Monday, March 28, 2005

05-20 Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs, Co

Week 20 of 52
Aug 14-20

Mountains, Valleys, Sunshine and fresh air. As you know from the last bonus report, I’m in Colorado Springs. It was a straight drive from Cheyenne WY through Denver and onto Colorado Springs on Hwy 25. I’m staying at MountainDale Rv campground. Surrounded by mountains with eye popping blue skies and brilliant white puffy clouds running across the sky.

There are a lot of things to see and do in the area, but a bit of caution. Many of the “tourist” attractions are man made or based on natural waterfalls or caves, etc. Naturally they’ve been “enhanced” for your enjoyment.

I always look for National Monuments or parks first, then have fun with the Kitschy attractions if time permits. So off I went on an adventure up through the surrounding mountains, dotted with unbelievable mountain cabins, mansions perched on tops of minor mountains and homes wedged between rock outcroppings or dotted across mountain meadows, in no particular fashion. All with huge expanses of windows 2 and 3 stories high to capture the views.

The mountain range here, a part of the Rockies, is covered with pine trees and outcroppings of red sandstone jutting into the air. Florissant Fossil Beds in among this mountain range. It was made a National Monument by Richard Nixon in 1969 just before it was to be developed into a gated community. A local stay at home mother, home schooling her children, went out to stop the bulldozers before they destroyed the area. Not having much support to go with her in the middle of the week, she donned her best hat and pearls along with a small flask of whiskey. She figured any good bulldoze driver wouldn’t run over a women wearing pearls. And if that failed, she planned on enticing the driver off the dozer with the whiskey. The hat and pearls worked and days later, Nixon signed into law the making of the Florissant Fossil Monument.

The fossil beds contain everything from giant redwood stumps, petrified in time, to shale containing bugs, plants, seeds, pollen, animals and fish. Samuel Scudder discovered over 8,000 fossilized insects. And that was just the bugs!

The history covering over 34-35 million years is one of volcanoes lava flows blocking the mouth of a valley and covering giant Sequa trees and forming a lake. More volcanic eruptions of fine ash, covering the bed of the lake, entrapping a wealth of plants, insects and fish for future discovery.

Seeing petrified redwood stumps that lived more than 34 million years ago can only make you feel like your walking through a speck in time. The trails circumnavigated the valley forming the original lake created by the volcanoes. The lake now drained millions of years ago.

And then I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of the region.

A couple days later, I decided to go back up through the Rockies to Cripple Creek and take the short train ride, the Cripple Creek and Victor narrow Gauge Railroad. Now you’d think it would go between the two gold mine towns, but alas, it doesn’t. Or it did and doesn’t at this point. The drive up to Cripple Creek was once again awesome. I wish I could describe it and send pictures, but I just couldn’t do it justice. Traveling up through the mountains, is breathtaking. I love seeing the pine trees climbing up the sides of the mountains and the log cabins and homes clinging to the sides of the mountains. The drive was both a roller coaster ride and edge of your seat ride along the edge of the mountain range. But I must be getting used to driving on the edge, cause I wasn’t as “edgy” about it as in the past.

Now back to Cripple Creek. I was expecting another quaint gold mining town. But instead, I found a town ramping up for a huge motorcycle and Veterans weekend. Not only that, the town has totally been converted into a gambling town. I believe they said it became a gambling town around 1989. It’s one of only two or three in the state and was permitted to go back to it’s gold mining days, when gambling was a big part of the towns existence. They’re now mining the gamblers pockets…. Again.

Now don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the train ride, had a good lunch at a small casino, actually there are no restaurants except in the casinos. And forget about shopping, there’s only one shop in town.

Probably should have gone to Victor down the road a piece, as the town map showed more intriguing shops and restaurants. But sometimes, just the drive is the best part of all. Oh, and I noticed there was a state park and National Forest land or BLM land that one could camp on… right up in the mountains… Wow, now wouldn’t that be fun…

Side note: I had the windows open this evening and just hated to close them, even though it was going to get a bit chilly over night. So I left them open. The freshness of the air is so powerful. It’s like drinking a cool glass of spring water. After the campfires have died down and the smoky aroma clears away, the air takes on an almost sweet pine scent that’s cool and fresh.

I’ve decided to stay a couple more days… the campground is great, the mountains, the air, watching the full moon come up each night, while enjoying my “gas fireplace”. Having a few fellow campers over for drinks and good conversation….

Have a super great day, and hope to hear from you and what your up to these days…

PS, I no longer have my ATT e-mail acct. Please continue to use my yahoo acct. It is the only one I will use from now on.

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