Countdown to Santa Cruz!

Hey everyone!  Been one the sidelines for a while since our adventures in Iowa and Colorado …. but getting ready to hit the road one more time!  Heading into San Francisco, California next week, and driving down into Santa Cruz to visit some amazing family!!

I’ll be posting, so stay tuned!

9 days to go!

Hi-Beams in Creede, Colorado!

Hey everyone!  Sorry for not posting sooner, but it’s been crazy busy since getting home to Texas and back to work! (boo!)  So let’s take a trip to Creede, Colorado and hang out with the Hi-Beams again!

We traveled down to Creede, Colorado from Denver and took in the beautiful sites along the way.  My brother Bret, aka – Halden Wofford of the Hi-Beams, kept me in stitches the entire way!  From talking about our family farm in Iowa, to reciting Bill Engvall’s “Dork Fish”.  We snapped some really great photos as we drove up into the mountains, so check out the scenery along the way!  And yes – Colorado is “weed legal”!

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Once we reached our destination, I enjoyed some time walking around main street with my talented brother.  Checking out several of the local shops, Bret found some interesting jewelry and indulged in a “snakelett” as he so calls it.  An interesting bracelet made from snake bones!  A place worth checking out, Rare Things Gallery is a great shop where you will find jewelry, antiques, collectibles and decorative arts.  Not to mention some fabulous mineral rocks and fossils.

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From Rare Things Gallery, we traveled up the road and found the Creede Trading Company!  And what does the Creede Trading Company have?  FUDGE!!!  Yes!!  You too, can indulge in the finer things of sugar!!  They also have some wonderful nick-knacks from souvenirs to gifts different delicacies.

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After walking around and having lunch at a local BBQ spot, we had to help cheer in the donkey racers!  Yep – you heard that right …. Creede hosts the annual donkey dash, where you as a runner, get to run the 10 mile course with your donkey in tow … and not riding him mind you … you are BOTH running!  Let’s cheer on these guys for making a great effort and showing their sportsmanship!

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After all the fun the day had to offer, it was time to get down with some good ole’ Honky-Tonk with Halden & The Hi-Beams!  Great fun listening to these guys and dancing with some of the locals.  The band even stopped to pose for a picture with Halden’s sister – me!   Couldn’t help but also snap a picture of my brother and I wearing our sticker hats!  Keepin’ it in the family!!   Thank you to the band for a great trip to Creede and the awesome music to boot!

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This event in Creede was the perfect ending to a great road trip across the West and into the mountains!  Hope if you are ever in the area of Creede, Colorado, you get the chance to stop in and take in the sites and shops!!

 

Filming, Idaho Springs & the Hi-Beams!

Denver is an amazing place with breathtaking views.  A view of the Rocky Mountains in the distance that surround the city is a site to behold.

Today started out hanging with my brother Bret, who is a film producer, writer, and director, as well as the lead singer for Halden Wofford and the Hi-Beams, a local honky-tonk, country band that has established roots here in this awesome city!  Today, Bret was filming a commercial for one of the local businesses.  Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures to share with you just yet …. professional reasons, you know, BUT …. I did catch Bret hanging out with the breakfast crew before all the fun began!

After breakfast, I headed up to the small mining community of Idaho Springs, Colorado.  This is a gem nestled in the mountains about 35 minutes west of Denver.  After travelling up the long winding highway, and many pops of the ears thanks to altitude, I made it to this sleepy little town where all sorts of fun and cools sites await!

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Walking up and down Main Street, you will find an array of shops and stores, with a big mix of restaurants to temp your fancy!  You will even see an old fashioned Fire House signal hanging over the road!  Make sure to stop in at the Visitor’s Center and take a walk through their heritage museum for more information about this wonderful mining town.

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But my favorite place during this visit ….  “Miner Decadence Chocolates”!!  Here is where I met Connie Planck, who introduced me to some amazing dark chocolate made right there in the store.  Everything from fudge, to peanut butter cups and chocolate covered cherries – you won’t be disappointed with the selection and delicious flavor that bursts out of these local treats!!  And while she told me most people write about the chocolates, I must say that Connie was a delight to meet and was a very gracious host.  If not for her, I may not have realized some of the sites to be found here in Idaho Springs!  After further exploring the town, I had to stop back in and thank her!  Check Connie out at www.veryfinechocolates.com.  It also was cool to meet Daniel, a fellow Texan working in the shop with her, from San Antonio!

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Back behind City Hall, you will find an authentic, Narrow Gage steam engine and car which was used to bring passengers to the small town, and was also an important asset to this mining community.  And just a few steps away from it, you will find an amazing, paved pathway to follow, taking you down along the small river that runs through the town.  Walking this pathway, you will see the beauty of the mountains up close, along with an authentic water wheel, which was used by Charlie Taylor to power a stamp mill along the Ute Creek for his gold mining operations.  The water wheel was built in 1893, and was moved to its current place in 1946 as a gift to the mining community of Idaho springs by his estate.  The small waterfall next to it adds to the beauty of this historical treasure!

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Further up the pathway, you may even catch sight of white-water rafters out enjoying their adventure!!  If it’s adventure you’re looking for, Idaho Springs certainly has plenty of that!  You and your party can take a guided tour of the rapids by raft and experience the excitement of a most thrilling ride!  But don’t worry – you’ll be perfectly safe while wearing your life jacket and helmet as you speed down the white caps produced by the rushing river!

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From riding the rapids, to zip lining or hiking, there is plenty to see and do in Idaho Springs.  Don’t miss out on this beautiful little town snuggled up in the beautiful mountains outside of Denver!

Rounding out the evening was an awesome visit to Lyons, Colorado to take in Halden and the Hi-Beams Honky Tonk band!  A beautiful evening with the setting sun, behind the Oscar Blues Tavern, several locals in attendance had the pleasure of dancing the evening away to some great country music presented in the amphitheater there in the park!  Halden and his band have been together for 15 years and have produced 5 albums to date – with a 6th coming out in July!  Attend one of their concerts, and you will get the chance to meet these awesome musicians, who are no strangers to mingling with the fans!

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A great time catching up with the band, Halden, and meeting several of their fans!  Check back on Saturday as I will be following the band down to Creede, Colorado for the Creede 125th Birthday Celebration Festival!  www.creede.com/creede-birthday.  I may even try posting a video of the band in action if I can figure out how!  Haha!

Tomorrow, we explore downtown Denver and visit the Denver Art Museum and Café!

History from Winterset

On the historical side of Winterset, IA, you will find a wealth of information and fascinating things to see.  From the Madison County Historical Complex, to the John Wayne Museum and Monument Park, you will find several things to walk you through history lane.

The Madison County Historical Complex is home to all sort of memorabilia from Madison County history.  All donated by local residents and their families, there are pieces in this museum that will give you a glimpse into the fashions of time past, as well as musical instruments that were popular in the day.  You will find things from military uniforms to guns to furniture and fine china ware.  Can you imagine wearing a mink stole with the head still attached around town today?

 

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Next door to the historical museum is the Bevington – Kaser House and Grounds.  This historical site reveals what a mansion, built by Charles “Doc” Bevington in 1856, looked like in Madison County.  Several items in the house are original, including the baby grand piano, played by Doc’s daughter Mayme.  The house boasts some beautiful stained glass artwork and consisted of limestone, brick and walnut.  The grounds around the house are just as magnificent and also sport an authentic dinner bell donated by one of my own ancestors – Walker Bertholf.

 

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In town, you can’t miss touring the inside of the John Wayne Museum.  For those that did not know it, John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa, and the museum is open year round, showcasing memorabilia from his life and movies.  The outside of the museum is adorned with “stars” on the sidewalk, each showcasing the name of a John Wayne movie.  Stop in and check it out!

 

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Also in town, just a few steps away from the square, you will find Monumental Park, a memorial honoring those who lost their lives during the Civil War.  The only other place I know of that showcases canons and stacked cannon balls is in Washington DC.

 

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This trip to Winterset was full of reminiscing, history, fun and family for me!  If you are ever in the Des Moines, IA area, Winterset is well worth the trip 35 minutes south for a full day of history and a walk through time!  Be sure to put this small, amazing town on your radar!

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Winterset, Iowa … more than just a small town!

If you like history, then Winterset is just the town for you!  Visiting Winterset City Park, I soon discovered there is more to it than just a playground and a nice place to have a picnic.  Driving into the part, you are met by a beautiful covered bridge – The Cutler-Donahoe Bridge – build in 1870.  It is one of the few bridges in Madison County that has an arched roof.  Opposite of the bridge, you will find an authentic Hedge Maze.  The architects of this beautiful feature traveled to England to get the scoop on their design and purpose.  Bringing that information back to Iowa, the Rotary Hedge Maze was designed and planted by the city, and serves as a delightful attraction to all who visit.  It even sports a bocce court!

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Now, if you are an “off the beaten path” kind of person, then you’ll not want to miss Clark Tower.  This hidden gem lies deep within the city park and transports you to another time and place.  Not exactly a castle, but more of a castle tower, I can easily see the story of Rapunzel.  Or perhaps Juliet as she calls to her Romeo from atop the stone accents.  Clark Tower was erected in 1926 as a memorial to the first settlers of Madison County, Caleb and Ruth Clark.  The tower is built from local limestone and stands on a hill overlooking the Middle River Valley.  (Who said Iowa was flat!?)  Taking the mile ½ drive up the rocky road to the tower, one might think you are getting lost in the forest.  For the more adventuresome traveler, bring your backpack as you can hike up the trail and loose yourself in the surroundings.  Either way, Clark Tower is a must see when visiting Winterset.  Don’t forget to snap your selfie while you are there!

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If life on the lake, fishing and swimming are your thing, then you won’t want to miss another jewel in the crown of Winterset … Cedar Lake.  This beautiful area is nestled secretly off Cedar Bridge Road and stands out almost like an oasis beckoning to visitors during the hot summer months.  Picnic areas, lake side parking, and lush greenery surround the lake.  You won’t want to miss out on the serene beauty Cedar Lake has to offer.

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Just down the road a couple blocks from the city park, downtown Winterset will also transport you back in time to the small town, country feeling of the city square, surrounding the main courthouse.  The buildings lining the small square are now registered with the Iowa Historical Society and have been preserved in time.   One can find just about everything you might need within this small town, from Rexall Drugstore/Montross Pharmacy, to the local beauty salon.  Small town diners, such as Rudy’s will provide a quick lunch with friendly service, and you will even find an authentic Tex-Mex restaurant – Mi Pueblito – to satisfy your culinary cravings from South of the border!

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Recently renovated, the Iowa Theater not only is a place to catch a great cinema show, but also experience great theater through stage!  The theater was built in 1899.  After extensive renovations, the theater reopened its doors in May 2017 during the John Wayne Birthday Celebration, featuring several of his movies …. And in case you didn’t know, Winterset Iowa is birthplace to “The Duke”.  More on that in another post!  Visit the theater’s website at www.the-iowa.com!

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Tomorrow, I will be visiting the Madison County Historical Complex and Museum!  Till then!!

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