4/27/09 Hey - it's been snowing here! Today we are in Colorado Springs and we woke up to snow flurries, darn it! There is a good possibility that it will warm up later today, the road will be clear, and we can head into Denver. This is such a surprise after yesterday when we arrived here and it was sunny. So pleasant, in fact, that we set up at the Elks Lodge and went for a hike in the Garden of the Gods Park. This is a beautiful park which is on land donated by the Perkins family who stipulated that it always be available free to the public.
The very colorful red rocks stick out of the ground and are a nice contrast to the green plants and trees, and a striking foreground to snow-covered Pike's Peak which rises to the west.
There is a nice area of cement sidewalks weaving in and out of the major area of red rocks which was full of families enjoying the sunny day, as well as other trails which are steeper and more primitive.
We did the hike to the Siamese Twins formation.
When we were in Cortez, CO, a few days ago, we did a 236 mile scenic drive from Cortez, to Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride through gorgeous mountainous areas where there was still lots of snow.
The mountain town of Silverton was very scenic and also colorfully painted:
The town of Ouray calls itself "The Switzerland of America" and is in a bowl:
The main attraction here besides the scenery and historic places (due to mining), is the hot springs complex. The pools looked inviting but we resisted due to time constraints. Just outside of town there was a small herd of yaks. They are well suited to this temperature, with their long hair:
Telluride is a very expensive ski resort town, which also has almost non-stop festivals in the summer in order to attract visitors. Currently they are tearing up the main street to put in new pipes or something and the whole area is a mess. As we walked down the street and passed some real estate listings, we noticed that there was not one that was under one million dollars! And these are fairly small houses or condos - usually under 1000 sq. ft. It does look like it would be a convenient place to ski, as all you have to do is carry your skis a couple of blocks to the ski lifts, right on the edge of town.
The day after the scenic drive, we wanted a hike so we decided to make maximum use of our Golden Age Pass which gets us into National Parks free, and we went to Mesa Verde National Park. The entrance is only about 10 miles outside of Cortez but then it is about 20 miles to the actual sites. We visited here about 25 years ago with the kids. We are learning that we have now reached the age where we can revisit places we have been in the past because we don't remember everything about the previous visit!! After viewing the informative video at the museum, we took the trail to Spruce House, one of the most easily accessible pueblos.
This is the only site where you can wander through on your own and get close to the housing areas. There are three other sites where the National Park Service leads hikes, and the cost is $3 per person and you have to stop at the Farview Visitor Center on the drive in to pay and sign up for a time because they can only take so many people on the top of each hour. Here is Elaine at Spruce House.
There are many ceremonial areas dug into the site, which are called kivas. At Spruce House you can climb down into one, and here is Mary doing that:
Then we drove the loop road and stopped at several overlooks to see the other sites. At one stop we looked into a canyon where we could see about 12 pueblos scattered all across the opposite canyon wall. Here is a picture of Cliff Palace, one of the sites where there are ranger-led tours:
Here is a closeup of Cliff Palace:
On our last night in Cortez, Elaine's niece, Darlene, and her husband, Ray, had Joyce and Don, Elaine and me over for a very delicious dinner and another fun evening filled with reminiscing and "catching up". They have a delightful home and we appreciated all the trouble they went to for a great meal and some fabulous wines. Thanks Ray & Darlene!!
Guess what. The sun has now come out and it looks like we might be able to complete our drive into Denver. So I will end this and let you know in a few days about our long-anticipated visit with my twin sister, Marsha.