Monday, August 13, 2012

Colorado Springs

We arrived in Colorado Springs on August 1st so just one more month on the road before we take a break and head to Ireland for a wedding and then England to see our English Grandchildren. Only 60 miles south of Denver Colorado Springs is a big town that thrives on tourism. As the name suggests this is another spring town; we are now becoming quite blasé about hot springs as there seems to no shortage of hot springs in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and now Colorado.  At an even higher elevation than Denver, we had a lovely site on the side of a hill overlooking Old Colorado City and downtown Colorado Springs. Once we had our selves hooked up we drove up to the US Air Force Academy just north of the city; it is beautifully laid out and as we walk to the Chapel we can see and hear this year’s recruits being put through their exercises on the parade grounds. The Chapel is the focal point and the main attraction as it is an architectural wonder; we were highly amused by a notice at the foot of the steps to the main door – “Protestants upstairs, Catholics, Jews and Buddhist down stairs” and although each had their own place of worship we wondered about the upstairs/downstairs. A docent gave a group of us the history of the Academy and the Chapel. The Protestant chapel is nothing short of magnificent with beautifully stained glass windows; the Catholic, Jewish and Buddhist places of worship are nice nothing like the majesty of upstairs. As we exit the Chapel the rain starts to bucket down, we spent some time in the visitor center and on our way out of the Academy we stopped to view the sports facilities; beautifully laid out and manicured as are all the grounds.

Next day we headed for the mountains and Pikes Peak which is the 3rd highest peak in Colorado standing 14,115ft above sea level. Peaks Cog railway climbs 6,715 vertical feet to the summit from the little town of Manitou Springs, a 9 mile trip. Usually one must have a reservation but we chanced it and managed to get seats on the 11.30am train and had a very nice family sitting beside us. The journey to the top takes an hour and a half journey, most of it on a single rail which means that there’s a train every two hours; so we were lucky! It is very cold at the top of Pikes Peak so we wrapped up well and enjoyed the 40 minutes we were allowed up there. There’s a tradition of eating doughnuts at the summit (something to do with cooking at that elevation) Tom was willing to line up so that we would not break with tradition. We met a man scattering the ashes of a loved one, while another man appeared as though he was being sworn in to one of the armed services - everyone had their own agenda. The views are wonderful and we could see five states in all. The hour and a half journey down went very quickly. We drove down to Manitou Springs for dinner in a French restaurant; had stuffed crepes, shared a slice of German chocolate cake and took half of it home for another night.
The following day we hiked in the Garden of the Gods which we think is the end of the line of the large red rocks that run from Denver to Colorado Springs. The shapes and sizes of the rocks in the Garden of the Gods are magnificent and there’s a very good visitor center which has the skull of a Theiorphytalia a prehistoric animal found in the garden and nowhere else. From there we went on to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, authentic Anasazi dwellings where we were able to climb ladders to enter the dwellings and check out the size of the rooms. In the museum they had a video of three generations of Indians dancing; they moved so fast it was unbelievable – we were fascinated by their feathered costumes - eagle’s costumes mostly. On the way back we stopped in Old Town Colorado, it was Art Gallery night when all the galleries served cheese and wine, Adele was very frustrated as due to an allergic reaction to wine she cannot really enjoy occasions like these.

Our next destination was Santa Fee and we traveled the 300+ miles the next day – one observation we’ve made is there’s not much truck traffic on the north to south highways yet east to west is very busy.

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