The weather was great, warm and sunny, so we set out for Colorado Springs, about 90 miles away, using the back roads, some gravel, to avoid the freeway. This is the view of Pikes Peak from a few miles south of Strasburg. We kept wondering why there wasn't much snow up there, when we could see heavy snow on other peaks near Denver.
The map program on the iPad has been such a life-saver for us as we traverse the backroads and the cities. We'd have been lost many times over without it! We looked up a Mac store in Colorado Springs, found it using the iPad, and purchased a car charger for our handy little tool. We already had a car charger for our Verizon MiFi card. We are so spoiled to have internet wherever we are!
The main purpose of our trip was to visit The Garden of the Gods. We found it easily, up against the foothills of the Rockies. My pictures don't do it justice. What an awesome place! I would call it The Garden of God! We were met by a retired gentleman, a volunteer, who walked with us halfway through the garden, explaining the formation of the Rockies and how this particular area was formed. I can't remember most of it, and wasn't sure I believed some of it, since there was no one around but God when these wonders came to be.
These formations all have names. We didn't get a brochure to help us remember them, however. This is a partial view of the biggest one.
This tall tower was home to many pigeons. We heard the loud cooing and could tell that the birds used the crevices for their nests. You can see a flock above the left spike. We looked for faces in the rocks, and found many. I saw a family of 3 in this formation. Can you see it?
Rock climbing is a popular sport in the Garden. We saw several climbers. Here is one making his way up the right side of the spike.
We did learn why there wasn't snow on top of Pikes Peak. The Colorado Springs area is very dry, with only about 60 inches of precipitation a year! I hadn't realized that, even though up in the Denver area we've had hardly any rain or snow, either. At least there the Rockies do have a good coating of snow. I learned that Katherine Lee Bates wrote "America the Beautiful" as she gazed out from the top of Pikes Peak, which is the most easterly of the 14,000 foot high mountains. It is the most easily visible from any point east, making it a famous landmark of the Rockies for the pioneers coming west across the plains. There is a toll road going to the top, as well as a cog railway that runs year-around. There are even gift shops and other buildings on the very top! We'll save that trip for another day! This photo is the view from the Garden.
I said there were many faces in the rocks. This one is our favorite. Is it a mummy, or what?
I do remember the name of this rock, the one to the left. It is 'Balanced Rock'. It seems to be resting on only a very small portion of its bottom. It's scary that the road goes right beneath it. Guess it's been that way for millenniums, though.
Here is the Trading Post, a building originally constructed in the 1920s for trade with the Indians in the area. It's been greatly expanded and improved, while retaining the original adobe, southwest look. You can see Pikes Peak again, from the parking lot. We loved the gift shop, filled with beautiful and unusual items, but even more we loved the cafe´ where I ordered my favorite buffalo burger and Keith had chili fries. One more point of interest about The Garden — we saw a large metal plaque on the side of one of the spires that said,
"The Garden of the Gods
the city of Colorado Springs
by the children
Charles Elliott Perkins
in fulfillment of his wish
that it be kept forever
free to the public."
It is indeed free to enter and explore the park. The city has constructed beautiful parking lots, pathways and fences (and restrooms!) throughout, to protect the beauty of the place, but it remains free to the public! Our trip there was one of the highlights of our time in Colorado. More to come!