Colorado is an awesome state. Besides the Rocky Mountain National Park, which you read about recently, we found some things to do and see that may not be on your radar. Believe me, these are spectacular things, even if a few are a bit off the beaten track. Here are some amazing things we did that you absolutely must put on your list of things to do in Colorado:
Boulder: the Celestial Seasonings tea factory. GO HERE!!
The tea factory gives FREE tours and tea tasting on a walk-in basis. It was AMAZING!!! We learned all about how they source their herbs and other ingredients to make their tea and were able to see how they make thousands of tea bags a day, using all kinds of awesome smelling leaves.
Interestingly, they have a separate closed-up room for mint because it is so strong smelling and they don’t want it to contaminate all the other ingredients. It was very cool to see gigantic bags from different countries containing things like lemon grass and peppermint stacked up on the shelves.
and Leanin’ Tree sculpture garden is just a couple minutes drive from Celestial Seasonings and has a very interesting and beautiful sculpture garden.
Denver: We found out two interesting geographical things about Denver. First, if you stand on the 13th step of the capital building, you are exactly 1 mile above sea level.
Second, the Denver train station, Union Station, is built exactly on the 105th parallel (meridian), which was totally a coincidence. Jay said Union Station felt like a European train station
Silverthorne: the Columbia Outlet.
If you know Jay, you know that this store had to be part of the itinerary. He was very excited, as it was really the first time in 4 ½ weeks that he had been shopping. Plus, as readers of my previous blog found out, I discovered my rain jacket was not so waterproof, and so was able to purchase a brand new waterproof, breathable jacket. I can't wait to test it out. And the pants Jay purchased are the ones both he and I are wearing in the photo below. They sure came in handy.
As a side note, the woman who helped us turned out to have gone to the same high school as Jeremy's mom.
Fairplay (South Park): A HIGHLIGHT OF COLORADO…the South Park City museum. Let’s say you want to get the feeling of the “wild west” and the gold and silver mining towns of the old west. Lots of towns have restored and preserved Main Streets, we found out. And life is going on within those buildings now, so while the buildings are old, it’s hard to get a feeling of the olden days.
Luckily, there’s South Park City. GO THERE!!!!
The museum, which is 30 buildings set up on both sides of a street are the authentic, real buildings from the area, some even from Fairplay.
And the detail they used to re-create the time period is amazing. The photo below is of the dentist's office. South Park City is one of the most spectacular things we saw in Colorado.
As a side note, we had lunch in a saloon, the kind where when you walk in the door, all the locals sitting at the bar at 2:00 in the afternoon turn and stare at you and stop talking. But they were friendly enough, and when the boys decided to play pool, they were challenged by one of the locals.
Also, it POURED! and we got a little wet. Notice the building up of storm clouds in all the photos.
It was a pretty cool environment, and I loved Fairplay. And so did everyone else:
Leadville: we didn’t get a chance to get there but I did discover that they have a frontier temple and Jewish cemetery from 1880’s. Next time we’ll go check it out.
Cañon City: Jay and I discovered The Cell House, where they sell products made by the inmates of the local state penitentiary,
and the boys went whitewater rafting. They will write about that later.
Cripple Creek: The Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine: The second most SPECTACULAR thing we saw in Colorado.
First, they give you hard hats to wear:
and then offer you old, worn out, ripped up miner jackets to keep warm in the mine.
Then, they put you in this cage elevator. That is what you see in the photo above with the whole gang in front of the sign.
The elevator was big enough for probably 4 people to stand in comfortably. They had us load up like the miners did, and squeezed SEVEN adults into that tiny space. We were the first car to load and then they raised our car so they could load a second car underneath. Like a Ferris wheel. And while we were raised up squished in that car, hanging over the mine shaft, it started to POUR!!! And the elevator car was like a steel grid, and the wind and the rain poured through onto us. (Are you catching a theme about Colorado weather???)
Luckily that lasted only for a few minutes, and then we were lowered 1,000 feet down into the mine. In about 2 ½ minutes. That’s like the height of the Empire State building. Down a mine. Before we paid to go down, I asked if there had been any earthquakes there lately. There hadn’t been.
This place was INCREDIBLE. The guide, who was an older guy, was an experienced miner, and knew all about mining gold, including its history and the culture of the miners.
We went all through the mine, and he demonstrated how lots of the machines and tools worked to blast out the rock from which they extracted the gold.
We also got to ride in one of those train cars that run on the railroad tracks inside the mine. I imagine that this may have been how Disney got ideas for the rides in the parks. Danny said he felt like he was in an Indiana Jones movie. It was WAY better than an amusement park!
Oh, and it’s named Mollie Kathleen because she is the one who discovered gold in this place and was the first woman to have a mine claim back in the day. Anyway, I don’t think a lot of people know about this place. BUT THEY SHOULD. GO there! It is fantastic!
And here is something else we stumbled upon…
Colorado has been a spectacular state, and I think we all agreed that we can't wait to return to see and do more. And now it's on to Texas!!!