Travels, US National Parks, Midwestern US

Landmark on the Oregon Trail – Scott’s Bluff National Monument, Nebraska

Back in May, Chelsea and I headed to the Dakotas for a long weekend to do some highpointing. Since we were driving all the way up there, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to detour through Nebraska along the way and visit some national monuments in the western part of the state. Our… Continue reading Landmark on the Oregon Trail – Scott’s Bluff National Monument, Nebraska

Colorado, Travels

Colorado Bucket List: Picketwire Canyon Dinosaur Tracks

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a dinosaur snob. I can’t help it. I grew up in a state full of fossils, in a town with a pretty fantastic dinosaur museum. The bar was set really high when I was really young. So I’m not easily impressed. But this place was… Continue reading Colorado Bucket List: Picketwire Canyon Dinosaur Tracks

Colorado, Travels, US National Parks

Castle on the plains – Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Bent’s Old Fort was in fact not a fort in the traditional sense. It may have resembled military fortifications, but it was actually a trading post. Brothers Charles and William Bent and their business partner Ceran St. Vrain built the fort a few miles outside La Junta in 1833, choosing this particular place because it was fairly centrally-located between the fur trappers of the Rocky Mountains, the native lands of the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche tribes, and people traveling between the US and Mexico on the Santa Fe Trail. It quickly became a key location for trading and the main stop on the Santa Fe trail for travelers in need of rest, repairs, and replenishment.

Colorado, Travels, US National Parks

Heartbreaking history on the Colorado plains – Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

The Eastern Colorado plains are the original homeland of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Osage, Kiowa, Sioux, Jicarilla Apache, and Ute tribes (source). But by the mid-1800s they were being systemically dispossessed from their homelands. The 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie established that the Cheyenne and Arapaho would retain some of their native lands in exchange… Continue reading Heartbreaking history on the Colorado plains – Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

Colorado, Travels

Chasing fall colors on Boreas Pass

Autumn in Colorado is never going to be the same as autumn on the east coast. We just don’t have as many trees that turn so many vibrant shades of color. But we do have cottonwoods and aspens and willows, all of which turn yellow… usually some time around mid-September. As we probably should have expected, given the utter chaos that was 2020, the status of Colorado’s fall colors was thrown into question when the mountains got a dusting of snow at the end of August. And then another storm rolled in immediately after Labor Day weekend and dumped up to 14 inches of snow. The cold and snow – coupled with the previous two months of drought – meant we were now at risk of the trees turning from green straight to brown. But all hope was not lost.

Colorado, Southwestern US, Travels, US National Parks

Life on the Edge of a Cliff – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado (part II)

(Read part I of this post here) Most people don’t know this, but one of my majors in college was anthropology. Granted, it was anthropology with a biological focus. But I still took all the introductory classes, including archaeology. In fact, I initially signed up for an anthropology course because I wanted to be an… Continue reading Life on the Edge of a Cliff – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado (part II)

Colorado, Southwestern US, Travels, US National Parks

Into the Past – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado (part I)

A couple years ago, I wrote all about Mesa Verde based on my visit to this fascinating park back in 2010. But Pat had never been there and it’s a place I was happy to return to, so in early July of last year we headed out for a week long exploration of southwestern Colorado,… Continue reading Into the Past – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado (part I)

Southwestern US, Travels, US National Parks

In the crater of a volcano – Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

Pat has been wanting to visit New Mexico since the day we arrived in Colorado. He didn’t really know anything about the state and, as a result, I think there was an aura of mystery surrounding it. I have to admit, I see his point; New Mexico rarely seems to be the topic of any… Continue reading In the crater of a volcano – Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

Colorado, Travels

Colorado Destinations: Manitou Cliff Dwellings

Winter 2019 in Colorado was a ridiculous one. I hear. It was our first winter out here, but everyone we talked to assured us that it was unusual. The season began fairly mild but by March – right about the time I was ready for winter to end – the snow arrived with a vengeance… Continue reading Colorado Destinations: Manitou Cliff Dwellings

Colorado, Travels

Colorado Destinations: Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

If ever there was an area of the US with a bizarre history, this is it. Even the name – which combines ‘arsenal’ and ‘wildlife’ into the same sentence – suggests that this land has quite the storied past. Located immediately northeast of Denver, the land encompassed today by Rocky Mountain Arsenal used to be… Continue reading Colorado Destinations: Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge