Greetings from Denver, Colorado!

So I just returned from a Department of Labor conference in Denver, Colorado.  I tacked on a day at the end to do some hiking.  All-in-all it was quite successful.

After arriving, I took a stroll over to the state capitol.  It’s blue.  That was a bit surprising to me until I remembered that ours is pink.  All told, the Texas capitol grounds take up roughly four city blocks; the Colorado capitol and environs are downright cozy in comparison.  And there was a lot of construction going on there, but a nice building.

Colorado Capitol Building - Jul 14

Colorado Capitol Building – Denver, Colorado – July 2014

The hotel was around the corner from Denver’s 16th Street Pedestrian Mall, so I took my meals there.  The exception was dinner that I had at Row Fourteen Bistro and Wine Bar by the Convention Center.  Best meal I had in Denver.  The Bison Bolognese was fantastic!

Other than Row Fourteen, I ended up eating at Marlowe’s on the pedestrian mall.  Here’s some sights from their patio.

 

Rosemary Rickey - Marlowe's - Denver, Colorado - July 2014

Rosemary Rickey – Marlowe’s – Denver, Colorado – July 2014

 

Blackberry Old Fashioned

Blackberry Old Fashioned – Marlowe’s – Denver, Colorado, July 2014

Steak Frites - Jul 14

Steak Frites – Marlowe’s – Denver, Colorado, July 2014

Hari Khrishnas - Jul 14

Dinner Floor Show – Marlowe’s – Denver, Colorado, July 2014

On Friday after the conference concluded, I went hiking in O’Fallon Park near Evergreen.  It was an easy 30-minute drive from downtown Denver.  It’s located in the front range of the Rockies and has several trails you can hike.  I did the Meadow View Loop, the West Ridge Loop, and part of the Bear Creek Trail – about 7 miles altogether.  This is a real gem in Denver; I hope I have the opportunity to go back.

Vista - Jul 14

Vista – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Aspens1 Jul 14

Aspen Grove – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Mule Deer - Jul 14

Mule Deer – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Meadow1 - Jul 14

Meadow – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Snow Caps

Snow Caps – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

River - Jul 14

Bear Creek – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Bee Balm - Jul 14

Bee Balm – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Cactus - Jul 14

Cactus – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Thistle Flower - Jul 14

Thistle Flower – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

Meadow - Jul 14

Wild Flowers – O’Fallon Park, Evergreen, Colorado, July 2014

On Saturday, I spent the day at Castlewood Canyon State Park near Franktown, Colorado.  Since this is away from the mountains, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it has a lot of diversity.  It reminds me of Enchanted Rock here in the Hill County.  There were a lot of people, but it was easy enough to find some solitude on the more challenging trails.  I did the Dam, Homestead, Inner Canyon, Lake Gulch, and Rimrock trails – about 13 miles in all.

Canyon Vista

View – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Creek

Creek – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Dam

Ruins of Castlewood Dam (1890) – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Gnarled Tree - Jul 14

Gnarled Tree – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Lupines - Jul 14

Lupines – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Tree Growing in Rock - Jul 14

Tree in Rock – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Tree Roots - Jul 14

Pine Tree Roots – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Water Fall - Jul 14

Waterfall – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

White Flower - Jul 14

Wild Flower – Castlewood Canyon State Park, Franktown, Colorado, July 2014

Ramblin’ Man

So I should have been in Abilene this weekend, but decided to stay home to attend to other things, but took time out to wander around the green belt yesterday. We’ve had reasonable rain these past couple of months, so things didn’t look too terribly dire. More dead cedar and other scrub, and fading wild flowers, but not too bad.

I noticed this a couple of years ago, but it seems to be thriving – a prickly pear cactus (Cactaceae Opuntia) growing in a live oak tree.  It just boggles the mind, really.

GB-Cactus in Tree Jul 14

Cactus in a Live Oak Tree

Most of the wildflowers that are left are yellow, with the occasional purple Mexican petunia or wild verbena, but this one got my attention – certainly a standout.  The flowers look a little like penta…perhaps carried from some back yard by birds.

GB-Pink Flowers1 Jul 14

Pink Wild Flowers

I’m not an anatomist, but I’m assuming this is the remnants of a deer leg.  I wonder if the coyotes got lucky.  Interesting how it got into the tree like that – a little “Blair Witch Project”-y.  But you tend to see stuff like that back there on the trails – stacked rocks, etc.

GB-Deer Leg Jul 14

Deer Leg Bone in Tree

The rest are just interesting flowers/rocks/dry water ways I captured – enjoy!

GB-Pink Flowers Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Pink Flowers

GB-Wild Flowers Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Waning Wild Flowers

GB-Wild Flowers1 Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Yellow Flower

GB-Turks Cap Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Turks Caps in the Wild

GB-Holely Rock Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Holey Rock

GB-Gully Jul 14

Barton Creek Green Belt – Dry Water Way

 

Gratuitous Post about Birds, Plants, and Wine

This has been a pretty good year for bird watching.  I’ve got a couple of painted buntings that visit fairly regularly.  These are generally one-time-a-year birds here – at least that’s my experience.

I also have a fairly substantial flock of European starlings.  Theirs is an interesting tale and instructive on the cautionary side.  The starlings were introduced to this continent in the 1870s by the American Acclimatization Society as part of a dubious project to bring each type of bird mentioned by Shakespeare to New York’s public parks.  They were successful, and then some.  Since their introduction, more than 200 million European Starlings have spread throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada.  They may be responsible for the collapse of native species due to their aggressive nesting habits.

starling

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Today is one of the first clear days we’ve had in quite some time.  It seems the haze that’s been hanging around lately is caused by a dust cloud the size of the contiguous United States which has drifted over from the Sahara.  It’s a relief to see blue skies again.

I recently enjoyed a very nice bottle of Sancerre (Domaine J. Gueneau, 2013).  It reminded me of a Grüner Veltliner – which I really enjoy.  It went quite well with vegetarian chipotle burritos.

 

Sancerre

Sancerre – Domaine J. Gueneau, 2013

Last weekend, I planted an Australian Long-leaf Acacia.  I’ve decided to call her Adelaide, a nod to both the Australian city and my grandmother.  Its long tapered leaves are a nice contrast to the neighbor’s fig tree, the Japanese black pine, and the crepe myrtles that surround it.

australian acacia jul 14

Long-Leaf Acacia (Acacia longifolia) – Adelaide

So here are the gratuitous plant photos – hope everybody has an enjoyable 4th of July!

bulbine  jul 14

Bulbine; Roses; and Buddleia

wisteria jul 14

Wisteria Bloom

crepe myrtle jul 14

Crepe Myrtles; Japanese Black Pine; and Pink Althea

morning glory jul 14

Morning Glory – Grandpa Ott – about to shut down for the summer

turks cap jul 2014

Turks Cap and Holly Tree

Update –

My Black-Eyed Susan finally bloomed yesterday!

Black-Eyed Susan - Jul 14

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and a Ghost Spider (Hibana velox)

And here’s a closer look at the edging…

Edging - Jul 14

Edging – Norman Arch-Shaped Around the Elm Tree