|I entered Colorado on I-70 and stopped at the welcome station about 10 miles inside the border.
Inside, I asked the volunteer working the desk how soon it would be until I could see some mountains. He said it would be a while because of the smoke. I drove 75 miles or so and then turned onto US 24 which would take me to Colorado Springs, my first stop. I passed through several small towns, and as is customary in many places, each had a sign at its edge proclaiming its name, often its population, and a statistic new to me, its elevation. Soon I was at 6200 feet but still didn’t see what I considered mountains. Much of the terrain reminded me of the vast rolling hills of the Dakotas.
Soon my trusty GPS directed me to my first destination, the Air Force Academy. I drove up, up and up to the visitor center and parked the rig. Inside I watched a short film about cadet life, then picked up a map and made myself a souvenir in the smashed penny machine, this one with the famous chapel on it. Next, I hiked the short (but steep) trail over to the chapel and happily snapped photo after photo of this famous building.
There were several squads? (not sure of correct unit designation for small group) drilling on the wide pavement below and you could hear the barked commands of their leader.
My brother, Rick, spent a year here several decades ago so we were texting back and forth with my observations and his responses. He told me that during a physics class they were given a problem to solve of how many beer cans it would take to cover the chapel. Talk about applied science! It is really a beautiful campus and set among stupendous scenery.
I saw no signs of the devastating fire from there even though I know several staff housing areas were evacuated only a few short weeks ago.
I hopped back in the rig to head south to my chosen site for the next couple of nights, Cheyenne Mountain State Park. My Garmin could not seem to locate the address I had taken from the website so instead I tried to use my new smart phone’s map feature which is much harder to use while driving since it isn’t audible. I need to find out if I can make it so. Made one wrong turn, and as I was trying to make my way back to where I had erred, I saw a sign for the park. Happily, I followed them along to the entrance of this gorgeous place.
Right across from my campsite was this sign,
at the head of a path leading down to where the tenters were. Yes, people slept in flimsy little nylon tents not 100 yards from this sign. I knew I would need to be careful about bears in Yellowstone and Glacier but wasn’t quite prepared for them here. A siren went off and an announcement played over a loudspeaker to the tenting area also. I didn’t see any but I imagined every sound after dark was one. I hadn't been set up very long when these thunderclouds started rolling in
It was very cool to sit inside and watch the long streaks of lightning flash over the city below. I tried several times to catch it with my camera but never managed to do so. The ranger came by to warn the tenters that the forecast was calling for some severe weather,maybe including hail, but it blew over pretty quickly. Here is a view of the city of Colorado springs at night.
Today is a “rest” day – after 4 straight days of driving, I needed one. I wanted to do a little hiking to help acclimate myself to the altitude and tried my hand for the first time at geocaching. The app on my phone showed three sites with easy ratings less than half a mile from me so I packed some supplies and set out to find them. Here is a pic of my very first one I found.
The third one drove me crazy and I finally gave up. The compass setting on my app kept circling me around and around a rock formation just a few yards away but both the app and info posted in the camp office stressed that such caches were NOT off trails. Either it is camouflaged exceptionally well or someone has taken it or I just couldn’t see it. There was one very large boulder with a substantial gap from top to bottom but I’m not about to stick my hand down a dark hole in rattlesnake country. Staff here are also adamant about no pets on the trails due to the high rattler population. Anyway, it was fun and kind of exciting to find them. I also used my new hiking pole – wow, what a difference it made on my bad hip, even on the relatively easy trails I took. It should really come in handy when I get to more treacherous terrain.
It’s hot here but there is a wonderful breeze so I squeezed my chair in a little patch of shade and sit and look out over the city spread over miles around, far below. Fort Carson is very near and helicopters fly back and forth regularly. The sound of the bugles carries well, and they play reveille at 0630, retreat at 5 or 5:30 and taps around 10. It’s a good sound, the sound of freedom.
I'm parked right across from a bathroom used by the tenters and their parking area and just happen to be situated so that the rays of the rising sun shine directly in my bedroom so I happened to be up early to see this
wonderful sight. The tiny dots are hot air balloons. Before I left Colorado Springs I wanted to visit one other famous attraction, called the Garden of the Gods. Here's a famous canine posing by the entrance sign
We drove over to the area where the paths begin and marveled at the details and rich colors of these rocks.
Well, okay, I marveled, Ed doesn't really care about scenery. He wasn't thrilled about the heat either but he hates being left even more. There were signs posted frequently
warning us to stay on the pavement due to rattlesnakes and I wondered if the snakes could read. I am not one of this sissy girls who is afraid of bugs and snakes but I do have a healthy respect for rattlers. I asked a park employee that very question and he said that snakes did not, in fact, obey the rules. they had caught one just that very morning a little further up the trail. Later, I overheard him telling that when they catch one they use it for educational purposes for tourists, since many of us have never seen a live rattler, and then they remove it to a different part of the park. After all, he said, this is their home. Next, I thought there should be at least some evidence that I was actually there.
Then I saw these climbers.
and this one - look closely for 3 small colorful dots in the middle of the photo. Those are people walking face forward down this thing - like we walk down a flight of stairs!!!
As we drove out of the park I stopped at this scenic overlook, the only one where there was room for me to park to take this
The sign said that the tallest one in the back is Pike's Peak, the clearest view I had of that famous mountain, the inspiration for the beloved song, "America the Beautiful". Next I head up higher to the town of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.