May 30th to Jun 1st ~ Colorado Springs
Dick and Karen used to live in Colorado Springs, so they played tour guides here, showing us where they used to live and where they had their pie shop, Plush Pippin. Over a delicious BBQ at our campsite our first evening, we got to meet three of their long-time friends, Alanna, Graham and Laura. Made for a wonderful introduction to this area.
In addition to sharing memories, there are several must see things in Colorado Springs.
Getting on base: Public areas of the Academy are open to visitors and guests from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can enter through the North Gate (exit 156 on Interstate 25) and will need to provide one of the following:
- Military ID
- Driver’s License
- Photo ID
We started our tour at the Visitor’s Center.
The life for cadets is strictly managed, especially for the first year. There is a very informative museum like display that details much of what is expected of anyone entering the academy. They set high standards and there is vigorous competition to get accepted in the first place.
Dorm style rooms must be kept spotless, with minimal furnishings and only two personal items are allowed.
The list of standards and room requirements were detailed on two signs.
There is a one-third-mile paved trail from the Visitor’s Center that you can take to visit the Cadet Chapel.
The chapel is an iconic symbol of the Academy campus. It is multi-denominational, with separate chapels for the Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist and the largest upstairs chapel being for the Protestant denomination. There is also another chapel that can be utilized for a variety of religions, including Muslim, American Indian, African and many smaller faiths.
We got to witness a graduation ceremony of sorts where those who had completed their schooling to become trainers received their berets.
You are welcome to tour much of the campus, but for us the Chapel was the highlight.
Pikes Peak is one of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners, which are mountains more than 14,000 feet (4,267.2 m) above sea level. Known for stunning views from the summit, it has drawn sightseers and mountain climbers from around the world.
In July 1893, Katharine Lee Bates wrote the song “America the Beautiful“, after having admired the view from the top of Pikes Peak.
“The Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway, the world’s highest cog railroad, operates from Manitou Springs to the summit, conditions permitting.” ~ Wikipedia
Sadly, after 125 years, the Cog has closed for 2018 to assess some of the older equipment. They are hopeful that it will be reopened for the 2019 season.
We were disappointed that the railway was closed, but decided to drive to the top via the Pikes Peak Highway. At the base of the mountain we were stopped at an entry point, and when they wanted $50 per car, we thought that a bit excessive to drive ourselves and chose to pass on this one.
Hopefully we can return at some point in the future and be able to take the Cog instead.
Right next to Colorado Springs, this picturesque mountain town is worth a short visit. We spent a leisurely hour wandering in and out of several shops and managed to pick up some decadent cherry balsamic vinegar. Delish!
A National Natural Landmark, this free park is perfect for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and simply enjoying the magnificent rock formations, many of which are over 300 million years old.
Shortly after entering the park you will pass by one of the most well-known sites, Balanced Rock.
A short distance further brings you to the Trading Post. Certainly a tourist “trap” of merchandise, but be sure to try a sample or two of their delicious fudge. The dark chocolate with sea salt was my favorite. Karen and I left a monetary deposit in exchange for a couple of drool-worthy squares.
We continued on to the Visitors Center, where we checked out the museum exhibits and watched the 12 minute movie.
You can also arrange tours at the visitors center.
Just past the Visitors Center is the North Main Parking Lot where you can take a free guided nature walk at 10am or 2pm. Our timing was off, so we explored on our own.
Many of the legendary rock formations can be seen from taking the easy meandering loop trail that leaves from this parking lot. This is the Central Garden Area.
Reminder to bring a hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water…
There is not an abundance of RV parks inside Colorado Springs. We chose to stay at Lone Duck Campground, which is a few miles outside of town. The campsite is well maintained, has a clean laundry facility, swimming pool and play area, plus a small lake for fishing. Free popcorn was an additional plus.
Next Stop: Royal Gorge and Bishop Castle
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that we got to see Colorado Springs through Dick and Karen’s eyes. We have heard of their restaurant/pie business for some time and it was wonderful to finally get to see where it once was. We also enjoyed meeting their dear friends and spending a fun evening together.