Grand Lake, Colorado with Zeb the Duck and Channel the Bear

We love visiting Grand Lake, Colorado.   I, Zeb the Duck, and my friend Chanel the Bear, took our moms to Grand Lake.

Entering Grand Lake, Colorado

Let’s visit my favorite store, Quackers.

Quackers in Grand Lake, Colorado

This store in Grand Lake features rubber ducks!   Yes, an entire store dedicated to me and my duck relatives.

Giant duck in Quackers

Meet my largest relative.   Chanel and I invited some friends to pose with us.   As great as ducks are, we also enjoy the fudge.

We love fudge

And there is more.   Roasted nuts.

Yum. Roasting nuts taste good and smell delicious

Of course some came home with us.   While rubber ducks are the stars of this store, Martin the Moose is pretty great also.

Martin the Moose on skis

Remember we are in the Colorado mountains.   Moose do live here.   However, Martin is the only moose I ever saw wearing skis.   We purchased new family members.

Purchased at Quackers

And some fudge and roasted nuts.    Then headed out for lunch.

Lunch at The Sagebrush

Today our choice is The Sagebrush.   Here are some new friends.

New friends at The Sagebrush

Aren’t we an attractive bunch of friends?  Our table has a complimentary bucket of peanuts.

Peanuts and cow tablecloths here

We are to toss the peanut shells on the floor.   That is the sign of a fun place to eat.   Notice the cow pattern table cover?   Our lunch was delicious and the portions were large.   A good place to eat when you are in Grand Lake.  Now to the adjoining bar.

Old West bar here

Looks like it is from an old Western movie.   We enjoy the hats and license plates as part of the rustic decor.   Our next stop is Studio 8369, an art studio in town.

Studio 8369 in Grand Lake, Colorado

The 8369 refers to the elevation of the town of Grand Lake.  That is about 2550 meters above sea level.   The Rocky Mountains in Colorado are rather high.   Inside Studio 8369 we admire the Gourd Art.

Gourd Art by Ivy Howard

This is by Ivy Howard of Grand Lake, Colorado.   Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, Studio 8369 has some beautiful photography.

Stunning photography here

You would love this place.   A couple weeks later mom and I returned to Grand Lake.   This time there was more snow.   A few miles from Grand Lake is Lake Granby.

Lake Granby with low clouds

We loved the partially frozen lake and the low clouds.   Driving through town, past Quackers, we went to Grand Lake.   Grand Lake is the largest and deepest natural lake in Colorado.   It is also part of the headwaters for the mighty Colorado River.   Remember the Colorado River heads southwest and continues to carve the Grand Canyon.

Rent boats here in the summer

In the summer tourists can rent boats to explore and enjoy the lake.   Now snowy and frozen, we enjoy a winter landscape.   Back into town, near Quackers, we spotted these snowmobiles, or snow machines.

Snow machines today, mom?

Mom said we were not renting them today, but we had to try them for size.   These are big.   The employees at Spirit Lake Lodge rent these machines.   They were very nice to us, the Colorado Traveling Ducks.  A drive into Rocky Mountain National Park was next.

Rocky Mountain National Park, West Entrance

Grand Lake is at the western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.   The road had been cleared.

Driving in Rocky Mountain National Park

Isn’t this a beautiful winter drive?  However the road is only cleared for part of the park.   This road ascends to over 12,000 feet (3657 m) and is closed during the snowy winter months.   We did enjoy many beautiful winter scenes.

One of many spectacular views in the national park

As you know, we love our mountains.   Both in the summer and in the winter.   We hope you explore a little and enjoy our mountains during the winter, or explore your part of the world and enjoy all the seasons.   It is a new year, so enjoy and discover new things and places.   And tell us about your adventures.

Zeb the Duck Tours and Tastes at Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory

Today I, Zeb the Duck, took mom and one of her friends to Boulder, Colorado.   We visited and toured the international headquarters for Celestial Seasonings Tea Company.

We love tea

We love tea

Our first stop was signing up for the next tour.

We sign up for free tour here.

We sign up for free tour here.

All tours are free.   There were some great seasonal decorations here.

Seasonal decor

Seasonal decor

We received a packet with 4 tea bags of Sleepytime Tea.   This is our ticket for the tour and a great, tasty souvenir.   Sleepytime is the most popular tea blend, so we will certainly enjoy our gift.   While waiting for our tour, we sampled several tea blends.

Many flavors of tea ready to sample

Many flavors of tea ready to sample

Some teas were hot and some cold.   A menu of all teas is also on the counter and we could request any of the teas.   We did try an additional blend and all of them were delicious.   Also available, for purchase, were these gorgeous pastries and other snacks.

So tempting

So tempting

Some small tables by a window made waiting for our tour a pleasant break.   Here is a picture of Mo Siegel, one of the founders and current head of Celestial Seasonings.

The beginning of Celestial Seasonings

The beginning of Celestial Seasonings

As the herbal tea blends became popular, tea bags were needed.   This sewing machine was used to make the first muslin tea bags.

Sewing machine

Sewing machine

Our tour was called, so into the theater we went.   After watching a short video about the company, including the humble beginnings, international source of tea, and shipping Celestial Seasonings Tea to various countries around the world.   All tea is packaged in Boulder and distributed from this Boulder factory.   On display is this ensemble.   The dress, shoes, hat and purse are all made from Celestial Seasonings tea packages.

Dress, shoes, purse and hat all made from Celestial Seasonings tea packages.

Dress, shoes, purse and hat all made from Celestial Seasonings tea packages.

This dress was commissioned in support of the Heart Truth campaign of 2006, to raise awareness about the risk of heart disease in women

After the film but before entering the factory, everyone must put on a hairnet.

Visitors wearing required hairnets.

Visitors wearing required hairnets.

Men with beards also needed to wear a beard net.  The humans did look a little funny, but nothing except tea and herbs will be in our next cup of tea.    Sadly, we are not allowed to take photos inside the factory.    In the processing area we touched and smelled samples of the product of the moment.   They were making teas with lemon grass.   I like lemon and this smelled so good.   We passed large sacks of tea blends that have been certified by the tea master, insuring proper quality and flavor.   The conveyor belts fill, wrap and seal the boxes.   There are boxes of various sizes for various foreign countries.   One of the most memorable stops on the tour is the mint room.   We love mint, but the aroma was so strong that I, Zeb the Duck, and most humans could not stay in the room very long.   The room is sealed shut most of the time to prevent the strong mint flavor and aroma from dominating all tea blends.   Did you know that the tea blend, Tension Tamer contains catnip?  Yes, the same stuff that cats love.   It is even listed on the box as an ingredient.   The tour ends in the gift shop, or tea shop.  This is just one wall of tea varieties.

So many tempting types of tea

So many tempting types of tea

So hard to decide, but of course we purchased Tension Tamer with catnip.   And with all this tea, how should we drink it?  Here are a few suggestions for mugs and teapots.

Love the mugs

Love the mugs

Want more choices?

Presentation is important and so much fun with tea.

Presentation is important and so much fun with tea.

And there are even more.    Mom has several teapots and teacups, so we did not purchase more.   But this is what we brought home.

Look what came home with us. And we already had a lot of tea. Yes, we do like many varieties of tea.

Look what came home with us. And we already had a lot of tea. Yes, we do like many varieties of tea.

We already had several blends of tea at home, but we do really love and drink a lot of tea.

Estes Park and a Close Encounter With Elk

A gateway city to Rocky Mountain National Park, we love the resort town of Estes Park.

Estes Park, Colorado

It was overcast with car headlights on the rock.   We liked the shadows on the stone.  Fall River flows from Rocky Mountain National Park into Estes Park.

Water wheel in river by park

We love the water wheel in the river by this small park.   Elkhorn Avenue is the main street in Estes Park.

Elkhorn Avenue

We usually walk from one end to the other, stopping in various shops and often a restaurant.   One of our standard stops is The Taffy Shop.

The Taffy Shop

There are several taffy shops, but we have been coming to this one since mom moved to Colorado in 1975.   The taffy is made right here and it is delicious.  Try the Texas Pecan.   Another regular stop is Laura’s Fudge Shop.

Laura’s Fudge Shop

A few years ago, Laura’s expanded but the shop is always crowded with locals and tourists.   That really says the fudge and more is excellent.  We enjoy Turtle Fudge and Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge.  And the toffee, and the caramel apples.   Yum!   We did our shopping, crossed the road, followed the river and got in our car.

River flows under main street near parking area

This is fall, the rut, or mating season of the elk.   This time of year, we hear the male, or bull elk, calling his mates, sounding like a bugle.   The female may answer with a rather shrill squeal.   The elk often leave Rocky Mountain National Park and wander in and around Estes Park.

Elk herd leaving lawn of Aspire Residence at Stanley Hotel

This herd is behind the Aspire Residences, part of the Stanley Hotel.   There were several humans sitting on balconies enjoying the elk herd.   As you can tell, the herd is gradually moving to another area.   But some are not in a hurry.

Baby elk nursing

This young elk is hungry and trying to nurse, but mom doesn’t stand still very long.   They have moved, crossed a major street, and are now in the golf course.

Elk herd on golf course

The lone male watches the females.

Bull running to keep females together

He tries to keep them together.   This bull does a lot of running, or sprinting, to keep the girls where he wants them.   Oh, a second herd is arriving.

Second herd approaching golf course

They will join the first herd on the golf course.   How will this end?

Two bulls calmly passing

The two bull elk, one from each herd, pass each other, without incident.   But, we don’t think the elk can read.

Tee time?

Only golfers on the golf course.

Elk on the Golf Course

Well, is it tee time ladies?  The elk and humans mingle well.   If the elk want to move, the humans scatter to allow the elk freedom to go wherever they wish.  Further along, a herd is around Lake Estes.

A bull elk in Lake Estes

This bull is cooling off and probably drinking in Lake Estes.   The sun has set.

The Stanley Hotel at sunset

The Stanley Hotel is illuminated by the glow of the setting sun behind the Rocky Mountains.   A beautiful end to a beautiful day.

Autumn Colors Near Denver in 2018

I, Zeb the Duck, take mom and some friends to the nearby mountains and also in the Denver, Colorado area, to view the colors of autumn.   You have to see some of what we have seen so far.   Kenosha Pass has thousands of aspen trees.

Yellow aspen with evergreen trees.

And they turn the mountainside a vibrant yellow.   Some aspen turn red for a few days also.

Variety of colors all together

We love seeing the less common bursts of red leaves.   One day at Kenosha Pass, we watched this family of moose.

Moose family near Kenosha Pass

We and many other humans were fascinated by these moose.   Another reason we love Colorado.  Another day we headed to Echo Lake.

Echo Lake with reflection

We love our mountain lakes.   Echo Lake is at the entrance to the road to Mt. Evans.   We took you there a few weeks ago.   Continuing past Echo Lake, the autumn road looks beautiful.

Gorgeous aspen and energetic biker.

There is an energetic bicycle rider on the road also.   I, Zeb the Duck, wanted to see these leaves up close.

Me, sitting in aspen leaves

So, here I am, sitting on aspen leaves.   On this trip, we drove from Blackhawk to Nederland on highway 119.

Colors of fall with mountains behind

The colors of changing leaves caught my attention with the Rocky Mountains behind.   And one of my favorites, a group of red aspen.

More red aspen

We love driving through the mountains admiring the fall colors.   But, the leaves don’t only turn in the mountains.

Fall colors with mountains behind

Beauty right in town.   This was a beautiful clear day with new snow on the continental divide.

Spectacular view today

The fresh snow is so pretty.   Now I wanted to look up through the leaves and see that beautiful blue Colorado sky.

Looking up

Isn’t it beautiful?  Colorado is famous for the quaking aspen and the beautiful yellow, gold and red leaves in the mountains.   But here in town, we have other types of trees.

Love red leaves

The red maple tree is  beautiful sign of fall or autumn in the city.   If summer must end, this is a beautiful farewell to the summer days.

Scarecrows in Colorado with Zeb the Duck

A warm, sunny day, but Olde Town Arvada, Colorado was full of scarecrows.

Scarecrow

I, Zeb the Duck, am sitting on the head of a scarecrow.   There seems to be several scarecrows in the plaza.   And no crows.

Scarecrow

Here is another one.   Arvada Plaza is near the library and signs say the library also has a scarecrow.    Let’s go see it.

Scarecrow with Zeb and crows

Oh, this scarecrow is reading a book, and the crows want to hear the story.  I am on one shoulder and a crow is on the other.   Another crow on the back rim of the hat.   But the crows are friendly.   Perhaps they are trying to understand those shoes.   The humans get to vote here, for their favorite scarecrow.

Vote here

The ladies in the booth said ducks cannot vote.   Darn.   Small humans enter the cone maze here.

Enter Cone Maze

They follow the yellow tape and seem to be having fun.

Cone maze

Oh, if only I could be a human sometimes.   The Arvada Fire Department had a booth here also.

Arvada Fire Department

So many options for humans here.

Many choices

And more.

Painted pumpkins

I love these painted pumpkins.   Humans, large and small, can ride the hay wagon.

Ride on the hay wagon

Humans sit on bales of hay and a tractor pulls the wagon through the streets of Olde Town Arvada.   All this activity makes humans, and ducks, hungry.   This great food truck is from Steuben’s Restaurant.

Steuben’s Food Truck

Steuben’s has a restaurant in Olde Arvada.   Very tasty.   But, my very favorite festival food is here.

Kettle Corn

I love kettle corn.   Of course we bought some.   Across from Olde Town Arvada Plaza, this church, with scarecrow, hay and apple cider, is ready for autumn.

Lounging on bale of hay

Last Saturday, the weather was warm, in the 60’s, sunny and a perfect day for a festival.   The next day, Sunday, the temperature was in the teens and low 20’s with snow all day.   Monday was sunny again and all the snow melted.   That is just how the weather is in Colorado.   Many seasons in a week, and we love it.   We are happy that the 22nd Festival of Scarecrows was here on the warm sunny day.

Florissant Fossil Beds With Zeb the Duck

Colorado used to have giant redwood trees.   We had a warmer climate, so we had many tropical insects also.  That was about 34 million years ago.   What a change from the Colorado we know and love today.   Today I, Zeb the Duck, took mom and a friend to Central Colorado, a little south and west of Colorado Springs, to Florissant Fossil Beds.   These fossil beds are now part of the U.S. National Park Service.

Florissant Fossil Beds

It was a cloudy day, so we decided to see the outside things first, just in case we got some rain.   About two miles from this sign, is the homestead of Adeline Hornbek.   Back when women usually could not purchase land, Adeline acquired 160 acres to homestead.  Her homestead is now protected by the National Park Service.   In 1878, she had outlived two husbands and had four children to raise.   She and her children farmed and ranched here.

Adeline Hornbek’s Homestead of 1878

Today, her great great granddaughter, was in the house.   So tourists were allowed inside the home and outbuildings.   Attached to the main house is the well house.

Well House

An enclosed pump is less likely to freeze.   The kitchen was large.

Kitchen

On the right side is the door to the well house.   To the left and to the front, is a door to the living room.   The open door on the left leads upstairs where her sons slept.  The rear door goes to another room, with a door to the outdoors.

Living room

The living room is also rather large and has a wood stove for heat.   You can see the adjacent room behind also has a wood stove for heat.   This is the pantry.

Pantry

With five people to feed, storage space was important.   Outside, dug into a hill, is the root cellar.

Root Cellar

More food was preserved here for the long cold winter in the Colorado Mountains.   Going back to the Visitor’s Center, the fossil beds are outside, so we went there first.   There are fossil exhibits inside also.

Petrified redwood tree

I, Zeb the Duck, am sitting on a large piece of petrified redwood tree.  The huge petrified tree stump is under a manmade cover, to offer some protection for the fossil.   Moisture in the stump, freezing and thawing, will damage the fossil.   Humans are trying to slow the process.   The sign says 34 million years ago the Rocky Mountains were warmer with wet summers and mild winters.   This area was forested with towering redwoods, cedar, pines, mixed hardwoods and ferns.   Now this is rare.

Trio of fossilized stumps

A family circle of fossilized stumps grew out of the single trunk of an older parent tree.   The 3 trunks are ancient clones, or genetically identical copies, of that parent tree.   This is common now in California with coastal redwoods, but this trio of stone stumps is unique in the world’s fossil record.  We hiked the one mile trail and arrived here, at the Big Stump.

The Big Stump

This massive petrified redwood stump is one of the largest fossils in the park.   The tree was probably 230 feet tall and 750 years old when volcanic mud flow buried its base.   In the 1800’s local residents excavated the stump and tried to cut it in smaller pieces.   You can see 2 saw blades still in the stump toward the top, above my little duck head.   The base is charred from volcanic mud and volcanic lahar.   Further along, we see tree rings in the redwood fossil.

Rings in fossilized redwood stump

These rings are still visible after 34 million years.   They provide information about environment and climate.  The rings show more favorable growing conditions than coastal redwoods of California today.   Tropical insects were also here.   We had tsetse flies?

Tsetse Fly

This fossil was not on display the day we visited.   Let’s go inside.

Fossil display at Visitor’s Center

There are many fossils on display.   On an interactive display we met this spider.

Spider

This stealthy ground spider (Palaeodrassus) lived under the bark of a tree.  Rather large spider!  Florissant Fossil Beds, which according to the U.S. National Park Service, now look like a grassy mountain valley in Central Colorado, is one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world.   This place is very interesting and we could spend much more time here.   But we are leaving now and heading back home.   A couple miles to the town of Florissant, we see these deer.

Deer are so graceful and delicate

There is one male and several females.  He is watching.   But I like her.

My new friend

I think this deer is watching me.   Further along we saw a herd of about 50 elk resting in a grassy meadow.

Elk lounging.

We love seeing the wild animals.   The trees of our northern mountains have changed color and many have fallen.   We are in the central mountains now and the leaves are still beautiful.

Autumn in the Rocky Mountains

We love to see fall colors in the mountains.   Especially on a warm calm day.   Are you enjoying the changing seasons where you live also?

Over Trail Ridge Road with Zeb the Duck

A favorite summer drive for us includes visiting Winter Park, a stop at Grand Lake where we enter Rocky Mountain National Park.   We drive over Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved highway in North America.  Exiting the national park at Estes Park we stay there for a little shopping and then return home.   It is a full day, but a wonderful day.   That is the plan for today.   First stop is Winter Park, Colorado.

Winter Park Resort

This is a mountain resort, skiing in the winter and many opportunities in the summer.   In the winter there is a ski train from Denver to Winter Park.   In the summer we love the Alpine Slide.

Alpine Slide, Winter Park Resort

It is hard for mom to get photos of this, but here you can see the half pipe track we use.   Also there is a rider on a sled at the end of the ride.   When we finish, we take our sled and hang it on the line so it can be taken back to the top of the ride.  We ride the ski chair lift to the top of the mountain, get off, walk a little way to get a sled, put our sled on the half pipe run, sit on sled, check our brakes and ride to the bottom of the mountain.   It is really fun!  We can make music here at Winter Park Village.

We can make music.

In the winter humans ice skate on the lake behind us.   Back in the car, we drive to Grand Lake, Colorado.   Grand Lake is the name of the town, but there is a lake, named Grand Lake here.

Boats available at Grand Lake

Hardy souls swim here, but we don’t want to swim in a cold mountain lake.   But these boats on Grand Lake are really fun.   Now let’s enter Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park, west entrance

This is one of four national parks in Colorado, and probably our favorite.   Here I, Zeb the Duck, am admiring the beautiful mountain scenery.

In Rocky Mountain National Park

You may notice dead trees behind me. The Pine Bark Beetle is killing many of our lodge pole pines.   This beetle epidemic is in Canada, the United States and into Mexico, killing trees in the forests.   This beetle epidemic has occurred several times in the past 500 years, but it is so sad to see so many dead trees.  I just love lakes.

Alpine Lake

This alpine lake is so beautiful and so serene.   Driving further up the mountain on Trail Ridge Road, we are now above timberline.

Above timberline. It is too high for trees to grow

The growing conditions at this altitude and temperatures are too severe for trees to grow.  You can see a lake and snow below us.   We were there in August, so this snow is from last winter.   Remember, the higher you go, the colder it gets, so snow in some areas doesn’t always melt during the summer.   On Trail Ridge Road we have experienced incredible mountain scenery.

Beautiful views

We climbed through alpine conditions.  Visited above timberline.   Stopped near Visitor’s Center.

Near Visitor’s Center

Passed through Arctic tundra.  We crossed the Continental Divide.

Crossing Continental Divide

Viewed landscaped shaped by volcanic activity.

All types of terrain here in Rocky Mountain National Park

And descended into the resort town of Estes Park.   We could spend days or more exploring this park and take thousands of stunning photos, but not today.   We enter Estes Park.

Welcome to Estes Park

We walk through town and of course mom always stops at Laura’s Fudge Shop and at the Taffy Shop.   At one of town, we watch the river and listen to the soothing sounds of water tumbling over the rocks.

Scenic river through Estes Park, Colorado.  This is a free photo from the internet.

We love this town and we love this drive.   When you visit Colorado, we encourage you to drive over Trail Ridge Road.