Monday June 11 – Colorado Springs

Today we came close to seeing God.  Now before you get all excited let me explain.  You see this morning we drove to the top of Pikes Peak, 14,110 feet above sea level. We were so high we felt like we were almost in heaven. The road up to the top was only 19 miles long but it took the better part of an hour to get there.  It was very steep and had somewhere around 5,745 twists and turns, first or second gear all the way to the top. Once we got there the trip was worth it.  If it wasn’t for the haze you could probably see all the way to the Mississippi river.  There were two problems when we got to the top. One it was cold, we had gotten used to the 80 and 90 degree heat and at the summit it was probably 40 degrees and we were in shorts.  Brrr…thank goodness the wind was not blowing. The other problem was just trying to breath.  You see living in the Seattle area we had kinda gotten used to the oxygen at sea level. Now at 14,110 feet (about the same height as Mt. Rainier) the oxygen supply is a little on the skimpy side and we both felt a little light headed and dizzy. For the $22 (we had a $2 off coupon) it cost us to drive up the road we figured that they should have at least given us an oxygen tank to go.  A pack of gum to help our ears adjust to the altitude change would have been nice too.  Smoke from the fire northwest of Denver combined with smog cloaked the valleys below but the view was great.  In fact this view is what inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful” in 1893.  On the way down the signs gave warnings about going slow and to use low gear so as to not over heat the vehicles brakes.  Halfway down the hill they even had a mandatory brake inspection where they actually took the brake’s temperature and had you wait a half and hour if your brakes were too hot.   Ours were only 130 degrees so they waved us on with a smile.  We saw a herd of Bighorn Sheep and had lunch at a picnic area on the way down.  Despite the warning sign(see pictures) we never did see Big Foot. 

Colorado boasts of having 54 peaks of over 14,000 feet of elevation or more.  At 14,110 feet, Pikes Peak ranks 34th highest of the lot.  So you might say that Pike Peak is a just a piker (insert groan here) among the rest of the peaks.

Our next stop was the Florissant Fossil Beds.  Thank goodness the Old Geezer Pass got us in for free because they were a big disappointment.  The only fossils we could see were in drawers in the Visitor’s Center and some of those were replicas.  There were a couple of short trails where we could have seen fossilized tree trunks.  Since we just saw lots of petrified wood at Petrified Forest National Park a few of weeks ago and it was getting late we decided to push on to our last destination of the day.  Cripple Creek is located on the west side of Pike’s Peak and when the boom of the Colorado Gold Rush put this town on the map in 1900, gold worth more than $18 million was mined in nearly 500 mines. It is still the home of the fourth largest production gold mine in the world.  In 1991 another gold mine was discovered here – legalized gambling.  The downtown area is mostly made up of 13 casinos within walking distance of each other.  We managed to hit about 10 of them and left about $15 behind to help out the economy.  On the way home we drove through a town called Bust, Colorado.  The sign said it had a population of 2.  Hmmm.

On the agenda for tomorrow is a visit to Garden of the Gods and the Air Force Academy. 

Picture Link

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