Thursday, June 29, 2023

Colorado Trip

 The first week of June, I drove up to Colorado Springs to visit with my Uncle D, my mom's youngest brother & the last of my uncles & his wife S.  He's 82 & she's a little younger.  I wanted to spend time with them while there is still time.  

The trip was up through NW Texas & NE NM, to Colorado.  Drive was about 7 hours...we can fly in about 6 (with a Dallas layover)...dumb. The road took me a long way around because of rain flooding.  Once I got past the feed lot capital of Texas, Hereford the drive was pretty.  To be fair Hereford was nice, once you got past the smell.  

I stopped in Dalhart at the Sonic & to gas up & pit stop & the workers at the Sonic & gas station did not know what the next town was.  Have neither ever been out of town?  It scares me a little.  And while Google maps tells me where the next turn is, it does not tell me the towns I'll be going through.  That's on me.   I'm buying an atlas before next trip.

The next big town I remember was Clayton NM.  Pot is legal in NM--no clue.  They have a dispensery called "The Pot Hole".  I like the name.  I'm not a pot person so I just admired from afar.

I went toward Raton NM & what a gorgeous drive.  And there was a little rain on the way:

Then I hit I-25 north & it was a little congested & stressful for a little while.  But then it cleared out & was a gorgeous, straight drive into Colorado Springs.  I had the wrong address for Uncle so went to old house first but new place was easy to find.  It was good to be there & to see them.

On Sunday, I went with my cousin D to his brewery.  He is the head brewer, the guy who does the flavors.  I got to see all the brewery tanks & whatever grain goes into beer.  Not a beer person either.

Cousin D & me

Guns Up because it's all West Texas

On Monday we went to the Air Force Academy.  Uncle tried to down play it but I was not to be deterred. He was in the army so bases don't thrill him.  But he also insisted on driving.  The visitors' center was open & the gift shop, of course, but just about everything else was closed.  The visitors' center has a little museum & lots to read & a little film to watch.  But there were no students because the week was right after graduation.  Not sure if they have summer classes or only fall classes.  The famous chapel was closed for construction til 2027, which if you think about it is an entire 4 year class.  And the football stadium is also under construction.  We drove through the base & saw PX & commisary but were really lucky to see airplanes flying & pulling glider planes behind them & we saw several people jumping out of planes.  Sadly, the clouds were too thick for good pictures.  Tried for the plane pulling the glider, which is the first thing pilots on traing learn to fly.  Like with training wheels I guess.


A Model of the Chapel


On Tuesday, we putzed around & went to a few local shops.  

On Wednesday, we took the Broadmoor Manitou Pikes Peak Cog Railroad up to Pikes Peak.  Here is my 2 star Yelp review of them:

I was excited for the train & to see the view from the top of Pike's Peak.  We booked tickets for 10:20 & it was suggested we be there 1/2 hour early.  We go there on time & found our train was delayed til 11AM.  By that time, the passengers for the 11AM train were piled in too.

I found the train comfortable.  The ride up was fine but by the time we got to the top of the Peak itw as about 1230.  The entire Peak was snowed over & fogged in which was certainly not anyone's fault.  By the time we piled out, walked to the visitor's center, pit stopped & ate the interesting, famous donut, we got about 5 minutes outside  to take pictures(cleared up a little) they were screaming at us to get back on the train.  The ride down was uneventful.  When we got down, they had told the later travelers they'd not be going to the top & people were rescheduling.  I also think some were cancelled.

They have no control over the weather, I get that.  But I got update texts the day before & the morning of the trip but nothing talked about delays.  We got to go...if I'd driven up there & found train cancelled I'd have been very annoyed.

If there is a delay, especially 40 minutes, they need to not penalize customers by only giving them 20 minutes on the Peak.  Site does not list how long we were supposed to be there but 20 minutes is unrealistic.  We arrived back at the normal time if that says anything, after a 40 minute delay.

The site says snacks are ok but they say many times there is no eating or drinking on train, other than water.  Big suggestion: Take your own water bottle (yes, amazingly, they allow that)...they have a gift shop but no regular water bottles...they have a plastic bottle for sale for $12 & a commerative bottle for $37.  We did without til we got to the top & bought a reasonably (!) priced bottle for $5.  

I met some nice people on the train & the scenery & trip were beautiful.  Other than that, I felt pretty ripped off .  I'd never go again & I really don't recommend at all.

Couple of other things about the trip:  The couples across the aisle from us were Biker Veterans up in Colorado Springs for a Conference.  We were across from rider names "Grumpy" & his wife, "Happy".  Across the aisle was "Chief" & "No Shame".  You know there is a story there.

They also had a friend who was going to go to the Peak on his bike.  Half way he hit the snow & had to be brought up on a snow plow.  "Snow Plow" may be his rider name from now on.  

And whoever scheduled the Biker Veteren conference the same day as the Pride parade had a sense of humor.

S & Me, on the ice

Pikes Peak when we arrived

And about 15 minutes later when we had to leave

Later that night, Cousin D, wife K & Son J, MIL & BIL went to see the minor league team, the Colorado City Vibes. We had free hotdogs & ice cream, watched about 4 innings & got J's picture taken with the mascot, a stoned marshmallow named Toasty.  Enjoyed the evening.  J is adorable but I would never put his picture on the internet.

On Thursday we went to a touristy town called Manitou for lunch & some shopping.  Ate some good for Colorado Mexican food & got a t shirt & some fudge.  I thought this sign was funny:

I left on Friday morning because I really don't travel well & seriously needed to be home.  Saying goodbye was hard because in reality, we all knew it would probably be the last time.  Always close to Uncle D because he was just 3 when his mom died & he kind of lived everywhere growing up.  He & my oldest sister were only 4 years apart. I adored him because even though I didn't see him very often, he never treated me like a kid.  He respected me & never thought I was dumb.  It was hard to leave.

Oh, and for the record he insisted on driving everywhere & he drives like a maniac.

Trip home was uneventful.  Did have to laugh at the big  billboard coming back into Texas warning of the penalties for bringing back pot. 

Uncle D & S ❤

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