Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Aspens, Donkeys and Llamas

New York in Autumn courtesy of

Having grown up in New York, Autumn was always a special time of year. The leaves changing colors brought a vibrant array of red, orange and gold to the landscape. Mom and Dad would load us kids into the car and we'd venture to nearby farms for apples and cider donuts. Sometimes, we'd journey north. Sometimes we'd travel east or south. No matter the direction, I always enjoyed the color of the leaves.

When the hubby and I lived in New Jersey, we'd often visit our families in New York. I remember one such time, on our way back to New Jersey, the hubby and I strayed from the main highway and drove along the back roads to look at the changing leaves and to stop for apples and donuts. The trip took longer, but we had a great time and started our own tradition of taking a drive on an autumn day to see the changing leaves.

The back side of Pikes Peak
Here we are many years later and living out west where the Aspens change from green to bright yellow, with some red and orange and brown leaves from other trees mixed in. One Saturday a few years back, the hubby and I loaded the kiddo into the car and took off for an afternoon drive through the Rocky Mountains. Driving up the pass, we went through Woodland Park and headed west to the road that winds along the back of Pikes Peak to Cripple Creek. For those who don't know, Cripple Creek is an old mining town from the 1800's. Some of the original saloons and buildings remain, most are casinos now, and there is still a working gold mine outside of town.

Cripple Creek, CO
The drive was quiet and relaxing. Some of the Aspen were in bloom, offering a myriad of colors. Most were still green, but no matter what time of year, the scenery is always gorgeous. We entered Cripple Creek and decided to drive through town and pick up the road on the other side. Just as we passed the last casino and began to approach the outskirts of town, my son spotted a donkey beneath some trees. Looking out my window, I found there was more than one donkey and figured a nearby rancher had brought the donkeys to town for a special occasion. But then, on the hubby's side of the street, there was an open lot with more donkeys. A lady was feeding them. We decided to stop along the curb and take a video of her feeding the donkeys.

Getting out of the car, the first few donkeys the kiddo and I had seen decided they were hungry and, one by one, they began crossing the street to get to the lady. Now, this was a sight to see--donkeys crossing the road and motorists stopping to give them the right of way. One donkey took an interest in a parked car's bumper and after sniffing it, scratched his ear along the tail light--too cute! (Glad it wasn't my car.) After the donkeys had their fill of hay, they followed their leader--a grey donkey--to the next street over and disappeared around the corner of a building.

The baby was adorable
While watching this scene, a gentleman walking his dog approached. One of the donkeys stopped and eyed the little dog, but did nothing and continued on his way. I learned from the gentleman that the donkeys are wild and live in Cripple Creek. The citizens of Cripple Creek help take care of them and feed them. The donkeys know the lady with the hay. She is there almost every day to feed them, and motorists have to yield to the donkeys. It is believed that these donkeys are descendants from the donkeys that were left behind when the gold rush came to an end and the miners went back down the mountain. It's the first time since coming here in '93 that the hubby and I have ever seen the donkeys, and it sure made our day. Sadly, I don’t have pics of the donkeys, but the llamas we saw that day were just as cute, as were the mountain goats along the side of the road.
The goats

Happy Autumn everyone!


Maryann Miller said...

What a nice story. Thanks for sharing it, Julie. On a drive through Yellowstone, we saw buffalo, elk, and mountain goats. No donkeys. LOL

Julie Lence said...

Thank you, Maryann. Glad you enjoyed it. Yellowstone is on my wish list of places to visit.