Alpacas? Zeb and Eider Duck Go to the Alpaca Show

Here we are.

Our first Alpaca Show

Ready to go to our first Alpaca Show.   We are in Denver at the National Western Complex.   This is where Denver hosts the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo.   Let’s see some alpacas.

Group of alpacas watching us

There are lots of alpaca at this show.   These alpaca are watching us.   Some judging already took place here.

This white alpaca has several ribbons

This white alpaca has ribbons.   Alpaca is from Alpacas de la Mancha in Calhan, Colorado.   The brown ones are good.

Tall brown alpacas

We love these guys.   Here is a blue ribbon winner.

First place ribbon here

Our new friend.   In the next area we found these smaller alpaca.

Smaller, recently sheared, and really long necks

They have recently been sheared.   The alpaca wool is really soft.   The necks look really long without the extra wool.   Eider Duck likes this white alpaca.

Eider with white alpacas

And he likes Eider.   Zeb likes these alpacas with lots of wool still on them.

Zeb with alpacas

But we really like all of them.   One more alpaca photo.

This one likes us. Like many a band prevents any nipping.

This white one, like many alpaca here at the show, has the harness or bands around the mouth.   No nipping here.   So many items are made from alpaca wool.

Alpaca products for sale

We will show you several booths with items for sale.

Even alpaca items for Christmas

Even holiday sets.  Great choices.   Alright, we can sit on this alpaca.

We are on this alpaca

No worries about nipping or biting.   And more items for sale.

All so soft

The vendors were all very nice and have so many things to sell and show us.

Great variety

Last photo.   Here we are with a live alpaca.

Posing with alpaca and alpaca owners

The owners of the alpaca are holding us and we love these animals.   We hope you visit alpacas soon.   They were really nice to us.

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Denver’s Chili Verde for lunch with Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear

Let’s go to lunch.   I, Zeb the Duck, love to go out for lunch.   And even more so if my friend, Chanel the Bear, is with me.   We took our moms to an authentic Mexican restaurant, Chili Verde.

Chili Verde. Let’s go inside.

According to their website, two brothers normally vacationed in Denver with their parents.   They lived in Puebla, Mexico.   (Home of the Cinco de Mayo battle, resulting in that holiday).   The family could not find food from their native Puebla, so in later years the brothers started this restaurant.   The brothers now live in Colorado, but visit Puebla, Mexico frequently, refining recipes and techniques.   Today our moms both ordered flautas.   These are small taquitos, meat filled small tortillas, rolled and then fried.   One mom ordered chicken and another mom ordered beef.   Both were very tasty.    While waiting for our lunch, we enjoyed chips and salsa and also a warm bean dip.

Flautas, chips and salsa with warm bean dip.

We really like this restaurant.   Unfortunately, our moms liked their lunch too much and did not save room for dessert.   Here we can watch talented cooks preparing lunch, and the dessert menu is right there.

Did you read that dessert menu?

But did our moms save room for dessert?   No, they did not.   The main entree was so flavorful, they ate it all.   We have heard so much about the Tres Leches Cake, that we will be back soon. Chanel and I sat in front of the colorful tile wall for a short rest and a private chat.

Friends chatting without moms listening.

Sometimes we like to be on our own.   The well stocked bar featured some good handicrafts on the top shelf.

Bar features selection of Mexican liquor and great handicrafts.

We like to see new things.  On another wall, we admired various pictures.

Colorful pictures.

These are for sale for $350 each.   Looking closer, this is a different type of art.

Colorful and unusual

Everything seems to be made of bumps or bubbles.   Our waiter told us that one of the brothers often visits Bali in the country of Indonesia and knows the artist.

Andry Aila from Bali created this pictures.

Andry Aila is the Indonesian artist.   He creates these masterpieces with a medical syringe.   We believe the syringe injects air into the paint to create these bumps or bubbles.   We were not familiar with this technique, so we wanted to look closer.

Let’s look closer

These pictures are really bright and cleverly done.   Chili Verde has an outside patio.   What a great place to eat in warmer weather.

Cute outside patio, but not for today. Still a little fresh snow

As you can tell, we had some new snow during the night, but our Colorado sunshine is causing rapid melting.   So, eating inside for us today.   Maybe outside dining next trip.   Leaving Chili Verde, we had to stop to admire (and sit on) this piñata.

We love piñatas

Chili Verde is located at 2311 Federal Boulevard in Denver, Colorado.   Maybe we will see you there soon.   It is really good.

Casa Bonita with Zeb the Duck and Chanel the Bear

Our moms said we are going to Casa Bonita!   Exciting and we have never been there.   Moms have been there many times and now we can go.  Both our moms were teachers and this was a favorite place to bring students for lunch after visiting a museum or special performance.

Casa Bonita Restaurant in Denver, Colorado

Wow!  A big pink castle.   Entering the building, we follow the walkway.   Things look like Old Mexico.   Great decor.   Menus are available along the way.   We all order the beef deluxe dinner.   With this dinner we can get more of any item on our plate, whenever we want more.   We order, then continue along the walkway, get our tray, silverware and napkin.   Our very hot plate is placed on the tray, then our beverage is added; we continue along the path, and soon we are met by an employee that guides us to our table.   We are seated by the edge of the diving pool.   Diving pool in a restaurant?   Oh yes, this is Casa Bonita.   A waitress brings us beverage straws and chips and salsa.   We ask for our warm sopaipillas now also.

Lots of food for us. The raised red flag indicates we need our waitress.

This looks good.   These are sopaipillas.

Warm sopaipillas

Our moms love them.   After one taste, Zeb and Chanel are big sopaipilla fans also.  This is one of those restaurants that you don’t visit just for the food.   We think the food is fine.   It is not a small family run restaurant with the best green chili, but it is as good or better than Taco Bell.   And we bet you eat there.   Casa Bonita serves good food, but the entire experience is unique to Casa Bonita.   We have never been to any restaurant that has so much to see and there are so many places to explore here.   First let’s look at the pool.

Pool inside Casa Bonita. 30 foot waterfall here.

The waterfall, and one diving platform is 30 feet (9.1 m) high.   Frequently (about every 15 minutes) there will be a show above the pool, or a diver will perform for the guests.   The restaurant is similar to things you may see in Mexico, including the Acapulco cliff divers.   This man performed a dive where he twisted and turned before entering the water.

Diving into pool

We love water and we love watching the divers.  A gorilla stars in one of the short skits performed above the pool.

Short skit with gorilla.

Some skits result in one of the employees landing in the pool also.   We have eaten enough.   We all ordered extra tacos and lots of warm sopaipillas.   Honey on warm sopaipillas is delicious.   Now we will explore more of Casa Bonita.   This is where those addictive sopaipillas are made.

Where sopaipillas are made

Heading down the stairs, past the lower arcade (yes, there is another arcade on the upper level), we find the Quien Sabe Mine.

Entrance to Quien Sabe Mine dining room

Entering we discover another dining room resembling the inside of a mine.   The lights by each table offer plenty of light.

Table inside Quien Sabe Mine dining room

What a great dining room.   Leaving the mine, we soon enter this dining room with a fairly large stage.

A stage for entertainment while dining

Plenty of seating for diners here.   Each area has been decorated differently.   And very carefully to give a varied experience.   You could return and eat in a different room and have a different experience.   You can order the deluxe, all you can eat, dinner as we did, order other Mexican platters, try a salad, chile rellenos or fajitas.   American chicken fried steak or fried chicken breast is available, and also a kids menu.   We visited the dining room decorated as a cavern.   The stalagmites and stalactites were very realistic.   Here is a jail.

A Mexican jail

Moms are putting us in jail??

Zeb and Chanel are in jail??

But mom…   It is OK.   They got us out of jail.   Back up the stairs, past our dining area by the pool, into another room to the stage for the puppet show.

Stage for puppet show

Maybe we are performing here?   The stadium style seating is nice, but we are sitting under a gorilla to watch the puppet show?

Watching puppet show under a gorilla

There is another wall with a huge head of rock, but only one eye.   Rather close we discovered Black Bart’s Hideout.

Entrance to Black Bart’s Hideout

This is a favorite with guests.   We liked it also.   Next we wandered behind the waterfall that goes into the pool.   There are even tables for eating behind the waterfall.    This balcony reminds us of some seen in Mexico.

Mexican balcony. Another great dining location

Another great place to eat.   Up the stairs, we discovered more dining rooms and a different decor.   So many choices for dining here.   This restaurant can seat 1,100 guests at any time.   And with multiple dining rooms, you don’t feel crowded.   As we head toward the exit, we loved this stack of small plates.

We loved this stack of plates. Red flag is up. Zeb and Chanel want more sopaipillas.

We just had to smile seeing them.   Zeb and Chanel raised the flag; more sopaipillas, please??  But moms said no, time to go.   But, maybe just a quick look through the gift shop.   Some of my duck relatives live here.

Some relatives at Casa Bonita

There is so much more to see at Casa Bonita.   Strolling musicians, great mariachis entertain as you dine. Perhaps watch a magic show.  You can have a picture drawn, try the arcade games, see what the fortune telling machine predicts for you and explore even more areas of this restaurant.   Casa Bonita opened in Lakewood, Colorado in 1974 and has been entertaining visitors since. We had a wonderful afternoon at Casa Bonita.   We hope you visit, eat, explore and enjoy some time here also.

 

Creatures of Light Exhibit with the Colorado Traveling Ducks

These creatures light up.   We don’t.   Yesterday at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, we saw animals with bioluminescence and biofluorescence, from tiny fireflies to strange creatures in the ocean depths.

Let’s see the Creatures of Light

Let’s explore!  That is a giant firefly.   You will notice that it is dark in here, so pictures of us with these lighting creatures just doesn’t work well.   So what does this bioluminescence mean?    Bioluminescence is visible light generated by a living organism through a chemical reaction.  Eighty percent of all bioluminescent groups are in the world’s oceans.   Not so many on land. There are some fungi and insects, but no flowering plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians or mammals that glow.   Look at this glowing mushroom.

Glowing mushroom. With Eider duck

It exists in eastern North America, where it grows on decaying wood in the forests.   This is a huge model of the mushroom.   They are really much smaller, just a normal mushroom size. And a glowing variety of a millipede.

Variety of millipede

We have never seen these, but they are fascinating.   And a dark New Zealand cave with simulated glowworms.

Cave with glowworms

In the cave, fungus gnat larvae drop sticky “fishing lines” from the cave roof.   Glowworms give the light and the sticky lines attract and catch food.    Most glowing creatures are found in the ocean.    Ponyfish also glow.  Here is the sign that explains a little about the glow.

Ponyfish

Ponyfish are called Sapsap in the Philippines, where there are caught in huge numbers for soups and stews.   Guess they don’t glow when cooked.   These jelly fish, if poked or jostled, light up their rim.

These jellyfish also can light up

The jelly fish have both bioluminescent and fluorescent lighting.   This female anglerfish is a serious predator.

Female anglerfish

Have you ever heard of siphonophores?

Siphonophores

Well, here is one and do you know how big they can grow?    Some are 130 feet long (40 meters).  That is longer than the largest known blue whale.   They attract fish for food by twitching and using light.     And the dinoflagellate became our favorite.   This model is huge, but a real dinoflagellate is about the size of the head of a pin.

Dinoflagellate. Really the size of a pin head.

When something bumps into a dinoflagellate, the impact triggers a chemical reaction that ends in a burst of light.  This is very active in Mosquito Bay, a quiet lagoon on the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico.   When you touch the waves at night, your hand leaves a trail of sparks in the water.   The more activity, the more bright lights.   We have never seen this, but mom, we want to.   Can we go to the Caribbean??   There is so much more to see here and you will learn so much.   The exhibit runs until June 10, 2018.   When it leaves Denver, it may be coming near you.   We hope you see this exhibit.  In Denver, the exhibit is free with your paid admission to the museum.    But beware, as the ducks said, you will want to visit everywhere and see some of these creatures for yourself.   But take the risk and visit this exhibit.

Solar Eclipse Today, August 21, 2017

Today is the much anticipated total solar eclipse across much of the United States.   In Denver we will have 92% of the sun blocked by the moon.   Many humans from Colorado are going to Casper, Wyoming and Lincoln, Nebraska to experience the total eclipse.   Our humans decided to stay home and view our 92% eclipse.   We ducks are ready.

Colorado Traveling Ducks ready to watch solar eclipse

While looking at the sun we are to wear special glasses.   If we don’t wear these glasses we risk permanent eye damage and even blindness.   When looking through these glasses, everything is black.   Except, looking at the sun, a yellow circle is visible.   It is really interesting to experiment with these glasses.   Our largest relative, Big Duck from Grand Lake, Colorado thought he was ready to watch the eclipse.

Big Duck cannot watch with normal sunglasses.

But, he is not ready.   Ordinary sun glasses do not offer enough eye protection.   We will watch the moon gradually cover most of the sun from our backyard.   We have invited a few human friends to join us and we will have food in crockpots to make the watching fun and more social. Also, to commemorate the total solar eclipse, the United States Post Office has issued a special postage stamp.   When the temperature is cooler, below 84.2 degrees F, or 29 degrees C, you see the total eclipse.  It was too hot outside when we took these photos, so this total eclipse was retaken at night, when it was cooler.

Postage stamp shows total solar eclipse

Warm the stamp, usually by putting your thumb on it, the picture changes from a solar eclipse to an image of the moon.

Postage stamp photo turns to image of moon

On the back of these sheet of stamps you can see the path of the total eclipse across the United States.

Path of total eclipse across the United States, August 21, 2017

The change occurs because of thermochromic ink.   This ink was developed and produced by Cromatic Technologies, Inc in nearby Colorado Springs, Colorado.   The ink is used for fun.   And we think that this stamp is fun.   It has been used by Coors Brewery, a local beer company. Coors has merger with Miller Brewery, so not so local now.   Cans of Coors Light use this ink to have the mountains on the can turn blue when the beer is cold.   In Denver the moon begins covering the sun, the beginning of the eclipse at 10:23 a.m., peak coverage at 11:47 a.m., and the moon has cleared the sun at 1:14 p.m.   If you live in the United States, we hope you have your eclipse glasses and watch the eclipse.   Of course, we do not want a cloudy sky.

The Vikings Come to Denver

The Vikings are here.   The Museum of Nature and Science in Denver has a special exhibit on the The Vikings.

Let’s learn about the Vikings

Zeb the Duck and Soapy Smith Duck went to this exhibit.   We learned and saw so much.   We actually went twice.   It really is good.   Who are the Vikings?   The people that lived across Scandinavia were not a unified group.   There were warriors, explorers and merchants, but most were farmers.   The word Viking was used for an activity.   Someone was out on a “viking.”  That could be a commercial trip or a raid.   Much jewelry was on display.

Jewelry

Different styles seemed to be from different regions.  Also many items were brought back from raids or commercial trips.   These items are from afar.

From many places

The cross has Irish origins, the cowrie shells are from the Red Sea while the red and white beads are from the Black Sea area.   The ladle was used during church ceremonies.   As we mentioned most people were farmers and this pig, or boar, was a great source of meat.

Boar living on a farm

These people seemed to care about personal appearance, as these grooming items were found.

Grooming items

Many items were found in graves.

Buried with important items

A male was buried with these favorite items.   The Scandinavia area has very cold winters.   Early ice skates were functional, but much different than those we use today.

Early ice skates

Here is what was found in the tomb of a warrior in Birka.

Preparing for battle

Some people were buried with amulets.

Amulets

Amulets guaranteed the gods’ protection.   Runes were iconic symbols from the Viking age.

Rune tells a story

This one tells a story.

The story

The Vikings expanded their world.   Some wooden figures were brought back.

Brought home

There was much silver.

Silver

Some from raids and some was payment for traded goods.   Much silver was melted for jewelry.   Some was kept for local purchases.   Many merchants had scales so pieces of silver were broken off bracelets or other jewelry for payment.   This is a reconstruction of a small Viking boat.

Smaller Viking boat

After leaving this exhibit, this reproduction of another Viking ship caught our attention.

Viking ship

This exhibit will be at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science from March 10 through August 13, 2017.   We hope you see it here or when it comes to your city.

We Visit Denver’s First Church

Trinity United Methodist Church, organized in 1859 claims to be Denver’s First Church.   I, Zeb the Duck, with Chanel the Bear, visited this beautiful church at 1820 Broadway in Denver, Colorado.

Trinity United Methodist Church

Trinity United Methodist Church

Known today as Trinity United Methodist Church, is was first known as Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church.

Originally Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church

Originally Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church

We went inside.   From the front this is the view looking toward the balcony.

Looking to balcony

Looking to balcony

We love stained glass windows, so we were happy.   Isn’t this a great wooden Nativity display.

Nativity Scene with Zeb and Chanel

Nativity Scene with Zeb and Chanel

Chanel and I fit right into this scene.   Climbing the stairs to the balcony, we had an impressive view of the organ.

From balcony to organ

From balcony to organ

Completed in 1888, under the supervision of Frank Roosevelt of the Roosevelt Organ Works of New York, this organ has been carefully maintained.   In 1888 electricity was not dependable.  A water wheel was connected to an artesian well in the sub-basement of the building.   Thus in an emergency, there would be electricity to power the organ.    This organ has 4,275 pipes.  That is a lot!  Looking around the balcony, there are a lot of seats in this church.

Inside Trinity United Methodist Church

Inside Trinity United Methodist Church

We liked this sculpture.

He Shall Gather The Lambs

He Shall Gather The Lambs

The inscription says “He Shall Gather the Lambs”.   This church has many symbols of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).   There are three arches over the Broadway Street entrance and three sections of the steeple.

Trinity United Methodist Church

Trinity United Methodist Church

Also within the proscenium arch above the organ’s pipes, there are 66 lights.   Each light represents a book of the Bible.

From balcony toward organ

From balcony toward organ

This Roosevelt organ is so large.   Doesn’t the organist look small?   When you are downtown Denver, we recommend that you visit this church.   The church is beautiful and the organ is fantastic.   Even when the weather is not perfect for outdoor activities, remember to visit special buildings, museums and other great indoor exhibits.