Having fun with photography, Edgerton Explorit Center, Aurora, Nebraska, August 20, 2017

Having fun with photography, Edgerton Explorit Center, Aurora, Nebraska, August 20, 2017
Having fun with photography, Edgerton Explorit Center, Aurora, Nebraska, August 20, 2017

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Tale of Two Cities, Part 2 - Thurs., June 15, 2017

Driving time from Cheyenne to downtown Denver: about two hours. It was incredible how much traffic we sat in getting into the city...and it was around lunchtime.

You know you're in a big city when you pay an exorbitant amount to park downtown. Our motel out by the airport wasn't ready for us, so we decided to park the fully loaded van in a big parking garage across the street from where our walk started. We paid $20 for the privilege and spent about four hours in downtown Denver.

Our walk started at the Courtyard by Marriott. As we came out of the parking garage side door, we had to cross what we thought was a "pedestrian" mall lined with restaurants and shops. I was ahead of Darren and Susan by a few minutes and I easily walked across the "mall" to the hotel and signed in for the walk. 

When Susan and Darren came in a few minutes later, they were a bit flustered. They came out of the same parking garage side door and were about to cross the mall when a bus almost hit them. It seems their "pedestrian mall" allows buses to traverse the length of it. It's a good thing we learned that quickly. Our walk started out with us going along that very mall. 

All of us were hungry, so we had lunch at Chili's before we started walking. The food and service were very good. Fueled up, we started our 11k (6.8 mile) Capitol Volksmarch. 


Artsy blue trees
Our first impression of downtown Denver, besides being very crowded on the streets at lunchtime, was the number of beggars in the downtown core. Wow...eye opening.

We also noticed some trees were painted blue--electric blue to be precise. There is also a massive blue bear continually peeking into the front window of the Colorado Convention Center. (We'll see the bear later in this blog.)


checked the internet for "blue trees in Denver" and found an article on 9News titled, "Here's why there are blue trees in Denver," by Mike Grady, KUSA, dated April 23, 2017. Here are some excerpts:
That begged the question,"Why are the trees blue?"
"You're almost coming into a three-dimensional, Dr. Seuss, surreal environment," said New Zealand artist Konstantin Dimopoulos. 
The Blue Trees is a project Konstantin came up with to draw attention to deforestation. "How do you make that visible in an urban environment? My way was to acctually bring some color into it," says Konstatin. He applies a biologically safe, water-based colorant to the trees...
The idea is to attract people's attention, "then we start discussing the importance of trees," explains Konstantin. "Not only the importance of trees in a city, but the importance of trees for us phyically around the world, and how important they are for us breathing..."
Since the colorant is water based, a good dousing of rain will wash it away...
We were lucky to find the trees still blue in mid-June!

Denver's downtown
The art of reflected buildings
Unlike the Cheyenne walk where we didn't reach the Capitol until almost the end of the walk, here in Denver the Capitol was at the beginning of the walk. This was great for us. Much to our chagrin, however, the Denver Capitol was under construction as well, but this Capitol stayed open during construction. 


Denver's Capitol
Capitol dome
Capitol under construction (but still open)
When we arrived inside the Capitol, a tour was scheduled to depart in three minutes. We signed up and, lucky for us, this tour would go up into the dome! The tour started out with five people, but about 20 minutes into it, we had a group of 22. 

Unlike Cheyenne, Wyoming, which was built because of the railroad and Cattle Barons, Denver sprang up because of the discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains in 1858. When the first Territorial Legislative Assembly met in Denver in 1861 to debate the location of the capital city, they decided on Colorado City, now a part of Colorado Springs. One year later, the capital was moved to Golden. In 1867, the seat of government was moved back to Denver, where it has remained ever since.

Excavation for the capital building did not begin until the summer of 1886, ten years after Colorado's statehood was granted. The construction lasted nearly 15 years until 1901, although many offices were in use in 1894. 


Inside Denver's Capitol
Our tour guide and interior of Capitol
The building committee decided to use as much material as possible from Colorado in constructing the Capitol. Granite for the outer walls came from Gunnison, sandstone for the foundations from Fort Collins, marble for the floors from the town of Marble, and rose onyx for the wainscoting from Beulah. Other materials used in the Capitol were ornamental brass from Louisville, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio, white oak from the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas and Missouri, and marble stair treads and panels were shipped to Denver from other states. The granite cornerstone, located at the northeast corner of the building, weighed 20 tons in its rough state. The Colorado Capitol was designed on an axis in the form of a Greek cross and resembles the basic design of the nation's Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you more about the rose onyx used for the wainscoting. The pink coloration of this onyx has not been found anywhere else in the world. It took seven years to complete the installation of the rose onyx. More than a thousand likenesses have been found in the stone that resemble famous people, animals, and objects. Among the most famous are the faces of George Washington (west wing rotunda wall) and Molly Brown (west wing archway).
Rose onyx wainscoting
The yule marble from Marble, Colorado, is also special. The builders decided to use native marble even though it would have cost less to ship marble from Itlay than it cost to transport it from the Colorado mountains. Yule marble, noted for its beauty and durability, was also used in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Lincoln Memorial.

Our tour guide directed our attention to "Women's Gold," a hand-stitched embroidery and appliqué tapestry that is 9' x 12' and took 4,500 hours and two years of intensive work to complete. More than 3,500 people put at least one stitch in the tapestry. It pays homage to the courage, perseverance, and sacrifices women made to help settle and civilize the state. 

The title, "Women's Gold," comes from the practice of many pioneer women carrying the roots of flowers and herbs from their former eastern homes to their new homes in the West. The Yellow Harrison Rose, in particular, flourished along the mining town mountain slopes, and the miners dubbed them "women's gold."


"Women's Gold" tapestry
The tapestry river represents Clear Creek, where gold was discovered in 1859. All the plants and animals displayed are native to Colorado. Along the border, you will find the words to "America the Beautiful" which were written by Katharine Lee Bates after an inspirational journey to the top of Pike's Peak. Nineteen women, famous in Colorado's history, are seen along the creek. There is an informational flyer at the base of the tapestry which tells who each of these women are.

Next, we moved into the rotunda. Eight huge murals grace the walls. Every panel stresses the importance of water throughout Colorado's history. The pictures were painted on canvas in 1940 and then attached to the rotunda walls.


Three rotunda murals
Grand staircase in the rotunda
Grand staircase has 176 brass balusters
From the floor of the rotunda, you can see the dome high above. Located in the dome, the Colorado Hall of Fame contains stained glass portraits of 16 individuals who contributed to the initial growth and development of Colorado. These windows were placed in the dome in 1900,


Capitol dome with Colorado Hall of Fame
There are many more stained glass windows throughout this Capitol. Here are a few:

The stained glass below shows the Chinese laborers and Chin Lin Sou (upper panel) and the Japanese laborers and Naoichi Hokazono (lower panel).



Chief Jack House (upper panel) and
Buckskin Charlie (lower panel)
On the second floor, we saw the Senate, House, and Old Supreme Court rooms.

House of Representatives
Beautiful columns and arches
House of Representatives from upper gallery
Looking up into the dome, you can see a spiral staircase. We are headed into the dome next. We only get to go to the level at the base of the spiral staircase. The spiral staircase is closed off.

The dome, our next stop
Before we head up to Mr. Brown's Attic, the museum before the stairs to the dome, Susan and Darren pose in front of their favorite president, and I pose in front of mine. 
They love Pres. Barrack Obama
I'm a fan of Pres. Abraham Lincoln
In Mr. Brown's Attic
Mr. Brown's Attic is a history museum and has a short film. From the attic we climbed 61 steps to reach the dome. There is no elevator. Once inside the dome, we were able to see that the "doors" to the observation deck are not doors at all, but windows that slide up and down. 

Large windows slide up and down
and a spiral staircase we could not climb
Susan M. on the observation deck
The building directly west of the Capitol is Denver's City and County Building set against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Today, we had a gorgeous view!

City and County Building
Close-up of City and County Building dome
with the Rockies in the distance
Me on the observation deck
Returning down the 61 steps
We say good-bye to the state capital
And we say hello to the Salvation Army Building, the Unsinkable Molly Brown House and Museum, and the Art Museum.


Unsinkable Molly Brown House and Museum
Unsinkable Molly Brown House and Museum

Denver's Art Musem
Fanciful art on the museum roof
We roamed all around downtown Denver which is quite an interesting place with so much to see. Bob and I will have to go back to visit museums and see the Denver Mint. I will finish this up with a few more photos because I'm tired and need some sleep!

In the mall between the Capitol and the City and County Building is a Greek-amphitheater-like structure. This venue is used for many events.


"On the War Trail," by
Alexander Phimister Proctor, Sculptor
The City and County Building
Downtown Denver
Colorado Convention Center
Blue bear peeking in the window
of the Convention Center
Denver Performing Arts Center
We drove past this huge sculpture
on the way out of downtown.
It was 3:30 p.m. as we headed, in rush-hour traffic, to our hotel by Denver International Airport. We were exhausted.

Tomorrow we'll be out in nature again. Woo hoo! Come back and see us in action.





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