Solar Eclipse Trip 2017 travel blog

At the Cliff House

Imposing exterior

Beautiful old lobby

Very pleasant veranda dining

The Cog Railway--easy way to the top

The railway cars

How a railroad can go up a 25% grade.

Look in the shadow next to the building and you will see...

The views were impressive.

Yes we were there.

Coming back down.

A nice dinner

Our musical entertainment.

August 17, 2017

What a most excellent day. We spent much of the morning cleaning and straightening the RV, then set off for downtown Manitou Springs. WE found a great parking place right in front of the Vault, an old bank building turned retail outlet. This was a high end clothing, jewelry, and cool things store that Susan spent an hour shopping in. Best thing is that they had a “guy chair”, a place for guys to sit and catch up on Facebook, emails, and their latest novel, which I did.

By that time it was lunch time, so we walked over to the Cliff House, an old hotel that featured a restaurant that served on the hotel veranda. No reservations, but they had a beautiful corner table available for us where we could take in the view. With our limited diet (boy it was hard watching all those folks enjoy a glass of wine at lunch—not allowed on diet), finding good food we are allowed to eat can be tough, but they had some good salads and a lettuce wrap entrée that Susan and I split. Perfect lunch.

The thing about this area is that we keep seeing and hearing about things we want to go see or do, but we didn’t budget enough time for them. I wanted to check out the marijuana shops—no time. Susan found a castle home that we wanted to tour, but we have to leave. There is a nearby National Park that I want to tick off my list, but we are leaving tomorrow. Just makes us want to come back to Colorado Springs again.

Have I mentioned the temperature here? Mid-70s with nights down to the high 40s-mid 50s. So pleasant to walk around without sweating like a pig. It was 100 degrees back in Austin. The temperature alone makes it perfect for August. No wonder so many Texans are up here.

We walked from the Cliff House back to our truck because it was time to go to the Cog Railway. The Cog Railway was built in the early 1900s as an alternative way to get to the top of Pike’s Peak. It has grades of up to 25%. Regular trains can’t do grades more than 4%, but a cog train uses a big rotating gear that intersects with gear rails on the ground that give it the ability to go up those grades. Pretty impressive.

It took us about an hour and a half to get to the top, with a conductor giving us a running monologue on the history of the cog railway, interesting sights along the way, and some pretty bad puns. The top of Pike’s peak is 14,115 feet above sea level. At the gift shop down below they were selling cans of oxygen that you could buy to supplement your breathing at the top. We didn’t buy those. I didn’t expect to have a problem, but I was surprised that I felt a little lightheaded up there. Susan said she was fine, although both of us could feel our hearts working a little harder in the thin air. Temperatures dropped dramatically up here—it was 35 degrees at the top but we brought coats.

We only spent 45 minutes at the top—enough time to hit the restroom, tour the gift shop, look out at all 4 directions for hundreds of miles, and then get back on the train. I have to apologize for the photos at the top--my camera got into some weird mode where it was stylizing my photos. I fixed it, but all the photos at the top look like impressionist paintings. The trip down took just as long, but seemed shorter as our conductor stayed mostly silent.

By this time it was 6 pm. As we were driving back we stopped for dinner at Adam’s Mountain House, an unassuming building from the outside surrounded by highway construction, but an elegant interior. It featured a duet on violin and guitar playing snippets of popular, recognizable songs from all eras and some delicious locally sourced food. As I said, a most excellent day.

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