Monday, September 26, 2011

Our Day In Colorado Springs

This post was originally published in My Trip Journal on May 20, 2011

Like just about everywhere else in the US, Colorado is experiencing unusual weather and it's been a challenge working around it while still trying to get everything done we'd hoped. Wednesday afternoon's hailstorm was a bit scary simply because we had such fresh memories of the hailstorm at home on April 27. Thursday dawned cloudy and quite chilly with rain, snow, hail and wind all predicted. We'd already adjusted plans because the hike I'd hoped to do was above 10,000 feet and we had no idea of road or trail conditions. We can see Pikes Peak out our living room window and could see that it had received quite a bit of snow overnight.

So we decided to make Thursday our "get to know Colorado Springs like a local" day. First up was a long walk around Prospect Lake in Memorial Park. This is a HUGE city park where the annual July 4th fireworks display and a Labor Day Hot Air Balloon festival are held along with many concerts and other events. It is located less than two blocks from our house so a walk along its many paths was a must.

After breakfast, we headed to the
US Air Force Academy. I'd heard there was a nice Visitor Center/Museum and we definitely wanted to see the Chapel which is one of the most widely recognized buildings in the US. The Academy is located north of Colorado Springs and we are just south of downtown, so we mapped out a scenic route and enjoyed a nice drive through downtown CS and up Cascade Ave where my research had told me there were several miles of gorgeous, old Victorian Homes. We were not disappointed. Obviously, the wealthy folks of CS initially built those homes and still occupy those homes.

This is graduation week at the Air Force Academy. Security is extra tight, so we were not surprised when asked to open our trunk at the gate. Apparently two sets of hiking poles, a coffee pot and a quilt were not deemed a threat to national security as we were immediately waved on through. The drive around to the Visitor Center is quite impressive with sweeping views of the entire complex including the chapel. We thoroughly enjoyed the 15-minute movie at the VC and learned a lot about the life of a cadet along with what is expected before, during and after one graduates from the academy. The chapel is quite lovely and we were fortunate enough to be there on a day they were allowing people inside.

Following a nice lunch at Chipotle, we headed back towards our house along a totally different route that would take us by a Sam's. I needed a few things and knew this would be our last opportunity. Our last destination was
Old Colorado City, the area that was designated Colorado's first territorial capital in 1861. Interesting history behind that designation although it didn't last long! The buildings have been beautifully restored, but we are not shoppers and since they've all become shops or restaurants, we found we could see the architecture better from the car. After a couple of passes up the main street, we headed for home.

Friday's (today)weather was again "iffy," but we decided to chance it for our last hiking opportunity before moving on to Durango. Rainbow Gulch Trail was short, but followed a roaring creek that eventually emptied out into a huge reservoir. At 9,000 feet, there was snow on the hillsides, but the trail was clear. It was a great way to end our time in Colorado Springs.

We'll do a bit of packing tonight and hope to be on our way by 9 tomorrow morning. It is 300 miles to Durango, but all 300 miles are up, over and around mountain passes. It promises to be challenging, but beautiful.

Thanks for reading!

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