10/18/2004: Doing Colorado Springs, and on up the Arkansas River
If any of you have been following the map, you may have noticed that (aside from the Pike's Peak detour) we have been following the Arkansas River. Today, after some more sites in the Colorado Springs area, we resumed our westward route on U.S. 50, ending up in Salida, CO (at the head of the Arkansas River) for the night.
We started the day at Memorial Park. The various veteran's memorials are quite moving. The new September 11th memorial, appropriately an addition to existing Fireman's Memorial, is also fairly powerful.
I wanted to visit the National Numismatic Museum on the campus of Colorado University. It is a nice museum, mostly about the evolution of American money, but with a few coins from Rome, Egypt, Greece, and Alexandria.
Then we "did" the Garden of the Gods. This time, we spent some time appreciating the rock formations. And did some light climbing. I heard one mother admonish her whining son, "Just because there is no slide doesn't mean it isn't a park."
We took a break for Buttermilk Pie and coffee at the Dutch Cafe in Monitou Springs, and then went to Helen Hunt Falls in North Cheyenne Canyon, just southwest of Co. Springs. The dry season took away some of the drama. But the sound was nice, as we climbed the somewhat improved trails a few hundred feet to the top.
Finally, we tried to leave the Colorado Springs area. We stumbled onto a pretty impressive private sculpture garden, and then (eventually, following a few wrong turns and miscommunications) got onto 115 and down to U.S. 50. Westward!
So, our next stop of interest was to see the high suspension bridge over the Royal Gorge. We sat on the rocks at the edge and watched the sun settle as the Arkansas river roared merrily a thousand or so feet below. Correction: We properly observed the numerous "keep off the rocks" signs and stood behind the chain link. That's our story, and we're sticking to it. Unless anyone looks at our pictures. Anyway, we didn't drive across the bridge ($20), so we headed back to 50 and drove into the dusk and through the dark gorge along the winding river upstream to Salida.
Some whining: I nearly broke my toe on Sunday night, so it is a bit big and purple after today's exertions. That's about it. I have WiFi in a 1950's vintage 2-room suite in the Best Western of Colorado in Salida for $45/night. The 30" satellite TV probably works (I wouldn't know), and the plumbing is new.
My metabolism is catching up; I feel almost normal waking up in Salida at 7,000 feet after a day of climbing around at this altitude.