Wed 01 February 2023
Almost every year in January we have taken a trip. For the first few years after we got married we rented a very nice cabin in the country near Arcadia, Wisconsin for a long weekend. Over the years our trips got bigger and more diverse - Atlanta, Auburn (where I went to graduate school), Savannah; Phoenix and the Grand Canyon; Milwaukee; Las Vegas and a driving excursion around the Grand Canyon. During Covid we stayed nearer to home - Eau Claire, Madison. We have really enjoyed our January trips as a getaway without holidays in the way, and with most tourism at a snails pace which allows for a more immersive and relaxed experience.
This year's trip was to Colorado. There are daily direct flights between Cedar Rapids and Denver, and on finding a deal on tickets we decided to go. Denver is a place that I've driven through numerous times in my travels to Utah, Arizona and other southwest destinations, but neither Kristin nor I had ever actually spent time in Denver, not in greater Colorado, so we were excited to check it out. It was also an attractive option because we had the opportunity to visit with my friend Toni from Graduate school, who I hadn't seen since 1993(!), and we also were able to visit with my niece Britta, who had recently moved to Denver.
It turned out that we had to cut our trip short as I wasn't feeling well. Despite that, we were able to spend time in Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City, Pueblo, Cañon City, and just enough time in Denver to have lunch with Britta. The pictures that follow show some of the things we saw and experienced. Unfortunately, we regret that we forgot to get a picture with Britta - but we'll just have to go back out there sometime and see her again!
This is Toni on the left. It was really great to reconnect with her after so many years - I gotta thank Facebook for making that possible! I took with me two letters with pictures that she had sent me after we'd left grad school, and surprised her with them. It was great fun reminiscing, as well as catching up on some of the intervening years of life. I also need to mention Paravicini's Italian Bistro, where we ate - excellent food and fun vibe; I highly recommend it!
This is the Garden of the Gods Motel in Old Colorado City, where we stayed for our first night in Colorado. It was adequate for our needs, except that the heater fan was quite loud, making it hard to stay asleep. Eventually we just turned off the heater and were able to sleep.
The next morning we walked a couple blocks to Story Coffee Company and had a really pleasant conversation with a sweet gal running the shop, as well as a good cup of coffee.
We had been thinking of going up to Pike's Peak, but there was good cloud cover which meant we wouldn't get much of a view from 14,000ft, so we decided to head down to Pueblo and check out the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum instead. What a great museum, with many aircraft across aviation history and tons of associated artifacts! We spent a good two and a half hours here, and could have spent a whole day if we had known what we were in for and planned accordingly. Next time!
After leaving the museum we went in search of food. We headed to downtown Pueblo, found a parking spot, and started walking around to find some eats. Surprisingly, there wasn't much open (on a Wednesday), but we eventually found Papa Jose's Union Cafe and had lunch there.
We left Pueblo late in the day and headed up to Cañon City so that we could visit the Royal Gorge Bridge and whatever else we might find the next day. We found a great cozy little motel (which had a much quieter heater!), the American Inn Motel, then went out for dinner at the Yummy Thai, which was, despite the goofy name, super good.
The next day our first destination was Royal Gorge Bridge & Park. This is about a 20-minute drive from Cañon City and about 1700ft above it at just over 7000ft. We took the cable car ride across, then did a bit of exploring of the area on the far side of the gorge, watched a fun 20-minute movie about the gorge and the bridge, then walked the nearly quarter-mile bridge back to the main building. The place is geared for tourists and kids; it was pretty quiet when we were there but I'd guess it is a zoo in the summer.
After leaving the main park building we drove out a bit to a picnic area adjoining some foot trails and we got out to explore and have lunch. This next picture shows Cañon City off in the distance.
Before we left the Royal Gorge main building we chatted with a park ranger and asked about interesting things to do and see. He asked about our vehicle, and on hearing that we had a 4WD truck, he suggested we head back through Cañon City and take Hwy 67 Phantom Canyon Road north to Victor and Cripple Creek. This is a gravel road that follows a former rail bed that was once used to transport ore. We thought this sounded like a grand idea! Here's a Google map of the area.
This turned out to be a speactacular 2-hour drive of 30 miles and two tunnels, winding up into the mountains. We ended up topping out just below 10,000ft elevation. Pictures really can't adequately capture the amazing terrain and views we had, but here you go:
After getting back to paved road, we headed back into Old Colorado City and checked into the Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort and stayed two nights. This was a fun little spot; the rooms are pretty basic, but the lodge is inviting and the folks running it are super nice. The first night we had dinner at Amanda's Fonda Mexican restaurant, where the food was so-so. The next night we ate at Slice 420 and had some really great pizza.
Unfortunately, by Saturday I was really not feeling well, and it seemed that the elevation was a contributing factor. With disappointment, we decided to cut the trip short and come home. We drove back up to Denver to Britta's place and took her out to lunch at the excellent Torres Mexican Food before returning to the airport and flying home. We will definitely return - most likely after we become camper nomads!
Even though we did not get a picture with Britta, she graciously sent this picture for me to post. She says "it's in the RiNo art district Bob Ragland library."(I gotta say though, it's kinda hard to see Britta!)