Perfect for the little ones!

The weather here in Colorado has been a little uncooperative lately.  It feels more like the Midwest with days and days of overcast skies and unending rain.  I’m wondering what happened to the over 300 days of sunshine a year Colorado receives on average .Butterflies

Butterflies My trip to Mt. Evans has been once again thwarted due to the storms, not to mention a trip to the botanic gardens to see the Chihully display.

Last spring, I had the greatest of plans to be out and about exploring all parts of Colorado this summer.

You know, spend two weeks here, two weeks there, a few days here and a few there ….. but life happens, responsibilities beckon, and being available for loved ones seem to take center stage.Butterflies spiders tarantula

I’ll admit I was somewhat disappointed when hubby and I decided to park in Denver for the entire summer, but I’m discovering the upside to staying in one location for an extended period of time especially when the weather is less than agreeable.

ButterfliesBeing a believer in the mantra, “things happen for a reason” … I’ll admit, I’m actually glad we’re spending the entire summer camped in one spot.

It has allowed me the opportunity to explore Denver like never before as well as discover some hidden gems in and around the area.  Oh, and I can’t forget about the time I’ve had to reconnect with friends which has been absolutely wonderful.

So back to the lousy weather and discovering hidden gems; where to go and what to do on a rainy day?  With camera in hand, I’m off to the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster, Colorado.  It’s only a ten minute drive away from our home base at the Westminster Elks Lodge.Butterflies

Tarantula spiderThis is a fantastic place to visit with children, especially ages 2-14.  After paying my admittance, my first stop is at the Crawl-A-See-Em exhibit; a journey through invertebrate habitats – home to “Rosie”.

Rosie is a Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula accustomed to lots of visitors and attention.

tarantulaI took a pass on holding Rosie and stuck to looking at her from behind my camera lens.  I was impressed with all the little kids more fascinated by this hairy creature than afraid.  The curator was fantastic with the children and handling of Rosie.

horseshoe crabMoving on, I entered the Water’s Edge exhibit; explore water environments. This area had tanks filled with corals, sea cucumbers, jellies, lobsters, and more.

There was an area to touch a sea star or one of their horseshoe crabs.

tropical rainforestThen it was on to the real reason for MY visit…. Wings of the Tropics exhibit; travel through a tropical rainforest with over 1,000 butterflies.

As soon as I passed through the doors, I was greeted with hot, humid air feeling like I was indeed in the tropics.  The pavilion is filled with lush vegetation.

The tall glass ceiling is outfitted with a series of pipes providing on again off again misting and rain, simulating the tropics.Butterflies Several times I found it necessary to protect my camera by stuffing it under my T-shirt to protect it from the rain.  Hmm, rain outside and now rain inside!  Whatever was I thinking?

Butterflies The pavilion is a flutter with butterflies of all kinds and colors.  Touching of any kind is discouraged for the health of the butterflies, but it was somewhat common for the butterflies to land on people.

It was particularly entertaining to see the butterflies land on the heads of little children.  And yes, there were LOTS of children.

I was so engrossed with the butterflies flying either at eye level or higher I failed to look low to the ground for other hidden creatures until a sweet little 4 year old girl exuberantly exclaimed, “Look mommy, a turtle”.  Ah, Ingrid…. remember to look around!


Not only did I enjoy photographing all these unique beauties, I had fun playing photographer for several families as cameras and phones were handed to me so all members of the party could be in a photo together.

This is a place I definitely would’ve taken my kids when they were young and for a bit I did enjoy observing all these young minds, but without my own children in tow and after about an hours tour I’d had my fill and made my exit in hopes of exploring the outdoor garden.Butterflies

The exterior Garden looked beautiful even in the rain and worth exploring on a sunny day.  If I can catch a morning without rain, I’ll most likely venture back over here to stroll the garden.  Until then, I’ll keep searching for inside excursions, preferably without rain 🙂Butterfly Pavilion
Stokes Butterfly Book : The Complete Guide to Butterfly Gardening, Identification, and Behavior

Alternative Options

We’ve hit our one year anniversary of moving into the RV full-time.  It’s been an eventful and enlightening year.  But before I post a recap of our highs and lows of the year, and oh yes, there were plenty of lows, I’d like to share where we’re currently camped and the best part of this lifestyle; the new folks we meet everyday.

Al and I have come to realize there’s a common bond amongst RVer’s and a willingness to share or help.  We share tales of our travels via our blogs, over drinks, and through our photos  We share favorite campgrounds and those to shy away from.  And then we share the places to camp that require thinking outside the box; a friends driveway, boondocking in the wilderness, parking lots, and organizations with camping facilities.Fred Flinstone Water BuffaloIt was through new friends that we met via the Escapees RV Club that we learned about parking at Elks Lodges.  Al and I went into research mode and started the membership process during our winter stay in Phoenix, Arizona.

Elks Lodge Flinstone Water BuffaloAl was unanimously approved and is officially an “Elk” which opens up alternative options of places for us to park the RV.

Lodges located in major cities rarely have room for RV’s while other lodges, especially in the west, actually have an onsite RV Park complete with hook-ups.

Most offer the ability to park in the parking lot and some of these lots even have electric hook-up.  Each lodge facility has varying amenities, but most lodges have a restaurant, bar, and the friendliest folks around.

We’ve been happily camped at the Elks Lodge in Westminster, Colorado, for the past three weeks – just 15 minutes northwest of downtown Denver.  Our daughter lives only 5 minutes away, allowing lots of visits with mom and dad.  This mama is a very happy camper being able to see her ‘favorite’ daughter on a regular basis.happy camper Elks LodgeAside from regular visits with our daughter, we’ve had the pleasure of socializing with neighbors, bloggers, and fellow Elks members.Camping options in Devner Colorado

The Westminster Elks Lodge does have an onsite RV Park with different types of hook-ups.  They have everything from full-hook ups (sewer, water, electric) to electric and water, to their temporary sites offering electric only.  The later is where we find ourselves camped.

Our original plan was to stay here for ten days.  However, we seem to keep extending that stay.  We’ve had several opportunities to move to a site with full hook-ups, but Al and I are content with our level parking lot site with electric only.  We don’t normally like camping in a sardine can scenario, but the pluses FOR US seem to be outweighing the minuses.  Gosh, how many options does one have to park a RV in a major city like Denver?  So, no complaints here.  That said, I’m not sure how much longer we’ll stay …. perhaps until the daughter says, “Isn’t it time for you guys to move on?”

Geeks on TourDid I already mention the nicest folks we’ve been meeting?  Last week Jim and Chris from the blog Geeks on Tour pulled in just a site over from us.  We’ve enjoyed visiting with them and they even gave me a copy of their book; Beginners Guide to Picasa.

Thank you …. it’s enlightened me on a few features I didn’t know about.  Now I’ll be checking into a few of their other products.  Perhaps they can enlighten me further on the use of my phone that’s too ‘smart’ for me LOL.

Geeks on TourGeeks on Tour

Then there’s fellow Coloradans, Rick and JoAnne of Rick and JoAnne’s RV Travels.  We shared a very enjoyable luncheon visit just days before they were heading out for Yellowstone National Park.  We’ve also taken the opportunity to reconnect with some long time friends that live along the Front Range

And then of course are the every day meet ups with the folks coming and going.  The Elks Lodge restaurant and bar makes it very convenient for congregating and socializing over drinks during happy hour.  Keep those $3.50 margaritas coming!bike trails wildlifeWe do have plans to stop socializing and drinking just enough to get out and about to take in some of the sights.  For now, here’s a couple of photos snapped while enjoying the bicycle trail that passes right by the Elks Lodge ……Denver bike trail wildlife

Wildflowers Elks Lodge RV Parks
P.S. Here’s my latest RV kitchen purchase – a collapsible salad spinner …. now why didn’t I think of that?

Prepworks from Progressive International CSS-1 Collapsible 4-Quart Salad Spinner