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.
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 comes from a tree. The seedpods of the cacao tree.
Those are pretty big seedpods.
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.
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.
Chocolate was widely traded and was used as money by Aztecs. In 1606, this was the World of Chocolate.
Chocolate was introduced to Europe where sugar was added to the beverage.
Europeans also invented the chocolate stirrer, to more easily create froth on top of the beverage.
Having and serving chocolate soon became a status symbol for the wealthy, requiring special serving cups and utensils.
In 1847 the first chocolate bar was made.
The chocolate bar led to a new chocolate item–molded chocolate.
Later, in 1875, chocolate maker Daniel Peter teamed with Henri Nestle to produce milk chocolate. Soon chocolate symbolized romance.
Today chocolate is a global commodity, with much coming from Africa.
Near the exit, and entrance, to this exhibit we enjoyed the Chocolate Shop.
Enstrom’s Candies from Colorado is a sponsor of this exhibit. We loved this case.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wow. This is a “cool” train. Small humans are having fun on the 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.
An important part of old towns is the Saloon.
Let’s go in. This is a well stocked bar.
And, mining towns need a diligent prospector.
We really like him. Without cars, horses were the major form of transportation.
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.
Before cows, the buffalo did roam.
Just in case, the Firehouse was ready.
Now that scoundrel, Soapy Smith Duck, is sitting on a big boot.
Careful, that spur can do damage. Leaving the ice sculptures, we sat in the caboose.
This is nice. Hey, look at the wooden swing.
These are logs for log homes. Swings are so much fun. Here we have Sangria, from http://www.whatwelove.com
Michael Hasler is the owner and winemaker. Time to eat. Grammies Desserts have less to sell now.
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.
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.
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.
The sign at the entrance tells us this is not a traditional camp.
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.
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.
The police station was here.
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.
You can see still part of the cement foundation. The guard towers had all been removed,
but now a replica of a guard tower has been rebuilt.
The water tank was also removed,
and now a replica has been rebuilt.
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.
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.
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.
Before entering, we had to see this engine. Built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1909, it weighs 322,775 pounds.
This locomotive engine was retired from service October 1953. A huge statue, Madonna of the Trail, certainly got our attention.
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.
What a great location for picnics. There is even a stage for live 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.
Fire and Ice Festival in a town named Loveland.
Romance and fun is in the air. Smile and laughter from carousel riders add to the festival.
Let’s see some of the ice. An ice heart symbolizes 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.
More details, still with power tools.
This sculpture consists of many layers of ice.
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.
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.
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.
Metal and fire produce this great sculpture. We like this one also.
For additional fire to the festival, there was a fireworks display each evening. This bronze work, Lovers, is a great addition to Loveland.
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.
This was great festival and we enjoyed mild weather. We want to go next year, also.
We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, wish you all a very Happy President’s Day.
Mount Rushmore has heads of four presidents, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
This holiday was originally created in 1885 to recognize the birthday of President George Washington on February 22. In 1971 the holiday, under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, was changed to the third Monday in February and now honors all presidents.
Happy Valentine’s Day to each one of you. We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks love you and wish you a wonderful day!
Flat grasslands, open prairies, few people; eastern Colorado appears similar to the days of wagons driving here on the Santa Fe Trail. Driving on US 287 near the Kansas border in southeast Colorado, thinking of life as it was 150 years ago, we saw a sign for Sand Creek Massacre. With no clear destination in mind, we turned east on Hwy 96 near Eads, Colorado. The site of the Sand Creek Massacre looked no different than the rest of the landscape.
This chapter of history is not a good one for the US Calvary. In November 1864 our country was fighting the Civil War in the east. The central and west parts of our country engaged in the Indian Wars. Our US flag had 33 stars.
Colorado would not become a state for 12 more years. Some of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians had surrendered and were camped along the Sand Creek.
This group, mostly the elderly, women, and children, lived here in safety. Many young men did not surrender and were engaging in the Indian Wars with the US Calvary. On the morning of November 29, 1864 Col John Chivington arrived with the artillery and gave the order to attack. Assessing the situation, Captain Soule and Lieutenant Cramer, of the First Regiment refused to fire, remained standing down and in formation with their units. The Colorado 3rd Regiment, a group of 100-day US Volunteers lost all unit integrity. The fighting continued all day. The second day, the camps and bodies were ransacked and burned. This is a very sad day in US history. This massacre contributed to more raids and attacks on white settlers and was yet another reason for lack of trust in peace talks. From the Visitor’s Center, we gazed across the prairie to the massacre site. Driving or hiking, visitors arrive at this small monument.
Gazing down on the landscape, we visualize the terror and confusion of November 29, 1864. Humans may walk on a path or sit on a bench to honor the memory of those lost that day and quietly reflect on events.
Leaving, we are grateful for not only for signs leading us to this Historic Site, but also signs leading us back to Hwy 96.
Turn on Hwy 287 to Lamar and visit Big Timbers Museum. A photographer, Chuck, spent several years on the battlefield with a geiger counter recovering many metal artifacts. Here you can see and learn about the cannon balls that were shot, see the small timing devices used and see metal utensils and more. We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, hope you discover some of the historic remains of southeast Colorado.