Stations of the Cross Shrine

The best road trips are often those that begin with a plan as simple as getting in the car and heading in a particular direction.  No intended destination, no rigid itinerary to keep up with, no reservations and no idea what you’ll discover along the way.  I call these adventures!

On our most recent adventure, we found ourselves in San Luis, Colorado.  San Luis is the oldest settlement in Colorado dating back to 1851 when it was part of the Territory of New Mexico…10 years before the  establishment of the Colorado Territory.  Located in Costillo County in southern Colorado, the town is small with a population of under 1,000.  But this tiny historic town has a very unique feature…a mountaintop art installation depicting the Stations of the Cross.  Bronze sculptures created by local artist, Huberto Maestas, line a 3/4-mile trail that switchbacks its way up the  La Mesa de la Piedad y de la Misericordia (the Hill of Piety and Mercy).  The La Capilla de Todos Los Santos (The Chapel of All Saints) at the summit is a beautiful spot for reflection with spectacular views to valley below.

Rustic beauty

Rustic (ruhs-tik) :  def.  1. Suitable for the country.  2. Made of rough limbs of trees.  3. Of or resembling country folk.  4. Lacking in social graces or polish.  5. Simple, artless or unsophisticated.  6. Uncouth, crude, boorish, awkward.  7. Having rough surfaces.  8. Lacking refinement or elegance.  9. Charmingly simple.

I think there is an inherent allure to battered old barns, wooden fence posts or rusty nails.  Charmingly simple.

Castlewood Canyon

A recent Sunday drive south on Parker Road out of Denver ended at Castlewood Canyon State Park. This is a lovely state park with hiking trails, sightseeing, and picnic areas.  Cherry Creek runs along the bottom of the canyon.  Ruins of the Castlewood Canyon Dam that broke in 1933 flooding Denver and an abandoned homestead reveal bits and pieces of local history.   This park should be on your list of places to visit this year.

I know I’ll be going back.


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




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.

Vignettes from a ghost town

On a wonderful summertime trip with two dear friends, we visited St. Elmo – one of Colorado’s best-preserved ghost towns. Legend has it the town is still haunted by its founding daughter, Annabelle Stark. Maybe you can see her peering through the grimy window of the old hotel? Or glimpse her reflection in the remnants of still-gleaming glass bottles long ago abandoned in the barnyard? And if you’re very still, perhaps you can even hear the sound of her clicking footsteps on the creaky old wooden boards of the sidewalk as she shuffles along keeping her ghostly watch on the town.

I’m pretty sure I saw her!