Tuesday, November 15, 2016

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK - A View From the Top ~ "Travel Tuesday"

As a continuation of my previous post on Rocky Mountain National Park, there are three ecosystems at work within the park.  This is the ALPINE (elevations over 11,400 ft.), or as far as I chose to go hike up it that day.  Far enough, really...12,005 ft. above sea level.
The Alpine Visitor Center sits further back in the park, along Trail Ridge Road.  Out back of this beautiful center is a pathway to the top, known affectionately as "Huffer Hill".  A smooth, paved trail to about the halfway point, where it's replaced by large stone steps to the summit.  The Visitor Center itself sits at an elevation of 11,796 ft., meaning I climbed 209 ft. in a very short span...and I understood the meaning of the name.
AND, I had the proper footwear for my trek that day - no cowboy boots - no thongs (yeah, that will come later, as I trekked about the desert landscape in Hawaiian thongs this summer, also).  The view from the top was spectacular, with plenty of photos stops/breathing breaks along the way up.  I chuckled at how many times I heard, "Man!  I thought I was in good shape" (even murmuring in my own head), ascending and descending.
Yes, "unbelievably spectacular" I say, while trying to slow my breathing to steady the camera.  This is the land of the hearty tundra dwellers - marmots, ptarmigans, and the big horn sheep, though the sheep do trek downwards in the winter.
Below the Alpine lie the Sub alpine elevations - anything falling between 9,000 and 11,400 ft.   This is where the shrubberies and trees come back into play, and you'll find most of the larger animals within the park.  We spotted four elk that ran into view at the bottom of that little mountain glacier, as we stood there taking in the beauty.  Elk, deer, bighorn sheep - the Park is home to over 350 Bighorns, which were nearly extinct within it's boundaries in the 1950s.  Binoculars are always a great bet...throw a pair in your trunk - you'll be glad you did.
The third ecosystem within the Park is the Montane - this is below 9,000 ft. in elevation.  Now you're in full-blown pines, firs, and aspens; wildflowers, birds, beaver, otter, and most of the larger animals.  These are the areas that are fed by the runoff from winter snows in the spring and summer months.  These are my Rocky Mountains - spectacular at every turn.
The west side of the Park finds you travelling alongside the Never Summer Mountain Range, opening to views of the valley and town of Grand Lake below.  Upper right photo is of Poudre Lake.
THIS is where the Colorado River starts - just a tiny stream fed by runoff from snow melt, supplying water to some 60 million people downstream. 
The Park - whether you approach east to west, or vice versa - is travelled via Trail Ridge Road.  The innermost portions of this road are closed, due to winter weather conditions, from Mid October to Memorial Day (in May).  You can still travel some of the lower elevations during that time...check ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK (that's a link right there, that will take you to the NPS website) for road closure information if you are planning on visiting anytime other than May through October.
A parting shot of Grand Lake, CO.  In an attempt to push aside the day to day nonsense that has recently take over my time, I am working my way through Aspen tree fall color shots, taken in September.  The first time I've been home to see it in all it's glory, in about 25 years.  Back soon - get out and see something!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK - Celebrating the National Park Service Centennial ~ "Travel Tuesday"

Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!
Since its inception on August 25, 1916, at the pen of President Woodrow Wilson (and 44 years after the establishment of Yellowstone National Park), the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our National Parks, National Monuments, National Memorials, National Military Parks, National Historic Sites, National Recreation Areas, National Seashores, National Scenic River ways, and more.

The third most visited National Park in 2015 happens to be in my home state of Colorado...
(a quick click on the line above will take you directly to the NPS.gov page).
I am also teaming up with... 
(again, a quick click will take you there)
They've allowed me access to some pretty great graphics for these two posts (too much photo overload for one).  As always, all photos can be clicked and clicked again (including the graphics), for enlargement.

"Cotopaxi is an adventure company that tries to get people outdoors and also, to do good.  We are a Benefits Corporation, which means with every sale we make, a portion is donated to world heath initiatives, and our travel backpacks help us make the biggest impact"...Cotopaxi.com 
RMNP is located in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, about 70 miles west of Denver.  Nestled between Estes Park and Grand Lake, the Continental Divide and its eastern and western slopes run through the park; the headwaters of the Colorado River begin here, as well.

The park is filled with awe inspiring mountain views, lakes, and varied environments (from forests to tundra) along with just about any type of western wildlife you could hope to see (that rainy day we spotted bear, deer, elk, and a large gathering of eagles - perched roadside, seeking shelter from the rain).  You'll also find easy access to back-country hiking trails and campsites, for those who want to get off the beaten path.

About a half mile into the entrance that day, we (and about 18 other cars) spied this sow bear and her two large cubs overturning boulders, on a hillside, in search of grubs.  The Park Service Rangers were quick to disperse the crowd - believe me, I was nowhere near these magnificent creatures to get this shot (and only had a normal lens on my camera, hence the bit of blurriness)...ALWAYS respect the animal life, and give them a wide berth!
The park encompasses about 266,000+ acres (or 415 square miles), and is one of the highest national parks in the nation - elevations range from 7,860 to 14,259 feet. Sixty mountain peaks over 12,000 ft. make for some breathtaking viewing.  And, 300 MILES OF HIKING TRAILSfor those so inclined!
For those who'd rather do their sightseeing from the comfort of the car, as we did that day (though we took many opportunities to hike some easier trails, or just pull off for photo ops), the Park offers Trail Ridge Road.  Trail Ridge inspired awe even before the first motorist ever traveled it.  "It is hard to describe what a sensation this new road is going to make", predicted the director of the NPS, in 1931.  "You will have the whole sweep of the Rockies before you, in all directions."  INDEED, you do!  We traveled in fog and low hanging clouds that day, until we reached our first pullout and paved hike...
A quick, easy trail that led to this beautiful vista...our trek started in the fog, and cleared as we approached the end (along with quite a few more folk who didn't seem to mind the rain that day - the backwoods trails will see you far away from crowds like this).
I couldn't have asked for a more perfect window of opportunity when that curtain of fog parted.
Trail Ridge Road (seen ever so faintly in the upper right photo) covers 48 miles between Estes Park and the town of Grand Lake, on the west side of the Park.  Eleven miles of this road take you above timberline (the Parks' pines stop at about 11,500 feet).  The road tops out at 12,183 feet in elevation, while winding across these beautiful mountain tundras.  
Pullouts are plenty, and there's the Alpine Visitor Center at the top, if you really want to stretch your legs (and lungs) - more on that on Thursday.
Again, a click on the bold link will take you directly to Cotopaxi.com, where you can read more about what they are doing to promote our National Park Service, and helping you to get out and "Explore Your Park".  In need of a really great backpack?  Check out their "Gear for Good"  (go ahead and click right there, or RIGHT HERE).

And, one more link to entice you to make a trek of your own to this grand old Park - or one in your own neck of the woods.  Wherever it is, take the time to explore what it has to offer.  Been there before?  Go again!  Relive the memories, and make a few new ones!  Celebrate some of our greatest national treasures - 100 years strong!

I will be back on Thursday with the remainder of the photos I  have for you, plus proof that I do own a great pair of hiking shoes, and didn't hike around in my cowboy boots this time.  Thanks to my dad for another well-thought-out day in the beautiful mountains of home.  Love you more!

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Trick or treat...
Smell my feet!
(2016 saw the demise of the iconic Las Vegas Showgirl - evidently she was killed off by zombies!  This fondant beauty is life size, and sits above the prep table at the fabulous Jean Phillippe Patisserie, inside the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas )
Give me...
(These are all fondant and/or cake creations - all edible - all incredibly detailed!  The haunted house and skull thing are each approximately four feet tall)
(The charming and ever-appetizing "Condiment Area" - more fondant covered cake heads)
good to eat!
(I'm not sure, but the LARGE, evil snowman cake appeared to be eating the little tiny ones).

Back from a lonnnng hiatus - Dad (and anyone else who might be interested), I PROMISE a travel post on Rocky Mountain National Park on Tuesday.  Pictures are all ready to go - I just need to fill in the details.
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


I started a new collection of sorts (like I needed another), this summer...Bell Trading Post copper jewelry.  These pieces are all from the 1930's to late 1950's, dated through the hallmarks found on the backs of each piece.  All Indian-made, for tourists of the time.  Still to be found, readily - these all came from antique stores in the Denver area.  Still affordable, if you search out the right deals - nothing here cost me over $32.00 (three were under $15), though it's all worth more.
Bell Trading Company was founded in Albuquerque, NM in 1932.  Native American artisans were employed by the trading post to make jewelry for tourists (often behind windows where you could actually watch them at work) along the Route 66 corridor of the American Southwest.  Copper was a big selling point for a lot of this touristy jewelry, due to low cost in manufacturing.  It's actually come full circle in recent years, with many of today's Native American jewelers turning back to working with copper and brass due to high silver prices.  Today's current metal prices:  
Copper -  $2.10/lb.
Silver - $19.79 oz.
Yeah - THAT'S why!
The turquoise in the butterfly bracelet is a synthetic, made using a type of epoxy and ground turquoise dust.  Sterling silver jewelry items were also produced (as well as nickel silver pieces, which were more along the price lines of the copper), but the copper made for a line of jewelry that was well affordable to tourists seeking out real, Indian-made items.  Copper was also touted as an arthritis relief remedy - then AND today, with so many athletes turning to copper lined clothing, necklaces, etc.
Bell's competition, at the time, was Maisel's Trading Post - also in Albuquerque.  The two businesses merged in 1935, and Maisel's is still going strong today - MAISEL'S
Wondering where your piece is from?  As in my post about authentic Indian jewelry, flip it over and look for a "hallmark".  These all have the Bell symbol from the time period of the 1930s and the late 1950s.  Sometime in the 60's the symbol was changed to an arrow with a hanging sign below it, and later, to a "Sunbell".

One of the "drawbacks" of copper jewelry (as anyone who was a child in the 50s/60s and had a copper ring or bracelet can tell you), is that it WILL turn your skin green.  Skin is easily washable. Whoever owned a few of these pieces actually shined them up before selling them.  I'm one who would rather have the patina, but it's all a matter of personal preference.  These will patina again, over time (they neglected to get the inside, where you see the green).
The Indian Trading Posts found throughout the SW were originally places of trade - the tribal artisans would bring items in for just that...trade.  Many of the posts also dealt with pawned items, giving the Indians money to hold their pawned jewelry, saddles, blankets, etc., and selling it once the items went "dead" - meaning they were no longer wanted or retrieved by the owners.  Today's trading posts work in the same fashion, though the artisan items are usually sold to the shops now.  Clockwise from upper left - Cameron Trading Post, Cameron, AZ;  Perry Null Trading Post, Gallup, NM; Santo Domingo Indian Owned Trading Post, Old Towne Albuquerque, NM; Jackies Trading Post, Taos, NM; Tuba Trading Post, Tuba City, AZ.
The top bracelet is done in the "Repousse" style, meaning the large raised designs were hammered into the piece from the backside - it is 1.75" wide, and cost me a ridiculously low price...SO low.  The butterfly is 1.5" wide, and soldered to a full split shank bracelet - again, the turquoise is faux, but every piece here is, indeed, Indian made - and heavy copper.  This one cost me $32.00.  The two smaller bracelets?  One was $6.00 and the other, $10.  And, OK...the large one up top ran me $12 - fabulous antique store finds, and a great starting point for those wanting to get into collecting some beautiful pieces with a little Route 66 history behind them, at affordable prices.
Richards Trading Post in Gallup, NM - these cases shown hold old pawn pieces for sale, as well as being backed by a wall of pawned saddles.
On my newer copper pieces, I have protected the fronts of my bracelets with painter's tape, and sprayed a light coat of polyurethane on the inside, to lessen my arm turning green - it does work for awhile (depending on how hot the day is and how much my arm sweats under the bracelet), before eventually wearing off and requiring another coat.  Do not spray the faces of your pieces - you can remove time acquired "color" with a simple once over with REALLY FINE steel wool, or a polishing cloth, if you like.  Me?  I can't wait for the patina to eventually reclaim this one.
While travelling between Santa Fe and Albuquerque last month, we dropped off the main highway to visit Santo Domingo Pueblo, hearing that the old trading post there that had burned down in 2001 had undergone renovations, and was set to reopen to the public.
Sadly, the date had been set and then cancelled, suddenly, with no explanation - the post remains unopened. We did drop into the Santo Domingo Pueblo, to walk through the beautiful old Church in the center plaza, and were treated to a visit at a potter's house.  There is no photography permitted within the pueblo itself, hence a lack of photos, other than the trading post which is back on down the road.  
How something so kitschy and touristy has captured my heart, at the moment, is beyond me...another of those links to happy childhood vacation trips, and having a few precious bucks in my pocket to spend on beautiful treasures!

Sunday, September 4, 2016


On the less traveled road from Central City to Estes Park, Colorado - past the happiest carousel ever, in the sleepy little hamlet of Nederland - just a stone's throw from the beautiful old rock chapel of Camp St. Malo - sits something pretty special in it's own right.  EAGLE PLUME'S TRADING POST - I'm betting it has been close to 50 25 years (at least) since we were last in there, enticed by a pronouncement of "treasures for good children", made by a grade school teacher.  Dad and Mom took us then - they also took me last month.  It was the first time since 1960-something that any of us had been back.  Magical then - even more so through my adult eyes.

As always, clicking on the photos will bring them up larger - clicking again will enlarge them even more (and make them a little clearer...something in the collage process is making some of my photos a little blurry, as of late - I will be seeing about a remedy).
Founded in 1917 by Katherine Lindsey, who sold antiques, art, and curios (as well as afternoon tea to customers), the shop was originally called The What Not Inn, later renamed Perkins Trading Post after her marriage.  Influenced by her own father's collection, Katherine eventually shifted her focus to the arts of the American Indian, becoming one of the better-known dealers in the Western United States at the time.

A newer sign out front, but the building is much the same as it has always been.  At the front door, we were greeted by a pine box for "Messages, Tall Tales, and Dirty Jokes"...there WAS one inside that day.
Sometime during the late 1920's Charles Eagle Plume found his way to the trading post, endearing himself not only to the Perkins', but carloads of visitors.  As Mr. Perkins' health declined, Charles was instrumental in helping out around the post - he and Mrs. Perkins continued to run the post until her death in 1966.
Charles (he hated the name Charlie, I have read) not only entertained and enchanted visitors to the store over the years, with Indian lore and corny jokes, he also toured the United States, making a name for himself as a sought-after lecturer on Indian Arts and culture.  I remember him as he was in the top right photo (perhaps a little less gray at that time).  I also remember being given an arrowhead by him, just as my teacher had promised...one that was "misplaced" (or taken by my sister, who did things like that!) over the years and miles of my life, sadly.
Charles touched the lives of many people during his years of running the post and on his lecturing circuit.  Before he passed on in 1992, he established the not-for-profit Charles Eagle Plume Foundation, which encompasses his vast, personal collection of over 1,000 pieces, housed at the store.
They were more than willing to let me photograph inside that day - ALWAYS ask first.  This trading post was a wonderment when I was 8 - even more so to me now, in more of a historical museum aspect.  Charles' collection is incredible.  As this is a "working" trading post, there ARE newer art, collection pieces, and jewelry items (as well as vintage pieces), available for purchase (my Mom went home with a beautiful pin that day), in addition to curios and items for the children Charles so loved.
Completely hand-beaded Plains Indian cradle board...
as well as hand beading on an incredibly detailed leather ceremonial "hair shirt".
The stairwell leading upstairs - all very old...all very loved - baskets, bead work, and a chief's bonnet that left me wondering if it was the one from the photo of Charles, up above.  I'm just going to believe it was.
More jaw-dropping bead work, and a grouping of beautiful old, deep blue wool Crow dresses covered in Elk teeth, dentalium (long seashells), and antique coins.  If you go, allow yourself plenty of time to take it all in...there's something interesting and beautiful at every turn!
Which brings me back to that arrowhead I was given, all those years ago...ok, it was more than the 25 I claim!  On telling the ladies working that day, of my first trip and the fate of my arrowhead from Charles, I continued through the beautiful collection before me.  A tap on the shoulder and an urging to open my hand found the black arrowhead above placed in the center of my palm, with my fingers closed back around it.  The kind woman told me that Charles never picked out a certain arrowhead for any child, instead just reaching in and taking one, sight unseen - exactly as she had done with this one.  Dear Charles Eagle Plume - this one will stay with me forever! 
Thank you dear ladies, for rekindling some very special memories that day, and making new ones for us (there's a bittersweet story behind that clock in the photo, also...if you go, be sure to ask).  Want to make some memories of your own - visit EAGLE PLUME'S - Real Indians. Real Indian Art by clicking on the red link, directly above, for more info on the store and directions on how to get there. "Epeheva'e - (it is good)  This is a place unlike any other, ask anyone who has been here.  A place with walls that whisper, floors that creak underfoot, a place with a rare history, a patina left by time and an endless parade of characters"...from Eagle Plume's advertising postcard

The punchline from the joke inside the box, from the photo up above (you thought I'd forget, didn't you)?:  Because they had their trunks down!

Here's to "dirty" jokes and Charles Eagle Plume! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Lots to show - lots to tell - and the summer isn't over yet.  I have travel posts and more, now that I'm back, but wanted to start with the one dearest to my heart at the moment.
It's the reason my last post has been on for years months, and I apologize, but it was a nice post to leave in place.
This post starts a brand new chapter in our lives.  My son, Louie, and his sweet bride, Abbi, were married two weeks ago, at the University Club in Denver.
In deference to the real photographer, I snapped only candids  - the evening rehearsal and the big event couldn't have been better!
Short on words here, except to say it took our breath away, in more ways than one.
My daughter, Jaci, with her posse of groomsmen - two of whom have been her buddies just about forever.
I did notice my son's favorite chocolate cake, hidden inside this gorgeousness.
Their engagement picture received signatures from guests.
Beautiful University Club in downtown Denver, built in the late 1800's.
Rehearsal shenanigans...
Abbi enjoying the dance...
The wedding venue was a block away from Denver's beautiful, gold-leafed capital building.
My son told my parents, the evening of the rehearsal, that he was hoping to emulate their own marriage - I think he's off to a great start.
60 years strong!
Jaci and best man, Chris - one of the greatest friends ever, to both of my kids.
Jaci and her cousin, my sweet niece, Jessi.
And, for those who never COULD figure out the color of that damned Internet dress, proof positive that it was black and white...just like the chairs!!!

Congratulations Louie and Abbi - here's to your own 60 years!