Monday, July 30, 2012

Wildflowers in Colorado High Country

The Museum of Western Colorado sponsored its popular annual Wildflower Tour to the area near Crested Butte, Colorado over the past weekend.  A dozen of us traveled by van to take in a tour of Crested Butte, eat and shop in the quaint downtown area, and later attend an excellent evening chamber music concert of piano, violin and cello sponsored by the Crested Butte Music Festival.  Then we were off early Saturday morning to meet our wildflower guides and travel north through Gothic and the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and on to find wildflowers.

We were at an elevation over 10,000 feet when our guides arrived at the areas where they had previously scouted out the best display of wildflowers.  We stayed on the gravel roadway (mostly) and were shown about three dozen different wildflowers growing close to the road where our guides pointed out unique characteristics of each of the flowers. Breathtaking views, magnificent flowers, and being taught by experts in their biological fields was memorable, to say the least.

I took about 100 photographs, then chose 50 of the better ones to put into a movie.  If you have a couple of minutes, the entire YouTube video can be seen below.  A few separate photographs are shown at the bottom of the post.

Crested Butte Mountain
Cow Parsnips

Although Colorado has had low rainfall this year, our guides kept a sharp lookout and found the following varieties of wildflowers to show the group: Tall Larkspur,  Sneezeweed, Longleaf Arnica, Bistort, Silvery Lupine, Parrot's Beak, Showy fleabane, Coulter's fleabane, Rosy Paintbrush, Sulphur Paintbrush, Daffodil Senecio, Tall Bluebells, Sawleaf Senecio, Cow Parsnips, Fireweed, White Geranium, Dock, Queen's Crown, King's Crown, Yarrow, Corydalis, Fringed Gentian, Star Gentian, Monkey Flower, Goldenrod, Shrubby Potentilia, Whipple's penstemon, Scarlet Paintbrush, Monkshood, Monument Plant, and Golden Aster.

On another note, I found an excellent app for the iPad called "Colorado Rocky Mountain Wildflowers" that can be seen here.  It can be accessed without using wi-fi; a great buy for $10 and good to use in the field.  They say, in part, ..."We have been careful to include the most abundant and visible plants and also those less common but found in unusual habitats, such as, wetlands, ponds, and rocky slopes. We have also chosen species from various altitudes, from 85 families and 200 genera, and from all geographic locations -- East Slope, West Slope, and the mountains between."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday

Linking to WOWW, two things/tasks/fun projects are on my outdoor table just begging to be finished:

The first is the Different Lines Shawl, a lovely pattern that can be purchased here. It uses complementary colors and results in stripes (mostly) with two borders in a solid color.  About a thousand people on Ravelry have completed it with fantastic results.  Here is a link to see what others have knit with this pattern.

And the second work in progress is a painting of dragonflies on a yellow/chartreuse background. It started out in acrylics, but it will likely end in oils.

My lower back has been out of commission, probably due to working in the yard AND bending over this dragonfly canvas!

What is on YOUR work desk?  Go here to link up your projects.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Flowers in July from Patio; Wordless Wednesday

a few separate ones from the collage...

Being a bit OC, I spend a lot of time deadheading and picking off fallen cottonwood leaves from the patio.

Come on over for some iced tea!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hollyhocks, and Note to Self

The frisket I was using was old.  It was too thick and would not rub off the paper; ruined my hollyhock and pig picture. Kept trying. Failed.

  Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men and animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock.
Henry Ward Beecher (June 24, 1813 - March 08, 1887)

 Updated 7/17/12 with frisket still there:

Must try to watercolor hollyhocks again.  Get new frisket at store.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dog Friendly Aspen

Happy PPF!

This handsome fellow owns a group of guys having adult beverages outside a cafe in downtown Aspen, Colorado.  He posed so beautifully that I just HAD to try and capture him in watercolors.  So the picture in the upper portion of the post is my submission to Paint Party Friday.

And this picture is just one showing a proud fellow having cocktails with his family at The Little Nell.  The waitress brought him a bowl of water (can you believe it?) and on a tray, no less.  I wonder how much was tipped to his server.  Since the average cost of a room there is over $600, just the tip given for his bowl of water was probably more than my friend and I paid for beers that afternoon.

I counted five dogs around the Little Nell pool that day.  His face is obscured in order to preserve his true identity.  (You never know, he might be a celebrity.)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tripping through the Southwest

Over 2,700 miles and ten days later, with a car trip through Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, I am back to Colorado as a happy camper.  Sister Pam and I went through hundreds of small towns on fairly untraveled roads, and also a few congested interstates, with absolutely no car trouble and just a few highway blockages.

Taos, New Mexico was hardly a sleepy tourist community of artists.  The evening we were there, a local band played music in the square across from our La Fonda Hotel.  It was a bustling place with lots of people reticent of the 1960's.  And boots, my the boots!...also drugstore Indians and carved wood totems:

Shops, restaurants, bars and a great favorite place to eat called Doc Martin's (lots of history here) were on the agenda.

Hollyhocks were everywhere, even springing up from concrete cracks on footpaths.  They are such happy flowers.  I'll be painting some soon as we captured lots of photos of them.

Quaint photo opportunity in Taos:

While in Taos, I bought a (watercolor) print from artist Karen Blair.  She paints hollyhocks by the bucket load.  Take a look at her work here.  This is an example of Blair's work, found on her website:

Then Santa Fe, just an hour from Taos, held several delights, my favorite being the Georgia O'Keefe Museum (and gift shop).  Long time fan of O'Keefe, I got a refresher course on her background and work from a docent at the museum.  Other than buying a gift for my SIL for his birthday and one post card, the entire journey there was worth it just to visit the museum.  Here are a few pictures and links:

Pictures of clouds, thunder clouds and rain showers from alongside the road in New Mexico:

This picture was borrowed, but you can imagine the lightning we saw.  This just displays it better than I could:

Thousands of wind turbines (close to 7,000 and added daily) lined the highway south and east of Amarillo, Texas.  We were told that each landowner was given $10,000 annually for a wind turbine to be placed on their land, and that most of the energy is currently sold to California.  Pam and I were amazed that the turbines went on for miles and miles as we drove south and southwest through Texas toward Austin.  They are HUGE ... 350 ft. high... and the propellers are almost as long.  It was an amazing sight.

(click on picture for close up)

And those ubiquitous iron horses pumping up oil were everywhere alongside the Texas highways, as well as cheery sunflowers:

The trip home, after lastly visiting my friend Kathy and her daughter Ellen in Denver was fairly quick.  Kathy and Ellen put on a show, complete with lots of pictures and souvenirs, of their trip to China last summer with the CCAI on the morning I left their house.

(Picture of a picture of Ellen in China last year while on a trip back with adoptive parents and children.)

The longest day driving was home to Grand Junction, Colorado from Austin, Texas was 12 hours, but it went quickly because I listened to an audio book The Distant Hours by Kate Morris.  This is a highly recommended read, and an especially highly recommended listen.

Thanks for indulging me by looking at my photos. The trip was definitely worth the drive and more enjoyable than flying there and back, because I got to revisit the southwest and appreciate the beauty of the area without being locked into a specific time frame.

Souvenir of Mexican pottery, home and planted with succulents: