Friday, June 25, 2010

Colorado Day 4, 5,& 6: In Which Our Explorers Defy Death On A Bridge, Encounter Wild Beasts, And Admire Falcons

Thursday found us making our way south to Canon City. (Anyone know how to put a tilde over the n? Um, just for me, since I am stoopid and am too lazy to figure out the tilde thing, you should pronounce "Canon" like "Canyon." Unless you want people to point and laugh at you.) We were headed there to see the Royal Gorge and laugh at danger as we crossed the gorge on the crazy-high suspension bridge.

Neither Sean nor Maggie were too keen on this trip. Both dislike heights. But when James disclosed the fact (that I had mentioned to him in confidence) that you can actually feel the bridge move both of them tried to declare mutiny. After reassuring them that the bridge was made of steel, inspected daily, and really, really safe, they settled down a bit. I also may or may not have bribed them. I'll never tell.

It didn't take much convincing to get everyone out on the bridge. After all, it has the best views.

This is the river. It is much farther down than it appears in the picture. Because I was lying down on the bridge to take the picture through the gap in the planks. I simply cannot understand why my children are embarrassed by me.

We also watched people on the Skycoaster.
Those people? Completely. Nuts. Basically you get strapped into this bungee contraption and set to swinging back and forth over part of the gorge at 40 miles an hour. James, of course, wanted to go on it, but in addition to ponying up and extra fee not included in our entry fee, he would have had to pry my arms and legs from around his body. So we satisfied ourselves with watching the other insane adventurous people give it a go.

Then we rode the incline railroad down to the bottom to get an up-close and personal view of the fast flowing Arkansas river.
(Aside: My brother fell in this river--not while we were visiting the gorge--when we came here as a family. He, my dad, my other brother, and my non-swimming uncle were fishing. Todd was nearest my uncle when he went for a dip and my uncle saved him. Ahhh...memories.) We saw rafters while we were up on the bridge, but none came by when we were down by the river. We did, however, see a shoe and three oars go floating by in quick succession. Never did see a raft or any rafters. A good thing, I guess?

See these bumps?

This is called John F. Kennedy mountain because it is said to look like his head and body in profile as he is reclining. I could see the resemblance. Sort of. There was no Jackie O. mountain with a pillbox hat and big sunglasses. That would've been cool.

On Friday we headed to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs. It touts itself as "America's Only Mountain Zoo!" You know what? They really aren't kidding. We did some hill climbing folks! Lots of it. I was terribly glad all my children can walk, because pushing a stroller here would have been far too much work. After looking at all the animals and arguing over which we liked best--bears! giraffes! otters! tamarinds! gorillas! naked mole rats! hippos!--we took the ski lift up higher.

They had a name for the lift, you know, to make it sound fancier, but it was just your basic ski lift. When we got to the top there were fabulous views.

Also? There was a yurt. I think yurts are pretty cool. I mean, I know it's basically a round tent, but "yurt" sounds much more fun than "round tent." And this yurt was outfitted as a climbing wall. So the kids had a blast scrambling up the yurt. (Bet I'll never use that particular sentence again!)

Then we took the lift back to the bottom and got in the car to make our way further up the mountain to the Shrine of the Sun.

The Shrine of the Sun is a building made out of one very large piece of sandstone that had been cut into blocks. It is dedicated to the memory of Will Rogers. It was pretty, but what really recommended it were the views.

Plus, it was kinda hard to explain Will Rogers to my kids, who had never heard of him. So we contented ourselves with climbing up and looking out. Although Sean had a great time looking at the murals inside that depicted local historic events and counting naked Native American booties. Gotta love 8 year olds.

On Saturday, as we made our way from Colorado Springs to Denver, we made a stop at the United States Air Force Academy. We visited the beautiful and unique chapel.

Our visit, however, was very brief because the Protestant Chapel had 3 weddings and the Catholic chapel had two. I don't know if the Jewish or Buddhist chapels had any because we didn't go in them. We weren't sure of protocol and didn't want to offend anyone, so we stuck to the chapels we knew. As I'm looking at those sentences now, that strikes me as funny.

Anyway! We spotted cadets and planes. The boys enjoyed looking at the planes and Maggie enjoyed looking at the cadets. When she saw the ratio of men to women at the Academy, she made noises about going there for college. I could do nothing but roll my eyes and shake my head.

James, however, who has always said he is going to Purdue to study engineering discovered that the USAFA might be someplace that he would think about going. Sounds good to me--it's free! Plus, as one of my friends pointed out, he'd make a handsome pilot.

We hit the Academy gift shop and left with armloads of Air Force and Falcon gear, then headed to the car so we could get to Denver.

As we headed north, we all kept looking out the back window watching to see how far away Pike's Peak, which had dominated our views for the last week, was becoming. We all took turns calling out goodbye and saying our various favorite things from the trip. I'll remember that part for a long time.

Thanks, Colorado, for providing us with such an excellent vacation. We're glad you let us in. See? We didn't even break anything while we were there. Pass that on to your friend Arizona, would you? Because somebody mentioned a trip to the Grand Canyon and we wouldn't want Arizona to have erroneous notions about us.

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