Garden of the Gods

This is the Garden of the Gods, a national natural landmark in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Five years ago when we went to Colorado, we planned on visiting this place, but a wild forest fire that closed the roads leading here, prevented us on going. Then two years ago, while visiting Colorado once more, we planned on going again. But heavy rains and hail stopped us.

This year, no fire or rain or hail can prevent us from finally visiting this place. Not even rush hour traffic.


This place, is one of the top visitor sites in Colorado. It is a geological wonder with incredible rock formations.

This place was purchased by Charles Elliot Perkins, a man who lived in Iowa. (Because I live in Iowa, of course I have to mention this.) But he donated this land to the City of Colorado Spring in 1909, so everybody can enjoy this wonderful site for free.

plaque in the rock

Some of the rock formations are massive. Some are not so massive.

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And some are thin and delicate, with some rocks even dangerously wedged waiting to crash down.

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Though the rocks are already wonderful to see, the light from the setting sun added magic to the show. Note the colors of these rocks change from red, to orange, to fiery yellow.

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Of course, the sunset is in itself a spectacle to witness. Certainly this is a place to spend some moments of awe and silence. A befitting name to be called the garden of the gods.

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It might have taken us several attempts to visit this place, but it was sure worth the wait to finally see this impressive landmark.

From the Garden of the Gods,

Pinoytransplant

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(*photos taken with an iPhone)

 

Mile-High Adventure

I regularly attend conferences, so I can be updated on the latest practice trends, new researches and studies, breakthrough treatments, and recent technologies.

In these meetings, I have the chance to meet and listen to very smart people. But in the same time, it gives me the feeling of how inadequate and ignorant I am compared to them.

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ATS (American Thoracic Society)

This conventions also give me the opportunity to travel and see other places. This year brought me to Denver, Colorado.

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Denver is also known as the Mile-High City, for the obvious reason that it has an elevation of 5,278 feet above the sea level, or about 1 mile. It was the capital and the most populous municipality in the state of Colorado. It was founded in 1858 as a mining town during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush.

Since the school is out, I brought my whole family along with me. It was a business and a leisure trip, at the same time. We also have some really good friends that lives near Denver, so we had the chance to visit with them.

We stayed in an old hotel, and I mean really old. The hotel was built in 1892. Stepping inside is like going back in time.

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Atrium of the Brown Palace Hotel

This hotel also pride itself that every U.S. president has visited it since Teddy Roosevelt (1905), with the exception of Calvin Coolidge. Now they can add that Pinoytransplant was a guest of them too!

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Back to the conference, the meeting was a 6-day affair and was held in Colorado Convention Center. This center is unofficially known as the Big Blue Bear Convention Center. Why?

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Here’s why.

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This art piece is a 40-foot steel sculpture and officially called “I See What You Mean.”

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The big blue bear peeks at the lobby of the convention center. Now I see what they mean!

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Besides very smart people, I also met this fellow.

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This is what they do to you if you sleep in the meeting. Just kidding!

It is not a real cadaver but a synthetic one. It is called “syndaver.” I met him in the post-graduate course I attended, where we placed catheters on him to learn ECMO*.

I walked from the hotel to the convention center, as it was just a few blocks away. Here are some photos I took on my daily walk.

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There are even pianos in the middle of the street that anybody can play. My daughter found it irresistible not to tinker with.

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Our friends brought us to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. This is where I met big creatures.

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Their current special exhibition is about mythic creatures. So I encountered a dragon…..

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And a unicorn. For real!

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The only downside on our visit to Denver was that during our stay there the weather was not so cooperative. It was raining 5 out of the 7 days we were there. It was even snowing in the mountains.

But on the day it was not raining, we escaped into the mountains.

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We drove to the Rocky Mountain National Park, which was about an hour and a half drive from Denver.

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Since it still has deep snow on the top of the mountain, we were not able to reach the peak, due to road closure.

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But the trip was worth it. We even spotted a young grizzly bear.

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For sure, it was a mile-high experience for us. I hope you enjoy the photos of our trip. And speaking of photos, though I am not fond of taking selfie, I cannot resist this.

Here’s my very hot selfie!

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Infrared photo (thermal imaging). Taken at Denver museum.

From Denver,

Pinoytransplant.

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* ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation): a technique to deliver both cardiac and respiratory support to patients whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange to sustain life.

Look Up, Down, and Beyond

During our recent summer road trip, we did lots of looking up and looking down. Here’s a sample of them.

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Look up. What are you looking at? (Vail, Colorado)

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Look up. Don’t look down! (Copper Mountain, Colorado)

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Look up Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote is going to push down that rock! (Arches National Park, Utah)

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Look down. I also need to pee, can I do it here? (Grand Canyon, Arizona)

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Look beyond. (Grand Canyon, Arizona)

 

On the Road to Colorado

Last week, some Filipino friends of ours from the Tri-state area visited us here in Iowa. Then we rented a big van, and all 12 of us crammed in it, and drove down to Colorado. One of the friends who was with us was my daughter’s piano teacher, so some of the places we visited have music theme.

Colorado means ” colored red” in Spanish. The name is probably due to the fact that many of the mountains and rocks in this state is red. And what else could be more representative of this than our first stop: Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.

This is a rock structure that was transformed into an open air amphitheatre. Many famous artists have performed in this theatre, from renowned opera singer Mary Garden in 1911, to the Beatles in 1964, and to U2 in 1983. It is still one of the most notable concert venue to this day.

But when there is no concert being held, it is a visitors’ haven and exercise enthusiasts’ playground.

one of the extreme sports enthusiasts working out in the amphitheatre

Denver in the distance as seen from Red Rock

From Red Rock, we drove to the Rocky Mountains. We passed through Boulder where we saw planes dousing water and chemical to control the wild fires in the mountains. (The biggest wild fires were in Colorado Spring, which we did not visit for obvious reasons. Our thoughts and prayers goes to the people who were affected by the fires.)

We entered the Rocky Mountain State Park via Estes Park, Colorado.

Entering Estes Park

town in Estes Park

plains between the mountains

looking down on the road below where we’ve been

The highest point of the Rocky Mountains was about 12000 feet above sea level. Here we felt that the air was thin, and that made breathing difficult and made us feel giddy. The weather was also very volatile high in the mountains. It was warm and sunny one minute, and then raining hailstones the next, which we really experienced while we were there.

This is highest point of the park, when it became noticeable that it is getting harder to breath.

angry clouds that brought hail

From the Rocky Mountains we continued on to Vail, Colorado. It has an elevation of more than 8000 feet. This town is known for its Ski Resorts. But even during summer, the town has a lot of activities and events to offer. We made this town our base camp for 2 days.

ski mountains of Vail

On our third day, tired and weary from all the driving and traveling, we went to Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado for few hours of relaxation. The place was originally a summer campground for the Ute Indians who came for the hot springs. It was later bought by a newspaper mogul in the late 1800’s and turned it into a resort and spa. Today, the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa remains one of the nation’s oldest, largest and finest natural hot mineral springs destination.

The resort has 22 pools and private baths. These pools are believed to have healing powers and dipping in them was definitely relaxing. The temperature of the different pools ranges from 98-101 F, which is nice and warm, to almost scalding hot 108 to 110 F. You almost can cook an egg on that!

mineral hot spring flowing from a rock

After immersing and unwinding in the hot springs we went off to Aspen. The drive to Aspen was beautiful and scenic as well.

road to Aspen

going through tunnels

Aspen is a premiere Ski destination. But we did not went there to ski. Wrong season! We went there to attend a concert.

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city of Aspen with mountain slopes in the backdrop

cobblestoned town center

Aspen is also known for its Music Festival. Even the venue of the concert, the Benedict Music Tent, is interesting. It  is the world’s first concert facility that combines the openness and romance of a tent, with the acoustic integrity of a concert hall.

the symphony warming up before the concert

The concert was featuring George Gershwin music. Gershwin is an American composer whose many of his works were adapted to Broadway musicals and Hollywood movies.

the conductor taking a bow

It rained during the latter part of the concert, and the pitter-patter of the rain and the roll of thunder, which you can hear through the tent, added an interesting twist when the symphony was playing “Rhapsody in Blue.”

On our last day in Colorado, since my daughter has not practiced piano for more than 3 days of traveling, and she had a recital coming in a few days, our music teacher friend decided she needed to practice even for 30 minutes. But since we did not pack the piano with us, we have to find a place where she can practice. That was when we made an unplanned stop in Denver to find a piano store. Yes, that’s how dedicated they were. Practice, practice!

Denver

When we found a place, we asked the owner if we can use a piano to practice, and he kindly directed us to the recital hall. That was when our friend, the music teacher and also a concert pianist got excited. She was thrilled because the piano was a Bosendorfer. Because I don’t know piano I asked her what so different about this piano, and she told me that it was like a top-end luxury car of pianos.

pianos in the store

I agree, it has a rich sound to it. But when I learned the price of the piano my daughter used, it floored me! It was so expensive I can buy a Porsche car. In fact it was worth two (not just one) brand new Porsche Boxter! Now we’re talking. And we practiced on it  for free!

my daughter playing on a Bosendorfer piano

It was indeed a long drive but a delightful one. And it was special because we did it with dear friends. We even had old original Pinoy music (OPM) playing in the van to spice up our reminiscing of our bygone days, as we enjoy each other’s company during this trip. I was also amazed that I did not hear any of the kids say, “Are we there yet?” They had such a good time, that believe it or not, they even amused themselves by playing hide and seek inside the van!

life is a highway

the endless road we travel

Surely this road trip was fun and memorable. And just like so often in life, it is not always the destination, but it is the journey that really matters.