Monday, August 29, 2022

The Fleeting Days of Summer

 

"Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed." ~ Mary Oliver

 

This is the last weekend in August--how can that be? Fall arrives early in Colorado. I can see the sun's slant of light becoming lower on the horizon and the air has a chill at night. It won't be long until the aspens turn golden yellow and we have our first whisper of snow on the mountains.




"Happiness grows at our own fireside and is not to be picked in strangers' gardens." 
~ Douglas Jerrold


Summer is passing quickly but there is still much of its beauty to behold and enjoy.




"But once in a while, the odd thing happens, once in a while the dream comes true." ~ W H Auden

My husband and I took a walk around  The Hudson Gardens and Event Center in Littleton, Colorado recently.  Hudson Gardens is a nonprofit organization encompassing thirty acres of garden exhibits, trails, open spaces, and event venues and it provides free admission from sunrise–sunset every day of the year for self-directed exploration. I've blogged about it more extensively in the past--click here--to read that post.




"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." 
~ Edith Wharton


The garden has amazing water lily ponds full of the most delicate and beautiful flowers...




"Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell."
~ Louisa May Alcott


...as well as many other flowers, shrubs, trees, and art sculptures to enjoy.

 
"


"The words 'far far away' always had a strange charm" ~ Alfred Tennyson


There are many benches along the trails where one can sit and appreciate the garden's serenity.




"A loving heart is the truest wisdom." Charles Dickens


The resident geese and ducks looked very content in the shade and waters of the garden. 





"In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed." 
~ Kahlil Gibran


Hudson Gardens is a treasure to visit in all seasons and the perfect place to take a walk in nature.  We are fortunate to have it in our area!  




Another treasure I was happy to visit in August was the author Susan Branch at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in the Aspen Grove branch in Littleton, Colorado. 



Susan was doing a cross-country road trip with her husband, Joe, to promote her wonderful new book called "Distilled Genius: A Collection of Life-Changing Quotations." 

 I have been a fan of Susan's handwritten and painted books since her first book "Heart of the Home" and have been following her blog for years, so I was very excited to hear she would be stopping by close to me! 




There was a large crowd of fans to greet her--a few who traveled from as far away as Wyoming and Iowa! She gave a lovely talk about how she collected quotations all her life and what they meant to her. She said quotations were:
"Practical expressions of wisdom from courageous thinkers and teachers ahead of their time, nurturing and life-affirming, hilarious, heroic, and human ~ they taught me how to be brave, showed me where to find my dreams, and encouraged me to try and make them a reality.


All of the quotations in this blog post came from her book.  It is another treasure I will always cherish. Thank you, Susan!


"The sweetest flower that glows,
 I give you as we part. 
For you, it is a rose
For me, it is my heart.
~ Frederick Peterson

See you all in September!


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Monday, August 22, 2022

A Day at the Denver Art Museum


It is hard to believe that school in our part of Colorado has already been in session for one week! A few days before the new school year we brought our oldest granddaughter to the Denver Art Museum for the day.  She was very excited, as you can see by her big smile.




The Denver Art Museum is located in an area of Denver's "Golden Triangle." Within the boundaries of the Golden Triangle, you can find Civic Center Park, the City and County of Denver offices, the Colorado State Capitol, History Colorado, the Denver Art Museum, the U.S. Mint Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum, and the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art and the Denver Public Library.

The Denver Art Museum has exhibitions and collections of more than 70,000 diverse works from across the centuries and the world, as well as special exhibits.






 I was excited to see the special Georgia O'Keeffe Photographer exhibit that runs 
through November 6, 2022

Information from the exhibit website:
"Georgia O’Keeffe, Photographer brings a trove of newly identified photographs by the groundbreaking artist to Colorado in summer 2022 in an exhibition organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) with the collaboration of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe. The presentation reveals a new aspect of the modernist artist’s career through nearly 100 photographs, as well as several paintings, drawings, and related ephemera."



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I think many are familiar with her macro-style flower paintings and it was interesting to see her photos that were her inspiration.




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Her photo of her New Mexico studio door






O'Keeffe's painting of her patio and door with a cloud-filled sky above.









Some other paintings by O'Keeffe are part of the exhibit.



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We were amazed to see the "Age of Armor" special exhibit which runs until September 5, 2022.  It is an immersive exhibition featuring more than 100 objects highlighting the artistry, function, and societal perceptions of armor shaped throughout time, from the Higgins Collection at the Worcester Art Museum of Massachusetts.





Please click on to enlarge


This two-handed sword was impressive!




Some beautiful glass was made in the Czech Republic, where glassmaking is a 1,000-year-old tradition.




An art museum visit would not be complete without looking at the Impressionists--just a small portion we saw are in the collage above.





There is also Outdoor Art outside the museum as well as an interactive garden. 

The thirty-five-foot tall "Big Sweep" sculpture is by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje Van Bruggen and is located on Martin Plaza outside the Hamilton building.  

I was happy to see the horse sculptures made by Deborah Butterfield which were part of an exhibit I saw years ago at the Denver Botanic Garden called "The Nature of Horses--click here--to see them in that blog post.





Denver Art Museum is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast with global art collections that represent cultures around the world as well as work by artists from Denver and the Rocky Mountain region. Internationally known for its holdings of American Indian art, the museum has also assembled an extensive group of pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art objects now considered one of the finest collections in the world.   To see some of these exhibits in past blogs click here and here.

 
We only saw a small portion of the exhibits on this visit and we will return many times in the future to see more.  



Our granddaughter was especially excited to see that there were many Creativity Areas in the museum where she could create her own artwork! There were many art supplies available and after seeing so much artwork and sculptures our creative juice was flowing and we both made drawings.  

She enjoyed the interactive poetry wall in one room and on the whiteboard that asked the question "Why do we need creativity?"  she wrote "Creativity Shows Passion," which I think sums up our day at the museum perfectly!



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Sunday, August 14, 2022

HawkQuest in Golden, Colorado



My husband and I met friends in Golden, Colorado the last Sunday in July to go out for brunch and stroll around the town.  It happened to be the last day of the Buffalo Bill Days celebration.  Buffalo Bill Days are Golden’s annual salute to William F. Cody, who is buried atop Lookout Mountain in Golden.  I blogged about his grave a few years ago on this post It is among the most visited tourist attractions in Colorado!

Buffalo Bill Days featured a western weekend filled with the “Best of the West” parade, muttin’ bustin’, firefighters’ pancake breakfast, car show, arts and crafts, live music, kids’ games, and more. The original event dates back to the 1940s as a trail ride up to Buffalo Bill’s gravesite and now is an annual event.





In summer, as one drives into Golden's main street, a familiar sight to see is people carrying floatation tubes of all colors and shapes.




They are all headed to Clear Creek, which runs through the middle of Golden in order to float down a portion of the creek.  We like to stand on the bridge and watch them all float by or walk on a trail that runs alongside the creek to do the same








A short YouTube of some tubers floating down Clear Creek.







After brunch, we all went over to Parfet Park in town to visit the Arts and Crafts market vendors that were there for the Buffalo Days celebration.





In addition to the Arts and Crafts vendors' booth, the park had a stage where different groups performed all weekend, there were rides for children, the local Coors factory had a beer garden set up, and food vendors were available.







My favorite booth on display for Buffalo Bill Days, however, was this educational display and program for HawkQuest 

HawkQuest is a Colorado nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)3 charitable organization. HawkQuest's approach is for education in classrooms and lecture halls, and is participatory, allowing the audience to experience HawkQuest's eagles, owls, falcons, and hawks at close range. The raptors in their care were injured and unable to be released back into the wild, or they were given up from private owners and sanctuaries.

HawkQuest has thirty-five different raptors, representing twenty-one different species. They had four raptors on display in their booth and gave explanations about each of them, as well as their mission statement and requests for donations, along with merchandise for sale. After seeing the program we were happy to make a donation!


These were the four raptors that Hawk Quest had on display at the celebration. The descriptions I've included under each photo are from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.








"Petite falcon roughly the same size as Mourning Dove, but with a larger head and wider tail. In flight, note long, narrow wings and square-tipped tail. Often seen perched on telephone wires, along roadsides, in open country with short vegetation and few trees. From a perch or hovering, they usually drop to the ground to snatch small mammals and insects. Nests in cavities. Widespread across the Americas."






"Medium-sized owl with a heart-shaped facial disc and deep dark eyes; the only Tyto owl present throughout much of its range. Varies across a wide global range, but always note white-and-black speckling on the upper parts, beautiful gray-and-tawny wings, and a large round head. The color of the facial disc and underparts varies from pure white to rusty orange. Hunts primarily rodents in open areas by night, foraging with a slow and buoyant flight. Roosts in old buildings, tree hollows, caves, and nest boxes by day. Its call is a bone-chilling, rising shriek."









"Dark hawk found in deserts and scrubby open woodland. Brown overall with bright rufous shoulders and thighs. Tail black with white tip and white base. Immatures have variable white markings on the underparts. Unique among raptors for its social behavior; nests and hunts in groups. Feeds on mammals."







"Majestic adults have a blackish-brown body with white head and tail. Several stages of immature plumages aren't quite as majestic, from fully dark brown to messy and mottled with large patches of white. Look especially for white mottling on the belly of immatures. Scavenges and hunts near bodies of water. Soars with wings flat, like a large, dark plank. The Head appears large in flight; projects far in front of the wings. Surprisingly weak-sounding vocalization is a series of high-pitched whistles.





The bald eagle was the star of the show!  

She was a rescue from Alaska and had an injured wing that had healed but prevented her from flying well enough to hunt.  During most of the lecture she was wearing a hood, but her handler took it off and allowed her to stretch her wings for the audience. 


The bald eagle is Alaska’s largest resident bird of prey with a wing span of up to 7.5 feet (2.3 m) and weight between 8 to 14 pounds (3.6 – 6.4 kg). Found only in North America, bald eagles are more abundant in Alaska than anywhere else in the United States. The Alaska population is estimated at 30,000 birds. 





We were really impressed by HawkQuest and their effort to care for these raptors and lead educational programs about them.  If you'd like to help their educational mission you can go to their "How to Help" page on their website or visit their online gift shop which contains books, apparel, hats, notecards, etc.  They also have a Facebook Page If you love birds and raptors they are a wonderful organization to support!


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Monday, August 8, 2022

Part Two: Mount Evans and a Farewell to Echo Lake Lodge




In last week's blog post, Above the Clouds on Mount Evans Part One, I showed what it looked like to drive up North America's highest paved road to 14,260 ft (4,346M) on a rainy, cloudy day.

 After taking some quick photos in the rain at the summit, at a cold temperature of 40 degrees (4.444 C), we were on our way back down the mountain to go back to drier and safer ground.



Please click on to enlarge


As you can see in the upper section of the photo collage above there is a  U.S. Geological Survey brass plaque on one of the highest boulders on the summit of Mount Evans, placed there in 1955 which states "Elevation Above Sea level 14,258." 

The bottom photo in the collage shows an infographic located at Summit Lake, which is located at 12,840 feet (3,913.632 M) on the mountain. It describes the five life zones one will drive through on their way from Denver, Colorado to the summit of Mount Evans--from mile-high grasslands at 5280 ft to alpine over 14,000 feet. It really is amazing to see the different terrain.




The alpine environment is where mountain goats, marmots, and bighorn sheep call home year-round.







On the drive back down I could see the 14,065-foot summit of Mount Bierstadt in the distance,  It is also located in the Mount Evans Wilderness area.




As we descended I could see the fog lifting up from below.




The lower we traveled back on the switchback road the higher and greater the fog seemed to appear.






We were definitely still above the clouds!







It was still raining and the road was slippery and wet.







We could see a deep fog approaching...






...closer...





...until we were engulfed inside it! 

At this point, my husband drove very carefully as he could barely see the road in front of us.






I took photos of the clouds in the distance off to the side.






We slowly kept descending...






Although the views on a clear day are spectacular, it was also magical to see all the vistas covered with clouds this day.





The heavy cloud cover filled the sky above as we drove lower in elevation...






...it still felt like being in heaven!







Finally, we were back at tree level.







Echo Lake at the base of the mountain was still very foggy.






We stopped for lunch at the historic Echo Lake Lodge





Please click on to enlarge


Echo Lake Lodge, built in 1926 by the City and County of Denver, was designed to provide accommodations to Denver Mountain Parks visitors. Today, it is used only as a gift shop and restaurant.

The initial construction was the octagon-shaped part of the lodge and the rest of the building was added in 1927.  At 10,600 ft elevation, Echo Lake Lodge was used as a high-altitude training camp for the military during WWII.

In 1965, Denver Mountain Parks leased Echo Lake Lodge to H.W. Stewart Inc. H.W. Stewart is a fifth-generation family-owned family company that still operates Echo Lake Lodge to this day.  Sadly, this is their last year as Denver Mountain Parks did not renew their contract!  The lodge infrastructure needs heavy repairs.  Its indoor bathroom has been unusable since last summer, so Portosans had to be brought into the parking lot.




Every time we drove to Mount Evans in the past--almost once a year since living in Colorado--we would stop at Echo Lake Lodge for either a slice of homemade pie or to have lunch. Their Buffalo Chili was one of our favorites, so we made sure to order a bowl of it one last time.  I also enjoyed shopping in the well-stocked gift shop. 

 It's sad to know that this is its last year of business.  Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs had an ultra modernization of all its facilities a few years ago and I have a suspicion the same will happen for this structure when its replacement reopens in a few years.  We bid it a fond farewell--a piece of the Colorado past disappearing! 

Mount Evans Scenic Byway is open approximately from Memorial Day to Labor Day, weather permitting--a reservation is required and must be made before your visit and printed or downloaded as the area has no cell phone service.  Please remember to leave no trace! Take only photos, leave only footprints (on the trails)


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