Venting in Colorado

VentsTaken with the Fujifilm X-T10 camera with the 18–55mm lens at 1/30s, f/3.6, and ISO 200 with fujichrome film simulation and converted to monochrome in Lightroom.

Have you ever booked a hotel far from your destination with the express purpose of having to walk long distances back and forth? That is what I did on my last trip to Denver for the SME (Mining) Conference. It was completely worth it.

As I walked past an urban private school this venting caught my eye. It twisted back and forth mostly at right angles with the exception of the two larger pipes. For some reason they bend at their own angle. They want to be unique but they want to do it together. Sometimes that is just how life feels.

Oh My, Mystic Mermaids!

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I forgot to post our evening at the Downtown Aquarium in Denver. We had been trying to decide what to do for our last night in town and we had settled on going to a nice restaurant we’d been wanting to try (and wrestle with the kids to be good) or going to the family night at the aquarium and eat dinner in the onsite restaurant. Gee, which idea do you think won? We obviously didn’t have high expectations for the food there but they have a <a href="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug” target=”_blank”>mermaid show that occurs during dinner and we figured the kids, especially mermaid-obsessed little Cara would love it. This is <a href="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug” target=”_blank”>her being Ariel. Click the pic for the video.

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The food ended up being pretty good and <a href="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug” target=”_blank”>the show was fun. Click the pic for the video.

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There were a few other small activities for families to do and then we went through the aquarium.

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The highlight was, of course, the shark tank

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and the <a href="Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug” target=”_blank”>manta rays begging for food and eating it out of Rob’s hand. I’ve never seen them act like this before and it was very odd and kind of creepy! Click the pic for the video.

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Like I said, CREEPY!!

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Here are a few more creatures we met.

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Starfish sweethearts!!

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To cap off the night we let the kids stay up late, went swimming at night in the lit-up pool, and let them choose a treat from the snack bar. All-in-all it was a very enjoyable last night in Denver. 

We Red Rocked It

We’d been wanting to visit Red Rocks Amphitheatre the last few times we’ve been in Denver but this time we actually made it happen. We didn’t go for a concert, but had fun checking it out anyway.

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After hiking up the hill and a bunch of stairs we made it to the seating area. Now, I had heard that some people like to come work out here but I wasn’t quite prepared for what we saw. The place was full of Sunday morning exercisers. The thing is, this place is kind of out of the way so most of these people had to drive for at least 20 minutes to be here. The other thing is…it was a TOTAL meat market! We were just mesmerized watching the action. Many of these people were dressed to impress and showing more skin and makeup and hairspray than necessary in order to walk bleachers. Granted, some people were probably there to get fit, but we overheard more than a couple of conversations about trying to catch the eye, phone number, or more of members of the opposite sex. It was really funny, actually, even though I felt pretty underdressed. Overdressed? Just too dressed.


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This video shows a tiny bit of the action. It reminded me of busy little bees in a hive.

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We went into the visitor’s center and walked down a hall that had audiovisual presentations on some of the famous musicians who have performed here over the years. All I could think about, though, was the stench. The entire stretch of hallway smelled about how you would expect an area where large amounts of drunken (among other things…this is Colorado…) people gather. And I’m not talking just about the stench of numero uno. Gross!! I’ve been in porta potties that smelled better.

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That’s all, folks!


(metal sculpture)

Fact: There was a point when I was thinking I’d like to be a botanist.

Fact: I was in 8th grade.
Fact: That is just weird.

First of all, what 8th grader would ever think they’d like to do that when they grow up? Second of all, you’d think that if I liked botany I’d be able to keep my plants healthy. Heck, I’d even be happy with alive!

So even though I’m not a natural gardener, I truly have such respect and awe for nature. I feel so comfortable in it. I relish in studying the details of every species of plants I come upon. I adore photographing them.
We happen to be in Denver during free day at the Denver Botanic Gardens. What a joyful evening we spent wandering in acres of beauty! Rob and I both felt like this was a highlight of all the times we’ve visited Denver and we could have literally spent all day there.



All the different gardens were unique and severely wonderful but I very much loved the Japanese Garden (it was so serene and easy on the eyes with the simple plantings and curving lines.

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My favorite, though, was the tropical (or jungle) atrium. I was stupefied by the strange varieties that I’ve never seen before. They are all about survival of the fittest yet so many of them rely on each other to do it.

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I was smitten with the larger-than-me palm leaves that creased like a fan and then separated at the ends.


We didn’t have our Nikon with us so you get to enjoy phone pics. We will return (with a real camera)!

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Destination: Denver

We’ve been to Denver 3 times now for work/play. This time, instead of chronicling our week there, I thought I’d just share some our favorite things we did this time around. We didn’t really take any pictures.

Family Activities:

The Denver Zoo
I’m not someone who likes to throw money away on random activities just for the sake of staying busy, they have to be worth their weight in debit card sliding. The zoo actually had one of their 8 free days per year the week we were there, so OF COURSE we went. But, I will say, if I had to pay full price to go, I wouldn’t have been annoyed. It’s a good, solid zoo. It always helps a ton when literally all of the animals were awake and active (I even saw an exotic bird lay an egg on the ground right next to me). I loved the that they have many animals that we don’t have at Hogle Zoo. We saw cheetahs and bears and anacondas and Nate’s favorite, two monitor lizards among other things.

Kazoo Toys
LOVE this toy store. First of all, it’s in the hippest, most beautiful part of town, Cherry Creek. The streets are lined with gorgeous (aka expensive) shops and homes. They are filled to the brim (but not overwhelmingly or chaotically so) with creative, cool, imaginative, nostalgic toys for kids of all ages. There are lots of classics and lots of new toys and there are lots of variety and options in each category. They even have many things out for the kids to play with while the parent tries not to blow their Christmas budget. The people are so friendly and helpful. I can’t recommend this place enough.

Westlands Park
I wish we had known about this park sooner. It is right in the middle of the Denver Tech Center so it is easy to pick up Rob, grab a to-go lunch, and take the kids to the park to burn some energy. It has a really tall slide, toddler play area, two large playgrounds, and a duck pond. Fun stuff.

Cherry Creek Shopping Center Play Area
This mall has a lot of high-end stores but we go there for the indoor play area. It is so much bigger than the play areas in Utah malls…which seems ironic since there are so many more kids here. The kids have a blast, though, and all of the parents whom I have met there are very friendly. It’s a good place to go when it’s cold outside.

Park Meadows Mall
Here we like to visit and play at the American Doll Store and the Lego Store.


I love finding stellar local food fare wherever we go. It’s kind of a hobby. We’ve had a lot of good food in Denver, but listed below are the places we will go to every time we visit.

Darcy’s Bistro & Pub
Oh, dear. The Dubliner sandwich (sourdough, house roast beef, grilled onions, white cheddar) is so good that we got it twice this time around.

The best Lamb Souvlaki (marinated kebobs and assorted vegetables grilled to perfection and served with rice and Greek-style vegetables) we’ve ever had. We took this to-go to eat at the park and every time I looked over at Rob he was stuffing his face. We ate in-restaurant last time with our three crazy kids and the owners/managers were so very sweet and friendly to us. I’m sure they don’t see kids in their restaurant very often and were pleased to see us.

The Original Pancake House
They have a very fun creative menu. The kids love the playful pancake faces and Rob and I LOVE their good bacon and the Apple Pancake (oven baked with fresh granny smith apples and pure Sinkiang cinnamon glaze). It’s huge, gooey, and so delicious.

Crepes ‘n Crepes, a French Creperie
Rob and Caroline really enjoyed the ham and goat cheese crepe. Rob and I really REALLY enjoyed Heather’s Favorite Strawberry Crepe (strawberries, cream cheese, lemon, and brown sugar). We will be replicating this at home.

This is located in Glenwood Springs on the way to Denver. We’ve eaten at quite a few of the restaurants in this little community and this is the best we’ve had. “It’ is using grass fed and finished beef, keeping your health at the forefront. ‘It’ is sourcing that grass fed beef locally, supporting our local economy.’It’ is grinding every single patty we serve ourselves, knowing exactly what is going into the burgers and sandwiches you enjoy.” The wait for our order to be ready was long, but it was a very good burger.


I think that’s it for this trip. If you ever find yourself in Denver, do yourself a favor and try some of these. Tell them Julie sent you…

Outside in Colorado

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After we visited the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver we wandered the grounds for a little while.


At the time, Caroline was REALLY into eating rocks. Doesn’t she look super guilty? The snotty nose just works here.

Here are some sunset shots I took. No enhancements were done, the colors in the sky were really this beautiful.


I love the softness of the last one. Again, no enhancements were done.

Stuck in a Hotel Room

What do you do when you are stuck in a hotel room with 3 kids (1 being sick)?

  • Take random pictures around the room.


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  • Build a fort out of the hide-a-way bed.

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  • Learn how to make newspaper hats.

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  • I guess Madeleine got extra bored because I stumbled upon this massacre. LOL. Poor little ponies!

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So, that’s what you do when you’re stuck in a hotel room. Now you know.

Butterfly Pavilion

While in Denver the second time, I decided to splurge a little and pay for me and the kids to go to the Butterfly Pavilion north of town. We had recently checked-out Fancy Nancy and the Butterfly Birthday from the library and I really thought Madeleine would LOVE being surrounded by beautiful, fluttering butterflies. Wrong. She didn’t like it one bit. All those creepy, flying bugs threatening to land on her was not her idea of fun. She kept begging to leave. I forced her to stay in there with the rest of us while we got our fill. I did, afterall, just drive for 45 minutes and pay $20 to go.






A pretty, white butterfly landed on the ground next to Caroline. While I was trying to get a picture, I realized this meant certain death to the poor little thing. Now I know why there is “No Touching!”.




Tropical flora definitely not indigenous to Colorado.

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They also have a few aquariums with upside-down jellyfish and a huge starfish. This thing was about 2 feet across.



They also have an insect exhibit. We all refused to hold the tarantella, but Nate stroked the cockroach. Gross!


After the inside exhibits, we played outside in the nature-y area. Those pictures will be posted another day. As cool as it was, I’m not convinced it was worth the money. If Madeleine would have enjoyed herself like I thought she would have, than maybe. Oh, well.