Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Goes to the Coffins.

Happy Halloween!

The day dawned cool and foggy and by noon the sun was breaking through. A great day for a Halloween event that has gained national acclaim and it is right in my backyard. The site of this wacky event is Manitou Springs, and the event, The Emma Crawford Coffin Races. It is held in honor of the 19th century spiritualist who was buried on top of Red Mountain above town and in huge rainstorm her coffin was unearthed and it slid all the way to town. This year was the 13th annual, how fitting. It is one of the largest events that Manitou Chamber puts on each year.
Thousands of people gathered on Main Street, some in full costume, in anticipation of the pre-race parade of coffin racers and hearses and the leading lady herself as Grand Marshall. The advertised noon start was a bit delayed as is Manitou's way and the announcer of the day's event went on about the festive wake they had the evening before and announced to the crowd that the town now could claim national mention when they were written up last week in the New York Times travel section.

The article refers to it as a Hippie version of Mayberry and they may be right. Currently the official slogan is "Keep Manitou Weird" and I happen to agree with them. Where else can you go, besides New Orleans, to find such an all out celebration of everything that has to do with beads being thrown, flagrant costuming, and all out silliness to bring in the crowds.

The Denver Hearse Club was there in force, I counted 18 hearses. They also attend the Frozen Dead Guy Days event in Nederland, CO held in March each year.

The coffin racers themselves numbered 36 teams in full costume. The homemade racing rig is a wheeled coffin-like conveyance with an Emma-representative riding in it and four people pushing it for a 250-yard run up a slight uphill. They are run in two coffin heats with the winners advancing until the Grand Champion emerges. There are thrills and spills each year. Here are pics of some of the teams with their entourage.

There was everything from Aloha! hula racers to the skeleton crew with their little dog leading the way.

Not only were the racers and some of the crowd decked out in costume but several dogs were all duded up for Halloween. The devil dog was riding shotgun with the coffin rider and the tie die crowd was looked ready to rumble.
Even Elvis was represented here, with the Elvi all in full costume and extra padding.
This event is one of Manitou's largest during the year with second place going to the Annual Fruitcake Toss held in January. This coming year it will be held on January 5th at Memorial. Park.
Hope to see you out and about enjoying what life has to offer, be it wacky or not!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Boo! The Doctor Is In!

Last Saturday the folks and I ventured off to the historic mining town of Cripple Creek. The destination was the Butte Opera House for the Thin Air Theatre Company's presentation of "Dr. Jekyll's Medicine Show." It is set in Cripple Creek at the turn of the century and takes the traditional tale of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde to a whole new realm. The young man cast in the part of Jekyll was fabulous. You know in the old movies he was portrayed in different makeup to show the two sides of his personality. In this case, no makeup was used and the metamorphis was amazing.

Of course they do not allow you to take any photos of the performance but I did get some good ones of us at the performance with our guest, Count DracuBear. And he got the best seat in the house - inside Dad's cowboy hat.

The rest of the crew were happy just to pose with him. He is a freebie that Hallmark was offering this year before Halloween if you purchased three cards. And as you can see Mom is making sure we all know that he is devilishly handsome.

And here are my partners-in-crime for their photo op with the wee vampire.

And that rare pic of me over there.

This theater group is made up of the remnants of the Imperial and Cripple Creek players and is known for its melodrama performances. This show and the one they are doing for the holiday season are both newly written and directed by local talent. And, as is tradition, there was a spooky, Halloween-themed olio after the main performance. This is where the cast put on short skits with singing and dancing. The funniest was the fake magic show complete with a successful Houdini-like escape trick (good thing his assistant knew how to untie the knot on the giant laundry sack he was trussed up in) and the disappearing lion trick. Can't tell you the secret because, after all, this is magic.

After a lovely autumn day in the high country we headed home to the news that a possible winter storm was on its way. The next morning, sure enough, Jack Frost made a feeble attempt to let his wintery intentions be known.

And the best part of the newscast is where they show the traffic cams around the region. This picture is taken from the roof of the Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park. The newscaster, and the rest of us, get such a chuckle out of the palm trees in snow shots. They are plastic palm trees but all the same it is too funny to see this in a blizzard in the mountains of Colorado.

So this was a good day to stay indoors, watch movies and knit. Pedro had other ideas and begged to go outside to see what was going on. I let him out to look and he decided I had the best idea about staying indoors. Stay warm, enjoy!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Annual Leaf Peeping or There's No Place Like Colorado

Each year I try to take the folks on a "fall" trip to see the colors in a area of Colorado that we have not been to yet. It usually involves an overnight, driving around on scenic roads (not the interstate) and at least one museum or festival. This year was not different. The only downside was the wind was blowing so hard that most of the colored leaves were on their way to Kansas. The picture above was taken of an area south of La Veta where the trees were more protected from the scouring breeze.

Our plan for this year's trip included the Oktoberfest in La Veta. The street scene below was taken the day after we were at the event and I left the camera in the car. (bad, bad)

On Sunday morning this town is very quiet, however the day before it was filled with people and the main street was closed off so the whole town could turn out for a giant yard sale. This Oktoberfest festival was the equivalent of the wild west meets bratwurst. It came complete with all things BBQ'd including the bratwurst, a local grown country band performing in the portable cattle panels beer garden with bouncers the size of rodeo bulls. Everyone had a yard sale set up including the historic Fort Francisco. I got to see an author friend, Gene Vories, who was signing books at the festival. He writes great westerns. My personal favorite is Monte.

On the way to our hotel we stopped in Walsenburg to check out Elda's Yarns on the main drag. We were greeted by an enthusiastic shop manager and some of the local ladies all sitting in comfy chairs knitting and sharing stories. The shop has a wide variety of yarns and essentials as well as fun buttons and ideas for projects. It is in what looks like a renovated general store and has plenty of room to move around. It was well worth the stop.

Then we were drawn to a place that touted they had "smoked tamales." I have had tamales in the past but never heard of smoked ones. So we stopped in and sampled one with coldbeewaitress suggested we get it smothered in green chile and topped with cheese, green onion and sour cream. It was scrumptious. You can find this delecacy at Andy Popejoy's Barbeque joint in Walsenburg next to my other favorite eatery, George's. Andy does all things BBQ including cheese, ribs, chickens stuffed with tamales, brisket, the works.

After our respite from the wind which makes driving difficult on the interstate in this part of Colorado we headed out again for our overnight destination, the Sex Change Capital of the World, Trinidad. It is located on the Colorado/New Mexico border and is known historically as the crossing point of the Santa Fe Trail and a railroad town. (Click the link above if you want to know more about that more dubious designation)

Our destination was the Quality Inn at Exit 11 off I-25, just below the Raton Pass. This is where all the fun began. When we travel we know the first thing we pack is our sense of humor. This trip was no exception.

For these trips I usually book one room, two queen beds for three with a request for first floor handicapped accessible if available. It makes it easier on all of us to have this amenity. So, we check in and I suggested Mom and I walk to the room to see where it was located so I knew where to park the car to unload and we discovered that we had been given a handicapped accessible room, however it had one king bed in it. We decided that we would be a very cozy threesome that night and walked back to the desk to change the room. Next room, two beds, better, no shower curtain. Hmmm.

Little sign on the back of the commode reads "Have you forgotten anything?" and offers amenities like toothbrush, etc. Well, I had forgotten to pack a shower curtain in my overnight bag so I went to the desk to request one. Once we had that all straightened out we were fine, with the one exception that the indoor pool we had anticipated taking a dip in was closed for renovation. On top of all this we met another overnight guest who told us of her stay the week before when the SWAT team arrived at 1 a.m. to "takedown" a man who had kidnapped his ex-wife at gunpoint from her home in Colorado Springs that afternoon. I think I would have chosen a smaller hotel across the border, guess he was not very bright. We passed a quiet night with no SWAT team events and had a nice breakfast in the restaurant the next morning. All in all it was a nice hotel to stay in and we had lots of giggles included.

Sunday morning we headed out on Highway 12 - The Highway of Legends - a scenic byway designation. It goes west from Trinidad and loops north over the the Cuchara Pass to Walsenburg. On the south end of the loop we found what is called a covered bridge in their mile by mile information. What we discovered is that it is an old highway bridge that someone built a house on.

The coolest town on the route was Stonewall. It is named for the rock formation that runs through the area. All along the highway at this point there was evidence of coal mining.

This is Monument Lake which is just south of Cuchara Pass. The scrub oak were already in full color at this altitude. And there had been a snow flurry move through as we drove into the scenic overlook area.

And here is the view from the other side of the scenic overlook - my traveling companions. We have dubbed ourselves the three mouseketeers and are stilll looking for Mickey ear ball caps. If anyone knows where to find such things, please let me know.

With a final stop in La Veta to check out the boxcar restroom at the town park, we were on our way home on a brisk autumn day with lots of tales to tell and giggling to do about the memories from this year's Fall trip.

Go out and live life!