Friday, August 22, 2014

August 2014: Leadville and Twin Lakes, Colorado

In what seems like an annual August visit for me now, I was once again in Leadville, Colorado and its neighboring village, Twin Lakes.

One of the striking differences between Leadville and other Colorado mountain towns is that the ski industry is just a little too far away to reshape it from its original mining heritage look and feel.  You won't find condo compounds or chain coffee shops here, which is refreshing.

 Leadville is now known for its summer-long series of weekend athletic endurance events, including cycling, running, and burro-racing.  Although some residents have voiced opposition to the congestion and crowds that these events bring in, many local businesses make the majority of their revenue during these months and then try to hang on during the off-season.  At 10,000 feet in altitude, winters here are tough and visitor traffic slows considerably. 

The tiny village of Twin Lakes, mostly populated with vacation cabins and a general store. 

I never get tired of the views from Twin Lakes:

Twin Lakes gets an instant population boost on a weekend every August when the Leadville 100 Trail Run uses this area as an aid station, at miles 40 and 60 of the course.  Families and supporters of race entrants often set up a tent and chairs, and make a day out of it:

Sunday, August 3, 2014

July 2014: Bay Area, California

Out to the San Jose area in July for work.  I left at a convenient time, just as a heat wave hit the Colorado Front Range for a few days.  

I had half a Sunday to explore so I took the train from Santa Clara to San Francisco, soon after getting off the plane.

Santa Clara train station:

The Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco:

Stumbled upon Chinatown:

The distinctive Flatiron Building on Market Street:

Walking around the outside grounds of the baseball stadium (AT&T Park), I saw what looked like was bicycle accident, with some dented cars and a few police officers around:

And then saw some people on the ground, some with bloody faces.  Thought it may have been a protest or sit-in gone bad but one of the officers told me that they were filming a movie, and that I should keep moving.   I looked it up later in the day and it turns out it will be an earthquake disaster movie called San Andreas, starring wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. 

Nice day in the City, with mostly blue skies, but time to go back to the Valley.  My double-decker train at SF Caltrain Station:

In Santa Clara, beautiful California weather the whole week while I was there.  I'm usually here earlier in the year, in the rainy season:

The completed new Santa Clara NFL football stadium for the 49ers.  I've been watching this structure rise for a few years now.

Vegan hot dogs are not something you expect to be sold at a NFL stadium.  Let's see if it takes off at other places.

And just to track another stadium being built in the area, this is where the San Jose Earthquakes (Pro Soccer) will start playing next year, right next to the San Jose Airport.

June 2014: Austin, Texas

Many years ago, I used to visit a friend in Austin and I also went there a few times in the 90's for work.  First impression upon arriving in mid-June from Colorado:  Wow, it is hot as a furnace here, and I even used to live in a place with temperatures like this.  Not sure I could take it anymore.  

The second observation was how big the city has become.  I had no idea it is the #11 largest USA city now, larger than San Francisco, Denver, or Boston (proper).   Some of these skyscrapers are new since I've been here last, and the skyline is dotted with cranes building new ones:

Texas State Capitol Building, made from red granite quarried from nearby Marble Falls:

I tried but didn't get to see the bats on their nightly evening launch from Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge:

Lady Bird Lake on a sweltering day, with the construction in the background:

June 2014: Bosque County, Texas

My father's side of the family was from Bosque County, Texas which is about 30 miles west of Waco.  I remember going to visit there in summers, and since I haven't been back in probably 30 years, I took a side trip there in June from Austin. 

Downtown Clifton, Texas, aka The Norwegian Capital of Texas, named for the sizable community that emigrated here from Norway in the 1800s to early 1900s.  It seems quieter here than I remember.  The cafe that used to be on the ground floor of the brick building below is long gone.  It was the hub of town and always crowded during lunch time.

The Norwegian flag flies downtown.

The Cliftex Movie Theater, claimed to be the longest running theater in Texas.

Fifteen miles from Clifton is the former town of Norse, Texas which used to have its own post office.  Today, the area is an historic district, including Our Savior's Lutheran Church, which is still active:

A limestone rock fence surrounding the church cemetery.  Some of the immigrant Norwegians were stone workers by trade and they used their skills to quarry limestone and build their houses and structures with it.

Downtown of the neighboring town of Valley Mills also appears much quieter than I remember it.  My grandmother used to take me shopping with her at this grocery store:

Searsville Baptist Church, outside of Valley Mills.

And finally, the amazing gothic-style Bosque County courthouse, also built out of limestone, in the small county seat of Meridian (population ~1000).  

May 2014: Manchester, UK and Dublin, Ireland

Work trip to Manchester, UK and then to Dublin.  It's the second year I've been to Manchester, and construction seems to be booming as the city continues its transition from its heavy industrial past.

Mix of old and new in the Deansgate area:

City Hall:

Obligatory double-decker bus picture:

An former estate in the Manchester suburb of Didsbury, now converted to an office building:

The pubs here have some unique names (and colors):

One of the canals running through town:

European Beech trees (Fagus Sylvatigus) in a Didsbury botanical park:

I was glad to be invited to a recital where old-time English folk music was played, accompanied by Morris Dancers.  It was six years ago that I found Morris Dancers in downtown Longmont.

On to Dublin for a few days.  

The pink flags along the River Liffey were there for the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) cycling race which started in Ireland this year and was set to come through Dublin a week after I left:

Everything is green in Ireland, even in early Spring.  A visit to Merrion Park shows the famous statue of Oscar Wilde:

It was election time and every street corner was plastered with "vote for me" signs, and some of the buildings too:

I definitely didn't spend enough time in Dublin and Ireland, and need to return someday!