We're back from Colorado and can't wait to return again!
Our trip started in the usual way that a trip from Kansas City to Colorado usually begins: with a drive across Kansas. Luckily, the sunflowers were in bloom, so the scenery wasn't as boring as it could have been.
Upon arriving in Colorado Springs, we checked into our hotel - a Raddison. The chain prides itself on having Sleep Number beds in all the rooms. I'm sure Sleep Number technology is terrific if 1.) you're the only person in the bed, or 2.) you have two controls so each person can set their own Sleep Number. As it was for us, however, we had two full-sized beds and full beds only have one control. Two people can't sleep comfortably in a full-sized Sleep Number bed. End of story.
Anxious to explore, we left the hotel and visited the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. While it was a nice change of pace from the long drive, it wasn't worth the admission price, especially since these "authentic Anazazi cliff dwellings" are actually reproductions made from a collapsed portion of a real cliff dwelling several hundred miles away.
We followed that with dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, the Lemongrass Bistro. It was really good. Vietnamese is such a good "road food" - it's always variations on the same dishes, and I love those dishes. After dinner, Frank bought some new sunglasses so he would look stylin' on the trip. You'll see plenty of them in the pictures that follow.
Our first full day in Colorado found us getting up early to drive to Canon City to catch the Royal Gorge Railway for a morning train ride through Royal Gorge.
This was a blast. We bought the cheapest Coach class tickets and spent much of the ride on the outside platform car, which was really the best place to see everything. We had a perfect day - not too hot, very clear, a slight breeze - and thought this was totally worth the money.
After the train ride, we had planned to go to Royal Gorge park, but decided that it was probably more of a kid-type place, and since we'd already seen the gorge, we drove back to Colorado Springs...
... and headed up Pikes Peak!
Frank drove the whole, scary way. I'd read horror stories about altitude sickness, so we went prepared with lots and lots of water. Any time we started to feel even a little off, we drank some water. It worked perfectly - no problems with the altitude whatsoever. The view from the top of Pikes Peak, and from the many scenic stops along the way, is spectacular.
We even saw a few yellow-bellied marmots towards the summit, which are super cute.
PROTIP: Drive the whole way up first, without stopping, then stop as much as you want on the way back down. It's easier on your car, and not nearly as scary a drive on the downward trek.
The next day we got up early again and headed to the Cave of the Winds. We have lots of caves in Missouri and while this one wasn't one of the most incredible we've seen, it's still worth a visit if you like caves. After the cave, we went to lunch at Adam's Mountain Cafe in Manitou Springs, Colorado. All I can say is yum-ee! The food was terrific - I had some Senegalese peanut soup and a chicken sandwich and Frank had Moroccan fish tacos - and the price was even better. The portion sizes are HUGE. The only negative is that the place smells a little... weird. We heard it's because of this special orange tea they brew, but whatever the reason, it was definitely off-putting.
After lunch we headed up Pike's Peak again - this time via the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.
The round trip takes a little over three hours, with about 40 minutes at the top....
... where Frank got a donut.
Along the way, we saw a herd of bighorn sheep - so cool!
On the drive back to the hotel, it rained a little. When it stopped, we were treated to a full-on Colorado Springs double rainbow.
What does it mean?
And so concludes our first days in Colorado. More to come!