Welcome to Friday, the day we share some of the amazing sights nature provides us. As usual, we are joining our buddies, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s edition.
It’s been snowy and cold in the Mile High and I’m still trying to acclimate to an unusually snowy month. Normally January and February are the driest months of the year but this year January was unseasonably warm and February has been unseasonably wet. Let’s just say my body is still in tune with the climate of the Caribbean but I won’t torment you with more beach images, instead, let’s check out the local fauna of the region.
While cruising around the Gulf of Mexico, I saw a number of animals I was familiar with but others that were completely new to my eyes. From iguanas to sloths and a few other unusual critters, I was enchanted like a small child at the sheer number of the different varieties encountered.
This Scarlet Macaw (the national bird of Honduras) was surprisingly heavy when he sat on my head. Who knew parrots had that much heft to go along with that gorgeous plumage?
Two Capuchin monkeys, Pinky and Coco greeted our tour group and Pinky, obligingly climbed on board everyone’s shoulders. She was very sweet and we were told she enjoyed being stroked. Mostly I think she was waiting for pieces of fruit from her handler, Kevin, but hey, what do I know about what monkeys want/need. Normally I’m not into monkeys but Pinky proved to be quite charming.
I missed hearing what kind of animal this little guy was but he had such an adorable expression on his face, who could resist taking a photo of him/her.
We’re in for two days of nice temperatures (low 50’s) and the dogs and I plan to enjoy every single warm degree. Naturally it all comes to a screeching halt on Sunday when [yet] another snowstorm is forecast so we’ll see how the weekend morphs into next week. I know the Three Amigos of the Ranch will happily welcome more snow to mush through. We hope you have a ‘wagnificent’ weekend. Get out there and enjoy all the wondrous things that nature offers.
Has it really been two weeks since I was in beautiful Roatán? Where did the time go? Faced with another wintery day with cold temps and possibly more snow later today, I think a reminder of a warm day is in order. Anyone else with me?
Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps. It’s been a long time since V-Day fell on a Friday but that’s not keeping us from celebrating Nature Friday with our furiends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s special Valentine’s edition of Nature Friday blog hop.
It was just one week ago I was cruising around the Western Caribbean. The biggest highlight was spending time on Isla Roatán, the largest of the Honduras’ Bay Islands, a 31-mile-long, 5-mile-wide swath of white sand and tropical forests 40 miles off the northern coast of Honduras that can tick all the boxes of visiting an island paradise. You want palm-fringed beaches? Check. Exotic animals? Check. Laid-back restaurants, tropical drinks, and freshly caught seafood? Got it! From the lively streets of the western end to the once pirate-infested coves of the beautiful eastern shores, Roatán offers a diverse array of things to see and do that will surely satisfy all your travel desires.
Roatán is known around the world for its scuba diving. The world’s second largest barrier reef (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia) surrounds the island and is inhabited by schools of beautiful tropical fish, dolphins and snorkelers alike. When visiting Roatán you will see sea turtles, dolphins, and whales swim in that beautiful blue water.
My family and I took a land and sea tour that showed off some of the most amazing sites throughout the island. The water was the clearest I’ve seen in the Caribbean.
Lots of tropical fish abound. Just out of view in the image below, dolphins were swimming with snorkelers.
One of the most memorable experiences was an unexpected trip to a preserve where our group was entertained by Betty the sloth, Pinky and Coco, the capuchin monkeys and other local animals. The most thrilling part of this side trip was we were actually in many of the enclosures with the animals. I never realized how incredibly sweet sloths were.
A multi-cultural paradise with three distinct influences dominate the isle (Spanish, Caribbean and Black). Although poverty is still a big issue, Roatá’s people were warm, welcoming and ever so proud to share their beautiful island with visitors. It was a day not likely to be forgotten any time soon and I would definitely go back if given the opportunity.
The young fellow in the orange shirt (upper left in photo) was one of the most knowledgable tour guides I’ve ever used. Personable and articulate, Joshua enhanced our group’s experience of his island home. He was extremely good natured with this older group (consisting of mostly female cougars tourists from Colorado, Texas, Kentucky and a charming couple from England).
Meanwhile back on the Tundra, I am recovering from a nasty coughing bug I picked up on the trip home. Snow has fallen four of the past five days and hasn’t made recovery come any time soon, and the furry nurses have barely left my side except to take raucous romps in the snow. Ever have a furry nurse take your temperature 75 times a day?
We all hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day with all of your loved ones and also are able to seize an opportunity to enjoy some of the amazing vistas Mother Nature offers.
Welcome to Friday, a favorite day where we look forward to a weekend of friends, family and fun. As always, we join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard as we check out the beauty of Mother Nature around Blogville.
Things around the Ranch are pretty drab with loads of various shades of brown. Gone are all colorful leaves and autumnal perennials but there’s still loads of beauty all around the 303. Let’s take a look south at one of the most famous of Colorado’s 53 ‘Fourteeners,’ peaks of at least 14,000 ft. tall (4,267.2 m), the infamous “Pikes Peak.”
The Ute Indians (the Tabeguache, the “People of Sun Mountain”) were the first documented people in the Pikes Peak region who referred to the mountain located near Colorado Springs as Tava or “sun,” the Ute word they used to refer to Pikes Peak. In 1806 Zebulon Pike was sent westward to locate the headwaters of the Arkansas River.
In the late 1800’s, a carriage road to the summit and the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway was built. In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates ascended the mountain in a prairie wagon, was so moved by the breathtaking views and wide sweeping plains, and later wrote the poem which inspired the song; “American the Beautiful.”
“Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain…”
In 1806 Pike named the mountain “Highest Peak,” and was commonly known as “Pike’s Highest Peak.” American explorer Stephen Harriman Long renamed it “James Peak” in honor of Edwin James, a doctor and botanist, who was the first documented climber, and who is also credited with discovering the state flower, the blue columbine. Mrs. Julia Archibald Holmes was the first woman to climb the mountain in 1858 which was later renamed “Pike’s Peak” in honor of Pike by the United States Board on Geographic Names in 1890. After Pike’s failed attempt to climb to the top in November 1806 due to a blizzard, he wrote in his journal:
“…here we found the snow middle deep; no sign of beast or bird inhabiting this region. The thermometer which stood at 9° above 0 at the foot of the mountain, here fell to 4° below 0. The summit of the Grand Peak, which was entirely bare of vegetation and covered with snow, now appeared at the distance of 15 or 16 miles from us, and as high again as what we had ascended, and would have taken a whole day’s march to have arrived at its base, when I believed no human being could have ascended to its pinical [sic]. This with the condition of my soldiers who had only light overalls on, and no stockings, and every way ill provided to endure the inclemency of the region; the bad prospect of killing any thing to subsist on, with the further detention of two or three days, which it must occasion, determined us to return.”
The striking beauty that inspired Katharine Bates and thrills nearly six million other people visiting the Pikes Peak region each year offers breathtaking vistas. Nearly 700,000 visiting the Peak itself enjoying hiking, picnicking, fishing, and other attractions.
There are three ways to ascend the mountain. The Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway, the world’s highest cog railroad is operated from Manitou Springs to the summit (conditions permitting) but is currently closed for refurbishing. It should reopen in 2021 while a temporary shuttle system has taken part of its place with several private outfitters providing transportation up the mountain during the renovation.
Vehicles can drive to the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway, a 19 mi (31 km), road that starts a few miles up Ute Pass with numerous switchbacks on the northwest side of the mountain. The world famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is held annually on the last Sunday of June. The toll road is maintained by the City of Colorado Springs and has been fully paved since October, 2011.
Visitors can walk, hike, or bike the trail. While the Barr Trail is rated as only “Class 1 hike,” it is a long and arduous hike with nearly 8,000 ft (2,400 m) elevation gain, and a one-way 13 mi (21 km) trek. The Pikes Peak Marathon, a trail race has been held since 1956. I don’t know about you but a thirteen mile hike straight up calls for a cab in my books.
Pikes Peak looms over downtown Colorado Springs and the mountain has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The mountain is composed of a characteristic pink granite referred to as Pikes Peak granite, the color due to a large amount of potassium feldspar. Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America.
So, have you ever visited Pikes Peak? What was your reaction?
We hope you are able to enjoy a beautiful weekend with nature as your traveling companion.
As I look out the window and see the first snowfall of the season, I am reminded about another place with snow. The Alps. Makes you want to yodel, doesn’t it?
A few years ago I traveled to the Nebelhorn, a major winter sports area near Obersdorf in the Allgäu Alps in southern Germany. The village of Oberstdorf has hosted Nordic skiing World Championships in both 1987 and 2005 and is expected to host World Championships in 2021. At 2204 metres (7,297 ft.) the Nebelhorn is small compared to peaks in the Rocky Mountains, but still an impressive mountain with an even more impressive view of the surrounding Bavarian Alps.
Thanks for going back in time with me as I sip a nice hot cup of chai and nostalgically watch the snow falling on a cold autumn morning. Maybe I should start consider working on my Christmas list today. Tschüss!
It’s time to celebrate the beauty Mother Nature provides us and because it’s Friday, that means we’re joining our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard. Autumn has definitely arrived and judging by your kind comments this week, a favorite of many peeps.
This week nature has had a lot to offer. Sadly, not all of it was good either. Several wildfires continue to burn in our fair state and there have been a number of officially ordered evacuations. Winds, warm weather and tinder-dry conditions have fueled these fires and we pray for the safety of residents and firefighters.
Human activity can impact the look of nature in any number of ways. Last week while visiting the Vail area, I saw what extraction mining can do to a remarkable landscape. The ghost town of Gilman, Colorado, located near Battle Mountain was once a thriving mining operation with a number of mines being opened beginning in the 1870’s during Colorado’s silver boom. Gold and silver were mined until the 1920’s.
As is often the case, mining operations went deeper and deeper and the extracted ore contained heavy sulfide content which local smelters refused to process. Separators were installed in 1905, and a problem was turned into an asset. Zinc, often a by-product in silver mining, became the economic mainstay until the early 1930’s. When the zinc market dropped, the mines switched to copper and silver ores which then became the main focus until the zinc price returned. Zinc became the principal ore until the mine was forcibly closed due to extreme pollution by the EPA who designated the town a Superfund site; it being listed on the National Priorities List in 1986. Gilman’s residents were forced to abandon the 235-acre site, many leaving much behind. By 1984, rock-bottom zinc prices coerced the company to leave Gilman for other profitable enterprises. A couple of attempts have been contemplated for redevelopment of the site but much like the town, they have also been abandoned.
The thriving town of Gilman (population of around 350) once included an infirmary, a grocery store, and even a bowling alley in its heyday. By 1970, total production was 10 million tons of ore ( 393,000 troy ounces (12,200 kg) of gold; 66,000,000 troy ounces (2,100,000 kg) of silver; 105,000 tons of copper; 148,000 tons of lead; and 858,000 tons of zinc) while an astonishing 8-million tons of mine waste was excavated and deposited into the ecosystem.
The townsite has long been notoriously vandalized over the years with worker’s homes being heavily tagged in graffiti by trespassers and nearly every window broken. The main shaft elevators still sit ready for ore cars, permanently locked at the top level. Various vehicles still sit in their garages, left behind by their owners. The town has been the subject of interest for many historians, explorers, and photographers.
The once colorful homes of Gilman sit close to the mining facilities with the waste tailings flowing down the hill. Though posted as a no-trespassing area, the town continues to draw vandals who have posted hundreds of images on social media sites. Looking through many eerie and creepy images on Instagram, it seemed the residents left in a hurry. One particular image, a box of Cheer soap, spilled on the floor along with children’s toys, magazines, among scads of debris haunted my thoughts. I did not trespass the fence area, instead taking in some of the natural beauty of the mountain. I couldn’t help but wonder about those who lived and worked there and how many of them fell ill after they left.
Notice the mine tailings flowing down the hill on the right.
Still, all is not all bad and I certainly don’t want to end on a sour note. All the changing leaves reminded me that Nature can still be a very beautiful place.