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
WANT TO VACATION SOONER? IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!
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.
clean room on right
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
Want to take this blog post with you? Click here to download it on the GPSMyCity Travel App: Denver Brewery Tour
For Valentine’s Day, we decided to do something different. After playing tennis at City Park, we stopped in at the zoo. We thought it would be nice to visit on an unseasonably warm day this winter. Loads of other folks thought the same thing, though with the sun behind the clouds, our 1.5 hour visit wasn’t as warm as we expected.
Neither David nor I are big zoo fans, but given it’s less than a mile from our house, and I haven’t been for the four years I lived nearby, I thought it was time. I believe the Denver Zoo focuses heavily on rescue animals like the rhinos without horns which is good. Having said that, I’d prefer animals to have a larger more natural habitat.
Our first stop was at the cafe for lunch. After that, we made a quick loop passing by mountain goats, lions, tigers, giraffes, monkeys, polar bears, grizzlies, peacocks, elephants, and more. Occasionally, we go indoors and enjoy the heat, and then we’d keep strolling.
After visiting the zoo, we headed to Boulder and checked into Hotel Boulderado which opened on New Year’s Day in 1909 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Little did I know, my distant cousin, Erin, was working at the front desk! It was fun to see her.
We had an early dinner reservation at Frasca and enjoyed a lovely meal…scallops, lobster pasta, halibut, steak, and chocolate dessert. After dinner we stopped at the hotel bar for a night cap. It was a nice evening!
I thought I would have more pictures on Monday as we planned to enjoy the holiday snowshoeing near Nederland, but the snow was coming down sideways! Since I don’t like the cold, we skipped that and took a leisurely drive home. ETB
Hours for Indoor Gallery: Tuesday-Thursday 9-5, Friday 9-4, Saturday 11-4, but check their website for special events and when they are setting up new exhibits
Fees: Free, but $5 donation suggested
Today my friend Tanya and I decided to visit the Museum of Outdoor Arts Indoor Gallery located in the City of Englewood’s Civic Center. We tried visiting about a month ago, but it was closed while staff was setting up the current exhibit, Altered Reality.
We found a few of the exhibits to be rather thought provoking. My favorite piece were 2 dimensional images that were printed by a 3-D printer. Each two dimensional image was rotated 360 degrees on its Y axis for the 3-D object to be created. It was really fascinating to see an image of a small plane look like a spinning top in 3-D. It’s amazing what the human mind deciphers when compared to a computer that only copies an image.
We also enjoyed the exhibits the displayed images of deconstructed boxes used in everyday products like toothpaste and deconstructed envelopes shown before they are folded.
Many of the other exhibits were a play on words, images, and letters.
The outdoor museum has an indoor space because the City provides the space for free. The museum also displays several sculptures around the city center streets as well as nearby Fiddler’s Green. Each has an audio tour associated with it.
The museum doesn’t take long to visit, so it would be best to have something else planned in the area if traveling any distance. Overall, it was fun to check out. ETB
Fees: $20 for week per car, $40 for yearly pass, $80 for all national parks for year (fees changing Oct 1, 2015 Hours: Year Round
The Stanley Hotel Address: 333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517 Contact Info: Toll-Free 1-800-976-1377, 970-577-4000, email@example.com Website:http://www.stanleyhotel.com/
Denverites are fortunate to live about 1.5 hours away from the glorious Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park. What makes a road trip to this National Park perfect is to enjoy a little luxury at the Stanley Hotel. David and I enjoyed a few days in the area for his birthday!
I was so excited to finally stay at this iconic hotel, famous for inspiring Stephen King to write The Shining and featured in the hit film Dumb and Dumber. The hotel was built by FO Stanley (of Stanley Steamer) after he and his wife moved to Colorado for his health. The construction began in 1907 and the hotel was complete in 1909 with a hydraulic elevator, running water, and phones.
Admittedly, I was slightly disappointed with our room. It’s small size and no air conditioning didn’t bother me too much, but the mold in shower and on the curtain, the lighting on only one side of the room, and no place to place a makeup bag in the bathroom was little to be desired. Fortunately, we were not spending much time in the room, and the lobby, whisky bar with 800 choices, porch, and views certainly made up for the lacking decor in the bedroom.
We didn’t arrive to Estes Park until Monday afternoon which we spent eating lunch, savoring ice cream and strolling around town before we checked into the hotel. After checking out the grounds, we sat on the patio at Cascades Restaurant and enjoyed a nice dinner before we decided to take the ghost tour, as the Stanley is known for its hauntings, in particular room 217.
The tour took us to the pet cemetery to begin and through a variety of the wedding rooms, the music room and the haunted tunnel. We were encouraged to take pictures in black in white in order to see green orbs and other aboritions. David and I aren’t big ghost hunters, so we found the tour to be slightly hokey, though we did enjoy learning some history about FO Stanley and his hotel. Who knew he created the #2 pencil, though he made most his money changing the photography world. It was also kind of fun to go in places closed to the masses.
Tuesday we decided to tackle a 10 mile hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. We got a late start and at 9:30 am the Glacier Gorge Trailhead Parking was already full. Park and ride was available, though there was a small parking lot about half a mile down the road, so we turned our ten mile hike into eleven miles. I suppose we were probably fortunate we picked a weekday to visit, as I doubt we would have found parking at this location otherwise.
The trail to Sky Pond was absolutely spectacular. We began following the well groomed path through a small aspen grove as it ascended to Alberta Falls. I think many visitors to the park stop here. We kept going along the well marked track to Loch Vale, a large lake where many tried their luck at fishing.
Our ascent to Loch Vale was gradual as we followed the cascading creek beneath the conifers to open, windy ridge. The dark skies dropped just a few rain drops, but spared us for most of the climb up. Soon we reached another waterfall which one group call a staircase that basically required us to boulder up the wet rocks to Lake of Glass. This lake was beautiful and any tired souls wouldn’t be missing much if they stopped here instead of continuing on to Sky Pond, as the water features were similar.
We kept going. We followed a rock path through grassy terrain, stepped across a small patch of snow and enjoyed watching the countless marmots. Some ate with no fear of visitors while others scampered into their holes. With a strong wind circling around the pond, we took cover behind some rocks for lunch, but didn’t stay too long as the skies looked ominous, and we could hear rolling thunder in the distance.
Just about as soon as we descended a light drizzle fell…enough for a raincoat, but not enough to make life rough or anything. Upon reaching a lower elevation, it stopped and we continued the rest of the way down the peaceful path. I actually expected to share the trail with more people, so the few we encountered wasn’t too bad. It is always slightly entertaining to see the hodge podge of hikers in the National Parks.
We worked up an appetite for Twin Owls Steakhouse. The pecan pie was delicious, but I had hoped David’s birthday dinner would have been as good as mine. All of it was reasonable and the service was great, but I wouldn’t say it was out of this world or anything.
Wednesday found us dragging a bit. I think we had gotten enough hiking in over the last few weeks, so we spent a leisurely morning on the porch at the Stanley drinking our coffee. We opted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park again, though this time we just took a drive across Trail Ridge Road to Lake Granby. I’ve driven this road in the past. The views and the elk never disappoint!!
Our final stop before returning to Denver was at the Holzworth Historic Site. We managed to stroll the half mile down the dirt road to find old farming equipment, wash basins, and log cabins. The ranch was established in the early 1900’s and guests used to come to fish. It was lovely and a nice way to cap off a fun birthday jaunt. ETB
Garden of the Gods Location: 5 miles northwest of Colorado Springs Fees: None
Cripple Creek Location: 45 miles west of Colorado Springs
Horsethief Falls and Pancake Rock Trailhead
Location: 9.4 miles north of Cripple Creek Elevation: 9,760-11,000 Roundtrip: 7.6 miles Fees: None
Manitou Springs Location: 6.5 miles west of Colorado Springs
Just sixty miles south of Denver a national natural landmark, Garden of the Gods is a unique, free park to visit. David and I stopped in the visitor center to find out the best trails to follow for cool views of the rock formations, but also to get in at least a four mile hike.
Upon the instruction of the ranger, we walked from the visitor center under the road to Gateway Trail which we connected to all or portions of three more trails; Chambers/Bretag/Palmer Trail, Siamese Twins Trail, and Perkins Central Garden Trail. The trails led us along the dusty path past twisted trees and small shrubs, between a variety of rock formations, and beneath many climbers enjoying a sunny day.
After completing the four mile loop, we drove to Cripple Creek, an old gold mining town. In its heyday, over 10,000 prospectors lived in the now sleepy town of 1,100. Now the main street is lined with casinos. The casino just on the outskirts of town has the cheapest craps table in the state (only $1), and from what I understand, good odds. We spent a few hours learning how to play. It only cost us $20 each. It was a fun time filler while we waited to watch the Kentucky Derby.
Cripple Creek is also home to a few museums and a theatre. I wouldn’t mind coming back for a theatre production, as I’m told actors come in from all over. Only a movie was showing, Three Amigos, while we were there. For a small $5 contribution, we visited the Cripple Creek District Museum operated by an enthusiastic married couple. We mostly wanted to take our picture in the cut-out board, but then enjoyed seeing all the old pictures and maps of the town and gold mines. It was worth a visit!
The weather put a bit of a damper on walking around the town, but we got a glimpse before we left the next morning to hike Horsethief Falls and Pancake Rocks. The trailhead is located at the closed Little Ike Tunnel. If hiking to both Horsethief Falls and Pancake Rocks, the overall distance is 7.6 miles. It is also possible to just hike one or the other for a shorter distance, 2.2 miles or 6.6 miles respectively. The trail also offers a detour to the left on Ring the Peak Trail that goes into the nearby meadow and towards Pikes Peak (this is actually the first trail junction).
While the weather was rather crappy the last few weeks of April, we were surprised to see how much snow was still on the trail. I expected some, but much of the path was snowpacked. Micro-spikes would have been a nice addition for the hike that began at 9,700 feet of elevation and gained another 1,200 along the way to Pancake Rocks.
The hike to Horsethief Falls was relatively simple though most of the falls were covered in snow, so I was a little bummed to only see a trickle of water. The hike to Pancake Rocks was a bit more challenging. Our poles helped us climb up the icy switchbacks to some neat rock formations. I’m uncertain if we made it all the way as the path somewhat ended into a mass of snow shortly after we stopped to admire some of the rocks. As the day warmed up, we alternated between post holing and sliding down the path on our return.
On our way back to Denver, we stopped for lunch in Manitou Springs and to wander around the town. I would have liked to wander around the town a bit longer, but we made a poor lunch choice by visiting BooDad’s. We saw our waiter twice over 1.5 hours…to bring us a beer and to bring us the bill. We had to order our meal from the young girl cleaning tables, our beer from the waitress handling the table next to us, and then ask for our bill from the person seating people as our waiter was no-where to be found on the balcony or inside the restaurant! I would not recommend, though Manitou Springs is worth a visit. ETB