September 12-24, 1979
The fun began for 30 Obsidians and 4 non-members when we departed at 8:27 a.m. via Frontier Airlines for Denver. As soon as we were airborne breakfast was served. The plane landed in Salt Lake City and when we were in flight again, lunch was served, so no one started out hungry on this trip. We arrived in Denver at 12:45 Mountain Time and were transported to our motel by bus. The afternoon was free for independent activities, but most everyone caught up on sleep in order to be bright eyed for the next morning tour of the “mile high city.” This included many beautiful parks, the old and new business sections, Civic Center, botanical gardens and the capitol, a highlight of the tour. Throughout this beautiful building is a priceless wainscoting of Colorado rose onyx which was discovered near Beulah, Colorado and has never been found any other place in the world. It took seven years to complete installation of this stone at a cost of over 158 million dollars.
A free afternoon gave the group a chance to visit the U. S. Mint which produces only coins, including the new Susan B. Anthony dollar. Larimer Square, a restored mid-Victorian business center of old Denver, was an interesting shopping place. In the evening some dined at the Brown Palace and Top of the Rockies, 29 stories above the city.
The next day we were off for a tour of some of the early mining towns. Tony Russo, our driver was exceptionally well informed on the areas visited and it was a pleasure to have him with us for the entire trip. We drove through the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder and then went on to Central City, boom-town of the mining era where we had a conducted tour of the opera house (1878), the famous Teller House (1872) and saw the equally famous “Face on the Barroom Floor” before having lunch at the Black Forest Inn in Blackhawk. In Idaho Springs we took a self-guided tour of the old Argo Cold Mill and Mine before returning to Denver via the spectacular Clear Creek Canyon.
On our way northward the next day to Estes Park, we saw some of the destruction caused by the flood in the Big Thompson Canyon several years ago. In Estes Park we were privileged to go through the ground floors of the old Stanley Hotel, which was built by the inventor of the Stanley Steamer. Truly a show place, it is still in use as an entertainment place for northern Colorado. Our two nights stay in Estes Park gave time for some hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. This included an easy walk around beautiful Bear Lake and a Hike of five miles to some of the higher glacial lakes—Nymph, Dream, Haiyaha and Emerald.
By this time our lungs were adjusting to the high altitude, so we were ready for the drive over Trail Ridge Road (12,163 feet) on one of the most beautiful, clear mornings we could ever ask for. The view of Longs Peak was spectacular, as well as the views of all the ranges around us. Time did not permit more than a short tour of Georgetown with all its well-preserved old houses and it could have been a disappointment not to drive through the mile-long-plus Eisenhower tunnel because of construction, but then we would have missed the beautiful alpine scenery of Loveland Pass (11,992). After lunch in Leadville, Tony took us on a tour of the old town and told us the story of Senator Tabor, Baby Doe and the fabulous Matchless Mine. After a long and interesting day, crossing the Continental Divide four times, we arrived at the Alamosa Inn for the night.
By this time we were ready to leave the mountains and mining towns of Colorado and move into another world, the Land of Enchantment of New Mexico with its Spanish-Mexican and Pueblo Indian accent. Since we were going into the outlaw country of Billy the Kid, Ray provided all of us with red or blue bandanas to be used as face masks in case we decided to “shoot up” a town or rob a bank.
We crossed the Grande River on a bridge that spans the river 650 feet above the gorge and our first stop in New Mexico was for lunch in the village of Taos, established 1617 and an art colony since 1898. After lunch we visited the Kit Carson House, home of the famous frontiersman from 1843 to 1868. From there we went to Taos Pueblo, which is the largest and finest example of terraced community dwellings still in use today. Over 1000 Indians live here and the adobe buildings appear the same today as they have for several hundred years. Bread is still cooked in outdoor ovens and ladders lead to the upper stories of the living quarters.
In Santa Fe we checked in at La Posada (The Inn), a charming place only three blocks away from the Old Plaza. The low adobe units set in five acres of lawns, flowers and shrubs are built in the Spanish-Mexican style with deep-welled windows, beehive fireplaces and hand-cut ceiling beams that create an atmosphere of warmth and relaxation. Part of the next morning was taken up with a Roadrunner tour of the city where there are no highrise buildings because a code says “no” to anything over three stories. La Fonda Hotel is an exception as it was built before the code was passed.
The afternoon was free and that was when Ray began calling our tour the Silver-Turquoise-Santa Fe Tour when many of us could not resist buying some lovely pieces of Indian jewelry. However, nearly everyone found time to see the Palace of the Governors (1610) the cathedral, the famous spiral staircase and the oldest house.
The next day was one of extreme contrasts when we visited the prehistoric cliff dwellings of Bandelier National Monument and after a picnic lunch went on to Los Alamos, the atomic city, for an escorted tour of Bradbury Science Museum.
Somewhat reluctantly we left Santa Fe and headed north to Colorado Springs, stopping along the way to see the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River and take a ride on the inclined railway 1,055 feet down to the bottom of the canyon. The next day we were on top of the world with a cog ride to the top of Pikes Peak (14,110 feet). Good weather was in our favor again for long distance looking. Cripple Creek and Victor were our goals for the next day where most of us took a ride on the Cripple Creek and Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad behind an old-style coal burning engine that took us through the early day mining areas. That evening Bronson Travel and Grand National hosted a dinner followed by a melodrama at the iron Springs Chateau at Manitou Springs. The melodrama was “She was Simply a Delight,” and we had great fun hissing the villain and sighing loudly for the maiden Precious Delight.
Our last day took us on a tour around the famous Broadmoor Resort and then northward to the Air Force Academy. We were at the Denver airport in plenty of time to board our plane for Eugene where we arrived at 9:11 p.m. Dinner was served enroute.
Frances Newsom and Mary-Douglass Stovall were leaders for the trip, and Ray Cavagnaro was our tour escort. Those on the trip were: Rolfe Anderson, Muriel Aufderheide, Blanche Bailey, Beulah Barker, Margaret Barnard, Ingrid Carmichael, Marie Carstensen, Grace and Mell Carter, Ray Cavagnaro, Vera Heidenreich, Jane Hilt, Virginia Horton, Elizabeth McMullen, Fay and Cedric Moffett, Frances Newsom, Janice and Mel Pattison, Dorothy and Clarence Scherer, Thelma Schaefer, Lila and Al Smith, Grace Smith, Myrtle Smith, Betty Mae Stamm, Helen Stovall, Mary-Douglass Stovall, Paula Vehrs, Winnie Wachtel, Mildred Weatherby and Helen Weiser.