Sunday, July 29, 2018

Little Bear Saloon in Evergreen, Colorado


Doesn't everyone enjoy live music? My husband and I, and a couple of good friends drove up to the mountain town of Evergreen to visit the Little Bear Saloon on Saturday, where two friends, Mike and Nick, were performing live music during the lunchtime hours. (All photos will enlarge when clicked on)


The rustic Little Bear Saloon is exactly what you would imagine an old-time western saloon to look like, with its all wooden facade, swinging double door entrance, brass cash register, wooden bar stools booths and tables carved graffiti of names and dates, and forty years worth of legendary music. Little Bear was formerly a church, a drugstore, the Red Ram Saloon and the Round-Up Dance Hall. During the 60's and 70's, the saloon was known as the Red Ram, and Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, the Glenn Miller Band all performed here. Around the middle 70's the name had changed to Little Bear, and the music changed to the sounds of  Bo Diddley, Rita Coolidge, George Thoroughgood and many others, including Willie Nelson who had a house in Evergreen at the time and used to come down to Little Bear to jam with other musicians.


We ordered a pitcher of beer to share and enjoyed some really tasty and juicy hamburgers from their menu selections and sat back to enjoy a wonderful few hours of R Michael Rhodes performing, accompanied by Nick. On his website, Mike describes his music as: "...lighthearted, 'easy listening' feel and with storytelling lyrics that give it an incredibly nostalgic quality that is hard not to like." Mike was influenced in his music by James Taylor, John Denver, The Eagles, and Garth Brooks and he often plays cover songs of their hits, as well as songs he has written--click here-- to learn more on his website and to listen to his original songs.



We loved Mike's beautiful rendition of John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High," as I've always a big John Denver fan--click here to see my blog post about the John Denver Sanctuary in Aspen, Colorado. You can watch a few minutes of the song in the video above from my Mille Fiori Facebook page.  Click here to listen to it on my facebook page if you can not see the video. I think you'll agree that Mike has a wonderfully soothing and melodic voice and that he and Nick are superb guitar players.  The Little Bear house was packed for his performance and everyone had a wonderful time!

Some more views of the wonderful old honky tonk Little Bear Saloon. People have sent in many car license plates from all over the world to adorn their walls, including one that was near our table that was from America Samoa!
There were also signed dollar bills on the walls, photos of past bands, music memorabilia, and yes, even women's bras hanging down from on the rafters over the stage. Sagging old wooden steps lead upstairs to both a viewing gallery and pool tables, and almost every inch of wood in the saloon had carvings from countless past customers to view.  The Little Bear was a colorful place full of nostalgia and with music history in every corner! It is definitely worth a visit!

Little Bear is located at 28075 Highway 74 in Evergreen, Colorado, and continues its over forty years tradition of live music. You can check its upcoming schedule at this link.


Evergreen is a beautiful town to visit, and a walk around Evergreen Lake on a 1.3-mile loop trail is another wonderful thing to do during the day, in addition to visiting all the shops and restaurants of the downtown area. Boats and paddleboards and other equipment can be rented to enjoy the lake on the water, and in winter the lake becomes a popular ice skating rink.


Evergreen is just 30 to 45 minutes west of Denver in the beautiful foothills of Jefferson County. The drive along CO 74, which includes Bear Creek Canyon Scenic Mountain Drive, is famous for its awe-inspiring granite cliffs, diverse vegetation, wildflowers, and meandering Bear Creek.

We really enjoyed our day out in Evergreen and the historic Little Bear Saloon, and we wish Mike continued success in living his dream of pursuing music as his second career!

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Lavender Festival at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms


About five miles from where I live is a wonderful extension of the Denver Botanic Garden at the Denver Botanic Garden Chatfield Farm Chatfield Farm is a 700-acre native plant refuge and a native farm located along the banks of Deer Creek in Littleton, Colorado, at 8500 W. Deer Creek Canyon Road. Facilities include the Earl J. Sinnamon Visitor Center, the historical Hildebrand Ranch, a restored 1918 dairy barn and silo, the 1874 Deer Creek Schoolhouse, 2.5 miles of nature trails, the Deer Creek Discovery children’s play area and numerous wildflower gardens.  Every mid-July it holds a Lavender Festival. The festival includes lavender demonstrations, live music, craft and food vendors, farm tours and activities for children. (All photos will enlarge if clicked on)


Since 2015,  Denver Botanic Garden horticulturists have planted thousands of lavender plants at Chatfield Farms. Fourteen different varieties of lavender range from purple to blue to pink to white in color.


As this sign states, Lavender is a new commercial cash crop for the state of Colorado, especially on the Western Slope of Colorado. Lavender is traditionally grown in the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean and in Northern Africa, as it prefers a hot and dry climate with plenty of sunshine. It also does well in Colorado, as we get over 300 sunny days a year and certain areas have the sandy, well-draining soil that lavender loves to grow in.


It was wonderful to walk among the rows of lavender and smell their soothing scent!


Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. If you would like to see a Botanic Garden PDF of the varieties and descriptions of the lavender planted at Chatfield Farms click this link.


Lavender has many uses--click on the photos above to read how it has been used throughout the ages and where the name lavender originated.  I grow lavender in my garden and have used the dry buds for culinary uses in cookies and cakes, I also use the buds to make lavender scented sachets for my linen.
We also enjoyed listening to a bluegrass band, browsing the crafts and lavender products booths and enjoying some food at the festival  
Lavender bouquets were very popular items for sale, as well as products made with lavender such as essential oils, soaps, lotions, candles, and honey. There were also jewelry, clothing, pottery, artwork and other items for sale. We purchased some locally sourced lavender honey. 

We also visited the working farm to see what crops were growing. Produce is sold as part of the Chatfield Farms CSA. The Community Supporting Agriculture program (CSA) is the cornerstone of the Gardens' Urban Food Initiatives, growing seven acres of vegetables, flowers, and fruit for subscribers (shareholders) and farm stands.
We also enjoyed seeing the many beautiful flower gardens throughout Chatfield Farms, including one section where specific flowers were grown to use to dye cloth and threads.


There were also quite a few "plein air" artists painting the lavender fields and plants
Beautiful lavender...


...beautiful scenery. 

It was the perfect way to spend a day enjoying the Lavender Festival


 Judging from all the brand new lavender plants that were planted this year, it looks like the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms Lavender Festival will continue to grow through the coming years!


Do you like lavender? Do you grow it in your garden? 
If so, what is your favorite way to use your lavender?

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Summer Surprises!


A few blog posts ago--click here-- I showed some of the wildlife we are fortunate to see in our community in Colorado. Twin fawns were born in my next door neighbor's backyard and we watched them grow from their newborn wobbly legs stage until they were able to follow their mother around two weeks later.  Recently, I looked out my front window and saw their mother had left them in my front garden for the day! 
 I kept peeking out my window all day to take these photos, trying not to disturb them. Aren't they the cutest things? I am happy to see they are thriving!
Later that day mother doe came back and lead them through our backyard to open wild space near us for the night. It's a busy summer for her!
Another creature that has been busy this summer is this cinnamon-colored black bear! He has been spotted in our community quite a few times. He is coming down from the surrounding foothills very early in the morning and at night, to not only indulge in wild berries but also birdfeeders and garbage in garbage cans!  Our trails have bear-safe trash cans but most residents do not. We have been asked by our HOA to take down birdfeeders and to not put our garbage cans out until the morning of trash pick up, after 7AM.  There is a saying here that "A fed bear is a dead bear," as it is dangerous for a bear to associate humans with food sources. We are told to leave no food sources outside during the summer, and especially in the fall, when bears must consume 22,0000 calories a day in order to bulk up for winter hibernation. We are told if we see a bear to not run, and to make lots of loud noise to haze them away.  If a bear continues to search in an area where people are Colorado Parks and Wildlife rangers trap them, sedates them, tags their ear and then relocates them back to the wild. If they continue to come back to where civilization lives they are sadly euthanized. We obviously hope that does not have to happen! 


As you can see our community is snuggled up against the foothills. All around us is open space...


... lots of open space where wildlife lives.


We are also surrounded by many, many miles of wonderful trails, that are private only for use by residents. They are accessible to hiking, bicycle and horseback riders.

My husband and I love hiking our community trails year round, but in the summer we are always pleasantly surprised by...


...all the wonderful wildflowers we see!


I've taken many wildflower photos over the six summers that I've lived in Colorado--I never tire of seeing them and their variety.


I also try to grow my own flowers in my gardens in summer--not an easy task as the wildlife likes to eat them! In fact, those pretty pink lilies in the collage above were eaten by the twin fawns not long after they bloomed. I try to spray my flowers with a deer and rabbit repellant, but it doesn't always work so I enjoy them while I can. 
The very best flowers of all in my garden are my grandchildren! The photo of them in the collage above was taken during our July 4th celebration. They are all getting so big and I cherish all the time I am able to spend with them. It will be "back to school" time for them towards the end of August.


Summer passes quickly--
please make sure to take the time to enjoy it!


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Monday, July 9, 2018

Alpine Wildflowers at Summit Lake


In my last blog post --click here to read- I showed how my husband and I got caught in a snowstorm driving up to the summit of Mt Evans on the first full day of summer! Because of the inclement weather we immediately turned around from the summit and drove back down the mountain from the altitude of 14,170 feet to 12,840 feet, and turned off into Summit Lake Park.  

All photos will enlarge if clicked on



From the Summit Lake parking lot, we could actually see the storm dramatically drift away from the mountain. It was soon followed by a blue sunny sky and warmer temperatures. We felt safe again!



An interesting graphic placard at Summit Lake that shows its location and elevation in relation to Denver, which is a little over 60 miles to the east.


Summit Lake Park is the highest city park in North America and is the highest park in the Denver Mountain Parks system. This area is popular for its impressive scenery, alpine botanical features, and wildlife viewing opportunities. In 1965, it was designated the first National Natural Landmark in Colorado, as the area is one of the best examples of Arctic tundra in the contiguous United States. The Summit Lake area provides habitat for a variety of rare alpine-arctic plants, some of which occur only here and above the Arctic Circle.

Areas around the lake are permafrost. At this high altitude, there are no trees because of the excessive cold, wind and adverse soils. This year the snowpack seemed much less than last June, as we had a very dry winter and spring this year in Colorado.


Because of the fragile tundra and rarity of its plants, visitors are asked to stay on the trails when visiting the area and not to walk on the tundra. The short growing season makes life a challenge for the many slow-growing tundra wildflowers; their entire life cycles must be completed in a few short weeks.
There are different sights to see along the trails, including views down towards the Chicago Lakes area, and the hiking trails that lead up the mountain from Echo Lake, which then continues up towards the summit.


Summit Lake is also a wonderful area to see the Mountain Sheep that graze on the tundra.


The sights that most excite me every visit, however, are the wildflowers!  This one is Old-Man-of-the-Moutain which almost always faces east.




Chiming Bells and more Alpine Buttercups


Alpine Spring Beauty Wildflower. I learned last year that this plants taproot can reach as long a twenty feet below ground!




Pretty Draba Wildflower


Alpine phlox


Alpine Forget-Me-Nots, Alpine Kittentail, Alpine Primrose, Alpine Dwarf Clover.


The wildflowers at Summit Lake are so varied and interesting, and ever-changing in their short cycle of life at an Alpine altitude.  I could spend hours looking at them and taking photographs of them...


 ...but it was getting time to begin our descent down Mt Evans...


 ...past breathtaking scenery...


..and back to lower. forested elevations.


We passed the bristlecone forest on Mt Goliath--click here--to read a blog post about these fascinating ancient trees that are thousands of years old!


Our last stop was at Echo Lake Lodge visitors center at the base of the mountain, where we stopped for a late lunch. Their bison chili and hamburgers are really delicious, and I like their gift shop.  It was a wonderful day with many exciting moments.  Mt. Evans has truly become my "Happy Place." I never tire of visiting it!

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