Sunday, July 11, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Colorado Springs

Sixty-one miles south of Denver on I-25 perched at over 6000 feet above sea level is the second largest city in Colorado, Colorado Springs. "The Springs" is the city over 400,000 residents and some of America's most honored and recognizable places and companies call home. Located in or near Colorado Springs are : The United States Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, and NORAD. Verizon, Hewlett-Packard and Intel are just three of the high-tech companies that have a presence in The Springs. Tourism, of course, plays a major part in the local economy with The Garden of the Gods contributing mightily. However, the cherry on top of the sundae that is Colorado Springs is without question is the 14,115 foot Pikes Peak. Standing guard over the valley below for millions of years, Pikes Peak is the easternmost 14'er in the USA. And let's not forget the United States Olympic Traning Center, where Gold Medal dreams are nurtured. I'm sure the links provided in this post will give you enough information and history about the Colorado Springs area that on your next trip to Denver, that you just may end up 61 miles south of your intended destination.

Maine Minutiae : Maine's Largest City

With a population of about 63,000 people, Portland is Maine's largest city. The metro area of Portland is home to over a half a million folks, over one-third of the entire state of Maine's head count. Machigonne or "Great Neck", as the Native Americans called it, was settled by Europeans in 1623 by Captain Christoffer Levett. However, that settlement failed and it wasn't until 1633 that the peninsula was permanently settled as a fishing and trading village called Casco, later Falmouth and in 1786 took on the name of Portland. The climate of the area is very moderate with summer time temperatures over 90 degrees occurring less than five days a year (in Texas we call that "this week"). On the other hand, Portland averages over 67 inches of snowfall per year and temperatures have been known to plummet to well below zero. The record low is minus 26 degrees. Record high? 103. Or as they say back home, "yesterday". At one time, Portland was the capital of Maine until losing that honor to Augusta in 1832. According to, "Portland has recovered from four fires, the most devastating having occurred on Independence Day, 1866, when most of the commercial buildings, half of the churches, and hundreds of homes were destroyed. Portland was almost completely rebuilt during the Victorian era, and has maintained much of it’s 19th century architecture, due to constant attention to landmark preservation." Portland is cool place to visit with several museums, the waterfront, shops, restaurants and pubs on said waterfront and is home to the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. (FYI : Fenway Park is only about an hour and a half from Portland...just sayin'). As you can see, there's a lot to like about Maine's biggest city and if you like more info on Portland click here.

Texas Tidbits : Small States or Ranches?

The most famous ranch in Texas is known to tens of millions of people around the world. However, its fame doesn't come from a history of cowboys and cattle drives. It is recognized as the Home of J.R. Ewing and the TV show "Dallas". And it's located in the shadows of  Downtown Dallas - The Southfork. The kind of ranch I'm writing about is a real-life cowboy-employin', cattle-raisin' head 'em up, move 'em out ranch - such as the World Famous King Ranch. Started in 1853 by a jeweler's apprentice from New York, the King Ranch today encompasses 825,000 acres and parts of six counties. Eight hundred. Twenty-five. Thousand. Acres. That's 50,000 more acres than the state of Rhode Island. The King Ranch is not alone in its jumbo-size status amongst Texas Ranches. The Briscoe Ranch, near Uvalde, owned by the late (I just now found out he died a couple of weeks ago) former Governor of Texas, Dolph Briscoe, measures a measly 640,000 acres and the Waggoner Ranch near Vernon rounds out the Top Three Biggest Texas Ranches at 524,000 acres. These three "small states" are but a trio of the many enormous ranches in The Lone Star State. Texas' place in the history of ranching is a long and proud one. A history that even ol' J.R. Ewing would be proud of.

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All Original Material © Toby Shoemaker