Colorado Trip 2004

Day 2

Whitewater rafting in Canon City!

We went through Echo Canyon Rafting, whom I highly recommend. I discovered that whitewater rafting is not as hard as canoeing. You paddle when the coxswain tells you to, and in between you just enjoy the ride and peer at the hills looking for bighorn sheep. Our guide was a cool guy named Jay, and our raft was pretty clearly the A-team because we were all adults or teenaged boys; we got to do extra stunts that the "family" rafts wouldn't be able to handle. Jay took us into some fun spots where we held the raft in an eddy just below a rock and let the raft fill with water until it got so full that it came shooting out. (The rafts are somehow self-bailing, luckily!) We rescued one little girl who had fallen out of her raft, and also rescued a hat. This stretch of the Arkansas river was Class 3, and I am totally ready to try a Class 5 now. Unfortunately, you don't find a lot of white water in northern Illinois (except in winter, ha ha).

After rafting, we had lunch and drove north towards Florissant, the town that elected a mule as its mayor. Our route passed between Guffey and Cripple Creek, near the ranch land we saw for sale on-line a few months ago.


It's really beautiful land, a mix of hills and rocks and forest and meadow, and from what I could tell, there is a lot of it available. It's very remote and probably outside the commuting radius for most folks, so I don't see it settling up anytime soon. You pretty much have to decide to drop out of society to live out there.

At Florissant is the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, which has more than just fossils. We were amazed by petrified redwood tree stumps and wondered how many more lurked below the surface undetected. One stump was designated as the touching stump, and we played with flakes that looked just like splintered wood but made stony "tink" sounds when dropped.

The Florissant land included several hiking trails, so we took one hoping to find some deer or elk. We found lots of scat, including what was probably coyote, but the only visible animals were birds and prairie dogs. The plant life was really cool, though, and I spent a lot of time peering at tiny flowers and lichens. The indian paintbrushes mocked me the whole while; I tried and tried to get close enough to one to get a picture, and as soon as I'd settled for a mediocre specimen, we started seeing huge bright paintbrushes everywhere we looked. Bah!

After Florissant, we drove through Woodland Park, which has a Dairy Queen (yay!), and back to the hotel for Chinese food and cable tv.

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