Colorado Springs has an Olympic Training Center, which would have been a lot of fun to see, but we couldn’t go. We did go to the Hall of Fame though, and it was very cool. It’s a museum also, so there are lots of pictures and stories of famous athletes. Like most museums, it is difficult to take it all in.
The coolest part was a group of demonstrators where you compete against other visitors. There is a two-lane track to test your speed. There are three simulators – a soccer goalie, a bobsled run and a downhill ski course. That was good for some laughs 😊
We went for a visit to the Broadmoor Hotel, an iconic, beautiful hotel in Colorado Springs. Passing by lovely Pauline Chapel, we we went to The Penrose Heritage Museum just across the street from the hotel. It is mostly a carriage museum, but also has cars and motorcycles owned by the original builder and owner, Spencer Penrose.
We have two carriages and a sleigh in our garage, so I was very interested with all the carriages and a few sleighs, all in immaculate condition. It would be so much fun to drive these!
Walking around the lobby, I was struck by amazing art work. I have since learned they have one of the largest collections of western art. I could have wandered around looking at the art for a long time. Maybe we saw 5% of the resort. I would love to come back to walk around more. I would have to find some kind of deal as the rooms are listed at $600 plus the usual resort fee, plus the taxes, but they are completely booked next week for its 784 rooms.
The ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs is dedicated to professional rodeo riders, livestock, equipment, clowns and events. Opened in 1979, it has historical exhibits, stories of over 300 inductees and displays of saddles, ropes, lariats and outfits. I learned that lariat comes from the Spanish, La reata or lasso. It is a light rope, usually of leather or hemp, used to catch livestock or tie grazing animals.
We first watched a 15-20 minute video showing all the events and history of rodeo. Then we toured the museum.
I wanted to pick up one of the saddles to see how heavy they were, but they were anchored in place. They look heavy, maybe up to 60 lbs. This article notes that a working saddle needs weight to remain stable under stress. They also distribute the load over a larger area, therefore applying fewer pounds per square inch. https://www.western-saddle-guide.com/saddle-weight/
I also enjoyed the outfits, shirts, hats and chaps. Rodeo has certainly brought out more flare to the dress. Having been in the southwest all summer, I tried to picture what it was like on a cattle drive for a couple of months. You would have only one outfit, a raincoat and bedroll. That outfit would have to be pretty versatile.
Then I looked around for my old hero, Gene Arnette, who roped for a time, but he didn’t make the Hall.
It was a beautiful morning at Cheyenne Mountain State park as the sun rose over Colorado Springs.
Cheyenne Mountain has quite a story. Deep within the granite is a NORAD site built during the cold war. The Broadmoor has a resort up there and a zoo. An antenna farm sits on top. There is a host of luxury housing areas. Cheyenne Mountain State Park has another park on the mountain, and North North Cheyenne Cañon Park has 20 miles of trails and seven waterfalls. We need to go back for another week just to explore the mountain! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheyenne_Mountain
Across the highway from Cheyenne Mountain State Park is Fort Carson. It is very cool to hear the bugle calls in the distance, although I was usually asleep before taps 😊, but I was up long before reveille (wake up call).
The Air Force Academy is the youngest of the service academies, starting in 1959. The Academy sits inside 4,630 acres that was formerly Cathedral Rock Ranch owned by Lawrence Lehman of the famous Lehman Investment family. The price was $300,000, or about $65/acre. It is a gorgeous setting at the base of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains. “140 different parcels were eventually purchased to make up what is now a nearly-18,500 acre government property.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Air_Force_Academy)
We stopped beside the runway where they practice flying and parachuting. It would be fun to watch that some time. They had several airplanes on display. Martha thought one might have been one her father tested in the wind tunnel at Langley Air Force Base where he worked as an engineer.
We went into the Visitor’s Center, watched a movie and poked around while we waited for a guided tour given by a graduate of the school. He gave a nice tour, but we couldn’t go into any of the buildings, and we were disappointed they didn’t march to lunch. I think it was too hot.
I wondered what it would have been like to go to school here in stead of VMI. It certainly is a gorgeous setting, but our guide said they never saw much of it. Their lives were busy with school, chores and physical fitness. Their rooms were assigned by squadron, not by class as it was at VMI.
A lot of money was spent on the facilities, and their sports complex is top notch. The school design is very modern with a lot of glass and aluminum. Entering class size is about 1,200, 20% of whom don’t graduate.
It is about a 5.5 hour drive from Durango to Colorado Springs, which is northeast of Durango. It takes us about an hour or so longer by the time we stop for lunch, gas and whatever else happens. Pulling the Airstream makes us a little slower, but not that much. We arrived yesterday, staying at lovely Cheyenne Mountain State Park, a perfect location for visiting the area, yet you feel you are away from it all. It’s a great spot with great views.
We had a list of things to do thanks to Carlotta at the sheepskin store in Durango. We wanted to do two of them today. First up was Garden of The Gods National Natural Area. Located in the city, It is a busy place that attracts visitors like us as well as a great place for locals for hiking, biking or walking dogs. There is an excellent Visitor’s Center with a great porch overlooking the park. It would be much nicer early in the morning when not so crowded, It is also easiest to walk through. We drove and found it difficult to park. Everyone wanted to have their pictures taken sitting or climbing on the rock formations. After a few pictures, I had enough. A very nice guide at the visitor’s center told us about a restaurant at the other end of the park, so we went for a nice lunch.
Next up was driving up Pike’s Peak, a 14,115′ mountain on the front range of the Rockies. Colorado has 53 fourteeners and the US has 96. I had read about this treacherous drive and was preparing myself. You have to reserve a time to go so the little road isn’t too crowded. The other way to go is by taking the cog train, quite an engineering feat to get a train up a steep mountain. Of course gold was the first call to Pike’s Peak, but it didn’t really pan out.
It was named many things by different people, the first known name was a Ute name meaning Long Mountain. Its current name came from explorer General Zebulon Pike. At the same time as the Lewis and Clark expedition, President Jefferson commissioned him to explore through the Louisiana Purchase territory in 1805-1806. A second expedition took him to the southwest – Texas and New Mexico (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zebulon_Pike). I had never heard of him until writing this article, but he is quite an explorer and Brigadier General, killed in the War of 1812. Like Lewis, he kept a journal and later wrote a book that was very popular around the world. I ordered a second-hand copy. You can also read it at https://www.gutenberg.org/files/43774/43774-h/43774-h.htm.
The base of the mountain took us to the very cute, little town of Manitou Springs. The road first climbs through Pike National Forest on a normal road. You purchase a ticket @ $10 per adult. Then we passed a small guard house. Thereafter the road becomes steep, narrow and winding. A nice ranger gave some good tips: go slow; downshift coming down into first or second gear – mostly first! I hate this kind of road, on the precipice, with sharp curves and switchbacks and areas with no guardrails. On some of the turns I couldn’t see if anyone was coming or not. Driving on the inside is OK, but when on the outside I’m a wreck. Well a wreck is one thing, but one mistake here and it’s Goodbye! Or what if someone else makes a mistake, texting or videoing while driving? All kinds of thoughts crept through my head as Martha urged me on, totally unaffected. She offered to drive, which makes me even more afraid. Later I asked her what she would do if I fainted or had a heart attack. She said she would reach over and put it in first gear and take control. Pretty cool!
Once at the top, there is a nice visitor’s center and great views all around the top. Some rain came through, obstructing the views a bit. The ravens met us again, making me feel better. I watched with amazement as they sailed through the air with ease at this altitude. Of course they are attracted to areas like this where humans always leave something to eat, or something to take home as a prize.
I was shocked in the Visitor’s Center to learn there is an annual car race up the mountain called Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. This ain’t no hill! It is 12.42 miles, 156 turns and 14,115 ft elevation. It used to include motorcycles, but after four deaths, they quit having motorcycles. I cannot comprehend racing up this mountain!
There is also THE BROADMOOR CYCLE TO THE SUMMIT for those who would rather bike 12 miles with a 4,725 ft elevation gain!
I did as the ranger told me going down. I put it in first or second gear and took it slow, stopping a couple of times at overlooks. I started breathing again when I saw the little guardhouse. I stopped next to it wondering why. A man checked the heat of my brakes and said I was borderline, but recommended stopping to let them cool down for about 10 minutes. There is a small souvenir/restaurant, so we checked that out while I and the brakes cooled down. The rest of the way was a normal mountain road.