Sunday, April 28, 2019

Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center



The recently opened Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center offers 1,501 rooms, 485,000 square feet of convention center space, including four ballrooms varying in size from 8,000 to 59,739 square feet, as well as 81 technologically advanced break-out conference rooms, making it the largest combined resort and convention center in Colorado! It is conveniently located under seven miles from Denver International Airport, at 6700 North Gaylord Blvd, Aurora, Colorado 80019.  My husband and I have been watching the construction of this grand resort for the past three years on trips to and from the airport and we, along with some friends from our community senior group, were curious to visit it up close, tour the public areas, and have lunch in one of its restaurants. (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge if clicked on)


The tremendous size and lodge appearance of the resort is impressive.  Located in the eastern plains of Colorado, it fills the sky with its 15 stories height. Sculptures of life-sized running horses greeted us as we pulled into the valet area in front, where we then walked through the doors into a very large lobby and reception area.



Straight ahead, was the Grand Lodge atrium, which looks like it was transplanted from a rustic Colorado alpine resort, complete with waterfalls, a river, rocks, and trees and a 75-foot-tall window offering an incredible view of the Denver skyline framed by the front range Rocky Mountains, from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak!  I can imagine the sunset views seen through this window will be spectacular!



The Grand Lodge atrium space was enormous!  I saw different scenic perspectives as I walked down the stairs that were adjacent to a boulder-strewn creek. A bridge crossed over the water towards both sides of the lodge.


The lower level of the Grand Lodge area accommodates a large waterfall, a bar, a historic restored Santa Fe caboose, cozy fireplace seating areas and...


...many of the resort's dining options. such as Monte Jade - an Asian inspired restaurant, Vista Montagne - an Italian restaurant and the Old Hickory Steakhouse-which is only open for dinner.




Also located on the lower level was the lower portion of the two-level, 484-seat sports bar--the Mountain Pass Sports Bar--that has a 75 foot long, 14-foot-tall LED TV screen on which to watch your favorite team.  It is the largest such screen in Colorado outside of the jumbotrons in sports arenas.


We dined at the Mountain Pass Sports Bar and our group enjoyed burgers, sandwiches, and salads.


Afterward, our group broke up and we went on our own to browse in the large Rockies Marketplace and the Rockies Trading Post store or to sit by one of the lobby fireplaces.



My husband and I took a walk outside


There, we were able to view the guest use only outdoor heated pool, children's pool, lazy river, heated whirlpool, firepits and a view of Denver in the distance. It was not the clearest day, so mountain views were a bit hazy.  Additional outdoor-based fun can be found on one of the basketball or tennis courts, a nine-hole mini golf course, pickleball, and bike rentals.


Inside, were a large pool and water slides, lap pool, whirlpool, fountains and spouting water features and a small game arcade. Again, indoor pools can only be used by resort guests.



 I found this wonderful diorama of the entire Marriott Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center...


...which gives a good scope of its size and layout.

Since the resort is brand new--it opened in December of 2018--the outside landscaping is still in progress. I read that some nearby boutiques and restaurants will be added soon to the local area.


We did not get a chance to visit the fitness center or the Rel√Ęche Spa and Salon.  Hopefully, one day in the future, we will stay at the resort and experience both, as well as the pools and whirlpools!  

According to what I read on local news reports, the Gaylord Rockies already has bookings through 2028--over 1.1 million reservations--with 80 percent of the conferences representing professional organizations or corporate meetings that never have had their gatherings in Colorado before! This is a wonderful boost for the Colorado economy and for jobs for the area.


There are other Marriott Gaylord Resorts and Convention Centers in other cities, have you visited any of them? I hope you will also have a chance to visit the Gaylord Rockies soon!


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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Welcome Spring!



Spring Fever has officially arrived in our part of Colorado! 

The garden centers are brimming with beautiful flowers...


...and my grandsons are back to playing soccer and lacrosse on the weekends.


We even had some rain!  It is not a common event in our high desert arid climate.


The annual fun Easter Egg Hunt was held in my community, along with a visit by the Easter Bunny! 

It was also time to dye our eggs for the holiday, with help from my oldest granddaughter.



Easter Sunday finally arrived!

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Easter Joy!


I was busy all week preparing and cooking for our traditional family Easter feast...


 ...including desserts.


I even spied the Easter Bunny enjoying some of the newly growing grass in my backyard. 

Welcome Spring!


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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Columbine High School Memorial, 20 Year Anniversary of the Tragedy



Rocky Mountain Columbine Flower--the state flower of Colorado

"No one ever believed it would happen at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. But hopefully, people across the nation, across the state, will realize that it can happen in their school."

Those were the chilling words then-Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis told ABC News just days after the massacre on April 20, 1999, when two senior students at the high school opened fire at the school, killing 12 of their fellow students and a teacher, wounding 21 students and then killing themselves.  


Please click on to enlarge to read the inscription

On this, the approaching 20th anniversary of the tragic event, I thought I'd show some of The Columbine Memorial in Littleton's Clement Park that was dedicated and opened to the public on September 21, 2007. It was designed to be "a place of peace, comfort, and reflection, remembering all those who were touched by the events of April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School, those who were injured, and those whose lives were taken that day." 

To see overhead views of how the memorial is structured as two circular rings inserted into the top of Rebel Hill in Clement Park click here.


 I found visiting the memorial to be a very solemn and emotional experience.  I'll never forget watching live television coverage of the Columbine High School massacre on television in my home at the time in Brooklyn, New York.  I was aghast at the horror of it all. My daughter was a high school student at the time and I remember as she watched the TV coverage she commented: "How could anyone live in a place in which something like this could happen"?  How could we imagine then that we would be living in the Littleton, Colorado vicinity 20 years later! 

As subsequent history has sadly shown, school shootings are not the plight of urban, suburban, rural, rich, or poor schools--they are the plight of this entire nation, and this generation, for reasons we still do not completely understand.


Here are the names of the innocent victims of the Columbine High School Massacre:

  • Matthew Kechter • Rachel Scott • Cassie Bernall • Kyle Velasquez • Daniel Rohrbough • Dave Sanders • John Tomlin Corey DePooter • Kelly Fleming • Isaiah Shoels • Lauren Townsend • Daniel Mauser • Steven Curnow
May they all rest in peace.


Please click on the photo to enlarge

In the Ring of Remembrance, inside the memorial, each of the victim’s families was asked to provide a unique and personal reflection in a text that would honor their loved one. These remembrances were engraved in stone and stand as a tribute to the victims.
I photographed Lauren Townsend's tribute but, honestly, I had too many tears in my eyes to continue to photograph all thirteen of them. I was very sad to read the tributes to their wonderful, innocent teens and of the brave teacher, whose lives were cut short in this tragedy.


In the center of the Ring of Remembrance of the memorial lies the “Never Forgotten” ribbon designed by victim Kyle Velasquez’s parents, Al and Phyllis.

 If you would like to read all of the individual student and teacher tributes, you can click on this Flickr album and scroll down to see them. The album begins with the beautiful Columbine Memorial Garden at Olinger Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens Cemetery, and then the Clement Park Columbine Memorial.


Please click on this photo collage to enlarge it

The Wall of Healing was designed to honor all those who were injured, the first responders and all those who were touched by the events of April 20, 1999. The wall consists of many engraved stones with quotes from students, the community, parents, first responders, and notable statements that were made at the groundbreaking of the Columbine Memorial. My photo collage above shows some of the inscriptions.


A poignant question. 

There is an interesting article in the Washington Post--click here--which is about a security expert, John McDonald, who is in charge of school safety for Jefferson County, Colorado, where Columbine High School is located. According to the article: "...he is responsible for the safety of 157 schools and 85,000 students in a community that long ago stopped talking about a need for healing or forgiveness and started focusing on recovery and preparation." 


Every anniversary year, Columbine High School students have engaged in community projects as an act of honor and remembrance for those lost, and to turn a sad day into a more positive day of kindness and service.  

That is a wonderful thing for us all to strive for, no matter where we live--to make the world a kinder, better place.

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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sogetsu Ikebana, the Ancient Japanese Art of Flower Arranging


Has "Spring Fever" arrived where you are? To me, the Spring season brings thoughts of warming temperatures, the arrival of flowers, spring cleaning and home improvements. Recently, my husband, daughter and I attended the Denver Home Show, held at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colorado. There, we saw many vendors displaying windows and hot tubs, gutter guards and mattresses, and many other assorted home design or improvements. 

(All photos and photo collages will enlarge when clicked on)


The main reason we went to the show, however, was to attend the Denver Home Show's Annual Sogetsu Colorado Ikebana Show.  Ikebana is the fine art of Japanese floral arranging and Sogetsu Colorado displayed many of their incredible and unique flower arrangements at the show.



Please click on the photo to enlarge it to read content.

The Sogetsu School of ikebana was founded in 1927 in Japan by Sofu Teshigahara, whose vision was to adapt traditional ikebana to more contemporary times. While retaining some of the traditional ikebana concepts such as asymmetry, open space, and depth, he rejected many of the more rigid rules about materials, placement and permitted styles of arrangements that were integral parts of the ikebana of the past.


Sogetsu Colorado was founded by Mrs. Kyoko Kita in 1986. The branch includes members from the Metropolitan Denver area, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and many Front Range communities. The purpose of this group is to increase the interest and awareness of the art of ikebana to those communities

Please click on to enlarge.

The theme of the 2019 Sogetsu Ikebana was the Japenese Five Elements--Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Space.  Each flower arrangement represented one of the elements and it was fun to guess which one and then turn over a small card that had a question mark on it that was next to each arrangement to see if our guess was correct.


The arrangements were colorful...


...and many were placed in unusual containers that added to their sense of visual poetry.


Most arrangements had additions of natural accents that curled and flowed ...


 ...and extended the arrangement.


Some arrangements were quite small, while others were large.



We really enjoyed looking at each one and found it hard to chose a favorite!


The highlight of the show for us was to watch one of the Sogestsu Colorado teachers, along with an assistant, demonstrate how to make four different ikebana arrangements.  A moderator explained how the flowers are cut on a slant with their stems under water which helps them live longer. She stressed how the container that is used is also an important element of ikebana and that they often scoured thrift stores and yard sales for unique containers.  I particularly liked the tall clear glass container in which the teacher placed a palm frond inside. She then slit the top of the palm frond and made it into the shape of a circle before adding baby's breath flowers, a single bird of paradise flower and finally graceful stems to the vase. It all looked very graceful and impressive!


The demonstrater worked quickly and effortlessly to make each beautiful ikebana arrangement, and it was a pleasure to watch her work and see the final results.  My daughter and I learned quite a bit and we now feel inspired to begin to collect our own ikebana accent pieces that we find in nature on our local hikes.


This display at the exit of the Sogetsu Ikebana display made me smile. It was definitely a tribute to Colorado weather, as  Spring in Colorado is often accompanied by snowfall well into the month of May. In an ikebana way, snow can also be thought of as a container or accessory that compliments and enhances the flowers. 
Each season has its own beauty and function and ikebana displays are a wonderful expression of nature's creativity.

An interesting article about Ikebana can be read on this linkIf you would like to learn more about Sogetsu Ikebana and where to take classes check out this link for the English version of their Japanese website. To learn more about classes in Colorado for Sogetsu Ikebana click here.


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Amaze Me MondayMosaic Monday, All SeasonsBlue Monday,  Through My Lens MondayHeart and Soul Link UpInspiration Monday, Blogging GrandmothersHearth, and Soul Link PartyYou Are the Star Blog HopGood Random FunNature NotesGrand SocialTravel Photos, Photo Tunes, Happiness Is HomemadeSomething Old Is NewTuesday TreasuresOur World TuesdayRuby TuesdayTuesdays With A TwistWordless Wednesday on a TuesdaySay Cheese!,  Party in Your PJ'sWordless WednesdayNanahood WWOh My Heartsie Girl's Wonderful Wednesday, Your Whims WednesdayWednesday Around the WorldWonderful Wednesday Little Things Thursday,Thankful ThursdayThursday Encouraging Hearts and HomeThursday Favorite Things,  Pretty Pintastic PartyFriendship FridaysFriday Photo JournalSkywatch Friday, Pink SaturdaySaturday CrittersOver the MoonHappiness Is HomemadeWandering Camera


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