Monday, August 28, 2017

Colorado Springs --- This Place is a Zoo

Well hello there!  Do you happen to have any lettuce?

Roger here...  We continue to enjoy our time with Chuck, Cindy and Sophie.  This post takes us to some very unique places.  But first, watch this video of a deer leaping over fences during one of our morning walks.

Olympic Training Center....  The USA Olympic Training Center is in Colorado Springs.  I love the Olympics.  So do Cindy and Chuck.  Dianne considers it extra uninterrupted time to do genealogy research.  Cindy did the background work for us to take a tour of the facility.   

It was a cloudy day so the timing was great for a tour that was mostly inside.

After watching a short film about the facility, our guide, Chris, led us outside to a mezzanine surrounded by the flags of countries of our planet.

We toured several areas.  

One of the  training rooms has the capability of altering various atmospheric pressures so that the athletes can train appropriately for the host sites.  Another space has two zero-gravity treadmills which allow athletes with broken legs to continue training without putting undue stress on the fracture.

The dormitory facilities can house up to 260 athletes between the ages of 17-24.  The nutrition center for the athletes allow for specific diets for specific sports.  The facilities are funded through donations and television rights.  No government money is used in the operation of this state-of-the-art facility.

There are five other training center locations across the country.  In this center we toured the facilities for mens' gymnastics, wrestling, pentathlon, volleyball and others.  During one of my drives to hike in the mountains, I encountered a group of Olympic cyclists riding up one of the mountain roads.  All of the para-Olympic training takes place here in Colorado Springs.

The common area for weight and endurance training is housed in the building shown below.

The huge 50 meter swimming facility is designed to minimize waves bouncing from the sides of the pool.  The yellow cylinders in the picture are connected via pulleys to the swimmers when they do resistance training.  The amount of resistance can be adjusted.  When I coached high school swimming, I used giant elastic bands stretched around the ankles to prevent kicking for resistance work.  The above technique is obviously superior.

It was a memorable experience to see where many of the best athletes in our country train.

Tunnel Trail redux....  This was one of our favorite earlier hikes prior to the arrival of Chuck and Cindy.  We thought they would enjoy it.

Chuck is walking toward the first tunnel at the start of the trail.

Tequila says, "Hey, I think we have been here before.  I seem to recall chasing some lizards.

Since most of you have seen the pictures from this hike in a previous post,  I will just add a few pictures of our hiking crew in no particular order.

The Walk of the Ants

On the way back to the rv park we stopped at the Cup and Cone in Canon City for ice cream.  Bandido and Tequila prefer vanilla.

Back at our motor home Tequila found an appropriate place to rest her weary head.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo....  The stop here yesterday was a highlight of our stay in Colorado Springs.  Chuck's nephews, Andy and Alex, drove down from Denver with their wives and young kids to meet us at this very unique zoo.  All of the exhibits were built into the slope of Cheyenne Mountain.  When it looked as if we had reached the end of the displays, it was time to change levels.  The options were steps or elevator.

The giraffe compound near the front of the zoo was exceptional.  These guys are obviously "fake" giraffes.  However....

 the display of "real" giraffes was amazing, mainly due to their proximity to the people.  Dozens of adults and kids were simultaneously petting and feeding lettuce to multiple giraffes. The animals had a huge outdoor area in which to roam. This is the best giraffe exhibit I have ever seen. 

During our visit we saw all the typical zoo animals: Lions and Tigers and (grizzly) Bears, oh my!  They were all easy to see, but in very large outdoor areas. There were many spaces that allowed for face-to-face contact.  Get a load of this male lion just two feet from my face (behind glass).

What a magnificent animal!

A definite plus was that most of the animals were animated and active.  Sleeping in a corner behind a rock was a rarity.  

Dianne here:  Cindy and I couldn't tell whether or not the lions could see us through the glass, but then a man walked near with a service dog and this male lion immediately zeroed in on the dog.   If that glass hadn't been there, I'm sure that dog would have been an afternoon snack for the lion.  It was creepy!

When we weren't gazing at the animals, we were gazing at the city of Colorado Springs below and the Rocky Mountains above. The entire zoo felt as if it was a part of the mountain.

Oh, and we finally saw that moose that we could not find during last year's travels to Canada.  Too bad that it was behind a fence, but what an interesting and gigantic animal.

We all laughed out loud at the representation of a rhinoceros peeing to mark its territory.  This was a big hit with the kids (and adults, too).

I must rate the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo as one of my favorites.  It is well worth an entire day of exploration.  The fact that we were able to enjoy it with friends and their family (including some very cute young children) made this a memorable day.

Stay tuned for more adventures from Colorado Springs.

Pet Pictures of the Day....  Chuck and Cindy's dog, Sophie, tends to disappear in the background of many of our pictures due to her dark brindle coloring.  I finally got a decent picture of her resting at our campsite.

I took this picture of Tequila at the same time.  It has turned out to be one of my favorite photos of our loving girl. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Colorado Springs --- Friends!

Roger here...  Chuck and Cindy and Sophie the dog booked a site right across from us for two weeks.  Yay!  We have been close friends and camping buddies for many, many years even though they are Indiana University fans :-).

Solar Eclipse Day....  We joined the rest of the world celebrating the recent solar eclipse.  Our location provided an 87.5% coverage --- not bad.  Dianne and I bought a pair of eclipse glasses after the last event in 2012, so we were able to pass the glasses around and watch the entire event live.

Chuck is doing a little quality control.

The sky was clear!  We had a great viewing spot at our campsite, so we moved our chairs to the appropriate spot and began the celebration  with a toast (Chuck's famous breakfast juice).

Our celebration selfie at 10:30ish.

Here we are at 11:47.

Ok, it did not get that dark.  At one point the lighting was not as bright --- like twilight.  The temperature drop was noticeable.  However, it definitely did not get very dark.  As a former science teacher, I look forward to these things --- the viewing through the glasses was fascinating, at least to me.

The Great Escape....  I will start this segment with tranquil photos of a doe and her fawns.  Dianne took these pictures from inside our motorhome.

The deer are often nearby, especially during mornings and evenings.

Later in the day we enjoyed a game of Mexican Train in the screen house.  The dogs were nearby since we could zip them in with us.

A large toad hopped onto our sunshade shortly before the game.

He climbed up and down the shade while we played.  At one point he appeared to be sunbathing.  

Dianne informed me that I needed to get him off the sun shade.  She was afraid he would fall onto the rocks where Charlie the cat (on a leash) might eat him.  Sigh.  I carefully scooted the toad away from danger while Dianne held the cat.

Our game happily resumed, but not for long.  The Great Escape was about to begin.  A deer walked by.  Before we realized what was happening Sophie bolted through a small opening at the bottom of the screen doorway.  And, Bandido bolted right through the screen!

This is where he landed on the other side of the screen house.  We were able to grab Tequila before she also escaped.  

For a short time the dogs were nowhere to be found.  Dianne here:   I did catch a quick glimpse of the deer sprinting away and Bandido at full speed not far behind.  Sophie stayed nearby, but Bandido evidently refused to abandon the chase.  The deer was long gone by the time Dianne saw Bandido and called him back.  He seemed to be very proud of himself.

But Mom, I didn't notice the screen until I was through it!

Isn't duct tape wonderful! Chuck and Cindy took over the repair of the screen before the game resumed. 

Our screen house may well be seeing its last use.  We have had it for many years. The screen is now fragile.  Sad.

Breaking news... Bandido incarcerated as a repeat offender.  Un-named sources have reported that a squirrel hopped by a Mountaindale Campsite when Bandido the Dog (Mission, Texas) smashed through the mesh screen of a dining tent for a second time in two days.  Authorities have detained Bandido and imprisoned him in an adjacent motor home.

Chuck and Cindy are planning to start a business in screen mesh repairs.

The second escape pretty much ices the abandonment of our screen house before heading back to Texas.

Return to Garden of the Gods...

When Chuck and Cindy arrived, we discovered that they had not previously visited Garden of the Gods.  With our new knowledge about timing, parking, and the park layout, we decided to make a return trip.

We stopped at the Visitor Center this time.  Chuck and I went in to get a map.  We wanted to walk along the paved garden trail if we could find a place to park.  When we arrived, the main parking area was again full.  We again found ourselves on the one-way road looking for any available parking.

Chuck, Cindy, and Sophie (Luckiest dog in Indiana)
We did find a spot away from our destination, so we did a short scramble on the ridge trail.  The scenery was again beautiful, but not what we really wanted.  We decided to go around in the truck one more time.  The parking lot we wanted was again full, but we did find a parking pull-off near the Garden Walk that we wanted to do.  It involved walking along the roadway to an extension trail that took us to an intriguing walk on a paved trail.  Worth the hassle!

Chuck and Sophie found a side trail that took us into a wonderland.  People were climbing the multiple rock formations and having a blast. 

Cindy took Chuck's picture as he and Sophie went through one of the formations on a narrow trail, finding a different exit leading back to the paved walk.

I am so glad that we were patient enough to find our way.

The caption on Dianne' shirt is appropriate for us as we travel with our dogs, "SQUIRREL!!!"
Brats and Beer Reunion....  Last week I had lunch with Pam and Bill.  Pam and I worked together for many years before we both retired.  We invited them to our campsite for brats and beer.  Chuck took over the role of grill-master.  Cindy whipped up some mac and cheese.  Dianne put together a spinach/strawberry salad.  Pam, Cindy and I all retired from Hamilton Southeastern Schools.  For our former HSE students and friends from Fishers, Indiana.....  We probably talked about you :-).  Good times.

That's all for this post.  More to come as we continue to explore.

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!