Thursday, September 18, 2014

You Meet the Nicest People and See the Most Amazing Views in Colorado

Following our afternoon of wildlife spotting in Rocky Mountain National Park, we headed south on Highway 34 to the 40 west, about an 85 mile drive, and decided to call it a night in Kremmling, Colorado.  Kremmling is known for its trophy fishing, winter sports, and hunting.  There we had the good fortune to be directed to the historic Hotel Eastin.
Owners Walt and Maryann spent forty years looking for the right project before settling in to the Hotel Eastin three years ago.  Since then they have taken on the enormous project of restoration, and have been lovingly working on the hotel, one room at a time.
Their love shows.  In the lobby Maryann displays her grandmother's wedding dress, and in the upstairs foyer she displays her own.  Friday night is home made cookie night, Saturday is music night.  All at nearly half of what you would pay at the more modern, commercial hotel down the road.  What I loved was that everything smelled so good there, from the lobby down to the sheets!  We had a great time chatting with Maryann over coffee in the morning, and she recommended we take Trough Road to continue our journey south.
Taking the 9 South out of town, we made a right onto Trough Road, a dirt road that led us on a twenty five mile trip through some back country.
The road was remote, with nary another car in sight.  Just the way we liked it.
There were views of the Colorado River and the railroad tracks, and our favorite view spot along the way was Rancho Del Rio.
I think the people who run this tiny resort on the river have found their own slice of heaven.  So peaceful, it was just plain pretty no matter which way you looked.  I loved the name of their little restaurant.
Crossing the bridge just south afforded more Colorado magnificence.
and I think these fishermen also found their own little slice of heaven.  The vivid colors of the changing Aspens made for a picture perfect backdrop.
Continuing south, we reached the State Bridge, and then needed to take 131 South to get back to Highway 70.  We made a temporary boo boo and took the 131 North, which turned out to be fortuitous because we discovered the tiny town of McCoy, home to someone who really loves with work with antlers!
We soon discovered our mistake and turned around, heading back down the 131 South, which took us to the 70 West around Glenwood Canyon.  What a total joy to revisit that spectacular stretch of road, which I still believe is one of the most beautiful I have seen on all my travels so far.  Period.  Since I've posted some pics of this area before, and because all my photos at that moment were through my dirty, bug encrusted windshield, you will have to just trust me on this, and put this stretch of road on your MUST DO list.  We took the 70 West to just before Grand Junction, where we got on another scenic, winding road, the 65 South, for the drive past Powderhorn Ski Area and over the mountain through the Grand Mesa National Forest.  I had my first sheep spotting,
and finally had the chance to get an up close and personal look at the Aspens, which up until now we had been seeing from below.  Their colors took my breath away.
Coming down the mountain on the other side after a long day of driving, we ended our day at a slightly less charming hotel, the Rodeway Inn in Delta.  I was a little skeptical because the room was only $50.00 plus tax, but we are all about economy so I asked to see the room before we decided.  Again the most amazing little surprise!  A stove!
We always carry a bag with a couple of pots, a few dishes and utensils, and a bit of food, so we were able to cook ourselves dinner and relax after a long day in the car, at a very affordable price.

There is so much to discover in Colorado, and it is becoming more and more clear why all the people we meet are so happy there!  Next I will share the last leg of our drive through Colorado, as we head for Gallup, New Mexico.

Sending you Colorado Love!


Monday, September 15, 2014

Wildlife Spotting in Rocky Mountain National Park

After ten days, we bid farewell today to quirky, delightful Denver.  Quirky?  Yes.  Like why, for instance, did we pass at least four cars each day in different locations on our 25 minute drive back to the hotel, that were just sitting on the side of the freeway, each with no one inside.  You would never see this in Los Angeles.  We were puzzled by this.  Where did these people go??  Perhaps this has something to do with the legalization of marijuana?  Did the owners just wander off?  Just saying.  But delightful?  Also yes.  On that same drive each evening at dusk, the clouds were a color I could only describe as Periwinkle Blue from the Crayola crayon box.  Breathtaking.  But alas it is time to say bye until next year, and we are headed back West.  Our first leg started with a quick zip through Boulder, which looked totally charming, honest, but what we were REALLY craving was to get away from people.  So we headed for Rocky Mountain National Park.
The first thing that Eduardo and I realized upon entering the park was that we should have bought an annual pass to the National Parks back in Utah when we drove through Zion!  At $80.00 a year, it's a bargain because it gets you into all of the National Parks all year long.  Make a "note to self" on that one if you are going to be traveling.  The second thing I noticed was that at this particular park I was in "sign heaven"!  I LOVE signs.  And this park has a lot of them, starting with this one, which I have to admit was a bit before we entered the park.
This was our first clue that they are not kidding about seeing wildlife in this area.  We also noted that we getting up there again in elevation,
and that the roads were not necessarily biker friendly, at least for the non motorized kind.
The drive through Rocky Mountain Park is about one hour and forty-five minutes, unless you stop every fifteen minutes like we seemed to do, in which case it will take much longer!  Fall is mating season for the elk, and the brochure that we received at the park entrance let us know that we would be encountering elk at various locations throughout the park, as the males emerge each late afternoon to bugle (call) their harem of cows in preparation for mating.  And sure enough, in one of the first clearings upon entering the park (this was around 4:00 pm), we spotted a bunch of cars parked by the side of the road, the owners with cameras pointed.  Nothing gets past us!  This was our signal that there is a wildlife spotting.   Notice the teeny, tiny dots, which are our first elk.  Although they were hard to see, you could hear their bugle calls loud and clear, and it was awesome.
Feeling happy, we hopped back in the car and continued down the road, which lead us through a densely populated pine forest.  It literally smelled like Christmas, and we rolled down the windows and inhaled deeply.
Next, we encountered another sign,
and hoped that on this particular day, this would not be the case.  But except for the occasional sprinkle, the weather was really quite nice, and we stopped at another lookout point, where we had a new wildlife encounter.
In the words of my children, these chipmunks were "totes adorbs".  And they were EVERYWHERE.  And so tame they scurried over the wall and ran right up to us to have a look at us, and pose for a picture.  So charming!  Continuing on, the next thing we encountered was, you guessed it, another sign.
So intriguing!  I thought of my daughter Natalie, a geography major, who would just love the varying terrain out here.  The tundra was beautiful in its subtlety,
and a closer look afforded a gorgeous, earthy color palette.
 Soon yet another sign emerged to warn us about snow fields,
but fortunately we were a little early in the season for this.  I couldn't really see myself climbing on dangerous snowfields at any time, anyway, so this sign made me giggle.  Moving right along, as we made our way out of this area towards the west end of the park, we entered another meadow, and that is where we got our greatest reward.  First, there was once again that subtle clue, namely the line of cars parked by the side of the road, the owners with cameras pointed.  Bingo!  A wildlife spotting.  What we saw next were at least ten female elk just a few feet from the side of the road.
They were positively enchanting!  And so calm I could practically reach out and touch them.  But I flashed back to that wildlife sign about the Buffalo in Custer Park (you'll have to look up my July post about that one), and reminded myself not to get swept away!  So I admired from a distance.  A very close distance.  At this point Eduardo and I agreed that the National Park system had earned our twenty dollars for the day.  We were beaming.  We lingered for a while just admiring them, and then slowly drove away, where we spotted yet another elk, this time a male, that we were lucky enough to hear bugle.  His call was unforgettable!
Then we spotted yet another,
and another, and another, and another, and another.  Honestly, it is a wonderful time of year to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, so make another "note to self" for next year!  Or if you are super spontaneous, how about this year?  And besides the elk, you can also enjoy the changing of the aspens, which are now starting to glow a beautiful gold and orange.  I'll try to include some pictures of them in my next post.

So as usual, it's after midnight here, but I couldn't sleep without sharing our special day with you, first.  Eduardo and I feel honored and blessed to be able to witness firsthand so many of the wonders of the world.  It is my hope that it will inspire you to explore, too!  Buenas Noches...

xoxo Linda

Friday, September 12, 2014

Randomly Snowing in Denver

It's about 4:30 am, and it is randomly snowing in Denver.
This is noteworthy for Eduardo and I, because in Los Angeles you do not experience this type of thing.  Ever.  We also found this exceptionally interesting because the weather has otherwise been hot and mostly sunny since we arrived here last Friday.  We're talking shorts, tee shirts, and melting if you stand in the sun!

This is our second year selling at the Annual Gem, Mineral, Fossil and Gem Show at the Denver Coliseum, which runs from September 6th to September 14th.  You may remember my post last year, "Drenched in Denver", and you can look that up to read about last year's experience!  It is always a challenge selling outside, but we really love the outdoors and prefer it to being in a convention hall.  This year, the show started out beautifully with bright, sunny skies.
We are occupying space with our Mexican Fire Agate friends from Aguascalientes, Mexico, with a table for my necklaces, prints and Mexico photography,
and a table for Eduardo with his pendants, rings, cultural items,
along with some of our stones, including this Copal Amber from Columbia, ammonite from San Luis Potosi, and quartz crystals from Arkansas.
We have had four successful days of selling so far, and have met wonderful people from all over the country (as buyers), and the world (as sellers).  I just love this business.  And since the last two days have been bad weather, we have used the time to do some buying of our own.  Here I am looking for pearls, and as you can see, one could easily drown in a sea of beads.  Booth after booth after booth.  Show after show after show.  You need to have a plan and focus like a laser!
We also got to visit our friends selling gorgeous Mexican Amber from Simojovel, Chiapas, Mexico.  You can look back in my blog posts to April or May of 2013 to read about our own adventures in Simojovel, the land of Amber, including my panic attack upon entering the mine!
It is always a great joy to discover artists we hadn't seen before, and this time it was the work and vision of Lee Downey, and his company "Artifactual", with a home base of Bali, Indonesia.  Lee designs beautiful handmade custom jewelry in silver with semi-precious stones like turquoise, and unique sculptural carvings, all with an emphasis on skulls and skeletons.
It was a pleasure to meet Lee and an honor to show you an example of his work.  You can visit his website at

As Friday promises to be cold, drizzly (or snowy) and gray, we plan to spend one more day exploring the shows in Denver and picking up some materials, and then will finish with Saturday and Sunday selling at the coliseum.  If you live in this area, please come and see us!  We are in the parking lot behind the coliseum, and you can't miss our green and white umbrella, which will hopefully be shading us from a once again bright and sunny day!

xoxo Linda