Thursday, September 05, 2013

Neat Rocks and Screeching Birds

The rocks are because we’re in the Rockies and the screeching birds are because the folks across from us in the campground have a cockatiel, a grey parrot, and a bright red macaw, plus two little dogs. Right now the macaw seems to be expressing his displeasure about something, but he seems to be screaming in a foreign language. He just switched to a high-pitched siren.

Anyway, our first stop in Colorado was in Pueblo, which, even though you can see the Rockies, is in the high desert. Not a lot of difference between the high desert and high plains, except the plains has more grass and more arable land for agriculture. So we decided to drive into the mountains, and the most interesting site closest to Pueblo seemed to be Royal Gorge, about 80 miles away. The map shows the Royal Gorge bridge as an attraction, so we figured it was worth the drive.


This is a close as we could get to Royal Gorge. You can see the river in the distance. One of the things I had planned to do before we set out on any Colorado adventures was to check to be sure the recent forest fires, floods and mudslides wouldn’t interfere with our plans. I forgot to check on Royal Gorge.

Earlier this year, there was a fire in Royal Gorge.

royal gorge bridge


Here’s the bridge before the fire.




bridge after fire

And here’s the bridge now.

There are plans to rebuild it, but having the work done by next Spring as projected seems a  bit optimistic. Both the bridge pictures are “borrowed” from sources on the web. We tried to get close, but for some reason, the road was closed.

We then moved to a campground about 20 minutes west of Colorado Springs. The town is Forest Park, and it’s in the mountains at about the 8000 foot level. Aside from screeching birds, this campground is alleged to have frequent visits from a black bear. The campground and the bear have apparently signed a peace treaty, and both sides seem to get along, or so we’ve been told. We haven’t seen the bear.

One of the attractions in the Colorado Springs area is the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. DSC_0336

These are among the best-preserved Anasazi pueblos in the four corners (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona) area. Naturally sheltered by the overhanging cliff, these ancient homes were occupied from 1100 A.D. until about 1300 A.D.


The Anasazi, also known as the Ancient Ones or the Ancestral Puebloans, may be the distant ancestors of the Pueblo Indians who still occupy areas of the Southwest today.

These cliff dwellings have been vacant for more than 700 years but open to the public since 1907.



Our next stop in the Colorado Springs area was the Garden of the Gods, which is actually a Colorado Springs city park. (Refreshing, since there was no admission charge.)


Garden of the Gods has a number of spectacular rock formations, and since we were there during Labor Day Week, it also had a spectacular number of visitors. One section called balanced rock was so crowded we couldn’t park, and if we had, any pictures would have included mobs of tourists looking like ants on a loaf of bread.


We did manage to get a shot of a different balanced rock with Pike’s Peak in the background. I’ll have more on Pike’s Peak later.


We also visited Seven Falls which is in a box canyon known as South Cheyenne Canyon.



Seven Falls got its name from  – you guessed it – the seven waterfalls cascading from the top of the box canyon. This attraction is privately owned, but I didn’t mind paying the admission fee since they provided an elevator to take us almost to the top.





Some people did climb the stairs, which go a bit higher than the elevator. But we figured why climb if we can ride.

Now, I didn’t count 7 falls, just one long one with a few pools en route down. But I guess Seven Falls sounds better than One Long, Skinny Waterfall in a Box Canyon.



Although we were warned about bears, this ground squirrel was the only wildlife we saw at Seven Falls. This little guy went into the gift shop and the clerk persuaded him to leave with a bribe of bread. I didn’t remind her about the signs telling visitors not to feed the animals.

Our final day in the Colorado Springs area was a visit Pike’s Peak.


This 14,000 foot mountain is visible from many miles away and is a real presence in the Colorado Springs area. Our dilemma was whether to drive to the summit on the Pike’s Peak Highway, which is a paved two-lane road that winds is way to the very top and costs $10/person, or take the cog railway, which costs $35/person.



Here’s the highway.






Here’s the train.




We took the train. Actually, the decision was easy. Part of the highway was closed for filming of a “major motion picture”, so if we wanted to get to the top, it had to be the train.


The views from up here were indescribable. We were told you can see Kansas on a clear day. It was obviously a clear day, but to me Kansas looks just like Colorado, so I don’t know if we were looking at Kansas.


The views on the way to the top were pretty good too. The train goes through several climatological levels including tundra.

I had some questions about the advisability of going to 14,000 feet considering some of my infirmities, but other than being slightly out of breath, I had no trouble, and neither did Penny.DSC_0395

A nice lady offered to take a picture of the two of us in front of the sign proving that were were really at 14,000 feet without an airplane, but she apparently didn’t press the button on my camera. Trust me, I took these pictures so I was there too.


I hate to end this entry with a negative, but my pet peeve relates to people who visit a place of spectacular beauty and do something like this. I have been known to confront slobs who deface such places. Once, a long time ago, I saw a woman drop the peel-away paper from a Polaroid (Do you remember Polaroid?) film at Niagara Falls. I picked up her discard and returned it to her. She seemed to be embarrassed, which, of course, was my point.

When you visit our nation’s wonderful parks and monuments, please don’t foul the area by dropping your trash on the ground. Either use trash receptacles or carry it out and get rid of it later. Please be considerate of the people who will be there after you leave. They sure don’t want to see your trash.

Okay, lecture over.

From here we’re heading to western Colorado.


Blogger Kathie Meade said...

It looks like you're having a blast. Enjoy!

8:05 PM  
Blogger Kathie Meade said...

How close is the other campsite? I would have to imagine it's not your every day experience to have birds speaking in another language right next door. That might be better than screeching however!

8:08 PM  

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