Rocky Mountain High

September 9, 2015
Pike's Peak

Pike’s Peak

We escaped the Texas this August by traveling to Colorado. Our first stop was Amarillo for the night where we visited with old friends. The next day we drove to Colorado Springs via Dalhart and Clayton New Mexico. I always enjoy this drive in a twisted sort of way – the heart of the Dust Bowl.

Colorado Springs

That evening we dined at the Caspian Cafe Mediterranean. I’d come back to Colorado Springs just to eat here again.

This was our first trip to Colorado Springs and it won’t be our last. We really enjoyed both Pike’s Peak and the Garden of the Gods. The restaurants were a more than pleasant surprise. Every meal was delicious and unique. The temperatures were much cooler than August in Texas and the humidity was much lower than August in Texas. A welcome break to the long, hot Texas Summer.

Pike’s Peak

The next morning at 8AM sharp we boarded the Cog Railway at the foot of Pike’s Peak for the trip to the summit. The railway is definitely the way to go. Sweeping vistas and plenty of wildlife keep you from becoming bored during the trip to the summit. If you go take a jacket. Its pretty darn chilly up there. You have about 45 minutes to explore the summit before boarding the railway for the trip back down.

The cog railway is in the village of Manitou Springs. The hippies never left this village when the 60s disappeared. Its full of nifty little shops and off-beat restaurants. Next trip I’d like to spend some time exploring the village

Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is a municipal park with plenty of paved walking paths winding through unusual rock formations. Its good exercise and the scenery is out of this World.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Great Restaurants

  • Paravicini’s – Reminded me of a Chicago Italian restaurant in my old neighborhood in the 60’s. Authentic
  • The Caspian Cafe Mediterranean – Middle Eastern – best lamb dish I’ve ever had
  • Over Easy – Must stop breakfast place – we detour and stay overnight in Colorado Springs just to eat there

Overall, Great restaurants!

Good and mediocre hotels

  • The good – Hampton Inn on far North Side of City – Excellent, friendly, helpful staff and good clean rooms
  • The bad – Hilton Garden Inn on far North Side of the City – Flippant, not helpful, sarcastic staff, dirty room, A/C not working in exercise room. We we told the front desk employee he replied back “Your supposed to sweat when you exercise” and went back to talking to a friend on the phone.

They were only one exit apart but there was a world of difference. It pays to read the reviews in the travel sites. The reviews reflected our experiences.

Steamboat Springs

The journey to Steamboat Springs was interesting to say the least.  We experienced 3 major delays:

  • Highway 9 under construction and not like anything I’ve seen before. They have torn the whole road up. Giant earth movers go back and forth on the now dirt road with regular traffic. There were also several one way sections with traffic alternating
  • Pro cycle challenge: bike race shut US 40 down due to pro bicycle race. Today’s route was from Steamboat Springs to somewhere else. We were stopped for 30 minutes. However, it was worth the wait. First time I’ve witnessed a peloton live.
  • Truck hauling giant earth mover 10 mph on US 40
Pro Cycle Challenge

Pro Cycle Challenge

We stayed at our condo in Steamboat Springs. We’ve been here before and had an idea where we wanted to eat and what we wanted to do. Unfortunately on our first full day I fell while hiking down the mountain. The fall left me with pretty deep scrapes on my elbow and knee, strained knee ligaments, sprained ankle, and broken big toe (diagnosis by nurse wife and myself). Also our youngest daughter called because she had a Super-Virus and a 104 degree temperature. Therefore, we decided to cancel the remainder of our trip and head home. I couldn’t do much anyway except sit and we were anxious to help out our sick daughter and her family.

Gondola Ride

Steamboat has the longest, I believe, gondola in the World. We decided to ride the gondola to the top of the ski area and then hike down. Actually we decided to hike down after the ride up the mountain. The ride up is very long if your holding your breath as we were. We were glad we rode the gondola up the mountain and very glad when it was over.

We ate lunch on the summit. Surprisingly the lunch was very good.

Hike down the mountain

Down the Mountain

Down the Mountain

We hiked around the summit and then started down. Most of the hike down is fairly easy. However, it is a long hike so be sure and take enough water. We drank two bottles each. The hike down took us three hours.

About 2/3rds of the way down I slipped on some loose small stones, bent my leg, ankle, and big toe back under my body. The pain was 10 on a level of 1 to 10. After a few minutes I had recovered enough to resume the hike down the mountain. Then almost at the bottom I fell again. This time I only tore up my elbow.

At the bottom of the mountain we found a restroom and washed most of the blood off my knee, leg, and elbow and then drank a couple of well deserved beers at the local pub.

The end result:

  • Gash on my knee that became infected after a few days. Still treating it two weeks later
  • Strained knee ligaments
  • Sprained ankle
  • Probably broken big toe
  • Gash on my elbow

Good Restaurants

  • Creekside Cafe – We ate breakfast here. Last trip we had lunch. Both were delicious.
  • Mahogany Ridge Brewery – We dined here in the evening. Go for the food, not the beer. The beer was average.

The drive home

As I said earlier, we cut the trip and drove home to help care for my youngest daughter and her family as well as for me to rest while healing my injuries.

The first day we drove to Colorado Springs and spent the night at a Hampton Inn. It was a terrific place. I’d highly recommend it if your ever in Colorado Springs.

The next day we, I should say Gwen, drove 11 hours straight from Colorado Springs to our daughter’s home in Southlake Texas.