Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Favorites: A Journey Back in Time

And what was Dan's favorite part of our trip to Denver you ask?

Our recent trip to Denver and the surrounding areas brought us many memories; from the aforementioned giant bear exhibit, to jaunt up to Cheyenne for a historic tour, to an interminable drive though a whole lot of nothing in western Nebraska. But the wildest and most memorable excursion for me happened on the last day of our trip when we decided to drive way up into the mountains to Central City, CO.

The drive up took about an hour, and was a pretty steady elevation climb the whole way. Highlights from the drive included the rental car struggling mightily in the higher elevation, another near death experience caused by a GPS meltdown, constant ear popping, and an awe inspiring (yet terrifying) heard of wild big horned sheep racing down a mountainside just off the highway. We were convinced they smelled blood and were heading right towards us. Luckily, they slowed and veered off before getting to the road.

As soon as we arrived in Central City (elevation 8,510), it's like we were instantly transported back to the 1870s. The buildings lining the streets are straight out of a classic Western cowboy movie. You can just picture the likes of Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok roaming the streets, having a drunken poker game or a wild duel. I’ve never felt more inclined to ride a horse, carry a gun and holster, have a handle bar mustache, or use a spittoon. If only I had more time to prepare! The town today is known mostly as a gaming town, with a handful of small casinos open to the public.

After spending some time walking around Central City (and Steph winning $27 on a penny slot, ca-ching!) we drove a few miles further to partake in a tour of the Hidee Gold Mine. The Hidee Mine is located at mile marker 6.3 on the Central City Parkway, so keep your eyes open. (You CAN easily miss it as we obviously did.) Before we began our tour of the mine, we were able to try our hand at panning for gold which is actually a lot harder than it looks! After a brief lesson on the origin and history of the mine and the Gold Rush in general, we were given hard hats and entered the mine.

We spent about an hour inside in the mine and learned about the day to day life of a miner. The tour guide even showed us an actual fault line that ran along the side of the mine – pretty cool! The best part of the tour was at the end when we descended down into the area of the gold vein and got to chisel our own gold out of the rock walls! It was well worth the filthy mine dirt and mud that stayed with us all the way home and the perfect cap to our journey back to 1870s Wild West/Frontierland America. 

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