Colorado Alligator Farm with Zeb the Duck

Alligators in Colorado??   Of course.   Why wouldn’t a high altitude desert have alligators that live in tropical waters?   OK   This is why we have an alligator farm.

Alligator Farm in Colorado

Isn’t it funny how things happen?   Start raising fish, have fish parts for disposal, bring in alligators to remedy the problem.   Soon you have a tourist destination for Colorado alligators.   Then other humans had exotic pets like snakes and other reptiles.  Soon humans realize they cannot care for these animals as they grow to adulthood.   What to do now?   Take them to the alligator farm.

Large African Sulcata Turtle

Here is an African turtle.   He was abandoned here years ago.   Now there are several African turtles here.  Mom said turtles do not eat little rubber ducks.   Are you sure?   He is coming pretty fast.   But let’s slow down here.   First we park, enter building, pay our fee, and meet the first African turtles.   Before entering the first room, we pet this alligator, he feels like hard rubber.   Now Tom holds the alligator and I, Zeb the Duck, sit on the alligator.

Tom holding alligator. I’m riding on the alligator

This is fun.   Everybody that enters pets the alligator and gets their photo taken with their camera.   You can purchase the photo or use your own camera and take your own photos.   In the first room, we immediately notice the heat and humidity.   This room has many exotic, tropical animals.

Parrot

This parrot was very loud, but friendly.   We saw many snakes in cages.   All had been relinquished by their human owners, or rescued after being abandoned.   The alligator farm is becoming a sanctuary.   Remember all this started because some humans wanted to raise fish for human consumption.   Here is a green iguana.

Green iguana

Iguanas live in Central and South America and the male can grow to 6 or 7 feet (1.8-2.1 meters) in length.   Too big for a household pet.   Walking outside there are many alligator areas.   Fences are in place to separate the humans and alligators.   I, Zeb the Duck, am staying on the human side.

Alligators enjoying the sun

These alligators have water available, but seem to be soaking up the autumn sun.

Alligator has an overbite. Big, sharp teeth

These alligators seems to have an overbite.   I can see many sharp teeth.   I’m staying close to mom.   Here is Elmo the Emu.

Elmo the Emu

Elmo is mean.   He tried to kill his siblings and had to be moved to a separate area.   There is another area with more emu.   Elmo even put his head over his fence to snap at my humans.   Wow.   More distant cousins.

White ducks

Aren’t these white ducks beautiful and so graceful in the water.   I like this canal or river.

Swimming along the water

This alligator is leisurely swimming today.   Here are the rare stars of the alligator world.

White alligators

White alligators are rather rare.   They have only been found in the southeastern US state of Louisiana.   There were three layers of fences here.   The camera lens went through the first fence, but these additional fences made it difficult to take photos.  Baby alligators are about 8 inches (20.3 cm) long at birth.   Less than 1% of baby alligators survive to become adults.   Humans have not found any adult white alligators in the wild.   Born in the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, the white color makes them more visible to prey.   The theory is that they are quickly eaten by predators.   The sign says there are only about 100 white alligators in captivity.  And we are looking at three of them.   Years ago we visited the Alligator Farm and there were less fences. This is a photo of the white, albino alligator from 2013.

Albino alligator

This last alligator, Freeway, is probably mom’s favorite.

Freeway, an alligator TV star

This lady alligator was found wandering along the freeway.   She was taken to people that provide animals for movies and commercials.   Freeway starred in the Lubriderm commercials.    She was also in TV shows, including Dexter.   Mom enjoyed the Dexter series.   Now this is an alligator fact that surprises us.

Really??? Frozen alligators thaw and then swim??

Alligators can be in frozen water, thaw out and then swim to warmer water.   That is almost unbelievable and just amazing.   And fortunate for alligators and for us.   Wherever you go, you always learn something new.  Learn more at http://www.coloradogators.com   The alligator farm is 17 miles north of Alamosa, Colorado.    Visit our alligator farm.   It is fascinating.

A UFO Watchtower in Hooper, Colorado with Zeb the Duck

I, Zeb the Duck, am taking some humans south from Denver into the San Luis Valley.  We will explore this area for a few days.   The San Luis Valley was settled by Ute Indians, Spanish explorers and people from Mexico.   The oldest city in Colorado is here.   The San Luis Valley is a high desert, with the San Juan Mountains to the west and the Sangre Cristo Mountains to the east.   To enter the valley, we needed to cross a mountain pass.   Hooper, Colorado is our first stop.   We are visiting the UFO Watchtower.   Let’s go in.

Let’s visit the UFO Watchtower

Driving onto the property, we are not sure where to go.

Helpful alien

But directional help is here.   We have arrived at the UFO Watchtower.

Garden, tower and gift shop

You can see the garden, the gift shop and the UFO Watchtower.   Here is the garden.

The Garden

The sign explains about the two vortex that are to be here.   A vortex being the way to a parallel universe.   I am making new friends today.

A new friend

There are many things left in the garden, we take a long time to look at everything.   Well, look at this.

An older relative

An older relative of mine.   He now lives here in Hooper, Colorado.   He seems happy.  But I see more potential new friends.

More new friends

These two are very nice to me.   Well, let’s head to the tower stairs.

Friends everywhere

Here is Sasquatch.   I met him on the Alaska Highway this spring.   We are already friends.   He assures me that I will enjoy the tower.

Abductions??

Wait.   Abductions?   Really?  But the humans continue up the stairs.   On the tower, we enjoy the view.

View from UFO Watchtower

We do not see UFOs, but we do have a nice view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.   We stay here awhile, just enjoying the view of the valley.  Going back down, we talk with Judy Messoline, the lady that started and owns the UFO Watchtower.   She is great and has fascinating stories.   The gift shop has many newspaper articles about UFO sightings and about Judy and about the UFO Watchtower.   Time for us to leave.

Farewell to our green friends

This nice alien watches us go.   I think he looked right at me.   Whether you believe in aliens and UFO or not, this is an interesting place to visit.   We hope you stop to see things here.   Maybe Memorial Day weekend, the end of May 2020, for her 20th anniversary celebration.

Bishop’s Castle in Rye, Colorado is Beyond Description

I took mom and a friend to Rye, Colorado.   I wanted to see Bishop’s Castle.   This is a work in progress and exploring it was really fun.   Here we are.

Bishop’s Castle in Rye, Colorado

Visiting the castle is free, but of course, there are containers for donations.   As you see, even picnic tables for picnics or just resting.   Notice those tall windows and the walkway around castle.   We will be there.   There are many options for entering the castle.   This is one, but not the one we used.

Outside stairs

We walked around the castle first, entrances on each side and also in back.   We entered from a side and found spiral stairs.   First level was concrete stairs, then iron stairs.   We were inside one of the towers and it was rather dark.   Two flights up, we emerged in a large room.

Inside.

The ladder reminds us that this truly is a work in progress.  From another view we saw Mr. Bishop mixing a small batch of cement, put it in a wheel barrow and head to another area.  These openings led to an outside walkway.   Let’s go mom.   Oh my, this is exciting.

Outside walkway around castle

We are walking around the castle.   Oh, what is that?

Fire breathing dragon

I believe it is a dragon.   We heard that someone donated all this metal to Mr. Bishop and he built this dragon.   We also heard that he placed some type of burning device inside, near the dragon throat.   If he wants, sometimes on busy weekends, he makes the dragon breathe fire.   From the ground we saw a metal bridge, maybe connecting two towers.   We want to find that bridge, so we start climbing again.

Inside stairs

Soon we are climbing inside a tower, limited visibility, but what happened?   We climbed many steps, but never reached the bridge.   Well, look at that.

We wanted to be on that bridge. Wrong tower mom?

We are high above the bridge.   High being an important word here.  Mom had her finger over part of the camera, but you can see we are high.   That long building down there is the temporary gift shop.

Looking to gift shop. Long building is temporary gift shop

In March 2018, a fire destroyed the gift shop and a guest house.  Later we will visit the temporary gift ship.  But we want to get to the bridge now.   So we climb down all the stairs until we arrive in the big room, or the ballroom.

Windows in huge room. I’m on floor in front of windows. Yep. A tall room

This room is really huge.   I, Zeb the Duck, am on the floor in front of those windows.   You can hardly see me.   This is one of the few rooms in the castle.   OK, we climbed more stairs inside another tower.   Now we are on the bridge.   But, this is a bridge to nowhere.   You can see that the end of the bridge just ends.

On the bridge to nowhere

Not connected to anything.   And not to sound like a worrying duck, but this bridge moves a lot when we walk on it.   Just glad it is not windy, also.   OK mom, I have seen enough from this bridge.   I think I would like to get my little duck feet back on the real ground.  Back on the ground seems so nice.   I like climbing and exploring, but the moving bridge did make my little duck heart beat a little faster.   Mom and her friend, with me, of course, went into the gift shop.   We did not see anything we wanted, but we did put money the donation jar to help rebuild the gift shop.   Then we went outside near the castle and put money in that donation jar to help with castle building expenses.   This is a great place and we want Mr. Jim Bishop to keep building.   This is another bridge, wooden this time, that goes into the bridge by the road entrance to the castle.

Walkway to enter bridge between castle and road

We went over the bridge and into the building.   The stairs to ground level are cement and it is very dark there.   You have the choice of stairs or walking around as we did when we entered.   Near the road we saw this.

A model of the castle?

This seems to be a model of the castle.   It is on wheels, so perhaps it goes, or has gone to fairs or other locations.   We don’t really know.  Mr. Jim Bishop has been working on this castle for about 50 years.   Each year he single-handedly gathered and set over 1,000 tons of rock to create his stone and iron fortress.   He says it is a “monument to hardworking people” and “America’s biggest one man physical project.”  When asked why, he answers “I’ve always wanted a castle.  Every man wants a castle.”  He says “I did all myself, and I don’t want any help.”   2018 was a rough year for Mr. Jim Bishop.   In March 2018 a fire destroyed the gift shop and in August 2018, his wife passed away.   And he still keeps building.   Looking back at the castle, built by one man, we admire this structure.

What one man can accomplish

This is a day we will long remember.   We think you would enjoy seeing Bishop’s Castle in Rye, Colorado.   A little southwest of Pueblo, Colorado.

Elk in Estes Park, Colorado 2019, with Colorado Traveling Ducks

It would not be fall for us without a day trip to Estes Park, Colorado.

Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park is the eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.   There are a lot of elk in the park, and all over this area of Colorado.   In the fall, mating season brings the elk out of the mountains, and many spend time in the parks and golf courses of Estes Park.   We love to see them.   As we enter Estes Park we stop for a photo by the city sign.   The mountain views from this lookout are beautiful.

Mountain view from lookout

We continue into town, park, and walk along the river to the shops.

Creek

Having spent a lot of time in this small park, we can say it is a great place.   Of course, we love the water wheel.

Water wheel

And the shops beside it.   Last year we purchased singing bowls from the Himalayan store.   That is the last store by the water wheel.  They still sing and we still smile when we listen.   Walking along Elkhorn Boulevard, we purchased a couple pair of very soft slippers.   Then our normal stops at Laura’s Fudge Shop.   The sign says they have been spoiling dinner since 1970.   Moms have been coming here since the early 1970’s.   So, it really is delicious.   Fudge, toffee, candy, caramel apples, popcorn, ice cream and more.   Yum.   Then to The Taffy Shop.   Moms have been coming here just as long.    But, let’s find the real stars of today’s trip.   Often we see many elk on the lawn of The Stanley Hotel.

Elk herd at the Stanley

The Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s book, The Shining.   Driving a couple miles toward the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, we see more young animals.

We are on the wrong side of these guys

They seem to be looking the wrong direction.   In town, often a herd is in the park near Lake Estes.

Elk in the park

Aren’t they magnificent?   Today we found this bull elk on the golf course.

Bull elk on golf course

And a few more elk lounging on the golf course.

Elk lounging on golf course

These elk are wild and very large, but they are rather accustomed to humans.   However, we do not get too close.   They are wild animals, it is mating season, and they can be startled.   So humans and ducks watch and admire the elk, but do give them a lot of space.   Today we are going home through Big Thompson Canyon.   This is a beautiful canyon with many private cabins, many rental cabins, bed and breakfast, lodge, shops and year round residents.   Parts of the canyon are rather wide to accommodate small settlements, and parts are rather narrow with steep mountain sides.   Often mountain goats are on the side of the mountains.   But today we stop for cherry treats.

Colorado Cherry Company

Colorado Cherry Company is a favorite.   We ducks relax on the chairs and pose for a photo.

Great store.  The Cherry Tree

Inside mom tries a couple bites of pie.   She settles on a cherry rhubarb slice of pie.  It is delicious.   Her favorite jam is dark cherry jam, so that comes home, too.

Pie for dinner dessert tonight?

I bet we have this slice of pie for dinner dessert tonight.   I hope so.   We went for the elk, but did come home with extra things also.   We, Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck, love these day trips.   We hope you enjoy day trips in your area.

Zeb the Duck Travels the Cache la Poudre Scenic Byway

Autumn in Colorado is beautiful.   Today let’s drive one of Colorado’s scenic byways.   From Denver we drive north to Fort Collins then the scenic byway through Poudre Canyon and into Waldon, Colorado.   The Cache la Poudre River flows through Poudre Canyon.

Poudre la Cache River

This is a beautiful canyon.   We drove through this tunnel.

Tunnel through mountain

Tunnels are fun to drive through in our mountains.   We love the Cache la Poudre River.

Cache la Poudre River

Mom, I am almost cut out of this photo.   Watching and listening to water is very soothing for ducks and humans.

Cache la Poudre River

The only purpose for this blog post today is to show you how beautiful Colorado is this fall.   Our drive started at a rather low elevation in Fort Collins, just under 5,000 feet (1,524 m).   So leaves had not yet started to change colors.   But we go into the mountains and over Cameron Pass at 10,276 feet (3,132 m).   The leaves change colors at higher elevations first.

Gold aspen in Poudre Canyon

We love our golden aspen.   And we love the colors along the Cache la Poudre River.

Fall colors by river

And yet another photo of colors on the mountains.

Autumn in Colorado

Finally I, Zeb the Duck, am back in the photo.

Zeb with aspen leaves and mountain

These beautiful leaves are duck yellow.   The green and red add variety and I love the mountain shape here also.   I told mom we had enough photos of aspen turning gold, but around every curve in the road, we had to stop to take another photo.

Autumn in Poudre Canyon

So much beauty here.   Coming out of the mountains, we enter North Park.

North Park

A valley between two mountain ranges.   Remember last time I told you we have North Park, Middle Park, and the famous South Park.   Here is the town of Walden, Colorado.

Walden, Colorado. Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado

Walden is the Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado.    Northern Colorado is not overly populated and the roads are not crowded.   We thought we may see moose, but this is the only moose sighting today.

Our only moose sighting today

As we left town, about an hour later we saw antelope and later a deer.   Moose must come out closer to sunset.   Maybe next time we will see moose.   But it was a beautiful drive.   We hope you are enjoying fall colors in your area.

Zeb the Duck Finds Gold on the Mountains

It is autumn in Colorado.   Let’s go looking for gold on the Rocky Mountains.

Kenosha Pass

I found some.   The aspen trees that cover our mountains on Kenosha Pass.

Kenosha Pass

While I cannot spend this gold, the beauty makes me smile and appreciate Colorado.   Just over the Continental Divide, we stop, turn around, and capture one more photo.

Crossing the Continental Divide and looking back

We love our golden aspen trees.   Over the pass is South Park.

South Park

Yes, this is really called South Park.   And for you fans of The Simpsons TV show, the writers were referring to this area.   In Colorado, between two mountain ranges running north and south, we have North Park, Middle Park and South Park.    The aspens here, at lower elevation, are also turning.

Colors of South Park

Isn’t this a beautiful time of year?   Continuing through South Park, we arrive in the town of Fairplay.

Street in Fairplay, Colorado

This town is almost two miles high.   Denver is one mile high.   This historic courthouse was placed on the Historic Register in 1974.  At that time, this was Colorado’s oldest working courthouse.

Historic courthouse in Fairplay, Colorado.  Zeb the Duck on the gazebo railing.

A new, larger courthouse is now used in Fairplay.   This gazebo is a great place for a picnic or a snack.   This is Colorado, so we need a moose.

It’s Fairplay. Here is a moose

I didn’t find the walking, breathing moose here, but this statue is nice.

View from back of a Fairplay, CO bank

Beautiful autumn leaves viewed from behind a Fairplay bank.    Returning home, we took the same road.   At Kenosha Pass we admired this lake.

Tranquil lake at Kenosha Pass

And the two moose that were having a drink.   Unfortunately a tourist ran toward the moose from a trail, to get a better photo, but the moose apparently felt threatened and ran.

Frightened moose

This is a not too good photo of a retreating moose.   We are following the North Fork of the South Platte River.

North Fork the South Platte River

We love rivers and the sound of moving water.   In Bailey, Colorado, we visited the Coney Island Boardwalk.

Coney Island Boardwalk hot dog stand in Bailey, Colorado

This hot dog appears to be adobe, serves hot dogs, and has the perfect location.   There is a seating area near the “hot dog”, and we loved the mountain scenery behind this seating area.

Behind Coney Island Boadwalk seating

We like this area, but did not eat there today.   It was a sunny, warm day so we sat at a picnic table next to the river.

Beautiful place to eat

This hot dog has beer mustard.   Not really sure what that is, but the mustard has spots in it.  Of course, mom added ketchup.   We enjoyed our lunch and the break sitting by the river.   We hope you are enjoying the changing colors near you.

Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship with Colorado Traveling Ducks

Meeker, Colorado in located in the northwest part of our state of Colorado.

Meeker, Colorado

Sheep are raised in this area, along with other livestock and crops.   Each September, Meeker hosts sheepdog championship trials.   Most of the sheep dogs are border collies and these dogs are smart and work very hard to herd the sheep to the proper fields and areas.   Let’s see how this works.

Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials

A small amount of bleachers are available, but spectators are encouraged to bring folding chairs.   We did.   From the seating area, 5 sheep are trucked 550 yards (503 meters) down the field.

Starting for sheep and dogs.

The sheep are here.   Two men on horses are also there.    On command from the owner, and contestant, the dog runs down the field to begin bringing the five sheep back to the owner.   In the above photo, the black spot behind and to the right of the sheep, is the border collie, or sheep dog.  The dog herds the five sheep down the field, toward the owner and spectators, through the first blue gates.

Through the first gate.

Not done yet, the sheep are herded further toward the humans.

Here come the sheep

Now the sheep are being taken near the dog’s owner, and closer to us.

Sheep getting closer to us

I really like seeing these sheep.   The sheep go around the human dog owner, and then through two more gates.

Herd sheep to pen

Now, the sheep are herded to a pen, and they are finished.   Another dog, an event staff dog, takes over and takes the sheep out of the field.   The sheep are finished for the week.   This competition last almost a week.   The preliminary runs are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.   At least 40 dogs compete each of those days.   On Saturday the best performing dogs compete in the semi finals.   Sunday is the top race with 12 dogs competing for the championship.   During the preliminary runs, 875 sheep are used.   Another 500 sheep will be used for Saturday and Sunday’s competition.   After each dog run, more sheep are trucked to the beginning point.   After watching several dogs and sheep, we wandered among the venders.   We met this nice lady with two retired sheep dogs.

Retired sheep dogs

We love the dogs. The nice lady was walking these retired dogs and her husband was competing with their working dogs.

Aren’t these dogs wonderful?

Before we ducks joined our human family, mom had a black and white border collie that looked just like this one.  We liked these sheep.

Retired sheep. Cover to protect them from our high altitude intense sun

They were resting now, the cover over their pen protects them from the intense high altitude sun.   But, back to the venders.

We love the venders

So many choices.   Today mom just wanted lemonade.

Lemonade. We saw it being made.

We watched the lady cut and squeeze the lemons.   Then she added strawberry puree.   We even found small pieces of strawberries in our lemonade.

Funnel cake Yum!

Another favorite, a funnel cake.   When we left for the day, the parking lot had enough, but not too many cars.

Nice crowd, but not too crowded.

We were there on Wednesday.   We really didn’t want to be there for the championships and all the larger crowds.   We were trying to learn about the sheepdog event.   The owner uses a whistle to give the dog commands.   We liked that the sheep were only herded one time during this competition.

Aren’t these sheep fun to watch?

This was interesting, and maybe next time we will go for the championships.