Sunday, September 4, 2011

Picture Perfect Colorado


Monday was the picture perfect Colorado day we were waiting for. Sunday's overcast, chilly conditions were probably in our favor though we didn't see it at the time. We spent the day resting and getting ourselves acclimated to life at 7000+ feet for the next few weeks. So we were ready to hit the ground running yesterday morning and we were promised a much better day. We were at the Garden of the Gods by 8:30 and enjoyed a couple of short hikes in relative solitude which is rare as this is a major tourist attraction in Colorado Springs.

This also gave us a chance to reflect on how much we've changed in the last 20 years. We came to Colorado Springs in October of 1991 to attend a retreat at
Glen Eyrie, a Christian conference center owned by The Navigators. It was the front end of a Colorado vacation and we recalled how unimpressed we were with Garden of the Gods. We remembered driving through the park and never even getting out of the car. After the conference, we were headed to Aspen, Breckenridge and Vail and I suspect, the lure of those "fancy" places made a bunch of rocks seem insignificant. Although I had just lost a job I loved due to a merger and already had the next career move in the works, we were both pretty miserable in our careers and were trying to fill those "holes" with escape.

That's kind of embarrassing to admit now, but necessary to reflect how meaningful our time in Garden of the Gods yesterday truly was. We just kept looking at each other and saying things like, "what were we thinking" or "how could we NOT have appreciated this incredible beauty?" On Sunday, we watched the movie in the Visitor Center that explained how the rocks were formed. That was a good move because it allowed us to enjoy the rock formations even more. Just as we neared the park exit, the teasing sunshine finally parted the last of the clouds and we had a "take your breath away" moment as snow-covered Pikes Peak finally came into full view. Was that timing all by chance? We don't think so!

Next up was a visit to the Manitou Springs Visitor Center for a hiking trails map and some suggestions for a 3-4 mile hike. We'd already hiked a couple of miles in Garden of the Gods, so didn't want to add much more on our first day out. We were given excellent advice and chose the 2-mile roundtrip
Mt. Cutler trail. (Since I can't post pictures, this is an account of the hike with great photos that are spot on.) It was a perfect choice, a wonderful hike with a spectacular payoff at the end where we enjoyed lunch.

Following the hike, we drove back to Manitou Springs where Bill had scoped out his ice cream spot. Those who have followed our travels in the past know that ice cream promised at the end of every hike is Bill's motivation for putting on his boots and hiking wherever I tell him to hike!! We BOTH enjoyed yummy ice cream from
Pikes Peak Chocolate and Ice Cream. I suspect this place will know us by name before the end of the week! We were back in our cozy little house in time for Bill's afternoon nap and then we enjoyed a delicious dinner of grilled steaks, steak frites** and salad. It was an early night!

Today's agenda is a hike in Waldo Canyon (7 miles) or a trip to Woodland Park with a hike through Rainbow Gulch (3 miles). I'll let Bill choose. Why do I think I already know which we'll be doing??

**Since Bill's most recent trip to France, we no longer eat French Fries, we have Steak Frites!!

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