We had a most interesting day yesterday and it did not end well, as we nearly got swallowed up in the back country of Wyoming! More on that later. North of Rock Springs is a corral for wild horses. Outside of the coral is a shelter whereby visitors can view them and also receive information regarding the horses presence in the West and how to adopt them. There are over 40,000 free-roaming horses and burros through out western states, and over 200 herd management areas administered primarily by the Bureau of Land Management. When the herds increase and there is limited vegetation and water to sustain the animals it then becomes necessary for the BLM to round them up. The horses are descendants of the horses brought over by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, so technically they are described as feral. Many people refer to them as mustangs, which is Americanized slang for the Spanish word mesteno, or "stray".
Saturday, June 29, 2013
This is continuing our story of the trip we made Friday on the Flaming Gorge-Uinta National Scenic Byway (US 191). It traverses over an area which exposes billions of years of earth's history, an area replete with fossils and geological features. Signs along the road mark each ancient era as: "Jurassic period, alabaster formations and ancient tidal flats". John and I certainly did not do it justice trying to see it all in one day.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Our last day in Colorado, Tuesday, found John and I on beautiful Colorado Highway 14 from Fort Collins to Cameron Pass. We saw everything on this drive; from the spectacular Poudre Canyon, and rushing Poudre River, to vast forests and mountain meadows to high snow-capped mountain peaks. Guess I should just start from the beginning, when the road followed the meandering river for quite some distance. The Poudre River offers some of the best white water rafting in Colorado, and we saw many rafters putting into the river.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
We had plans to take a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, but our son Mike was adamant about seeing Mount Evans. His cousin Katie and her boyfriend had been there last week and it seemed to fit his criteria as a mountain to visit. John and I had no compunctions either way, and if we joined our son, we would be able to spend more time with him. So on Monday we drove south to Denver, and then west along the Interstate 70 corridor. At the entrance gate to the Mount Evans Recreation Area in the Arapaho National Forest a sign greeted us with the information that the current temperature was 64 degrees, at the summit it was 42 with a wind chill of 35 degrees. We were ready with our jackets! The road up the mountain is the highest paved one in North America, taking us from pine forests to snow-covered mountain peaks. Our first stop on our way up the mountain was at Summit Lake, designated a National Natural Landmark in 1965 because of its extraordinary characteristics. It is located in the alpine, but the environment mirrors the Arctic Circle. Rare plants found at Summit Lake are usually found above the Arctic Circle, and permanently frozen ground unique to the dry alpine tundra is present. The lake, at12,830 feet elevation, is pictured below.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
As I had mentioned in previous postings, John and I came to Fort Collins for our niece Heather's wedding. Consequently the last few days have been filled with visiting family who have come from many parts of our nation for the event. The setting for the wedding was on the lawn of an old Victorian ranch house, colorful gardens surround the building called the Tapestry House. Pictured below are the happy parents with the beaming couple. Ann's parents are from San Francisco. Heather and Anne live in Denver, Ann is planning to enter law school this fall. It was quite a momentous event, with over 100 family and friends in attendance.
On Sunday we were able to spend what precious time we had left with our children, Melissa and her husband Spencer as well as our son Mike. Melissa had been in the wedding party so we had very little time to spend with her over the week-end. She and Spencer flew back to Virginia that afternoon. After all the festivities were over John and I were ready to do some hiking. My sister Gloria, her husband Chuck and Mike were willing to join us, it also allowed us to get in some visiting time with them.In the picture above all, except John, are taking in the wonderful vistas offered by Horsetooth Rock. The large hill is located in the foothills west of Fort Collins. According to local legend, the mountain is the remains of an evil giant's heart cut in two by a powerful Indian chief, thus protecting his people from the giant's wrath. The foothills trail skirt around Horsetooth Reservoir. Beautiful red-stone cliffs flank the 6.5 mile lake, it was an awesome hike under the late afternoon sun. The sun was setting by the time we completed our hike. On Monday our plan was to see Mount Evans, more on that in the next posting.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
As the name implies, Fort Collins was once an army garrison. After the American Indian conflicts of the 1860s had ended, the army abandoned the post. Fort Collins then became a town initially economically aided by the Overland Trail, as well as local farms and ranches. Today it is an industrial, technological and education center (University of Colorado). As usual, John had done his research on the town and determined that the area we should check out was the historic Fort Collins.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Some of our family may be wondering what we are still doing in the Black Hills when we need to be at Heather's wedding by Saturday. Well, for one thing I am a day behind in my postings, and secondly we did leave for Fort Collins, Colorado today and are currently residing in Wyoming. As we drove into Cheyenne, on Interstate 25 we passed by two pronghorn grazing close to the highway. I was so tempted to have John stop our rig and try to get them to go over the fence and back to wherever they came from, but common sense stopped me. Surely the local people know how to deal with that situation! I did question the owner of the rv park where we stopped for the night about the antelope. He asserted that for some reason there are not all that many accidents with the pronghorn. He also said, with a grin, that they are known around here as "speed goats". They are more goat than antelope, and belong to that family. Also, according to him, they do not have the muscles to go over fences, but under them. Well, I did promise to write about Deadwood, once known as Deadwood Gulch by the early miners. They noticed many dead trees around their camps and so named it Deadwood. The town is totally surrounded by the Black Hills, quite a beautiful setting, and does not deserve its name! The second building in the picture below is the old courthouse.
We were in this area about 25 years ago, and it was at the time of the annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis. Literally the roads were dotted with black bikes. My memory of this area this time will be of hundreds of green and yellow army trucks. Apparently at present troops are in the area (not only from all our states but from around the world) for combat training sessions. While in Custer State Park we saw their tent sites. From Custer and Wind Cave Parks we drove to Hot Springs and the Mammoth Site.
Monday, June 17, 2013
It is the peak of springtime here; lilacs, iris and many wildflowers are blooming. Hard to imagine we started seeing spring a couple of months ago in Texas! On Saturday, just outside of Custer State Park, we were treated to the sight of a field of purple wildflowers, unfortunately I never found out what they were!
Sunday, June 16, 2013
We stopped at the Sage Creek Basin overlook in the Badlands, and, after stepping out of the car, soon heard the songs of many birds. According to park information, bluebirds, waxwings, sparrows robins and other birds like to perch and nest in the juniper grove- which is pictured below. The berries of the tree are quite tasty ( supposedly they have a gin flavoring) and provide sustenance for the winged creatures.