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Posts Tagged ‘Denver Zoo’

We packed up and moved to the west side of Denver on Thursday. The Prospect, in Wheat Ridge is nothing really fancy but it is next to a horse pasture, has cottontails running through it, and is quiet. A good base from which to reach the Denver festivities around Stephanie and Eric’s wedding.

On Friday, we lolled about, trying to upload to the blogs with inadequate Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity. Didn’t expect that in this urban environment. We went to visit Rupert Jenkins in the afternoon. He runs the Colorado Photographic Art Center (CPAC), a non-profit community-based organization promoting photography. The current exhibition is “Mixed Bag: Marijuana in the Highlands”. The subject of marijuana legalization and it’s various impacts on Colorado is an interesting one and the images picture the practical, social and political aspects of growing and using pot.

We then hung out for a couple of hours doing online stuff and reading. The location for Stephanie and Eric’s rehearsal dinner was the Breckenridge Brewery and we found it about a block away from Coor’s Field, home of the Colorado Rockies. The wedding party began to show up after having a chilly rehearsal at the Denver Zoo. The weather changes here about 5 times an hour so there was no telling how the weather would be for a wedding at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The wedding reception, also at the Zoo, could be partially inside or all the way inside. A logistical issue for 150 wedding guests.

The brewery laid out a nice spread of goodies and there was lots of room for all the little ones to run around. Emily and Neil’s daughter, Camille, can really run fast and various people chased her around all evening. We met Eric for the first time and I encouraged him to come to California for Christmas Eve and run the gauntlet of meeting 25 or 30 Gardners.

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We woke up Saturday morning to a clear blue sky, so we went for a walk. Our campground is adjacent to greenbelt that runs for miles along a fast-moving creek. The remainder of the day, we lounged around, watching the clouds come over. Around 4:45 we took off for the Denver Zoo for the wedding of Stephanie (our niece) and Eric. At the entrance, a woman at a table recognized our “wedding clothes” (such as they are), gave us two tickets and told us to go to the carousel for the event.

We perused a map and purposefully started walking until we saw the pussycats…er, lions taking their afternoon siestas.

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We kept walking and found some sleepy-looking bighorn sheep.

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We got to the carousel and asked some other people dressed for a wedding, where the wedding was. “We were told it was back this way.” They were headed back the way we came, so instead we headed for the birds. The flamingoes looked like they could be in the Seminoles in Florida…except for the Canadian Goose in the middle. (Of course, there are probably Canadian Geese in the Seminoles because they are everywhere.)

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Where was the wedding? Guests were walking in different directions everywhere we went. Finally, after taking a look at a Sandhill Crane and listening to its raucous cries, we finally realized the wedding was in a recessed glade next to the carousel. We took our seats and watched the skies darken as the clouds headed in our direction. But all went well and Stephanie and Eric were wed.

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The guests headed into the reception and noshed away at really good meatballs and other other delicacies while the wedding party froze their patooties off outside, obtaining the obligatory wedding pix. Finally, Eric and Stephanie made it in to the reception. It was a fun party; everybody was having a good time.

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The dancing began after the buffet and toasts. And then Camille, Stephanie’s niece, hit the floor and never stopped dancing, still going when we left around 9:30. What intensity! This child, almost 2 years old, was absolutely transfixed by the music. Her parents, Emily and Neil, tried to keep an eye on her as she moved around the dance floor. Eventually, her doll joined her in the dancing, although she did deign to shimmy with other people also. Amazing. It made me tired just watching her.

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Sunday was takeoff day for us. We were going in search of the Pawnee Buttes in the middle of Pawnee National Grasslands, an area about 60×90 miles. We checked out the Crow Recreation Campground and found it had been closed by floods in 2012 or 13. So we moved on to dirt roads, County Roads 110, 112, 113, 116; some ran north-south, some ran east-west. The Colorado Atlas showed different roads from the Ultimate Campground app on our iPhones.

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We headed vaguely in the correct direction and finally found the Pawnee Buttes and a dispersed campground. We were set! Only the cloudy sky was a little dull. But we ate an early dinner and set off on a 4-to-6-mile hike to the two Buttes at 5:30. We were hoping to catch that last glimmer of light right before sunset at 8:05 p.m.

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We experienced a little bit of sun as we left on our walk, but soon enough, it clouded up. At least we didn’t see lightning or hear thunder, as the prairie doesn’t have much cover in a thunderstorm.

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It was a nice walk but certainly nothing spectacular. We took a few images, met a nice couple who were familiar with the area, and got back to the Rav around 8 p.m. Dave went out to the overlook; I headed back to the car and read the placard talking about how the BLM works closely with the energy mavens in Colorado to spike a nice balance been raping the land and letting the peons wander about on it. In the distance, 4 or 5 flares of small oil rigs were burning in the dim light.

We went home and ate some gorp (for you young people: raisins, peanuts and M&M’s) and drank a sip of Glenlivet 15-year-old single malt Scotch. Oh yeah! It began to sprinkle during the evening and continued on and off as we dozed through the night. Morning didn’t bring much improvement. It looked like it was going to be a very gray day. We decided to head towards South Dakota and see how far we got. We drove separately to reduce the amount of bumping and yanking on the poor Rav on the gravel roads. That enabled us to stop more often to photograph the beautiful grasslands in the soft light.

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We hooked back up about 15 miles away when we hit pavement again. We started driving north and as we went 250 miles, we consulted with the weather app (rain, a 28-degree evening on Wednesday and possible snow in the Black Hills of South Dakota), the Ultimate Campground app (various cheap places to stay in the hills around Hot Springs, SD), the Good Sam Campground Guide (a KOA near Hot Springs). This is all in the middle of nowhere with only one or two bars on the iPhones. It sure makes life easier. We finally decided to stay at a KOA. It was a quite a bit outside Custer State Park, where we originally wanted to camp, but if the weather got really cold we had non-stop electrical heating.

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