Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Denver and Colorado Springs

After my visit in Kansas, I headed west to Denver for the Memorial Day weekend with my kids and grandson.
A friend let me park in his driveway.  It was so convenient, only 5 miles from the kids house.

Joshua got his drivers license last week and also this 1995 Jeep.  It's the same age as he is.  And yes, it has a lift kit and no running boards.  You should have seen me trying to get in and out.  It wasn't funny!

On Memorial Day I headed south to Colorado Springs, where I was meeting up with my girlfriends for some R&R in Manitou.

We were able to catch the last day of the Territorial Days Street Festival in Old Colorado City.

This is the Cliff House Inn.  The early Cliff House was smaller, cube shaped and built prior to 1874, but by 1887 it had been modified and electrified.  By 1913 it was the largest and finest hotel in town. It is one of the few surviving frame constructed buildings in the area.  After being left vacant for 15 years, it was remodeled and reopened in 1999.
 Manitou Springs derives its name from the over 2 dozen mineral springs found in the area.  In the early 1900s it was noted as a popular health destination for people suffering from tuberculosis.
The Wheeler Spring sits across the street from the Cliff House Inn.  And yes, that is my finger in the upper right hand corner.
Around town you will find deco sculptures of bicycles.  

Someone chained their own bicycle to the artwork.

Personally, this was my favorite.

I believe this is Cheyenne Spring.  You can drink out of any of the springs which are flowing.  The unique characteristic of Manitou's springs are there natural carbonation.

Navajo Spring.

The Barker House Apartments, was built in 1872.  It also houses BJs Bistro.

I liked this colorful sidewalk bench, found in downtown Manitou Springs.

We also visited Seven Falls.  You can climb the 200+ stairs to get to the top, and then go visit the memorial site of Helen Hunt, an author.  She loved this place and asked to be buried here.  Once her husband could no longer navigate the route to her grave, her remains were relocated down to Evergreen Cemetery, but he left a Memorial for her on top of her beloved mountain.
But the best view is actually the 14 stories through the mountain in the elevator.  You can then overlook the entire set of falls.  There wasn't much water since it has been such a dry winter.

I just couldn't resist.

In the canyon next to Seven Falls in the Cheyenne Canon Park and Helen Hunt Falls.  The park is a public park and not so touristy, but has many more hiking trails and is a lot more fun.
I think we checked out every little shop located in downtown Manitou Springs and we ate at several really good restaurants.  Many of the restaurants are organic, gluten-free, vegetarian and very interesting.  I even had gluten free crepes at a gluten free French restaurant.  They even grind their own flour.

We said goodbye as they headed to Oklahoma and I headed back to Denver.
As I was packing up I noticed a leak at my rear tire, so I called a workhorse chassis service center.  Luckily it was just an axle flange seal which needed to be replaced, but they said it had been leaking for a while and if it hadn't been fixed I could have blown my rear axle.  Boy am I glad I got it fixed.  I was on my way again within an hour.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Visiting Kansas

After arriving from Germany and England, my family settled in Kansas.  Several served and some died in the Civil War.  Mostly they were farmers, but there were also teachers and merchants.  Enough said, my heritage is in Kansas, I was even born there.
I planned on spending several weeks visiting with family and friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in over 20 years.  It had been almost 4 years since I had been back this way.  Much of my family lives close to the border of Oklahoma, and since my last paying job was in Wichita, I had friends to go see, and then it was up to the Flint Hills to visit an Uncle and his family.
During my stay in Arkansas City and Wichita, I didn't do much sightseeing since I spent much of my time growing up in this area, but I had never visited the Flint Hills before and this time I only had a few days to check it out.  My uncle lives in the little town of Alma, KS, population 900.  Alma is the City of Native Stone and following are some pictures showing why.
A church on the hilltop made of native limestone blocks.  Even on the abandoned buildings the only thing you see deteriorating is the doors and windows.

Barns, fences and other outbuildings utilized the native limestone.

Some of the houses were quite impressive.

You see these limestone rock fences everywhere.  In 1867 they abolished the open range and the ranchers were paid 40 cents per 16 ft to build and maintain a fence.  Most ranchers used the rocks which were so abundant. 

While in Arkansas City, staying with my aunt out on her farm, I got to go horseback riding.  This is Jody, the gelding I rode.  He is a national champion several times over.  We rode out through the extensive wheat fields of the farm.  It was a lot of fun, but I was sore for a few days.  I'm not used to horseback riding.

On the way to Alma I stopped at a roadside stop and this herd of cattle followed me up and down the fence as I walked Fancy.  Maybe they were interested in what that little animal was, I don't know.  The Flint Hills are too rocky for farming, but it has great grasses for grazing cattle.  In fact, the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve is located in the Flint Hills.  They truck in cattle from all over the country, including Texas, so they can graze on the grass and get fat before they are taken to the slaughterhouse.  They say the cattle can put on as much as 1.83 pounds per day eating the grass here in the Flint Hills.  I want some of that steak!

More pictures from the town of Alma showing the beautiful buildings built from the native limestone.  Most of these buildings were built in the mid 1880s.

This house had such a regal look.  

And I liked this one for the ivy and the unique shape.

Alma also has a cheese factory where I, of course, bought some fresh cheese.   Yummmmmm

Down I-70 just a few miles is Grandma Hoerner's.  Owned and operated by a grandson, I believe, they have been in operation for 26 years.  Grandma was never involved, they just use her recipes.  One of the very first contracts 26 years ago was with Trader Joe's, to provide a Big and Chunky Applesauce.  Now they also produce a line of reduced jams for Trader Joe's as well.

If you look close you can see the apple slices in this applesauce.  This is the flagship product for the company.  Grandma Hoerner made her applesauce from the best apples and sliced them for her applesauce.  Of course I had to buy some items here too.  My favorite was her Bourbon Pecan Pie Filling.    They say it goes great over ice cream.

Yes, we are in Kansas, and here Toto has his own dog house.  Actually, I felt a little like Dorothy because  the wind blew and blew most of the time I was there.  But it is now time to head out to Colorado for a short visit over the Memorial Day weekend with my kids and grandson.

Monday, May 7, 2012

My visit to OKC is almost over

but here are some of the things I did while in town.
Usually I stay at the Elks Lodge in OKC, but as of May 19, they will be moving to a new location with no RV accomodations.  Maybe still some boondocking in their parking lot if it is big enough hopefully.  They were forced to sell under when the city of Warr Acres used the power of emminent domain.  So they are building a smaller building about 3 miles away.  
The lodge was located in a wonderful residential neighborhood, which was great to go for walks in the morning.  On one of my walks I spotted this fabulous treehouse, electricity and all.

I moved out to Arcadia Lake, a COE lake which has turned over park management to the city of Edmond.  They give discounts for golden age/access, but not 1/2 price.  And they don't honor the discounts on the weekends.  Great place though.  My spot was right on the water.

We didn't have to go far to enjoy the swimming.  Here I am with my 3 year old grandkids, Caitlin and Gavin (3 in a few weeks actually).  They are cousins.

I invited my kids and nieces and nephews to come out and have a picnic at the lake on Sunday.  Some weren't able to make it, but we still had a crowd.  Here are a few out enjoying the wonderful swimming weather we have been having.

Bob and Amy, parents of 4 of the grandkids.

Kira and 3 year old Rylee, niece and daughter.

Niece and nephews, Byron (standing), Crystal and Brad.

My sons, Aaron and Sam, getting wood for the campfire.  Aaron and his wife Holly, my 2 grandsons and Sam all came down on Saturday and pitched a tent at my site.

Bob, Holly, Aaron and Kira, visiting in front of the RV.
I had a wonderful time getting to visit with my family.  I think this place will be a must when I come back this way again.

The end of the day and a wonderful weekend.  Everyone has gone home and I'm enjoying the beautiful sunset over the water.
In a few days I'll be headed down the road to Kansas, to visit more family and for some RV repairs. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Aaron and Holly's, then back to Lake of the Arbuckles

After my weekend with Adrion, I headed back to Ardmore for a few days with Aaron and Holly, grandson Gavin, and my other son Sam.

I love their new house, especially the hot tub in the gazebo.  I made good use of  it all week long.
Gavin, picture taken with my new HTC Vivid 8mp phone.  The quality is almost as good as my Canon.  Having a camera this good on my phone sure makes taking pictures convenient.  But I still like my 10x zoom on my canon.

The next weekend was camping with my grandson, Carter.  I took him to the same place as Adrion, Chickasaw National Recreation Area.  Here he is in front of the nature center.  Notice the creek flowing underneath?

He said he wasn't going to swim, but he gave it up and eventually ended up in the creek at Little Niagara.  The ranger says the creek stays at a cool 67 degrees year round.

This guy landed on my foot and was quite happy to let me take as many pictures as I wanted.  

Another one of the picnic tables made out of local materials by the CCC back in the 1930s.  I found out on the ranger led hike this material is called Travertine, a conglomerate of limestone and pebbles and larger rocks.  Some of it looks like manmade concrete.

Carter wanted to travel upstream and meet me at the next bridge.  I think he found a few deep holes along the way.

I also introduced Carter to geocaching.  With a phone/gps that was working, we were able to go after 8 caches.  Found all but 2.  Several were ones I had done with Adrion the previous weekend.  With the phone app I can log my find immediately.

I noticed some crows making a big raucous at a tree in one of the parking lots.  As I got closer I realized they were trying to get this snake out of the tree (maybe they had a nest close by?).  

I made Carter stay behind me as I zoomed in for a closeup shot.  Yep, that looks like a triangular head to me.  I think it was a cottonmouth or water moccasin which is quite common around here, and yes, they are poisonous.  We walked over to the Vendome Well and when we came back by the snake was gone. 

Every evening we had a campfire, marshmellows and even cooked hamburgers over the open fire.
Last weekend with Adrion, I kept thinking I should have potatoes to throw on the coals, so this weekend I made sure I bought potatoes.  And yes, thanks to the teachings of Bob McCourt, never let an opportunity go by to bake some 'mickeys' in the fire.  I cooked several regular potatoes and even a sweet potato.  Yum.