February 23, 2010
Sandhills at Sundown
Arizona attracts a multitude of bird watchers – novices to fanatics. Cochise County in the southeast corner of the state is especially rich in avian habitat: riparian zones, sky islands, canyons and playas.
Some years ago we stopped into the visitor center in Willcox, AZ during a February trip. I overheard a staff member describing the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area near McNeal. “Last week when they did a count there were over 11,000 Sandhill Cranes and 2,000 Snow Geese. The hour before sunset is a great time to see them fly in after a day of field feeding.” We added Whitewater Draw to our afternoon agenda – and have returned every year we’re in the area.
When we arrive at Whitewater draw we spot only a few cranes pecking around corn stubble in a nearby field or standing one-legged in shallow water. Armed with binoculars and cameras we follow the trail around Cattail Pond to one of the viewing platforms. We hear rumbling “swish, swish, swish” several seconds before spotting a dark, airborne wave approaching from the north.
Soon we can distinguish literally hundreds of wings seeming to flap in unison. With wingspans in excess of six-feet a lot of air is displaced with each downbeat. After a couple of slow circles the Sandhill Cranes glide in for a landing, line after line resembling a well choreographed dance. The water seems to fill as the next wave circles. Sandhills stand more than three feet tall, their gray plumage tinged with shades of russet. We admire the long graceful necks and distinctive red forehead patch.
Honking announces a V-formation of Snow Geese high overhead. On land or water they appear all white but their black tipped wings are evident in flight. The geese settle in among the cranes, neither perplexed by the other.
As the last stragglers arrive we watch cranes and geese settle in for the night. Some flit from group to group – must we the teens – while most fold one leg up into their breast feathers and “crane” necks 180-degrees to bury heads into thick back plumage.
It’s time we leave our amazing nature experience. As we drive the rural roads headed to Benson for food and lodging we bask in one more phenomenon – an Arizona sunset.
Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, Cochise County, Arizona
February 21, 2010
Recalling Figure Skating History
World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame
As the 2010 Winter Olympics unfold across television screens, millions of viewers get swept into the beauty and drama of figure skating competition. Memories glide back to skaters of fame and infamy. Truly, I’m not old enough to remember skating sweetheart Sonja Henie, Olympic champion in 1928, 1932 and 1936. However, I easily recall Carol Heiss competing in the 1956 Olympics and earning the gold medal in 1960 at Squaw Valley. Since then, with each Winter Olympics, I’ve eagerly anticipated each stroke, sit spin and Salchow.
The World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs takes visitors through an interesting history of skates and development of the sport as well as great skating moments. It’s the only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to the history of figure skating.
From my earliest attempts I was always skating challenged – spending more time on my ankle bones than on the blades. I could barely make it around the rink let alone execute jumps and spins. In preparation for 2010 Olympic viewing I gravitate towards the museum’s graphic displays detailing the differences of a toe loop, Axel and Lutz jump.
I’m always intrigued by the display of historic skates from cultures around the world. In the eighth century, shank bones were strapped to footwear for transportation across the ice. Indeed, the English word “skate” is derived from the old German word schake, meaning shank or leg bone. Skates from the 18th century show a variety of cast iron blades with elaborately curved prows. I’m still trying to imagine skating on the circa 1900 Japanese skate with a wooden platform and cloth toe thong. When I spot a pair of child’s circular blade “ice walkers” I know that’s where I should have started.
The museum’s art collection demonstrates skating’s popularity as a subject for artists through the centuries – Delft china to an Andy Warhol painting of Dorothy Hamill. Bronze sculptures capture the flowing lines and grace we associate with the sport. A finely-detailed silver figurine commemorates the only known military battle fought on ice skates, the Battle of Ij in 1572. Accounts say that Dutch troops crossed a frozen river on skates to surprise their Spanish adversaries. The Spanish captain promptly order several thousand pairs of skates for his soldiers. The legend is that the Spaniards lacked both the will and the skill for skating success.
Competition fuels modern battles on the ice. Don’t we all remember Tonya Harding’s scheme to literally “knock” Nancy Kerrigan out of the 1994 Olympics? One piece of skating history not memorialized at the museum. Last week we were subjected to a day of whining after Evgeni Plushenko placed second in Vancouver. Even Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighed in with his opinion.
Figure skating was the first winter sport contested in the modern Olympics – 1908 in London. Olympic memorabilia abounds recalling positive highlights – posters, costumes, pins, videos, stories from the athletes and even Scott Hamilton’s 1984 Gold Medal.
When You Go: The World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame is tucked away in the Broadmoor neighborhood at 20 First Street, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hours are 9am-4pm Monday – Friday and 10am-4pm on Saturdays, May through October.
World Figure Skating Museum and Hall of Fame
February 20, 2010
Denver’s “Mile High” Special
February 20 – March 5
The highly successful Denver Restaurant Week returns with a bang. Diners reap the rewards from the program’s popularity with two weeks of Mile High specials in 2010. Not mile high as in extravagant but mile high in reference to Denver’s 5280’ altitude – A Mile High. More than 260 (281 at last count) metro-area restaurants will offer multi-course dinners for the price of $52.80 for two or $26.40 for one. Price does not include tax or gratuity. Restaurant “Week” runs from February 20 – March 5, 2010.
Join in the culinary celebration by trying a newly opened restaurant, returning to an old favorite or finally getting to one that’s on your wish list. Geographically the range stretches from Longmont (Terrior Restaurant), Niwot (Colterra) and Boulder (Q’s and Laudisio) in the north Metro area to Sedalia (Gabriel’s) and Parker (Trappers Chophouse) in the south, and from Conifer (Raven’s), Evergreen (Aspen Grill) and Kittredge (Black Hat Cattle Co.) on the west to the eastern edge of Aurora (Wine Experience Cafe).
The variety spans the culinary world from steakhouses such as Elway’s and Del Frisco’s to Nick-N-Willy’s take and bake pizza in Highlands Ranch. Looking for ethnic? Here is a sampling of ethnic options:
- Brazilian – Fogo de Chao Churrascaria
- Caribbean – 8 Rivers Modern Caribbean
- Chinese – Jing Restaurant
- Cuban – Cuba, Cuba Cafe & Bar
- French – Le Central French Restaurant
- Indian – India’s Pearl
- Irish – Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery
- Italian – Brio Tuscan Grille
- Japanese – Sonoda’s
- Latin – Samba Room
- Mediterranean – Rioja
- Middle Eastern – Phoenician Kabob
- Mexican – Tamayo
- Spanish – Ondo’s Spanish Tapa’s Bar
- Vietnamese – Saigon Landing Restaurant
Browse Denver Restaurant Week for the $52.80 specials offered by each participating restaurant. Reservations strongly advised. Bon Appétit!
February 14, 2010
USA Cheers to Johnny Spillane
Steamboat Springs native Johnny Spillane won the first ever Olympic medal for an USA Nordic Combined team member today. Spillane’s second place finish brings home a silver medal to Ski Town USA while competing in his fourth Olympics.
As with many Steamboat children Spillane started skiing as a toddler at age two. The family lived just two blocks from Howelsen Hill where he started serious ski jumping when he was eleven-years-old. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has been a major influence for the community’s youth for 97 years with more Olympians coming out of the program than any other in the country.
Today’s event was the Men’s Normal Hill Individual combining one ski jump and a 10-kilometer cross-country ski race. Steamboat’s Todd Lodwick placed fourth in today’s competition. Hopes are high for the USA team to bring home more medals from Vancouver in Nordic Combine events.
Meanwhile Steamboat’s trademarked Champagne Powder is falling and skiers of all levels are celebrating great skiing and Spillane’s silver medal.
February 11, 2010
Pow Pow Platter – 3 for $99
There’s only 24 hours left to take advantage of the Pow Pow Platter special deal to ski three of Colorado’s premier resorts for only $99.
Winter Park/Mary Jane
The Pow Pow Platter serves us one day of skiing at each resort. the offer is only available online and a 48 hour advance purchase is required. To purchase, visit skicolorado.com.
The Pow Pow Platter serves up three of Colorado’s finest resorts – Winter Park / Mary Jane, Steamboat, and Copper Mountain for the tasty price of only $33 per day. That’s right, for just $99 you can ski one day at each of these fine mountains. Days do not have to be consecutive.
What at great way to get a taste of Colorado slopes!
February 10, 2010
Month of Love
Love is in the air at Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel the entire month of February. Sappy, simple or splendidly over the top – whatever style you choose the Brown Palace staff stands ready to accommodate.
Planning a proposal? Make your loved one feel like a movie star by setting the scene of a favorite romantic movie. For example, the “Open Me” scene from Serendipity. The package includes a luxurious guestroom overnight stay, rose petals to cover the room, candies placed throughout the room, four wrapped boxes from largest to smallest with the ring box placed in the smallest box, and champagne toast after she says yes. Priced starting at $249.
Remember the scene from Pretty Woman when Richard Gere pulls up in a white limo with music blaring and climbs through the moon-roof with flowers in hand to proclaim his love for Julia Roberts? Big spenders can purchase the Pretty Woman package with 6-hour white limo rental and chauffeur, a dozen roses, luxurious guestroom and champagne, starting at $969.
Want something unique and personal? “Your song” playing when you enter the room, favorite flowers, recreate a special date – there are a multitude of possibilities when you work with the hotel’s designated Love Director to plan your own special proposal.
It doesn’t have to be a proposal to add romantic touches to a Brown Palace stay. Consider one of these Romantic Room Additions:
- Rose Petal Turndown ($27): Create a romantic ambiance with scattered red rose petals on the bed.
- Heart Petal Turndown ($54): Surprise your loved one with a bed of red rose petals in the shape of a heart.
Initial Rose Petal Turndown ($54): Add a personalized romantic touch with your initials written in rose petals on the bed.
- Chocolate Fondue ($54): Spend a relaxing evening enjoying a delicious assortment of dipping items with chocolate fondue. Must be ordered 5 days prior to arrival.
- Bottle of Champagne (Starting at $54): Toast to your love with a bottle of bubbly.
- Bottle of Wine (Starting at ($54): Toast to your love with a bottle of red or white wine.
- Two Cocktails Delivered to Room or in Lobby ($28): Enjoy two cocktails in your room or in the beautiful atrium lobby. Cheers!
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries ($24): Enjoy a sweet treat with strawberries kissed by creamy chocolate.
- Bath Bliss ($43): Draw a relaxing bath with soothing bath salts, two candles, and bubble bath.
Every Sunday in February Ellyngton’s brunch becomes a Chocolate Brunch decadently featuring chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Champagne and live music add to an unforgettable special occasion.
An aphrodisiac inspired 4-course dinner highlights the Palace Arms’ menu February 12-14. They’re sure you’ll love every bite. The other Friday and Saturday nights of February lovers can indulge in the 6-course Month of Love dinner.
Relax together with the 50-Minute Swedish Couples Massage in the spa’s romantic couple’s room. Throughout the month women will be treated to a glass of champagne, truffles and a rose with every spa service. Or, how about the Chocolate Covered Cherry Scrub – a chocolate scented body scrub followed by soothing cherry oil? Pampering deluxe.
You can even show your pet how much you love them with Puppy Love. Brown Palace dog bowls and plush dog bed to use during their stay and heart-shaped gourmet bones included in the package.
Love is in the air – get sappy at the
“Affairs of the Heart” Tours
Photos courtesy of the Brown Palace Hotel.
February 9, 2010
Although February is Month of Love at Denver’s Brown Palace Hotel they recognize not everyone feels romantic. For those recovering from a recent breakup, tossing the bum out on his ear or divorce the hotel offers the Love Stinks package. The guest can decompress with a stress relieve massage, enjoy a make-your-own cocktail mix of mojito, martini or cosmo, receive a copy of the “Love Stinks” single by J. Geils and a copy of the book, He’s Just Not That Into You: the No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys.
Treat yourself or give a gift to a friend who needs a self-pity party.
“Affairs of the Heart” Tours
Month of Love
Photo courtesy of the Brown Palace Hotel.
February 8, 2010
Free Garden Visit
Residents and visitors in the Phoenix/Scottsdale region can enjoy a FREE visit to the Desert Botanical Garden tomorrow, February 9, 2010, from 1-8pm. The garden occupies 50 acres of Papago Park, and is home to a broad collection of desert plants and foliage. Join a free docent tour to learn secrets and myths of common and rare species.
Themed trails through the acres include the Desert Discovery Loop, Desert Wildflower Loop, Herb Garden, Sonoran Desert Nature Loop and
Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail. Take a leisurely break at the Patio Cafe for lunch or afternoon refreshment.
In cooperation with the Heard Museum an exhibit of Allan Houser’s bronze sculptures currently enriches the garden experience. A renowned Native American artist, Houser gained world-wide recognition for his modernistic works before his death in 1994.
Whether you can take advantage of the February 9, 2010 FREE day or not put the Desert Botanical Garden on your “To Do” list while in Phoenix.
Click to see a slide show of Desert Botanical Gardens images.
Previous Desert Botanical Garden Posts
Chihuly: The Nature of Glass by Night
Dale Chihuly Nature of Glass Exhibit
February 6, 2010
Tracing Lincoln’s Trail
Abraham Lincoln was born in a simple Kentucky cabin 201 years ago. With little formal education but great vision, determination, and integrity he abolished slavery and preserved the Union of the United States. Even 145 years after his death the impact of his leadership lives on. Trace his trail from humble boyhood to the presidency by visiting one of the national or state sites memorializing Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site – Hodgenville, Kentucky
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial – Lincoln City, Indiana
Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site – Petersburg, Illinois
Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site – Lerna, Illinois
Lincoln/Douglas Debate Museum – Charleston, Illinois
Lincoln Home National Historic Site – Springfield, Illinois
Lincoln – Hendon Law Offices – Springfield, Illinois
Old State Capitol - Springfield, Illinois
Ford Theater National Historic Site – Washington D.C.
Lincoln Tomb – Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois
Lincoln Memorial National Memorial – Washington D.C.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum – Springfield, Illinois
February 5, 2010
Posted by Nancy Yackel under Travel
| Tags: History
Meet Mr. Lincoln / Mr. President
A visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, Illinois offers a broad perspective on our 16th president. As we celebrate his 201st birthday, this facility is the best place I’ve seen to meet Mr. Lincoln.
Exhibits and multi-media theaters, entitled “Journeys”, relate Lincoln’s life and influence. Journey One takes us through the Pre-Presidential Years. Beginning with “Carving a Family Home.” We visit a log cabin symbolic of his early years growing up in Indiana. “Self-Taught” takes us to his teen years and the image of Lincoln reading borrowed books by firelight. “On the River, The Slave Auction, New Salem, Life in Springfield, The Permissive Parent, Campaign 1860, On to Washington” vignettes propel us to the beginning of Lincoln’s presidency.
After completing Journey One, The Union Theater presentation “Lincoln’s Eyes” offers a change of pace and more insight. The state-of-the-art theater presentation immerses the visitor into the dramas and issues facing Lincoln. We come away with a deeper understanding of his vision, courage and integrity.
Journey Two spans the White House years as we move from the “White House South Portico’ to “What Are They Wearing in Washington?” and the beginning of the Civil War at ”Fort Sumter.” I found “The Whispering Gallery” one of the most impactful scenes. In a twisted hallway we hear the unkind voices of critics talking about the Lincolns’ first months in Washington. Political cartoons and ugly caricatures cover the walls. We realize that history tells a different story than the views and fears of any political time.
The story continues through more than a dozen scenes – “The Death of Willie, Emancipation Proclamation, The Gettysburg Gallery, Ford’s Theater,” and “The Funeral Train.” The compelling “Lying in State” is a recreation of Springfield’s Old State Capitol and the lavish trappings of Victorian-era mourning. A hushed reverence settles on visitors as they pass the closed replica casket. I feel as if I am paying my last respects.
A second theater presents “Ghosts of the Library.” The historian/curator host of the dramatic presentation takes us magically into the Presidential Library. He explains the importance of preserving items such as a music box or quill and the history they relate. My husband is still talking about the live actor slowly dissolving into thin air. We later learn about the Holavision® technology used in the show.
Additional permanent exhibits include a Treasures Gallery of actual items that were part of Lincoln’s everyday life and Ask Mr. Lincoln, an interactive theater where you’ll get answers and advice in Lincoln’s own words. Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic is a hands-on room for kids of any age. Dress up as a Civil War soldier, rearrange the furniture in the Lincoln Home doll house or take pictures with a life-size cutout of young Abe. The Illinois Gallery houses temporary exhibits.
You’ll be amazed at the Lincoln Museum experience – Disneyesque yet relating an important part of our nation’s history. This is not your grandfather’s museum of dusty relics. You’ll spent twice as long as planned and even hard-to-entertain kids will come away with a vivid history lesson they’ll remember.
An extensive gift shop offers more Lincoln related items and books than you can imagine. Across the street The Presidential Library houses a repository of materials relating to Lincoln and the state of Illinois. You’re welcome to enter but facilities primarily serve scholars and researchers.
When You Go: The Museum is open daily 9am-5pm except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days. Check the website for admission fees and visitation details.
LINCOLN BIRTHDAY WEEKEND EVENTS
AT THE ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM
- Sandra Fritz will portray "Mrs. Wade" in the Ford’s Theatre exhibit (10:15 am – 1:00 pm)
- Patricia James Davis will perform "From My Front Porch" in the Union Theatre – afternoon
- Mike Anderson performs 19th century music in the Plaza – morning
- Dale C. Evans & Steve Staley perform 19th century music in the Plaza – afternoon
- Heartland Brass Band performs Civil War era music in the Plaza – 10:30 am
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