Monday, September 29, 2014

The world in color……..

The most beautiful season is upon us out here in the West.    Everyone thinks of New England color when fall comes but I think we can rival that easily.  

My much younger ( everyone seems to be younger than me ) brother Tom and my SIL Regina left the beautiful California Sierra's and came east.    The aspen put on an amazing display.

 This year there is a heavy mixture of the red/orange color.     And the vibrant aspens contrast with the dark green pines to really glow.

This is right out of the camera, no enhancement, no coloring, no brightening….Mother Nature' masterpiece.    Yesterday, the snows came to the mountain peaks and once the rains and clouds have been pushed away by the sun, I will be out to capture it.

Tom and Regina left this morning to explore the NP's of Utah….Bryce and Zion and others.    He left a bit of his creativity behind but I need to take a video of it.     Stay tuned.  
And now, it's time to change the sheets and await our next guests.    Hope the aspen stick around a bit longer so we can share.    

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sharing the Views

We recommended that Mark and Annette take the train after flying into Denver from Michigan.   We had heard that it was a leisurely, but long, and beautiful ride thru the mountains and canyons.    Several of our friends here have raved about the convenience and beauty of the ride.    What they didn't mention is that it is ALWAYS late !!     True to form, the train, scheduled in at 4:47 pm, finally pulled into Grand Junction at 10pm.     We felt bad.    It is about an 8 hr trip but adding on the long delay and it becomes an ordeal.      But we tried to make up for it the next day by heading to the hills. 

We headed up out of Ouray (pronounced U-ray, named after Chief Ouray of the Ute tribe) to Yankee Boy Basin.    It is a very scenic ride to the waterfalls and old mines.

 The next day, hoping they were getting acclimated a bit , we headed over to Silverton.   The aspen are starting their show stopping color change.

 We took the Jeep trail up Ophir Pass……it's very mild but the views are majestic and the altimeter tops out about 11,700 ft.       The aspen grove is not a crooked picture….that's the way they were growing.

The Gondola ride up and over the mountain to Telluride is always a highlight.    It's like a Disney ride only it's free !!

 The Hotel Sheridan ( on the left )has been a fixture since the late 1800's .   The Farmer's Market is always fun to browse but buying takes $$$.   The produce is lovely and mostly organic  and I picked up some fresh spinach.

 They waited patiently while we window shopped.

 No trip to Montrose is complete without a short drive over to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP.

All too soon, we had to drive the Holtans back to GJ to catch the train.     Yep, late again ! (90 min)
We had a great time sharing out part of the world.    Stay tuned, we're doing more sharing.

And yes, it was a thrilling game and yes, the blow-up Bronco was on the front lawn, and yes, I had my orange colors on and yes, I wasn't happy.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

A good weekend……...

 Guess who tagged along when we came west ??    He's quite popular out here in Bronco Country.

 Last week, our view on the  5+ mile "walk" in Dennis Weaver Park.    Check out the link for details but yes, this is the same Dennis Weaver from Gunsmoke (for those of a certain age ).   It is a beautiful place with stunning views and a haven for wildlife and birds.    Supposedly, it is a good eagle sighting area altho still early in the season.   Signs at the nearby Ridgeway State Park indicated recent sightings of mountain lions and bears (including a mother with cubs).  

Early Saturday morning I went over to the State Park for a program on bird banding.    The bander looked about 12 but she has been doing this for 7 years (traveling about the SW) and is working on her Master's in Biology.  

The first bird caught in the nets was a robin.    Even I could identify it even if the red breast didn't seem as vivid as I remember.

 I don't think you can see the netting in this pic but they hang them in various locations and check them every 10-15 minutes.   In cold or hot weather, they check more frequently.

 They place the collected birds in colorful homemade bags.

 The next bird was a Wilson Warbler.    She placed him upside down in a pvc pipe on a scale to weigh it.

 The tiny metal band filled with info on how to contact authorities should you find him someday.

 The next bird was a scrub Jay ….. she is measuring his leg to determine the proper sized band.   He was a fighter and it took two to manage him.

 On each bird, she blew on the breast feathers to determine the amount of fat on the bird.   Their skin is transparent (think featherless baby birds ) and fat deposits are visible.    The Jay kept grabbing her fingers with it's very sharp talons ( or is it claws ?….I looked it up and talons are on birds of prey altho it indicated that other birds have them as well….I thought talons sounded more fierce than claws).   He was given a pencil to hang on to and that seemed to quiet him….and saved her skin.

Next up was an orange crowned Warbler but I never could see the orange.

 We were on the banks of the Uncompaghre River which flows from the mountains to join the larger Gunnison River.    It irrigates our valley and Ridgeway Reservoir provides excellent recreation.
It is a beautiful river.

  It was a fascinating morning.   I can't identify many birds but I appreciate those who can and all of the efforts to educate the public.  

On Sunday, I enjoyed the 'Savor The San Juan's Tour' of 7 area homes with a local chef preparing food  from the local farms.    I had the most amazing bread pudding, incorporating local peaches,  savory and delicious salisbury steak from our Cobble Creek chef .    The gazpacho was delicious, the asian cucumber soup I passed on as well as a yak burger.   I did try the lamb bratwurst.    It was a fun afternoon and very popular.   We ended at a turn of the century saloon  for  local wine and beer tastings and more desserts.

In a couple of days, we will welcome Mark and Annette from the flatlands.    We will be easy on them the first couple of days but then we'll show them our world from the top of the mountains.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's all about the views………..

 Labor Day weekend found us at Jeff and Jen's beautiful home on the Columbia River.     Sitting high on a bluff overlooking the river, we watched and heard  the planes take off from PDX, the sailboats and jet boats and the huge transport ships sail the river.  

Decorated in exquisite detail, the home is comfortable and inviting.    The large windows , both up and down, bring in the river views.

 The kitchen lights are just one of the many touches that Jen is noted for.

I liked these "dinner plate sized" hibiscus….. and that is faux grass !!

On Sunday, we drove east along the Columbia Gorge , watched the kite surfers, did wine tasting in Hood River (lots of wine tasting) and 

 then spent the night at Skamania Lodge.   It reminded me of the national park lodges.    The food and service were excellent and there were plenty of activities to keep a family busy.    The golf course looked challenging with it's narrow pine-lined fairways.    Maybe next time.     We would like to go back and hike the trails as well……no altitude to deal with !      

It was a short visit but filled to the brim.    Thanks for a wonderful visit.     We flew back to Denver on Tuesday and had another couple of days filled with shopping and more shopping and catching up with Becca and Lizzie.    Jenna is using her many creative talents at the "Little Black Chair", a shop specializing in Annie Sloan Chalk paints.   Check it out if you need to transform a mundane piece of furniture.
We spent several hours at the Denver Botanic Gardens to see the magnificent display of the  Chihuly exhibit.      Photos do NOT do it justice.   

I left the buildings and people in this shot to show you the size and scope of this piece as we entered the Gardens.

The pieces were all organic and whimsical and in  brilliant color on this cloudless day.

Of course, nature continued her daily work……..

More texture in the Japanese gardens with this stone path… appears to undulate due to the shading but was flat…. volunteers and staff placed the smooth stones.

…..on gossamer wings……..

Later , the Gardens will be open at night with the sculptures lighted……The exhibit remains until November.    ( I didn't 'enhance' any of the pics….I might have cropped a couple but otherwise they are all straight from the camera )

We enjoyed the beautiful drive home thru the mountains …. altho it is 5 hrs of driving, it never gets boring and the stop midway at a  Costco is a nice treat.