Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Heat and Fire

We thought when we decided to spend a month in Colorado Springs, the temperatures would be in the 80's while we were here.  Who knew this would be one of the hottest summers on record.  The past few days have been the hottest days in Colorado Springs' history.

Saturday, we went into town to get groceries.  Jim pointed out a plume of white smoke in the distance behind the mountains.  When we came back out of the store, it had gotten even bigger.  We could see it was very close to Pike's Peak.

We got home to turn on the news to see where exactly the fire was.  We found out then it was right in the vicinity of our drive yesterday.

Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds, and Pike's Peak were all closed.  It was nonstop news broadcasting the rest of the day about the worst fire in Colorado Springs' history.

This morning, Manitou Springs was evacuated and the fire was burning over 2500 acres and was 0% contained.  We are fortunate that we are on the other side of Colorado Springs from where the fire is.  However, everything is so hot and dry, you know there is an extreme danger of fire.  Luckily, we can hook our house up and leave if we need to.

Tomorrow, there is supposed to be military planes to help dump water and retardants.  Hopefully, the fire can be stopped before it destroys houses and businesses towards town.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gold Belt Scenic Byway

Today, was going to be another hot day in Colorado Springs, so we thought a trip up higher in the mountains would be the thing to do.  We followed the Gold Belt Scenic Byway to Cripple Creek.  There are four different routes, 2 of them are on dirt roads, we chose one of the paved roads.

At an elevation of 9494 feet, it was about 20 degrees cooler.

Cripple Creek was a prosperous gold mining town in the late 1800's with a population of 25,000 people.  Today, there are less than a thousand.

There are a lot of casinos in the town.

We walked down the main street admiring the early architecture.  We arrived at the Cripple Creek District Museum.

There are three stories of artifacts and we spent a couple of hours going through all of the rooms.  It was really quite impressive.

This telephone switchboard took up a whole wall.  

Then, there was this Victorian dining room setup.

The Cripple Creek donkeys were outside in a pen.  They usually are allowed to roam freely through the town, but there was going to be a special event this weekend and they are put in the corral during special events.  They certainly liked to be pet.  They are supposed to be part of the herd descended from the original mules who had worked in the mines.

On our way back, we took the highway towards Woodland Park through Manitou Springs and back to Colorado Springs.

It was a beautiful drive as we wound our way through the mountains and back down again.

When we got back to Colorado Springs, the temperature was 99.  We were certainly glad we had spent the day at higher elevations.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Olympic Training Center

Since the summer olympics will be beginning soon, we thought we would make a visit to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

In front of the center was this beautiful metal sculpture.

We went inside and waited for the next tour.  Tours are given every 30 minutes.  Our guide was a member of the baseball team which unfortunately will not compete in the Olympics, since baseball has been eliminated as an olympic sport.  We walked outside towards the different training complexes.

We went into the shooting complex and someone was in there practicing.  Our tour began at noon which wasn't probably the best time to go since many of the athletes were gone to lunch.  The swim team had left this morning for the olympic trials.

This is the weight training complex.

There was no one in the swim center, so it was dark and I wasn't able to get a picture.

Before we left, I took this picture of Olympic Plaza with Pike's Peak in the background.
It was a pretty impressive complex to visit.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Exploring Colorado Springs & Helen Hunt Falls

 We thought it would be cool in the mountains, but it has been in the 90's the past few days.  There is definitely a difference in the humidity between here and  in Texas. When you are in the shade it's pretty comfortable.  We didn't do much over the weekend.  Jim watched the U.S. Open and I pretty much stayed on the computer working on genealogy.

Monday, we drove over to Garden of the Gods.  We went into the Visitor Center which was like a zoo.  There were so many people in there, we weren't sure why it was so crowded.  We decided to just drive through the park.  We know we'll be back and it was just too crowded and hot to get out.

Today,  we went to visit the North Cheyenne Canon Park with the Helen Hunt Falls being our primary destination.

We drove through the mountain walls with carved rocks and pine trees on each side of the road.

We continued to meander down the road until we reached the pull off for Helen Hunt Falls.  This was something else I found out about while reading Trip Adviser.  Someone wrote, why go to Seven Falls when you can go to Helen Hunt Falls for free.  

We climbed up to the bridge looking over the top of the falls and then continued up to the very top overlooking Silver Cascade Falls.  We followed the stream for awhile as we climbed to the top.

We continued the climb 

and reached another part of the stream. We stuck our feet in, the cold water felt great on this hot day.  There was only a trickle of water going over the Silver Cascade Falls.

 We reached the very top and snapped our pictures to prove we had made it.

Another gorgeous view!

 We spent awhile just taking in the view and then decided to make the trek back.  It's always easier going downhill. :)

We left the falls and it was time for lunch.  We found a picnic table nearby and even had guests!

A robin and scrub jay joined us.  

After lunch, we returned home to stay cool.  At one time, our outside thermometer read 101 degrees. Yikes, it's hot out there!  The good news is there is a front coming in tomorrow and the high is supposed to be 81. 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Visit to Royal Gorge and Skyline Drive

We had made reservations for our month in Colorado Springs back in February.  After the reservations were made, I was searching websites of some of the places that were close.  I found season passes at Royal Gorge for half price, that was less than a one day admission ticket.  Since it was about 30 miles from where we were staying, I purchased them.

So, today, we made a visit there.  We had been there 30 years ago with our kids and thought it was time to go back.

We checked into the office to get our passes and then hopped onto the sky ride across the gorge.

The sky ride takes you right across.  I was a little concerned about the wind, but there was no real shaking or swinging as we went across.  The views were pretty spectacular.

That's the Arkansas River below with rafters floating the river.

 We exited from the sky ride and walked to the observation deck to get a full view of the gorge, bridge, and river.

We watched the people on the swing for quite awhile.  Three people would get strapped into this bungee type swing on their stomachs.  The operator would have a machine pull them back, then it would let go, swinging them out over the gorge.  I really think we all had more fun watching them than they had swinging.

Next, it was time to walk back across the bridge.

The wind was really gusty as we walked across.  Jim had to hold his had in his hand after he almost lost it over the bridge.

We made it across the bridge and the last thing we wanted to do was take the incline train down to the bottom of the gorge.  We rode in the back and the car slowly trudged down the steep incline.

We reached the bottom of the gorge and looked up to the bridge.  That's a long way up there!

We walked along the bottom for awhile getting a close look at the river and all of the rapids.

We waited for the train to make its way back down again so we could make the ride back up.  This time we rode right in the front so we could see the view the whole way up.

We had a fun time at Royal Gorge and on our way back we passed the entrance to Skyline Drive.  I had read about it on Trip Adviser as a definite must do.  So, Jim pulled into the entrance.  We began the climb on the narrow paved road.  This road was built in the early 20th century by prison inmates. As we climbed,  the views were breathtaking.

 Speaking of breathtaking, we both became a little out of breath as we continued to climb and the road was literally on the edge of the mountain.  We didn't know it was one way until we had reached the top.  We weren't sure how to handle an approaching car.  I tried to do my part by leaning over to Jim's side of the car as we got close to the edge.

 We would get to a part of the road and have no idea where it was going next, like the pictures below.  We sure hoped the road was continuing on.

We made it safely down, but I have to say my stomach was in my throat by the end of the drive.  I certainly recommend the drive, but just be forewarned about the heights and narrow roads.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Travel Day to Colorado Springs, Colorado

We left the sand dunes to continue north to Colorado Springs.  We had a pretty uneventful drive.  Jim did spot an elk on the side of the road, but the elk jumped back before crossing in front of him.

He also made it through his first mountain pass, La Veta Pass, pulling the rv and it was the first one I had ever driven in a car.  Thankfully, this was a pretty easy one with lots of two lane pullovers.

We made it to Mountaindale Cabins & RV Resort a little after two.

It's halfway between Colorado Springs and Canon City nestled in the mountains.

We pulled into the campground

checked in, and pulled into our spot.  It's really nice here with lots of pine trees and mountains behind us.  We'll be here for a month and hope to do lots of sightseeing in the area.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Travel Day And Great Sand Dunes National Park

After the train ride, we decided to stay another two days in Abiquiqu.  We were able to kayak down the Rio Chama one more time.  

Monday, was travel day.  We were going to travel to the Great Sand Dunes Oasis RV Park outside of Mosca, CO.  We weren't able to put the address into our GPS, so I had put it in Google Maps to get the directions.  We were on our way.  We made it to Alamosa and then things began to go downhill.  Jim made the turn according to our directions.  We were driving in the middle of nowhere.  Things didn't look right.  We drove a little further until we found a place to pull over.  Jim called the rv park and we were about 20 miles off the course.  We finally ended up going the right direction and arrived at the rv park.  Travel days can be really stressful sometimes.

The rv park is basically a parking lot, but it is just down the street from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and that was our destination.

We do have a nice view of the dunes from our rv.

We drove out to the visitor's center that was about 2 miles down the road.

We watched the film at the visitor's center.  It was kind of cool when the movie was over, the curtains came up on the window showing the sand dunes in the distance.

So, today we hiked the dunes.  Pictures just can't show the massiveness of these dunes.  The tallest one is 750 feet high.  

We started off having to cross the creek that runs in front of them.  The water is still running, we were told during the spring, it can be waist deep.  We walked through the water and then began the walk.  This sand was not packed down like on the beach, your feet just sank a little bit every time you took a step.  It was not easy walking through it.

As you begin walking up, 

you realize the little dots you see in the distance are other people.

We had taken our hiking poles with us and did help getting up the dunes.

We made the slow and steady climb up.  There were kids running by us going up the dunes.  We were definitely the oldest people climbing towards the top.

As we got closer to the top, the people down below became dots.  

The view was really nice, and two snow capped mountains popped out from behind the larger mountain.

We didn't make it to the 750 ft. peak, but we probably climbed about 500 feet to one of the smaller peaks.  It was tough, but we did get a great cardio workout today.  

We sat at the top for awhile admiring the views and catching our breath.  It took us about an hour to reach the top with many stops along the way.  

Then, we came down.  That was like sand skiing with our poles.

We came down quickly from the dunes, but then had to walk back along the long stretch from the base of the dunes to the parking lot.  We poured the sand out of our hiking shoes and socks before we got into the car.  Our legs were sore and we were ready to go back to rest.  It was a good feeling of accomplishment, something else to cross off our bucket list. :)