Woke up in the
morning to this view out our hotel window:
drove to Pikes Peak. There are three ways to get to the top: drive,
hike, and take the cog train. If you take the train, you miss all the
good stuff along the way, and the hike is pretty intense for
flatlanders like us. The drive, however, is just as fraught with peril
as the hike. The road is narrow, unpaved, and has no guard rails. We
couldn't see more than a few yards ahead, and when we crested each
blind rise we'd be treated to a sudden hairpin curve perched
at the brink of a 13,000-foot free fall. Big fun!
Amusing hairpin curves
A view from the car
astonishing, but interestingly the view is best below the top. I think
the top was in the clouds,
even though it didn't appear to be from below, and the view was hazy.
We pulled off to ooh and
ah at a herd of unimpressed bighorn sheep near the top.
We also saw a yellow-bellied marmot that was
so tame it was practically climbing into people's cars to see if they
The sheep got tired of being stared at
The top of the
mountain is very touristy, especially when the cog trains vomit floods
of tourists who all head directly into the gift shop and get in lines
to visit the restrooms and paw through the t-shirts. We did manage to
escape with our lives and some lunch, which we ate in the
car where it was quiet (until a dust devil spun through the parking
lot, spewing tiny gravel bits onto our pizza and into every nook of the
upholstery). We also sampled the "famous" donuts, which are much better
hot than cold, not that it kept us from wolfing down cold donuts later
back down was a bit hairy; we were in first gear most of the way, and
very much missing our Explorer on those gravel roads. Mark did all the
driving; I took pictures and tried not to be a distraction.
An inscription on a boulder near the summit
From Pikes Peak
we drove south to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, probably the nicest zoo
I've ever been to. There we got to feed giraffe crackers (aka ry-krisp)
to real live reticulated giraffes. Giraffe tongues are cold, blueish
black, and prehensile, and will wrap around your hand and cracker and
tug insistently if you don't give it up quickly. The giraffes tolerated
being petted if
there was a treat in it for them, and we discovered how bony their
heads are, and how soft their ears. Being licked by a giraffe totally
made the admission price worth it.
giraffes, we watched piles of wrestling meerkats, and then while
the colobus monkeys we were singled out by a docent who turned out to
be from Chicago and was an all-around great person to talk to. She made
me want to move there so I could volunteer at the zoo with her. She
started out talking about the monkeys, but then we got onto Chicago vs.
Colorado Springs, conservation of species in the West, a bit of
politics, housing prices, all sorts of stuff. So, Jean, I don't know
we'll get out there again, but you made an awfully good case for
packing up and moving.
After a quick
shower, it was on to the Flying W Ranch for cowboy-style food and music
and comedy. By the time that ended, we were ready to call it a day.