Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Denver Zoo

This week was spring break for our area's school district so my husband and I decided to take our grandsons to spend the day in the Denver Zoo! (All photos and photo collages in this post can be enlarged for easier viewing if clicked on)

The Denver Zoo is located at 2300 Steele Street in Denver, Colorado and is an 80-acre facility, founded in 1896. It is one of the most popular attractions in Denver. It became the first zoo in the United States to use naturalistic zoo enclosures rather than cages with bars.

If you click on to enlarge this photo you can see the general layout of the zoo and some of the day's shows.

Our grandsons were certainly excited to be here!

They each had their zoo maps to follow, and both decided to stop for a snack to give them fuel for all the walking we were going to do/

We enjoyed seeing the Siberian tigers, giraffes,  zebras, snow leopards and striped hyenas.

The bears --Grizzly, Asiatic Black bears and polar bears--looked to be very sleepy in the early morning sun! The Bear Mountain was built in 1918 and was the first naturalistic habitat of its kind in North America. It is composed of giant plaster casts of actual rock outcroppings from an area near Morrison, Colorado.

The bears may have been sleepy, but our grandboys were full of energy and enjoyed playing for a while in one of the zoo's playground areas.

We then went into the Tropical Discovery area, that mimics a rain forest environment with waterfalls and jungle ruins, where we saw a Komodo dragon, tropical fish, lizards and snakes, and giant turtles.

Next, we viewed the majestic Asian elephants! They splashed in the pools and roamed the two miles of trails in their new 10 acres "Toyota Elephant Passage" area.

Gibbon monkeys swung overhead on Monkey Island, and the boys had a chance to mimic them on another zoo playground.

We also saw camels, maned wolves, water buffalo, and rhinos, as well as other animals I did not photograph. You can see photos of all the animals that are contained in the Denver Zoo on this link.

One of my favorite areas was the Bird House that had over 200 species of exotic birds from around the world!  Many were allowed to fly free inside the building's natural settings.

We enjoyed a ride on the Conservation Carousel///

...and the Pioneer Train.

From the looks of these two happy boys, I'd say our day at the Denver Zoo was a happy one, don't you agree?

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Monday, March 23, 2015

The US Air Force Cadet Chapel

Last weekend my husband and I accompanied a community club to an outing at the United States Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, to attend a brunch held at the officer's club, The Falcon Room. While there, we also went for a quick visit to the Cadet Air Force Chapel--a building I have often seen in photos and wanted to see in person. This iconic Colorado landmark was begun in 1959 and completed in 1963. Its principal designer and architect was Walter A Netsch, a Chicago native. (All photos, and photo collages, will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

The US Air Force Academy is nestled along with the scenic front range, east of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains, in an area north of Colorado Springs, Colorado.  It holds a dual role as an Air Force installation and a military academy university for officer candidates for the United States Air Force. The altitude of the campus is 7,258 feet.

The buildings in the cadet area were designed in a modernist style and are set around a large square pavilion known as "The Terrazzo." Portions of the campus are open to the public to tour, and Cadet Chapel is one of the most popular sites, drawing a half million visitors a year.  The Cadet Chapel's aluminum, glass and steel structure soars more than 150 feet high. Its 17 spires can be easily spotted from Interstate 25, several miles east.

The chapel spires reach toward the deep blue Colorado sky and are very inspiring to see!

The granite steps in front lead to the main level and the Protestant chapel. Cadet Chapel was designed specifically to house three distinct worship areas under a single roof  The Protestant nave is located on the upper level, while the Catholic and Jewish chapels and a Buddhist room are located beneath it. Beneath this level is a larger room used for Islamic services and two meeting rooms that can be utilized for other faiths. Each chapel has its own entrance, and services may be held simultaneously without interfering with one another. There is also an outdoor Earth-Centered area called the Falcon Circle.

Inside, the main chapel's soaring roof is illuminated by stained glass windows and draws one's eyes forward towards the front ...

Where the 46-foot high cross...

 ...and Italian marble back altar can be seen.

The side windows are also trimmed with stained glass, and along with the glass in the roof gives the chapel a warm glow.

The ribbons of stained glass keep changing colors with the light and the effect is mesmerizing.

This photo was taken from the altar, looking towards the narthex in the rear of the chapel, where you can see the choir balcony and organ. The main chapel can seat 1,200 people.

We were also able to visit the Catholic Chapel, which can seat 500 people. It was rimmed by beautiful stained glass windows, which also contained panels depicting the Stations of the Cross.

Of course, the reason for our visit to the Air Force Academy this time was to enjoy a buffet brunch with our community club members in the Falcon Club, where we were treated to a choice of many wonderful entrees. The Falcon club is open to retired and active Air Force and employees of the USAF.

Regretfully, I did not take my Nikon DSLR camera along with me on this visit, as I was not sure if cameras would be allowed on the base, so the photos in this post were taken with my cell phone and a smaller camera. I hope to be able to take a longer visit to Cadet Chapel in a future post and explore more of the grounds, but I hope you enjoyed this introduction to one of Colorado's most-visited man-made attractions!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

On Eagle's Wings in Cherry Creek State Park

We've had a bit of a warm front again this week, with temperatures in the 60's and 70's. Most of the snow in my neighborhood has melted and some of the trees are beginning to grow buds. Unfortunately, the snowpack in the high Rocky Mountains is below normal for this time of the year. It is not good news for the western states which depend on snowmelt in the mountains to feed their rivers and reservoirs. We may still have a few more snowstorms before spring is over, which would be a very good thing, even if having nice weather has been pleasant. This view is of Mt. Evans--the highest Rocky Mountain closest to Denver.  Did you see my blog post this summer where my husband and I took a ride to the summit of this mountain! It is approximately 14,270 feet high and the road towards the top is the highest paved road in the United States! We had to hike the last quarter mile! Click here if you would like to view that post. (All photos and photo collages will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

On one of the beautiful days this week, my husband and I drove over to Cherry Creek State Park and bought a year's pass to all the state parks in Colorado.  Cherry Creek State Park is 4,200 acres large with an 880 acres reservoir, surrounded by 35 miles of mixed-use trails and natural areas. Over 40 species of animals can be seen in the park, including eastern cottontail rabbits. coyote, beavers, fox, muskrat, raccoon, ground squirrels, mule deer, whitetail deer, and prairie dogs.  It is also the migratory path for many birds and raptors. There are campsites in the park as well as facilities for model airplane flying, a family shooting practice range, horseback riding, and picnic grounds

Wetlands in the park are the habitats for waterfowl,  and they also help to filter the waters that lead into the reservoir.

Local fishermen can fish from boats or the shore for walleyes, trout, wipers, largemouth bass, white crappies, bluegills tiger muskies, and gizzard shads.

I saw and heard many nesting Black Billed Magpies high up in the trees.  Magpies have very loud voices, and a nest full of them was a cacophony of sounds. 

I was hoping to see some bald eagles and after a drive around for about a half-hour I finally spied one in a tree, far on the horizon. 

It watched a Magpie fly by.

He sat there for quite a while while I kept changing camera lenses, trying to zoom in closer.

He finally flew to the top of a closer tree top where I was able to get this last photo before he quickly flew away. I don't think I'll ever tire of seeing eagles flying overhead. They are such magnificent birds!

"They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." ~Isaiah 40:31

I am happy to announce that the winner of my St. Patrick's Day give away was chosen by Random.Org as comment number 10.  That comment was by Sarah of the blog "Hyacinths For the Soul"

Congratulations, Sarah! This copy of Tracy Stern's "Tea Party Cookbook" will soon be on your way! Thank you to all who commented!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Irish Reminiscences and a Giveaway!

I have been very fortunate to have visited Ireland many times over the years. I made the photo collage above from some of my many photos of the trips I made to the republic of Ireland. Long-time readers will know I am half Irish, third generation, on my father's side. I also have a sister-in-law that was born in Ireland, and she is the only one from her family that has lived in the US for most of her life.  I have traveled to most of the counties in the Republic of Ireland and have many fond memories of the people, scenery, food and drink and awe-inspiring places I visited there. (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge for easier viewing by clicking on them)

I have also visited Northern Ireland a couple of times and again, the beautiful scenery and warm-hearted people I met there will always be a cherished memory.

I blogged about some of my more recent trips and you can see them all under this label: "Ireland" There are many posts, including some about St. Patrick's day in America and some Irish recipes, so you'd have to keep scrolling through many pages!

One particular post is about my visit to Saint Patrick's grave in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland. He is the reason we celebrate this holiday as he is the patron saint of Ireland and of the 31 million-plus people of Irish descent living in the United States!

Another post I'd like to highlight is the one I wrote about the very haunting and beautiful Irish Hunger Memorial in Manhattan, in New York City.  The Irish Hunger Memorial garden is a monument to those who perished during the "A Gorta Mór" (Gaelic for "The Great Hunger" as it was called in Ireland), and is also a symbol to highlight areas of the world affected by hunger today. This memorial is significant to me as my great grandfather and great grandmother both immigrated to the United States during the famine years in Ireland, along with millions more that left Ireland and settled in other countries during this great diaspora.

Every Saint Patrick's Day I treat my family to the American Irish tradition of Corned Beef and Cabbage boiled dinner. Natives in Ireland used ham or thick bacon called "rasher" in their boiled dinners, but the Irish that immigrated to New York found corned beef more readily available and more affordable at the time and substituted that. I sometimes also make a Shepard's Pie and I always make Irish Soda Bread accompany the meal. Last year I made a gluten-free version as well as my traditional recipe.

Of course, a Saint Patrick's Day celebration would not be complete without an Irish tea!  I've collected a few cherished pieces of Belleek China during my visits to Ireland, and this is the time they come out of my china cabinet to see some use, and my decorative Irish blessings are displayed year-round in my home as a tribute to my Irish heritage.

Now for the giveaway! I would like to gift one reader of my blog with this Tea Party idea book by Tracy Stern. It has twenty different themed tea party ideas inside along with recipes and ideas for invitations, decor table settings, and favor.

To win this book all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite things to do on Saint Patrick's Day!

If you become a follower on my blog, Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter I would be very appreciative! Come back and leave another comment to tell me what you have joined and I'll give you an extra entry for each.

I will announce the winner on March 18th, 2015! Please make sure I have a way to reach you by e-mail if you do not have a blog. Good luck, and Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

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