Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Historic Lakeside

So I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but we live in Berkeley, about 6 blocks from an old amusement park called Lakeside. I recently learned the history on Lakeside, and Elitch Gardens (the big Six Flags owned amusement park in downtown Denver) as well - thanks to Wikipedia, my neighbors, and a few cheesy amusement park lovers' websites. I have been fascinated with this park since we moved here. I love things with history, and I love cheesy things, and I am "that girl" that would enjoy Six Flags or the Texas fair whether I'd go once a year or weekly. SO - In celebration of being finished with my Wound and Skin class and with being half way through school on Tuesday, Grant, Britt, and I walked over (yes - we walked. It's like that close to us) to check out Lakeside for ourselves. Finally!!

This place is incredible. In many descriptions of the word. Every time I drive by, no matter what day of the week, the parking lot is full. And yet, every time I drive by, I think to myself, that roller coaster could fall over on me any minute if I sit at this red light for too long on Sheridan! The rail on one side is broken, it's old and wooden, and probably makes a little too much noise!

You can tell it used to be amazing, and after doing some research, I found out it really did. Lakeside was build in 1908, as a competition to Elitch Gardens (which was literally down the street until the 1980s). It was originally called White City, thanks to it's over 100,000 lights within the park, a big accomplishment in the early 1900s. They also had some of the earliest American roller coasters (which we rode I'm afraid to say!), a skiboat show on the lake, a beach and swimming area, and a casino theater with plays, shows, and carnival games. It was the place to be! When built, according to our Denver friends, it blew Elitch out of the water, nearly putting them out of business. Elitch was quite rundown and in the 1980s, bought by Six Flags, torn down in it's original location down the street from us, and rebuilt downtown into a huge, typical Six Flags like amusement park. Elitch's original carousel now stands as a gazebo in a small park on 38th street, with all new development around it and no sign that a theme park ever existed there. Meanwhile, Lakeside continued to run as a family owned sensation, never really rebuilding if something died, and looking like it did in the early 1900s.

This is definitely the kind of place that locals would never go, unless you have small children to entertain or are a certain demographic, and a place that people like me think is amazing. Original ticket booths still stand and you buy tickets for each ride, or you can buy a wrist band allowing access to all rides for 13 dollars. Haha! We rode rides such as the Cyclone, a 100 year old roller coaster looking exactly like it did in the 1918 picture I found (it's probably good I didn't look that up until AFTER visiting the park). Another old one was the Chipmunk, the only ride that I thought I actually might die during. This was another 100 year old ride still controlled by levers to start and stop it (which a 16 year old was controlling - scary), that looks like a giant erector set. Every turn I thought we actually might roll off the side and fall. There were no seat belts or safety bars to hold us in, and I'm pretty sure I was hysterically screaming and cursing intermittently until it we were safe again at the end of the ride. Grant however, who loves life threatening activities, rode it a second time, while Brittany and I stayed safely on the ground and prayed for his safety. I will probably never do that one again - but I will say it was quite a rush. We also did some cheesy old rides - like the airplane ride, the go carts, and a quite scary tower drop. They have bumper boats and bumper cars, mini golf, a funhouse maze, and an entire kiddy land full of mini rides. The thing I loved about this place was they still have the old signs and original, now dead, rides standing, just not running. The signs for the boat show and original seating still surrounded the lake. The original ferris wheel in the middle of the park, now with no cars and not functioning, still towers above. The casino theater still lights up in front, now no longer providing shows and instead used as storage. This park, if updated, could probably be really nice (not to mention safer!), but then again, if updated, it probably wouldn't be worth blogging about. And it definitely wouldn't be rich in history like it is today. I loved it.

If you are ever in Denver and want a fun, cheap, nostalgic experience, come to Lakeside! We'll join you! Just without the Chipmunk ride maybe....

Here's some pics old (courtesy of Denver Public Library online) and new of the amazing park:

Lakeside Amusement park in 1918

Lakeside Tower in 2011

Cyclone Coaster 1940

Us on the Cyclone 2011!

View from the Dog Park at Berkeley lake (across the street) of the Cyclone

Picture from 1910 of Lakeside

The Airplane Ride 2011

Britt and me on the Airplane ride. G is behind us if you look closely! 
This thing was faster and scarier than we thought it'd be!

Lakside lake (Lake Rhoda) in early 1900s

View of the lake in 2011 from atop the Cyclone coaster

Lakeside Amusement park 1920

A very old, slightly scary water fountain!

Airplane ride with original sign

Wild Chipmunk - it really was wild

View of the wild chipmunk. I couldn't take any pics while on the ride. 
I was praying too hard and screaming!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Teva Mountain Games

Ok. If you are ever in Colorado the first weekend in June, you HAVE to go to this thing! Teva Mountain Games is a HUGE event in Vail taking up all of Vail Village and Lionhead. It's a ginormous outdoor athletism event for four days straight complete with Bouldering, kayaking, rafting, fishing, biking, running, and even dog competitions! We originally just thought it would be fun to run in the 5K mud run but I had no idea how much of a blast we were going to have the entire weekend! This will now be a yearly Usry event!

We headed up to Vail Friday night and took advantage of all the early morning vendor tents on Saturday. Vail village was packed - with competitors, families, baby joggers, dogs, and bikers everywhere. There were a million tents, with products from all the outdoorsy stuff you could want, to organic foods, to dog accesories, and we even saw a breast cancer informational tent...all sorts of variety! We attempted to take Sager, who was completely overstimulated and jumping after every dog we passed (which was like every 10 feet!) and therefore spent the second half of the day in the car. I think she didn't mind much since we let her run under Vista Bahn lift and play in the river for an hour prior to her car nap! It was the weirdest thing, playing fetch in the grassy mountain under a ski lift that we skied on only a few months ago!

Saturday afternoon was mud run time - not as muddy as we thought it'd be but fun none the less. I did learn that my lungs are worthless in high altitude but Grant was a sweetheart in letting me walk a bit and recover from a full blown asthma attack before finishing. This possibly could be due to the fact that I am no longer in pristine D1 athlete shape (which is quite sad!) - but I choose to blame it on the altitude instead! After the mud run we continued to travel around in our now mud covered attire and watch some fly fishing casting competitions, dog "high jump" and "speed retrieve" and kayaking events. We stayed for some of the free concert Saturday night and grabbed some ice cream (wheat, soy, and peanut free of course!)

Sunday was just as great, minus the fact that I obtained a major sun burn. We spent the morning and into lunch watching professional bouldering, more dog events, and citizen rafting competitions, which were quite entertaining! We had lunch at a vendor tent and enjoyed a bit more browsing, then let Sage play in the river a bit before heading back to Denver. Such a wonderful weekend. I'm told they have a winter games as well - which we WILL be checking out this winter!

In summary what we learned from Teva mountain games:

1. Michelle's lungs are not so great.

2. Teva is not in fact pronounced TEE-VA but TEH-VA

3. The mud run in the mountains = trail run with a man made mud pit at the end to jump in.

4. Sunscreen should always be worn in the mountains.

5. The Roost Lodge is not so nice and definitely not the three stars it said online BUT it is cheap, close to the mountains, and dog friendly!

Seriously. Check out the Mountain games!

Teva Mountain Games Day 1

Post mud run!

World Championships of Bouldering - This guy was competing from Japan.

The Dog events were under the Vista Bahn lift. 
A little odd seeing people's tents and dog kennels lined up along the lift.

River rafting competition. Really entertaining to watch! A guy flipped his raft, it got stuck, and he jumped from the bridge onto it to try and get it out of the swirl! Craziness!

G just had to take this pic. Hahaha...

Sager loves Vail!

"Dock Dogs" events. Apparently, if you place at the Teva games, you are qualified for regionals! Who knew they even had regionals for dog jumping competitions! 
Sager will start training soon for next year!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

School is Stealing my Blogging Time

Holy cow! I forgot how much time school takes! I recently started a certification program through Metropolitan State to get my Wound Ostomy Continence nursing certification. It's fricken hard!!! I study like every night and am still struggling through. I don't know why I thought this fast track (12 hours masters credit in 3 months over the summer) would be a good idea while working full time....but I guess it will be worth it come September when I am done and off to the Wound Ostomy world of nursing! Something I've always thought about doing and Thank You Denver for giving me the time and energy to do so.

Anyway, this will have to be a collaborative blog from the last few weeks of what's been going on in the Ursy's world. It's been a busy an emotional few weeks as well, which made it hard to get on and talk about fun stuff here in Denver.

 My little bro (he's not that little - he's 24), Jay, lived in Joplin and was there during the big F5 tornado a few weeks ago. Thank God he was at work and therefore safe when the tornado hit but the tornado took everything he had, including his home, all his furniture, clothes, and possesions. It tore the city apart leaving him little hope of restarting there, so he's back home living with the rents at the moment, and his sweet girlfriend moved in with them as well. I must admit, I hate that for Jay and we are praying every day he finds a new job ASAP, a better job even, and that Danita does as well...BUT....I am incredibly jealous that I'm not in Dallas with them. My parents have such a full house right now and every time I call it sounds like they are having a blast! With Jay, Danita, and my sister Melissa (meme) all living at home right now (Meme tore her ankle up in February requiring surgery and lots of recover time so she moved in with my rents then), they have every bedroom full. The house is officially housed with two dogs, three cats, and 5 adults all living under one roof. Having them all together there with me way up here made me so anxious and upset that my loving husband let me go home a few days after the tornado to spend time with them. Jonathan was home too so all four of Martin kids plus Danita got to be together with my parents. We didn't even get that much at Christmas since Jay and I both were working so this was a big treat. Although most of the weekend was spent rearranging bedroom furniture and cleaning and recleaning clothes and the few items Jay salvaged, I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a truly blessed time and worth every penny for the flight. Here's a pic of all the "kids" together. To see pics of the tornado, go on my facebook. They are unbelievable and will make your heart hurt, but also make you so thankful he is still alive and unharmed!

Aside from the Martin family stress and struggles, G and I have been having a great time here in Denver as well. We went on another weekend adventure over memorial day, this time with a team of Dallas friends who flew up for the holiday wknd - Tauber, Austin, and the Dugans. We headed down to Aspen, where I have never been, and got to experience the mountain life of the summer, which I have never done! SO fun! We spent those few days fishing staying in Tauber's version of a "mountain" condo (he was in charge of housing) - a million dollar three bedroom luxury condo at the base of Aspen! We were living the high life and able to walk downstairs and be right in the middle of the main drag, complete with restaurants, bars, pubs, and shops. The only downside - the condo was so fancy that half the time we couldn't get the TV on. But who needs TV when you are in the mountains anyway! Saturday, Hilary and I toured the cute little mountain town shops while the boys fished, and we all spent some great time in Basalt, CO, a cute little spot of about 3000 people with the river running through it. So Beautiful!! I think Sage enjoyed her time as well. That dog has gotten to do more cool stuff the three months we've lived here than her entire life! Thanks to dog friendly Colorado, we can take her just about anywhere. Pretty sure she's glad we moved! Here's some pics of Aspen in all it's glory!

The whole crew in our luxury condo!

My poor pup. She couldn't stand not being in the water if Grant was, so she swam out to him - that water is FREEZING! From the looks of this pic, she quickly regretted her decision.

Austin, fishing in his "sweet spot". He was the fish master of the wknd for sure.

This is what you get if you let the boys fish all day. They were out for hours. 

Downtown Aspen - off to a pub for Taub's B. Day celebration!

Basalt, CO rocks.