“Butterflies are self propelled flowers”

Title quote by R.H. Heinlein

Today we visited the Butterfly Pavilion for the first time.  It’s pretty cool.  Bugs, spiders and other creepy crawlies thrive in (safe and secure) glass boxes under warm lights.  Colorful fish, crustaceans and other wiggly, swimming, little sea creatures pass the time in what appear to be giant fishbowls.  Brave little kids let a scary, hairy tarantula named Rosie, crawl on their hands.  (I get the shivers just thinking about it.)  I put on my big-girl pants and touched a big horseshoe crab (only for a second and with permission).

My favorite part of our visit was the Wings of the Tropics exhibit:  a lush, humid, tropical garden filled with exotic plants and flowers with graceful curves and seductive swoops that have names I can’t pronounce without great effort.  The tropical colors are incredible…bright reds, pinks and fuschias, deep velvety greens, electric blues, brilliant yellows and warm golds.  A gentle mist filters into the garden keeping both sturdy plant leaves and fragile flower petals blanketed in sparkling diamonds of water drops.

Most incredible though are the beautiful, fluttering butterflies that fill the air.  Their colorful wings propel them silently about like hosts of swirling angels.  Sometimes you can’t even see them; nevertheless, you know they’re there.  If you’re lucky, one will alight on your sleeve.  Like being kissed by an angel.

A garden and a ghostly mine

I love driving around in Colorado!  This weekend was no exception.  After lunch on Saturday in Castle Rock, it was on to Garden of the Gods, an amazing geological park just outside Colorado Springs.  I would love to explain to you all the different rock formations and how they came to be, but I’m no geologist.  In fact, some who know me might even say I don’t know schists from Shinola!   But what I do know is how to point a camera at pretty rocks!

Garden of the Gods


Cathedral Spires


Garden of the Gods in black and white


Sunset buck


Today I happened upon an abandoned mine above Central City…the Coeur d’Alene mine.  When I left Denver, the weather was sunny and mild.  As I drove higher up into the mountains, the clouds started to flex their muscles and show off by spitting snowballs…little tiny ones. It got cold and windy, the sky turned a grayish white – not optimal photography conditions.  But the mine was striking in its imposing, rusty splendor.  I was drawn to quiet deserted corners.  I apprehensively peered into doorways and tried to jump up to see in windows.  I imagined the power of the now forgotten machinery as it may have once been: roaring and belching the smoke of productivity.  I watched, waited, listened…for the stories.  I heard them.

Tractor and shed


Wheat and bolts


Danger window

Rusty shingles

Rusty National

Rusty buckets

Rusty bolts

Nails in the wall

Big Bolt

Coeur d'Alene Mine




A walk around a lake and a stroll through a cemetery

The weather in Denver last weekend was perfect for taking a lazy walk, dawdling lakeside, meandering around an old cemetery or enjoying a sightseeing, people-watching drive around the city.  Sloan Lake Park was sprinkled with folks leisurely strolling, energetically walking, healthfully jogging, racing around on bicycles or dutifully pushing strollers.  Kids were playing with bright colored balls and floating balloons on strings.  Games were being played on asphalt courts. Bits and pieces of conversations, carried along on gentle autumn breezes, could briefly be overheard .  Geese obliviously plucked at the still-green grass or enjoyed a dip in the azure blue water.  Two fluffy squirrels perched high atop a building’s rooftop ledge kept a nervous eye on all below.  The sun’s warm rays cast a burnished red on drying plants and tall cattails at the water’s edge.

The sloping hillsides of the historic Golden Hill Cemetery are scattered with aged headstones: some still standing tall, some leaning over with age, and still others toppled over.  The landscape seems long ago consumed by nature’s overgrown grasses, weeds and leafless trees. The stillness of the afternoon air provoked a certain melancholy.  Yet the quiet beauty of the late fall day was apparent – and appreciated.

Cadet Chapel

Setting out on a drive yesterday with no particular destination in mind, I found myself at the United States Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in Colorado Springs.  I have lived in Colorado for 30 years, and yesterday – a very gray day – was the day I chose to get off the interstate and pay a visit.  I can’t believe I waited this long.

Here are a few facts for those of you who may not be familiar with this incredible building:

The building was designed by Walter A. Netsch, Jr. of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (think John Hancock Center, the Sears Tower and Republic Plaza for those of you in Denver).  The contractor, Robert E. McKee, Inc. of Santa Fe, New Mexico, began construction in 1959 and finished in the summer of 1963.  The 17-spire building is made of aluminum, glass and steel.  Tetrahedrons form the geometry of the ceiling of the 99-feet high Protestant Chapel (the Catholic, Jewish and Buddhist chapels are one story below).

The main Protestant Chapel seats 1,200. The altar is made of sleek marble with travertine marble legs.  The most striking element of the chancel is the aluminum cross – 46 feet high, 12 feet wide and weighing 1,200 pounds.

The organ in the chapel, pictured taking up most of the window below, is one of the most magnificent pieces in the country.  The pipes range in size from 32 feet high to the size of a pencil.

The focal point of the Catholic Chapel is the beautiful mosaic on the wall behind the altar.  Superimposed on the mural are the Blessed Virgin Mary (pictured below) and Archangel Gabriel.  The side walls of the chapel are amber glass with multi-colored cast glass strip windows.  The 14 Stations of the Cross are made of 4-inch thick marble slabs.

If you haven’t already visited the Cadet Chapel, you should.  Bring your camera.