Tuesday, May 28, 2013

CENTRAL CITY/BLACK HAWK, CO on "TRAVEL TUESDAY"

About a 40 minute drive west of Denver, lies what was once known as the Richest Square Mile on Earth - two tiny towns, adjacent to one another - Central City and Black Hawk, CO.
Central City was founded in 1859, during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, after a gold-bearing vein was discovered in Gregory Gulch between Black Hawk and Central City. Within two months many more veins were discovered and, by 1860, as many as 10,000 prospectors had flocked to the town.  There are said to be 17,000 old mining claims in the county.  Before you go hiking or exploring, check to make sure you're not trespassing - laws are strictly enforced.  Stay on trails and watch your footing (one of the deepest reported mines around the area is said to be 2,000 feet deep - they didn't just go into the sides of mountains), and definitely stay out of the old workings.
Marie Curie used to mine in an area south of Central City's Glory Hole Mine, for her radium studies in Paris; Dr. Florence Sabin lived in the Central City mining camp, and was the first female physician to graduate from John Hopkins University; and Baby Doe Tabor, wife of the silver magnate Horace Tabor, once lived in Central City and Black Hawk (http://www.centralcitycolorado.com/history.php).
In 1991, Colorado legalized gaming in three old mining towns (Cripple Creek, south of Denver, being the third), as well as the Reservation-run casinos throughout the state.  Every effort has been made to preserve the old buildings, while incorporating the newer casinos into the landscape.  Black Hawk, which is below Central City (and only separated by a mile) boasts 18 casinos - Central City has 8, many of which are housed in the original buildings of the little town.  Below is the interior of the Ameristar, in Black Hawk - living in Las Vegas, I can say (with a tiny bit of authority) that this could hold it's own on The Strip.
Gambler or not, there is plenty to take in around town...the Teller House Hotel was built in 1872, and said to have been the finest hotel west of the Mississippi.  In 1874 most of the buildings in Central City were destroyed by fire. The town was rebuilt, this time of brick and stone; most of these stand today, and are being/have been lovingly restored to their former glory.  The oldest operating Opera House in the United States today, is here - opened in Central City in 1878 (that would be the grand old building in the first photo of this post).
A walk through Central City is an easy little jaunt, though mostly uphill (at least one way - coming down's a breeze)...I made the loop through a light spring snowstorm to capture some of the "character" of town.  The charming Victorian house in the bottom left photo was for sale, and can be yours for only $199,000 - a hell of a deal!
Peek-a-boo, you!
One mile west of Central City (stay on the main drag, and it's at the top of the hill) lie three beautiful old cemeteries (Central City, Knights of Pythias, and the Catholic Cemeteries) with hundreds of ornate stone markers and intricate grill work, dating back to the 1860s - I walked in as far as my slick, leather cowboy boots and calf deep snow (from a prior storm) would let me get that day.
For those a little more adventurous, the mountaintop is dotted with a few more, harder to find, cemeteries - the larger, "rumored-to-be haunted" Masonic and Bald Mountain Cemeteries, to name a few...if you go, stop at the Visitor Center in Central City and ask directions.  All cemeteries are open to the public - visit and wander among the headstones for a poignant glimpse back at some local history, respectfully remembering that these are actual cemeteries that are still in use, to this day.
One of a few locomotives on display in Black Hawk - this one from 1896 actually ran through Clear Creek Canyon, from Golden to Central City, "back in the day".
An always breathtaking drive through Clear Creek Canyon (the towns can also be accessed by taking I-70 to the Central City Parkway) - this was the day after the light dusting of snow, and we were back to blue skies again.  The weather changes fast in CO - in fact, there's an old saying that goes, "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes".  Take a coat with you to the mountains on any given day (even in the summer - OK, make it a light jacket - Central City itself sits at 8,510 ft.) - you may not need it, but you don't want to be caught in those 15 minutes without it, either.

Hope you travel through the week safely...I have a recipe for sharing in a few.  Happy Tuesday - XOXO

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

BUFFALO BILL MUSEUM AND GRAVE, GOLDEN, CO on "TRAVEL TUESDAY"

High atop Lookout Mountain, towering above Golden, CO (home of Colorado School of Mines and COORS Brewing Company), is the final (and fitting) resting place of one of America's legendary frontiersmen, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.
I-70 from Denver, will get you there just fine (with a turnoff at Lookout Mountain Rd...find a GPS, don't take me at my word, though it's easy enough to get there)...the winding switchbacks of the historic Lariat Loop Byway will take you up the other side from Golden.  Plan to take the Loop for the scenery and vistas of the Great Plains, at least one of the ways, either up or down.
Born in 1846, Buffalo Bill went on to dabble in fur trapping, gold mining, riding for the Pony Express, soldiering in the Civil War, scouting for the Army, and buffalo hunting - but was undoubtedly most famous for his world renowned "Buffalo Bill's Wild West", in later years. 
This beautiful little museum will cost you all of $5.00 to tour ($4.00 for seniors, $1.00 for children 6-15...under that, you're free). There is no charge for wandering up the hill to the grave if you choose to skip the museum and just enjoy the beautiful views the area affords (do the museum, though - you'll be glad you did).
Cody founded "Buffalo Bill's Wild West", a circus-like attraction that toured annually throughout the United States and Europe, in 1883.  The show would typically begin with a parade on horseback, with participants from horse-culture groups that included US and other military, American Indians, and performers from all over the world in their best attire.  Visitors would be wowed by main events, feats of skill, staged races, and sideshows. Many historical western figures participated in the show - Sitting Bull appeared with a band of 20 of his braves, as well as other well-known headliners of the day such as Annie Oakley, Frank Butler, and Calamity Jane, to name a few.
The museum is featuring a special exhibit presently, dedicated to the American Indians who travelled with the show.  "Oskate Wicasa - One Who Performs" will be on display until January of 2014.
Performers re-enacted the riding of the Pony Express, Indian attacks on wagon trains, and stagecoach robberies. The show was said to end with a re-enactment of Custer's Last Stand, in which Cody portrayed General Custer, but this was more legend than fact, in all actuality. The finale was typically said to be a portrayal of an Indian attack on a settler's cabin. Cody would ride in with an entourage of cowboys to defend a settler and his family.
Trick and sharp shooting were also on the bill during the shows - there's a little something for just about every old west history buff at this museum...plus a hands-on area for the little ones, where they can dress up cowboy style - boots, chaps, the whole nine yards - and rope a steer.  An approximate 15 minute video at the beginning of the museum gets you off on a great start to your self-guided tour through the displays.
The Pahaska Tepee was built as the original Museum in 1921 and remains today as the Museum gift shop and cafe - a regional tourist destination for many decades, we had some pretty fabulous Root Beer Floats there that afternoon, after paying our respects to old Bill, up the hill, behind the "Tepee".
Cody died, in Denver, in 1917. There's been quite a bit of controversy over the years, that continues to this day, between the city of Denver and Cody, WY (and most recently, NE), over where exactly his final resting spot should be (after ALL these years). Family and friends affirmed, before burial, that Lookout Mountain was indeed his own, personal choice. 
On June 3, 1917, Buffalo Bill was buried on Lookout Mountain, a promontory with spectacular views of both the mountains and plains, places where he had spent the happiest times of his life. His wife, Louisa, lies beside him.  The walk to the grave is paved, and on a slight incline - nothing strenuous...just a beautiful stroll through the pines.
The grave and museum are open year-round - for more info on times and driving directions, as well as an online look at the museum offerings and special events, please visit BUFFALO BILL MUSEUM AND GRAVE.
As you travel through the foothills (or Colorado's larger mountain ranges) keep your eyes open for wildlife on the sides of and/or crossing roads (these are Mule Deer, or "Mulies", as they are also affectionately known).  A late winter/early spring storm was moving in the day we visited the museum, or those skies would be as brilliant blue as the background of the CO flag.
Til' next week on "Travel Tuesday", happy trails and SAFE travels!  Holding the people of Granbury, TX and Moore, OK, in our hearts - XOXO

Saturday, May 18, 2013

MAY 19th, or "ARVID'S DAY", AS IT'S BETTER KNOWN!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!
(I know I tend to come back to this picture often...maybe because it's a recent favorite...)
The mischievous twinkle in those young eyes, STILL there...he's the little guy in the photos - Arvid Carl Anderson, with big brother Robert, or Bob.  Obviously best of friends, too!
The son of a Swedish immigrant, Carl Rudolph Anderson, who jumped a ship at 16 and came to the United States - married himself an Irish-American gal, Catherine O'Brien, and raised two handsome and gentle sons.
The youngest of whom married and raised three children of his own, who went on to raise children of their own, and so on and so on...OK, mine are still single, and childless, and we want to keep it that way for awhile, at least.  Idolized by kids, grand kids, and great-grand kids, alike.
QUICK witted (Oh, is he EVER!), "all-knowing" (he arms himself with anything he can get his hands on to read, history wise, to this day), and patient enough to pose for some of the goofiest pictures and still smile through it!  He's a veritable walking encyclopedia, he is.  While my kids were growing up (and still to this day), if we couldn't figure something out answer, one of us would look at the other and say, usually in unison, "Call Grandpa!"  He knows some shit about some stuff, for sure.  Big Chief on Campus!
He's a "mover and a shaker" - I had to try and beat him up and out the door one morning, when visiting this Spring, to shovel the walks for him...no such luck.  His yard looks like a park (and that's why he hates on that squirrel in the back so much); his flowers look like a botanical gardens; and he's always fashionable and well mannered.  He's a card, he's a gem - he's my Dad...
HE'S MY HERO, in SO many ways!
Happy Birthday, Dad - I love you, and I WILL be there for the date next year, come hell or high water!
XOXOXOXOXO - TONY

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

COLORADO SPRINGS, PIKES PEAK, AND GARDEN of the GODS on "TRAVEL TUESDAY"

This March afforded me a trip back home just in time for a little snowy weather - something I haven't had the pleasure of enjoying (believe it or not, I DO miss the snow) except from afar, for the past 15 years, at least.  Not a lot of snow, but just enough to give this CO girl a "fix".  A blustery day, before it all blew into town, provided some beautiful skies around the area south of Denver, known as Colorado Springs.  If you're passing through this summer, there's a whole lot o' shakin' going on, worth checking out!
Probably most renowned, first and foremost, for the United States Air Force Academy (located 14 mi. north of downtown Colorado Springs) - THE ACADEMY is open to the public daily, from 8am - 6pm.  If you've never been, it's most definitely worth seeing - impressive and awe inspiring - and a big shout-out to Mackenzie, our friend and neighbor who JUST finished her finals and four grueling years, and has received her wings and is on her way to flying with the "big boys" in our Air Force - CONGRATS, Kenz! You ROCK, girl!
 
On this day, we travelled on past, and into the heart of The Springs, itself...lots of antique shopping and just "kickin' it" around town was on the agenda.  Keep your eyes open as you travel through - The Springs offers up plenty of old town charm while being the bustling, second most populous city in Colorado (Colorado Springs is located 65 miles south of Denver).
Nestled at the base of PIKES PEAK, one of Colorado's 54 "fourteeners" (mountains that rise more than 14,000 - Pikes Peak stands 14,115 feet, and rises 8,400 feet above the city), Colorado Springs boasts the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, as well as NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), nestled in the side of the same mountain.  We made a stop that day at the PIKES PEAK RANGE RIDERS MEMORIAL - a WAY larger-than-life sized bronze sculpture, of which my dad proudly possesses the much more manageable sized artist's proof.  The Springs has a little something for everyone, outdoors or in, along with usually brilliant BLUE skies.
6 miles northwest of Colorado Springs, lies another "Springs"...this one, MANITOU.   From their own website:  "Manitou Springs offers its visitors a wealth of attractions—ducky shops, lively pubs and restaurants, picturesque old-timey architecture, oodles of well-groomed hiking trails, eye-popping scenery the equal of virtually anything in Colorado, magnificent weather, and crazy events, like Carnivale and the Fruitcake Toss, that give fun-loving Manitou its reputation for being one of a kind. Here, you get to meet true Manitoids! We know you'll enjoy your visit here."  Could not have said it better - DUCKY, it is  - charming, too!  If you get to Colorado Springs, DO travel up the road to Manitou.
Which leads you right through town and into Colorado's most popular FREE park, GARDEN OF THE GODS.  Hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and horseback riding amongst some of the most breathtaking red rock formations you'd ever hope to see - 300 towering feet of formations!
All within sight of the majestic Pikes Peak...over 15 miles of hiking trails, if you're so inclined - some paved for convenience, most natural...all breathtaking (take your water - remember, the area is a mile above sea level).
The beautiful GARDEN OF THE GODS VISITOR CENTER is located at the entrance to the park (there's a cafe, in case you've worked up an appetite - restrooms, and it's all handicapped accessible).  Plenty of parking turnouts throughout the park to accommodate those who want to strap on their hiking boots, or just wander about with a camera.  Again, both the Park and Visitor & Nature Center are free and open to the public - check the website for hours.
And, if you've built up an appetite, the big neon sign back in Colorado Springs, might just have what you want...open since 1935, so they must be doing something right.  Can't vouch for the food, as it was too early in the day to stop, but the large Navajo atop the building was WAY cool...even if it wasn't lit.  And now that I've got a fire lit under me, Travel Tuesday hits Buffalo Bills' Grave, atop Lookout mountain, next week!  Until then, safe and happy trails to you...

Saturday, May 11, 2013

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, MOM!

To my Mother, Barb...Mom, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Wife (these two are QUITE the team!), Best Friend to more than she realizes - Happy Mother's Day!
To MY Grandmothers, Hazel and Catherine, without whom my wonderful parents wouldn't be here - Happy Mother's Day!  (UPPER photos of my Mom, little "Bobbie Jean"; her parents, Hazel and Herschel; and big sister, Violet - and Peggy...Mom's the little blond - there were quite a few years between her and her sister. LOWER photos of my Dad, Arvid; his Mom and Dad, Catherine and Carl; and his big brother, Robert)
I've spent a lot of time recently, going through old family albums and cataloguing, which afforded me some pretty great Mom memories...evidently I seem to have not enjoyed the picture taking so much.  Sorry I ruined so many childhood photos, Mom - at least it was just a stoic face at times, and not "another's" bad attitude - not sure, but she may have been trying to steal your purse!  For all the love you've dished out, and for never wavering in your family convictions - Happy Mother's Day!  You ROCKED then...you ROCK, now...
Especially those "killer", cat-eye glasses!  Me-OW!  Always the style maven - forever a Chico's girl...Happy Mother's Day!
For all the goofy s*%t she's put up with over the years, including posing for ridiculous photos as Annie Oakley, and with Buffalo Bill cutouts this Spring (more to come), because she's so cute and ALWAYS such a good sport - Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
And, because she's the kind of mother (and just general, all-around wonderful person) that she is, each and every year on Mother's Day, I get a gift from HER - like I'm her Mom or something?!  Or, just because she loves me.  I just opened these up - hand-embroidered dish towels, in a pattern I remember as a kid (and they smell like her - don't you just love those smells you associate with home?!).  Too beautiful to use in a household where dirty hands are plenty, and wanton disregard for special things runs rampant, I may have to hold onto these for after the kids are gone from the house, and then ban the husband from touching them, because he's the biggest dirty-handed kid of all.  I love these with all my heart...
 
I love YOU with all my heart - more and more with each passing year!  I could have NEVER asked for a more perfect Mom than the one I was dealt in this game of life -
XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, MOM!
 

Friday, May 3, 2013

FINNISH (ED)...

Or Dutch...
DONE!
Rockin' those new ribbons and lace...a great mixture of old and new, throughout - simple but lovely.
Broken and forlorn, no more - she seems to have a bit more of a smile on her little face today.  I forgot how much fun these small scale projects can be - quick and satisfying...wait for it...DOUBLE DUTCH fast!  Have a wonderful weekend - hope you find something to keep your hands and heart happy - XOXO