Thursday, April 18, 2013

Colorado Trip - Day Three

I woke up on day three REALLY excited about the Rocky Mountain Arsenal/National Wildlife Refuge. Mountain. Wildlife. Refuge. If you know me at all, you know why those three words got me pumped!

I might have griped at Ryan when he posted this picture on Facebook, because even after losing 30lbs, all I can see is how much I have left to lose. After he basically told me to get over myself, I realized he was this is my attempt at doing just that. ;)

This Wildlife Refuge used to be an Army chemical weapons manufacturing facility (hence the name...) but in the 1990's was restored to be a home for over 300 species of wildlife, including deer, bison, coyotes, red fox, rabbits, ducks, birds and one of our favorites, prairie dogs! Before entering the Wildlife Refuge, we walked through the museum to learn the history behind this 17,000 acre property.

It was so strange to think that during the 20th century, you might have to sport one of these bad boys on the very property that now provided a home for so many animals. 

Ryan loved looking at the chemical weapons control panel.

I took a moment to appreciate the Army switchboard, thinking how far women have come since the days when this was one of few jobs "acceptable" for a woman. 

After we left the museum portion, we got back in the car to drive through the wildlife refuge. We had barely crossed through the gates when we spotted a few rabbits and about 20 prairie dogs hanging out near the trail.  Similar to the deer at Red Rocks, they were not the least bit affected by our presence. (Unlike the rabbits, who scampered away.) They almost seemed to pose for the camera. They were talking to each other and carrying on. Ryan and I had so much fun watching them do their prairie dog activities!

As we rounded the corner, we entered "bison territory". I had so hoped there would be some close to the trail, but they were all grazing in the middle of the field.

I've always really loved ducks, and the Wildlife Refuge had seven different species. We were instructed not to get out of our cars, so I wasn't able to get very good pictures, but I loved seeing them all in the ponds on site.  We also saw a few mule deer, but they were pretty far away as well.

We also caught a glimpse of some of the bird species as they flew across our path.
On our way out Ryan pointed out the window in time for me to see a GIANT hawk nest in the trees. We soon realized that there was one in every tree in this area of the refuge. It was quite a site.

After our morning adventure at the refuge, we grabbed lunch at the hotel and headed back out to explore the other side of the downtown area. They had a beautiful park area that Ryan had noticed on our first day in the city.
Ryan loved when the buildings were "labeled" to explain their history.
The building directly across from us was the Denver Tramway Power Company (dating back to 1901, per the signage) which had been turned into one of the largest REI's I've ever seen. 

They are in the process of restoring two old trollies for downtown tours. I can't wait to come back and see the city this way. 

We wandered down the walking trail a bit and found some really beautiful art under the highway. Ryan & I immediately saw the message - We are all equal. Nature included. It was really a striking statement.  

A little further down was the Centennial Gardens...
 ...which was, unfortunately, closed.

We headed back to the center of the park just in time to see a kayaking class in progress. We grabbed a seat and enjoyed the breeze as we watched them navigate the river.


Around dinner time, we loaded back into the car and headed just northwest of Denver to spend the evening with our friends, Brent, and his girlfriend Caley.

They live in an area that was just a short walk from a little lake with a mountain view. It was so pretty, and the weather was perfect.
The picture truly does not do it justice.
It was nice to just "unplug" and enjoy the company of a couple of really cool people after a busy day. Life in Colorado seems pretty darn awesome...

To be continued...

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