Tuesday, July 29, 2014

May 27, 2014 (36th Day)

Up at 6:30. Blue sky greeted us and the temp was 60˚

Jeanette (JP) fixed breakfast. We spent most of the morning chatting and looking at college yearbooks and pictures. Phil joined in for a bit before leaving for work.
Erwin helping with the breakfast
JP and Phil
Even though our stay was very short it was great to see JP again. JP, thank you for allowing us to spend time with you.  We hope that our paths cross again soon.

Always hard to say good bye to family and friends. We left JP's at 9 am,  got on I-25 to Arvada, CO to visit EH's nephew Kendall and his family. Kendall is the son of Erwin's older sister, Elaine.

On way we could see snow capped Pikes Peak clearly.  Really beautiful!

We traveled 4,000 miles from home when we were approaching Denver, CO.

We went by Denver Broncos football stadium.

Denver skyline finally appeared for a short time while we were still on I-25.

Arrived Kendall Beery's house. He showed us his workshop, he is very a very talented cabinetmaker. He showed us some of his works and there was a wall scone he made by cutting and gluing wood together over and over in different patterns! He gave us a matching set. Thank you Kendall! I will post a picture in comments.

We all went out to Silvi's Pizza for lunch in Arvada historic town. 

Erwin and his nephew Kendall after lunch

Went back to the house then we left for Elaine (McHowell) Navratil's apt. Met her husband Rod. We knew her during college days.  We bumped into her and Rod when we visited the Villages a couple years ago when I was invited to give a presentation on using coupons.  She mentioned about thinking of moving back to CO from WA, so when we were making plans to visit Denver we thought of her and contacted her to make arrangements to get together for a visit.
This sign was on the wall near Elaine's front door. Hmmm, makes me
wonder if she has gone out before with misadjusted dress?
Chatted for 3 hours before we went out to 3 Margaritas for supper. It was very good. No, we did not have 3 Margaritas!

Best Buy store was not far from the restaurant, so after supper we asked Elaine and Rod to take us there because Edith needed to add more data for her Mifi, but the store did not have what she needed. Rod suggested to go check Verizon which we did and they added data. 

Back to the Navratils' apartment, chatted a bit more before we bid them good-bye
On way back to Kendall's house there was this nice sunset, so we pulled over and admired it for a while.

 At Kendall's house we parked our camper van on the driveway. We were really tired, but went in the house to chat for a bit because Kendall had to work late shift and we wanted to spend more time with him.

Monday, July 28, 2014

May 26, 2014 (35th Day)

We were up at 5:50 am, but the sun was already way up very early.  Very sunny and in 50˚

While Brian was preparing French toast for breakfast Anna helped Edith with Mac issues.  Breakfast was delicious.

We really appreciated Anna and Brian's hospitality and for taking us to see places while we were in town.  Thank you, Anna and Brian. We loved the time we spent with you!

Left Anna house at 9:40 am.  To kill time before we go visit and stay with our friend, Jeanette (Pleskatcheck) Scheppach in the late afternoon we decided to go to Royal Gorge to see the bridge and the gorge. While on the way there we saw the world's largest statue of a Hercules beetle. It was fenced in and it was difficult to get a close-up shot of it, but Edith managed to find a spot. 

After Erwin got his coffee fix in Penrose, CO we resumed our way.  We did not plan on stopping anywhere before Royal Gorge, but the billboard signs here and there tempted us to swing by the Holly Abbey in Winder, CO to sample their wines. After sampling some we found we liked American Vineyard Sunset (rose wine).  Two bottles of the wine and a jar of black berry and pomegranate BBQ sauce ended up in a shopping bag that went out with us to the van (we wished we had bought a case of the wine).  Next to the winery store is Holy Cross Abbey and monastery, but they were closed due to power outage somewhere. Edith went ahead and took exterior pictures.  

After meandering for a while we finally arrived Royal Gorge, found that the bridge is closed and not open to the public. Only tour buses, which charges $10 pp, can take tourists across the bridge. We decided to take the route to the Overlook area, parked the van, walked to the ledge.  Good view of the bridge, even though it is so far away, but we could see the whole thing and the gorge, too.  We saw few helicopters flying by but they were moving past the bridge too fast, and we thought it was not worth the cost. We stayed a long while to enjoy the scenery.  We even made lunch there.

Brief history of Royal Gorge Bridge:
It is a suspension bridge, is 1,260' long and 18' wide. It is the highest bridge in USA. In June 2013, the planks on the bridge and the park were destroyed by a wildfire. 48 out of 52 park building were burned down. The incline railway and aerial tram were damaged as well.  Park buildings are being built and the bridge will be open,but there was no timeline at that time, which is probably why they are charging a fee to tour it.
The gorge
Royal Gorge Bridge that crosses the gorge 955' above the Arkansas River

After checking the map as to which way we should go after Royal Gorge we realized that going back on the same route that we came on earlier was the best way to go back to Colorado Springs. It started to rain on way back.

We did not plan on visiting Garden of the Gods again, but when we found out that our friend, Jeanette, was still on her way back home from camping we decided to visit it again.  The weather started to clear up by the time we got there.  Traffic jam again! No place for us to park our camper van, so we just drove around while Edith was snapping pictures here and there. We finally saw a herd of bighorn sheep, not far from the entrance.  We managed to find a spot to pull over, so we can watch them for a while. We still cannot get over how beautiful and exquisite the place is! In case you did not know or have never been there, The Garden of the Gods is at the base of Pikes Peak.

View of Pikes Peak in the distance
More awesome pictures by Edith!
awesome pictures by Edith!
Kissing camels (see them?) you have to use your imagination a little.

Contrast in colors and kind of rocks.

Bighorn sheep


Trying to kill time before going to Jeanette's condo we drove through Manitou Springs, but the place was overcrowded, so we could not park and explore. The parking spaces were minuscule and narrow, I feel sorry for residents of that place! 

Jeanette texted to let us know she arrived home, gave us her address. Off we went to her condo. There was not a problem finding it.  Jeanette was there to greet us. It was good to see her again. Jeanette was in the same class with us at Gallaudet, and Edith and Jeanette were roommates for 2 years.  Time was spent on catching up on the news, her showing us the condo, exchanging trip stories.  Let us tell you a bit about her. She is an outdoor person, loves to spend almost all of her waking hours enjoying nature.  She has scaled 50 out of 53 14K peaks in Colorado! 

Top row: Jeanette (2nd from left) and Edith (2nd from right)
Joint Representatives for Class of '69

Jeanette and Phil, suggested that we all go out to eat at a Mexican place in Colorado Springs downtown, which was fine with us because we were craving for Mexican dishes at that time.  We went to Jose Muldoon's and the dinner was excellent (we forgot to take pictures of our entrees).  Good chat and good company.

After dinner we all walked up and down the street, then Jeanette said she wanted ice cream. Edith was in mood for Starbucks caramel macchiato.

Interesting attractions as we walked along the street

How many of you know the last line of the "Humpty Dumpty" song? Well it goes like this after you sing the normal verse and then add
"So they all had scrambled eggs for breakfast again"

Another of Kempf's beautiful sculpture that is scattered around the city!

We and Jeanette stayed up to chat some more.  We exchange informations on places that we have been to.  Very gracious of her to let us spend the night at her condo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

May 25, 2014 (34th Day)

Beautiful morning at 6 am. The sun was shining upon the mountains. Could see snow capped peaks. 
View of Pike's Peak from Anna's office. Such a pretty sight to look at

Anna gets daily visits from these critters who eats out of her garden

The buck and doe were around munching in what ever they could find. The buck had just one antler, so apparently the other antler broke off during flight, fight or accident?

Looking for munchies. Oh! Hi there Edith! I've heard a lot about you!

Brian fixed french toast for breakfast and then we topped them with homemade pineapple preserve and sliced bananas. Very yummy! Also, fresh apricots were served. Then the dessert that Brian made the night before.  

Brian and Anna took us out for a ride. First stop was to see Starr Kempf's stainless steel sculptures. They are on a private property, but can be seen from the street. They were truly awesome and they move into the wind. At one time the owners thought about charging admission fee, but the neighbors would not have it because it would congest traffic and increase more gawkers. 

Then we all went to Cheyenne Canyon Park to go on a 1 mile hike with an altitiude rise of 415 feet.  We huffed and puffed most of the way, remember, we are from Florida which is at sea level and here in Colorado Springs it is not quite 5,000 ft. It was an enjoyable hike, some so steep, but the reward was the view at the top.  We wanted to stay up there forever to savor the beauty of the mountains, but it was time to hike back down to the base.

What a beautiful blue sky!

Getting ready for a hike!
Anna and Brian cozying up during a break from hiking

Looks like we mistimed the jump or Edith too quick on the trigger?

Follow the leader! 

After the hike Brian and Anna took us for a ride on Gold Camp Road. It follows the former railroad from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek that was known as the "Short Line".  Lots of switchbacks and a couple of tunnels that are so narrow that we did not think our camper van can make it through.  Luckily for us, Brian and Anna's car is compact, so they had no problem driving it.  There was a long long U-turn while gaining elevation.  The ride downhill was very enjoyable.  There were lots of hikers and cyclists. Pat on them for their endurance on this tough trail!

We went back to the house for lunch break.  Anna wanted to take us to two places, so we went to Garden of the Gods first.  Alway always a lovely sight to see. The colors, the beauty, the awesome rock formations. 

It was a bumper to bumper traffic, so finding a parking spot was virtually impossible. Well, very impossible if we had driven our camper van, but thank goodness for Anna's compact car. We found one that was not far from the Balanced Rock spot. We walked up to it, savored the sight before taking pictures.

The dark stormy clouds in the background with the sun still shining made for an awesome photograph!

Garden of the Gods, easy to see why!

Anna and Erwin at Gardens of God
This is the Balanced Rock in the background
Erwin and Edith at the Balanced Rock
As you can see this is a very popular attraction!

Next stop was Red Rock Canyon.  Not as beautiful as Garden of the Gods, but the formations were very interesting. There were several trails to choose from.

Erwin and Anna trying to decide which trail to take
Isn't the colors awesome?

Anna and Edith taking a break to admire the beauty
Rains washed away dirt from the base of this tree but its hanging on for dear life!
Huh, Hey Anna, are you sure this is the right way?
Well, we made the 3 miles or so trek!

Back to the house. Brian promised to show Edith how to make homemade pizza dough (we made them the night before).  He let her chose what toppings she wanted to her pizza, so she chose artichoke hearts and ham. 

Edith getting ready for lesson on making pizza
Edith's first masterpiece: Artichoke/Ham Pizza 
The pizza is ready!
Letting it sit for a picture, it didn't last long!
After supper Erwin and Anna played Tri-dominos while Edith was catching up on her trip journal.  It was a very relaxing and pleasant night.  

Anna and Erwin playing Tri-ominos game