Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Two weekends of fun going to the Zoo, Ghost towns, and hiking.

Two weekends ago, Laura and I spent Saturday at the Colorado Springs Zoo. The first exhibit you come to is the giraffes. You can feed and interact with them... Which mostly just means gross slobber from their black tongues. Eek!

The rest of the zoo was pleasant to walk around. We had a nice relaxing time and afterward went to an Old English pub for lunch.

Sleepy Monkeys
Bird paintings

On Sunday, we spent the day wandering around couple little towns in Colorado.
The first was South Park. It was just a normal little town. Not sure what I expected... Maybe tiny little kids in coats running around. ;)
We went to the South Park City Museum. The "museum" is actually a little street where they have collected a bunch of historic buildings from all over the state and set them up so that you can tour them. It was fun to meander around and see the way people lived back then. Whenever I go to places like this I always think the dentist and doctors offices look like torture chambers.

We then went to a ghost town called St. Elmo. Unlike the place in South Park, these buildings are original to the area; not brought in to be a tourist attraction. It has turned into a tourist attraction, though, due to the chipmunks that are tamed and will eat right out of your hand.

It was the perfect day for the adventure. Cool and sunny the whole time. Hope it stays that way for our hike next week.

This week/weekend we started practicing for our backpacking trip. Laura and I are hiking/backpacking two sections of the Colorado Trail and possibly two "14ers" (Mountains over 14,000ft) next week before I start my drive home. I can't believe my time here is done already, but I am excited to be on my way back!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Black Canyon National Park

This Saturday I drove the 4 hours west to Montrose, CO to go explore Black Canyon National Park. It was a beautiful drive through a mountain range and quite a few little towns. I was so surprised that I made it all the way there on a half a tank of gas! I am not sure why gas lasts so much longer out here but the MPG are drastically different.

Anyway, I got there on Saturday afternoon and drove the main road around the park stopping at all the lookouts. It is a very narrow and deep canyon. When I peered over the edge at the look out points the sheer drop make me a little queasy. What was pretty cool, though, was I could hear the river at the bottom rushing by when I was right at the edge, but when I stepped away from the edge the noise would stop. The walls were so steep that you couldn't hear the sound of what was happening in the canyon if you were just a few steps from the edge.

I didn't do any hikes that day, but Sunday morning when I went back into the park the plan was to go down the less traveled road to the river at the bottom and then go hike a couple of the trails in the park. Well, I started on my way early in the morning to try to see the other side of the park... From the bottom of the canyon. As I'm driving I start to see warning signs about steep grades and sharp curves. I'm a little nervous but I keep going. On the way I saw a bear and many deer out for their morning grazing. It was pleasant until I saw the sign for the 16% grade coming up. Yikes. I think the most I've ever seen before was 12%. Still, I keep going. I knew in my head that I was trying to go from the top of this canyon to the bottom on this road, but I did not expect it to be so terrifying. I was in gear 2 and still having to stay in the brakes constantly to make it around the turns while constantly pondering the  fact that my car has been in the shop multiple times recently and that I was going to have to try to get back up this road too if I made it down safely. I hate to say it but my worries got the best of me this time and when I saw the runway car ramp I decided to turn around. There was no one else on the road at this time and so I played it safe. I guess there's a first time for everything. ;)
I was happy and not stressed at all as I hiked the lightly populated trails around the park and enjoyed the beautiful day.

I spent a while that evening at a local coffee shop that was super cute and chill and camped the second night in perfect 60 degree weather.

On Monday, I drove back to Colorado Springs where I met up with Laura to go to an art festival in Manitou springs. We had a lovely afternoon wandering around the festival and checking out the shops in downtown.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thankfully the car troubles happened BEFORE my trip to Rocky Mountain National Park

The weekend of the 13th I was debating what to do and where to go... Crested Butte, Rocky Mountain NP, Black Canyon NP...
I couldn't decide and there were no campgrounds available anywhere (they get booked for the season so quick) so I thought, "Well I'll head to Colorado Springs and then go from there." Good thing I did. On the way to the Springs my check engine light came on. I was lucky enough to make it the 40 miles and get to a very nice shop that was highly recommended. They found a few things wrong, but it was going to take the whole weekend to fix. Luckily, I was able to stay with Laura and had a grand time!
We went to Rockledge Ranch which is a "living history farm" inside Garden of the Gods park. They have examples of old homesteads from the 1700-1900s. Volunteers dress up and will give you a history of how the original settlers of the area used to live. It was a beautiful day for a walk around the park with Laura, her dog, Raven, and the two dogs she was taking care of that weekend.

I love hanging with all the doggies. They are so snuggly ...

Afterward, we went to lunch and Laura brought me to a fun little novelty/candy shop where you can get any flavor soda you can think of including some really gross flavors like Barf, Dirt, Buffalo Wing soda, Dragon Drool, and so on. We got some to try, but we could only handle a sip or two of each cause they were way too sweet.

We also spent some time at Hobby Lobby, my favorite store. I call it "The vortex of time sucking awesomeness." But Hobby Lobby is shorter. ;)  We got a puzzle made up of covers of Nancy Drew books while we were there. We ended up working on it while watching (and singing along to) the Sound of Music in the background. (Her husband was less than thrilled.) Hehe...

This weekend, now that my car was back up and running, I drove the 3 hours to Rocky Mountain NP and explored for the day. It was the perfect day for it: 60 degrees, white puffy clouds, a slight breeze...
The scenes were so picturesque! I wish I was a better photographer cause the pics just don't do it justice.