Category Archives: travel

USA Pro Cycling Challenge

I’ve never really considered myself a fan of professional cycling. I mean I’ve watched the Tour de France before, usually when Americans are winning, but I never really understood the excitement levels. That is, until this weekend.

Two fortuitous events led to this revelation, I’ll start with the first:

An invite from an old friend to head to the hills, get some fresh air and watch the USA Pro Cycling Challenge arrive in Steamboat Springs. The timing of the invite could not have been better, totally last minute but doable with work. I just had to convince my wife that a man trip to the mountains was for the greater good of our family, right Babe?

We arrived at my buddy’s cabin the next afternoon. It’s hard to describe how beautiful it is up there right now, so I won’t.

So there we were in a remote cabin, with about twenty four hours before the race would arrive in Steamboat. What to do, what to do, what to do…

We tried fly fishing on this lake, the light seemed right but the fish were not impressed.

There was a bit of traffic on the way back that evening…

,,,and there was just enough time to squeeze in a boat launch the next morning.

On your mark…

Get set…

GO!

You might think that a blog post about a cycling race might include photos of that race, and had I not left the camera behind that afternoon you’d probably be right. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it that the scene in Steamboat was electric. Thousands of people lined the streets and rooftops to watch the riders sprint to the finish. Not exactly John Elway winning the superbowl status, but as far as sports events in Colorado, this was huge.

The next morning we blazed ahead of the race to get back to Denver, back to reality. Rabbit Ears Pass was littered with people waiting to see the next leg of the race, many in strange costumes.

The second fortuitous event happened the next day when not only did our children take long afternoon naps, but those naps corresponded with the tour ending in Denver AND the coverage was on a channel we get. Yes, that’s right, we live right here in Denver and we watched the race on tv. In some ways it was more fun than being on the course, not quite as exciting but you learn a lot more about the race watching the coverage.

Anyways, I’m sold. Can we look forward to next year?

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Lago de los Condores

No particular reason for writing about this trip to Peru some twelve years ago, other than it’s taken me that long to do so.

This was about all that remained of a village built by an ancient Peruvian culture known as the Chachapoya, when I traveled there in 1999. Ranchers had uncovered the village in 1997 when clearing the forest for cattle, “huaqueros” subsequently raided the nearby burial tombs searching for valuable pottery and gold.

The main “chullpas”, or burial tombs, are perched in cliffs high above a lake, across from the village.  The overhanging cliffs and high altitude (10,000 ft.) helped preserve the burial tombs and their contents.  It’s impossible to say exactly what the “huaqueros” made off with, but we know what they left behind.  Over two hundred of the most well preserved mummies ever found.

Not to fret, pictured here is a replica mummy.

The mummies had been removed by a previous expedition and were stored, safely awaiting the completion of the Museo Leymebamba for display.

It was a bit difficult to get good pictures of the burial tombs. Perched high on the cliff, I kept wanting to step away to get a better view. But when you see how we got there, you understand why we stayed close to the cliff face.

The trail started out along the lake edge innocently enough, but then quickly turned up the cliff, a gentle rain ensuring no surface was dry.

This set of burial tombs is comprised of seven structures.  Familiar with Anasazi ruins back in the States, I was immediately struck by the similarities of both the construction techniques and the wall paintings.

On another day we were fortunate to visit a smaller, but undisturbed burial tomb deep in the jungle.  While this site had been spared a visit by huaqueros, piles of animal bones and hairy scat suggest that large cats have been using the site as shelter, which adds to the excitement of jungle exploration.

It seems appropriate that one of the undisturbed pieces of pottery we saw at that site was that of a large feline.  This small vessel has been still for so long there appears to be lichen growing on it.

Founder of the Museo Leymebamba, Adriana von Hagen, gave us a tour of the partially completed museum.  In the photo above, the use of stone and rammed earth walls showcase the regional building techniques and masonry styles of the Chachapoya.

The diamond-shaped stone inlay in this picture is a typical masonry detail of the Chachapoya, who thrived in the region for some seven centuries before they clashed violently the Incas and fell to the empire.


Great Sand Dunes

Friday afternoon at the Great Sands Dunes National Park. Friday night was a different story. Vicious winds and temperatures hovering in the thirties made for a hard night of camping with the kids. In the morning, it was, as they say, a tit nipply, which is even colder than a bit nippy, as you might imagine.

The point is, don’t forget to check the weather before making the trek, the Sand Dunes can be a very unforgiving place.

Current forecast: