Sarah and I (but mostly Sarah) had driven us into Colorado after Joey's heroic attempt to conquer the big steak challenge in Amarillo - we really had no business there besides making a scene at a steakhouse. And as we drove, and the sun was snugly set beneath the horizon, the shadows began to rise out of the earth in every direction around us. A minor tactical error on my part put us in a motel in Garland City, Colo. for the night, which resulted in some backtracking the next morning to get back on our route. Good thing for that, because as the daylight revealed, we'd apparently missed a magnificent drive the night before.
Our southernmost (and therefore first) destination was the beautiful city of Colorado Springs, which was just about the most rural-looking city I've ever seen, sitting unassumingly beneath a towering cascade of mountains. I'd had my mind on a particular attraction here in town called the Garden of the Gods
- a name that, upon first hearing, stayed in the front of my memory. You can't just run around applying epic names like "Garden of the Gods" to just anything. A moniker like that can only be used on something that's truly out of this world.
Sure enough, the name was right on. This beautiful park was comprised of a collection of giant red rocks, jutting out of the ground and contrasting starkly with the tan and brown hues of the mountains. A series of paths surrounded the rocks, some of them paved, offering us a number of unobscured views of these strange edifices. The weather was perfect, even a little too hot - and coupled with the park's inexplicable (but awesome) lack of any admission cost, there were plenty of people out of their cars and walking around like we were.
A few shots:
As we continued our drive through the park, we came to what appeared to be the most popular part, which was a massive balancing rock that would certainly destroy anything in its unfortunate path. We would have gotten out, but there was nowhere to park, and there was a line of people waiting to have their picture taken in front of it. We drove on.
It was about this time that we noticed a slight fluctuation in the car's performance. Joey was behind the wheel, and kept it to himself at first because Sarah and I were enjoying ourselves so much, he didn't want to kill the vibe. But on our way out he mentioned to us that the engine had been running extremely hot, and seemed to have subsided for the moment. We cautiously continued, making note of how short and sweet the Garden had been, and browsed our GPS for our nest stop.
After not much discussion at all, we agreed to head to Seven Falls, which was practically around the corner. This place was not free to visit, which didn't really bother us, as we hadn't seen a good waterfall since back in Niagara Falls.
It was a beautiful sight, a thick stream of water pouring down the rocks for hundreds of feet. We got a view from an elevator-accessible observation deck and shot some photos before we made the big climb.
The walk to the top of the falls was extreme, with a few long, steep and narrow metal staircases leading up the side of the rocks. If anything in the world makes me uncomfortable, it's extreme heights, so I was a little less than comfortable for the majority of the experience. We were all pretty much gasping for air by the time we reached the top, but we were still smiling.
After the long descent and short walk to the car, we went for a scenic ride on a dirt road as we discussed our options for the evening. Clouds were rolling in and our outdoor options were looking grim; in the meanwhile, I'd gotten in touch with an old buddy from high school, Geoff, who was in Fort Collins, about two hours north of our current location. Our options were to stay in town here in C Springs, which I'd heard contained a somewhat nutty population that we might not get along with so perfectly - or to head up and hang out with Geoff for the evening. We nodded our heads and hit the road northward, utterly satisfied by our time in this beautiful place.
We pulled into town after dark but before Geoff was back from a run to Boulder, and at his recommendation we dropped into the Crown Pub
on College Street. The beer selection was more than ample, the crowd was right on our wavelength, and the menu looked great. We got a few plates to settle our appetites; Sarah got a burger topped with about half an avocado, Joey got a salad (no more meat for a while), and I enjoyed some kind of delicious BBQ sandwich. Soon I got Geoff on the phone and he told us to come find him at Pappy's
It'd been a long time since the last time I saw Geoff, a couple of years at least - and he was pretty much the same as I remembered him from high school. We talked for a while over some good local beer, helping comprise what turned out to be a good-sized gathering out on Pappy's back deck. The bar was pretty much dead inside, and Geoff's dog Madison was able to come out and join us for most of our visit. Thankfully Sarah was willing to keep her drinks in check and drive us home, as Joey and I were not in driving form.
We talked over some options for the following day, and Geoff enticed us into staying into the afternoon for some water activities before we trekked on to Denver. For now, bedways was rightways. Look for Sarah's thoughts on the next day, coming up soon.