Saturday, October 31, 2020

A Uranium Mine in Colorado...

This hike "Uranium Mine Trail" in Steamboat Springs, Colorado is such a serene hike and flashback in history!  To get to this hike, you'll need to drive to the parking lot at the end of Fish Creek Falls Road (where you can hike down to the base of Fish Creek Falls, which is a spectacular hike in itself.)  I believe the parking is $5.

The hike to the uranium mines is roughly only 1.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 800 feet.  Several switchbacks take you to a breathtaking panoramic view of the canyon.  You'll see stunning Aspen trees, which Steamboat Springs is known for, along with some berry bushes that pop with the contrast of the white bark from the Aspens.  You may even see a bear!  Some folks on my hike saw a bear, and let me just say, "Bears love berries!"

This trail/hike actually used to be a road to access the uranium mine at the top.  In the early 1950's, the United States was in a race with the Soviets to stock pile nuclear weapons and was in need of the uranium.  Uranium prospectors dug for roughly 1,000 feet before the mine was closed.  

Once I arrived at the mine, I found it was gated.  The gate is to prevent potential collapse of the mine and also the mine has potential noxious radon gases.  However, the type of gate installed still allows for local colonies of bats to access the cave.

Next, you venture on through another grove of aspens as the hike goes on a decent down to a mountain spring.  Be sure to take your boots and socks off and wade on in to the cool mountain water.  This is one of the best homeopathic remedies for sore feet there is.  And, it's also one of my favorite past time activities.  Anyone who has hiked we me knows I will get in the water, and if wearing a swimsuit, I'll jump on in!

Here are a few shots of the hike:

The uranium mine!

The ride to Fish Creek Falls

The trailhead...

Some pretty Fall colors...

Aspens and bear food...the berry bushes...

At the top...

Shucks, no bats...

The canyon!

Drum roll please...Fish Creek Falls from the Uranium trail hike (turned out a little blurry)

(Ahhh, my favorite...dipping my feet in ice cold mountain water)

It's simply the best!

After the hike, I visited Beau Jo's Colorado Style Pizza.  This place is delicious, and they serve honey with their pizza.  Honey and pepper flakes on a pizza really take a pie to the next level.  This place is worth the stop.

If you get a chance to visit Steamboat Springs, the periodic table does not end here with the uranium mine.  Make sure to visit the Strawberry Hot Springs park for a steamy dip one of their many hot springs pools.  The pools vary in temperature ranging to hot to WHOA THAT'S REALLY HOT!  The springs get their heat from the sulfur underground.  You can literally walk (or swim, as some pools are deeper) and feel where the heat is coming into the pool.  And here's a bonus, you don't ever smell the sulfur!  A lot of natural springs can smell really sulfur-y.  

Your muscles feel so rejuvenated and relaxed after your visit, so it's definitely great to plan for after a good hike.  Also, due to COVID, you have to go online and book a time and the price went up a bit since they are limiting the amount of people in the pools now.  My last two times have been at night with full moons and a sky full of stars.  So, sorry no pictures.  They frown on photography since the some of the night visitors dip in the pools wearing their birthday suits only.  Also, flashlights and camera lights are frowned upon because they add light pollution, which takes away the enjoyment from the stargazers.  However, you'll be amazed how your eyes will adjust to the moonlight.  Definitely 100% worth the visit.  I've been wanting to go back next time it snows and during the day, because the pictures online are absolutely breathtaking.

There is also lodging there!  So, you can stay and soak as long as you desire.  There are onsite facilities to book a massage, even.  

Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Halloween!


Thursday, October 29, 2020

Doing Your Due Diligence...

I wanted to share something that a lot of people do not think about when purchasing new appliances (from a store like Lowe's, Home Depot, JC Penny's, or other similar stores).  When you purchase in-store and get these appliances delivered, you have the right to know who the store is contracting with so you can look up their ratings and make sure everything is on the up and up!

This past summer, my brother experienced an electrical surge which basically rendered his refrigerator useless.  He went to Home Depot on an appliance sale to order a new fridge.  The customer service was really bad, and he was charged full price for the refrigerator instead of the sales price.  It took over a week to get the refund back.  That was a $300 overcharge. 

When the refrigerator was finally delivered, two men showed up and immediately asked to use the restroom.  To me, this is not professional at any time, but it's just not sanitary during COVID to ask to use someone's facilities when there were plenty of places to stop along the way.  By the way, facilities were offered, and urine was on the floor when they were done.

The two delivery guys brought no ramp, only a outdated hand truck.  Both doors to the front house were opened to allow for plenty of space moving the old appliance out and the new appliance in.  The two men aggressively argued with my brother that they had no instructions to remove the old appliance.  My brother showed the receipt, and while begrudgingly taking the old appliance out, the two men pulled the refrigerator over the threshold and allowed the full weight of the refrigerator to come barreling down on the wooden porch.  The porch immediately sank down upon the weight of the sudden thunderous impact of the refrigerator.  You could hear the crack.  He now has severe structural damage rendering his custom home blemished and devalued.

My brother immediately called Home Depot.  Home Depot acted completely disinterested, and a representative from Home Depot pretended to be the manager when he was not.  They gave my brother an email to submit damage pictures.  My brother had to make multiple calls and send a crazy amount of emails until finally Home Depot pretended to set up an insurance claim.  There was never a claim set up.  Instead they contacted an "arbitrator" or a woman who basically gets paid to do nothing.  

At this point the buck was passed to the delivery company (which seems weird since Home Depot was the one who contracted this company.)  The moving/delivery company then sent out an unlicensed contractor who walked right up to the damages (all caught on surveillance with audio) and called the company to state: "We damaged the porch."  Then he proceeded to call my brother to state three reasons in rapid succession as to why they couldn't have caused the damage.

1) The front door doesn't open on the side of the damage (which it does)
2) There were no scratches from the refrigerator (it was on a hand truck with tires)
3) The porch was not built to code (he even sawed up some boards to look underneath the porch)

Home Depot would not take responsibility.  The moving company would not take responsibility.  Today my brother called me to ask me to look up the moving company that Home Depot has continued to contract out KNOWING all the customer complaints.  The company is called Exclusive Enterprises in Midway, FL.  These Google reviews are jaw dropping.  Had my brother known that Home Depot exclusively uses this company for appliance deliveries in Florida, he would have gone to Lowe's or a mom and pop local company.

It's not been five months.  And, he keeps getting the run around.  The arbitrator even told him that a check was mailed out when it never was.  They could produce zero documentation, not even a check number.  And, today, the delivery company, before hanging up on them, made their single entry note on his account.  And, stated that the claim had been closed "due to no contact."

For anyone who knows my brother, he is a highly decorated Captain and war veteran in the Army, and it is unacceptable to jerk him around like this.  

I'm writing this for anyone who purchases an appliance from Home Depot.  Make sure you know who they are using to deliver appliances to your house.  Again, these reviews were atrocious!  And, had my brother known to ask, he would have gone elsewhere.

11/14/2020: Home Depot decided to give my family member $1,000 towards repairs citing they just wanted to do the right thing.  They also disclosed that a previous manager had signed a 99 year contract with this moving/appliance delivery company and were currently looking at legal avenues to breach the contract since so many valued customers had nightmare experiences.


Monday, October 26, 2020

A Fall Creek Hike into a Cave Waterfall...

October hikes are the best.  Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of hiking to Zapata Falls near Mosca, Colorado.  Zapata Falls is known as one of Colorado's "Hidden Gems" because it's way off the beaten path.  You cannot find it unless you're looking for it.   

This hike is only 0.9 miles round trip and is open to almost all skill levels.  I say this, because, as you near the falls, you have to hike through a chilly creek bed (or rock hop over some pretty slick rocks...or boulder along the side of the creek).  Dogs are definitely welcome!  The hike is perfect for the bird watcher as well!

Some of the great perks of this hike is the vantage point you get of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve!  And, there are also great views of San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area.  Also, if you hike this in the Winter months, the waterfall is frozen solid (like it's frozen in time).

If you ever make it out to Zapata Falls, you'll want a 4 wheel drive to make it up the treacherous drive to the trailhead.  In fact a 4 wheel drive vehicle is a must or you'll find yourself hiking up the mountain to get the trailhead.  But, this bumpy ride is so worth it to get to this gorgeous sanctury oasis.  Also, pack either water shoes (if you don't mind a chilly dip) or water proof boots.  Pack poles if you're not used to hiking through water or you have trouble balancing and rock hopping!  And, as always, pack plenty of water and snacks.  

The next day, after camping, we got to explore the San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area for a brunch consisting of apples and cheese, black bean hummus and pita chips, white wine.  The main attraction here is camping around the lake.  The area is also great for hunting and trout fishing.  We met two guys who were out duck hunting.  While there is no swimming permitting at the lake, when the water levels are high enough, visitors enjoy boating, windsailing, and other water activities.

Camping is only $20 a night and there are around 51 sites that include sheltered tables, grills, and electrical outlets!

NOTE: Effective July 2020, a valid hunting or fishing license is required for anyone accessing a State wildlife area/preserve in Colorado.

Thank you for stopping in to check out my latest adventures.  FYI, thanks to everyone who checked in on me during the wild fires.  We FINALLY got a little snow storm which seems to have extinguished the fires.  As I type this, it's 19 degrees.  And, we were in the single digits earlier this morning.  A little wintry mix in the Fall is always welcomed to help with these fires.  I hope everyone is getting their Halloween plans together.  My niece, Bella, is going as a hotdog.


Saturday, October 24, 2020

A Climb Into the Clouds...

Exciting Goal Crushing Post!  

Manitou Springs Incline is a fitness challenge for most Coloradans.  Since visiting Colorado last year, the Manitou Springs Incline, the Eastern flank of Pike's Peak, has been sitting on my bucket list growing spider webs.  This past weekend, while trying to escape the raining ash from the forest fires, I had an opportunity to crush this goal while traveling through Manitou Springs!

Before it was a workout, it was a cable car!  It started as a cable tram during the construction of the hydroelectric plant and waterline.  Later it was purchased to become a tourist attraction, hauling tourists up and down Mount Manitou in 16 minutes.  In the 1990's it got entirely too expensive to maintain; and thus, the railway was removed.  However, the railroad ties left behind became inviting for hikers and fitness enthusiasts.  

Hiking the Incline only became legalized in 2013.  The Manitou Springs Incline was closed earlier this year for public health concerns and in an effort to maintain social distancing.  It reopened in August 2020 and is currently only available by reservations made online.  You get a wrist band after giving your name, email address and phone number.  We didn't have reservations; however, a friendly face with a smile goes a long ways.  We got our wrist bands and onward we went.

A few facts to start:

There are a total of 2,744 total steps to the top of the Incline.

Hiking the Incline is comparable to climbing up:

The Empire State Building ONCE

The Eiffel Tower TWICE

The Washington Monument THREE times

The Statue of Liberty SIX times

The total elevation gain is 2,011 feet from bottom to top.  Be sure to bring some lightweight supportive shoes.  A lot of people had hiking poles, but for me, they would have gotten in the way.  I found myself having to use my hands to pull up quite frequently.  The hours to climb are from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. and there is not night use allowed.  Also, no dogs are allowed on the Incline.

The Incline, while built up steps, are not the usual steps you'd think of.  The Incline is constructed from  railroad wooden and most of the incline is a steep at 45%...however, towards the top, as your legs fatigue and your lungs start to feel the burn, the grade increases to 68% where you are literally bouldering the climb in some areas.

Barr Trail is also nearby.  Barr Trail takes you to the summit of Pike's Peak.  However, on the way up the incline there is what is known as a "bail out" trail.  This trail is a series of serious switchbacks that will take you back down to the bottom if you either get tired or get weak kneed from a fear of heights.  Also, climbers who make it to the the summit have the choice of either going back down the Incline (which is roughly 2.1 miles) or a 4.1 switchback which merges into Barr's Trail.  We took the trail down to save our knees and avoid a nasty fall.  It's a beautiful trail with large boulders and scenes straight out of  JR Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings."

My pictures below include the climb into the clouds, the summit above the clouds, and some shots on the switchback trail back down...

Not my pics, but on a clear day this is what the Incline looks like...
Just to get an idea of the 65% incline at the top.

Post Incline hike, I recommend a place in Manitou Springs called "Border Burger."  They have over 10 signature burgers to choose from.  I got the Korean Burger which had kimchi, bulgogi and queso (which oddly medlied perfectly together) complete with truffle fries.  They have bacon stuffed jalapenos, but these are not for the faint of heart.  They set me on fire, but warmed me up!  The cocktails and beer selection are great as well!  Nothing hits the hunger pangs quite like a hot meal afterwards.

Thanks for stopping in to support
Have a wonderful rest of your week!


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