At the day’s start, we again enjoyed the delicious continental breakfast at our hotel –
Garden of the Gods
But even with traffic, it was the first glimpse at the park which told me that we made the right choice in venturing forth:
The rocks went from their constant grey and tan mottled appearance to a striking, vibrant reddish/orange. These only got better as we drove into the park.
Along those lines: the whole “people in Colorado spend most of their free time outdoors and in the wilderness as they have nothing else to do” is very true based on the sheer amount of traffic we encountered 1) in the wilderness between two cities and 2) at each location we decided to go to. Even the touristy sites like the Pike’s Peak cog railroad had a slew of Colorado parking plates in the lot. No matter.
The weather was gorgeous, the park was delightful, the company was excellent. A good start to our day.
We grabbed lunch at Adam’s Mountain Cafe, and the vegetarian fare was actually quite delicious. We had a bit of time to kill so we thought we might take our time driving through the touristy area up to the Pike’s Peak railway… but traffic was horrendous due to tourists and scant parking (another consistent feature of Colorado, we found), so we slowly inched our way up to…
We reached the parking lots for the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, with our pre-purchased ticket confirmation ensuring us a seat on the train and a copy of this handy dandy topographical map with its concerning choppy altitude gains over short distances:
And the pre-purchase of the ticket turned out to be very necessary – all 240 odd seats on our train were filled to the brim! We had a sizable and energetic Nebraskan family next to and around us, their kids being the most energetic of the bunch. At a certain point – a 6 year old asking how steep a hill is before it is impossible to climb is a trap one never escapes. It may even become a black hole – we weren’t there long enough to find out.
As the above picture fully shows, I am *not* a fan of heights, and this trip was certainly a good series of boundary-pushing experiences on that front – but we just kept going up, with people and possessions alike sliding off the seats at times!
Arriving at the peak, nothing immediately felt that weird. For me, walking didn’t affect me – but jogging up a very slight incline to get a photo before the crowd got into the frame and I was definitely feeling the altitude. Astonishing, the sensation of the body realizing “OH RIGHT – THE AIR ISN’T ACTUALLY GOOD HERE… I OUGHTA SIT DOWN REAL QUICK” was for each of us in our ways. Not Richard – that fit SOB skipped around and was basically there to tell us “… WHATEVER.”
But my goodness gracious, the views were excellent. Being so high in the air meant that the weather shifted with ease (there was some snow on the ground when we arrived; it was clear as we got off the train; a cloud rolled in and made it “foggy”; and then near the time for us to depart one side of the mountain again became clear, where we took our group photo below).
All of that said: I still do not trust heights, as they are likely out to get me. But I am thankful we got to have this great experience pulling a Leo, and being on top of the world.
The trip down was tiring but fruitful (see the big horn sheep above) in its own way – and the peak was just such a rush to experience in person, that it made the lengthy train commuting on either side well worth it.
We zipped over to the nearest Crave Burger at the suggestion of Google, and Google slam-dunked that one. Our food was amazingly delicious (and, if you peruse their menu, wildly unhealthy as you’ll see). We drove back to the hotel and a coma once again ruled supreme for each of us.
And so, the fourth day of our trip ended. The best, as you’ll see, was yet to come.