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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Scenic Routes and Rest Areas

Grand Mesa 1

You can see for miles from Grand Mesa.

We are fortunate in Colorado to enjoy the most beautiful scenery in the world. No matter how much you travel throughout the state, there are still surprises left to discover. This was the case this past weekend. On a jaunt to the West Slope, we were running early and decided to take a side trip to Grand Mesa. Although we had been there many years ago, we had approached from the south. Lured by a “scenic byways” sign, we drove in from the north on roads we had never before traveled. After traversing stark rocky canyons which made our jaws drop, we crept upward onto the high flat mesas that allowed us to view vast panoramic miles of valleys which surrounded us. The terrain at well over 10,000 foot altitude reminded me a little of Swan Lake Flats and the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. I don’t often compare scenery to Yellowstone terrain. In this case, I made an exception. The only thing lacking was wildlife, which I attributed to the mid-day hour. My eyes strained through the dark scrubby trees and underbrush for wildlife — any wildlife! Marmots, who should have greeted us from among the tumble of crumbled basaltic rock columns, were absent. A moose crossing sign gave us hope, but no critters other than hawks and insects appeared to bring life to the landscape. The mesa left us wanting more and pondering a return trip.

Grand Mesa 2

Taking the Other Road through Grand Mesa

At the beginning of summer, I usually vow to take better care of my yard, and to get out to see more hidden corners of my chosen home state. Although I’ve done a little of both, summer has a way of slipping away before all expectations are met. As usual, I reach out to a book for perspective.  The book, a gift from my publishers at Filter Press, is “Colorado Scenic Byways: Taking the Other Road” by Jim Steinberg and Susan Tweit. Winner of the 2008 Colorado Book Award, Steinberg’s outstanding photography, and Tweit’s enlightened insights and connection to nature bring it all home. Not only does this gorgeous publication introduce the reader to roads never before experienced, but it also chronicles those routes already traveled. I feel a sense of satisfaction and some pride when I recall the scenic byways I have driven and enjoyed since arriving in 1974. I am also proud to know Susan Tweit through Women Writing the West, and I willingly turn myself over to her guidance through and connection to this wonderful mountainous place. This book is a must for all Colorado road trip junkies and their coffee tables. Visit Susan’s web site at: http://www.susanjtweit.com

Eagle Rest Area

This pit stop includes a history lesson.

Now, about that rest area. On I-70 west of Vail, Colorado, we often stop in Edwards for a comfort stop and to stretch our legs. This trip, we stopped at the rest area in Eagle instead. I had forgotten about the charming little history museum there. Kids of all ages can enter a real Denver & Rio Grande caboose as well as historic log cabins for a little diversion before scrambling back into the confines of the family auto. This little museum, complete with a visitor’s center, is a delightful surprise and a real treasure for interstate travelers who wish to take a break.

Joyce B. Lohse, 8/30/10
http://www.lohseworks.com

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2010 in Western history, Western Travel

 

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Pat’s Walls Talk

Walls Talk

Pat Werner, Walls Talk, and Now You Know Bios.

Filter Press hosted a fabulous garden party last weekend to launch author Patricia Werner’s book, The Walls Talk: Historic House Museums of Colorado. The circumstances were unusual. A fine author and researcher, and a member of Women Writing the West, Pat passed away a couple of years ago following her struggle with cancer. Filter Press fulfilled their agreement to publish Pat’s book, which she struggled to finish during her final days. Much work was then required to update changing information. The result is a real treasure. The Walls Talk, a guide to 37 historic homes in Colorado, is a must-have title for all Colorado history enthusiasts.

Another interesting aspect of the garden party celebration was its location. It took place at the Molly Brown Summer House, a privately owned beautifully restored historic Denver home, which is listed in the book. A large tent on gorgeously landscaped grounds provided a comfortable setting for the celebration. The house is available for special events and was a perfect venue for the book event.

MBSH Porch

Porch at Molly Brown Summer House

Pat’s goal was to not only share information about the homes, but to share information about the people who lived in those homes, to bring them to life. By doing so, her memory lives on. For more information about the book, go to: http://www.filterpressbooks.com.

Joyce B. Lohse, 8/17/10
http://www.lohseworks.com

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2010 in Western history, Writing Life

 

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A Gem near Georgetown

ghost town 3

Restored buildings in a living ghost town

For years, I have heard that the town of Silver Plume, connected to nearby Georgetown, Colorado by a steam locomotive railroad line, is a historic treasure. Last week, my history pal, Christie, and I decided to find out for ourselves. We were not disappointed. Some folks refer to Silver Plume as a living ghost town, and I can see why. Some buildings are in better shape than others. Many have been carefully restored by residents and continue with a renewed, useful life. Merchants in stores on main street sell antiques, meals, and baked goods. When we were ready for a break, we were surprised to find a tea room in an antique store, which offered a wide selection of tea, home baked treats, and comfortable Victorian ambiance.

Museum 1

George Rowe Museum

Photo ops abound. The George Rowe Museum, housed in an 1890’s brick school house, allows a genuine step back in history and should not be missed. It contains a restored 19th Century school room, and many artifacts from the town’s mining history. Ore carts, ore buckets, and other mining artifacts have come to rest on the museum grounds. Nearby, a rock building, which served as a jail, conjures up images of the wild west. A small park, situated next to the rushing water of Clear Creek, contains rocks, wildflowers, and a railroad car.

Jail 2

Harsh lodging for lawbreakers

Silver Plume boasts a population of about 200 people, although they jokingly point out that the figure varies as dogs, dropins, and ground squirrels come and go. The affect of the altitude over 9,100 feat above sea level was noticed in our breathing. As with all mountain property, visitors are cautioned to enjoy but respect the mining community and others like it, to help preserve its glimpse into Western history.

Joyce Lohse, 8/9/10
http://www.lohseworks.com

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2010 in Western history

 

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