Sunday, September 23, 2007

An interesting and itchy discovery...

I was recently down in southeastern Colorado....As I was driving on a back road looking for highway 50, I saw up ahead of me, a black tiny creature crossing the road. As I slowed down to see what the thing was--since it was bigger than a bug and smaller than a rodent--I completely gasped! It was a freaking tarantula! I'm not kidding! I had no idea that we had tarantula's in Colorado! Thinking that this surely must be some type of isolated incident, I asked the next park ranger that I came to about this....He told me that actually in southern Colorado, Texas, and California that tarantula migration is a common phenomenon! What?! Did he say migration?? You mean there are lots of tarantulas in Colorado?! Good grief, just when I was starting to make peace with the bears and mountain I have to look out for tarantula's! Anyway, so yeah, for anyone else who might be surprised about this fact...I did some research immediately upon my return home and here are some websites I found:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ace's and Eight's...Excursion Of The Week

Looking for something to do on a lazy afternoon or weekend? Check out the historical town of Central City. It is an extremely quaint old town with turn of the century houses and buildings. However, the main attraction to this town is the gambling. Central City is home to several large casino's. And just down the road is the town of Black Hawk, which also is home to several large casinos.

I've never been much of a gambler, generally have to have some extra cash lying around to partake in such a hobby....But on a couple of occasions I have gone up with only $40 dollars in my pocket to try my hand at "black jack" and the slot machines. It was actually kind of fun. Of course, it's even more fun if you walk away with a profit....But did you know that you get FREE drinks while you play?? That's definitely a perk. And there was one time when I literally played "black jack" for 4 hours straight on $20 bucks. I never knew cards could be so much fun. Here are a couple of things I've learned that I thought I might pass along:

1) When playing "black jack" always double-up when you get "11". For some reason, I guess the odds are with you and several times I've gotten a nice little profit from this simple trick.
2) According to my statistics professor the slot machines that are on the ends of the aisles and closest to the entrances/exits are supposedly "looser". Supposedly the logic behind this has to do with people as they come in/out or are waiting around and as they quickly try one of their last coins they get sucked back in for a while longer. So, if you are the type who can take your winnings and easily walk away, try the slots on the the odds may be with you...
3) If you sign up for the featured promotional offer or membership the casino is offering it may be helpful in the long run, as they will send you promotional discounts throughout the year.
4) Finally, in the words of "the Gambler" (A.K.A. Kenny Rogers):
"You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sittin at the table.
Therell be time enough for countin when the dealins done."

Anyway, Central City is worth checking out even if you're not up for gambling. There are several old-time shops and plenty of hotels to stay in if you're exploring the mountains. It's even a cute little town to go mountain biking in, but there are several big hills! As for Black Hawk, it has several big casino's but not as much landscape or scenery as Central City. So, if you have some extra change and an itch to try your hand at gambling, there's no better place near Denver than Central City or Black Hawk.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Helen Hunt Falls

(NO, the actress Helen Hunt did not trip...I am referring to a place in Colorado Springs....)

Helen Hunt Falls is a nice place to simply relax and enjoy a picnic, or take a short hike.

This day trip is more of a short excursion. This seems like a nice place to come for an hour or so to just get some fresh air. There are several trails in the area but the main waterfall area is just off the parking lot so its not much of a hike. You can walk up the stairs to the top of the waterfall and continue going past the falls onto a trail. But, in my opinion, this main area is more suited for a photo-op and a picnic. There is a shaded stream to walk along with several boulders nearby that make for excellent sitting and thinking spots.

Here is a link for more information.

Also, nearby: Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, Manitou Springs, and downtown Colorado Springs.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Excursion Of The Week.

(Photo by Patrick Myers)

Trip: Crestone, Sand Dunes National Monument, Zapata Falls

One of my all-time favorite trips will take you about 4 hours southwest of Denver into the San Luis Valley. As you drive through this magnificent valley you will see the Sangre De Cristo ("blood of Christ") mountains on one side and the San Juan mountains on the other. This drive really makes me feel like I am in the Old West... a classic shot of a dusty, rugged and majestic landscape all around.

The destination is twofold: the city of Crestone and then further down the road to the Sand Dunes National Monument.

About Crestone:

The little town of Crestone is mainly made up of a community of New Agers, as some call this area the "crown chakra". I come to Crestone to hike and camp at the North Crestone Creek Campground. This campground is tucked away at the edge of the Rio Grande National Forest. The campsites lie just beside the creek, under a canopy of trees. There is a huge rock wall on the opposite side of the creek that makes for a nice secluded, niche of a camp. So, you can set up camp here and then venture out to some other cool sites not too far away. There are also a couple of hot springs a few minutes drive away...well...more like 20 minutes or so away....

Here are some more details regarding the N. Crestone Creek Campground:

Hot Springs Info:

About the Sand Dunes National Monument:

When I first moved to Denver I had never heard of the Sand Dunes before. Since I am originally from a beachtown, and used to seeing sand dunes, I didn't understand what the draw was....Being as how Denverites seem to make a big deal out of puddles; calling them lakes and such...I figured this was another exaggeration and thought certainly that these sand dunes would really be more like dirt piles....Ummmmmm....I was wrong--completely and totally w-r-o-n-g! The Sand Dunes National Monument should really be called The Sand Dunes Range! These dunes are massive! It took me literally 45+ minutes to hike to the top of a freaking sand dune! The tallest dune is over 750 feet! Seriously, The Sand Dunes National Monument is a spectacular adventure! Come see the tallest dunes in North America!

There are also several campgrounds nearby, including inside of the park. So, if you don't want to drive an hour between the dunes and Crestone than there are some other campground options.

Here is a link for more info about the monument:

Zapata Falls:

There is a really cool waterfall that is somewhat inside of a short cave, near the Pinon Flats Campground inside of the park. There is a trail you can take up to the falls or you can access the falls from US Highway 150. Definitely check it out!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Surprise Of The Week...

I went to BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse in Aurora with no idea as to what I might find. However, surprisingly, I must say that they have the best deep dish pizza in town--even better than Old Chicago! I am still amazed! It was absolutely perfect!

I, personally, had never heard of BJ's if you are wondering what the place is like here's the scoop...BJ's seemed like a nice, spacious restaurant that seemed half like a sports bar if you sit in the bar area (several big screens to look at) and the other half a nice restaurant. They have a small patio around back. They had a decent selection of beer and, though I had no intention of writing about them on this blog, I just had to mention their deep dish pizza! Check 'em out!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Tea House

About 40 minutes north of Denver is an incredibly unique and culturally awakening experience....Located in Boulder (another reason this is a cultural experience) is the Dushanbe Tea House. With its hand-carved and hand-painted ceilings, tables, and beams; this tea house offers a taste of scenery. They have a wide variety of selections...not only do they have the most extensive tea menu that I have ever seen...but they also serve breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. This is one of the most unique encounters I've had in my quest for the perfect coffee/tea house. This place is a bit on the classy side so be ware that just because it is a tea house, you might want to go in the morning or afternoon, as the evening or dinner setting seemed to be a little more fancier.

The tea house is a sister teahouse to one started in Tajikistan...So, the setting is authentic.

This is a great place to experiment with different teas, enjoy a nice scone or meal, and perhaps imagine you are in a foreign land....

You can check the website at: