Wednesday dawned bright and beautiful--what the weatherman called a "severe clear." The sky was a magnificent blue. Perfect, as we were headed for Garden of the Gods. I remember being dazzled by this free park when I was a kid and hoped my own children would love it as well.
They did. They scrambled on rocks, got silly in a rock circle that allowed you to hear your own echo when you stood in the middle (yodeling completely optional but highly encouraged), goggled at some guys who were really rock climbing (you had to have proper equipment and a permit.), and were amazed at the views. I myself took more pictures than a person should be allowed, but dude--those red rocks! That blue sky! The light!! Fortunately for you, I'll only subject you to some of the many I took. Heh.
If you click on this picture, it will enlarge and you will see the guy by the arrow climbing up. He looks tiny compared to the rocks. James really wanted to try this, but I told him the rules were that he had to be an experienced climber with proper equipment. He was bummed and I was secretly thanking God in heaven.
After getting hot and sweaty in the Garden, we headed into Manitou Springs for some refreshment and to kill time before dinner. We had ice cream and the kids sampled several of the many natural spring fountains. The verdict? Maggie and Sean didn't think it was all that great, but Mary my pickiest, finickiest eater thought they were wonderful. Will I ever figure out my children?
We also sat by a creek and watched a dog fetch a stick out of the fast moving water.
We watched this dog for at least a half hour. And you know what? It never took off. It always came back. I'm totally gonna show this picture to the dumb dog and lay a guilt trip on her. "See OTHER DOGS play fetch and don't run away! How's about you give that a try, huh?!?!" Somehow, I don't think she's gonna go for that notion.
At last, we headed off to the Flying W Ranch to have a chuck wagon style dinner and see a musical show. We had a great time exploring the village. Then we watched a Native American family perform some traditional songs and dances. We were all extremely impressed with Mrs. Sweetwater, who performed a hoop dance. It was fantastic.
When the dinner bell rang, we headed off to the outdoor dining area and got our tin plates and cups full of "cowboy" food. There surely may have been beans and some kind of bread on a real chuck wagon dinner, but I don't think there was barbecue chicken or beef. And probably not applesauce, baked potatoes, or spice cake. Or lemonade. But we didn't complain. We loaded up and chowed down. (Not Mary. She had the emptiest plate on the ranch, sticking to her all-carb plan of biscuits and cake.)
After dinner, the Flying W Wranglers played and sang and made us laugh. The kids were delighted. We adults had a good time too. It's hard to sit stone faced when you hear songs like "Riders in the Sky," "Rawhide," (and its parody number "Bowlin' Bowlin' Bowlin'" which my kids still sing) and "I Am My Own Grandpa." Now, my family isn't real big on country music (although we do love us some Johnny Cash) but we loved this show. The musicians were spectacular and the humor was great. If you are ever in the Colorado Springs area, I highly recommend heading to the Flying W for an evening of wholesome family entertainment. My kids are still talking about how much fun they had here, and Sean--my child who just couldn't "find anything fun to do here" put the Flying W as his top memory from vacation. A favorable review, indeed.
When the moon came up and the stars came out, we wound our way back up into the mountains to head for home. We spotted a fox on the way up our dirt road and the kids went to bed speaking of cowboys, bowlin', and foxes. All-in-all, a very good day.