We headed out early, again, this morning….not quite as early as yesterday but still early as we had a 9:20 am reservations to ride the COG Railway to the top of Pike’s Peak. And since this Denver traffic has been pretty crazy nearly anytime of the day and we had roughly 85 miles to drive we wanted to allot enough time.
We were asked to be 30 minutes early and we hit that right on the head…arriving at the depot and picking up our reserved tickets at 8:50 am. We made a quick trip to the restroom, picked up a snack in the shop and boarded the train. Smooth and easy.
Our seat mates were a young couple from Indiana out here on vacation and we had a nice conversation on the way up the mountain and then on the way back as well.
On the way up the mountain we had forward facing seats so it made the ride more interesting. But on the way back our backs were toward the front of the train so it made it hard to view things. We were also on the ‘inside’ of the train or the mountain side so our views of the off mountain side weren’t the best. Nevertheless….the ride itself was awesome. We rode along a stream a good portion of the way, were fascinated by the huge boulders, dropped off a couple of workers at the power station, encountered snow up to the windows on our side of the train, looked for deer in the Deer Park and arrived at the summit during cloud cover.
Since we were the first train of the day we had 10 or 12 cafe/gift shop workers on the train with us. They were the first off and we waited while they opened the doors, turned on lights and got things ready for us to enter.
Getting off the train was surely a shock as it was cold (22, with a windchill of 9!), snowy and windy! We all walked carefully up the walkway as it was covered with ice and snow and entered the gift shop. Almost as soon as I stood up on the train I could feel the effects of the high altitude (14,029 feet) as I was a bit light-headed and very shaky. Michael’s biggest complaint was that he had trouble breathing and his lungs were sore.
We went onto the observation deck (if you can call it that) but with the cloud cover weren’t able to see anything however we did take a selfie of ourselves in front of the train. If you think it looks cold….it was!
I found a sweatshirt in the gift shop for myself (Michael got one down at the shop at the base when we returned) and then we found a table to sit at while we enjoyed a snack. We enjoyed talking two other young couples who were both expecting babies. The woman young woman was about 6 1/2 months along while the other was just 5 weeks and strangely enough they were both from Louisiana and were not together.
Back aboard the train we had a nice trip downhill…about 8 miles per hour. Seeing much of the same scenery on the way up but seeing a lot of new things that we missed on the way up. The entire trip lasted just about 3 hours and was well worth the $38 per ticket in my book. Michael was a bit disappointed to not be able to see anything once we reached the summit but the Lord had other plans.
When we reached the depot the place was a madhouse….with all the people on the returning train and all the people waiting for the next train and it pretty confined quarters…YIKES! We made a break for it as fast as we could!
We drove over to the Visitor Center at the Garden of the Gods and since it was about 1:00 pm we sat in the truck in the parking lot and ate the lunch that I had packed before venturing into the Visitor’s Center. We were given a map of the park, looked at a few displays, took some pictures of Pike’s Peak towering of some formations within the Garden of the Gods and then headed back out to the truck to drive along the road that winds through the park.
There are several parking lots, pull outs and picnic areas along the winding road and we stopped at several of them for photo opportunities. There was quite a bit of traffic in the park with lots of people milling about and we found that quite a few of the people were rude…just plain rude and inconsiderate. I’m not a fan of inconsiderate…at all.
Our longest stop was at Balanced Rock where visitors are encouraged to climb up and have pictures taken ‘holding up’ the rock. Michael is always ready for adventure so he made the climb while I took pictures of him and a little girl from England trying to push the rock over. She’d been having a bit of a ‘cranky’ moment until he started talking to her and asked her to help him push it over. She left smiling…he’s a good man.
The red rock formations of Garden of the Gods were pretty…some more than others but I think I’m a bigger fan of the rock formations in southern Utah or even Chiricahua National Monument in southern Arizona. We visited Chiricahua in February 2013 and you can read about it and see pictures HERE.
We stopped at PF Changs in Colorado Springs on our way back to Denver for an early dinner. Michael indulged my love of Chinese food, once again and now he’ll get his pick of places to eat the next couple of times. We left our boxed up, bagged up leftovers on the table…bummer.
We leave the Denver area tomorrow and will most certainly be back to Colorado at some point…lots more things to see and do!
We’ve had a bit of change in our itinerary as we were originally going to spend a few nights in Wyoming before moving on the Utah but Zack & Kelsea asked us to meet them on Friday for some camping fun with their friends. So we’ll be spending just a quick overnight in Wyoming on Thursday night and then heading on into Utah on Friday.
We’ll be boondocking from Thursday night (Walmart) until Sunday. Zack & Kelsea do a lot of dry camping with their friends so that’s what we’ll be doing. We’ll be parking in a snow mobile parking lot from Friday until Sunday with at least 3 other RVs, taking the day on Saturday to ride around the area on ATVs.
We’ll be surprising Paityn (5) and Cameron (3) who don’t know that Nana & Papaw will be joining them on their camping trip! I can’t wait! It will be 3 weeks shy of a year since we last loved on our sweet babies…you can bet we’re ready!
So with that said, my next blog post will most likely not come until Sunday or Monday (Dan…I know you’re celebrating!) as we’ll be conserving our generator power as much as possible.