Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Legend of Horsetooth Rock

So when Jason and I were first looking at places in Fort Collins to live via the Internet from California, we didn't know this town at all. The street names were completely foreign, we knew nothing about the neighborhoods and even less about the surrounding landscapes. We finally settled on a quaint little apartment sitting on the corner of Horsetooth and Timberline Road. Horsetooth is one of the busiest streets here in Fort Collins, named after the 25 mile long Horsetooth Reservoir located in the same county. Never one time did it occur to me to ask where the name Horsetooth came from. So it wasn't until months after living here that I came to find out the mountain directly in front of our little college town that was shaped so oddly was, in fact, Horsetooth Rock.

I always thought it looked funny, and now that it has been pointed out, OK yes, I see how it may look a bit like a horses molar.

Horsetooth Rock, Fort Collins Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

After doing a bit more research, I've also come to find out this mountain has more of a story to it than just the coincidence of looking like a horses jacked up grill.

According to the Native American legend, The Valley of Contentment, (which is today's Horsetooth Reservoir) was at one time the responsibility of a giant. The Giant's job was to protect the wild animals in the valley from getting hunted by Chief Maunamoku and his tribe of Indians. So when the giant got in his way, the Chief led the Indians to slay him. The Chief himself went directly for the giant and in killing him slashed the center of his heart first, then the right, then the left with a tomahawk from the heavens. Upon his death, the giant turned into stone and his slain heart turned into what is now known as Horsetooth Rock.

Yes, well, isn't that pleasant?

There's actually another side to the story that the giant was super evil and that Chief Maunamoku saved the village people (the regular kind, not the YMCA kind) by coming to their aid and defeating the beast. Either way the story is told, the strange formation in the rock is the petrified heart of the giant. Years later, a group of fur trappers and traders decided that the mountain looked more like a horses tooth than a giant's slashed heart and shortly after the name Horsetooth started showing up on maps. So... Horsetooth was, in fact, their final answer.

So anyway, I've wanted to hike to the top of this giant's heart ever since I've laid eyes on it. I've been bugging my sister for months to come climb it with me, but we've never been able to sync our schedules...

...until last Thursday.
 5.5 miles round trip to a 7,260 ft summit is the funnest thing ever to do on a boring spring morning. What a blast! The trail is partly laid out in a nice friendly fashion and then the end you're actually climbing up a stone wall and hoping to find the top. Had we not run into a couple other hikers on the way, we most likely wouldn't have found our final destination.

Horsetooth summit, Fort Collins Colorado #ColorfulColorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

So the moral of the story is... Don't take your local giant for granite.

(I'm so funny)

Also, if you live near Fort Collins, climb the rock. It's an amazing view at the top. On a clear day you can see parts of Wyoming so I've heard.

And now it totally makes since why my nephew randomly found a set of Giant's toes at the Spring Canyon Park which sits at the end of Horsetooth Road.

Horsetooth Giant's Feet, Fort Collins Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado www.thebrighterwriter.blogspot.com

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Night At The Museum

Let me just preface this post by saying I have the best sister and brother-in-law that a girl could ever hope for. Not because of the things they do for us, but just because of who they are as people. They're the reason we're out here in Colorado and the reason we've felt as content as could be. Kalynn has quickly become best friends with her cousins Finn (age 5) and Harper (also age 3) and the three of them running around together yelling, laughing, and squealing is truly everything I thought it was going to be. They're absolutely hilarious to watch as a collective group.  So when my sister called and asked if we wanted to go to the Denver Children's Museum for Finn's 5th birthday, of course we were all over it.


This time we got to spend the night.

Like, grab our sleeping bags, throw on our pajamas, bring our pillows and sleep anywhere we choose all night long.

Apparently, once a year the museum allows a group of 30 people total, parents and kids included, to make a small (!!!) donation in exchange for renting the place over night to let us have the entire building all to ourselves.

I think I may have been more excited than my own child.

My husband and I took a trip back to his hometown in up-state New York a few years ago and visited my mother-in-law at The Strong National Museum of Play where she was working (Hi Penny!), so I sort of knew what I was getting into when they say children's "museum." Because at first I was thinking how boring it would be for a kid to go check out art exhibits and statues, which in my mind was what it was like. But no, no, no. I was very wrong.

The museum was closed to the public around 5pm, the doors opened for us at 6pm. The place is huge. I was hoping we had enough time to satisfactorily play in all the places we wanted to.

First thing we checked out was the veterinary room. Complete with doctor smocks, plastic stethoscopes, clip boards, play computer, phone and desk. We learned about pet health and safety while bandaging up patients (and throwing stuffed animals across the room at each other).

We hit up the apothecary shop, the garden, the fish pond, the blacksmith store, and the play kitchen. And yes, our daughter wears a tu-tu even with her pajamas. Big whoop.
There is a market provided by Whole Foods with tiny little shopping carts and healthy play food.

There is even a check out stand which goes smoothly after the negotiating of who will be checker and who will be shopper.
There is a romp room made up as half underground ant hill and half squirrel tree house. The kids are free to dress up as any animal and rummage for giant nuts and seeds.

The pillow acorns found in the bird's nest was a favorite for our bunny and platypus.

There is a paint gallery room for creating matching masterpieces together:

There's even a room devoted to the magic of bubbles where they drop down from the sky while kids jump up and down in science smocks and safety goggles competing to be the one who pops them first. Talk about team work, these kids spent hours manipulating all kinds of soapy suds to soak themselves in and blow on each other.

 You can even make a giant bubble from floor to ceiling in the bubble booth to stand inside of.

In the kinetic room you can literally play with the laws of motion. Plastic balls the size of  baseballs get sucked into the walls and spit out down ramps you build yourself. Kalynn learned all about momentum, gravity and how to build and test.

 Having the ability to run around a full sized fire truck in a miniature little fire hat and jacket was really fun for her as well as a great way to show community awareness. The fire station had everything it needed to show how firefighters help save the day and that they are on our side.

When it finally was time to get ready for bed, after our complimentary pizza (and wine!) we chose a nice soft corner of the lilly pad down in the infant room and rolled out our sleeping bags.

Waking up to coffee, pancakes and a few hours to do it all over again wasn't too bad a way to start the day.

I honestly couldn't have had a better time. The staff that stayed over night with us were so unbelievably welcoming and I don't think I've ever seen Kalynn, or her cousins for that matter, ever have a better time. If you have one of these sort of places in your area, check it out for sure. If you spend the night or not, the price is worth the experience!