Day 15 – We drove the 60 miles from Pueblo to Colorado Springs, gassed up and stopped at Wal-Mart for some supplies all in about three hours. I hate giving Wal-Mart our business, but they are the only grocery store that has a big enough parking lot for our rig and trailer. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Cheyenne Mountain State Park just up the hill above Colorado Springs. It is a small park/campground with tiered sites so you can see down into the valley that is Colorado Springs. This is our favorite campsite thus far. We will be here until June 6. And that’s the end of our reservations. We’ll be free-wheeling it from now on. We are talking about Rocky Mountain National Park next. Did you know that Colorado has the most award winning State Parks in the USA? We are going to take advantage of as many of them as possible. I’m sure we’ll find one near the National Park. We want to park the rig at lower elevations and take the bike into the park.
Day 16 – The temperatures for the Colorado Springs area were projected to be in the mid 90’s so we decided to head somewhere a little cooler. We started by heading north to the “Garden of the Gods” city park. This is an area that was dedicated as a free city park back in 1908 and covers an area of 1350 acres. Within this area are some magnificent red sandstone rock formations that have made the park world famous. Some of the formations are over 300 million years old and sculpted through time by Mother Nature. This place offers some great hiking and opportunities for rock climbing if you’re experienced. Some of the more popular rock formations include: The kissing camels and the balancing rock. The hike we took was paved, but there were lots of other non-paved trails to explore if you are so inclined. Leaving the “Garden” the temps were already up into the 80’s so we headed for higher elevations. You cannot get much higher in these here parts than the famous Pikes Peak.
We arrived at the entrance to Pike’s Peak Park for the 20 mile drive up to the top in T-shirts. The entrance ranger told us that at the top the temperature was about 40 degrees with winds about 20-25mph. After riding about 7 miles up the mountain, Rochelle put on her chaps, plugged in her heated jacket (turned up close to high) and her leather jacket. I put on my heated jacket but didn’t feel I needed to plug it in. However, I did plug in on the way down. The ride to the top (and down) was awe inspiring with the views that a 14,100 foot elevation can give. We stopped about half way up for a picnic lunch. Once you get up to around the 11000 foot level, the road runs along the ledge of the mountain with only a couple feet of gravel on the side of the road before in just drops off. No guard rails! The road is a narrow, two-lane road and has constant curves with at least half of them being 180 degree switchbacks. I think I enjoyed the ride up a lot more than Rochelle as I could feel her leaning left (towards the inside of the road) most of the last few miles up. Oh yeah, and with a death grip on my shoulders. Once at the top the view was amazing. It almost looked like the view outside an airplane window. The temperature was indeed 40 and the wind was a howling. We stayed long enough to enjoy the spectacular view and have some hot chocolate and world famous donuts (so they say) before heading back down. Rochelle enjoyed the ride down the mountain much more.
As a matter of fact, Katharine Lee Bates was so impressed by the view at the top of Pike’s Peak that she wrote the lyrics to “America the Beautiful”.
Rochelle note: Ralph said to me, “No man has ever gotten you closer to heaven than this”. (Except maybe a pilot or two.)
We made it back to camp by 5:00 pm and relaxed for a while (took a nap) before firing up the BBQ for a steak dinner and some refreshments. The evening ended with us sitting outside overlooking the lights of Colorado Springs below and the stars above.