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Ciao 2015!

Each year, I feel blessed by the life that I’ve been given. I’m healthy, and happy, and have the ability to spend much of my time doing the things I enjoy. I get to spend my days with my husband, friends and family. As I reflect back on 2015, I’m surprised at how quickly it has flown by, and what amazing things I’ve done! 2015 was certainly a year full of travel – so much that I had to expand my Top 10 list to 12!

In no particular order:

  1. We welcomed a new niece to the family in early February, and this little one is busy exploring the world and is just days away from walking!
  2. The El Niño phenomenon brought us a crazy-mild winter. We are talking temps in the 60s in February. Which was perfect for a Valentine’s Day getaway to the first-ever Bubbles Fest at Anne Amie Winery. Eleven Oregon sparkling wine producers, about 25 wines, oysters on the half shell, chocolate, and gorgeous “sitting on the patio” weather! I hope they do this festival again!
  3. Jon and I took a mini-getaway in late March back to Moab, Utah and Salt Lake City. We hiked Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and we visited Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. And, I zip-lined for the first time and loved it!
  4. We knocked another National Park off our list by visiting Mount Rainier in April, on an unseasonably warm weekend. Temps were in the mid-60s! We snow-shoed for the first time, and did several great hikes, in addition to staying at the National Park Inn, our first “in park” accommodations!
  5. We spent a fun long weekend with my family on the Oregon Coast. Jon and I also had a chance to visit a few of the area’s attractions – beer, wine, a lighthouse, and Lewis and Clark’s Winter Fort! The beach at Nehalem Bay State Park is also where I experienced the most beautiful sunset of the year!
  6. There were no major illnesses or injuries among our “herd” this year! Biz is 28, and rocking his mostly toothless smile, after having four more teeth removed in June. Oliver is doing well on his kidney food, and is healthy, other than a random couple of days of vomiting in early December. Oscar still loves getting love on his terms, and Coraline got even pudgier, despite a year on diet food. Time to crack down on portion sizes!
  7. After having such a nice long weekend with Jon’s parents last year, we decided to take a week-long trip to Colorado in August. I planned an epic road trip to see five National Parks and Monuments, and lots of other fun stuff! We had a great time!
  8. I completed my 7th half-marathon in September – the Woodinville Wine Country Half-Marathon. The cool temperature was wonderful, the course was fast, and I shaved 18 seconds off of my previous personal record – despite not having trained for it! Jon got second place in his age division too, and we enjoyed some nice wines and beer at the end!
  9. Our big trip this year took place in October – a trip that has been in the works for three years now! We had almost two weeks to tour Virginia (with a couple of stops in other states). We saw Shenandoah National Park, four Presidential homes, five Civil War battlefields and the place where Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. We also saw several other historic sites, and we finished off with a trip to Chincoteague Island to see the ponies made famous by Marguerite Henry and her children’s books. The memories will last a lifetime.  More posts on the trip are coming!
  10. I’ve been at my new job almost a year, and am enjoying the work (and the vacation accrual!) and making new friends. I miss seeing my old friends every day, but that’s just a reason to make sure we get together.
  11. Jon and I were feeling a bit sun deprived in December with all the rain here in the Northwest, so we booked a last minute weekend getaway to Joshua Tree National Park, in southern California. We hiked to our hearts content and added yet another park to the notches on our belts! The weather was dry the whole time, and it warmed up each day; it was the perfect sunny respite from our torrential downpours!
  12. And last but certainly not least, I celebrated two milestones this year. Jon and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary in June, and I turned 40 in September. I’m getting used to the 40 thing…
A stunning sunset at the Nehalem Bay Campground.

A Fabulous Sunset!

I know I have a tendency to gripe about the weather (and wouldn’t you if you had moss growing in your ears!), but in reality I know how lucky I am. I hope 2016 brings as much joy as 2015 did. And dear readers, I wish all of you all the best for the New Year!

Colorado 2015: Highlights and Stats

Sadly, any good vacation must come to an end, and we were at the end of our Colorado Road Trip.  We loved the scenery, we loved the things we saw and experienced, and I think we managed to pack a lot into it!  So for those of you who like a stats recap, here we go!

Number of Flights: 4

Number of airport pat-downs: 2 (1 full body, 1 ankles only)

Miles Driven: 1188+

Number of Hotels: 7

Most nights in one hotel: 1 – we were constantly on the move this trip!

National Parks visited: 3 National Parks; 2 National Monuments

Number of historic tours: 3 – Healy House, Dexter Cabin, and the Matchless Mine

Animals seen: Moose (2), Least Chipmunks (dozens), Stellars Jay (a few), Clark’s Nutcracker (1), Yellow-bellied Marmot (3), Lizards (about a dozen), Rabbits (3), Squirrels (several), Pronghorn (about a dozen), Bighorn Sheep (6), and lots of other birds.

Temperature Variances: High temp, about 86 degrees (in Colorado National Monument and Great Sand Dunes National Park); Low temp – 40s (at night in Alamosa and Leadville).

Best Meal: Himalayan Pun Hill Kitchen, Montrose, Colorado and the Caspian Café, Colorado Springs

Best Hike: Star Dune – Great Sand Dunes National Park

Place I most want to go back to and see more of: Grand Junction, CO, and Colorado National Monument

Most unpleasant experience: Altitude sickness and a pounding headache on Pikes Peak

Number of bear coats I tried on: 1

Number of  thunder and lightning storms: 2 (in Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado Springs)

Number of awe-inspiring views: Too many to count!

What stats do you like to see? 

Colorado 2015: Pikes Peak

Colorado – Day 8: August 8, 2015

Our last day had arrived – I wasn’t ready yet!

But before we headed for home, it was time for Pikes Peak! Pikes Peak is one of the tallest mountains in the continental United States; but not the tallest. It isn’t even the tallest in Colorado – that distinction belongs to Mount Elbert, near Leadville. But Pikes Peak is one of the tallest mountains in the United States that you can drive to the top of! 14,415 feet! Some signs say 14,410, but apparently the 14,415 is the correct height. We drove up slowly, stopping at all the various viewpoints along the way. We saw some spectacular views and learned some interesting things.

Pikes Peak from a distance

Pikes Peak from a distance

 

Me with my new boyfriend!

Me with my new boyfriend!

For instance, I had no idea what a popular site Pikes Peak is for daredevils and crazies trying to bring attention to their cause. One man rolled a peanut with his nose all the way up the road to Pikes Peak – it took him 21 days!   Others pushed a piano from Glen Cove to the summit in about 29 minutes. There is even a race, up the mountain; the fastest racers make it up to the top of the mountain in about 10 minutes –  this is not a road I would want to be speeding on!

Looking back at the road up Pikes Peak.

Looking back at the road up Pikes Peak.

 

Driving in the clouds, literally!

Driving in the clouds, literally!

We got to the top in one piece, and Robby decided that he had to try the famous Pikes Peak donuts. I’m not sure why they are famous, and they didn’t seem any different than regular cake donuts. They were good, but not famous good.

L to R: Jon, me, Robby's donut, and Robby.

L to R: Me, Jon Robby’s donut, and Robby.

 

Jon and me at the summit.

Jon and me at the summit.

We also saw the arrival of the cog railway train, bringing tourists up the mountain with a mechanical train – it gets pulled up the hill by cogs on the track, rather than by a powered engine. That was neat to see! I’m not sure I would have wanted to take that train up Pikes Peak though, because you are up there an hour before the return trip down. And unfortunately, within a half hour on the top, I was developing what would become an absolutely splitting headache!

 

The view from the summit of Pikes Peak

The view from the summit of Pikes Peak

We headed down, and on the way, I finally was able to photograph Bighorn Sheep! I saw them too late to stop without turning around, so my photograph from the car while moving will have to suffice for now. They are still blurry, but at least recognizable! Sorry if blurry pictures make you nauseous (like they do me).

Sorry they are blurry, but I saw Bighorn Sheep!

Sorry they are blurry, but I saw Bighorn Sheep!

We also had another chance to practice putting our rental car in low gear, as the Pikes Peak Highway has grades between 7 and 13 percent. I’m sure the rental car places love when tourists go to Pikes Peak!

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

 

Jon finding the best view

Jon finding the best view

 

The treeline on Pikes Peak

The treeline on Pikes Peak

Sadly, my headache just kept getting worse, and by the time we stopped for lunch, I was one sad puppy. Ouch! We had lunch at the Colorado Mountain Brewery, and Jon ordered us an appetizer of nachos to arrive quickly, just in case the lack of food was causing my brain crushing headache. After five years of marriage, he’s a smart man! And I quickly sucked down two sodas and three glasses of water, in case it was a lack of caffeine or a lack of hydration. One of these three remedies helped, but unfortunately I battled the headache off and on to various degrees for the rest of the day… I guess summiting Mount Everest just isn’t in the cards for me…

And just like that, it was time for the 75 mile drive back to the airport, to head home. It was an uneventful check in, except for the fact that my ankles are little terrorists, and had to get a brief, respectful pat down at security. Another flight home from a wonderful vacation – and my headache finally went away…

Total driving distance on Day 8: 147 miles – Colorado Springs – Pikes Peak – Denver International Airport

 

 

 

Colorado 2015: Florissant Fossil Beds!

Day 7: August 7, 2015

Did you know that the Redwood tree, now native to only a small part of coastal California, once lived in Colorado?  We were about to go see some! But first, we were going to see the homestead of a very strong, independent woman.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, in Florissant, Colorado

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, in Florissant, Colorado

We got to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument just in time to catch a ranger led tour of the Hornbek Homestead. We were pretty lucky to get the tour of the homestead, because it was only open for an hour! Adeline Hornbek put in a homestead claim on land in the Florissant Valley in the 1870s.  Adeline was a single woman living on the prairie – certainly an unusual arrangement at the time. In fact, she had some difficulty getting her land deeded to her after homesteading it for the requisite number of years under the Homestead Act, due to the fact that she had no husband.

The Hornbek Cabin - larger and nicer than most during the period.

The Hornbek Cabin – larger and nicer than most during the period.

On the tour, we were able to go inside the two story cabin that Adeline Hornbek built for herself and her family.  The cabin was larger than was typical homestead cabin at the time – a two story, four bedroom home with over a dozen glass-paned windows.  The ranger also told us about Adeline’s life, which was pretty interesting.

The cooking stove inside the Hornbek Cabin

The cooking stove inside the Hornbek Cabin

She was married three times in her life – her first husband died in a flood, her second disappeared under mysterious circumstances.  It is still not known whether he walked away from the family or died.  After moving to the Florissant Valley and establishing her homestead, Adeline Hornbek married a third time, to a man who is thought to have been her employee.  The last husband outlived Adeline when she died of a suspected stroke.

The Hornbek Homestead

The Hornbek Homestead

We weren’t allowed to go into the root cellar and one of the original cabins (now used as a barn) because they have dirt floors, and Hanta virus is present there. Hanta virus is a respiratory disease caused by exposure to mouse urine and/or feces, and actually has a decently high fatality rate, so that was just fine with me. We also heard that around the time we were in Colorado, they had two deaths from the bubonic plague, probably contracted through exposure to prairie dogs. All the more reason to let wild animals be wild!

The root cellar at the Hornbek Homestead - you can't go inside due to the risk of Hanta virus

The root cellar at the Hornbek Homestead – you can’t go inside due to the risk of Hanta virus

I was also excited to get some great photos of some Wyoming Ground Squirrels (I didn’t touch or feed them!) and a Female Mountain Bluebird.

A female Mountain Bluebird at the Hornbek Homestead

A female Mountain Bluebird at the Hornbek Homestead

 

Two adorable Wyoming Ground Squirrels at the Hornbek Homestead.

Two adorable Wyoming Ground Squirrels at the Hornbek Homestead.

After the Hornbek homestead, we visited the Visitor’s Center and the fossil site and walked the 1 mile Petrified Forest Trail.

The site has several Redwood trees that were fossilized after they were killed during a volcanic eruption and its subsequent lahar, a mud flow that quickly buried everything in its path. It is fascinating to think that there were once Redwood trees in the plains states, now known only in a small area on the California Coast.

We saw several of the giant Redwood stump fossils that were so prominent here. Unfortunately, during the late 19th century, fossil hunters carted off many of the fossils at Florissant, both for research and for personal collections. One tree stump fossil even has two metal saws embedded in the stump, where fossil collectors were trying to cut the stump into more manageable pieces.

One of the petrified Redwoods at Florissant

One of the petrified Redwoods at Florissant

A petrified Redwood stump, with two saws embedded in it.

A petrified Redwood stump, with two saws embedded in it.

Other fossils of interest at Florissant include a small three toed horse, a tse tse fly (which currently only lives in Africa) and many types of plant and insect fossils. Some of these fossils can be seen in the Visitor’s Center – they keep the fossils out on the site covered to protect them.

A petrified trio of Redwoods - these three trees were clones of each other.

A petrified trio of Redwoods – these three trees were clones of each other.

The trail also showed the sites of two competing tourist lodges; one was removed by the Park Service after the monument was designated on August 20, 1969. Apparently the owners of the lodges had a passionate rivalry; there are stories of spike strips to flatten guests’ tires and at one point the two owners were shooting at each other!

It was beautiful! And a great walk to cap off our day.

We also made a quick visit to the Florissant School, a historic schoolhouse built in 1887.  The building is now used as the local Grange.  Our last task was to finish the drive to Colorado Springs – about an hour from Florissant; we stayed at the La Quinta Inn there.

The historic Florissant School, in Florissant, Colorado

The historic Florissant School, in Florissant, Colorado

For dinner we went across the parking lot to the Caspian Café. Jon and I split an avocado, orange and almond salad, and a Caspian Kebab Platter. It had both beef and chicken kebabs with broiled tomatoes, grilled pitas, greek yogurt, onions, sumac, and parsley over basmati rice with saffron butter and lemon. It was delicious! My mouth is watering again just thinking about it now…

Our Avocado, Orange and Almond Salad - Yummy!

Our Avocado, Orange and Almond Salad – Yummy!

To drink, I had the Kunde Magnolia Lane Sauvignon Blanc (delicious!) and Jon had a California Pinot Noir.  My mother-in-law Linda got the tzatziki and shared it with all of us, and the same salad that Jon and I had. Robby had a Mediterranean salad – they were all great meals.

Our Caspian Kebab Platter - it was so delicious!

Our Caspian Kebab Platter – it was so delicious!

The entertainment for the evening was a belly dancer, and she was quite good. She balanced swords everywhere during her performance, including her head, shoulders, hips and belly. I only dream of having that kind of talent – she was a very beautiful dancer.

And with that we turned in for the evening; and Jon and I quietly watched a thunder and lightning storm in the distance from the hotel balcony outside our room, before settling down to sleep.

Total driving distance on Day 7: 134 miles – Leadville– Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument – Colorado Springs

Hotel for the night: La Quinta, Colorado Springs South AP, Leadville – The hotel was nice, but a bit of a maze with all the rooms opening to the outside in their “courtyard configuration.”  The rooms were great though!  Breakfast was really crowded, and they were out of caffeinated tea.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument History

Approximately 34 million years ago, there was a lake environment in the Florissant Valley of Colorado.  The whole area was part of the Laramide Orogeny, which also formed the areas that now make up Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado National Monument, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, in Florissant, Colorado

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, in Florissant, Colorado

About 20 miles southwest of the Florissant Valley were several stratovolcanoes that erupted periodically.  Like Mount St. Helens in Washington state, these eruptions created large lahars, or mud flows, that would flow at high speeds down the valley.  One of the lahars flowed down into the lake in the valley, covering the flora and fauna in layers of mud, thereby creating a favorable environment for fossilization.

Florissant Fossil Beds contains thousands of fossils, with large numbers of invertebrates represented.  They include spiders, millipedes and bees, as well as clams and other mollusks.  Plant fossils include fruits, seeds, and cones, as well as 130 types of pollen.  I am amazed that you can tell one type of pollen from another when looking at a fossil!

And then, of course, there are the Redwood trees, part of the Sequoia family.  The redwoods that existed in the Florissant Valley are genetically distinct from the modern Redwoods in California.  But they are similar enough that it allows researchers to determine what the climate was like in Colorado at the time.

In the late 19th century, the fossils had been discovered, and researchers and tourists alike were flocking to the Florissant Valley to cart them off, especially large pieces of Redwood stumps.  At one point, two tourist lodges provided accommodations to tourists in the valley.  One of these lodges is actually the current Visitor’s Center.  The Park Service acquired the property after legal wrangling that pitted the Park Service and several scientists and citizens, who wanted the area protected, against landowners who profited handsomely from operating their concessions in the area.

The view from the trail - looking over at the Hornbek Homestead

The view from the trail – looking over at the Hornbek Homestead

The monument was signed in law on August 20, 1969 by President Richard Nixon.  It protect 5,998 acres of land, and now the park receives approximately 61,289 visitors.

We were going to visit next!

 

Colorado 2015: A Scenic Train Ride

Day 7: August 7, 2015

The day dawned sunny and a little cold, even in August, which I suppose is to be expected, since Leadville, Colorado is the highest altitude incorporated city in the United States.  It gets pretty cool at night at 10,152 feet in elevation! We got ready, and made our way over to the historic train depot, where our scenic train ride would depart.

The Leadville Train Depot - Built 1895

The Leadville Train Depot – Built 1895

The Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad is a scenic tourist train that takes you 9 miles up the mountain to the Continental Divide, at 11,000 feet in altitude.  The line travels along the original route of the Colorado and Southern Railroad line; the owners of the tourist train were able to buy the train and rights to the line for a song, but of course they have to pay for the maintenance!

Jon and me on the train.

Jon and me on the train.

Along the way, we traveled through the San Isabel National Forest, saw views of Arkansas Valley and Freemont Pass, and the two tallest mountains in Colorado, Mount Massive and Mount Elbert.  We also saw a view across the valley of the Climax mine, a currently operating molybdenum mine.

The Arkansas Valley

The Arkansas Valley

Molybdenum seems to be one of those completely obscure minerals – I certainly had heard of it, but had no idea what it was used for! As it turns out, it has many uses (beyond allowing me to use big words in my blog) – including to create alloys, as a fertilizer for some plants, and to bind ceramics and metals together.  It is also used to make radio tubes, and to make airplane parts. Who knew? It is also a trace element that all animals (including humans) need in low amounts to survive.

A View of the Arkansas Valley

A View of the Arkansas Valley

We sat in a train car that was covered, but open on the sides, so we had a nice view. We stopped at the water tank at French Gulch, which is one of the only remaining water tanks along the Colorado and Southern Railroad line.  During our stop, I got a chance to go through the engine and see the electronics that were powering us; this particular engine was built in the 1950s, so it seemed much simpler than things built today!

The Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad

The Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad

During the train ride, our conductor related stories about Leadville and its history, telling us about the Tabors, Molly Brown, and other notable residents.  She also told us about the wildlife that exists in and around Leadville, although we weren’t lucky enough to see any.  Of course they wouldn’t want to hang around, because trains are pretty loud!

Mount Massive in the distance - elevation 14,428 feet.

Mount Massive in the distance – elevation 14,428 feet.

The tour was about 2.5 hours, bringing us back to the Leadville Depot at about 12:30. Prime starvation time for me! We got on the road and headed back to lower elevations, finding lunch at the Evergreen Café in Buena Vista. We sat outside and enjoyed our lunches; French Dip and sweet potato salad with iced tea for me, fish tacos and coffee for Jon, a tofu Reuben and iced tea for Linda, and a burger with coffee for Robby.

After lunch, we had a couple of hours driving through prairie grasslands, seeing long abandoned cabins, horses, and even bison, although I assume they were farmed bison, rather than wild.  We were on our way to our next stop, at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.  We were going to learn about fossils in Colorado!

Colorado 2015: Leadville – 2 Miles High!

Day 6 – August 6, 2015

We arrived at the highest altitude incorporated city in the United States at 10,152 feet – Leadville, Colorado!  We were starving by the time we got there so the first order of business was a stop at the Tennessee Pass Café (Tennessee Pass is one of the mountain passes near Leadville).

Downtown Leadville

Downtown Leadville – this is not the Tennessee Pass Cafe

I had a fabulous buffalo burger with pasta salad, Jon had a buffalo burger with bacon on fried eggplant with Kettle Chips. I enjoyed a Cock’n’Bull Ginger Ale (the original brand for making a Moscow Mule) and Jon was happy with his Dog Fish Head IPA (a Delaware brewery). Linda had a delicious mushroom soup with lots of big chunks of mushrooms, along with a spinach and beet salad. Robby had a Caesar salad with shrimp. This was one of the best meals of the trip!

My buffalo burger at the Tennessee Pass Cafe. I was already halfway done when I remembered to take a photo.

My buffalo burger at the Tennessee Pass Cafe. I was already halfway done when I remembered to take a photo.

After satisfying our ravishing hunger, we drove over to do a tour of the Healy House and the Dexter Cabin – two tours for the price of one.

Dexter Cabin was built in 1879 by James V. Dexter, a successful businessman from Denver who had cabins in several Colorado towns where he did business.

The exterior of the Dexter Cabin - it looks small...

The exterior of the Dexter Cabin – it looks small…

It is quite surprising, because a small, plain exterior opens up to a lavishly decorated interior. The cabin has extravagant wallpaper, hardwood parquet floors, and a stove with inlaid European tile! It is much bigger than it looked from the outside too.

The Living Room of the Dexter Cabin - what a posh interior!

The Living Room of the Dexter Cabin – what a posh interior!

The stove, with inlaid Italian tile

The stove, with inlaid imported tile

Rumor has it that Dexter had high stakes poker games in the front room – with a minimum bet of $10,000!  The only room in the cabin that isn’t lavish is the kitchen – its simplicity is in contrast to the rest of the cabin – but apparently Dexter typically went out to eat.

After the Dexter Cabin, we went into the Healy House. It was built in 1878 by August R. Meyer for his wife Emma. Meyer was one of the founding fathers of Leadville, along with Horace Tabor.  The house at that time only had two stories, but was very richly appointed. It was definitely built as a status symbol!

The Healy House - built 1878

The Healy House – built 1878

The Meyers only lived here for a few years, and the new owners, Daniel Healy and his cousin Nellie, turned the home into a boarding house.  Nellie was also a schoolteacher in Leadville, and there are some interesting artifacts from her teaching days in the home, including her teaching certificate.

The Dining Room in the Healy House

The Dining Room in the Healy House

A bedroom in the Healy House

A bedroom in the Healy House

The third floor of the home was added on during its boarding house days. Interestingly, there is a distinct contrast between the first two floors and the third floor, which is much more utilitarian in design.

An antique bicycle! Want to go for a ride on that?

An antique bicycle! Want to go for a ride on that?

Our docent played an antique Victrola for us, letting us know how music sounded when played on the wax rolls that predated records.  And in case you were wondering why these two homes share a site – the Dexter Cabin was moved to this location around 1950.

When we left the Healy House, we still had a little more time before things shut down for the day. We drove up to the Matchless Mine. The Matchless is the mine that Horace Tabor purchased in 1879. Tabor was one of the richest men in Colorado, spending money to build the Tabor Opera House, the most expensive building constructed in Colorado, at that time.

One of the mine shafts at the Matchless Mine.

One of the mine shafts at the Matchless Mine.

Tabor also created a local scandal when he left his first wife for a younger, more extravagant model – Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor. Baby Doe was married once before to Harvey Doe, prior to her marriage to Horace Tabor – rumor has it that the nickname Baby Doe came from men watching her walk through the city when she was married to Doe.

Horace Tabor already was a rich man when he asked for a divorce from his first wife Augusta; he married Baby Doe shortly after the divorce was finalized.

At that point Tabor owned portions of several mines, but he wanted to own one all by himself; he purchased the Matchless Mine, which was already known for having periods of non-production, water leakage issues, and was embroiled in the legal action of previous owners. He was not to be dissuaded. The Matchless produced spectacularly for a while, but the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act led to a calamitous drop in silver prices in 1898. Horace Tabor’s fortunes evaporated, his family was destitute and he died of appendicitis in 1899.

In an ironic twist of fate, Tabor’s first wife invested in Singer Sewing Machine stock after their divorce, and ended up a rich woman. Baby Doe, with no money of her own, convinced the new owners of the Matchless Mine to allow her to move into the foreman’s shack on the property, where she lived out the rest of her life a virtual recluse.

The Foreman's Shack at the Matchless Mine, where Baby Doe Tabor lived her last years.

The Foreman’s Shack at the Matchless Mine, where Baby Doe Tabor lived her last years.

A devout Catholic, she refused a lot of charity from the community because she believed that she must do penance for her previous misdeeds. She died in 1935, her frozen body found several days after her death by a community member who noticed that the smoke was no longer rising from her wood stove.

The interior of the foreman's shack. The furniture is not Baby Doe Tabor's - most of her things were stolen by souvenir collectors after she died.

The interior of the foreman’s shack. The furniture is not Baby Doe Tabor’s – most of her things were stolen by souvenir collectors after she died.

Our visit was a self-guided tour – you receive a book with information about each stop, and you can look into the foreman’s shack where Baby Doe lived and died, the repair shop, the powder magazine, and down into the mine shaft.  The shafts all flooded way back when Baby Doe was still alive, so there isn’t much to see down in the shaft.  There was a neat miniature model of the mine that was created in the 1930s too!

The powder magazine at the Matchless Mine

The powder magazine at the Matchless Mine

The miniature model of the Matchless Mine, complete with a donkey hauling an ore car.

The miniature model of the Matchless Mine, complete with a donkey hauling an ore car.

My father-in-law enjoyed chatting with the present day owner of the mine, who explained in detail its operations, the number of employees at its height, techniques for mining silver, and the maximum output of the Matchless. The rest of us listened for a little while, but were eventually driven back to the car by the relentless mosquitoes.

That night, everybody was a bit burned out on restaurants, so we cobbled together a dinner of snacks and leftover pizza.  Our evening culminated with watching the Trump debacle on TV – the first of the Republican debates. I try to keep politics out of this blog, but dear lord, what is our country in for?

Total driving distance on Day 6: 95 miles – Salida – St. Elmo – Leadville

Hotel for the night: Super 8, Leadville – Hands down the shabbiest hotel of our trip.  The layout was strange, the windows needed to be replaced and the door didn’t close that well.  Not to mention, some men across the hall came back to their room at about 11:30 at night, and were quite loud in the hallway.  Not the hotel’s fault, but it certainly didn’t improve the “experience.”