I signed up for my second Trusted Housesitters gig. This time it was much closer to home, in Grand Lake, not across the ocean in France for my farm stay. Grand Lake, located on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, is just a 2-hour drive from Denver.Continue reading “Seven Hikes Near Grand Lake”
When visiting Krakow, seeing Auschwitz is a must. Auschwitz, a complex of 48 concentration and extermination camps, was operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. The complex includes Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz along with several subcamps.
Auschwitz was the largest Nazi German concentration and death camp. Between the years 1940 and 1945 when Auschwitz operated, the Nazis deported at least 1.3 million people to the camp, including 1,000,000 Jews, 150,000 Poles, 23,000 gypsies, 15,000 Soviet POWs, and 25,000 prisoners of other ethnicities. Of these prisoners, 1,100,000 died. 90% were Jewish. Most were killed in gas chambers, but many also died from illnesses and starvation.Continue reading “Six Hour Tour of Auschwitz”
January 8, 2018
Trail(s): Paul Hill Trail and John Emerson Summit Trail
Location: Rock Park
Website: Rock Park
Distance: 1.4 miles
Today we decided to take a short road trip and explore Castle Rock. I feel like I’ve driven by it at least 100 times. It’s hard to miss as the butte towers above the flat plains and I-25. It’s a bit of a drive from Denver for only a 1.4 mile trail, so the outing turned into watching the sunset and grabbing dinner afterward in Littleton Town Square. We read that the short trail would take an hour which seemed sort of long, so we expected the climb up to the rock to be hard despite only gaining 300+ feet in half a mile.
We followed the gradual incline around the “back” of the rock as we passed scrub oak and small pinon on the hillside. We quickly reached the base of “Castle” whose ledges were decorated by nesting pigeons. We spiraled around the base to find the climbing area that would get us to the summit.
This 75 feet required rock scrambling. Fortunately, the rock was course, almost like cement, so hand and foot holds were easy to find. We squeezed through a narrow crevice and quickly the flat top of the butte. I don’t think it took us more than 20 minutes in total, but I also wasn’t counting. Regardless, the sun was quite setting yet, so we played around making shadows.
Eventually we enjoyed the setting sun, though the original forecast for some clouds didn’t really pan out, so there were only a few pink clouds in the sky. All in all, it was still pretty and we were gladly we finally climbed the rock we pass by regularly!
Oh well…we still savored some cajun food. ETB
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I’ve made the trip to and fro Texas to Colorado many times. Having said that, I haven’t made too many stops along the way. Usually, I’m destination bound. This year, I decided to make the road trip more interesting and found a variety of places to stop along the way.
These are some of the best luxury and nature places to visit between Denver and Dallas:
PLACES TO VISIT IN COLORADO
Fortunately, my friend Nancy is self-employed and has a flexible schedule like me. As such, she was able to join me for dinner and a festive night at The Broadmoor. The luxury resort is always adorned in Christmas lights during the holidays and it is fun to see the exquisite resort decked out in decorations.
Getting to the resort Tuesday afternoon was a bit rough given an accident on I-25 that held up traffic for 45 minutes, but I suppose our day was better than those involved in the crash. We eventually arrived around five, got a room with a lovely view in the west tower, and strolled past the lake to Happy Hour where we enjoyed a drink and snacks at The Hotel Bar before enjoying a fancy dinner at The Summit.
Nancy order the “Angry Trout”, the Summit’s signature dish. The fish is cooked with its tail pulled through its mouth, so it looks “Angry”. I went with two appetizers: a mushroom, truffle bisque which was very rich and tasty as well as a magnificent bowl of mussels. We ended the night enjoying the lights around the lake.
PALMER TRAIL (SECTION 16)
The Palmer Trail is located in Bear Creek Cañon Park which is owned by Colorado Springs. The trailhead was only a 15 minute drive from the Broadmoor into the foothills very near the Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
The Palmer Trail (section 16) was a bit of a misnomer at first. We couldn’t find any trail signs that mentioned it. We knew we were completing a loop however, so we followed the directions to Red Rock Loop which was also the most heavily traveled trail.
After about 1/2 mile we reached a trail junction with a detailed map and a post directing us up a steep slope which turned into several switchbacks. We climbed for most of the next two miles or so before reaching a summit which afforded excellent views!
The trail, mostly a soft red dirt, led us through the forest down to High Drive, a dirt road blanketed in a thin layer of icy snow. We took short careful steps along road before reaching the paved surface where we climbed to the car. I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about having to walk on a paved road, but it wasn’t for very long, and otherwise the 5.2 mile hike was quite nice.
PLACES TO VISIT IN NEW MEXICO
CAPULIN VOLCANO NATIONAL MONUMENT
Capulin Volcano National Monument is home to an extinct volcano which erupted 60,000 years. The national monument offers five trails which are all very short in length with the longest being two miles. As such, the whole park may visited in an afternoon.
The most popular trails appeared to be the Crater Rim Trail and the Crater Vent Trail both located at the parking area by the cinder cone after driving the spiral road to the top. For those who don’t like ledges like me, this was not the most exciting drive!
I hiked the Crater Rim Trail first which was the hardest in the sense of steepness. The one-mile loop is paved, which was disappointing to me, but I can understand why as it circle the rim of the cone which rises over 1,300 feet above the plains and provides spectacular views of the surrounding area.
Next I followed the 0.2 mile Crater Vent Trail 105 feet down to the bottom of the crater and its plugged vent. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the bottom of a volcano.
Finally, I drove back down toward the visitor’s center and stopped at the parking area for both Boca Trail and Lava Flow Trail. Boca Trail is two miles while the Lava Flow Trail is only one mile. I only felt like hiking one of the two paths, so I picked the longer one. The path led me through dormant prairie grasses, scrub oak, junipers, pine trees, and chokecherry bushes for which the volcano is named. Capulin is the Spanish word for chokecherry.
The information listed this two-mile hike as strenuous. I didn’t find it to be difficult with the exception of stepping on small pieces of lava rock which seemed to roll on the hard surface making me slip a handful of times.
Overall, it was nice break to take from driving, though I don’t think this National Monument requires more than one visit.
PLACES TO VISIT IN TEXAS (NEAR AMARILLO)
PALO DURO CANYON STATE PARK
I have visited this state park once before, but it was a gloomy day and I only completed a short hike. This time, upon arrival, I asked the ranger, “How far into the park is the Lighthouse Trail?”
She answered, but then asked, “Are you an avid hiker? Because I think the Lighthouse Trail is flat and somewhat boring, whereas the Givens, Spice, Lowry Trail undulates past a variety of scenery and connects to the Lighthouse Trail.”
Having heard that, I decided to follow the trail named after runners who helped build it rather than the most popular trail in the park which is also responsible for the most heat related injuries and deaths to people and pets.
Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to worry about warm temperatures. It was hardly 40 degrees when I started and the sun was struggling to peak out from the thin layer of clouds. While I hoped the fiery ball in the sky would brightly shine on the myriad of colors in the rock striations, at the same time, I didn’t want to get too hot on the eight mile hike.
I skipped along the trail fairly quickly as I only had three hours to complete which was barely enough time to truly enjoy the hike, but I still managed to stop and snap photos of cacti, hoodoos, and canyon walls peppered in shades of purples, browns, and oranges just to name of few.
Eventually, I reached “the end” of the lighthouse trail, but I recalled the ranger mentioned I could climb up to the rock formation. In addition, I saw some people scrambling on the rocks. The climb was steep, but not too difficult, and completely worth the effort!
I walked out on a plateau “book-ended” by two towering formations which provided fantastic views of the expansive canyon below. I noticed the couple I had spotted earlier continued up a steep path to the top of one of the formations…so cool! I’m so glad I followed them up.
I didn’t spot any wild life while hiking, but passed a deer on my drive in and flushed a bevy of dove hidden in the thick brush as I turned the corner. That made me jump! I suspect the desert topography would be quite pretty in the spring when the cacti are blooming. I’ll definitely have to visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park again.
CAPROCK CANYONS STATE PARK
I was pleasantly surprised by this park. With Palo Duro Canyon State Park being only an 1.5 hours away and being the second largest canyon in the United States, I believe Caprock Canyons State Park might get overlooked. In addition, it is a little out of the way.
I arrived at this park on a very cold, overcast day, maybe 23 degrees. While the weather muted the lovely colors of the canyon, I certainly kept cool while hiking and had the trail to myself!
The park offers a variety of trails. I wanted to see the natural spring at Fern Cave, as such I connected three trails (Canyon Loop Trail, Upper Canyon Trail, and Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail) for an approximate 6.5 mile loop. The trails are also named Trail D, C, and B, respectively that was helpful to know while following the trail markers.
This hike was fantastic! At the beginning, I was lulled into a false sense of security while following a wide, smooth red trail past a variety of rock formations. The information had suggested this was a strenuous hike, but at first this was not the case. Soon, the wide trail turned into a single track which led me through a variety of vegetation. All I could think was I’m glad I’m not here in the summer heat and bugs!
Soon I was following a wash and then I found myself climbing. The climb was gradual up until I reached Fern Cave. A small amount of water trickled over the rocks as I admired the ferns and ice-cycles at the same time! From Fern Cave, the trail became a little confusing. At a trail junction, a marker pointed with a large arrow to the left and a small arrow to the right but it didn’t indicate a trail letter.
As I climbed up, I remembered a split in the trail, and deduced the large arrow to the left that I was now seeing is just pointing to a return way back on the same trail C. This turned out to be right, but I was certain until after referencing the map which suggested I needed to climb 0.2 miles to the highest point of the park before connecting to the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail. Fortunately, I had my Fitbit on and watched the mileage as I bounded to the top and found several trail signs.
This trail offered fantastic views and if it weren’t so cold, I likely would have meandered rather slowly. Having finished the climb and being exposed to the wind, I fought off a chill by running portions of this flat section while stopping occasionally to admire the multi-colored cliffs.
Soon I reached the descent which seemed much steeper than the climb. I followed several rock stairs down to the trail from which I began. This would be a very challenging hike in the Texas heat. While I wasn’t enthusiastic about the cold weather, only having to carry a couple bottles of water was far better than what would be needed in the summer as indicated by the countless signs warning hikers to turn around if they didn’t have water. I really enjoyed the landscape changes and variety on this path.
I would definitely come back to see other trails, the bison and the bats which are all part of this park.
THE MANSION BAR
The Mansion is a famous, luxury hotel in Dallas where many of the stars stay. Its dark, traditionally decorated bar serves of course serves pricey cocktails, and I couldn’t imagine how my friend, Phil Pritchett’s rock band would fit in, but it did. He put on show, dancing, playing the guitar, and belting out English cover songs along with his bass and drum players. The British Are Coming plays there about twice a month where several regulars come to see them. In fact, the people watching is worth the price of admission!
AT&T STADIUM AND THE COWBOYS
Well, most people say the stadium itself is worth visiting, and I believe a tour may be arranged, but we went to see the Cowboys. Unfortunately, they did not have a very good Christmas Eve. Regardless, it’s fun to go to a game!
WANT TO VACATION SOONER? IF SO, THIS VACATION CLUB IS FOR YOU!
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Where to Stay, Things to Do, and Places to Eat on Paradise Island
I felt like I needed some beach time in the winter, so I booked a trip through my vacation club, World Ventures, the largest private club in the world. The club provides pre-packaged trips as well as a booking engine for flight, hotels, VRBO, cruises, and rental cars. It also includes an online shopping mall with virtually every retailer as well as discounts at local restaurants and events.
I didn’t want to have to think about anything for this relaxing vacation, so I picked a four-night trip to the Bahamas. I flew from Denver while my friend Max came from Dallas. Miraculously, both of our flights were on time and our bags came off the carousels next to each other in baggage claim, so we were off to paradise quickly! Continue reading “Dreamtrip: Paradise Island, Bahamas”
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September 22-23, 2017
Another fall, another weekend at Estabrook! I have some regulars joining me now which is nice. I also added a few newbies who loved learning the 100 year history of the family ranch.
The weather wasn’t nearly as nice as last year, but it didn’t stop us from getting in a five or six mile hike around the property. I was actually feeling rather unenergetic and like having an excuse of cold weather and threatening rain to sit around and play card games and Settlers of Catan. I must give credit to Erin, who has been on a mission to climb a fourteener this year, as she wanted to do a training hike.
I’m so glad she wanted to walk around as the weather held off, and we got to enjoy the fall colors. We also managed to spot a few deer which was surprising given our noisy chatter. I will attribute that to Brad’s eagle, hunting eye.
I’m so glad new parents Moria and Mario made the trek up with six month old Alinea. I imagine it’s a lot of work to bring a baby to the mountains…one bag for them, ten for the baby, right?!? Alinea is such a great baby! She sat right at the table with us.
The rain did come later, so I did get to play some games and was thankful for a few other fellow gamers. Erin, Brian, Mario and Moria liked “Oh, Hell”. Brad and Angela liked Settlers of Katan…YAY! We also had some nice meals and got some good porch time while watching the incoming clouds. It was a relaxing weekend in the mountains.
Finally, Erin was nice enough to gift a Colorado paver to Estabrook. What a nice hammock view! ETB
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My aunt Jennifer and uncle John like to go on different outings, and they inspired me to stop at a variety of old mining towns that I generally pass by on the way to my next hike.
My first stop of the day was in Como. Como owes its existence to the railroad and mines. Gold, discovered nearby in 1859, lured miners and later ranchers to area. Soon coal was discovered too. For trains, which ran on coal, this was the first source of coal after leaving Denver. As such, in 1881, the Denver, South Park & Pacific Railway built a roundhouse and depot in Como. This once thriving town, named by Italian miners from Lake Como, met its demise after multiple railroad reorgs and a final removal of tracks in 1938.
Regardless, there are still cool buildings in the town including the roundhouse, the depot, an old hotel, an old Catholic church, and an old school house. I got lucky and arrived when a gentleman had just finished giving a tour of the otherwise closed roundhouse. He let me walk around the property and then unlocked the door to let me in to see an old locomotive and printing equipment!
My next stop was Alma, the highest incorporated municipality (town not city) in North America. There wasn’t much to see in this small town, though it is possible to grab a beer at the highest bar, South Park Saloon. Alma is a good portal to bag a few peaks. The Decalibron Loop is a popular nearby hike that helps peak baggers mark off four fourteeners: Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross!
SOUTH PARK CITY
From Alma, I continued on to South Park City, a historical area next to Fairplay which is supported by the South Park Historical Foundation. South Park City is a collection of old buildings, some on their original site and some moved to this now museum. Inside the buildings are all sorts of collections of rocks, minerals, irons, and period items.
I personally loved the mining mill, the doctor’s office, the school house, the blacksmith shop, the bank, the general store, and the drugstore. The variety of tools, drugs, compressors, lunch boxes, and medical supplies were simply fantastic. At first I thought the $10 entry fee was a bit steep, but after visiting, it was worth every penny. I probably spent at least an hour, maybe two, wandering around the 40 buildings!
LOST PARK ROAD
Finally, I just took a drive down Lost Park Road. I had been there before to hike Segment 5 of the Colorado Trail, but several back roads connect to it that I have never explored. And what a time to explore, during the fall and changing colors. What a nice day! ETB