Monday, July 25, 2016

I sure can pack a bunch into one weekend...

I mentioned in my last post that I might try to go somewhere a little further away this weekend, but I didn't. There is plenty to do right here to last me a while. So, this weekend I went to Cave of the Winds, Seven Falls, hiked the Red Rocks Canyon trail again (with an added section), and explored the little section of Colorado Springs called "Ivywild." On all the down time we had, Laura and I researched equipment for long distance hiking. We are looking into hiking the Colorado Trail in a year or so.

The caves and the falls were pretty touristy attractions, but still very entertaining.
-Caves were discovered in 1881 by two boys who were just out exploring.
-One man paid for the excavation of a newer portion of the caves with the stipulation that forever more the guides would have to mention his name when ever they brought a tour group through that section. (The guide did her job, but I honestly can't remember his name... hehe... serves him right.)

-Seven falls seems to me to be just one big fall with lots of ledges.
-The 224 step climb to the top kicked my butt! The way back down was scarier though... especially in the rain.


On Sunday morning I hiked a portion of the Red Rocks trail again, but met up with "Section 16" to finish the 5.3 mile hike with some new scenery this time. Didn't take any pics though... oops!
In Ivywild there is an old elementary school that shut down. Years later a brewing company took it over and turned it into a brewery/ restaurant. They left the school look inside with all the doors, the hallway and old water fountain. It is really fun to walk around the little gift shops and the food was amazing.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hiking and feeling great!

The last two weekends have been spent closer to this general vicinity. I will probably try to go somewhere further away this coming weekend. It has been a beautiful summer and so many things and places are booked up. I have to start planning a little more in advance...
So, two weekends ago I spent the day with a friend from work hiking the Seven Bridges trail. It was a beautiful day for it!

This weekend I went on a train ride through the Royal Gorge. It is a two hour long ride that takes you past some amazing scenery as it follows the Arkansas River. The view included tons of rafters on the river and the Royal Gorge bridge. They call it "the bridge to nowhere", because it was literally built on a bet and goes nowhere. Two guys were bet $1 that they couldn't build a bridge across the gorge... Well, they won. :)
I also did a 5.5 mile hike in Twin Lakes out to a cool 1800's resort which still stands to this day. There are some efforts to refurbish it, but its still pretty cool just the way it is.

I have been enjoying my little apartment where there are cows grazing across the street and the clinic where I work. The people are all so nice and I enjoy going in everyday. I see about 6-7 patients a day. It is interesting getting to know all the different personalities, but that's one of the things I have always loved about traveling.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I went to 1 National park and 4 states this weekend...!

How is that possible, you might ask? **Spoiler Alert** I went to The Four Corners monument. :) Took all of 4 minutes to be in all 4 states. Hehe.

On Friday after work, I got moved into the apartment that I am subleasing for the time I am out here. I was pooped after all that moving so I decided to just get an early start on Saturday to begin my weekend adventure. I was so glad I did! Getting to see all the sites in the daytime was much better. There are so many beautiful areas out here. It took about 5.5 hours to drive to Mesa Verde National Park, but it did not feel that long at all. Along the drive, I crossed the Continental Divide and passed by at least 4 of Colorado's "fourteeners". "Fourteeners" are mountains above 14,000 feet. There are about 55 of them. I am hoping to summit a few before I'm done.

Chimney Rock

Once I arrived at the park I got a map and had to figure out what to do. They offer 3 ranger-led hikes for $4 to go down and walk through the cliff dwellings. I chose two at random, hoping I wasn't missing out by not doing the third... It ended up working out great! The two I chose were close to each other and both on the same side of the park. There would have been a lot of back tracking or things missed if I tried to manage all 3. The two hikes took me into Cliff Palace and Balcony House. The rangers were very informative about the  Ancestral Puebloans who lived in these dwellings. In 600AD they were still living on the mesa (flat land on top) and in the valleys. Some time around 1100 AD they began living in cliff dwellings where they would usually have do some rock climbing to get back up to the mesa top to hunt and farm. No one is 100% sure why they made this change, and just as mysterious is why they all made a mass migration out of the area around 1350 AD. There are many theories about resource depletion and drought, but no one really knows. One ranger told us that according to the religious practices of Ancestral Puebloans they may leave just because it was "time." They believe that they pass through "worlds." We are in the "4th world" and at times to continue in growth you have to move on to a new place. They were not sentimental and would have no problem leaving most of their belongings behind to start over somewhere else which is why archaeologists have found so many items left in the homes and kivas.
 A kiva was a structure used for religious rituals. Now, they just look like a big hole in the ground, but when the Puebloans lived there they were covered except for one hole in the middle where a ladder would allow them to climb in and out. They are actually quite sophisticated structures with a ventilation system. I won't bore you with all the detail, but suffice it to say that I was impressed with these people and their ingenuity.
I explored the park with its beautiful scenery and did a couple hikes to outlooks where you could view more of the cliff dwellings from afar.
Cliff Palace

Square House: Tallest in the park

Spruce House

Inside: can you see the original painted plaster at the top?

 On Monday, I traveled a little further west to the very southwest corner of Colorado where 4 states meet. Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona all come together at one point. I was naively expecting that it would be a little monument in the middle of nowhere with not many people around, but I was wrong... Well, about people part. (It is definitely in the middle of nowhere.) The Navajo Nation maintains the site and there are vendors all around the attraction selling their wares. It is a popular tourist destination and there were probably 30 other people wandering around while I was there. Oddly enough though, I did not pass another car for MILES on the way in or out. Its like a weird vortex where people just appear when you pull in the parking lot. ;) I got a nice girl to take my picture on the monument. My selfie stick just wasn't going to cut it for this one. (Wish I had that selfie stick on all my other adventures. It comes in quite handy most of the time.)

After that I just made the long drive back home. The route runs through a lot of mountains, in and out of tiny towns, and back over the Continental Divide till I got back to the relatively flat land of Pueblo. Home Sweet Home for the next few months...
Signing off till next time!

The rain is coming

Couple other pictures from the trip.
Miles and I have been everywhere together.

The way into Balcony House
The way out of Balcony House