You already know I lobbied Mike to stay as close to Denver metro as possible during our month-turned-six-week-stay in Colorado. Two of my closest friends from high school both live in Aurora, and I had plans to drive back for two separate Christmas celebrations on December 1st and 11th. Our third stop was at Garden of the Gods RV Resort in Colorado Springs, a 1-hour 11 minute drive back to my girlies. We were at this location for two weeks and enjoyed every minute of it. The location was incredible. We were within walking distance to Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks Open Space AND Old Colorado City. Our specific site was pretty cramped, but the park was well-maintained and we had a front-row view of Pike’s Peak every time we walked to the dog park.
I returned to Denver on the first day we were there to “officially” kick-off the Christmas season with high tea at the Brown Hotel. Mike was so glad I had other girls to join for that experience. He was happy to stay home with the dogs and finish his post-travel coach cleaning chores. My last trip back to Denver was toward the end of our stay when I got to attend a martini and gift exchange party hosted by Amy and Janet at Amy’s house. We had a slumber party, and I drove back home the next morning. Our time during the middle of my two excursions was spent hiking, enjoying the natural attractions of our area, and handling the traditional tasks of Christmas such as getting our cards out, finishing our shopping, shipping our packages, decorating our coach, and stuff like that. Normal life stuff.
We were surrounded by so much beauty on this stop, that I have a bunch of pictures to share. I will let their captions fill out the rest of the story from Colorado Springs.
A view from the windshield on our short drive south along I-25 from Larkspur to Colorado Springs. We were thankful for the sunshine and dry skies on a travel day.
The first day we were in “the Springs”, I turned around and drove back to the Denver metro to join my girlfriends at the historic Brown Hotel for traditional high tea.
One of the reasons we made our last Colorado stop in Colorado Springs was so I would be in driving distance to come back and participate in more Christmas cheer during the season.
A herd of deer lived in the neighborhood between our campground and Garden of the Gods Park. We would walk about 1/2 mile to get to the park trails, and the mulees were scattered about every yard (front and back).
Balanced Rock in Garden of the Gods Park.
We were a short drive down the road from several DDD spots at this stop. Front Range BBQ is one of those restaurants and they featured live music on Wednesday nights. The food was yummy and the music was classic rock with a funkadelic hillbilly twist. Like Pink Floyd at the County Fair Pie Contest. Lots of fun!
Pike’s Peak in its morning glory from our campground.
A buck in the ‘hood.
A selfie from one of our daily walks with Pike’s Peak in the background. The Utes called it Tava (Sun).
One of the neighborhood does posing for her photo shoot.
A selfie on the COG Railway – waiting to depart the station.
A way station along the COG Railway – almost to the top. Back in the day people used to live there!
Katharine Lee Bates was a 33-year old English Professor from Wellesley College when she traveled by train to Colorado Springs to teach a short summer school session at Colorado College. After being inspired by sights she enjoyed on the way to Colorado and all the way up to the top of Pike’s Peak, she wrote a poem called “Pike’s Peak”. It was published two years later in The Congregationalist to commemorate July 4th. At that time it was retitled “America”. Church organist and Choir Master Samuel A. Ward put it to music in 1910… and now we all know the words by heart. (And if you are like me, it makes you cry every time you hear it)!
A selfie atop a fourteener. In mountaineer terminology that is a mountain that meets or exceeds an elevation of 14,000 feet (4,270 m) above mean sea level. Colorado has the majority of fourteeners in the contiguous United States with 53. California is next with 12. Washington has 2. Climbing all of Colorado’s fourteeners is a popular pastime among peak baggers. We are not peak baggers.
We are lucky the weather was so clear on the day we went up to Pike’s Peak. We tried not to focus on the fact that the temperature was a balmy 12 degrees.
Our train at the top of the mountain.
It looks like this photo could have been taken from an airplane, right?
Another gorgeous view from the top of Tava.
If you look out the window from this shot inside the COG on the way down, you can see the road that cars travel to get to the top. If you search www.youtube.com for “Pike’s Peak Hill Climb 2013” you can see some crazy video of a race down the mountain at insane speeds. (There is also video of a car flying OFF the road and flipping down the mountain side – which is why I’m glad we took the train instead of the car the day we went up).
Can you spot the three big horn sheep keeping an eye on the COG during our descent?
Garden of the Gods.
Our frequent hikes in Garden of the Gods park never got boring.
Although the address of our campground was Colorado Springs, we were actually right on the boundary of the quirky town of Manitou Springs. The downtown area has about eight different public fountains dispensing mineral water that is reputed to have healing effects for those that drink from them.
One day we decided to hike the Manitou Incline “just for the fun of it”. This is from the parking lot.
We were not dissuaded when we reached the starting point, even though the sign said the top was 2775 steps and almost one mile above us.
I quickly learned one general rule of the climbing experience. Don’t look up. Very disheartening. At the half-way point I couldn’t even see the top.
The skinny girl behind me was sucking air too. That made me happy. I was overjoyed when I saw her actually sit down for a minute. Then she passed me.
Mike spent most of his time encouraging me with positive words and waiting for me to catch up to him.
We had hiking boots, but no cleats. The trail was totally icy in shady spots. I won’t lie, I was nervous.
We made it to the top.
One of the views from the top of the incline. Our campground is somewhere there in the near distance.
A surprise Christmas tree at the top of the incline made me smile in between inhaling big gulps of thin air.
The incline steps are intended to be one-way… up. However, lots of kamikaze fitness freaks were climbing up them and then running back down to repeat the process again. We chose to obey the rules and follow the designated trail back down to the bottom. I was encouraged in the beginning.
It turned out that the trail down the mountain was mostly shaded and completely covered with slippery icy. It took us longer to get down than it did to get up!
Yes, we did have a couple of martinis when we got home that night. And yes, they did go straight to my head!
A full-size gingerbread house inside the Broadmoor Hotel.
We decided to go see the historic Broadmoor Hotel at night because we knew the lights would be fabulous. We were right.
A selfie after drinks and dinner at The Broadmoor.
Our campground was also close to Old Colorado City, a National Historic District established in 1859. I really enjoyed finishing up my Christmas shopping in such a quaint area.
Another amazing earth scene from Garden of the Gods.
The weather was pretty great during our entire stay on this stop. It only snowed at the very end, and just lightly after it was all over.
The Monaco is all decked out for the holidays.