It was a pleasant 136 mile drive to Colorado Springs, including the detour to see Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument along the way. The traffic was heavy as we started through Manitou Springs but we made onto Interstate 25 and then into the Air Force Academy without incident. We are staying at the Peregrine Pines FamCamp and have a nice full hookup pull-through with 50 amps, good Verizon and satellite coverage with the use of the tripod. This campground is heavily forested and we had to move from our originally assigned site to this one in order to get the satellite. It wouldn't have made as much difference but we were staying 10 days so wanted access to the satellite programming.
Our stop at the Fossil Beds included an interesting movie and a hike of about two miles through the valley looking at the petrified Redwoods and also seeing one of the fossil digs along the way. The petrified redwoods were formed when volcanic mud covered the region long ago but didn’t cover the whole tree, just up the trunk a little way so that all that was petrified was the stumps. It is a shame it took our country so long to see the value of this place and protect it. We lost a lot of fossils and petrified trees to scavengers and tourists before they woke up.
We spent the rest of Sunday watching football and Monday planning what all we were going to do while here, but early Tuesday we set off for the Garden of the Gods. This is one of the premier attractions in Colorado Springs and when we visited here several years ago we were amazed at the red rock formations. We were somewhat less amazed this time. We don’t know if it was that we have seen so much in the last four years that we have become somewhat accustomed to fantastic scenery that it takes so much more to impress us or that they have let the roadside vegetation really get out of hand so that you cannot really see as well as we remember when you are driving through the park. When we visited before, it was in May so the vegetation would not have been so dense and maybe that is the problem.
After we left the Garden of the Gods we headed for old Colorado City which is just around the corner. It is a heavily visited area of the old town containing a lot of tourist related items such as bars and restaurants. The weather wasn't cooperating so we didn’t get any pictures but, again, we have seen much prettier streets this year. Just a little ways from there we visited the Ghost Town Museum and were delightfully surprised to find it to be one of the best we have seen this trip. They have taken old ghost town structures and placed them in a huge building, recreating the old ghost town, complete with hundreds of relics of our past, such as the first clothes washing machine and a great many other items.
Wednesday we headed up the Cheyenne Canyon to visit Helen Hunt Falls. It was a pretty drive up the canyon and, though it is late in the year and not much water is falling, we had a good time seeing the falls and then hiking a third mile almost straight up to see an almost completely dry Silver Cascades Falls. It was a good hike and gave us a good workout. We are in much better shape than when we started this trip. A third mile straight up at 8,000 feet elevation would not have been possible five months ago! It wasn't easy now but at least it was doable. Shortly after we finished the hike it started raining and then it started pouring. This is the heaviest rain we have had since staring the trip back on April 2. It rained hard all day Wednesday and has still been raining today, Thursday, so we are just staying put.
I am going to go ahead and make this posting tonight, even though we will still be here until next Wednesday, to break it up a little and not give you so much in one sitting.