Saturday, August 19, 2017

Colorado Springs --- Gold Camp Road

The roadway below in the Pike National Forest that brought us up to Gold Camp Road.

Roger here...  We continue to enjoy our extended visit to the Colorado Springs area.  At times we have been active --- hiking, lunching with friends, wandering through a farmers' market.  At times we have been slothful, enjoying the peace of the campground. 

Campground news...

The daily late afternoon storms seem to have abated.  They have been replaced by spectacular cumulus clouds that roll in just before sunset.  However, the campsite is not always peaceful.

Bandido was arrested for misdemeanor wine spillage during happy hour one  evening when a doe walked in front of our campsite.  His emotions got the best of him as he lunged toward the deer, knocking over Dianne's wine.  The deer calmly walked away.  Bandido went inside for a time out.  All was not lost since we had plenty of wine.

The discord continued last night when we were startled at 5:00 a.m. by a screeching sound like we had never heard before.   I had no idea that bears could make noises like that.  Bandido was not amused.  I googled bear sounds the next morning. The sound we heard was definitely a bear cub throwing a tantrum.  If you'd like to hear what we heard, click on the link below.   The sound we heard was the first entry under the "High Emotion" category.  

Black Bear Sounds


Our new campground friends go to lunch every Tuesday and have included us in their group.  Thanks guys!  This week we went to a place featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  The menu at Rasta Pasta blended Italian and Jamaican food.  It might seem strange, but it was delicious.  I enjoyed spicy chicken jerk over pasta.  Really good.

Two days later we were to meet one of my former colleagues, Pam, and her husband, Bill, at the  Odyssey Gastropub.  Unfortunately, Bandido ate something he shouldn't have and required constant supervision if you know what I mean.  Dianne stayed with the dogs while I went to lunch.  Pam was an outstanding 8th grade English teacher at Hamilton Southeastern Junior High School where I was the principal.  She and Bill moved to Colorado Springs when they retired.  It was so much fun catching up and getting to know Bill a little better.   Easy to do.  We will see them again (both of us) when they visit us at the RV park for brats and beer.

Gold Camp Road hike....

Back in the day, Gold Camp Road was the main thorough-fare between Colorado Springs and the gold mines in Cripple Creek.  It remains well-maintained as a wide dirt and gravel hike/bike trail high up in the mountains.  

The mostly flat easy walking trail provided an easy hike for the four of us on a perfect day.  We decided to walk until we felt the need to turn back.  We actually sauntered about four miles, enjoying the spectacular views without a great deal of exertion.

Looking Down on Colorado Springs

Along the way we passed by this abandoned mine (or tunnel --- probably a tunnel) that we were obviously forbidden to enter...

... as well as this huge rock-climbin' rock that was beyond my rock climbin' ability.  Bandido wanted to climb it, but Dianne would not allow it :-).

After about two miles the trail narrowed and sloped upward.  We knew there was a stream ahead.  We wanted to see it, so we scrambled up.

We rested by the stream for a few minutes, gave the dogs a drink of the water that we always carry for them, and ate an energy bar before reversing our steps.

"Mom, I'd rather drink the water from the stream."

The only dicey steps on this sojourn were on the initial "return"  as we gingerly avoided slipping on the gravelly surface.  I slipped twice, but did not fall.  Twinkle-toes, Dianne, and the dogs had no problems.

As always on in and out trails, the out views show different aspects of the hikes.  Dianne took this  amazing picture on the way back to the car.  She calls it "artsy."  

I took an artsy picture, too!  But, I must admit that Dianne's is better.  To paraphrase my good friend Bob's frequent comments, "Good Roger."

We also found something interesting on the return hike.  According to Dianne's niece, "Usually, if they have info on the back, you take a picture.   Post to the fb group on the back of the rock... rehide, then post clues about where you hid to the fb group."

Who knew?  Could actually be fun.  Next time we'll know to pick up the rock and look at it more closely.

This was our view of the sky as we neared our car.  It looked ominous, but the rain did not materialize.

Old Colorado City Farmers' Market...

Our Retama Village friends, Mike and Marian, told us that the Old Colorado City Farmers' Market was a good one.  They took us by the location on a previous jaunt.  Since our dear friends, Chuck and Cindy, are joining us for two weeks tomorrow, we wanted to check it out as a possible activity.  We ended up buying some fresh food for the first dinner.

This quaint neighborhood near Pike's Peak was a pleasant place to wander. Before having lunch at a French bakery, we discovered a pet boutique.  These touristy pet places draw Dianne (me too) in like a magnet.  We now have a new welcome mat for our small house at Retama Village.

Pet Picture of the Day...  dog selfie taken by Dianne

 What a day for a ride with the sunroof open!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Colorado Springs --- Mount Cutler

A View of Downtown Colorado Springs from Mount Cutler

Roger here...  During the past few days we have visited a local winery and taken two hikes (one of them my  personal favorite so far).  In addition, we continue to enjoy relaxing times at our RV site. 

The muted silhouette view of a pine tree limb through the sun screen is so striking --- a nice view while reading in the hammock.

The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey...

Those of you who know us will be very surprised to discover that we found a winery in nearby Canon City where we could sample wine :-).  This one is unique in that the wines are created by the residents of the Holy Cross Abbey.

Our friends, Mike and Marian, told us about this winery when we were here a few years ago.  They joined us for a little  free wine tasting.

Run!  Are they hurrying for the wine or the gift shop?
Free wine tasting!!!!

Look at Marian and Dianne go!

It looks as if Mike made some purchases in the gift shop :-).  We each bought a bottle to enjoy at home.  Dianne bought other stuff as well.

We all thought the bark on this black walnut tree in the parking area looked as if serpents were climbing the tree.  Very weird looking.

The Garden of the Gods...

The Garden of the Gods is iconic and beautiful.  It is also crowded and somewhat confusing if the goal is to take a hike.  We obviously picked the wrong time for a visit.  We were looking forward to a specific hike that we had researched; however, trolling through the insufficient parking lot hoping for someone to pull out of a spot broke the mood.  

After about 20 minutes, we abandoned our search for a parking spot and aimlessly drove through the park in an ant-like procession with other cars looking for any available place to park.  Much later we found one.  We had no idea where we were.  After parking, we were unable to find any trail maps in the parking lot that made sense to us, s-o-o-o... we wandered down along a flat trail, keeping track of our direction so as not to get lost.  

We were surrounded by beauty, but the irritation of not finding our way to the formations detracted from the fun.  Even the hiking app on my cell phone was not helpful.  We actually retraced our steps three different times.  This bridge became a familiar sight --- "Weren't we just here?"

The amazing scenery did help to alleviate the frustration.
Our mindless wandering accidentally landed us at a spot near our car.  We were surprised.  At least we weren't lost.  We were ready to get away from the crowds and almost headed for our RV park.  However, I persuaded Dianne to try a short hike across the street.  We were finally able to walk around and through the formations.

There were even a couple of cairns for Dianne.  After the shorter hike we headed back to our campsite for lunch.  We have been to the Garden of the Gods two times before, and loved it.  In my humble opinion, the poor signage compounded by the limited parking and the crowds made our experience this time less than satisfying.  We might have to go back at a less crowded time --- or more than likely discover someplace new.

Mount Cutler...

Yesterday, we headed back to North Cheyenne Canon Park to find a parking space (third attempt) at the Mount Cutler Trailhead.  Score!!!  There were two spots. We gladly snagged one of them.  Dianne may have a different opinion, but this was my favorite hike of our time in Colorado Springs so far.

We arrived a little earlier in the morning than usual, causing the light and shadows on the rock formations to have a stark appearance.

The air on this uphill hike was perfect --- cool, dry, and clean. 
(And thin -- Dianne). The sky was that blue azure hue that we only seem to see in the west.

The hike itself was diverse.  Much of it was through the pine forests.  Parts of it hugged the edge of the mountain where the land dropped deeply from the edge of the trail.

There were also rocks to climb, and I did manage to climb one or two.  

We stopped to ponder these large tree roots that arched onto the trail.  We later discovered that they were Douglas Firs that had been eroded.  It almost looked like they were walking.

I took this picture of Dianne and Tequila next to one set of tree roots to give a perspective of how large they were.

We were both enjoying this hike so much that at one point we got a little silly.... 

.... taking pictures of each other taking pictures of each other.

As we neared the summit, panoramic views greeted us around every corner.

A portion of the falls are in the lower-center of the photo.
Far below we were able to get a glimpse of Seven Falls, a paid attraction operated by the Broadmoor Hotel.

The Seven Falls attraction, which we did not do, also includes a precarious-looking hanging bridge and a zip-line.  The perspective in the photo below  was perfect for gazing and thinking of Indiana Jones :-)

Dianne here:   This photo I would caption (for either the suspension bridge or the zip line as 
"I don't think so!"

When we reached the top, Dianne wanted a photo to document her achievement.  We did a short circle hike around the summit before heading back down.  The total round-trip hike, according to the activity bands that we wear to keep track of our steps was approximately three miles (the first half of which was u-p-h-i-l-l all the way -- D.)

We tend to be stingier with our photos when we retrace steps, but we did notice two photo-worthy views.  This orange rock is balanced on the very edge of the trail.  

We don't see moss and lichens in extreme south Texas -- much too hot and dry there.  They are a welcome sight and a sign of non-polluted air.

More adventures from Colorado Springs to follow.

Dianne here:  As I was editing this blog for Roger, I decided to go check my wildlife cam to see if we had any action last night.   If you missed the placement of the camera (which is on a tree right next to our bedroom window in the motorhome, we posted a photo of it in our last blog, to give an idea of how close this animal thoroughfare is to us.

First we had a three-deer parade:

Actually this one was from a few nights ago....

But last night, look who came to visit:

(Don't pay attention to the time stamp on the camera photo -- it's off by about 12 hours).

In this photo, he was close enough that if he stood up, he could have looked in our bedroom window. Maybe he did, for all I know.   Bandido and Tequila slept through it all.

Pet Picture of the Day....

Water Break for the Dogs (us as well)