Monday, September 17, 2018

Autumn in Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park

I feel fortunate to live in a state that presents autumn colors slowly every year in a wonderful succession, from the north to the south, from the highest elevations down to the lowest. If one is fortunate to be able to travel to different locations in Colorado during the months of September through October, continuous autumnal glory is yours. (All photos will enlarge if clicked on)

Rocky Mountain National Park

This summer was very hot and dry so autumn color is coming even earlier than usual in many places, but the higher elevations are right on time.

When September arrives it not only brings autumnal beauty but also signals to the elk bulls to begin to bugle their love songs. 

 If you have never heard an elk bugle click on the video below or go to this link

Isn't it quite a sound?

We once stayed in a cabin in the YMCA of the Rockies outside Rocky Mountain National Park--click here-- and they serenaded us all night long!

Pagosa Pass

Autumn in Colorado is a vista of golden aspen trees...

Elk Mountains

 Elk Mountains far as the eyes can see...

... lighting up the state!

Mount Sopris

Autumn has always been my favorite season so I make sure to go out and see as much of it as I can every year and enjoy its splendor. 

"And the sun took a step back,
The leaves lulled themselves to sleep,
and autumn was awakened."
~ Raquel Franco

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Monday, September 10, 2018

A Ride on the Leadville Colorado and Southern Railroad

This summer we drove into the town of Leadville, which at 10,152 feet, is the highest incorporated town in the United States. In the late 19th century this silver mining town was the second highest in population in Colorado after the city of Denver and was once the most famous silver mining camp in the world. Leadville once overflowed with fortune-seeking miners and infamous outlaws. Wealthy businessman Horace Tabor, the Silver King, his second wife Baby Doe, and gun-slinging dentist Doc Holliday are just a few frontier characters who contributed to the town’s history. (All photos and photo collages will enlarge if clicked on)

Please click on to enlarge 

This sign located along the entrance to town tells of some of Leadville's history

I loved that Leadville's nickname is "Cloud City," as the day of our journey up from the Denver area was filled with sights of beautiful and mesmerizing low-lying clouds.

Most of the town of Leadville looks like a page from the past, with an old-west flavor and Victorian-era buildings built between 1880 and 1905. It is situated between two mountain ranges, the Mosquito Range to the east and the Sawatch Range to the west; both of which include several nearby peaks with elevations above 14,000 feet, Mount Elbert, at 14,440-feet elevation (4401.2 m) is about 16 miles southwest of Leadville, and is the highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the highest point in Colorado. Mount Massive, which lies west-southwest of Leadville, at 14,428 feet elevation (4,398 m) is the second highest summit in the Rocky Mountains and state of Colorado, and the third highest in the contiguous United States.

We were excited to have tickets to take a trip on the Leadville Colorado and Southern Railroad on the day we visited. The train runs daily from late May to early October, The train journey is full of breath-taking panoramas across the Arkansas River Valley and humorous narratives about Leadville's colorful past.

We chose an outside seating car so that we could enjoy the scenery to the fullest. 

The two and a half hours train ride is narrated with the history of the line and the Leadville area as it travels north along the Arkansas River Valley, rising up 1,000 feet off the valley floor, giving us some spectacular views of Freemont Pass and the two tallest peaks in Colorado, Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert.

Some glaciers can be seen on the high peaks.

There were many picturesque views along the train ride...

...beautiful valleys and mountain views.

Views of forests...

...and wilderness.

I noticed that there were a massive amount of pine cones on the trees and there is a myth that the more pine cones on the trees the more severe the winter will be ahead. What do you think? According to the Farmers Almanac, the winter of 2019 in the northern hemisphere will be a "teeth-chattering" cold one, with plenty of snow. Colorado can certainly welcome a lot of snow, and while I like cold weather I'm hoping the weather will not be excessively cold!

At the end of our ride, before returning to Leadville, we had a view of the Climax, Colorado Mine area. The Climax Mine is a major molybdenum mine. Shipments of molybdenum from the mine began in 1915. At its highest output, the Climax mine was the largest molybdenum mine in the world, and for many years it supplied three-fourths of the world's supply of molybdenum, which was mainly used in the production of steel and armor plating during World War I and II. After a long shutdown, the Climax mine reopened and resumed shipment of molybdenum on May 10, 2012.

On our return train ride back to Leadville we saw more magnificent views and even a zip line rider that crossed over the train. The Leadville Colorado and Southern Railroad offer a zip line special along with other special event train rides on their website on this link.

We really enjoyed our ride on the Leadville Colorado and Southern Railroad.  This was our third train ride in Colorado, as we traveled on the Georgetown Loop Railroad --click here to read that post--and the Royal Gorge Route Railroad--click here
Of course, we rode the train at the nearby Colorado Train Museum many times--click here--and even the miniature train in the adorable Tiny Town--click hereI'd say without planning it we've become train aficionados! All of the trains offered different experiences and scenery and all of them have helped to keep a part of Colorado's history alive. There are many other things to do in Leadville, and we know we'll be back to do more someday, but taking a train ride on the Leadville Colorado and Southern Railroad was a great way to spend the day!

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Apple Nut Tart

It was our monthly book club meeting and my turn to host. The book we were discussing was A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline. A very brief synopsis of the book is that it is a historical fiction book about the life of Christina Olson, who was the mid-20th-century painter Andrew Wyeth's model for one of his most famous paintings, "Christina's World." 

In the book, Christina often makes fried apple skillet cakes for breakfast for her parents and brothers. I wanted to serve an apple dessert to the book club and searched for a recipe that was a little more elaborate than Christina's. I found a recipe for Apple Nut Tart in an older Family Circle cookbook from the 70's that was delicious. I really liked the brown sugar crust and the layer of nuts under the apples.

Apple Nut Tart

Bake at 350 degrees fro 45 Minutes
Serves 8


1 1/4 flour
3/4 cup plus 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1cup walnuts ( or pecans, which is what I used)
1/4 cup golden raisins
5 cups 1/4 inch thick, peeled quartered apple slices ( 2 pounds) Rome Beauty or Cortland
1.4 cup (1/2 stick) butter melted
1.2 cup walnut or pecan  halves for garnish (optional)


1) Combine the flour with 3/4 cup of brown sugar in a medium-size bowl. Cut in the 1/2 cup of butter and the egg with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for one hour.

2) Preheat oven to moderate -- 350 degrees

3) Flatten the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured board to a 12 1/2 inch circle; sprinkle with a little flour, if the dough becomes too sticky. Transfer the dough to a 10 x 1 fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press and pull up the dough, making sure it is level with the top of the pan. (like all sweet crusts, this one is difficult to work with? Press the dough firmly into the fluted side, keeping the dough a full 1/4 inch thick; if the crust is thinner, it may slip down during baking. Place the tart shell in the freezer until it is very firm, for 20 to 25 minutes.

4) Ground the 1 cup of nuts in a food processor for two seconds until they are coarsely ground. Sprinkle the ground nuts and the raisins onto the tart shell.

5) Toss the apple slices with the remaining half cup of brown sugar in a bowl. Arrange the slices in a circular pattern on top of the raisins and nuts in the tart shell. Drizzle the melted butter over the apple slices.

6) Bake in the preheated oven 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until apples are soft. Cool tart on a wire rack. Remove side of the pan.

If you wish, arrange nut halves around the edge of the tart and serve with ice cream or whip cream.

I also prepared a delicious Whole Grain Banana Bread loaf, using a King Arthur Flour recipe, which you can see in full on this link.  I never prepared banana bread with a whole wheat flour before and I was pleasantly surprised at how the whole grain flour gave it a nutty flavor. 

As you can see from the photo collage above, there are many signs of autumn in our community!  Large pumpkins and sunflowers are fully grown in the community garden, apples are ripened on the trees, and late summer flowers are all a bloom. The new fawns born in early summer are losing their spots and growing almost to full size. Temperatures are dipping down to the high 40's and 50's at night and this morning I heard that there was a dusting of snow on the top of Pike's Peak! 

That does not mean that everyone isn't squeezing in all the summer fun that they can, as you can see by the people floating down Clear Creek in Golden, Colorado.

 (If you want to learn why there is a big letter "M" on the mountain in the distance click on this link to read my blog post about that, and a place that Golden, Colorado is famous for besides Coors!)

It is always fun to stand on the bridge and watch the people float by.

Both sides of Clear Creek in Golden are bordered by walking paths, with flowers and Public Art Work sculptures along the way. It's a beautiful place to walk.

I hope you also enjoy these last days of summer. Do you see signs of autumn where you are?

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