Monday, July 30, 2012

Zac Brown and the Capitol

Cheyenne is the capital of Wyoming, the least populous state in the US. I love to tour capitol buildings, so off we went. The dome is visible from all over town, and is covered in gold leaf.

Outside are several statues. Chief Washakie earned a reputation that lives on to this day-fierce warrior, skilled politician and diplomat, great leader of the Shoshone people, friend to white men. He was 102 years old when he died in 1900 - amazing!

The statue is very detailed. In addition to the beading, there are drawings on his robe.

A view of the dome looking up from inside.

The floors are white and black marble.

And the skylights in the Senate and House chambers are also stained glass.

One of the rooms has a 22' mural that depicts activities in Wyoming, both past and present.

One night we went to an old-fashioned melodrama. Fortunately, in the end, the good guys beat the bad guys, after the heroine almost got sawed in two by a cardboard saw.

One of the highlights of Cheyenne Frontier Days is the great concerts they have. We chose to go see the Zac Brown Band. Even though it was sold out, it was easy to get tickets from individuals right outside the gates.

We got there early and listened to 3 other bands, but finally the headliners came on.

In case you aren't familiar with the band, this is probably their most famous song, "Toes." (Sorry the thumbnail is so blurry - the video is better.)

And this is my favorite, "As She's Walking Away." Always brings tears to my eyes.

Well, that's about it for Cheyenne. We're moving on to Longmont, CO now, where Phil and I are hosting the group.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Flippin' Pancakes

While in Cheyenne, the WINs are staying on a lot behind the VFW. It's a lovely spot, with a noisy, smelly refinery nearby. As an added bonus, between us and the refinery is a busy double-track railroad track.

All over town are 8' tall painted boots. This one is different in that it's a mosaic.

The Union Pacific and BNSF railroads intersect in Cheyenne, creating a gigantic railyard. The Railroad Depot here was built in 1886.

The railyard contains some unique items.

Some of them are rusty.

New this year in the front of the depot is this horse made out of all kinds of rusty metal pieces.

And here in the Depot Plaza is where the famous free Pancake Breakfast is done several times during Frontier Days.

The long line moves very quickly, about as fast as you can walk. They feed 100 people per minute, and over 10,000 people each morning.

And how can they make all these pancakes?

Many large grills are used, and when they are done, the pancakes are flipped over the cook's shoulder to be caught by Boy Scouts on trays. As you can see in the video, they catch most of them...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Daddy of 'Em All

There is a rodeo every day during Cheyenne Frontier Days. And the competitors are the top in the world. During the pre-show my favorite participants were these horses that had apparently just had highlights done on their manes. Maybe...

My favorite competition was the bull riding. And these bulls are HUGE! Very few of the competitors stayed on for the 8 seconds. This is Corey Maier, who tied for the lead with his brother, Ardie.

Steer wrestling was also popular. Steers are given a 30-foot head start, then the cowboy chases and jumps off his horse and wrestles the steer to the ground. The cowboy has help from a "hazer" riding on the other side of the steer. It's also fun to see some of the steers outsmart the cowboy.

Saddle Bronc Riders and Bareback Riders also must stay on for 8 seconds, holding on with only one hand.

It obviously requires a lot of strength. Take a look at this guys face -


We also saw Barrel Racing (the only ladies event), Team Roping, Steer Roping, and Tie-Down Roping.

Hats went flying frequently.

This guy's hat must be glued on...

This trick roper, who looked like he was about 12, performed frequently during the rodeo.

This is my very favorite, and quickest event - The Dinner Bell Derby. Mommy mares are taken to the other end of the track from their babies. Then the babies are let go, and guess what happens!

The last event, and the most popular, is the Wrangler Wild Horse Race. Teams of 3 attempt to saddle a very wild horse, then one rides the horse around the track, hopefully in the right direction (clockwise). Of the 14 teams, only 2 completed the race. Believe it or not, the wild horse race was one of the original rodeo events during the 1800s in the American West.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cheyenne Frontier Days

Cheyenne Frontier Days - an experience not to be missed! I'm anxiously awaiting the first of 3 monster parades this week, each over an hour long. They start at the capitol, and I think I can see them coming.

In most states, the Governor would be riding in a fancy car. But not in Wyoming! (Sorry I only got a butt shot...)

There are lots and lots of the most beautiful horses I have ever seen - from these giants (Percherons?) -

To this tiny baby pony on the right.

Some had fancy pedicures -

Some needed to go to the beauty shop for a haircut -

And some had just come from there with a fancy hairdo, complete with glitter.

With all these horses, there are bound to be a few "accidents." It used to be a guy following along behind with a shovel. But now -

There's are fancy "pooper scoopers" doing the job.

There were lots of floats in the parade - this one celebrating the last man to be legally hanged in Wyoming.

The Indians had a couple of floats. Why is he texting and not waving?

There were also lots of tractors -

And this cute little train.

Okay, now I need to turn on the recorder. I can never resist a rendition of "Orange Blossom Special" - the national anthem of fiddle players. Love it!

And last but not least, the rusty stuff!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Leadville Alternative

While visiting Leadville, the WINs stayed at Camp Hale, which was a WWII training camp. Unfortunately, while we were there, the road between us and Leadville collapsed over an old 1890s railroad tunnel. What to do?

Donna had an idea, so we all followed. There she goes, under the Eagle River Bridge.

Our first stop was the tiny town of Red Cliff. It used to be an old mining town, but now it seemed kind of like a hippie town.

There are lots of old skis in the thrift shops around here, and it seems to be a popular way to make fences.

This house was most unusual!

From there we went up and over Shrine pass, where we did a short walk to the viewpoint of Mount of the Holy Cross, one of Colorado's many 14ers. When the snow is melting, it makes the shape of a cross, but we were too late.

We then made a loop on I-70, and came back through the town of Minturn. There is a really unique water pipeline on top of a trestle there.

Also the old abandoned mining town of Gilman.

Back at camp, a hawk was attacking a poor little bat while we were gathered for our afternoon get-together. The bat wrapped himself around an antenna, then couldn't get free. But Mike saved him by unwinding him, and he happily flew away.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Air is Thin in Leadville

Leadville, CO is the highest incorporated town in the US, at 10,152 feet above sea level. It's an old mining town. I loved this mural, and got a kick out of the sign on the right, "Accountant upstairs." Not what I was expecting to be upstairs based on the mural...

The buildings in town, even regular houses, are painted in colorful designs.

But there are also a lot of buildings that either were never painted, or haven't been painted in quite a while. Almost like there is a ban on new paint.

But there are exceptions to that rule too.

Everyone has flowers in their yard. This pink columbine is just as pretty as the blue one found in the wild.

This is the most unusual flower I saw. It's an African Daisy called "Whirlygig." (I did some Googling and had some help from Phil...)

Circling the town is a 10-mile long bike/hike trail that goes by a lot of the old mines.

Does it get any better than this? Rusty stuff in the foreground, old mine shaft in the middle, and the town of Leadville, Turquoise Lake, and the Rocky Mountains in the background.

So much rusty stuff, so little time...