Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Denver - June 4, 2008 (36)

Denver Vacation - June 4, 2008

Elaine wanted to take us to a nature conservancy she knew of near Colorado Springs, south of Denver. It took us awhile to find it, but we finally did. Unfortunately the visitor centre was closed, but we were able to wander along the pathway and take a few pix. Lots of birds were around so the bird people were happy.

Aiken Canyon Preserve

A Foothills Ecosystem Hosts an Abundance of Species

Prairie lizard (I think).

Garden of the Gods

We drove back toward Colorado Springs where we visited Garden of the Gods. This is an amazing geological place.

Garden of the Gods is a public park located in Colorado Springs. The outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of red and white sandstones, conglomerates and limestone that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically and faulted by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Pikes Peak massif. Evidence of past ages; ancient seas, eroded remains of ancestral mountain ranges, alluvial fans, sandy beaches and great sand dune fields can be read in the rocks. A spectacular shear fault can be observed where the Tower of Babel (Lyons Sandstone) contacts the Fountain Formation.[1] The name Colorado is said to come from the color of the sandstone. There are many fossils to be seen: marine forms, plant fossils, and some dinosaur fossils.


All the rock features have names, and if I have a few minutes later on, I'll circle back and figure out what they are - in the meantime, get out your magnifying glass to read them from the sign in the pix.

Yeah - I know - the "wildlife."

Cathedral Valley

From Garden of the Gods, we hit the Garden of the Gods Trading Post, which has got to be one of the biggest "gift shops" on the planet! This place just went on and on and on. It had all sorts of stuff - from really nice to really tacky! If you want a "gift," this is the place to find it!
Another fine day in Colorado!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Denver - June 3, 2008 (35)

Denver Vacation - June 3

Elaine thought ahead and booked a tour of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) center in Boulder for us on this day. We all found this tour to be extremely interesting and would recommend it to anyone who is in the area. Tours must be booked ahead and are only available on Tuesday. Weather forecasting and weather warnings are done at the various NOAA centres around the country. This particular one is also home to a "space weather" office where solar flares are monitored. Check out the web link - there is lots of info there if you're interested.

This is a piece of art in the lobby of the NOAA building. It represents the earth and space systems studied at NOAA and features the names of many scientists over several hundred years who have contributed to the body of scientific knowledge of understanding atmospheric systems.

Boulder taken from the Chautauqua site, which is at a higher elevation.

Chautauqua is an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day. [from]

Chautauqua auditorium.

Dining Hall.

Dining Hall.

Flatirons in the background.

The Flatirons are rock formations near Boulder, Colorado. There are five large, numbered Flatirons ranging from north to south (First through Fifth, respectively) along the east slope of Green Mountain, and the term "The Flatirons" sometimes refers to these five alone. Numerous additional named Flatirons are on the southern part of Green Mountain, Bear Peak, and among the surrounding foothills.

The Flatirons were named by pioneer women after the flat, metal irons used to press their clothes.

Downtown Boulder.

We had our first experience with Ben and Jerry's ice cream down the street. It's a good thing we don't have it here - I'd become an addict!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Denver - June 2, 2008 (34)

Denver Vacation - June 2, 2008

Elaine is a very keen hiker and is quite familiar with the "Front Range." She thought a nice little hike for us would be to head northwest to Estes Park. We all piled into her little Subaru and off we went.

The Colorado Front Range is a colloquial geographic term for the most populous region of the State of Colorado in the United States which are just east of the foothills of the Front Range, from which the region takes its name. The region contains the largest cities and the majority of the population of Colorado, aligned in a north-south configuration on the western edge of the Great Plains, where they meet the Rockies. Geologically, the region lies mostly within the Colorado Piedmont, in the valley of the South Platte and Arkansas rivers on the east side of the Rockies. [from]

The majestic scenery of Rocky Mountain National Park combined with the home town hospitality of Estes Park transforms trips to the Colorado Rockies into dream vacations in paradise. Come for a day, a week, or more to visit this eastern gateway community to Rocky Mountain National Park.

With world class hiking and climbing, fishing, golfing, sightseeing, wildlife watching, galleries, unique shopping, an array of dining choices, options in lodging to meet every taste and Rocky Mountain National Park out the back door, there's something in Estes Park just for you.

Special events at Estes Park happen all year long. From wintertime snowshoe excursions through summertime outdoor festivals and holiday season celebrations, there are events that will keep you coming back for more. [from]

We feel right at home in the Denver region - it's quite similar to Calgary - similar terrain, similar climate (although at home that week it was raining most days while in Denver, as you can see in the pix, it was quite nice!).

Scruffy elk.

Big bull elk - I waited for a few minutes in the hope that he would turn his head and look back, but alas, he did not.

Bear Lake - note the snow across the lake. We were fairly high and there was still quite a bit of snow lying around in shady areas.

Mary and Elaine - we were on our short hike up to Alberta Falls - we thought it was an appropriate hike for a couple of Albertans. :)

Snow in the trees. Mostly the path was dry, which was good as we were only wearing running shoes.

The main event.
Jay.Alberta Falls again.

And again.

And again...
Again - yes they are different pix - this one has sky.

Looking back down the path through the trees. Note the aspens do not have leaves - again due to colder high elevation.

A group of kids.

Looking back again.

Bighorn sheep.

This is right in the town of Estes.

As is this water wheel. I think they should hook it up to a small generator - they'd get some useful "green" power out of it - certainly the day we were there it was turning at a good clip.

The main street in Estes. We ate dinner in a really cute Mexican restaurant on the patio by the river. Very pleasant.
Estes is a really pretty little town, much like Canmore. We enjoyed the day very much.