Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Fantastic Sunday Drive...

Yesterday, we set off early for a Sunday adventure with our trusty tour guide - Aunty Susan. Our first stop was at the famous Coney Island Hot Dog. This giant hot dog first came to life on Colfax in Denver in 1966.

In 1970, under new ownership, the stand was moved to the Rocky Mountain town of Aspen Park. Initially called Coney Island Dairy Land, it later dropped the last part of the name. Despite initial opposition, when it was put up for sale in 1999, a local campaign began to designate it a landmark and save it from destruction. The present owner purchased it for about $150,000 and added a state-of-the-art water purification system, a new secondary kitchen area and a complete restoration of the interior kitchen.

The popularity of the stand was such that its last day open in Aspen Park, "the waiting line extended literally for miles". On March 18, 2006, to make way for a bank, the stand was moved again, 17 miles  to its present location in Bailey.  The building has been called "the best example of roadside architecture in the state".

After a traditional American feast we continued on our journey. We drove into the infamous town of South Park and stopped for Gas. Sinclair the dinosaur is always a hit with the kids.

The scenery was wonderful as we approached the hot springs in Princeton.

The hot springs consisted of two swimming pools, one very hot and one medium temperature. These pools were heated naturally by the springs. We started our visit with a swim in both pools. We then ventured down to the river, which consisted of both hot and cold areas. The hottest, were burning and too hot to place your feet in.

As you can see from the photos we all had a great time. The trick was to find a spot that wasn't too hot or too cold. When Yas and Max had enough of the water they happily played on the rocks.

We then continued our adventure and stopped to visit two very good friends of Susan - Rod and Anita. These lucky people live in a magical house which overlooks the continental divide. The following image was taken from their front balcony. I would love to wake up to this each morning! We are looking forward to visiting them in the winter.

Rod and Anita were very kind, and we all loved their house. When we first went inside Max asked, "how many nights are we staying here for - a week Mum?" Max loved looking at the antelope horns, various animal skulls and the many wild west items on display in their home.

 I really enjoyed their backyard - in particular the gate with the painted sign - Where the Wild Things Are! In the past Susan and Anita have been on many a hike and have discovered old Indian arrowheads.

However, the highlight of the day for Yasemin was the horses! We didn't see much of Yas during our visit as she preferred animal company, no surprises their. Not only were their three beautiful horses, but also two very large and friendly dogs.

We said goodbye, vowing to return and headed for home. It was a long drive and we didn't roll into Gaylord street until well after 8.30pm on Sunday night. We were all exhausted after a great day - thanks Garry for doing all the driving and also thanks to Susan for showing us more of beautiful Colorado. We especially loved getting away from the freeways, driving through the real countryside.

Happy Birthday Garry...

Garry's birthday was on April 8th, which coincided with Easter Sunday. We had much excitement, as Max had been counting down the days until the Easter Bunny came. We let Daddy enjoy his day with a sleep in. Yasemin woke Max and myself at 5.45am! We had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard, and enjoyed a second hunt with the three kids from across the road.

Lunden arrived with a lovely Easter Cake which also doubled as a Birthday Cake. Thank you great neighbour!

After a breakfast of bacon and eggs  we decided a visit to the Wild Animal Sanctuary. The current facility is situated on 720 acres of rolling grassland - with additional areas under development.

The Sanctuary was designed and built with a centralized compound located in the middle of the habitats. This portion of the facility is used as an initial receiving area for new rescues, and has specifically designed areas that allow animals to recuperate and adjust to their new surroundings. The rehabilitation process for rescued animals begins here with special playgrounds located within the compound area that help prepare animals for living in large acreage habitats.

The facility also has a unique system of elevated cat-walks and observation platforms which allow people to view  rescued animals enjoying their new life in large acreage habitats. According to the lady who explained the rules to us, the animals get very stressed if people are in their space on their level but surprisingly they are not stressed at all from people watching them from above.

This image is from the sanctuary web page

There are currently four African Servals at the Sanctuary which have been rescued. Aslyn was given to a couple as a wedding gift, Aslyn went from being a “pet” to a liability when the couple’s first baby was born and the Serval became jealous. Surrendered to The Wild Animal Sanctuary, Aslyn now resides in a large enclosure adjacent to two other Serviles. She has a cozy heated condo for winter, and lots of space to jump and lounge around on platforms of varying heights.

Kobu the Lion, was discovered being kept in a concrete pit in Mexico. He was originally bought as a pet, but when he became too big and expensive to care for his owner dumped him at a monastery where he was put into the concrete cell. His new caretakers also decided he was too expensive to feed – so they began feeding him live dogs taken off the streets of Mexico City. Working with Mexican Government officials, the sanctuary rescued Kobu and brought him back to TWAS. He now lives with a pride of lions that lives in one of the Sanctuary’s large acreage habitats. In the video below, watch Kobu's rescue.

These two Tigers came from an El Paso Texas truck stop where they were a roadside attraction. They were allowed to breed at random, and their cubs were sold to motorists who stopped to get gas. They exchanged their small concrete cages in Texas for spacious indoor-outdoor enclosures at TWAS, plus time to roam and swim in the “Tiger Pool.” Now 24, Honey is the oldest Tiger at TWAS.

Its hard to believe that their are 300 animals living in the sanctuary. That means 300 animals that have spent time in their lives living in unsatisfactory conditions, suffering. It was a great feeling to watch the animals from above, not causing them stress. It was a beautiful sunny day and most of the tigers and lions were snoozing in the sun. I could have stayed and watched them all day.

There were so many heartbreaking stories, but we were all feeling really happy with the knowledge that these beautiful animals were now safe and content.

At the end of April, the latest area will open which features the Bolivian Lions. The first two Lion Prides have been released into their new 20 acre habitats...and the remaining two prides will be released in their habitats within the next month. By the end of summer, the Lions should be all well adjusted to their new home. If you are interested in the rescue story and watching the Lions walk on grass for the very first time, you will enjoy the video below.

This is where the Lions used to live...

 On average, it costs $8,000 to feed, house and care for one Lion, approximately costing an additional $200,000 per year to care for all of these Lions. I hate to think what it costs to fund the entire facility. This sanctuary operates purely on donations - no government funding at all. It was amazing to be so close to so many animals and heartening to know that their are people who work tirelessly for animal rights.

Our next destination was the Vine Street Pub for a birthday lunch. This local is becoming a popular destination for our family celebrations. Yas was getting grumpy - probably due to her early waking hour and refused to be photographed. A great day was had by all - Happy Birthday Garry!!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Googie in Denver......

First, I hear you ask, what pray tell is a Googie?

A Googie is a Modern architectural style characterised by space-age graphics, widely angled lines and fanciful motifs.

A Googie is what I thought of back in Australia, when I envisaged an old fashioned diner or thought of the television program Happy Days.

The main drag into the city, only a few blocks from where we live is a lively street called Colfax Avenue. Everything and anything goes down on Colfax!  Colfax is also littered with these buildings and signs, with folded eaves, sleek diagonals, long steel supports, glowing neon and mixed in somehow a martini glass, or cartoon character - or both.

In the peak of big auto in America, many people drove for pleasure, stopping when an establishment caught their eye. Colfax Avenue is a street where Googie was used extensively as a marketing tool to draw in customers. 

The sign is not an error, but apparently has been like this for maore than thirty years.

Denver is a city which has a distinctive look, as their are still many neon signs that are remnants of Googie, unlike so many other American cities. I have found myself pulling over many a time - to get a closer look. The Googie is a fantastic theme for a photographic essay...........

Since 1957, an enormous cowboy has helped hungry folks find this diner.