around the corner from the store, Mona was smiling, watching it all.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Big Foot Tracks at Dinosaur Ridge

When we began planning our trip, I knew that I wanted to see dinosaur fossils. Dinosaurs never lived in Florida, so, though we have lots of fossils around, we have no dinosaur fossils. Colorado has plenty of them.

Conveniently, Denver---actually, Morrison--- has a little museum and outdoor hiking area where we were able to find just what I wanted to see: dinosaur tracks.

No, not that one. That is the bottom of a kid's sneaker in the gift shop. Isn't that clever?

And not this one. It is just sunlight shining through a cut-out in the roof.  Again: clever.

Here is what I came for:

Another sign said, these tracks were made by animals that were 20-30 feet long. 

A hundred million years ago, this hill that is now rock was a flat  mangrove swamp on the edge of the interior seaway. (While I can buy that it was flat and wet, I can not quite wrap my brain around the time frame.)

The rocks below show the impression of the roots of the mangrove trees.

Here is the wave  print in the stone that looks just like wave prints that we see at the beach today.

Here are a couple of the colorful displays outside the gift shop.

By the way, when you are flatlanders who start their day at sea level, this little hill up to the fossil display can test your lungs, as it is over a mile above sea level. The road is only for the tour bus, walking, and biking (at break-neck speeds down!)