Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Vacation Day 14 (Denver, CO to Grand Junction, CO)

Monday (August 5) – Trip Day 14  - (Denver, CO to Grand Junction, CO) – We wanted to get an early start today but Barbara got violently ill at breakfast.  I suspect she got food poisoning at breakfast as she was able to get over it rapidly and by 11 AM felt good enough to travel.  Because of that we didn’t do any sightseeing other than the drive on I-70 to Grand Junction.  That is a superb drive over the Rockies.  It has passes over 11,000 feet high, several tunnels (one that must be a couple of miles long), and rock formations that are out of sight.  For those that love scenery, this is a must drive.  The last part of the drive takes you down the valley of the Colorado River – which is already the green color that you see when it is in the Grand Canyon.  We got to Grand Junction about 4:30 PM and just took it easy for the evening.

I had to add a couple of pictures I got today from Rusty Givens.  Here is Barbara and how she spent the day while Rusty and I talked Givens.

 This is Rusty and I at the bar - with some of the computers.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Vacation Day 13 (Denver and Louisville, CO)

Sunday (August 4) – Trip Day 13 – (Denver and Louisville, CO) – We got up early and attended church in Louisville, CO, which is a suburb of Denver.  I chose that ward to attend as it is in the same town as where my “cousin” Rusty Givens lives. We spent a little over 12 hours at his house as he is a fabulous Givens research and though we are not actually related (as DNA tells us) he has a ton of information on my Givens line.  In fact he had a long table laid out with piles of research on my line and took most of the day to go through all this and indicate what I would like. 

 The bar with all our computers on it.

Rusty then scanned all of this (about a quarter of a gigabyte of data and put it on my flash drive.  I, in turn, taught him how to use familysearch.org for the first time.  I helped him put in his line until the pedigree began to appear, how to correct  and add information, and how to add photos and sources.  It was kind of fun as we spent most of the day sitting at the bar in his basement going over things.  His whole basement is devoted to genealogy.  He has made 12 trips to Ireland and may have found where my Givens line comes from – though we need DNA from someone there to verify it.
Rusty at the scanner.

 The Givens researchers - Bob and Rusty.

 Rusty had many relics from his early ancestors but this was the real treasure.  It is a quilt made about 1780 - one of only 15 or so that still exist.  It has been appraised at $30,000.

Anyway, after a long day we finally stumbled into our hotel room after 10:30 PM.  We were both pleased with this day though – I got tons of new information and Barbara spent most of the day working on her German genealogy.


Vacation Day 12 (Colorado Springs to Denver, CO)

Saturday (August 3) – Trip Day 12 – (Colorado Springs, CO to Denver, CO) – My initial plan was for us to come up to Denver and spend the day there touring the city.  As things ended up we spent most of the day in Colorado Springs and then came up to Denver in the late afternoon.  Our first stop was at the Garden of the Gods.  In the background behind the park you get a great view of Pike’s Peak which rises to 14,100 feet.  We didn’t have time to ascend it but did get a good view of it.  Interestingly in 1893, Katharine Lee Bates, a long-time professor at Wellseley College in Massachusetts, was lecturing at the summer session at Colorado Springs.  During her visit she joined an expedition to the summit of Pikes Peak in a prairie wagon.  Electrified by the beauty she saw atop Pikes Peak, she wrote the poem that later became known as “America the Beautiful.”
Pikes Peak in the background - you can drive your car up to the summit, climb it, or take a cog railway.

 The women's restroom entrance at the park has the information about "America the Beautiful."

 Our first stop was to Garden of the God’s, which is an area of red rock formations created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago.  This area had been privately owned until 1909 when the family of the owner, according to the wishes of their father deeded the park to the City of Colorado Springs to be forever a free park.  In 1971 it was designated a National Natural Landmark.. The rock formations are spectacular and you get to walk right at their bases. 

 These are the kissing camels.

 There were several climbers in the park so it was fun to watch them climb.

 Barbara even got into the act.

 This one is my favorite.

 He is trying to get leverage to get up over that rise.

 This is a nice shot from the visitor's center.

We next went to see Cave of the Winds which was just a few miles away.  It was discovered in the 1800’s because of a whistling sound made by the rock formation at the entrance of the cave when the wind was blowing.  We took the “easy” tour (we didn’t have to crawl through passages or carry our own light.)

 This is looking straight down to the original entrance of the cave.

 Like all other caves of this nature it was formed as water dissolved limestone beneath the surface of the earth leaving passage ways and hollowed out “rooms.”  It is filled with stalactites and stalagmites of various sized and patterns.  There were even a couple of columns where stalactites and stalagmites grew together. 
Stalactites from the roof.

 Barbara the spelunker.

 Stalactites and stalagmites of various sized and patterns.

 This is called Bacon - it is a ribbon formation.

 To the left is a stalactite that is 8 feet long.  When it was actively growing it took a thousand years to grow one inch.  

After our tour we started to Denver in a light rain.  The trip took close to two hours as much of the 55 mile trip was through construction zones on I-25.  After getting our room we went out to eat and that was when it really began to rain – literally in sheets.  We heard later that some areas outside of town got 4 inches of rain in 30 minutes.  There weren't any tornadoes but tornado warnings were out for several counties around us.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vacation Day 11 (Estes Park, CO to Colorado Springs, CO)

Friday (August 2) – Trip Day 11 – (Estes Park, CO to Colorado Springs, CO) – I am so tired of driving.  It is harder here as the freeways are really congested and there is a lot of construction on the I-25 (the main route south from Denver to Colorado Springs.  Denver was like driving in Los Angeles except smaller thankfully.  We only made one stop today (before a storm hit).  We stopped off at the Air Force Academy just north or Colorado Springs.  

 After passing the guard house (with ID and full car check) we went on 3 miles to the visitor’s center and toured that building and watched a 21 movie detailing a the year of a 1st year cadet.

 This is what a typical dorm room looks like for two new recruits.

 We then walked over to the famous Chapel and walked around it – including the 4 different worship areas (general, Catholic, Jewish and Buddhist. 

 Main entry into the top chapel - I guess it is a non-denominational chapel.

 Looking down the center isle from the back.

 The architecture is a series of triangles.  These are the stained glass windows on the sides of the chapel.

 This is the alter area.  We weren't supposed to get up that far and got run out.  But it wasn't our fault - someone took down the barriers.

 Downstairs are three other churches - this is the Catholic chapel.

 This is the Buddhist worship area.

 Finally the Jewish synagogue.

 This is the main center of the campus.  Nothing is more than a 10 minute walk.  To the left is a class building.  Then there is a small looking library - it is dwarfed by the other buildings.  The big, long building to the right back is another class area.  The building on the far right is the cafeteria.

 .  As we were getting ready to leave here all the 4th Class (Freshmen) come marching in.  They are in their Basic Cadet Training getting ready for the start of the academic year.

 From the chapel viewing area you can see a dorm building in the foreground.

 We stopped at the football stadium and also at a B-52 that is on display near the gate.

After this we drove on to our motel as the rains began to fall.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Vacation Day 10 (Rocky Mountain National Park)

Thursday (August 1) – Trip Day 10 (Rocky Mountain National Park) – I have long wanted to visit this park and was not disappointed in the least.  If you don’t stop you can drive from Estes Park (where we are staying) to the top of the Rockies in under an hour.  Of course, we made the trip with several stops.  We entered the park at the Fall River Visitor’s Center (8240 feet) and continued on to Sheep Lake where we saw…sheep

We then continued up a steep windy road called Trail Ridge Road through first pine forest and then, as we ascended into mountain tundra and passed the two mile high point of the road. 
 This is a classic example of a meandering stream flowing through a meadow.

 This is HIGH country and rising.  We are still in the forest.

 Passing the timber line and in the background are three cirques (glacial carved valleys on the side of mountains.

 This is classic tundra.  The land is frozen solid up to 5 months a year.  There is a lot of vegetation here but it is mainly small plants that are very fragile.  The rocks are worked to the surface during the freezing and thawing cycle each year.

 This is a classic U shaped glacially formed valley.

 We traveled higher but this sign tells it all - HIGH.

 Another glacial landscape at over 12,000 feet.

 We passed a whole herd of elk grazing along the highway.

 Also there was a little marmot sitting right at the side of the road.  He let us walk right next to him.  He was probably waiting for a handout.

 The top of the Rockies - all these mountains are over 12,000 feet in elevation.

Eventually the road topped out at 12, 183 feet.  Yes, walking up here takes extra exertion.  The Alpine Visitor’s Center is unique as it has large logs attached to the roof to catch snow to keep the shingles from blowing off in the winter as the winds can reach 150 mph. The logs also help to stabilize the structure.

We continued down past the continental divide to Lake Irene where we had a picnic lunch and then retraced our route back to Estes Park

 What are the tall poles?  They are snow poles telling the snow cleaning people where the trails are.  They have to be tall, tall, tall here as the snow can get to be 35 feet deep.

 One last picture - why the piles of dead trees in the forest?  The Pine Bark beetle is killing millions of pines in the western United States.  The only way to control them is to cut down the dead and dying trees and burn them.  So everywhere you see piles of dead wood waiting for the winter when they burn them and avoid starting a forest fire.