The Bipolar Charm of Colorado

Published: May 12th 2015
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What a difference a day can make. We woke to clearing skies and a dry ground, which is just bazaar considering the crazy weather we had yesterday, but glad for it. Barbara has a friend that lives in the area so we met her for breakfast before heading out for the day. We checked road conditions, weather, and got a few questions answered from her friend about the area and hit the road.

We stopped by North Cheyenne Canon Park. The park is maintained by the City of Colorado Springs and is accessed by some less traveled back roads. I wasn't sure what to expect from the park, but I thought if the word 'canyon' is part of the name that it had to have something worth looking at. I also read about a waterfall that can be viewed from the road, which sounded great for it had started snowing again and not all members of our traveling party were up for a hike. We arrived at the park entrance and started driving through without a clue of anything about it - how far the road went, conditions of the road, what was on the road - nothing. Well we were not disappointed! Within a minute of turning on the park road, I knew it was a good choice. It was absolutely beautiful. We drove up the mountain taking in all sorts of views of cliffs, rushing streams, cascading waterfalls, lookouts, snowy landscapes, and the beautiful Helen Hunt Falls. We continued up to the top where we could either turn around or continue down a muddy dirt road filled with pot holes. Deciding to not risk our luck with the rental car agency with further damage after the hail storms, we turned around.

Given the crazy weather and road conditions, we made a few changes to our plan and decided to head down to Canon City for 2 things - Sky Line Drive and Royal Gorge Bridge. The ride down to Canon itself was beautiful giving diverse landscapes as well as weather. On one side there would be feet of snow and tall trees, and the other side of the road would be rocks and dry barren land. We would run into a quick rain shower, a little snow shower and then sunshine all within a matter of minutes. Beginning to think this state is bipolar - it can't make up its mind what season it is nor what type of terrain it is, but all those bipolar characteristics just adds to the charm of the area.

After stopping for lunch (which is not worth writing about), we arrived at the entrance to Sky Line Drive, only to find a locked gate. Bummer! How could it be closed - Why was it closed? Didn't they know we were coming - Didn't they care? Clearly not. This is apparently not a high tourism season for we noticed many areas and businesses closed - disappointing.

With no sky line drive to ride, we moved forward to the gorge. I had seen pictures of the gorge and bridge and knew it would be a great stop. After driving for a while, following the signs, along slow, pot hole filled roads we arrived at the canyon. It was a bit weird, for you are driving and driving and then all of a sudden you are there staring down at the deep gorge with no warning. It was spectacular. The gorge has a bridge across it, an aerial tram, a railway, and a zip line. I tried to get Barbara and Stephanie to go zip lining but they were not cooperating. Stephanie said she would not even do it for a million dollar cash prize. So clearly they were not budging. We took in the view, snapped many photos and watched those crazy dare devils zip line across it. It was intense. We could have walked or driven across the bridge, but it cost a substantial fee - around $17 a person. $17 to walk on a bridge? No thank you. The bridge was impressive, but we were not about to dish out $60 for the privilege of walking on it. So we just admired it from a distance.

We then decided to head back up towards the cabin that was not accessible yesterday due to the amount of hail on the roads. The drive was long but so pretty. We gradually gained elevation reaching the snowy ridges and views beyond description. It was mountain driving at its best. We did see a little wildlife on our ride including dear, elk, and coyote. We admired many beautiful homes in the area as well realizing how fortunate they are to live in such a beautiful area and they get to see those magnificent landscapes every day. It is a different lifestyle out there and certainly not fitting for some people. No neighbors for miles, hundreds of acres to maintain, a 2 hour drive to the nearest grocery - but some things are just worth it. After a small delay due to a wrong turn we finally made it to our cabin. Siri did not catch the wrong turn and then decided she didn't know where we were so she just quit working. But my traveling companions jumped in and helped determine where we were and which direction to head. As we made our way there, we fully realized why we could not access it yesterday. In addition to the inches of hail on the roads there were also inches of snow. The roads had been plowed today but not the walkway to the cabin. We had a bit of a hurdle to get over or through as it resulted in a 3 foot high snow drift in the walkway to the door. 3 feet is not so much if you have the correct attire and footwear. We did not.

The cabin is beautiful - inside and out. Just what you imagine a small cabin in the mountains of Colorado to be. After settling in, I find snowshoes in the closet - that would have been helpful on the trips from the car to the cabin. I also found today that the rental car has various road condition controls including one for traveling through snow and ice. That would have been very helpful yesterday when we were sliding on the roads. And we learned that our car has a sun roof which helps explain why the hail storms we had yesterday were so incredibly loud. I was surprised to find no dents or cracks on it but thankful. Next time I will take a little more time learning the features of the car before going into new territory. Tomorrow is our last full day in Colorado and we are hoping to make it to Pikes Peak, but only in the morning light will we know.

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