We’re often asked where’s your favorite place or where do you want to go back to, and our response to the first question is, “we haven’t found it yet” and the answer to the second question is, “it’s a big world and there is so much left to explore, hate to hit the same place twice.”
However, after our stop in Colorado Springs, we’ll have to alter the answer to the second question a bit as we both really enjoyed our (short) time there, so much, we put it—and the rest of the state—on our ‘must come back and stay awhile’ list.
I had lived in Colorado Springs for a couple of years back in the early 90’s, but have come to realize that there’s a big difference in residing somewhere and actually "living" somewhere. Some people can do both, unfortunately I really never mastered that technique so, it was nice to come back (with Greg) and have some time to relax and explore the area.
Beauty is everywhere in Colorado Springs and our first stop was America’s Mountain—Pikes Peak. Cost to drive up the mountain is $12 pp or you can take the train up for $38pp. We opted for the drive because we wanted to tackle it at our pace and not be tied to the train schedule. Only disadvantage with the drive this time of year is uh, this thing called snow. Lots of it at still at the top. We got within a couple of miles of the peak before the road closed. While it would have been nice to make it all the way, it was still a gorgeous drive.
And if we would have taken the train, we would have missed out on a possible
Big Foot sighting. We still missed out on seeing him, but the possibility obviously existed!!
One of the lakes on the way up
Views from higher up!
Uh, snow...probably around eight feet on the sides.
Pikes Peak really is spectacular and the road to the top are now paved. Back in the day, it was only partially paved and the last several miles were all dirt.
The other true beauty in Colorado Springs is Garden of the Gods. Garden of the Gods are random red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. The formations are limited to a fairly small geographical area of town, but they are just spectacular. They have some nice walking paths throughout the Garden of the Gods park and you can even get a permit to do some rock climbing. Safe to say, we kept our feet on the ground.
Garden of the Gods as seen from Red Rock Canyon, a nice hiking trail.
Inside the Park
Coming up towards Balanced Rock
Balanced Rock...it feels very tight when you drive through,
like the rock could fall on your vehicle!!
And one lone rock climber!
When I lived in Colorado, I remembered going to this castle that this guy was building by himself out in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere. Which means, I had no way of ever figuring out how to get there….well, except for maybe the internet. Surprisingly, googling “Colorado Castle being built by one man in the middle of nowhere” actually came back with a result. Bishop Castle. So we were off!
The castle is called Bishop Castle after the owner--Jim Bishop, who has been building this castle for the last 40 years by himself. You can tell by some of the handwritten signs around the grounds that he has some pretty extreme political views, but that aside, the castle is pretty spectacular for what it is. One man’s passion. And a castle built one stone at a time. Oh, and no charge, but a donation box. And he's made a lot of progress since I'd last seen it some 20 plus years ago; it's about doubled in size.
View from the road
The main tower is around 160 ft.
Inside of the castle....
Jim Bishop was a metal worker, so there is a lot of intricate metal work throughout.
On the weekends, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Dragon turns into a
fire-breathing dragon. Bummed we missed it...because...that would have been cool!
We climbed these stairs and did a little exploring. You are definitely pretty high up there and at any turn, you would meet a dead end, tied off with just a rope. Yikes!!
The last activity we conquered was a tour of an old gold mine—Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine—in Cripple Creek--which is about 45 or so minutes from Colorado Springs.
The mine was an actual gold producing mine up until 1961, when the mine closed, and then they revamped it and reopened for tours. The tour goes down 1000 feet, and encompasses different eras in the gold mining revolution. To start the tour, they put you in this open air elevator, which supposedly held eight miners, and goes straight down to the1000 feet mine entrance. We had five people in our elevator and seemed pretty darn tight; not sure how eight people actually fit in there!!
There's over six miles of tunnels to various mines that connect underground.
Drilling holes for the dynamite.
Some of the old mining lanterns....
This is a view from the ground, up. They mined up and would build platforms
to work off of....the trough was how they got tools to the top
Some of the tools that were used....
Our tour guide was a third generation miner, so he was very informative about mining in the area and did a great job walking us through the evolution of mining and actually did various demonstrations of the mining equipment.
They had a morse code type system to fetch the elevators and move them between levels.
And, mining is still going on in the area producing about a million dollars a day in gold. Sweet!
One of the big open mines, still active.
Remnants of old mines are everywhere as you ride around the back roads.
And the views from Cripple Creek were just beautiful.
We also had an interesting dinner one night…..in a plane turned restaurant. It was called the Airplane Restaurant. We’re always looking for unique things, and this was definitely different; food was okay, but an A- for overall originality (would have been an A+, but had to take a few points off for the unoriginal name!!)
Inside the Airplane restaurant
Part of the plane was inside the restaurant building (and part was outside)
And you can hang out in the cock pit...and play....
We stayed at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, a fairly newer State park on the south side of Colorado Springs, across from Ft. Carson, which meant we could hear Reveille at 6:30 each morning and taps each night at 10:00 p.m. It was pretty cool….well, except for the 6:30 am part. Campground was nicely laid out, with spacious sites with full hookups. A little spendy for a State park ($30 a day plus $7 a day for entry pass), but hard to put a price on beauty!
We're in the clouds!!
And the view from our coach,....
Well, a great time was had by all in Colorado, but way too short of visit--definitely have to carve out a couple months and hit the whole state. Next up, a short stop in Kansas City and then on to central Illinois for a few weeks.
We saw these in the Garden of the Gods Trading Post.
We didn't get them as we didn't want Hobie peeing on our shoes!!