Watch for Coloradans in Rio!

The US Olympic Team is usually full of Coloradans when the Winter Olympics come around. That is not a surprise to anyone, since our mountains are the greatest winter playground in the world. But the Summer Olympics, kicking off in Rio this Friday, is also hosting many Coloradans, including one of the big stars of the last Summer Games.

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18 Coloradans will compete in Rio in the next few weeks. The most famous of them is swimmer Missy Franklin, who grew up in Centennial and was still a student at Regis Jesuit High School 4 years ago when she won 4 gold medals. Franklin, who always seems to be smiling, is expected to have another hoard of gold to get through US customs when she returns home this year. I guess we’d all always be smiling if we came in first all the time!

Anyone who has spent any time in our state will not be surprised to learn that Colorado is sending cyclists and runners to Rio. 4 Coloradans are on the US cycling team. The most likely medalist is Taylor Phinney, whose mom Connie Carpenter-Phinney won Olympic gold on a bike herself, and whose father Davis was also a professional rider. The Boulder High grad is a strong competitor in the time trial.

Banjo Billy wishes all Olympians a safe and fun time in Rio. And Missy Franklin, you can trade us a gold medal for a ticket on any of our tours!

When Locusts Attacked!

Back in the 1800’s, as people moved into what were then the western territories of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming, they encountered many difficulties in mere survival on the great plains. Droughts and floods were both an issue. And if there was no drought or flood, they might have to deal with a giant swarm of locusts, particularly a species called the Rocky Mountain Locust.
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The worst year for locusts was 1875. Although these members of the grasshopper family had certainly lived in the region for centuries, until white settlers started moving west and farming there was no record of them. As farmers began farming more land, locusts became a growing problem though the 1800s.

The “Year of the Locust”, as 1875 was called, actually started in August of 1874. Swarms of locusts attacked like dark black clouds, covering areas the size of California. And these bugs were not just eating grass and crops. They ate leather, wood, sheep’s wool, and sometimes even the clothes from peoples’ backs. One farmer is quoted as saying “They took everything but the mortgage!”.

So, why don’t we hear anything about locusts attacks these days? The answer is that, by 1902 the Rocky Mountain Locust became extinct. What killed them off is unclear, but likely a combination of overt efforts to eradicate them, and just that increased farming plowed up much of the land that had been their nesting habitat.

If you enjoy this kind of history, then you should definitely be taking the Banjo Billy tours. We love an unusual history story, and we do our best to tell them in the most fun way possible. And, we do on the coolest bus in town! YEEEHHHHHAAAAQWWWWW!!!!

Colorado Goes to Jupiter

junoIf you caught any news over the 4th of July weekend, you might have heard that scientists successfully maneuvered the Juno spacecraft into the atmosphere of Jupiter after a 5 year journey from Earth. Despite the fact that Jupiter is bigger than all the other planets in our solar system combined, we know very little about it. The mission of Juno is to send back data that will change that.

When people think of space exploration, they mostly think about Florida, where Cape Canaveral has been the site of so many launches, and Houston, the place you call when you have a problem. But Colorado has a big hand in Aerospace Technology and scientific research into the other parts of the Universe. The Juno craft was built at the Lockheed Martin plant in Jefferson County, west of Denver, and controlled in a joint effort with the Mission Control team there, and the Jet Propulsion Lab in California. Lockheed Martin is the largest of many companies in Colorado that work on aerospace technology.

Of course, the whole point of the Juno mission is to allow scientists to learn more about the huge planet. Some of the people anxiously awaiting data from Juno are in Boulder at the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), led by Professor Fran Bagenal. Bagenal and a group that includes CU faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students, are excited to learn more about the magnetic field around Jupiter that creates the aurora at Jupiter’s poles. They will also be measuring the amount of water in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The hope is that this knowledge will not only expand the knowledge we have of Jupiter, but shed light on the planets in other solar systems.

The Banjo Billy Bus remains firmly on Earth. While doing nothing to expand our knowledge of astronomy, we can increase you knowledge of the history of Denver and Boulder. We are on our Summer schedule, with 2 tours a day in Denver and Boulder. Come blast of for some fun with us!

It’s Summer Music Season

One of the great pleasures of Summer is to be outside enjoying some good music with your favorite food, beverage and people.  The Summer outdoor music season in the Denver/Boulder area has already begun. We want to help you enjoy it.

There are far too many outdoor music festivals to feature here, so we are going to focus on some of our favorites. Of course, west of Denver is the world’s greatest outdoor music venue, Red Rocks. And there are several others in and around Denver where you can pay to see first rate national acts. We want to feature a few of the free venues.

In Denver there is jazz every Sunday night at 6pm at City Park.  The Clifford Still museum will also be hosting outdoor concerts once a month. Also, there is free music at Elway’s in Cherry Creek on the patio on Wednesdays featuring local bands including The Samples. For a list of all outdoor concerts in Denver check the Visit Denver site.

In Boulder, the highly popular Bands on the Bricks continues in front of Read more

It’s Bolder Boulder Time!

Memorial Day means the beginning of summer, the Indy 500, and you can now where those white shoes you’ve had in the back of the closet since Labor Day. On the front range of Colorado, Memorial Day means it is time to lace up the running shoes for the Bolder Boulder.

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Since the first Bolder Boulder in 1979, the annual Memorial Day race has grown into on of premier 10k races in the country. Top professional runners from around the world come to compete in the elite category. But it is not just for the speedy. 50,000 people are expected to run, jog, walk or skip the course, ending to the cheers of family and friends at CU’s football stadium, Folsom Field. Unlike most big races, in Boulder the elite runners start after the rest of the participants are done, which allows them to finish the race in front of thousands of cheering fans in the stadium. And to make the experience great for everyone, the runners are sent off in waves, with the early waves requiring proof of having achieved a time that puts you with the rest of the wave. So, if you’re fast, you don’t have to swerve around walkers.

If you haven’t registered yet, it’s not too late. You can even register the morning of the the race. The wheelchair race starts at 6:50, and the first wave of runners goes off 5 minutes later. And if you’re not a runner, you can volunteer, or just join the thousands of people who will line the streets for the race. Either way, it’s great fun.

Banjo Billy takes Memorial Day off, but not the days before. Come out and join us in Denver and Boulder this Friday through Sunday, then go YEEEHHHAAAWWWW for the runners on Monday!

It’s Boulder Startup Week

Looking to be the next Mark Zuckerberg? Then you should probably be in Boulder this week.

It is Startup Week in Boulder. This is a week when startup businesses, aspiring entrepreneurs, programmers, investors, and anyone else with an interest in growing a new business can come to Boulder for information and networking opportunities. Activities include seminars, bike rides, golf, running, meetings, beer drinking and even some cannibis related events (it is Boulder, after all!).

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One of the highlights is the Techstars Demo Day, when 11 companies that have been working in Boulder on their products present them for the public (and investors, of course!). This is a tough ticket to get!

Boulder has become a sort of mini Silicon Valley, with a great number of small high-tech companies planting their seeds here in hopes of becoming something substantial. Larger tech companies have also set up offices in town. It appears that the young, educated workers this industry needs to develop products is attracted by Boulder’s mountains, weather, outdoor activities, beer, and, probably, cannibis.

Banjo Billy welcomes the next generation of billionaires to Boulder. Of course, even if you have a flip phone and an AOL email address, you can still come on the Banjo Billy Bus and learn about Boulder and Denver. Join us.

Need a Ride? Try B-Cycle in Denver and Boulder

Want to get around Boulder and Denver in the most fun way possible? Want to take advantage of the vast system of bike trails in those cities? Want to get some exercise on the way? Try B-Cycle.

bcIf you live in either Denver or Boulder you have noticed the bike rakes around town, and seen plenty of people enjoying a ride on the red bikes with the basket on the front. There are 87 B-Cycle stations scattered around Denver, providing 700 bikes for short term use. In Boulder, there are 40 stations and 300 bikes. Boulder B-Cycle recently released figures saying they had 84,000 riders in Boulder last year. The bikes are popular with both tourists and residents in both cities, and have become even more useful as they have added more bikes since the programs began.

How does it work? Prices and rules are a bit different in each city, but basically you take your credit card out and put Read more

Take The A-Train….to DIA!

In 1940, Billy Strayhorn wrote a song called “Take the A Train” for the Duke Ellington Orchestra. To anyone who has heard it, the beginning chords alone are instantly recognizable. The A Train that Strayhorn was writing about was a subway train to Harlem. Now folks in Denver can take their own A Train, not to Harlem, but to Denver International Airport.

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Only in America would a city build an airport over 20 miles from downtown and not build a train line to it, but it has been done all over this country. Finally, over 20 years after it opened, the Denver RTD has completed the train line from the beautifully remodeled Union Station to DIA. The train will make the trip on only $37 minutes, and cost only $9, which makes it a bargain compared to any other form of transportation to downtown. Trains will run every 15 minutes from minutes from 5AM to 7PM, and every 1/2 hour at less prime times. First train leaves at 3:15AM, and the last leaves at 12:30AM. The train starts running on Friday, April 22. This is the kind of airport transportation that a great city like Denver deserves. If it had free wifi it would be perfect!

Unfortunately, the Duke Ellington Orchestra won’t be serenading you on your trip, so we added a link to a video of a performance by The Duke below. The Banjo Billy Bus won’t give you a ride to the airport, but it will give you the best tour of Denver or Boulder you’ll ever have! We hope to see you soon.

 

 

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb2w2m1JmCY

Summer Concerts at Red Rocks TOTALLY ROCK!!!!

There is much to look forward to as Summer approaches: baseball, beaches, boating, and enjoying some great music outdoors. The Denver/Boulder area has quite a few outdoor music venues, and we will fill you in on many of them here as the weather gets warmer. But the king of all outdoor music venues is the spectacular Red Rocks Amphitheater.

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It all began about 160 million years ago, when gradual earth movement slowly raised the sandstone ledges from what had been the prehistoric ocean floor. Thus was created a natural amphitheater.

In the early 1900’s John Brisbane Walker had a vision of it as a place for performance artists, and produced several concerts at the site on a temporary stage. In 1927 the city of Denver bought the land, and the idea of developing the Read more

Spring Must Be Here: It’s Baseball Season!

It happens every Spring…well, unless there is a strike or a lockout. The weather gets warmer, the days get longer, and the baseball season starts. Here in Colorado the Rockies start their 20th season in their beautiful ballpark in the Lodo district of downtown Denver, Coors Field.

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The Rockies are not expected to be very good this season. In fact, they are likely to be one of the worst teams in baseball. However, they do offer up a few excellent reasons to head to a Rockies game. Despite a pitching staff likely to be by far the worst in the world, they have 2 outstanding players in right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, the third baseman Nolan Arenado. These are 2 of the best players in the game, and Arenado’s glove alone is reason to watch him play. Also, they play in a wonderful facility, Coors Field, which offers excellent views of the field, and of the Rocky Mountains behind the left field wall. Get a ticket in the upper deck on the first base side to enjoy the sunset!

Spring also brings the Banjo Billy Spring schedule, with tours on Fri-Sun in Denver and Boulder. If you are heading to a Rockies game, head downtown early and take the Denver tour first. What a day of fun that will be! And you can yell YEEEHAAAWWW on the bus and at the ballpark!