Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hello Autumn! Guanella Pass, Colorado, and Easy Canvas Winner!

Autumn color comes early to the high elevations of Colorado! By mid-September, the aspens along the lower Rocky Mountains are already beginning to turn their shades of golden yellow and oranges. My husband and I returned from a trip to Atlanta, Georgia, last week, and we knew we should take a "Leaf Peeping" trip to catch some of the spectacular colors as soon as possible. Unfortunately, last Sunday was an overcast and hazy day, with predictions of rain, but that made us all the more anxious to see the colors before the trees lost their leaves. Almost as soon as we started out driving west on Highway 285 we were rewarded with our first glimpses of the patchwork colors of autumn aspen trees on the distant mountains!

The closer we drove, the more vibrant the colors became. even with the misty sky! Although it was overcast, it was a fairly warm and pleasant day at lower elevations.

When we entered Clear Creek County, we saw that the aspens had begun the process of changing from green to their deep golden autumn color. We heard that the unusual wet and rainy summer we had in this part of Colorado this year was going to bring exceptional color, and it looked to be true!

Everything looked picture perfect!

We decided to drive the entire Guanella Pass, which connects the town of Grant to the town of Georgetown, both in Clear Creek County.  At its highest point, the 22-mile long pass is at 11,670 feet.

The first 12 miles from Grant towards Georgetown is unpaved and the speed limit is slow--perfect for observing the beauty of the surrounding Arapaho and Pike National Forests and the Mt. Evans Wilderness. which lies east of the pass.  This pass is closed in winter, as it is not plowed by the county during that time.

We stopped at many pull outs and took short walks on hiking trails along the road.

Although I would have preferred the bright blue Colorado sky to be showing in these photos, I think the more subdued, stormy sky brought out the tree colors just as well.

We were surprised to see a lot of reddish colored aspens--it is a rarer color to see for this genre of a tree!

Most of these photos were taken as we drove...

...but every now and then we stopped for a closer look

Would you like to listen to this waterfall?  Just click through to my facebook page at this link to watch a short video. You can also click "Like" on my facebook link-to-follow Mille Fiori Favoriti on facebook at this link.  This creek was running strongly and the water certainly fitted the name of Clear Creek County.

The pine forest remains green all year long, and they are a wonderful backdrop for the bright autumn colors.

I loved this pretty meadow, where even the shrubs were turning fall colors.  

The horses were very intent on grazing.

A view of a beautiful home along the road. Although the land surrounding the pass was comprised of much wilderness there were also areas that were private property.

"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons" ~ Jim Bishop

"Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty., as if nature had been saving up all year for the Grand Finale." Lauren Destefano

Did you notice the deer jumping into the woods in the first photo collage, and the photos of the mountain goats in the collage above?  Click on to enlarge the collages for easier viewing. It is always nice to see wildlife in a natural setting and it is a good reminder to drive slowly when on roads such as this one.

Speaking of wildlife, look at this moose my son and his family saw along the Peak to Peak Highway last week!  Moose are always a rare sight to see in Colorado, as they are not indigenous creatures to our state. Twelve moose were brought to Rocky Mountain National Park by wildlife managers from Wyoming and Utah in 1978. You can read more about this fact on this link. Happily, they thrived and multiplied until their number is estimated to be above 2,000 in Colorado. They can be unpredictable, and their kick can be deadly, so it is always wise to stay a good distance away if you see one!

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long as I stood
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

From the poem "The Road Less Traveled By" ~ Robert Frost

We could not take either path for very long that day, as the rain finally came!

We ended our ride on the Guanella Pass in the historic town of Georgetown, Colorado.  I showed more about this town's charming Christmas festival on this link.   This day I enjoyed a delicious bowl of Green Chili Soup at Ed's 1859 Cafewhich was the perfect way to end a perfect Colorado day!

And now for the winner of the 16 x 20 Easy Canvas photo canvas, with free shipping and handling, like the one my husband and I had made from a  photo we took on the summit of 14,270 foot Mt. Evans, that we are absolutely thrilled with!

Using the website, the following blog comment was chosen as winner # 5! That comment was left by The Gathering Place.  Congratulations, Joann!  Please e-mail me and I will send the free code and instructions on how to place your Easy Canvas order!

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* In full disclosure, this is a sponsored post by Easy Canvas. I was provided with a free wall canvas print by Easy Canvas, and Easy Canvas will be providing the code for one winner to obtain a free 16 x 20 canvas from a  photo of their choice with free shipping and handling. 

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Goodbye Summer! Win a Photo Canvas

This is a look back on some wonderful events from the summer of 2014, that I have not blogged about as yet, and a chance for you to possibly win a 16 x 20 Easy Canvas wall photo of a photo of your choice! Please remember, that all photo collages in this post will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on.

My community had a celebration this summer to commemorate its centennial as Ken Caryl Ranch, under the ownership of John C Shaffer--a prominent newspaper owner and businessman of the time--who named the ranch after his two sons, Kent and Carroll. Shaffer built a magnificent Manor House on the highest point on the property, and President Theodore Roosevelt was a frequent visitor to his home.  Over the years the property changed owners a few times as a ranch until the homes of the Ken Caryl Ranch community were built by the Johns Manville Corporation during the 1980s and '90s. The members of the Ken Caryl Historical Society planned the 100-year celebration event that the entire community was invited to, and we all wore costumes reminiscent of the 1914 era.  My husband became Teddy Roosevelt for the day, and I became a cook in the Manor House.

As you can see the variety of costumes worn by the historical society were fabulous and put all the guests into a vintage mood!  A barbershop quartet and banjo players entertained the attendees with songs from the early 19th century, there was a car show with a 1914 Model T Ford as the star, a fashion show of period clothing, horsedrawn wagon rides and lawn games for the children, and donated ice cream, cupcakes, and hot dogs were distributed. Many descendants of the past families that lived on the ranch were in attendance, and the entire history of the community was displayed on placards within the Manor House for all to read.  The celebration was a wonderful success, and my husband and I were thrilled to be a part of it!

Our beautiful valley has quite a bit of history going beyond the 100 years it first became a ranch, and one precious part of it is an apple orchard that was planted in 1870 by another owner of the land, Robert B Bradford. I'll tell you more about him in a future post. In an effort to preserve this orchard, the Ken Caryl Historical Society takes care of the propagated trees that were grafted from the original trees and planted near them. We go out periodically to open the wire cages that protect those small trees from the deer and weed around them. Isn't it amazing that these ancient trees are still producing apples after all these years?

Another fun activity we did as a family this summer was to attend the Zoppe Italian Family Circus! This circus originated in Venice, Italy in 1842, and has been touring continuously since that time. You can read more about its history on this link.  It is a charming, one ring circus consisting mainly of clowns, acrobats, and trained dogs and ponies. My grandchildren enjoyed it very much!

We attended the 11th annual "Festival Italiano" in Bel Mar in Lakewood, Colorado. It is a fabulous two-day affair with Italian food and entertainment--including flag throwers from Florence, Italy-- bocce ball tournaments, and artisan vendors. It is a fun event we look forward to each summer!

My oldest grandson began attending kindergarten this year and is also playing soccer for the first time in a league. We have been enjoying attending the games and watching our son teach and coach the little guys about the sport. Our youngest grandson began pre-school, and he is so proud of his big brother being on a team, and he wishes he could play too!

We also had some new landscaping work done at our home this summer, both front and back,. The frequent deer visitors we get have already partially devoured two of the new shrubs, so it is a constant struggle to keep it maintained.  We watched many a thunderstorm come through almost every afternoon this summer, so I believe the drought is over for a while. I heard we will experience an El Nino weather winter, and I'm curious as to what that will bring! As you can see in the last photo in this photo collage, some of the trees here have already turned their autumn hues, and the mountain areas are at peak color.

All in all, we had a wonderful second summer in Colorado, and we now look forward to many happy events coming up this fall. I hope to capture some of the beautiful Colorado autumn foliage this weekend, so please come back soon to see those photos.

Now here is how you can win a 16 x 20 Easy Canvas wall photo, like the one I show below, including free shipping and handling.  I had my canvas made of a photo from a trip my husband and I took up to the top of 14,000+ foot Mt Evans this summer--read that post at this link if you missed that exciting event!

All you have to do is a leave one comment on this blog post telling me what was your favorite activity of this summer, and what memory you are like to preserve as a beautiful canvas photo, like this one that hangs in my husband's office!  I will use the Random Generator to chose one comment as the winner and will announce it next Sunday, September 28, 2014.  Good luck!

* In full disclosure, this is a sponsored post by Easy Canvas. I was provided with a free wall canvas print by Easy Canvas, and Easy Canvas will be providing the code for one winner to obtain a free 16 x 20 canvas from a  photo of their choice with free shipping and handling. 

Comments closed 9/28/14--announcing photo canvas winner on my next post! Thank you to all who commented!

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Sunday, September 14, 2014

South Park City in Fairplay, Colorado

If you click on the photo above, and all the photos in this post, you will see the quintessential beauty high country scenery of Park County, Colorado.   I love this approximately 1,000 square miles, 10,000 foot high, grassland valley basin, surrounded by high Rocky Mountain ranges.

The South Park Valley is filled with cattle and horse ranches.

 It is an absolutely picturesque valley! I took all of these valley photos from our moving car, so the quality could be better, but I think they will give you an idea of how beautiful this area is.

I blogged about this area during the winter, when the ground was covered with snow. It was equally beautiful! You can read that post here.  I'm curious as to which season you think is prettier?

The Ute Indians were the early dwellers of this land, then hunters and trappers came in the 1840s but when gold was discovered in the mountains in the 1850's many gold miners camps and towns sprang up in the valley.

Known today as the trout fishing capital of Colorado, South Park and the area around Fairplay were designated a National Heritage Area by the US Congress for its distinctive landscapes, historic structures, and recreational resources. 

My husband and I were here to visit the town of Fairplay.  Founded in 1859, Fairplay was named by settlers who were upset by the generous mining claims given to the earliest prospectors and promised a more equitable system for its residents. It now contains about 700 residents and consists of modern businesses along with a historic center.

It also contains an extraordinary museum with 40 historic buildings, called South Park City. It was created in the late 1950s by a group of citizens concerned that the old mining and ghost towns of Park County were being dismantled and destroyed, so they decided to save as many buildings as possible, move others to the area, and recreate an 1800's gold mine town. Buildings were brought in from the Mosquito Range, and Alma, Leavick, Buckskin, and Montgomery.

The buildings showcase an array of period furnishings and equipment.

South Park City preserves the history of our nation's frontier days.

It is so interesting to walk around these preserved structures and feel transported back in time!

The museum even contains an engine and some cars from the Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad that once ran from Como across Boreas Pass to Breckenridge, Fairplay, Alma Junction, and points west.

We went on a self-tour of the museum that took us from building to building.  Here is some of what we saw:

The log cabin styled church

Summer Saloon

Period home in town.

The early courthouse.

Replica of a gold mine

The one-room schoolhouse.

A miners mountain cabin.

A Concord Stagecoach

The stagecoach inn.

 The general store and post office.

A pharmacy.

There was also a large display of western artifacts, period furniture, clothing and toys, and Indian hunting arrows and spearheads.

After our long, enjoyable visit to the South Park City Museum, we walked around the town of Fairplay to enjoy the sights there.  The weather was changing and we knew a late afternoon thunderstorm was on the way, so we headed back east to our home.

Sure enough, this was the look back as we headed away from South Park  The wide open sky and high elevations make the storm look dramatic, doesn't it?

Located 85 miles out of Denver on Highway 285, 85 miles out of Colorado Springs on Highway 24, and 23 miles from Breckenridge on Highway 9, South Park Valley, Fairplay, and the South Park City Museum are all beautiful and interesting sights to see in central Colorado!

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