Destination: Colorado Springs

Oh hi! I haven’t blogged for a while because my better half and I went on actual holiday and I thought I should tell you about that before I started boring you with anything else. Despite it being the first holiday we have had for five years, it was all a bit last-minute due to various woes including some issues with one of us having allowed their passport to expire in c.2006.

We went to Colorado Springs in the US of A for two whole weeks (and one partial week) to visit Family Isherwood: my amazing sister, her lovely husband and my first and only and best niece, who is a genius, obviously. Here she is in a bear suit.

This is the first visit we have made to Colorado Springs (the Isherfolk formerly living in the much more northerly Michigan) and, as usual, Anna and Chris went above and beyond, enduring actual physical pain and loss of teeth, to be our tour guides for the duration of our stay.

(By the time we reached Atlanta airport, we were already bored of each other excited enough to start a new blog all about our trip. It mostly consists of photos from my iPhone, posted during daily lunchtime trips to Paneras, where they have excellent sandwiches, and free wifi).

We went to so many amazing places, but here are our Top 10 tourism highlights:

Pikes Peak from Crystal Lake

  1. Crystal Lake & Pikes Peak
    We fell a bit in love with the picture postcard view of Pikes Peak from Crystal Lake – the guy who works the shop took us out back and gave us a talk about the lake, the aspen, the mountain, and the highway that goes all the way to the top. He is a legend. The views of the Rockies from the highway and, of course, from the summit of Pikes Peak were breathtaking (as was the freezing cold wind).
  2. Loveland Pass & Breckenridge
    Breckenridge is a two hour drive from Colorado Springs, so we stayed in one of the ski lodges overnight. We stopped for food en route in ye olde historic downtown Idaho Springs then took in the stunning mountain views over Loveland Pass. We also did some prospectin’ for gold at one of ye olde historic dredging sites, before visiting Breckenridge Distillery where the lovely staff gave us a fantastic tour and let us sample the booze *thumbs*.
  3. Garden of the Gods
    You would be forgiven for thinking that the Garden of the Gods was built by enterprising Coloradans as a tourist attraction in the 1900s, each rock carefully placed to best set off the hyper-realistic Pike’s Peak mural painted in the background. The truth is that this is an area of natural rock formations, the scale and setting of which rendered us speechless (it was once an important landmark and meeting place for the native Ute). Anna said we should see it on a sunny day when the blue skies contrast the most with the deep burnt orange of the rocks, and so we did, and it made our faces go :O
  4. Broadmoor Hotel and Carriage Museum
    The poshest hotel in Colorado Springs was financed by entrepreneur Spencer Penrose, a major figure in the development of the area, mainly because he was filthy rich. I didn’t take any photos inside because I was afraid I would get kicked out, but ‘luxurious splendour’ would barely begin to describe it.
    The carriage museum across the road from the hotel contains Spencer and Julie Penrose’s collection of saddlery, carriages, race cars and other memorabilia.
  5. Paint Mines Interpretive Park
    Hidden in what appears to be vast area of plains, at first glance the Paint Mines seem to resemble the deserts of Tatooine. On closer inspection, this is another geological gem, teeming with wildlife: not Jawa as you might expect, but beautiful wildflowers, moths and snakes! I only took my iPhone, but there are some amazing photographs on this blog.
  6. Pioneers Museum
    Situated in the old Court House in downtown Colorado Springs, the Pioneers Museum is an homage to the early Coloradans, many of whom flocked here during the famous Gold Rush of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. There was a fascinating local history photography exhibition on when we visited, showing the birth (literally, a group of blokes plotting out where to place the first buildings in the middle of the plain), and the development of Colorado Springs.The rest of the museum is packed full of intriguing items that are not particularly old or valuable but that have massive cultural significance.
  7. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo & Shrine of the Sun
    Built to house Spencer Penrose’s personal collection of exotic animals (As you do. Like I said, he was filthy rich), Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is now home to 550 animals representing 119 species.
    The Shrine of the Sun, which overlooks the mountain, was built as the last resting place for Spencer and Julie. It is dedicated to their friend Will Rogers, a well-known celebrity of the times*, who died in an plane accident while the shrine was being built.
    (*I hadn’t heard of him before this trip, but Will Rogers said some great things)
  8. Seven Falls & Cheyenne Canyon
    224 steps, seven waterfalls, and a whole heap of chipmunks.
  9. Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary
    We met lots of beautiful rescued wolves on this really fun and informative tour, which culminated in a ‘group howl’ with the pack that was both eery and hilarious.
  10. Manitou Springs
    Built around several naturally carbonated springs, modern Manitou Springs is a quirky little town full of antiques stores, which you must not mistake for the Pioneers Museum, even though it is essentially the same stuff. Also if you are looking for a handmade dulcimer, this is the place to go.

Alternatively, highlights could have been categorised thus:

  1. Mountains!
  2. Sky!
  3. Critters!
  4. Gold!

Remember to go and check out my Tumblr blog for more random snaps, videos etc,. and next time we would like to visit: Cripple Creek, Cave of the Winds, Florissant Fossil Beds, St Elmo and the Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame please? k thanks :)

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