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Indian Paintbrush

 

Native Lupine

 

I enjoy the natural world. All that know me can attest to that fact. So, with that in mind it is not difficult to understand how I was always on the lookout for western wildflowers. Unfortunately, I don’t have them all identified in this entry. The wildflowers usually all have varied localized names, as well, so my names here may be different from other wildflower identifying books. Just enjoy their beauty.

Golden banner

 

 

 

 

Scarlet Gilia or fairy trumpet

 

Prickly Pear Cactus

 

Coneflower “Mexican Hat”

 

Apache Plume or Old Man’s Whiskers

 

 

Prickly Pear Cactus showing more of stalk

 

Oyster Flower

 

 

A flower of the Alpine region.

 

Alpine Buttercup

 

Alpine Forget-Me-Not

 

Sage

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Balanced Rock…a favorite place of tourists.

 

The natural area known as the Garden of the Gods was definitely a place we wished to experience. Others had mentioned of this site and we anxiously waited to see the beauty.

Eagle nests

Prior to the travel to the garden we watched a short movie called, “How Did Those Rocks Get There?” Laurie and I strongly  disagree with all the theories concerning how the landscapes became to be, but we watched the movie. We are amazed at the constant bombardment as to the millions upon billions of years for individual places to have come to be.  There are serious issues with the Carbon dating techniques being used to determine ages, however, the thought process still insist of using this method to determine age without question. There are plenty of scientists who disagree with the measuring techniques, but I have listened to their talks as to how they are continually being pushed aside by museums and their colleagues. I guess a discussion should fall into a future entry here and not to take up space.

The red-orange rocks and high displays are truly a view to behold as we gazed upon the sky-reaching structures jut upward.  Years ago the area was known as Red Rock Corral.  The present name came to be when two men seeing the area in 1859 made claims the site would a great place for the gods to assemble to drink.

In past years many Indian tribes utilized the area. as well. The Apaches, Utes, Shoshones, Kiowa, Lakota and Pawnee spent time in the rock areas. The Ute still come and do ceremonies  here.  For example, the Utes clam of a spiritual connection to the red rocks.

We saw two nests of the Golden eagles perched into rock crevices. Mule deer were present and we saw five Bighorn Rams outside of the garden of the Gods site.

Pikes Peak

 

In the distance we saw Pikes Peak named after Zebulon Pike, an early American explorer. The gardens are registered  as a National Historical Landmark. Pikes Peak is 14,115 feet above sea level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This prickly shrub is known as the Wild Rose.

The beautiful Royal Gorge is located by Canon City, Colorado. This gorge consists of 1000 feet high, mostly vertical, granite cliffs. These mountain vistas are breath-taking to behold. This site is, also, known as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River.

  We viewed the Royal Gorge by riding on the railroad. Guess what this train was jinxed, too! However, this stoppage wasn’t nearly  as long as the Cumbres-Toltec ride. The problem was a leak in an airline which was repaired rather quickly in comparison.

This train was a more modern “version” of a train. I would guess this train was built sometime in the 1950-1960 time frame. Some cars had domed glass in the roof of the car. This helped see those vertical cliffs. I spent some time in an open car to get better control over photos.

The ten mile trip (Twenty including the return the ride back to canon City.) followed the course of the Arkansas River. The river is a beautiful trout stream and I sure would have enjoyed fishing those waters.

Remnants of past human activities were present at many areas.  A local prison, in times past, supplied a work force to place lines along the granite hills. I wonder if any causalities occurred?

Bighorn Sheep enjoy living out their existences along the way. However, I failed to spot any. The conditions they survive in feature sheer, rocky and steep cliffs, perfect for their hooves to climb.

 

Old shed

 

Upon waking up in Durango, Colorado one could easily see the outside was filled with smoke. The smell of smoke was strong outside, as well. The reasons for this white blanket of smoke were the two major wildfires north of Durango. The winds had shifted forcing the smoke southerly. Roads and ramps had been closed due to the intensity of the fires.  The train we were to ride had been cancelled due to the fire. We saw pillars of smoke miles away yesterday.

We headed east to another train known as the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad.  This ride would take us on a 64

New Mexico

mile rail through areas of New Mexico and Colorado. This trek would include breathtaking sceneries through steep rugged mountains winding along the slopes and valleys. The ride includes scenery from the San Juan Mountains and the Conejos valley.

The old steam and coal engine dating back to the 1920 era would huff and puff its way along this railroad . This particular railroad is the longest and highest narrow gauge track in America. This preserved railroad is designated on the National and state Registered Historic Site. (Narrow gauge tracks are three feet between the rails instead of the standard 4 feet 8 inches. This aids in making tighter turns in the mountainous terrain.)

The rails began in 1880 between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. There is a 4 percent grade on this rail.

While traveling along the way the train suddenly stopped. We had derailed! The train was placed upon the track with a replaced bearing and we moved little before the same thing happened again. Another repair and stop yielded some disgust with the engineer. A decision was to lock all the car’s brakes, disconnect the engine and back in another engine. This wait was two hours in length of time. However, the weather was great and scenery was beautiful so I didn’t feel stressed at all.

There were two areas where the engine could have come from. They are Cumbres or Osier. Cumbres is 10, 015 above sea level.

One most beautiful site to behold was the Toltec Gorge. AT this point we were 600 feet above the Rio de Los Pinos and 800 feet across the opposite side. Two tunnels were used on the 64 mile trip.

Eventually we reached the goal of Antonito.

 

 

Additional photos to view are below.

Pine Beetle damage

 

 

 

Lots of wildlife photos below. be sure to see the Bighorn Rams at the bottom.

Pika

 

Osprey with fish

 

Moose

 

Moose Calf

One of the thrills for me on this western excursion was to see the varied and unique wildlife of the west.  We saw a lot of wildlife. I may forget some species but here is a list of western wildlife. Sand hill Cranes (In Indiana while traveling); Bald Eagle;  White Pelicans (In Illinois);  Big Horn Sheep; Pronghorn Antelopes; Mule Deer; Rio-Grande Wild Turkeys (Saw eastern Wild Turkeys  more easterly.); Canada Geese; Elk; Pica; Yellow-bellied Marmots; Moose and calf; Black-billed Magpies; Mountain Bluebird; Jack rabbits; Prairie Dogs; Swan; Snapping Turtle; Carp; Coyote; Least Chipmunk; White-tailed Deer (Easterly) Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel; Cottontail rabbit; Ravens; Sagebrush Lizard…I am, probably, forgetting some wildlife. A few in the list are native to Pennsylvania, too.

The Pika is a small hamster/bunny looking mammal found at high altitudes living among rocky areas.  Two were chasing each others at times

Least Chipmunk

 

Yellow-bellied Marmot

 

Bull Elk

 

A Swallowtail Butterfly

 

Sagebrush Lizard

 

Prairie Dog

 

Pronghorn Antelope

 

Nice male Pronghorn Antelope

 

Mule Deer

 

Black-billed Magpie

 

Jack Rabbit

 

Mule Deer

 

Hummingbird. I believe it may be the Black-chinned Hummingbird

 

Bighorn Sheep Rams

 

The title of this entry may be a little deceiving since a lot of interest was surrounding the man.  William  F. Cody, known commonly as Buffalo Bill, was born in Iowa and later spending much time in the west. He went to Denver to visit family for his final years. He died there in 1917 at the age of 70 years old. Supposedly he wanted to be buried at a site near Denver known as Lookout Mountain. Indeed the man was buried at the site.

 

Looking west

A controversy arose over the decision since Cody, Wyoming wanted his remains to be buried in their community.

Looking east

This stirred quite an issue at the time, so much that Denver covered his grave with cement and , at one time, had a tank on the hill with the grave site. Wow! Well, Mr. Cody and his wife Louisa are buried at the site toady. They were married in 1866.

Buffalo Bill was a man of a lot of interests. he served as a stagecoach driver, civilian scout, served in the Union army during the Civil war, buffalo hunter and even was involved as a Pony Express rider.  he is most known for his western Wild West Shows. The shows actually went to Europe in the day!

 

Annie Oakley?

 

Lookout Mountain is a very high mountain near Denver. Today a museum is present. The painting above is on display at the museum.  One needs to walk up a trail to the very summit to see the grave site of Buffalo Bill and his wife. the Ute Indians favored Lookout Mountain. The view is breathtaking. One can view the Continental Divide.

AT the top of the mountain looking westerly one can view snow-capped mountains of the Rockies. By turning easterly one can see

No idea???

the foothills, buttes and off farther the plains.

The actual site of the Lookout Mountain is 65.7 acres at the very summit of the mountain.

When I was a young feller I would see articles and photos of the Cave Dwellers  of southwest Colorado. I was totally fascinated with seeing and learning more of those early people and their rock homes. I really hoped to see the sites someday.  Years passed and I remained interested, but had realized I may never make it to actually view the homes and country.

  However, this was the year! I finally made the journey to the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings.         

The Mesa Verde is a national park. The park was established in 1906. Initially local farmers began coming upon the sites in the 1880 time frame. The acreage is vast. sad to say, The property has had much burned over land mass. the last one occurred in 2012. Remnant of snarled and skeletal snags can still be visible from the fire. the fire had burned so hot that the soil has been void of the needed nutrients to aid in plant and tree growth. Today one can see many Pinion Pines and Junipers in the area.

The Indians who have been credited for living at the stone homes built in the cliffs are Pueblo Tribes. Many may have read in books or saw documentaries where the tribe was called the Anasazi People.  However, this is a Navajo term.

 

Sagebrush Lizard (I think)

It is believed the Pueblo Indians lived at these sites for over 700 years. Interestingly, they seemed to have left the sites in the later 1200 time frame. Why did they leave?  For me many possibilities could be possible for their departure. Such possibilities could have been disease, warfare, absorption or capture into other tribes,  soil depletion leading to crop failures… the truth is we can’t say with one hundred  percent certainty what may have occurred during the 1200 era.

 

Burned over areas

 

A subspecies of a Yucca. The Indians used these for basketry.

The Pueblo natives were farmers and hunters. Their primary crops were corn, squash and beans.  Their has, also, been  evidence of trading with other tribes. The people were good with making baskets and pottery. Many intact pieces had been found in the dry caves protected from the elements.

Some sites have petroglyphs on existing stone. Petroglyphs are carved pictorials on the stones walls.

Today this area has over 4,500 archeological sites with 600 of them being cave dwelling sites.

To learn more see: http://www.nps.gov/meve

 

 

 

Down the hall