Happy Leap Day from the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Today is February 29, 2016.   February 29???   February only has 28 days, right?   Not always.   Most years that can be evenly divided by 4 are Leap Years.   Also presidential election years in the United States.  How much time does the earth requires to orbit the sun?   It is exactly 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds.    So, to keep the seasons and months together, an extra day is added every 4 years.   Almost.   On century years, the ones that end with 00, there is a leap year only if the year can be evenly divided by 400.   This can get confusing.   But all that means that today, February 29 is a special day.   Some stores will even have special Leap Year sales.   And, if you were born on February 29, you only have  your real birthday once every 4 years.   So, Pizza Hut says that if that is you and you can prove your birthday is February 29, you will receive a free one topping personal pan pizza today.   Also, tradition says that ladies may propose marriage to a man today, on Leap Day.   So, whatever you do today, make it special.   This is a special day, and you will not see February 29 again for 4 more years.

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Chocolate at Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Chocolate !   Chocolate!   We are going to Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science to learn about chocolate.   I, Zeb the Duck am ready.   Let’s go mom.   We enter the exhibit, which is included with a general admission ticket or our museum membership card.

Chocolate Exhibit

Chocolate Exhibit

Chocolate comes from a tree.   The seedpods of the cacao tree.

Cacao seedpod

Cacao seedpod

Those are pretty big seedpods.

Cacao Seedpod

Cacao Seedpod

Chocolate comes from the 30-50 seeds in each pod.   One pods provides enough chocolate for about 7 milk chocolate bars.   Animals eat the pulp while the tough husk protects the seeds.   Animals help create new cacao trees.   They eat the sweeter pulp, while throwing the seeds on the ground.   Many seeds will create new trees.   The Mayans loved the chocolate and often grew cacao trees near their homes.   It was easy to go in their yards to get chocolate seeds.   The Mayans enjoyed chocolate as a frothy drink.

Frothy chocolate drink

Frothy chocolate drink

The cacao seeds were fermented, dried and roasted.   These seeds were then crushed into paste and mixed with water.    Other ingredients such as cornmeal, honey, and chili peppers were added.   The beverage was then poured back and forth between two cups to make the beverage frothy.    Enjoyed by rich and poor, chocolate was a particular favorite of Maya Kings and priests.

Cacao seeds

Cacao seeds

Chocolate was widely traded and was used as money by Aztecs.   In 1606, this was the World of Chocolate.

World of Chocolate 1606

World of Chocolate 1606

Chocolate was introduced to Europe where sugar was added to the beverage.

Sugar added to chocolate

Sugar added to chocolate

Europeans also invented the chocolate stirrer, to more easily create froth on top of the beverage.

Chocolate stirrers

Chocolate stirrers

Having and serving chocolate soon became a status symbol for the wealthy, requiring special serving cups and utensils.

New chocolate serving dishes

New chocolate serving dishes

In 1847 the first chocolate bar was made.

Chocolate bar

Chocolate bar

The chocolate bar led to a new chocolate item–molded chocolate.

Chocolate molds

Chocolate molds

Later, in 1875, chocolate maker Daniel Peter teamed with Henri Nestle to produce milk chocolate.   Soon chocolate symbolized romance.

Chocolate for romance

Chocolate for romance

Today chocolate is a global commodity, with much coming from Africa.

Chococlate is global commodity

Chococlate is global commodity

Near the exit, and entrance, to this exhibit we enjoyed the Chocolate Shop.

Chocolate Shop

Chocolate Shop

Enstrom’s Candies  from Colorado is a sponsor of this exhibit.   We loved this case.

I can only have one???

I can only have one???

Mom said I had to pick just one.   Don’t wait too long to visit Chocolate at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.   The exhibit is here only until May 8, 2016.

Denver Received Snow

February is still winter, but not very wintery in Denver this February.   We enjoyed temperatures in 40s, 50s, 60s, and even 70s the past couple weeks.   Tuesday morning we woke to a few inches of new fluffy snow.   Early morning featured snow covered trees and branches.

Snow coated tree

Snow coated tree

The sun appeared and snow disappeared.    The mountains, covered with new snow, from across Denver’s City Park are usually a regular Denver winter sight.

Denver's City Park

Denver’s City Park

And the Canadian Geese still believe they own the town.   The mountains received much more snow than we did in town.   Our snow was almost gone by sunset.

Cripple Creek, Colorado Ice Festival with Zeb, Soapy Smith, and JB Duck

An Old West town made of ice, with slides, firehouses and miners.   Cripple Creek, Colorado has that and more.   The Colorado Traveling Ducks traveled southwest of Denver, into the mountains, to the old mining town of Cripple Creek.   Yesterday was the last day of the Ice Festival.

Cripple Creek Ice Fsstival

Cripple Creek Ice Fsstival

Wow.   This is a “cool” train.   Small humans are having fun on the ice slide.

Ice slide

Ice slide

They sit on a piece of cardboard and slide down.   If necessary, bales of straw stop them at the end.   This could be a scene in the Old West.

A glimpse into the past

A glimpse into the past

An important part of old towns is the Saloon.

Here is the Saloon

Here is the Saloon

Let’s go in.   This is a well stocked bar.

This bar has everything

This bar has everything

And, mining towns need a diligent prospector.

Prospector

Prospector

We really like him.   Without cars, horses were the major form of transportation.

Riding the horse

Riding the horse

Guess we are going back to the Saloon.   Even in the Old West towns, the sheriff was needed.   There were always some characters wanted by the law.

Wanted??

Wanted??   Reward??

Before cows, the buffalo did roam.

Buffalo

Buffalo

Just in case, the Firehouse was ready.

Firehouse

Firehouse

Now that scoundrel, Soapy Smith Duck, is sitting on a big boot.

Soapy on the boot

Soapy on the boot

Careful, that spur can do damage.   Leaving the ice sculptures, we sat in the caboose.

Sitting in a caboose

Sitting in a caboose

This is nice.   Hey, look at the wooden swing.

We love swings

We love swings

These are logs for log homes.    Swings are so much fun.   Here we have Sangria, from http://www.whatwelove.com

Sangria

Sangria

Michael Hasler is the owner and winemaker.    Time to eat.   Grammies Desserts have less to sell now.

Grammies Desserts

Grammies Desserts

Moms are buying lots and it looks so good.   We also bought warm, homemade tamales here.   Yum!   Cripple Creek Ice Festival is great and we love it.   As the sun begins to get lower in the sky, we enter Century Casino.

Century Casino

Century Casino

Twenty-five years ago gambling was legalized in Cripple Creek.   The casinos are not allowed to build huge new casinos.   The historic buildings now are casinos.   This makes the town retain the Old West look and atmosphere.  Video poker is the game of choice today.

Let's play video poker

Let’s play video poker

The moms have a good time.   Some hands they win and some they lose.   We ducks are fascinated with video poker.   Soon the humans are finished, cash out the winnings, and head for the bar.   A bag of popcorn, a hot dog and diet Cokes are just what we wanted.   Great festival food.   Visit Cripple Creek soon.   This is a great town and they have great festivals.

Camp Amache in Granada, Colorado

The sign at the entrance tells us this is not a traditional camp.

Camp Amache

Camp Amache

Most of the original buildings are gone, but memories linger forever.   After December 7, 1941 and the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, fear, shock, anger and disbelief were some of the emotions running rampant in the United States.    In 1942 the US Government began placing people of Japanese ancestry in Relocation Centers.   One of these Relocation Centers, named Camp Amache, was located in southeast Colorado, on the edge of Granada, Colorado.   Camp Amache opened August 27, 1942 and reached its peak population of 7,318 in February 1943.   To control the internees, barbed wire surrounded the camp and 8 machine gun towers were placed within the camp.   The guns were never used.   Within this compound, Camp Amache was a city.   The internees were often allowed to walk to the town of Granada and some even had jobs in Granada.   Entering Camp Granada today, you first see this wooden sign.

Camp map

Camp map

The map was drawn from memory by one of the former high school students at Camp Amache.   Most of the buildings are gone, but signs show the former location of many buildings.   This was the location of the Coop.

Amache Coop

Amache Coop

The police station was here.

Amache police

Amache police

Internees were hired to work for the police, fire department and other services within the camp.   They were paid, but less than other employees.   The Military Police compound was here.

Military Police Compound. Notice foundation on right

Military Police Compound. Notice foundation on right

You can see still part of the cement foundation.   The guard towers had all been removed,

Guard Tower information

Guard Tower information

but now a replica of a guard tower has been rebuilt.

Replica of Guard Tower

Replica of Guard Tower

The water tank was also removed,

Water tank information

Water tank information

and now a replica has been rebuilt.

Replica of water tank

Replica of water tank

In May each year many former residents of Camp Amache return to Granada, tour the grounds and have a great lunch provided by the town.   This is a time for renewing friendships, reminiscing about the past and catching up on life since leaving Camp Amache.   This was a very difficult time in the United States and many mistakes were made.   At Camp Amache ten percent of the population volunteered to serve in the US military.   Tours are available at certain times.   When we were there, nothing was open and no tours were available.

Lamar, Colorado’s Visitor’s Center with Zeb, Soapy Smith and JB Duck

Sometimes we just get in the car, and mom starts driving.   There is always something interesting to see in Colorado, and everywhere.   We are entering Lamar, Colorado now.

Lamar, Colorado

Lamar, Colorado

We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, love Visitor’s Centers.   So much information is available and the people are so friendly and so knowledgeable.   Lamar, Colorado’s was great.

Visitor's Center, Lamar, Colorado

Visitor’s Center, Lamar, Colorado

Before entering, we had to see this engine.   Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1909, it weighs 322,775 pounds.

Locomotive engine

Locomotive engine

This locomotive engine was retired from service October 1953.   A huge statue, Madonna of the Trail, certainly got our attention.

Madonna of the Trail

Madonna of the Trail

It is honoring the women of the trail.   Remember, the Santa Fe Trail passed through Lamar.  On another side of the Visitor’s Center, we found the Enchanted Forest.

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest

What a great location for picnics.   There is even a stage for live entertainment.

Ready for entertainment

Ready for entertainment

This is a great place for visitors and local residents also.   Going in the Visitor’s Center we talked to the humans and found so many places to explore in the area.   However, even though it was an unusual 70 degrees, it is winter, so many locations had limited hours for visitors.  We did visit one location, but this is definitely a place to return when we have more time.   Tomorrow we will show you what we did see.   You might want to plan a trip to Lamar soon.

Loveland Fire and Ice Festival with Zeb in Loveland, Colorado

Fire and Ice Festival in a town named Loveland.

Loveland Fire and Ice Festival.

Loveland Fire and Ice Festival.

Romance and fun is in the air.   Smile and laughter from carousel riders add to the festival.

Such fun

Such fun

Let’s see some of the ice.   An ice heart symbolizes Loveland.

Ice Heart in Loveland

Ice Heart in Loveland

Loveland even collects Valentine cards from drop off locations in the Denver area, and adds their unique Valentine postmark.   Ice being in the name of this festival, let’s watch the carvers.   Ice flying into the group of spectators is certainly noticed.

Ice shavings fly

Ice shavings fly

More details, still with power tools.

More details created

More details created

This sculpture consists of many layers of ice.

Ice sculpture in levels

Ice sculpture in levels

Loveland Fire and Ice Festival was this past weekend, so Valentine’s Day was a theme.   A bench with Happy Valentine’s Day, even a heart and arrow.

Happy Valentine's Day Ice bench

Happy Valentine’s Day Ice bench

Humans won’t sit on ice very long, but we love it.   One of the many booths highlighted Larimer County Search and Rescue.   This working dog was so well trained.

Larimer County Search and Rescue Dog

Larimer County Search and Rescue Dog

Tolerant of humans and a great asset to the rescue team, he was an instant hit with the humans.   Search and Rescue teams are vital everywhere; this group receives many requests for mountain and wilderness rescues.   Let’s see the fire for the festival.

Fire

Fire

Metal and fire produce this great sculpture.   We like this one also.

Fire

Fire

For additional fire to the festival, there was a fireworks display each evening.   This bronze work, Lovers, is a great addition to Loveland.

Lovers in bronze

Lovers in bronze

The artist is Robin Starkey.   The Loveland Sculpture Group donated Lovers to the City of Loveland in 1998.    Several food booths and souvenirs were available for festival visitors.   We came home with Kettle Corn again.   Horse drawn carriage ride were also available.

Carriage ride

Carriage ride

This was  great festival and we enjoyed mild weather.   We want to go next year, also.