Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Colorado Trip

We recently went to Colorado for a conference. It's a beautiful part of the country. I'm amazing at every bend in the road how picturesque the landscape is. I saw less wildlife than when I was there two years ago. Maybe because we were at a lower altitude? Who knows.

After driving to the Denver Zoo and reading the sign which said they were closing at 2pm for a fundraising event, we drove to the Botanical Gardens. We could not find a parking spot anywhere. So plan C was in effect. We headed on down to road to see "The Wildlife Sanctuary." A home to over 220 carnivorous animals that have either been confiscated by the USDA or surrendered by owners. You have to wonder what goes through someone's head when they take a tiger or bear into their home as a pet.

The sanctuary was on 320 acres. All the animals are kept initially in a smaller enclosed area as they adjust to their new surroundings and routines. We walked over these animals - about 20' above them on a shaky deck, so as not to disturb them or get too close to them. That itself was a little unsettling for me; hovering 20' above 32 very large tigers. I wished I had binoculars to see the animals that were far off in their more natural habitats - the bears, lions and wolves.

We saw Red Rocks again. What a beautiful place to see a concert. They were gearing up for one that evening. But we had time to explore and be in awe before they chased us away for the concert goers.
We saw Garden of the Gods. I loved how the name perfectly described the huge rock formations. Impressive red rocks jutting out the earth in strange shapes. Shapes that only God would have thought of to create. I think this photo looks like an ad for Chevy though.

We drove up to Pike's Peak. It is 14,110ft. up. The air was thinner up there and I felt a little drunk at times. We did not take the cog rail up but rather drove. It was a little unsettling at times as we slowly wound our way around the mountains. Very few guardrails and some dirt roads made us wonder how the pioneers felt as they traveled up this mountain on burros.

In this photo is the park ranger, checking the descending car's brakes so be sure they are not overheating. If the brakes were over 300F, then they were asked to pull over and enjoy the gift shop for 30 minutes or so, as their brakes cooled. We kept the jeep in low and our brakes were only 120F.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Finn was Fun

I manage a Facebook account for the local dog park (Poston Dog Park) and decided host a contest for the fans of the page. The winner received a photo-shoot of their dogs (and themselves, if so inclined). The winner's name was Christine and her dog's name was Finn.

Finn was initially a little camera shy. But 15 minutes into the session, he relaxed and I couldn't take a bad photo of him. The sun was going down and the lighting was magical. I will try to do more of these contests. It's good practice for me and sharing the photos is so much fun. Savor the details.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

And That's No Bull

I went to a rodeo last weekend. A rodeo! Can you believe that? I can honestly say I've always wanted to see real cowboys riding bulls. The chaps, the hats, the boots, the danger - great stuff.

But there were a few surprises in store for me:
1. Those cowboys are just kids. Holy Cow! They are young guns.
2. There were girls (typically young too) who did barrel racing. And they were AMAZING. Those horses flew! I don't know how they stayed on.
3. There was a giant 50' American flag strung up over the arena and that should have been a clue to the Americana/All American Theme.
4. The clown was really funny and great at getting the crowd involved during the slow times of the rodeo (like when they had to wrestle the bull to get him back in the gate).
5. The stereo system sounded fantastic and they played great music.
6. The intermission involved Toby Keith's song "Boot in Your Ass" with a man strapped in rope lights, holding an illuminated American flag, racing a horse around in the dark arena AND a fireworks show. It couldn't have been more hokey - which is what made it so great.
7. They let the kids into the arena for a dance competition at intermission.
8. Don't mess with the bull they can get real mean. One bull caught a clown under the arm and pitched him upside down into the air. I think he broke a tooth on the landing but he walked away from it.
9. There was fair food - funnel cakes, ice cream, hot dogs.
10. They also sold saddles, hats, belts, chaps, and all kinds of cowboy clothing.
11. The local volunteer firemen were there taking parking donations.
12. We walked through a "fresh field" where the cattle used to be - good thing we had put on our boots.
13. The two guys who were on horses to help wrangle the bulls back into the pen were named by the clown. They were "Peaches 'N Cream."
14. It was as much fun watching them get the bulls back into the pen as the bull riding itself.
15. Those cowboys wear kevlar vests and helmets (usually).
16. They told Obama jokes. People chuckled to be polite. This is south ya'll - people are polite.
17. Kids threw food at the clown. The bites of funnel cake hit the dirt. The clown still picked it up and ate it. Yum - crunchy.
18. There was a funny banana eating contest with involved dancing with blindfolds on. A fuzzy haired, teenager won $100.

Savor the details.