Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sleigh Ride in Breckenridge

 "Over the river and through the wood, to grandfather's house we go;
 the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow..." 

I grew up hearing my Mother sing this song, based on a poem by Lydia Maria Child, to my siblings and I, every winter during the holidays.  Because of that sweet memory, I've always wanted to experience a sleigh ride. When my husband and I took an overnight trip to Breckenridge, in the nearby Rocky Mountains recently, we did just that! The town of Breckenridge is at a 9,600-foot elevation, so spring comes slowly to that area and there was still plenty of the 350+ inches of snow it received this past winter on the ground.  Luckily for us, we took our sleigh ride towards the end of a beautiful sunny winter day!

Luckily, I found a Groupon deal for a discount on the sleigh ride and dinner package through Breckenridge Sleigh Rides, which made the event super affordable.  Do you ever use Groupon? They offer some wonderful discounted deals on many different local businesses and attractions.  Our sleigh was pulled by two beautiful Belgium Draft horses, named Bob and Sally. The wrangler told us that these were once workhorses on an Amish farm.  When the horses reach around ten years old the farmer sells them to buy younger horses. Supposedly pulling a sleigh is easy work for them, as they are very strong and each can pull well over 2,000 pounds.

Even though the temperature was in the mid-'30s, we dressed warm, because when the sun goes down, the air gets chilly!  All the sleigh riders were also provided with wool or fleece blankets to put over their laps. Off we go, to the gentle tinkling of silver sleigh bells--just magical!

 "Over the river and through the wood --oh, how the wind does blow! 
It stings the toes and bites the nose as over the ground we go."

During our sleigh ride, we had wonderful panoramic views of the Tenmile Range!

I've often seen gorgeous views of this Rocky Mountain range on Barb's blog "Live and Learn."  Barb lives in Breckenridge year round and takes the most amazing photos of the sights there, accompanied by her lovely written observations and prose.  It was a treat for me to recognize many of these mountains from her blog!

Bald Mountain peak seen in the distance stands at 13,690 feet! Our wrangler called it "Old Baldy"

As we rode along we could see some magnificent homes in the distance.

The wrangler told us these homes were in the one to two million, and up, price range. Just look at their large and fabulous windows facing the mountain range!

A distant view of the Tenmile Range.  All the mountains that make up this range are over 13,000 feet elevation, with the highest being Mt. Quandary at 14,265 feet.

As we rode on, the sun slowly dipped below the horizon, and a soft golden light appeared in the sky.

Even Bald Mountain glowed!

After about 40 minutes the sleigh headed back to the golf clubhouse...

...where we said goodbye to our sweet horse duo.  Inside, we sat by a fire and had hot chocolate to warm up, while we watched other sleighs return. We then enjoyed a dinner buffet and were serenaded by a talented country western singer while we dined. It was all a very memorable experience -- one I'd definitely do again!  Although like most of you, I'm now looking forward to the warmer spring and summer weather,  it was definitely nice to be able to embrace a winter day like this and enjoy it! There is so much beauty in the Rocky Mountains, year round!

"Nature gives to every season a beauty all its own." 
~ Charles Dickens

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Random Five Friday

(1)  Even though the calendar says" Spring," we can still have very changeable weather on the Front Range of Colorado. One day it is 65 degrees and sunny, the next below freezing and snowing. The mild, sunny days usually outweigh the cooler days, so I can't complain. This was our first full winter living in Colorado, and it was a very good one!

(2)  My husband and I, and our children and their families, live in what is considered Metro Denver--which is comprised of the city of Denver plus the surrounding suburbs. The city and county of Denver are comprised of over 634, 000 people, while Metro Denver is made up of a total of approximately 2.9 million people, and rapidly growing! Denver is built on the high plains, east of the Rocky Mountains, and although it is a mile high in elevation it is also one of the flattest cities in America!  If you click on the photo above to enlarge it, you will see the white peaks of Denver International Airport in the upper right of the photo. Very soon there will be light rail service connecting Union Station in the city of Denver to the airport--very exciting news!

(3) Three very special people who live in the Denver Metro area are my two grandsons and my granddaughter! They are the main reason my husband and I moved 1,800 miles west from New York City last year so that we could live near them. Of course, we also enjoy living close to their parents, but our extra special joy these days is to be able to watch our grandchildren grow up!

(4) This past weekend we celebrated my youngest grandson's third birthday!  Happy birthday, "M"!  Nonna and Nonno love you very much!  You are the brightest, funniest, the most lovable and sweet three-year-old child that we know!

(5) My husband and I are excited about our new life in Colorado and we love discovering all this state has to offer. One of the fun activities my husband and I took part in during our recent trip to the Rocky Mountain town of Breckenridge, besides visiting the Ice Castles, was a sleigh ride! It was something I've always wanted to do since I was a child, and I wasn't disappointed!  My next blog post will be about this wonderfully fun adventure....hope you will come back to join me then!

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ice Castles in Breckenridge, CO

Although this past winter broke records in many areas of the country due to extreme cold and unusually high amounts of snowfall, Colorado's winter has been fairly normal. The high mountain ski regions of this state thrive on fresh snowfall, and winter activities and sports are a major part of the economy.  One of the fun annual attractions to see in the ski resort town of Breckenridge are the Ice Castles.  Besides Colorado, Ice Castles are also located in Midway, Utah and Loon Mountain, New Hampshire, but at 9,600 feet elevation, the Breckenridge Ice Castles are the highest commercial Ice Castles formation in the country!

Made by hand from over 20,000,000 pounds of ice, the Ice Castles are an amazing sight to see!

There are no additives to the water, no supporting substructure within or under the ice.  They are all formed by artistic minds and hard work.

We asked the workers how the ice Castles are built. They told us that they begin by making thousands of icicles that they harvest and sculpt together in freezing water.

The blend of the icicle placement, changing temperatures, water volume used and wind, resulting in an amazing array of ice formations!

The Ice Castles contain large towers, tunnels, archways, caves, caverns, and pedestrian pathways.

My husband and I enjoyed walking through the formations...

...and seeing the effects the bright Colorado sun gave to the ice as it shined through it.

In many areas, the ice looked a beautiful glacial blue!

Although the temperature on the day we visited was in the low 30's we felt quite comfortable because the sun is always very warm at such a high elevation.

The Ice Castles are a photographer's delight!

One section of the Ice Castles leads up an embankment...

...where we could look out over ski lodges, and some of the ski runs and mountains of Breckenridge.

Those brave enough could then go into this cave and slide down to the bottom of the embankment!

Each "room" in the Ice Castles gave a different perspective.

All the formations were beautiful!

Upon paying admission, our hands were stamped so we could return as many times we wanted to during the day.  We returned at night, as we were told that hundreds of LED light were embedded in the ice for night viewing.

The colored LED lights made the ice formations look absolutely magical!

 They changed many colors.

It was hard to decide what effects in the Ice Castles we liked better-- the daytime or the nighttime color effects? What do you think?

I'd say see both if you can!

The Ice Castles in Breckenridge are located at 150 West Adams Avenue.  They were open through March 22 and will return next year even bigger and better.  If you plan a visit to Breckenridge, Colorado next winter make sure to include them on your itinerary--you won't be disappointed!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Note Card Party -Dreaming of Spring!

 Vee, at the Haven for Vee blog, asked us to consider some spring-like photos for the March Note Card Party.  Every month, Vee asks that we chose four photos that we have already published in posts on our blog that we feel would make beautiful note cards.  She now allows the choice of using one new photo we never published, if we so desire.

I recently did a post about a ride to Breckenridge, Colorado we took this winter that you can read here. Since I know most people are experiencing winter fatigue, I thought I re-share four photos I took on a trip to Breckenridge last year during the summer--you can read that post here.

Spring comes late to the high country of Colorado, but when it does it brings beautiful wildflowers, strong afternoon thunderstorms, and absolutely gorgeous vistas!

Here are my Note Cards and quotes I thought would go well with them inside:

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help" ~ Psalm121:1

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
~Robert Frost

"Just living is not enough..... one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."    ~ Hans Christian Anderson

"It is wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before is God and I have no fears." 
~ Helen Keller

Thanks, Vee!  It was a pleasure to be able to join in your Note Card Party event today! Be sure to visit Vee today to see links to many other participating blogs.

PS:  For all who are wondering, I promise to reveal where we were when I took this photo of my husband in Breckenridge on my next blog post!

Sorry for the suspense!  :)

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