Colorado


Road Home

We retraced out first day in reverse for the final leg of our trip, heading east on US40 and then I-70. Cloudy skies bring light rain to the Yampa Valley and Steamboat Springs. We’re surprised at how much autumn color still adorns the hills and mountain sides. Know from reports and photos that we’ve missed one of the best Colorado fall seasons in years.

 

Steamboat Valley Color

 

Approaching Berthoud Pass newly fallen snow dusts slopes and rain becomes more constant. Resembling steam, clouds drift out of the valleys. As I drive Bob takes several windshield photos.

 

Berthoud Pass Snow Berthoud Pass Clouds

 

We left a month ago under rain and dense fog and return to the Denver area under a downpour. As we pull into the driveway the trip odometer reads 6,005 – miles traveled through nine states, two Canadian providences, countless experiences and memories.

A Carousel for Missoula – and, Bob

Bob at Missoula Carousel

When we travel we like to ride historic and/or hand-carved carousels, from New York state to Oregon we’ve visited these artistic creations. It took four years and over 100,000 hours of volunteer effort before the Carousel for Missoula took it’s first spin in 1995, truly a community effort and labor of love.

 

We’ve visited this Missoula treasure at least a half-dozen times when traveling through the area. When Bob made his bucket list for this trip high on that list was the Carousel for Missoula. We took two separate spins this afternoon – around and around at a pretty good clip. Afterwards we learned it is the second fastest carousel  in the United States. Bob’s smile was every bit as large as a three-year-old’s. The price was certainly right – 75 cents for seniors. We agree with their motto, “Where happiness comes full circle.”

 

Next on the carousel checklist is the one in Spokane’s Riverside Park. Check back in a few days.

 

Missoula Carousel Door

Travel Log – September 11, 2014

Centennial, Colorado – Vernal, Utah

Ridge at Dinasaur NM

Although the main goal for the day was putting some miles behind us as we head towards the Pacific Northwest we must have a least one activity. Our last visit to Dinosaur National Monument occurred in 1973, wasn’t it time for a revisit? What was intended as an hour off the highway stretched to nearly three as we explored the southwestern section of the park north of Jensen, Utah.

 

Quarry Interior Please Touch

The Quarry Exhibit Hall encloses a wall of an excavation site encasing more than 1,500 dinosaur bones including Allosaurus, Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodicus and Stegosaurus of the Jurassic Period. To every 4-year-old’s delight, in one area, you’re actually encouraged to touch. Or, see how you measure up to a femur bone.

 

Skull Bob - Measuring Up

The Monument includes much more than just fossils – canyons and fertile valleys the Green and Yampa Rivers,  ancestral history dating back thousands of years and the remnants of twentieth-century ranch life. We followed the Tour of the Tilted Rocks along Cub Creek Road searching out petroglyphs and pictographs – rock art left by inhabitants centuries past.

 

Goats & Guys

Rock NecklaceThe longer we study the panels the more details we note. While some images are easy to decipher (goats and men), others are left to interpretation.  Where they messages, historic records or decorative? Looks like a necklace design to me.

 

The road ends in a secluded, shady vale that was home to Josie Basset for 50 years. Walking through the dirt-floored cabin we can only imagine life as she knew it. We’re enticed by a couple of  trails leading to nearby canyons but it’s time to hit the road towards tonight’s destination – Vernal, Utah.

Josie's Cabin

Remembering 9/11

One regret from today is that we didn’t take the time to capture photographs of two inspirational sights. Two Colorado towns we passed through made special efforts to mark this 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

 

In front of the Granby fire station an extra large American flag hung suspended between the outstretched ladders of two gleaming red fire trucks.

 

Along the entire length of Victory Avenue (the route of US40) in Craig, Colorado was lined with literally hundreds of American flags, a project of the local Rotary club.

 

Stirring sights noting respect, honor and resolve – We will NOT forget!

Drive to Taos

No matter how many times we make the nearly 300-mile drive from the Denver area to Taos, New Mexico there’s always excited anticipation. In light of mid-summer paving projects on I-25 we opt to try bypasses for both Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

 

Bob at Pass KeyHeading west on US50 we spot a Pass Key Restaurant – a Pueblo tradition. Their Italian sausage sandwich is a favorite indulgence for Bob. We normally stop at the restaurant on Abriendo Avenue (near the original site of Pass Key Drive-In circa 1952)  so the US 50 location is new to us although they’re celebrating their 25th anniversary. Bob had his first Pass Key sausage sandwich in 1963 and could hardly wait for today’s edition.

 

Reaching Taos we’re delighted to get settled into the casita we’ve rented each summer for several years. Casa de las Abuelas is a modern adobe haven on a quiet Taos Lane. The private courtyard and patio calls us for a leisurely evening. For the next ten days our Taos home away from home.

 

Casita Patio

Castle Cafe – Castle Rock, CO

Pan Fried Chicken

 

How do you want your chicken – deep fried, roasted, broasted? I long for fried chicken right out of the cast-iron skillet, crispy skin, cooked to perfection just like Sunday dinner to Grandma’s decades ago. Pan fried chicken is nearly impossible to find in all of the Denver metropolitan area. A half-hour south of town there’s a cafe where we’re welcome to sit down to a family-style dinner highlighted by a platter of pan fried chicken.

 

Castle Cafe Chicken

 

We arrived on a Saturday a few minutes after five to occupy the last available table. Castle Cafe, in downtown Castle Rock, opens Monday-Friday for lunch, however the chicken dinner is only available during dinner hours, 4:30pm-close Monday-Saturday, 11:30am-8pm Sunday.

 

The dinner menu includes a full range of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrées and desserts. By far, the chicken dinner stars in popularity. Served family style for two or more orders the meal starts with a choice of soup, salad or slaw. The menu notes “Chicken is Cooked to Order – Please Allow 30 Minutes). Having skipped lunch we ordered a queso dip and chips with our drinks.

 

Sooner than expected a large tray of dishes was headed our way. A platter of chicken (each order includes ½ chicken), mashed potatoes, crackling gravy, veggies and homemade Parker House rolls. Even with high expectations we were not disappointed. Of course we couldn’t finish everything so a full box of leftovers accompanied us home. Desserts were tempting but we were much too well fed to indulge.

 

We noted that many extended families gathered for the chicken dinner, reminding us again of those long ago dinners at Grandma’s. With the restaurant’s popularity unless you’re willing to wait arrive early.  On this rainy evening people even waited outside under the awning and umbrellas. They won’t be disappointed.

 

When You Go: Castle Cafe, 403 Wilcox St., Castle Rock, CO, 303-814-2233, http://castlecafe.com.

Chihuly in the Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens & Desert Botanical Gardens

Purple Blue Boat

 

As we stroll the Denver Botanic Gardens and admire the Chihuly glass installations we’re reminded of seeing some of these same extraordinary pieces in the Sonoran Desert setting of the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

AZ - Purple Blue Boat

 

Variations between an arid dessert and a mile-high Rocky Mountain environment offers interesting contrasts. Saguaro and a plethora of other cacti, palms and palo verde create the backdrop in Phoenix. In Denver themes include Rock Alpine, Lilac, Woodland, Montane, Japanese and plains gardens.

 

AZ - Ball BoatAlthough Denver has a semi-arid climate, there are more water features in the gardens giving additional visual opportunities. Boats dry docked in the desert rest in lily pad studded ponds with striking reflections.

 

 

 

Ball Boat

 

 

We’ve been fortunate to see Chihuly permanent collections and special exhibitions in museums and gardens in a dozen cities. There may be similarities but no two shows are identical. In fact there may be changes during the course of an exhibition. Special glass pieces may appear in entirely different arrangements.

 

AZ - Green HornetsGreen Hornets in Pond

 

 

Please enjoy this slide show featuring the contrasting installations seen in earlier shows at the Desert Botanical Gardens and the current one at the Denver Botanic Garden (open until November 30, 2014).

 

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 We always see something we’ve never seen before, a new creation making every exhibition unique.

AZ - Blue Spiky Orb

Phoenix 2014

DBG 3

Denver 2014

Historic Baldpate Inn

Estes Park, Colorado

Baldpate Ext 2

At least once each summer or fall we head south of Estes Park for lunch at the Historic Baldpate Inn. The rustic log lodge was first established just two years after Rocky Mountain National Park was designated. Since them vacationers and locals have found rest and repast after a park hike or visit.Baldpate 1917

 

The glassed-in porch dining room lures us for the inn’s soup and salad bar – or, shouldn’t I say tub – accompanied by homemade breads and desserts. Each day two different soups are featured, generally one hearty meat soup and a vegetarian selection. Yesterday, when we visited, beef stew and pumpkin curry soup were the daily choices. We all gave double thumbs up to the pumpkin curry and the two guys also enjoyed the beef stew.

 

Baldpate Salad Tub

 

An antique clan-footed bath tub filled with ice holds an array of glass jars and bowls of salad choices. Starting with either a leafy greens mix or fresh spinach (or some of both) we then select from traditional add-ons such as cucumbers, red radiates, black olives, carrots, jicama,  bacon-bits, croutons, raisins. Homemade salad dressings top our custom salads. We also find three specialty salads each day. Yesterday we tried all three – fresh fruit in a lime/poppyseed dressing, a crisp corn/carrot/pepper salad and fruit in a light, creamy creation. Yum!

 

Baldpate Cornbread

Hearty wheat bread is a daily staple and almost always their ever popular cornbread. My son Michael had one bite yesterday and said, “Taste just like yours Mom.” That’s because when I make cornbread it’s right out of the Baldpate Inn Cookbook. Moist with cream-style corn and shredded cheese this recipe can’t be beat. Usually we find two kinds of muffins or hot rolls. The lemon blueberry muffins were yummy yesterday but my all-time favorites are the butterscotch banana muffins.

 

Baldpate Inn DessertThen it’s time for the very serious business of making one’s dessert selection. A silver tray holds slices of the available choices. Pies with flaky crusts are highlighted – rhubarb, cherry, blueberry, peach, apple, pecan, chocolate creme, key lime. Want it warm with a scoop of ice cream?

 

Walls of the dining room are covered with a historical collection of autographed photo portraits. Throughout our leisurely meal our eyes are drawn to the view across the pine forested treetops and the dozens of hummingbirds feeding just outside the windows. How could be ask for a better ambiance?

 

Baldpate Hummingbirds

 

Baldpate Inn Key RoomWe never leave without revisiting the key room. A mystery novel, Seven Keys to Baldpate, inspired the inn’s name. When the author visited the inn and stated it was so similar to his imaginary Baldpate Inn.

 

Contributed by loyal guests today’s key collection is thought to be the world’s largest and includes ones for the Pentagon, Westminster Abbey, and Frankenstein’s castle. Keys hang from the ceiling, cover the walls and fill glass display cases. Attached tags tell interesting histories Each visit reveals a new story; such as, Key No. 7 that seven-year-old Timmy stole in 1952 and returned sixty years later. We watch children of guests who’ve left keys in the past search for that one special family key.

 

Baldpate Key #7

 

Baldpate PorchThe porch calls guest to relax in one of the log rockers or the swing, enjoying deep breaths of pine-scented fresh air and conversation with family or friends. When the need to stir arises there’s a trail around nearby Lily Lake or longer hikes into Rocky Mountain National Park.

 

Baldpate lodging includes four cabins and twelve guest rooms in the inn – most of the lodge rooms share baths, all rooms have sinks, colorful quilts adorn each bed. Cabins range from one room to three bedrooms plus family room. All of the cabins have fireplaces and baths, two with whirlpools in addition to showers. Room rates include a three-course breakfast and late-evening snack. The Inn is open from Memorial Day weekend until mid-October. Perhaps we’ll return when golden aspen color the mountainsides.

 

Baldpate Ext 1

When You Go: Baldpate Inn, 4900 S. Highway 7 (7 miles south of Estes Park), 970-586-6151, www.BaldpateInn.com.

 

Baldpate Wagon

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