Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Exploring Central Colorado

                      Pikes Peak Cog Railway

It is amazing how many things you can see and do when you do not have to attend meetings! Our trip to Denver was just for unadulterated fun with no commitments to anyone or anything. Some cities are very difficult for arrival, but Denver is a breeze. The airport (, if you have not been there, is a real wonder (one of the newest in the country). It is easy to get around, easy to get to the car rental areas, and easy to drive into downtown. You realize early on that Denver is built on the plain, not in the mountains and they thus have a very efficient and well built freeway system.

Our full three days in Colorado were sort of planned to explore a lot of territory. On Friday we headed to Boulder to check out the gorgeous University of Colorado (I just love visiting colleges) and all of the stone colors of the city.

We then headed west up Boulder Canyon enjoying the roaring creek and then cut north to Estes Park, the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Of course I had left my senior lifetime park pass (an old guy perk) at home, so now Mary Ann also has a pass. We can now enter the parks free with two cars and all the passengers! When traversing the park we realized we had never visited this park before and were enchanted with the mountains and views.

Our route took us over Trail Ridge Road (US 34) through the arctic tundra, crossed the continental divide, and reached 12,183 feet. The park loop took us to the three lakes area, to Winter Park, and back to Denver on Interstate 70. A great day and the little Chevrolet Cobalt rental car just hopped over the mountains.

While driving through Winter Park, which looks like a great ski area, Mary Ann saw that the next day that they were going to have an outdoor art show. She also heard on the radio that a big show was also on Saturday in Greeley, and she suspected correctly that I would not retrace our trip to Winter Park. So on Saturday we drove north to Greeley (, on the great plain of eastern Colorado. Yes, you thought right, it is named after, and was founded by Horace Greeley of “Go West Young Man” fame. Their summer art show called the Art Picnic was a great event with about 200 artists, food and music. I escaped with the world’s greatest shopper making only one modest purchase. I thought it was going to be page one of the great pay-back for that air flight scheduling fiasco! In the afternoon we returned to explore downtown Denver and then go to the Rockies baseball game. I had bought some very good tickets with good food areas, good view, and covered from a little bit of rain. Mary Ann did not complain at all, and I suspect she is now becoming a baseball lover. Probably because the Rockies won. Oh Right!

For Sunday I had made reservations for taking the cog railway trip up Pikes Peak just outside Colorado Springs. It is a beautiful drive to Colorado Springs and the railway trip ( up the mountain was fascinating. The trip took about three hours round trip and saved the Cobalt from what would have been a real struggle driving up that mountain. Our timing was excellent as a real cloud buster hit right after our return. This made us miss the Garden of the Gods, but you always need something to bring you back.

                  Rocky Mountain National Park

The whole long weekend was a wonderful visit and well worth the potential payback! Ouch, that first class ticket for Mary Ann next time will hurt.

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