2013 in Review

Looking back at everything I’ve done in the past year, makes me realize how lucky I am.  My year has been filled with lots of life!

Exercise always plays a big part.  Not only hiking…


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Hiking St. Mary’s Glacier

Located only an hour from Denver, St. Mary’s Glacier in Idaho Springs, Colorado is a beautiful hike and at 1 mile round trip is perfect if you’re looking for a shorter length hike and as an added bonus…you can enjoy a 10 mile scenic drive from I-70 to reach it.  Having spent six wonderful days in Colorado (except for having to escape Estes Park flooding), my girlfriend and I had a full last day planned before we left and flew home to Cincinnati.  We stopped at the magnificent Red Rock Amphitheater to take photos before returning later that evening for a concert and were stopping in the quaint town of Golden to have a late lunch after our St. Mary’s Glacier hike.

Here I am taking in the view on the hike…


I couldn’t stop taking photos…it was so pretty!


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Attending a Concert at Red Rock Amphitheater is a Must Do While in Denver

Attending a concert at Red Rock Amphitheater is a “must do” if you visit Denver or the surrounding areas!  As you can see from the photos, it’s magnificent.  Construction began in 1936 and finished in 1941.  My friend Gina and I stopped there Tuesday on our way to go hiking at St. Mary’s Glacier to take photos and check it out, even though we were coming back later that evening to attend a concert with Frightened Rabbit, Local Natives, and The Nationals.  They’re Indy bands and our favorite was the Local Natives.  I’ve seen an opera at the Santa Fe Opera House…also an amazing outdoor venue…but Red Rock Amphitheater is simply amazing!  In addition to the  scenery, the acoustics are wonderful and you can bring in your own cooler with non-alcoholic beverages and snacks.

You’ll notice people running and doing exercises during the day and it’s free to enter when there aren’t concerts.  Located only 30 minutes from Denver, it’s an ideal place to visit!

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I didn’t take my camera later that evening because they prohibit cameras with detachable lens.  At night there are lights situated to illuminate the rocks and it’s simply gorgeous.  Even the bands were commenting on how they felt honored to play there!  We had reserved seats in row 52, but fortunately a guy that works there gave us the tip that the first 25 rows are general admission (first come/first serve), so we sat in row 20 towards the middle and had an excellent view!  We made friends with the two couples on both sides of us and one of them even shared their homemade mozzarella cheese and homemade bread with us.

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Make Music Denver at 16th Street Mall

16th Street Mall is a mile long pedestrian only street (16th Street) in Downtown Denver that has tons of restaurants, bars, and shops and loads of character!  Actually there are buses that are free and take you up and down the mile.  They have pianos situated at intervals in the street for anyone to sit down and play and call it the “Make Music Denver” project.  I was able to photograph a few of them.


I took two photos of the guy on the left and he looked at me for the second one.


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Bike Denver

My girlfriend and I arrived in Denver on Sunday from spending two nights in Breckenridge, where we had a great time at the Octoberfest.  It was raining, so after we got the keys from our Airbnb host to her condo near the Santa Fe Art District, we settled in and basically relaxed the remainder of the day.  She had DVDs, so we watched a couple of chick flicks and ordered pizza.  It was nice to have a chill out day after being on the go.  Monday we were ready to see Denver!  Although we were only a mile or two from the 16th Street Mall area, I had researched renting a bicycle and discovered a cool system called Denver B Cycle.  There are stations or kiosks located all over Denver where you can use your credit card and for just $8 (good for the day) rent a bicycle for 30 minutes.  If you return the bike to a station within the 30 minutes there is no extra charge.  If you return it within 30-60 minutes it’s an extra $1.00 and for each additional 30 minutes it’s $4.00.   We ended up spending $10 total per person.  I wanted to check out Cheesman Park which was about 2 miles away, so off we went.  Some of it was uphill, so we got a small workout.  We both liked having a basket in the front to store our things.  Next we went to the Denver Botanic Gardens…which I posted about yesterday.  Our final stop before turning the bikes in at the Convention Center was the 16th Street Mall area…a mile long pedestrian only area with tons of shops and restaurants.  I have a separate post about that also.  I have a few unique photographs of life in Denver to share with you here.


Not only are the Denver chipmunks friendly…so are the squirrels!


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Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens is massive and unbelievably lush and beautiful!  My friend Gina and I were on a week-long trip in Colorado and our first day out and about in Denver, we rented bicycles and rode a couple of miles to Cheesman Park.  We were told how lovely the Denver Botanic Gardens are while asking a lady directions to downtown Denver, so we made our way over and started taking photographs.  Within a few minutes we both were wondering why there was no charge or fee to enter the gardens.  We thought perhaps since it was Monday.  Later after leaving, I researched and discovered there is a $12.50 charge per adult.  Oh well…I’ll chalk it up to good karma!

Anyway, love this building’s reflection in the pond…


This particular lily pad appeared quite artistic to me…


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Meeting New Friends in Grand Lake, Colorado

After hiking down the big hill from Grand Lake Lodge, my friend Gina and I walked through the quaint town of Grand Lake, Colorado.


It reminded me somewhat of the town of Silverton, Colorado.  Lots of colorful shops and restaurants with the western look!



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Hiking from Grand Lake Lodge

Grand Lake Lodge in Grand Lake, Colorado has an absolutely stunning view of the lake.  After checking in on Thursday, my girlfriend Gina and I decided to take a hike down the hillside to the town to check it out.   Here’s the beginning of the trail and that’s Gina up ahead…


We were delighted it wasn’t raining having left the flooding in Estes Park earlier that morning!  The path forks off to the left but is not well-marked.


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Escape from Estes Park via Trail Ridge Road

When I awoke Thursday morning at 3:30am, I got out of bed, rather than lie there trying to get back to sleep and looked through photographs I had taken the previous day.  At day break, I looked out the window at the Thompson River raging next to the resort we stayed at.  As you can see from a photo I took minutes before we escaped, the river had taken over the pool and hot tub.  After calling the front desk a couple of times with my concerns with the rising water, they called our room and said we were in pre-evacuation mode…be ready.  My friend Gina and I made the decision to “get the heck out of there”, rather than wait until it was too late to leave!  So we packed the car in the rain and drove to the road/bridge pictured in the photo below.  By this point there was a yellow “do not cross” tape blocking the way and I asked the resort manager (who was sitting in a golf cart by the  bridge) if we could cross at our own risk.  He said “no” and told us where the only other road out of the resort was located.  I drove over there and headed to Trail Ridge Road into the Rocky Mountain National Park.  One section of a road had a couple of inches of water running across a 12 foot wide section.  I made the decision to drive across it.


Trail Ridge Road was beautiful!  It took less than an hour and one-half to get to Grand Lake, where we stayed for the evening.  We stopped a few times for photo opportunities.  The wind blew our umbrella into the upside down position, which made for a cute photo.  And the rainbow just added that bit of magic!


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Finding Art in the Denver Airport and having fun in spite of being stranded due to flash flooding in the sunshine State of Colorado

After checking the weather forecast for Denver and Estes Park, Colorado a couple of days ago, I mentally prepared myself for the near constant rain that we would encounter the first few days of our trip to Colorado.  I brought my workout clothes and researched other activities in the Rocky Mountain National Park area to replace hiking.  We arrived yesterday and I had a few hours to kill at the Denver Airport waiting for my girlfriend Gina’s flight to arrive.  Here are some photos from the Airport…


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One Week Itinerary for Colorado

I love to prepare travel itineraries and I spent at least 20 hours over the past week perfecting an itinerary for a one week trip to Colorado I’m going on next month with a girlfriend.

This is a photo from two years ago of a trip to Durango and Silverton, Colorado.  This time I’ll be exploring Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Boulder, Denver, Golden, Evergreen, and Idaho Springs.  I booked lodging through Airbnb for two of the locations and used Vacation Rental By Owner for the third location.  I’ve packed quite a bit in for the week…but with good planning utilizing a variety of online travel sites to include Trip Advisor, Yelp, and google maps, I’m confident we’ll be able to see it all without feeling rushed.  I’m flexible, so if we want to switch something up once we’re there, we can.  If you’ve been to any of these places or have any other recommendations, please share!  I have prices listed to give people an idea of how much things cost in the event someone wants to use any of the itinerary.  By choosing rentals that have a kitchen, we can cut down on the cost of food.

I can’t wait to hike and take some photographs!


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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rainbow

I was looking forward to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week because the theme is Rainbow!  Those of us living in the Northern hemisphere need some color about now!


These brightly painted ostrich eggs in Cape Town, Africa are definitely full of color! Continue reading

Positive Energy Adventure – Colorado/New Mexico – 8/2011 – Day 5

We left our rental near Durango, Colorado about 9:30am to drive to Santa Fe.  Along the way we saw some stunning scenery…

The route we took was through Pagosa Springs…Chama…Abiquiu and the photo below is of Chimney Rock.

We stopped at “Ghost Ranch“…

We arrived at our VRBO…which was another great deal…$59.00 per night with great views…

This was in the backyard…

I understand why so many artists live in Santa Fe now…

Positive Energy Adventure – Colorado/New Mexico 8/2011 – Day 4

If you are ever in Durango, go to the Durango Diner for breakfast…the portions are huge and the food is great!  We had eggs, hash browns, and split blueberry pancakes…delicious!  We needed energy for hiking Smelter Mountain, which is located right in Durango.  It’s not a long hike, but it is rather steep…

You’re rewarded with a nice view of Durango!

We showered afterwards and then did some girly things…Kathy had a hair appointment, so I got my nails done and then we looked through shops!

We enjoyed the Balcony Bar and Grill so much, we went back for $2.50 Fish Tacos, good live music, and more strong drinks!

Positive Energy Adventure – Colorado/New Mexico 8/2011 – Day 3

This morning I made us an omelet, 12-grain toast, strawberries, blueberries and banana for breakfast.  We drove 1 1/2 hrs. to the Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  I was driving and after we paid the $15 entrance fee, there was another somewhat “scary” mountain road to traverse before arriving at the top where the Park was located.

We waited in line for about 30 minutes for tickets to the Cliff Palace and then went to the Museum for a 20 minute video about the Park.  We then toured Spruce Tree House.  This is the walk down to it…

After eating our picnic lunch, we were ready for the 1:30pm tour of Cliff Palace.  It almost looks like a miniature reproduction…

The tour guide was very friendly and made the tour interesting…

We had to climb some ladders…

We got back to Durango at 4pm…explored the town some…ran into Oprah…(not really)…

This is a Hummingbird Moth…at first I thought it was a Hummingbird!

We had dinner at Francisco’s, which was very good.  Next stop was the Balcony Bar & Grill, where there was live music and very strong drinks!  We had a long island, which we nicknamed “After Mesa..Got Verde Wasta”.    This is the duo…it looks like she’s naked, but she’s not!

It was another great day!!