Thursday, April 22, 2010

Union Station Denver

Yes, it’s true, a blog on the KS city Union Station, right to Denver’s. I am on a Union Station kick, so jump on board again, because Denver has also got a story to tell. The film “A Portal to Progress,” highlights the stories of the people and events behind the Denver Union Station. Without the dedication of Denver pioneers we would not have such a rich history behind our city. Our Union Station allowed for easy travel to bring in commerce and people.

The Colorado Preservation, Inc., played the film as part of the “Saving Places Conference” to spread the word about the importance of preserving historic places, and not just tearing them down to rebuild something newer. in reality, these building can be restored at a much smaller price and cost to the environment. Plus, they have a story behind them, and a classy historic architecture!
Here we go on the history! Cheyenne, Wyoming had completed its line on the transcontinental, but Denver was not about to be left behind. Playing catch up, the city made plans to build its own railroad, the Denver Pacific Railroad, and made headway to Cheyenne. About ten years later the city went all out and made Denver’s first Union Station, which burned down 13 years later. After it was off the ground again the station was sending out 80 trains a day in the 1920’s and 30’s. Still in 1958 Union Station was serving more people than the Stapleton Airport. But, like all of the other railways, they started to loose business to air crafts and cars.

Union Station is not a major transportation hub anymore, but without it our history would not be as plentiful as it is today. And new news, plans are underway to make Union Station a 24 hour hub again and bring together many transportation modes. Saving the building was first, now bringing it back in action is next. So who knows, maybe the next place we will meet for a cuppa Joe will be Union Station under the bright red fluorescent lights.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kansas City Union Station

Grab your conductors hat and lets take a ride, to the Kansas City Union Station. Once hussling around and steering thousands of passengers to their destinations, this place was in it’s prime. During World War Two, over one million travelers passed through here. Stopping to get spiffed up at the barber shop, shoes shined, or grab a cigar for the ride ahead. These days are gone, but I still see this Union Station in its prime.

The most sustainable buildings are the ones that are already built. So thank goodness this station was never demolished, but instead built up. Closure in the 1890’s made for a grim outlook but an initiave was passed to renovate the building that holds so many stories. I mean, seriously, if walls could talk, think about the travelers and their times.

Something is so magical about having a central meeting place for a community. The Kansas City Union Station seems to be exactly that, a meeting place where it’s like the old days, everyone smiles and waves and would tip their wide brimmed hat…if this was still the 1940’s. You could stop in here to read the paper, write a letter or just sit back and take life in. Or…the 95 feet high ceiling, enormous chandeliers and the spectacular grand arch are something to marvel at as well!

Today you can stop in for more than lunch and shops, there are also exhibits, a planeterium, a Theater District and an interactive Science city…wheew, I think I got most if it! Or catch the Amtrak to a city to explore! All aborad!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Doors Open Denver

Out the door to Doors Open Denver.

Have you ever wondered what the top of the Daniels and Fisher Tower looks like, or the holding cells inside the new Detention Center, or even the inside of the pristine Governor’s Mansion?

This weekend in Denver was the weekend to get your curiosity covered. If you didn’t make it this year, Doors open Denver is an annual event held to celebrate the architecture and history of Denver. Very knowledgeable volunteers were located throughout each sight to answer questions and fill you in on the history.

The new detention center has been rebuilt to hold courts, offices and room for 1,500 inmates in the five level building. Inmates move in at the end of the month, so this was the one and only chance to see the holding cells. Everything from the the pods, medical facilities and court rooms were open to take more than a quick peek. Officers and captains were staioned throughout to share stories, and if you hung out a little longer the one on one converstions really sparked some crazy stories.

If you didn’t want to spend the day in jail there was plenty more to see! My mom, sister and I talked one of the owners of the Daniels and Fisher tower to letting us take the stairs to the seventeenth floor, the line to the elevator was pretty intimidating. The top floors are reserved for special events in a lavish setting, even complete with a spiral staircase. The capacity is 120, so I say we start rallying the troops now and rent this place out. The balconies overlook Denver and we could get an up-close look at the clocks that make the building one of the most recognizable in Denver.

The next day, I found myself at the governor’s mansion. This site can be seen on days outside of Doors Open Denver, but hey why not take advantage of the right now! Extravagant gardens on the outside were just as exquisite as the inside. Sitting down and having a cup of tea in one of the many sitting areas would never generate any complaints by me! One thing you might want to see for yourself is a Waterford crystal chandelier that was once housed in the White House in Washington, D.C. !

When one door closes another opens and I can’t wait to walk through more open doors next year!

Jeremy Blooms Wish of A Lifetime

Granting wishes to low income senior citizens is the driving factor behind Wish of a Lifetime. Started by Jeremy Bloom, (former NFL Player and Olympic and World Cup Skier) the foundation went national at the beginning of this year, opening up wish ballots to all 50 states!

Saturday marked the sold out evening affair that raised 130,000 dollars and I was lucky enough to volunteer. An organization that recognizes the impact, love and mark seniors have left is one that can easily gain support. There is no doubt we can all think of a senior, whether a friend, family member, or friend of a friend that could use some support.

Just over two years in operation and more wishes are on the way. Wishes have been as simple as someone asking for a manicure, and in depth as flying family members together to reconnect or even say goodbye to a loved one. One of the bigger wishes was taking a group of World War Two Vets to visit the WWII memorial and meet other Vets.

Regardless of how big or small the wish, the attention and appreciation shown to these seniors is at the core.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Arvada Kite Festival

Colorful kites swerving against the blue sky back drop made for some high flying fun at the 8th annual Arvada Kite Festival. We’re talking planes, princesses, sharks, eagles and whales.

About a year ago I was ready to take my beautiful hot pink butterfly kite out for a spin. I though the kite was ready to go UP UP and AWAY but instead went UP to the SIDE and SMACK into a tree. Poor thing never even stood a chance against that piece of wood.

Despite having to bury a mangled kite, the spirit of the flyers started to reach beneath my sails. I came kiteless but watching the wind catch kites and take them for a ride was plenty of entertainment.

I found my favorite kite. Teal, Black and purple combined with a unique design. I came to find out it was handmade and took the owner three North Dakota blizzards to assemble it. A close up look showed the precise stitching and craftwork. I better not even get my hands on that one, especially with trees nearby.

But the experienced kite flyers assured me that if the many elementary school age kids could figure it out, I could figure it out. I think with this spring weather coming around, I am going to have to adopt new kite and join the high.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Majiang at Seven Cups

Tea cups ready to tip and chinese tiles ready to strategize. That’s what it’s all about on a Thursday night at the Seven Cups Tea House (1882 S. Pearl St. in Denver) where you can play Majiang. (Mahjongg) And have no worries, no experience is necessary, and you don’t even have to pronounce Mahjiang correctly, just jump right in.

Here is some quick background on how to play. You need four players, and the game is similar to Rummy. Some degree of luck is involved but you skills and strategy are more important to win. Each player is dealt anywhere from thirteen to sixteen tiles, depending on the variation. When you’re up, you draw a tile and discard one. To have the winning hand you need four combinations of three tiles and a pair of matching tiles. The combinations have to follow the same suit, these include bamboo, characters, dragons, and they have to follow each other in numerical order. So a four, five, six of dragons would count as one of your winning hands.

It costs two bucks to play and you most likely will buy a cup, and once you have a cup a pot of tea. Yes, it really is that good. The tea is hand picked in China, and good luck making a decision, there are over ninety teas to choose from! Don’t be shy, the staff is very inquisitive on knowing the story behind the tea. And to top of the tea, check out some of the unique desserts! See you soon for some Majiang.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

George Hiney

What happens when you mix art and fire? You could end up with a glass figurine like the one pictured here. Of course, you would need an artistic eye, like the one George Heiney has, and also a fire that heats up to 11,000 degrees. The heat is on!

With a glass rod in hand that was 9mm in diameter, George placed it in the scorching fire torch and started to shape a horse figurine. He says anything that has to do with wildlife are his favorite projects to create.

And this project was done so quickly that I never even began to loose my attention. My eyes were as focused as George’s as he controlled the glass exactly as his imagination directed him. I was enthralled by the way he could shape the rod in his right hand with the shaping tool he held in his left.

The details on the wild horse were so meticulous. The way he could make the hair on the mane look so alive with only one tool, the torch and his creativity astounded me.

As I browsed around at the other pieces I noticed colored glass. George told me that by mixing the glass rods with minerals, colors emerge. For example, cobalt adds a blue color to the glass.

In less than ten minutes the horse was completed and left on the table for me to admire. I still couldn’t wrap my head around the way he was able to work the magic into the horse. All I do know is George Hiney is on fire!