Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Westminster CO, Twin Lakes CO and Leadville CO

On the 26 of May we arrived at the Elks Lodge in Westminster, they have their own campground with 40 sites!  Not all spots are 50 amp with full hookups but we were lucky enough to score one for a month.  They are abit tight but for $20 and being located right in town it works for us.


A couple of days later we drove northwest to Lyons where Kate and Roger were staying.  


We met up at Oskar Blues Brewery and did what we do best, drink beer.

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Time to explore downtown Denver.

State Capital
It is built in the neoclassical style reminiscent of the United States Capitol constructed in the 1890s from Colorado white granite, and opened November 1894. 


 Sitting slightly higher then the rest of downtown Denver.  The main entrance hall is open 180 feet to the top of the dome, about the height of an 18-story building.  The official elevation of Denver is measured outside the west entrance to the building on the steps, it has been changed 3 times.  From the 13th step it is a mile high at 5,280 feet above sea level.


The distinctive gold dome consists of real gold leaf, first added in 1908, commemorating the Colorado Gold Rush.


This picture was taken from the dome looking down on Center Park.

Next stop was Prohibition Bar and Grill for some lunch, a Diner, Drive-ins and Dives suggestion.  Then onto the Molly Brown House Museum home of philanthropist, socialite, and activist Margaret Brown.  Also know as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" because she survived the sinking of the Titanic.


Last stop was the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, what a beautiful place. 


Construction began in 1902 and was completed in 1911.  It was hit twice by lighting.  On August 13 & 14 in 1993 Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at the cathedral-one of only a few cathedrals in the US so honored.

Headed back home we were looking for some dinner and decided to check out another Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives suggestion, Hops & Pie in Denver.


This restaurant was really good!  We were there on a Wednesday which is $2 can beer and pizza slices for $2.25, man that pizza was sooooo good. 
We will definitely be back! 

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The next day we went to the Celestial Seasonings tea plant in Boulder.  They offer free tours that start with tea tastings, a movie and then a walk through the plant.  The best part was going into the peppermint room, wow it was so strong it burned your eyes but your sinuses cleared.


The business started as a cottage industry in 1969.  In 1972 Sleepytime was introduced and it turned the small business into the business it is today, Sleepytime still remains their best seller.

Did you know that green, black and white tea all come from the same plant?
The Camellia Sinensis bush-it's how they are processed that makes the difference.

Did you know that all herbal teas are caffeine free?
It's because they don't contain camellia sinensis.


About a mile away from the tea plant is Avery Brewing Company, Woo-hoo!


I had their White Rascal at Hops and Pie and it is now a favorite!


Last stop was Efrain's Mexican Restaurant for dinner.  It was highly recommended on TripAdvisor and we totally agree, got love TripAdvisor! 


I usually don't post pictures of food but my goodness it was good and we had leftovers for the next day!

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About a week later we had a visit from our friends Greg and Lori who were on a 6 week trip with their family.  We had been playing tag with them since we left Florida and finally hooked up.  I use to work for Lori doing real estate and then we camped in their neighbors backyard after we sold the house.  
Great friends and good times!


Happy Trails and we will see you when we are back on the east coast.

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Kate and Roger returned from Lyons and were lucky to score a house sitting job for some friends just south of us.  They parked their rig in the drive way and camped for free, sweet!


We got together at Hops and Pie which is located in an urban artsy area on Tennyson Street in Denver.  They liked it as much as we did.  Not exactly sure what is happening in the photo behind us.  Anyway, later we wandered the streets and took them to The Oriental Theater.  It opened on Christmas Eve 1927 as a movie theater and is now a multi venue location.
We walked in just to check it out, there was a band playing so we got a beer and hung out awhile.  Well we found out later that we crashed Todd's birthday party.
Happy birthday Todd!

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We attended the Brewgrass Festival in Denver.


Pearl street is closed with a stage at the end of the street.  Blues bands entertain through out the night with local brewery and food vendors.
I can say a good time was had by all!

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The next day we headed out on a road trip to the mountains to scope out a place where we could all camp at for 2 weeks.  It was getting hot in the city so everyone heads to the mountains.  One thing I can say is if you plan on camping in CO you better make some reservations early.  We try to scope out new locations in the Tahoe instead of hauling all our stuff to find out they can't accommodate us.  If it was just the rig and truck that would be different but with me hauling the small trailer it can be tough sometimes.  We found a beautiful spot at Twin Lakes between Leadville and Buena Vista.  


Cheers at Periodic Brewery to our new location in a week!

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A few days later we made a short trip to Sioux Falls, SD to renew our drivers licenses.  This has to be done every 5 years, wow we have been on the road that long!  We took the Tahoe and somewhere in Nebraska we got a rock chip in the windshield.  Within hours it grew like it was alive, damn.  The next day we got our new licenses, a painless process not like back in NC.  Our mail service had moved so we checked it out.

This is our official address, no house to paint and I don't have to mow the grass!


While the truck was getting fixed we ventured to the falls and walked around downtown.
Thank you SD for allowing us to be a resident, see you again in another 5 years!

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Time to move to the mountains!


I know it has been hot everywhere I but didn't expect these temperatures in Denver, Wow.  At least we don't have the humidity like back home.



This picture was taken from the hill behind our camper looking down on our site and Kate and Roger are across the road with the twin lakes in the background.  Elevation is 9,250 feet, high 70's during the day and 45-50 at night, perfect for campfires.  We are boondocking here at Lakeview campground paying $19 a day.  The views are awesome and ever changing.  

Leadville is about 17 miles north of us and Buena Vista is 20 miles south.  The BBQ and Brew Fest was going on in Leadville so we checked it out.  They blocked the main street off, had a stage with bands, a street performer, BBQ and beer, what more could you want.  Will definitely attend it next year.


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The trail you see right behind our rig is the Colorado Trail which intersects with the Continental Divide Trail.  What a beautiful place to hike!


With the elevation being so great it takes some time getting use to, so every time I hiked I would go farther then last time and would be rewarded with new sights.


Once past the waterfall and aspen trees the trail open ups and you get awesome views of the lakes.


Our outdoor living room.
When it would get dark out the stars were amazing!  I've never seen so many in my life.


Occasionally the clouds would roll in and we would get some rain but then the rainbow would appear.  Like I said "always changing".

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Our next adventure lead us all to Vail.


The picture on the right was taken from Garfinkel's which looks directly on the ski slopes.  There are all kinds of shops, bars and eating establishments to the right of the slopes.  It's like Mayfair back home, with the shops on the ground floor and accommodations for rent above them.  I bet this place is crazy in the winter and the accommodations probably cost more than we spend all year for camping sites. 


There was a free music concert going on in the square with a beer garden, needless to say we all had a good time!

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Across the lake from our campground is Inter-Laken and Dexter's cabin.  
You have to do a 2.5 mile hike in to see it or go by boat, we hiked.



Inter-Laken was once the most attractive tourist resort in CO.  The hotel complex was started in 1879 and then expanded when James Dexter a mining baron from Leadville purchased the resort and grounds in 1883.  It boasted the best facilities for the times including log tavern, pool hall, dinning with the best food, laundry, private rooms looking onto the lake, barn with hay loft and a 6 sided privy.
In 1890 Dexter built the cabin for his family and he spared no expense the same as he did with Inter-Laken.  Imported wood, the finest rugs, decorations and furnishings.
Sadly the resort fell out of favor after the turn of the century when private irrigation interests constructed the original Twin Lakes Dam.  The resort wasn't effected by the larger lakes but people associated shallow water with malaria and other diseases and soon the hotel fell out of favor.  Eventually it was abandoned, the cabin has been restored along with what buildings could be saved of the resort.


This photo was take from the cupola in the cabin looking across the lake at where our campground is located.
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We were here during the 4th of July and I have to say it was the first one in many moons that we were dressed in jeans and jackets.  I had made friends with the camp host Bill who told me that he had been doing the job for 13 years but next year he and his wife were going to be on the east coast.  Mark and I talked that night and when I saw him the next day my question was if they already had a replacement for them, the answer was no.  He gave me the number to call, I scheduled an appointment to meet with the head lady the next day and she hired us!!!  We weren't looking for a job but it just seemed like the planets were in alignment and it was meant to be.  Hey we are gypsies and if you want to stay cool in the summer head to the mountains.  The big plus is that the area is beautiful so we will be back next year.
Kate and Roger left headed to Vermont and we stayed on 3 more days to do some more exploring.
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Independence Pass also know as the "Top of The Rockies"and is the highest paved mountain pass in CO reaching 12,095 in feet.  It is only open roughly 6 months a year as the other months it is in passable with snow.


Driving up the pass note the lack of guard rails, imagine our forefathers in a horse and wagon.


The valleys are gorgeous as you twist and turn your way up the pass.


Once on top the views will take your breath away, along with the wind and change in temperatures.  I made the mistake of not having a jacket with me, something you always carry when in CO.



 The divide runs along the highest points between Alaska and Argentina, separating the Atlantic and the Pacific watersheds.  The west drains to the Pacific Ocean and the east drains to the Atlantic.
My pictures don't do it justice but such a feeling when you know you are rocky top high.

From the divide we drove down to Aspen, again the roads were tight but at least they had guard rails!


From Aspen we traveled into Colorado Springs then took 70 east.  Oh my what a beautiful ride through mountains as you follow the Colorado river.


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The following day we went on a mine tour in Leadville.

You descend down a vertical shaft 600 feet to experience what it felt like for the miners in the 1800's.
Leadville's mining history began with the discovery of gold south of town in 1860.  Roughly 8,000 prospectors extracted 4 million in gold over the next 5 years.  Gold played out and silver took over.  By 1880, the town had over 30,000 residents with stores, hotels, theaters, gambling joints, dance halls, brothels and of course saloons.  At one point it had more people then Denver and was in the running for being the state capitol.  The silver boom created wealth for some and when those folks wanted to get away they went to Inter-Laken.  
As always boom towns play out and the folks leave chasing dreams else where, but the town of Leadville remains and is rich in history.


Around town we kept seeing these pretty painted houses and found out they were done like this because the miners only saw dark while underground and wanted to see bright colors when they were out of the mines. 

We have enjoyed out time in this location and look forward to coming back next year.

Thanks for following our travels, and get out there and explore, you never know what you will find!


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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pikes Peak, Cripple Creek and Red Rocks

Colorado Springs sits at 6,035 feet in elevation and is at the base of Pikes Peak mountain.  You can't stare at that mountain without wanting to go on top so we boarded the Cog Railroad for our ride.  The Cog Railroad is located in Manitou Springs and is a cog system railway.

 

The trip lasts about 3+ hours with 30 minutes up top and believe me that's long enough as it is cold up there!!!


Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America.  14,115 feet high and is one of the fourteeners in CO located in Pike National Forest.
It was a little cloudy but the views are awesome!  
OK, enough of these cold temps lets get back to 80 degrees so I can pack that winter coat away.

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Next stop was a must as well, Garden of the Gods.
It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971 and is a free public park.


This photo was taken from the visitors center looking down on the park with Pikes Peak in the background.
Popular for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding.


The top right picture was taken at Kissing Camels with Pikes Peak in the background.  What a beautiful park!

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The next adventure lead us 40 miles west of Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek which sits at 9,494 feet in elevation.  From 1890 to 1910, more than 22,400,000 ounces of gold were extracted from 500 mines including the neighboring town of Victor.  The district produced 30 millionaires while the hands on miners made $3 a day.


In 1896 the town suffered two fires within four days but was rebuilt in a few months.  The current  one mine is operated by Cripple Creek and Victor Mining Company, running 24/7 365 days a year. In 1970-1980 the town was almost a ghost town with only 200 people living there until 1991 when the CO voters allowed legalized gambling.  It is now more a tourist attraction with casinos occupying the historic buildings.

Interesting fact - Cripple Creek is home to the root beer float?
Also known as the "Black Cow" invented by Frank J. Wisner in August 1893.  

There is an Elk Lodge that is located in one of the old buildings that we had to check out.  It was instituted on July 7th, 1895 in the Gold Mine Stock Exchange building.  This place was huge and had tons of history.  There are 5 sleeping rooms available to members with a shared bathroom.  We have stayed at alot of Elk lodges but none have had rooms for rent!


I bet alot of men can relate to this!


Five miles southeast of Cripple Creek is Victor.


In 1894 the Woods brothers discovered gold when they were digging a foundation for a building!  Although Victor was overshadowed by Cripple Creek, many of the best mines of the Cripple Creek District were located in Victor.  Half of Battle Mountain's gold was extracted by the Portland mine, which was called the "Queen of the District".  Did you know the heavyweight boxing champion William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey was a mucker at the Portland mine?
A mucker removes waste material after blasting, guess that's where he got those strong arms.


The above sign tells you one of the Portland mine shafts descends 3,300 feet, almost to Colorado Springs!  Imagine working that far below the surface...scary. 

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We moved north to Lakewood at the Bear Creek State Park campground where we met our friends Kate and Roger.


This is a very popular campground as it is located a couple of miles from Red Rocks amphitheater, better make reservations for the weekend months in advance.  Kate, Roger and Jen attended a concert at this awesome amphitheater.  6,450 feet above sea level with 868 acres, this park is a geological phenomenon, the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world.  When a musician performs here they know they have made it to the top.  


Breweries are very popular and in Colorado they are everywhere.


Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project.

We will move to the Elks Lodge in Westminster and met up with Kate and Roger later.

Thanks for following our travels, stay tuned!


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