Saturday, September 28, 2013

Red Rocks hike

I took a morning hike along the Red Rock trail and took a side trip to the famous Red Rocks concert venue.

Here is the back side of the venue, as seen from the trail.  The geology is interesting with all the big, reddish boulders; but you wouldn't suspect a world-class amphitheatre is on the other side.

I followed the trail up to the entry road and passed through the tunnel.

A sign pointed the way to the sidewalk leading to the amphitheatre.

I made my way to the front of the stage, which was being configured for the day's event, a sold-out concert by Big Gigantic (never heard of them) called Rowdytown 2.

The amphitheatre seating was currently in use by young athletes who wanted to be observed exercising by other young athletes.  Being neither fit nor young, I did not join them in scampering up and down the rows of seats.

I departed the amphitheatre via a ramp that appeared surprisingly delicate when I photographed it from the safety of the ground.

I capped my visit by visiting the Red Rocks Trading Post and purchasing a strawberry fruit-cicle, a delicacy so surpassingly satisfying that I completely forgot about my tired feet.

I hope that this modest travelogue piques your interest in visiting the Red Rocks amphitheatre.

[Disclaimer:  this blog entry should not be taken as an express or implied recommendation or warranty for the abilities of Big Gigantic, whoever they may be, or the entertainment value of their Rowdytown 2, whatever it may be.]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Humbling Experience

I needed four one-dollar bills to pay my bus fare tomorrow, so late this evening I walked to the nearby supermarket to break a five dollar bill.

All of the cashier stations are deserted after ten o'clock.  There are no helpful cashiers available to make change.  One must resort to the self-service barcode reader stations off to the side.

My mission was to find some foodstuff or household object costing less than one dollar.  This is no cinch in the modern supermarket.  Even the candy bars are 99 cents or $1.06 after sales tax.  Eventually I found a small container of mango lemonade for 88 cents or 94 cents after sales tax.

I scanned the mango lemonade at the self-service station, fed the five dollar bill into the slot, and received four crisp ones and six cents in change.  My mission was a success.

I walked outside and found a seat in the shadowy outdoor cafe area, lit at night only by oblique light through the supermarket windows.  I slouched back in a wire chair under the shelter of a canvas cafe umbrella and sipped my mango lemonade.

An elderly man -- a white-haired gent about seventy-five attired in a dress shirt and black pants -- made his way through the cafe area. 

"You're not staying here tonight, are you?" he asked.

"No, I plan to finish my lemonade and then walk home," I said.

"Good for you," he replied heartily and walked on.

Evidently, in dim light I more resemble a bum than a corporate middle manager.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dinosaur Ridge and Muddy Comments

I decided to hike the Hogback trail (Dakota Ridge) today, because this particular trail is quite rocky and probably less susceptible to damage from the recent floods than other foothills trails.  I only noticed damage as I climbed the first hundred yards, where the trail was an ascending dirt path.  Fast water had made a mess of the path, cutting a foot-deep channel down the middle.

Instead of hiking out to the scenic overlook as usual and then retracing my steps back over the Hogback to the parking lot, I arrived at the overlook and then walked down the asphalt road running along the base of the Hogback hills.  This is a tourist area called Dinosaur Ridge.

I strolled down the road to the famous patch of dinosaur footprints on the side of the hill.  A colorful sign caught my eye.

Here is the text, with my comments in brackets: 

Tracks, trails, and other traces of animal activity are referred to as "trace fossils."  Paleontologists recognize three different types of dinosaurs and a crocodile from their tracks at this site.  The most common trackways are from ornithopods, possibly by Eolambia [the yellow mother and child]. The second most common trackways are from a small theropod, like an orthinomimid [the tan dinosaur on the right, who looks like a plucked ostrich accessorized with a whippy tail].  A few tracks suggest a larger theropod, perhaps an acrocanthosaur [the red dinosaur with a nasty expression], was also present. 

The tracks, marked lightly with charcoal by park volunteers for easier viewing, were fascinating. 

The big tracks were about sixteen inches wide.

 The smallest tracks were three-toed prints about six inches wide that looked like bird tracks.

 The next sign explained the habitat in which these dinosaurs were gadding about.

Here is the text:

Tidal flats are muddy or marshy areas near the beach.  Beach sand here was covered by a muddy marsh.  The muddy layers became mudstone and were later removed by erosion and excavation, leaving the sandy surface (the ancient beach) that you see here.

Detailed tracks excavated from the mudstone layer here suggest that the dinosaurs were walking in the mud, pressing it down and depressing the sandy layers below.  The upper layer where the original tracks were made is now gone and the underprints on the sandstone layer have been exposed.

Speaking of mud:  As I made my way back to the parking lot I saw a mud slide area.  A section of a Hogback hill sloughed off during the heavy rains last week.

The sight reminded me of one of my favorite lyrics by Warren Zevon, from his 1976 song Desperados Under the Eaves:

And if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will

I predict this hotel will be standing until I pay my bill.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Summer Storm

I was walking the mile and a half to the library to return a sack of three books.  The sky was partly cloudy overhead, but there was a dark patch of clouds to the southeast.  However, as the wind was coming from the west, I felt relatively safe. 

By the halfway point in my walk, the wind shifted and was blowing from the south.  Dark clouds filled the eastern sky.  Here is a photograph I took looking north.

El Greco captured a similar skyscape in his famous painting of Toledo.

The wind quickly shifted again and now blew from the east.  The wall of dark clouds began moving my way. 

Gray clouds at the bottom of the cloud bank sped over me and began to swirl. Cold gusts of wind hit me, knocking my baseball cap off my head.  Distant tornado sirens blared.  I hoofed it with all haste and reached Wal-Mart as fat raindrops began to fall.

Taking refuge in the Wal-Mart parking garage, I determined to wait out the storm.  I had an hour and a half until the library closed at 5:00 p.m.; the rain would surely let up well before then, I thought.  I was mistaken.  The rain came down hard and steady until shortly after 5:00 p.m. when my son drove up to give me and my sack of library books a ride home.    

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Looking up

I was hiking on Mount Galbraith today.  The trail -- a well-maintained path about as wide as a sidewalk -- rises from the parking lot next to the highway, circles the mountain about half way up, and then retraces back to the parking lot.  Easy as pie.  Except that today I lost track of the actual trail about half way around the mountain and took a narrow, twisty semblance of a trail (possibly just a path through the weeds trampled down by deer) up to the rounded summit.  I was clearly off the beaten track.  No other hikers were in sight.  If I broke an ankle here, it would be a case of "That's all she wrote" and "Goodnight, Irene."  Fortunately, before I had a chance to get too panicky, I spotted a continuation of the narrow trail.  Descending gingerly on the loose rocks, I made my way down the mountain and rejoined the real trail.

In all the anxiety of the descent I forgot to look around for something interesting to photograph.  Finally, I looked up.  Nine hang gliders were gracefully swooping in the sky overhead.  Here is the nearest one.