Life happens. And hence this blog sometimes falls into serious disrepair and stories get stopped almost near the end…ah well, if we were sitting around the campfire and were charged by a herd of buffalo the telling of tales would be interrupted. Construe my recent silence in a similar fashion.
But to return to Colorado. We managed to survive our night at the Stanley Hotel without any ghostly encounters, bid a fond farewell to M and S, and headed off the next day to meet up with daughter A and fiance N, and daughter S, at the Golden home of old friends D & D. That doesn’t stand for dungeons and dragons. But the place they live certainly has a netherworld quality to it. Their house is located on a large expanse once owned by a Colorado beer magnate and is surrounded by hiking trails and cattle and stunning views.
Our first full day there we went off for a short stroll that turned into a six mile uphill rocky hike. Despite the fact we were woefully unprepared in terms of water supplies, and daughter S extremely jet lagged, the beautiful wildflowers everywhere made up for the lack of hydration. Orange Indian paintbrish, yarrow, pink wild roses, pink geraniums. The only part I didn’t like was tromping through the burr ridden sheep grass to reach the trail. Weeks later I was still picking small harpoons out of my socks.
Following a few more Golden adventures – such as a hair raising ride in D’s new Corvette and a trip to a local food hall with drinks served from spigots in what looked like giant washing machines – the Colorado Springs portion of the trip was on.
We started at Red Rocks, the world famous natural red rock amphitheater. Although I’d heard of it, I didn’t realize what a destination it was, even without a concert. Thanks for the tip, D&D!Massive orange rocks form the sides of the theater. Many many steps run from the stage to the top, with a few dedicated souls running up and down them, presumably for training purposes. There’s a very interesting museum at the top, filled with photos and film clips of the luminaries who’ve played there since the late 1800s. The Beatles played at Red Rocks in 1964.
We had lunch at the half way point to Colorado Springs in Castle Rock. A cute downtown, quite old. Another food hall (where I had a horrible choking and coughing fit caused by an Altoid), and a nice independent book shop.
We arrived at Colorado Springs mid afternoon and checked into our AirBnB. Very cute with a nice back yard and deck. A, S, and I went to Safeway to pick up food and then decided to check out the Garden of the Gods. We managed to cover much of the loop drive, largely due to the fact we had no cell service and basically got lost.
The following day was our one full day in the area. A day of contrasts. AFter breakfast, we took off for the very close by Garden of the Gods, this time entering via the correct entrance. It’s a long, winding loop road, dotted with massive orange rock formations. Its owners gave it to the city on the condition it remain free to the public. We did a short hike and then made our way to the very large Visitors Center/ museum.
A had selected our next destination – the Painted Mines, which was a couple of hours east of Colorado Springs. After stopping for lunch at a Greek restaurant in the old town area, we drove further – now over very high plateau – green ranchlands. Very agricultural, but dense housing developments extended far outside the city. In the meantime, N. had noticed that the El Paso County Fair was in session….
We finally turned off onto a dirt road and reached the Painted Mines. Other than a few signs, a restroom, and trails, there was nothing official. At first it seemed quite anticlimactic and hardly worth the drive. But once we passed the white sandstone outcroppings, we turned a corner and walked up a hill where we could see white smooth caverns and passages, with orange, pink, lavender spires above. Remarkable. If you weren’t impressed by the scenery, just learning the word “hoodoo” – a fanciful stone outcropping – was enough.
We speant quite a bit of time there, and then ventured into the El Paso County Fair, just a couple of miles away. It was now 4 pm and there was quite a line of people arriving for the weird car races (little tiny modified cars with spoilers on the top?) and fireworks. At first we were concerned there was nothing more than carnival rides – but then we found the livestock section, populated by FFA and 4H groups. We had fun inspecting the pigs, llamas, chickens, sheep, and every sort of goat you could imagine. A and I were just disappointed we were too late for the uilting and cooking demonstrations.
We drove back through the sprawling outer reaches of Colorado Springs to our AirBnB just in time to relax a bit before our dinner reservation at 4 By Brother Luck. A had seen it mentioned the New York Times in 2020 and it truly lived up to its reputation. A fixed price four course menu, including among other things, elk carpaccio, scallop ceviche, seared duck breast, langoustine, and panne cotta. Even the really bad movie we watched afterwards at the AirBnB couldn’t’ undermine the day.
Next day was Sunday, and time to return the (very expensive) rental car and disperse back to our various homes. The real world was about to raise its daunting head again.