Return to Calhan and the Paint Mines with Zeb the Duck

A nice sunny day and I, Zeb the Duck, returned to Calhan, Colorado.    I really enjoyed my prior visit to the Paint Mines, but that was over a year ago.   So I came back.

Paint Mines

Calhan and the Paint Mines are just off US 24, southeast of Denver and northeast of Colorado Springs.   This is prairie and agriculture land, so the paint mines are a surprise.

Prairie and agricultural use of land

You can the clouds coming in by mid afternoon.   Only walking is allowed:  no bikes, no motorized vehicles and no pets are permitted.   Walking up a moderate slope, we finally see our first mine.

Paint mine. White with gold

The clay here is mostly white, with some gold.   Scientists believe this area has been inhabitated for 9,000 years.   Scientists also believe these geological features were being formed about 55 million years.   Walking further, we loved this formation, or hoodoo.

Sculptures formed by nature

Amazing, and all carved by nature.   Wind, snow and rain have shaped the land.   This sign tells more.

An explanation

Often it is preferable for me to show you the sign, rather than have mom paraphrase the information.   In this area we are seeing more red.

Seeing red and some black here

Notice the reds and the black rocks.   It is believed that the native people of the United States used this clay to make pottery in colors, and also used the colored clay for face paint.   This is probably my favorite hoodoo.

Great hoodoo or formation

If I were a young human, this would be one of my favorite places to get away from everyone.   Can’t you imagine sitting up here, enjoying the silence and staring at the stark landscape?  Here is another good spot.

Shelter for small human or animal

This is a much smaller space, but I imagine humans taking shelter in here for thousands of years.   A place for protection from wind, snow, rain or just too much sun and heat.   Today this place is beautiful with pleasant weather, but that is not always true.  And more colors.

Path through colors of clay

This is beautiful.   You can see that some paths are really rocky and quite narrow.   Here is another path in white clay areas.

Narrow path

This narrow path was probably formed by rushing water, from either rain or snow.  I hope you visit the Paint Mines.   They are nice to see.   This is a great family place for hiking and enjoying fresh, clean air.    You get exercise, have fun, learn things and it is all free.   And the best part…it is not crowded.   We read a lot of tourist information and we never see these Paint Mines mentioned.   Don’t wait too long before you visit.   As a reminder, the prairie and grasslands of Colorado do have a lot of wind.

Wind turbines

These huge wind turbines are a constant reminder of how the weather can change here.   Visit Calhan and the Paint Mines on a nice day and you will enjoy your time here.   I, Zeb the Duck, came here last fall, with mom and her human friend.   We were not out exploring during the stay at home orders.   This is a great place to visit in spring and fall.   We hope you visit on a sunny, cool day.   Exploring, hiking and just looking in wonder at the colors is fun for us.   Perhaps you would enjoy it as much as we do.

New Mexico’s Gila Cliff Dwellings with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Sadly, this morning we left La Paloma Hot Springs and Spa resort.   Mom said enough soaking in delightful hot springs and time to see more of New Mexico.   Leaving the desert landscape.

Desert landscape near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Heading west, we noticed the land changing.   Hills became steeper, vegetation began to grow, and soon we were in the pine forests.

Changing to pine forest

Each type of landscape has its own beauty, and we like the changes.   Here we are at a National Monument.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Gila Cliff Dwellings.   In 1907 President Theodore Roosevellt established Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.   These caves were home to some of the ancient people.   Here is a little background.

About these cliff dwellings

The Mogollon people lived here in the 1200s and had moved on by 1300.  Archeological evidence suggets that many different groups of people inhabited this area over several thousand years.   We have driven as far as possible.   Now time to hike.

Let’s start hiking

That is ice hanging from the rocks.  The bridge crosses the Gila River.  We will cross the river several times.  The trail starts easy, following the Gila River.   We are going up, but not real steep.   Here is a marked photo opportunity on the trail.

All the way up there? Let’s go

Are we really hiking up there?  To that open area on the cliff?  Mom says yes.   Then let’s get going.   OK.   Here we are.

Interesting, but not open to visitors

This is the first room, and a small room.   We cannot go into this room.   So let’s go into this room.

Inside room in cliff dwelling

The cave is natural, but the ancient people built the walls and any other enhancements.

Looking out

What a beautiful view from their front door.   However, I doubt if they had much time to sit and enjoy the view.   Hunting for food was important.   It is believed these people also began growing food.   Lots of time and energy climbing from cave home to Gila River below.  Water is always a necessity.   River and snow were necessary for life.  We visited the end of February and we saw snow and ice on these cliffs.  There are more rooms to explore.

Let’s explore another room

Steps to another room, so here we go.   Wow.

Red pictograph

Here is a red pictograph.   There was a black one also.   Like the ancient people left us a message.  Standing inside these cliff dwellings, we feel like the ancient populations.  Living in these caves, roomy with high ceilings.  Those inside could see those searching for food, bringing water, and tending crops.   After exploring, we took the steps out the same way we entered.

Using ladder to exit

We could have taken the ladder down as these tourists did.  Continuing on the path, going down was pretty steep.

From outside, looking at entrance

Outside looking up we can see the entrances the ancient people probably used.

From outside looking at entrance

Carefully finishing the entire trail, only about one mile, we take one last look back.

We were up there

Yes, we were up there.   These caves, the Gila Cliff Dwellings are really interesting.   If you are north of Silver City, New Mexico, we hope you visit the cliff dwellings.   We liked them.

Chloride, New Mexico with Colorado Traveling Ducks

We are in Chloride, New Mexico.

Welcome to Chloride, New Mexico

With our arrival the population increased almost 25%.   Just adding me, Zeb the Duck, Soapy Smith Duck, and mom.   In 1881 Chloride had 3,000 people, 8 saloons, three mercantile stores, two butcher shops, a hotel, boarding houses, an assay office, livery stables, a candy store, a drug store, a law office, a Chinese laundry and a millinery store.   The Pioneer Stage Line came into town, a post office was established and a newspaper was started.   And some brothels.   This was an active and rowdy silver mining town.   But when the mining ended, most people left.   Now it is a living ghost town with a permanent population of 13 humans.   About 27 original buildings are still here.

Native rock building

This native rock house, built with a steep pitched roof, has been able to survive severe hail storms.   This building was used for 30 years as Cassie Hobbs “doodle dum” or workshop.   It is now on New Mexico’s Register of Historic Places.  I, Zeb the Duck, would be happy to live in that native rock house.   It’s really pretty from the outside.   Check out this large adobe building.

Adobe building

Originally  Judge Edwin Holmes’ law office, later the post office, a barber shop, a church and dance hall and feed storage.   But in 1914 it was a Harley-Davidson dealership.   Now it is a wood working shop.   Quite a history for one adobe building.   And another native stone building.

Native rock building

This was originally a chicken coop.  Then used as a residence and a temporary schoolhouse.  Some old-timers reported a working “still” in the basement during the 1930’s.  Before we left Truth or Consequences, we were given a great map of Chloride.   That is where we learned about the buildings and much of the history of Chloride.   Here is a tree in the road.

Hanging tree

The sign, with us sitting on top, says Chloride National Forest.   But our map calls it the “hanging tree.”  Really?   Well, maybe not.  There is no record of anyone actually being hanged there, but miners and cowboys who had over indulged in the local saloons were tied to the tree to sober up.   Actually we ducks think that is a rather clever idea.   This building, close to the hanging tree, was one of Chloride’s early saloons.

Saloon

Then became the post office until 1957 when the post office closed.   It is now private property and the building is being remodeled by its owners.  The name of the town, Chloride, was named for the type of silver ore that was found there.  Now the name makes sense to us.  The Monte Cristo Saloon and dance hall was also a popular place during the silver mining days.

Monte Cristo Saloon

Later the building was used as a schoolhouse and as local headquarters for various mining companies.   This building is also on New Mexico’s Register of Historic Buildings.   It is now a gift shop and gallery.  Chloride had a general store from 1880-1923.

Pioneer Store Museum

In 1923, the owners covered the windows and locked the door, closing the Pioneer Store.   In 1998, under new owners, the store was cleaned and reopened.   All the original merchandise from 1923 was still on the shelves.   We visited with the daughter of the people who purchased and reopened the store.   It is now an interesting museum.

Inside Pioneer Store Museum

She allowed us to take a photo inside.   This is a fascinating museum to wander through.   So many things that are nearly 100 years old.   Left just like they were in 1923.   If you are in Chloride, don’t miss this museum.   Chloride is 40 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway, so it is an easy day trip.  The residents of Chloride often visit Truth or Consequences to purchase groceries and other items.   Chloride feels like we were in a real silver mining town.   We think you would enjoy a few hours there.

Northern Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway, New Mexico with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Leaving Truth or Consequences for the day, we drove through desert and mountains.

Desert at Truth or Consequences

The city is surrounded by desert.   This is a picnic pull off about a mile out of town.   Continuing, we knew when we arrived at Truth or Consequences Airport.

Sign for airport

There was also a small sign, but we loved the retired Air Force jet as a marker.  We are driving the northern part of the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway.   We will see living ghost towns.   These are towns that came into existence when silver mining in the area was profitable.   When the mines shut down, most people moved.  However, each of these towns still exist and each town has a small number of permanent residents.   Shortly we arrived at Cuchillo, previously called Cuchillo Negro.  The town was named for an Apache chief.

San Ignacio Catholic Church in Cuchillo, New Mexico

We really liked this church.  San Ignacio Catholic Church was first built in 1867.  Catholic Mass is still held here every Sunday.  The name, Cuchillo Negro, means Black Knife.   The same name as a nearby creek.   According to US Census, sometime between 1900 and 1910 the name was shortened to Cuchillo.   We enjoyed seeing these deer.

Deer

They watched us as we lowered the car window and took photos, but they did not run.   We quickly left to allow them to enjoy their time grazing.  The next town is Winston.

Winston General Store

In the late 1800’s silver was mined here.   Winston grew as a town for families, a change from a more rowdy town a few miles away.   We will tell you about that town next time.   We went into the General Store.   They really have everything.   Groceries, tools, souvenirs, beautiful turquoise and silver jewelry.   And delicious chili dogs.

Delicious chili dog

Everything is in crock pots and you make what you want.   Enjoying a warm, sunny day, we decided to eat outside.   Food was delicious and the nice weather was just what we wanted.   Let’s drive around town a little.

Winston post office

A cute small post office.  The population is estimated at only 61 full time residents.   Frank A. Winston, was a prominent resident in the early days.   The town was originally named Fairview in 1881.   But when Frank Winston died in 1929, the town was renamed for him.   A lady at a Tourist Information office told me Frank went to Europe and saw some metal work he liked.   He bought the metal work, had it shipped to New Mexico, and built a Carriage House to fit the metal.

Carriage house

The Carriage House is still standing and it is very nice.  It is nice to see good workmanship still being used now.

New Mexico desert landscape

The New Mexico desert in this area is nice to see for a change, but we think it would be very difficult to live here all the time.  But we love to visit.   Next time we will show another living ghost town.

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico for Hot Springs with Colorado Traveling Ducks

February was cold and had more snowy days than usual in 2020.   We were tired of winter.   So mom and ducks got in the car and headed south from Denver.   As it turned out, this was our last trip before the Coronavirus arrived in the United States and travel became restricted.   We will talk about the name, Truth or Consequences, soon, but let’s get to warm water now.

Leader in spreading benefits of hot mineral springs

Magnificent Magnolia was one of the first to spread the word about benefits of soaking in hot mineral springs.

Hot Springs Historic District

We head to the Hot Springs Historic District.   Since we did not plan ahead, we did not make reservations at a hot springs resort.   Our first attempt had no vacancy, but we were directed to La Paloma Hot Springs Spa.

La Paloma Hot Springs Spa

We arrived and they had room for us.   We are in southern New Mexico in the desert, so it is much warmer than Denver.

Lounging in hammock at La Paloma Hot Springs

Time to relax in the hammock and enjoy the warmer weather.   But what about the hot water?  La Paloma Hot Springs and Spa is a quaint bathhouse, over 80 years old.  The town sits over a pool of 110 degree F mineral water which comes to the surface through wells, springs and pools.   If you look at the last photo, where the roof is longer and it looks like the building ends, you turn right and enter another building containing 5 private rooms with private hot springs.   Let’s look inside.

Tables for massage

The two cots are for massages.   Mom doesn’t really like massages, so that option was not taken.

Our private pool

Down 3-4 steps, and you are in about 3 feet of warm mineral water.   Mom used the pool that was 103 degrees F.   Across from the steps, there was an opening where the fresh water constantly entered the private pool, and under the steps was another opening where the water flowed back out traveling outside over rocks.  A constant supply of fresh water for soaking.   We ducks didn’t like being so hot, so while mom soaked, we stayed in our room.   Mom loves soaking in hot mineral springs.   But she cannot soak all day.   We visited Geronimo Springs Museum in Truth or Consequences.

Geronimo Springs Museum

This is a great museum.   If you visit here, a visit to this museum is very informative and enjoyable.   And the staff is wonderful.  Geronimo Springs Museum is famous for Mogollon Whiteware pottery.

Mogollon Whiteware in museum

Particularly Mimbres Boldface and Mimbres Classic Black on White Pottery.  Now, about the name of this town, Truth or Consequences.   There was a radio show and this sign in the museum explains what happened.   In 1950 Ralph Edwards was the host of a radio quiz show called Truth or Consequences.   He said he would air the program from the first town to change its name to the radio show name.   This town in New Mexico won.   Ralph Edwards visited this city the first weekend of May for the next fifty years.  The first weekend of May became a huge event called Fiesta.   There was a beauty contest, a parade and a stage show.  This celebration still happens the first weekend of May.   Predictably, the long running celebration, Fiesta, was cancelled for 2020.   The Coronavirus came to town instead.   Maybe next year?   The town was previously named Hot Springs.

Inside Geronimo Springs Museum

Fiesta days are still popular, and here are some of the attire worn in past festivals.

Inside museum

This would be a fun time to visit.  Let’s see a little more of the town.   While Walmart is not normally a topic for us, we visit there for packages of sliced apples to eat in the car.   But look at this Walmart.

Walmart with covered parking

The parking lot has rows of covers, or roofs, in the parking area.   A nice idea, since the southern New Mexico sun makes things really hot in the summer.  Even the city water tower is painted and decorated.

Decorated city water tower

We like it.  Here is the Hamilton Military Museum and Veterans Memorial Park.

Hamilton Military Museum and Veterans Memorial Park

The grounds are rather extensive and many statues and memorials are located around the park.

Veteran Memorial

But this one reminds us of all the veterans have done for us and how much they have sacrificed.   We, Colorado Traveling Ducks, and humans, are grateful for all our heroes have done and are still doing.   Thank you.   When you are in Southern New Mexico, stop at Truth or Consequences.   We think you will enjoy exploring this town.

Ice Festival in Cripple Creek, Colorado with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Cripple Creek is one of our favorite mountain towns.  In February we went to the 13th annual Cripple Creek Ice Festival.

Welcome to Cripple Creek

Sculpting ice starts with chain saws and ends with tiny tools for great details in the ice.   Previous years a committee had a theme and all carvers followed the theme.   This year it was Carver’s Choice.   First we saw these carvings of Giant Insects in Ice by Snice Carvings.

Giant insects of ice

We love these giant insects.

Giant insects of ice

And every show needs a lady bug.

Ice sculptures

This crab even has the markings on his back.

Giant insects

Remember, Cripple Creek has limited stakes gambling.

Poker table of ice

There were real cards under the ice on this poker table.  And we all love Mystical Creatures.

Ice sculptures

This display of mystical creatures in ice won the People’s Choice Award.  All are magnificent, but we do love unicorns.

Ice sculptures

Toy Story 4, because we are all kids at heart.

Ice sculptures Toy Story 4

Balancing on ice?

Ice sculptures

This sculptures is for touching, but sitting on an ice hat is rather chilly.

Ice hats are cold

Wow.

Ice sculptures

The gang is here.  Shivering makes small ducks hungry.

Kiki’s Cookies and Cakes

Kiki’s Cookies and Cakes are tempting.   Maybe grilled meat sandwiches?

Great food available

So many choices.  And all are delicious.

Bennett Street, Cripple Creek

If it were warm outside, mom would be in that ice cream parlor.  This ice slide is for young humans.

Ice slide

They sit on mats and slide down.   The kids are having a great time.  And of course one of our favorites, funnel cakes.

No need to be hungry

But elephant ears?  We are ready to try anything.  Another reminder.

Cripple Creek has limited stakes gambling

Cripple Creek does have limited stakes gambling.   But today we are just looking at ice sculptures and snacking.   Perhaps casino hopping next trip.  There were so many more ice sculptures that we did not show you.   All are beautiful, especially with Colorado sunshine on them.   We hope you visit Cripple Creek next February for the 2 week ice festival.   It is wonderful.

Snow Sculptures, Breckenridge, Colorado 2020

This winter there has been a lot of snowfall in the Colorado Mountains.   Everything is white and beautiful.   However, for the international snow sculpture competition, snow made at Breckenridge Ski Resort is used.   The snow is made with a specific ratio of snow to water, some of the best for sculpting.   This January was the 30th Anniversary of Snow Sculpture Champions.   Here we are in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Breckenridge festival 2020

This train is not part of the competition, but is snow glow art with light and sound, and sadly, operates only after dark.

Snow Glow Art, not in competition

We live less than 2 hours from here, and we will be home before dark.   Let’s look at some of this year’s snow sculptures.

Team Turkey. Puzzle Circle

Turkey sculpted this Puzzle Circle.   These creations are carved from a 20 ton block of snow that is 10 feet by 10 feet and 12 feet tall.   Team India won Artists Choice Award with Triumph Over Evil.

Team India. Triumph over Evil

This year 16 teams from the USA and around the world competed.  No power tools are allowed during the sculpting.   Many teams make and bring their own tools.   Just can’t find many snow sculpting tools in large stores.   Team Mongolia created Social.

Social by Team Mongolia

Notice the details in the hands, fingers and fingernails.   Amazing.   Team China completed Bride.

Bride by Team China

So intricate.   For environmental awareness, Teddy the Yeti is on display.

Teddy the Yeti

Zeb tries out this seating area.

Sit with Teddy

Nice, but a little chilly.    The small humans loved this bench.   Toyota sponsored this event.

Festival sponsored by Toyota

A very nice vehicle of snow.   Snow blocks were made the week before sculpting began.   Sculpting began Monday, January 20, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. and ended Friday, January 24 at 9:00 a.m.   That is when judging began.   Viewing continued through Wednesday, January 29 at 7:00 p.m.   The sculptures were taken down then.   This year was cold enough, but some years sculptures melt and fall early.   Breckenridge tries to prevent anyone from being injured by falling sculptures.  Unfortunately we are not showing all the team entries.   This post would just be too long, and it is rather long as it is.    All of the sculptures were award winning quality, but let’s look at those that did win.   Third place to USA Team Wisconsin.

Third place Winner. Duplicity of the Soul. Team USA Wisconsin

This is titled Duplicity of the Soul.   You must look from both sides.

Third place winner. Duplicity of the Soul. Team USA Wisconsin

Energy flows through and each person must choose how to live their life.   Second place to Team Great Britain.

Second place Winner. Nice to Meet You. Team Great Britain

Titled, Nice to Meet You, this should bring a smile to anyone that has ever owned a dog.   Or perhaps, full blown laughter.

Second Place Winner. Nice to Meet You. Team Great Britain

Again this is best viewed from two sides.   We will admit, we loved them all, but this from Great Britain is our favorite.   And first place to Team Mexico.

First place Winner. Greed. Team Mexico

Titled Greed.   We love these snow sculptures.   Remember that Breckenridge is also a great ski area.

Gondolas to transport skiers to top

The gondolas take skiers up the mountain.

Rocky Mountains of Breckenridge

And the mountains are beautiful, snowy and very tall.   Visit Breckenridge for snow sculptures, skiing or any of the other great festivals during the year.

Vuda Point, Fiji with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

Tour bus is taking us up the hill for great views.

Driving up hill for view

These bright flowers enhance the view of Nadi Bay.

Nadi Bay

Off shore we see the Yasawa Islands.

Yasawa Islands off shore

And where are we?

Yuda Look Out

Here at Yuda Look Out.   This sign expresses our feelings.

Fiji Island

Fiji truly is a South Pacific Paradise.   With this view, we were given an assortment of fresh fruit and refreshing natural beverages.   While they were all delicious, the favorite was fresh Fiji pineapple.   Remembering that sweet fruit, makes us long for more, and a return to the South Pacific Paradise.   This Buddhist shrine, is overlooking Nadi Bay.

Buddhist shrine

This was our last touring in Fiji.   We spend our last day on the beach at our resort.   Before packing, we realized that we made too many purchases.   We went with our moms to Jack’s shop and they each purchased another suitcase.   Others had purchased suitcases earlier on the trip, and a few others were in Jack’s with us, getting one more.   Our friend, Stephanie, was already packed and was getting a henna tattoo.

Stephanie is getting a Henna Tattoo

Just getting started.   We went to our rooms and managed to get everything in the suitcases.   And we didn’t plan on buying much at all.   But….   Finally, the packing is finished and so is Stephanie’s tattoo.

It is finished. Beautiful, Stephanie

It was unusual to leave Fiji Sunday evening, fly to Los Angeles, get another flight to Denver, meet our friend and get home Sunday afternoon, about 5 hours before we left Fiji.   The International Dateline makes travel interesting.   If this post shows mostly views of Nadi Bay, we want to emphasize that Fiji consists of islands, and the beach and water views are magnificent.  Also when we were writing this post back home in Colorado, looking out our windows, over 6 inches of fresh snow was on the ground and more falling.   We love Colorado and the snow, but humans being as they are, seems they miss what ever is not right there.   Sunny beaches really appeal when it is winter at home.   We had a great trip with http://www.SmarTours.com    This is their Around The World Trip.  All in three busy weeks.   We, the Colorado Traveling Ducks, hope you are enjoying where you are, but also remembering where you have been.

Fiji’s Garden of the Sleeping Giant with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Fiji is so lush and tropical that a garden has to be really spectacular.   And this one is.

Beautiful path

Let’s go down the path through these gardens.   Orchids are abundant.

Orchid

Aren’t they beautiful?   This garden was started by the American actor Raymond Burr in 1977.   Mr Burr passed in 1993 and the gardens are presently owned by another American.   They have continuously been improved and now there are over 2,000 different varieties of orchids here.

Path

This covered walkway has so many species.

Beautiful

We love all these tropical flowers.

Follow the path

Looking from the path to the surrounding area, this jungle vegetation is so green.   Moving along.

Lily pads

Here we spotted a pond with lily pads.   And more.

Fijian Ground Frogs

These are Fijian Ground Frogs.   Their scientific name is Platymantis vitianus.   Fijian Ground Frogs are found only in Fiji and they are endangered.  Continuing in this beautiful jungle setting, look at this.

On hammock

Soapy’s mom found the perfect place.

Our hammock

Now it time for we ducks to relax in the hammock.   There are two secluded places that feature hammocks.  What a great idea Mr. Burr.  And there is more.

We love swings

We love swings.   These are fun.  Are these real people?

Tree huggers

No, just models of human tree huggers.

BULA

Bula is the most common word we heard in Fiji.  It mean hello and so much more.   We love Bula.  We have returned through the orchids and we will relax in this garden spot or under the covered area and admire the view.

Lawn

A tropical drink arrives.

Refreshments

So refreshing and delicious.   We love the colorful flowers.

Beautiful

Walking across the lawn, we perch on the bench.

New friend

Immediately we get company.   This cat jumped up to get petted by mom and to lounge with us, the Colorado Traveling Ducks.  It is time to leave.

Peaceful

The beauty and fragrance of these tropical colors will remain forever in our memories.