Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Roadtrip ~ Fairy Caverns & Fairy Kisses

One of the places we visited while in Glenwood Springs was Glenwood Caverns. This was a MUST SEE because of the Fairy Caves located thereI mean what lover of the FAE wouldn't want to go see Fairy Caves! **wink**

***Remember, you can click on a picture to make it bigger***

Charles Darrow homesteaded the area surrounding the Fairy Caves and turned it into a tourist attraction by the mid-1890's. Darrow built a road to the top of Iron Mountain where the entrance to the Fairy Cave can be found and brought electric lights to the Fairy Caves before the 1900's. 

The Tonsils
In his ever expansion of the 'attraction', Darrrow blasted a tunnel from a cavern to the cliff side overlooking the confluence of the Colorado River and Roaring Fork River Valley. 

Railing around the ledge at the end of the tunnel. This area is named Exclamation Point.
Crevasses left by the roots of a tree

Quite breathtaking views but being near the edge was not for the faint of heart!

But these new holes in the walls of the caves brought in outside air and slowly the Fairy Caves began to die. The outside air can be both hotter and drier than the caves moderate climate causing the caves to 'dry up'.

The Fairy Caves were operated by the Darrow Family until 1917, at which time the attraction was closed. Unfortunately the entrance to the Fairy Caves wasn't secured with a door or bars and many of the larger and more unique formations were broken or stolen. Trash and rubble filled many places. But the beauty of the Fairy Caves was apparent to many and Cavers continued to explore the many cracks and crevices discovering many new caves and passageways.

What do you see?

In 1998, Steve and Jeanne Beckley took over development of the property. Being life-long Cavers, the Beckleys used scientific cave preservation methods in all their improvements. The most important was installing airtight doors in all the cave entrances. These doors form an airlock which helps maintain the ideal temperature and humidity level.  Today the newer caverns are still living and growing. And there are rumors that the once dead sections of the Fairy Caves have begun to grow again.

Today's visitors have a set of strict rules which they must follow when touring these caves. The most important is 

Tree Root which has grown down through the rock in search of water
No one is sure how the Fairy Caves got their name but legend has it that one of Darrow's daughters thought the light from her lantern reflecting off the water droplets looked like Fairies dancing around the cave. 

Mineral laden water droplets leached through rock are what form the many unique forms which can be found in the Fairy Caves. Water dripping from the roof of the cave deposits those minerals on its way to the floor, forming Stalactites. 

The minerals that are left in that droplet once it hits the floor collect and form Stalagmites. The multitude of other rock formations are only variations of these processes.

Some visitors to the Fairy Caves and its labyrinth system are lucky enough to have one of these tiny water droplets fall on them. This is called a Cave Kiss or Fairy Kiss. A Kiss like this is considered a sign of Good Luck. 

And yes, I received a Kiss. Or two.

The caverns in the Fairy Caves system are quite spacious. And the passageways aren't too narrow. I never once had a problem with being underground. 

In fact, it was rather hard to imagine that I was deep down in the recesses of the Earth. But the total darkness which our tour guide had us experience was a bit disconcerting!

Next we'll explore King's Row Cave and the journey that was taken to discover this one!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Ladies of Manure calendar

This isn't quite the normal Sunday art post. Today I am featuring a calendar which joins together beautiful women and manure in a whole new light. The calendar is put out by the Fertile Earth Foundation. "Fertile Earth Foundation has been teaching people to rethink their waste for over 4 years. For those of you who don't know what composting is, it's basically turning organic waste into rich fertile soil. Organic waste is stuff like kitchen scraps, newspaper, yard trimmings, manure, even your very own poop!"
Hopefully they'll put out a 2014 calendar!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Roadtrip ~ Hotel Colorado & Cigar Smoking Man

Hubby and I spent our 'weekend away' at the Hotel Colorado

The Hotel Colorado was built in 1893 by silver magnate, Walter Devereux at a cost of $850,000. The architect designed the building as a replica of the Villa de Medici. Devereaux spared no expense in its construction and imported many things like the carpet and rose bushes but native stone was used in its construction.

The original design had a pond located in the center of the courtyard and guests could catch their own trout for a meal. Today a small koi pond with a lovely fountain graces the grounds.

I can only imagine what a sight this must have been to travelers of the Old West. 
The Hotel Colorado was a luxury resort and many famous people have walked its halls. The 'Unsinkable' Molly Brown, Diamond Jack Alterie (and other Chicago Gangsters), President Herbert Hoover, President William Howard Taft, and President Theodore Roosevelt.  

President Theodore Roosevelt liked the Hotel and the area so much he stayed there on several occasions. And according to legend, the Hotel Colorado was the birthplace of the Teddy Bear (not really sure what the true story is about how or why the teddy bear was created - I found three different stories).

In 1942 the Hotel was leased to the Navy for the use as a hospital. In the 4 year period it was utilized to care for those injured in WWII, it serviced over 6,500 patients. The basement was used as a morgue.

Walking through the Hotel, a person gets a sense of comfort that comes with age and familiarity. 

The wooden banisters glow from the multitude of hands which have run up and down them.

Entrance to restaurant made from native pink sandstone
I had read of stories of otherworldly happenings at the Hotel Colorado and wondered if we would get to meet any of the long-past guests. 
We didn't have long to wonder. Upon exiting the elevator and walking to our room, the distinct smell of cigar smoke could be detected. Nothing heavy like cigar smoke can be but something just ever so light. 

Hall outside our room
In the three days we were there, we encountered on many occasions the faint odor of cigars in the hall outside our room. On one occasion, Hubby had left to go outside and only moments after he had gone, I could smell cigar in the room with me! Now keep in mind that the Hotel Colorado is Non-Smoking!
Who was the cigar-smoking man? 

Let's get some rest, we're going 'caving' next week!
And just ignore any bumps or moans you might hear in the dead of night.....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Roadtrip ~ REST*STOP!

Shew! I don't know about you but I'm ready for a rest stop! I really need to get out and stretch my legs. 
Let's take a stroll around the Grizzly Creek Rest Area. It is one of four rest areas located in Glenwood Canyon.

Grizzly Creek
Looking east over the Colorado River. Interstate 70 can be seen on the left
The Rest Area is located next to a nice 'beachy' area where one can go down to the Colorado River. 

In the Spring, the water is fast and high (and muddy!). And it isn't uncommon to see rafters go by, rather quickly I might add, on the Colorado River.

And if a person is lucky, they'll get to see the Amtrak train go by. Don't forget to wave at the Engineer!

There's also a trail up Grizzly Creek which goes underneath the interstate.

One never knows what can be found - should a person only look. We came across this apple tree growing along Grizzly Creek - yes, that's the interstate behind it. The tree was in bloom and the bees were quite busy. 

But that wasn't the only thing in bloom - chokecherry bushes were everywhere. And the bees were quite busy with them as well. With all this fruit bearing vegetation around, I'm sure the bears can be seen here as Autumn approaches.

Guess we'd better head back to the car. It's not much further to Glenwood Springs. I'm ready for that hotel room!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Graphite Cats

***Thanks to poetlandia for the tip on this artist!***