Friday, March 28, 2014

Surviving the Dust Bowl and the I-70

Strasburg, CO – Both of us let out a gasp when we had our first look outside this morning. The ground around the RV and the car were white with snow!  The sun was already melting it by the time we were ready to head in to Denver again, although we did have to dig out the snow brush to clear the rest away.

Our first destination was the History Colorado Center, and based on the lineup of yellow school buses, we were prepared for the lively crowds of school children inside.  The floor of the main hall of this museum is a huge topographical map of the state, where a very pleasant docent named Dani welcomed us and told us what to expect on our visit.

The Center is a great place for kids to learn about their state. “Destination Colorado” replicates a small agricultural town in the 1920s where kids can shop at the general store, climb into a real Model T Ford, see what it’s like to milk a cow and learn about life on the farm.

On the upper floor “Colorado Stories” describes experiences of various residents, including hard rock miners, traders at an early fort, and wartime Japanese internees. It was impressive to see the candid accounts of prejudice against the Japanese, as well as the African Americans who were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan. There was also a simulated Rocky Mountain ski jump where visitors could step onto a pair of boards and watch the steep slope unfold on a screen in front of them.

We stepped inside a farmhouse kitchen where, with voices, video and sound effects, we relived the “Black Sunday” Dust Bowl storm of the 1930s when the sky went dark and winds howled for hours. There was also a hands-on display about the importance of water to the region, and a replica of a ski lodge. 

The state capitol building was our next destination, and it was a short walk away so we left the car in the parking lot by the Center. A fierce wind whipped at our hair as we walked, though the sun was shining. We noted the wide range of clothing choices made by Denver residents – some were in parkas, while others had on shorts and t-shirts!

Our arrival at the magnificent capitol building, with its gold-plated dome, coincided with the start of a public tour, so we attached ourselves to the group and tried to hear the soft voice of our young guide, describing the two houses, the brass chandeliers and large paintings of prominent Colorado citizens.

By this time we were ready to head back to the RV park, a 40-minute drive from downtown. The trip ended up taking much longer because of a crash on the Interstate! Fortunately, when we gave up waiting, we were able to bushwhack across to an off-ramp and try to find an alternate route.  It was just plain luck that the direction we chose led to a junction with the I-70 which got us past the huge tie-up. Whew! The open road and big sky were a welcome sight after our tiresome wait.

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