Day 34-39, Colorado Springs   Leave a comment

Colorado Springs, our last stop for our 39 day Caravan Adventure.

We began with a first class motor coach tour of Manitou Springs, a town rich in history and forever linked with the springs around which it was founded. The source of these famous waters lays deep underground in a system of cavernous aquifers. As the ancient water erodes the surrounding limestone, carbonic acid is created which gives Manitou’s springs their special effervescence. This natural carbonation forces the water back to surface through cracks in the rocks, where it absorbs high concentrations of sodium bicarbonate (soda) and other healthy minerals.

The Native Americans considered the location sacred. The eruption of bubbles in the mineral water was considered the breath of the Great Spirit and offerings of beads were left in gratitude. The soothing effects of the soda water on sour stomachs and dry skin attracted not only the Mountain Utes, but the Cheyenne, Arapahoe and other Plains tribes. All were free to share in the gifts of the waters without the worry of conflicts.

We only visited 2 of the springs. The original 7-Minute Spring was drilled in 1909. When a depth of 100 feet was reached, water gushed two feet into the air. In 1992, a new well was drilled to a 400 foot depth.

The 7 minute spring tasted like Alka-Seltzer. Another tour group that was just behind us, had tall cups that they filled and drank. YUCK!

The Wheeler Spring was drilled in 1920 adjacent to the site of the Wheeler Mansion.

This soda-type spring erupts every six to eight hours. The water is held in a catch basin to provide an even flow to the fountain. This fountain was not as strong as the first one. Before we left, we saw “locals” filling up their water bottles. They must be used to the taste.

Overlooking the town of Manitou Springs, we visited the Cliff dwellings, first opened to the public in 1906 and built more than 700 years ago. Although these dwellings are not in their original location, they are authentic, and we were able to wander through them.

We spent lunchtime in Old Colorado City, the oldest city in the Pikes Peak Region. Established in 1859, and designated the first capitol of the Colorado Territory in 1861.

We chose to eat at “Meadow Muffins” because they are known for the best hamburgers and beer battered onion rings. What a great place to eat! It is located in the Waycott Building which was built in the late 1800s. The building has been the home of the Idle Hour Theater on the first floor, which featured vaudeville performers and later films. The Waycott Opera House was located on the second floor. Mack’s ice Cream was located in the basement and the third floor was a meeting place for various city lodges.

   
 

Above the front bar the “climate circulation system” fans were purportedly Casablanca Fans used in the famous black and white classic featuring Mr. Bogart himself. In the back room, up on the ceiling was the Egyptian boat once used to carry the Baby Moses down the Nile River in the Biblical movie The Ten Commandments.

All of the wonderful artifacts kept us entertained as we waited for our food.

After we ate, some of us shopped while others “visited.”

The tour of the Air Force Academy enlightened us on just how rigorous their schedule is.

   

The chapel is designed for all religious faiths.

   

The upstairs chapel is for Protestant services

Downstairs is a chapel for Catholic services

And Jewish services

As well as Buddhist services.

The sky was spectacular as we drove home from the Air Force Academy.

Our trip up to Pike’s Peak on the Cog Railroad the next day proved more entertaining than the top of the mountain, considering it was so foggy, hence no view….The Pikes Peak Cog Railroad has been taking visitors to the summit for over 100 years.

We traveled through four life zones from lush high plains to fragile alpine tundra.

   
   
   

There are over 500 mountains in the state of Colorado. Pikes Peak, at 14,110 feet above sea-level is the tallest reachable by car. Over a billion years ago, Pikes Peak granite was molten, or liquid, rock. It slowly cooled and hardened miles below the earth’s surface, giving mineral crystals time to grow. The mass of rock was pushed up several times by mountain-building forces. About 65 million years ago, the collision of huge plates of earth elevated the region creating the Rocky Mountains. About 35 million years ago, colliding plates caused pulses of uplift, raising the region again. All the while, erosion wore away overlying layers and exposed the ancient rock. From 2 million to 10,000 years ago, long period of wintery Ice Age weather gripped the land. Alpine glaciers formed on Pikes Peak. These rivers of ice sculpted the U-shaped valleys and bowl-like hollows.

Along our route, our guide pointed out a waterfall that is higher than Niagara Falls.

Now, it may not “look” higher to you, but in reality, the elevation above sea level is MUCH higher than Niagara Falls. Yes, our guide had a great sense of humor.

On our way back down the mountain, we were able to see how the switches in the track work when another car approaches.

Good thing we went to Pikes Peak when we did because it snowed early the next morning.

We completed our Pikes Peak day with our farewell party. Everyone told their funniest and most memorable parts of the trip. We always enjoy listening to the guests relay their memories of the trip and many times find ourselves remembering an event that we had forgotten. One of our guests composed a limerick of our trip. I will be posting it when I receive a copy.

At the United States Olympic Training Center, we were given a tour by one of the swimming athletes. This location was chosen for the training center because of the altitude; if the trainees did well at high altitudes, they would excel at lower altitudes.

You have to be in the top of your category in order to be “invited” to train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. If you are one of the lucky ones, you are provided with room, board, and training at no expense. Training is performed 6 days a week, minimum of 2 sessions per day. Wow, you definitely have to be dedicated.

   
   

Garden of the Gods gets more visitors than anywhere in Colorado Springs.

The towering red rock spires dominate the landscape and take on different shadings throughout the day.

   
 

Walking around the rocks, they take on different shapes. Below is one that looks like 2 camels kissing.

Chris saw a rock ready to fall and tried to hold it hit up. She looked like she needed some help so I relieved her.

   

As we were leaving the park, we came across a herd of Big Horn Sheep.

We found a great spot for a group picture.

It was a long day on the bus and the guests were getting a little rowdy.

Teri actually had Mike speechless…..

The Carriage House Museum

Buffalo Bill’s coach is below right.

   
   

Below is a “Bath Car,” named after the town of Bath which became a spa in the eighteenth century when royalty came to drink or bathe in the springs. Developed by John Dawson in 1783 for disabled guests.

The small front wheel and two larger back wheels made this vehicle stable and easy to turn. A disabled passenger guided the car while a servant pushed or pulled it. The Bath Car was the most important means of invalid transportation through the nineteenth century.

Broadmoor Hotel is a very exclusive hotel just down the street from the Carriage Museum.

   
   

We were definitely out of place in our “jeans” as we walked around and took photos.

Our final, farewell dinner was held at the Flying W, which included a world-class western stage show. What a great show.

   

8 a.m. started our “hitch up” breakfast for our hugs and goodbyes to all of our friends, new and previous. It’s a very sad time because we are saying goodbye to friends we have traveled with for the last 39 days, but it is good to know we have new friendships and know that we’ll see some on our future trips and hope to see many of the others in the future.

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