Go to a Wonderbound Performance

April 30, 2017

I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d be getting into when I accepted an invitation to Wonderbound from my friend Tanya.  The performance was a pleasant and interesting experience.

Wonderbound is a dance group that performs contemporary dance along with live music while sticking to three fundamental values – community, collaboration, and creation.

This month’s performance took place at DU with the hip-hop band Flobots, from Denver.  The lead singers sang and rapped while dancers moved around the stage in modern ballet style.  For two songs, the group even included the audience which was very entertaining.  The collaboration explored the “struggles between personal identity, community, individual freedom and collective power.”

I didn’t really focus on the deeper meaning, but simply enjoyed the music, dance and atmosphere.  The performance was quite good.  I’d recommend seeing them at least once.  If tickets aren’t in the budget, go see them at an open door rehearsal.  https://wonderbound.com/ ETB

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Take a Tour of LASP at CU Boulder

April 28, 2017

I’m currently taking an enrichment class at DU called, Robotics in the Solar System. It is a fascinating class where we are learning about different space missions to Mars, Pluto, Mercury, and Jupiter. Our instructor, Paul Hemenway, worked on the Hubble telescope for 18 years.

As part of the class, we do a field trip. As such, we visited LASP, Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder on Friday. Public tours are available, though they prefer groups of at least eight. Tom Mason, the Director of Communications and Outreach, is who provides the tour. http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/personnel/tom.mason/

LASP is a full-cycle space research institute and a leader in atmospheric and space research. The institute employs 397 professionals and 150 students. It raises on average $70 million in research money and grants from NASA and other organizations for CU Boulder.

LASP has a mission operations and data systems group that trains and certifies undergraduates to perform mission operations. Currently, LASP operates five different space missions for NASA including AIM, Kepler, SORCE, QuikSCAT, and MinXSS CubaSat. Mission operators monitor and control the spacecraft and their instruments. An example, might be that a camera is turned off to save power, or the solar panel is tilted toward the sun, or the space craft is rotated slightly to ensure the correct orbit around a planet. These missions take years just for the spacecraft to reach its destination.

In addition to operating space missions, LASP designs and builds instruments such as spectrographs that are used on the spacecraft. Currently, LASP operates over 125 different instruments on spacecraft missions. We got to see life size models as well as scaled down versions of some the spacecraft in which they have been involved. In addition, we saw some of their engineering and clean rooms.

Anyone interested in space would enjoy this tour! ETB

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Enjoy a Wind Symphony in Denver

April 8, 2017

Saturday some friends and I attended a Colorado Wind Ensemble Concert.  The CWE collaborated with the Rocky Mountain Brassworks to present a unique show.  The two orchestras sat on separate sides.  Directed by their respective conductor, each played their own pieces, while they played the opening and closing piece together.  Each them both played Moorside Suite separately, so the audience could hear the difference.  I really enjoyed listening to the variance.  We were able to sit very close to the front, so we could see the musicians in detail.

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I’ve lived in Colorado just over five years now, I have not heard of the ensemble or the band.  The CWE is in its 35th season!  The ensemble maintains an artistic residency at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and plays a six-concert season at a variety of venues around Denver.  Saturday night’s symphony was performed at the King Center on the Auraria campus.  The Venue was quite nice with good acoustics.  The CWE plays one more symphony this year called Worlds Away on May 20, 2017.  The tickets range from $5-$15. 

The Rocky Mountain Brassworks was formed in 1974 as the Colorado Brass Band and only played a few times a year.  It became the Rocky Mountain Brassworks in 1978.  The band uses instruments from the saxhorn family which produce a mellow tone.  Different instruments are used or excluded.  The tenor horn replaces the french horn and trumpets are excluded.  The Rocky Mountain Brassworks has two upcoming concerts, May the 4th Be With You featuring the music of “Star Wars” on May 4, 2017 and the 6th Rocky Mountain Brass Band Festival on May 20, 2017.  Tickets range from $5-$15 as well.  http://www.rockymountainbrassworks.org

I tend prefer the wind symphony over the regular symphony, so I was excited to find this concert on Saturday night.  It is also a nice way to enjoy the symphony at a reasonable price.  ETB

Don’t Miss the Stars Wars Costume Exhibit!

April 6, 2017

It’s not too late to visit the Star Wars Costume Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum.  It has been extended to April 9th, so there is one more day!  Tickets for adults with audio are $28 and appointment times are available every 15 minutes though many times are sold out.

I was fortunate to go a few days ago when it wasn’t very crowded.  I believe any Star Wars fan will appreciate the exhibit, but an of those who like movies and fashion might like this exhibit.  It probably suits Star Wars and fashion fans the best.

The costume designers, artists and George Lucas went through significant processes to create these costumes.  They started with sketches, then story boards, then small models, and then the final product.  Many of the costumes looked like wool, yet were mostly made of silk because it was a lighter material that could swing around in fighting scenes.

My favorite part of the exhibit was watching the video on C-3PO…poor Anthony Daniels, the actor who has played the droid in every movie.  The costume legs were tight and stiff so that he couldn’t walk well.  “Perfect,” said George Lucas, “it looks like a robot walking.”  In addition, Anthony Daniels couldn’t sit down in the costume, so during the breaks in 115⁰ weather in the desert, he had to stand there while someone helped him drink water!  Sometimes the costume would fall apart and other times he’d just fall down while walking and have to be helped up!

Another actor for whom I felt sorry was Peter Mayhew.  He played Chewbacca, loaded down in 15 pounds of yak hair in the original Star Wars series.  In these movies, there wasn’t a cooling system as there is now.

The exhibit wasn’t too long.  It only took me about an hour to go through after listening to the audio for 13 stations.  There was a large exhibit of Padme’s costumes, and those who like materials and embroideries would really like this.  I tended to like the plastic storm trooper costumes.  Overall, it is worth seeing.  Hurry and get your ticket!  ETB

WANT TO VACATION SOONER?  IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!

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Want more details, click here:http://www.ratpacknation.net/pages/featured

To browse experiences or to sign up, click here:http://www.bethbankhead.dreamtrips.com

For notecards, key chains, or photographs, visit Notable Notecards or Niche Notecards on Etsy. A portion of the sales are donated to charity and a travel story is associated with each one.

Strolling Along Sand Creek Greenway

January 20, 2017

I didn’t have much time for a hike today, but it was so nice out, I had to do something.  I decided to go check out Sand Creek Greenway again.  It had been awhile since I had visited the area, and the last time was on a mountain bike.

It’s nice to have wilderness, all be it not the mountains, just a ten minute car ride from my house.  I parked off Smith Road to the side of Bluff Lake Nature Center, gathered Ellie from the backseat, and headed out.

The dirt path was still partially snow-covered from the Monday’s storm as well as somewhat muddy from the snowmelt due mild weather…50 degrees!  I sort of wish the whole path was dirt rather than the intermittent dirt/concrete mix, but just to have an area that feels like wilderness so close to home is awesome.

It didn’t take long to spot wildlife.  Prairie dogs popped out of their holes and Ellie sure wanted a piece of them.  The same went for the bunnies that we came across later.  Fortunately, the ducks and geese weren’t as interesting to her.  I really enjoyed the flock of geese that glided above our heads and then swooped in for a landing on the frozen lake.  Many kept arriving forming a huge group that rested on the ice.

I always find it pleasant to hike near water features, and it was delightful to walk along the creek, though at times it was quite hidden by golden prairie grass and dormant cacti which provided great photos.  The views to the west of snow covered mountains didn’t disappoint on the return.

The trail goes on for miles and intersects with others along the way.  I can only imagine the distance.  With limited time, I think we probably only hiked a few miles, but it was better than nothing!

Afterwards, without Ellie, I made a quick stop into Bluff Lake Nature Center.  This might be my new place to run in order to save my knees from the pavement.  What a delightful adventure before my quick jaunt to Dallas to celebrate my mom’s birthday!  ETB

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Denver Brewery Tour

December 3, 2016

While Colorado may be known best internationally for being the first state to legalize marijuana, it is also very well known for its craft beers.  Breweries have become very popular, and they seem to be on every corner! A few of my friends from Dallas came into town, and of course, they wanted to try out a bunch of breweries.  As such, we created our own brewery tour.

Our first stop was at Great Divide Brewing Company which was opened in 1994 when Denver’s craft beer industry hardly existed.  Over time, Great Divide Brewing Company became one of America’s most decorated craft breweries.  While Eric tried the Yeti Beer which appeared to be pretty popular, Steve and I tried sample flights.  Both of us thought they were good and well priced!  The brewery sells a variety of T-shirts and such, but only popcorn for food.  A guacamole food truck was parked outside the brewery when we left around 1pm, but it wasn’t open yet.

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Our next stop was at Jagged Mountain Brewery just a few blocks from Great Divide.  Here I tried the Cougar Slayer.  With that name, it may have been better suited for a male, but the blackberry saison sounded good to me.  None of us tasted any blackberry in the Cougar Slayer, so that was a bummer, but the boys liked some of the other IPA’s.  Neither had seen a 17.5% alcohol beer, so Steve and Eric ordered it to share.  It tasted almost like molasses…it was very syrupy.  We really liked the vibe at this brewery that had much more seating than the Great Divide.  As with most breweries, it only sold popcorn, so it was time for us to find a place with food.

We headed the opposite direction from where we wanted to end up, but it wasn’t that long a walk…eight blocks or so to reach First Draft Taproom & Kitchen.  This taproom has 30+ beers on tap on the wall along with a few ciders and a few wines.  Most of the beers were Colorado crafts, yet some came from other states as well.  The lightest could be found on the left of the wall and they grew bolder to the right.  Guests can draw as much beer from each tap as they want…a one ounce or eight.  A card connected to our credit card tracked the amount of each pour.  There is a total limit which is probably a good way for the establishment to control guests over-serving themselves!  We all ordered food though I can’t say it was the best.  It was, however, sustenance.

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From First Draft we walked a bit to Wynkoop Brewing Company, located across from Union Station.  Wynkoop was started by John Hickenlooper (Colorado’s current governor), Jerry Williams, Mark Schiffler, and Russell Schehrer in the 80’s when LoDo (lower downtown Denver) was a ghost town.  Now, Wynkoop is a Denver institution in a hopping downtown.  Wynkoop brews its own beer, features guest beer, and has a full menu.  We tried one beer quickly before we took a break from breweries to go to the hockey game at the Pepsi Center.

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It only took about ten minutes to walk to the venue where the Dallas Stars were taking on the Colorado Avalanche in a division rivalry.  My Dallas friends were happy to see the Stars win…3-0!

Our final stop of the night was at Union Station.  Union Station was recently renovated, and is spectacular.  The building includes an expansive lobby with the Terminal Bar and a few shops surrounding it.  There are also a few fancy restaurants and a nice hotel.  The Terminal Bar is great!  We just joined the line at its window to order a beer and then headed to the shuffle board tables.  Some other folks joined us for some friendly competition.

Just as we were about to call it a night, I ran into my friend Marissa and her friend Catherine.  We caught up for awhile and then headed home.  We hardly made a dent in the breweries.  There were several more in the same vicinity.  My friends planned on trying more breweries tomorrow.  I opted for something a little more healthy tomorrow…a hike in the Rockies.  What a fun day though! ETB

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Things to do in Denver