Today began the first leg of a new trip - a girls trip. 'The Girls' are my mother (Linda), my aunt (Barbara), my step sister (Stephanie) and me. This trip idea came about when trying to determine what to do to celebrate a couple of 'significant' birthdays and Mothers Day. So a plan was developed and this is the weekend to do it - headed to Colorado Springs.
We had an early flight out of Atlanta and arrived in Denver before 8am. I have never heard so many people sleeping in one place as on that airplane today. And the guy right behind me snored loudly from the time we boarded in Atlanta, through the take off, through all the turbulence, through the entire flight and through the landing. Amazing. We picked up our rental car, took one more loop around the airport (missed our turn) and headed toward Colorado Springs. By that time we were all hungry and since we gained a couple of hours while in the great blue sky, we decided to eat our second breakfast of the day. To be fair, we only ate a CFA biscuit earlier, for there were limited choices at
5:30am in the airport. So we stopped at a nice little cafe/diner in Castle Rock called Travelers Inn. The food and service was great. We took a couple of pictures of the Rock the town is named for and headed on down the road.
Garden of the Gods was our next stop and the weather cleared up just in time to tour the area. Garden of the Gods is an area of huge red rock formations with hiking and biking trails. We stopped by the visitors center for a map and learned that much of the area was closed due to flooding. The Denver area has had some harsh weather this week and was still recuperating. Much of the visitors center is under renovation with many new exhibits about to open and they looked great - just wish they were open for us. With our map in hand we started the drive through the formations. We actually drove right between some of them and around many others. We stopped a couple of times for photos and saw the weather was not quite done with the area. So we kept moving but would like to revisit one day and enjoy
some of the hikes in the area.
After the Garden of the Gods, we had intended on visiting the ranch across from the gardens but it was closed, so we moved on to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. The dwellings, though interesting, are quite touristy. The dwellings, built into the side of the cliff (thus the name), were actually relocated to that area, not original. There were about 4 rooms that you are able to walk through and get a feeling for how they actually dwelled. Upon arriving at the gate, we were greeted with a massive hail storm. We decided to wait it out in the car - after all, how long can a hail storm last? In Colorado Springs - a very long time. We waited about 30 minutes or so and the car, ground, hills, etc were covered with a white layer of hail. It was crazy. It finally calmed enough for us to run through the dwellings and run back to the car, while lightening was striking all around us. We had paid $40 to see this, so we were going to see it - even through the hail, rain, thunder, and lightening. This attraction was
ok and would have certainly been more enjoyable in better weather but not worth the price.
After leaving the dwellings, we moved on to our next stop, but never actually made it. It started hailing again - lots and lots of hail. Though about the size of marbles, it packed a good punch. It was very loud and dangerous. The more we drove, the more it hailed, so I turned around and headed in the opposite direction - toward clearer skies. We stopped for a few groceries to take to the cabin and decided since the weather was quite unfavorable, to just go to the cabin and relax a bit. But after coming out of the grocery after 15 minutes, the ground went from being dry to a solid white hail lot. The store employees were getting their snow shovels out to remove the hail from the entrance to the store. This weather was nuts. Up the mountain we tried to go, but the weather - the weather said no. Up the mountain was the way to our cabin, so we gave it a go. The storm had dumped so much hail (inches thick) that the roads were a
mess and with the temperatures dropping, it was too dangerous to continue. After seeing the big tow truck in front of me slip and slide trying to get to a stuck car on the highway, I had decided that this southern girl was not prepared or skilled enough to continue driving in that mess. And the DOT agreed with me. They closed the roads to all traffic making it definite that we would not reach our cabin. So we turned around and drove back through the slushy icy mess and found a motel.
But that weather was not done yet - while checking into our hotel while still being hailed on and iced in, we received a tornado warning for one was spotted in the town next to us. Are you kidding me? Today, within a 30 mile radius, I have driven through sun, clouds, rain, mist, hail, snow, sleet, hail, thunder, flooding, lightening and now a tornado was coming. Being from south Alabama/Georgia, a hail storm is common and usually last only a couple of minutes. Today's hail lasted for hours. And I have never known of a road to be closed because of the amount of hail
that had fallen on it. I have no idea the damage to the rental car, just hoping for the best. We might find out how good the rental company is as well as insurance soon. We are hoping for better weather tomorrow, but fully aware that their might be some flooding issues. But regardless of what happens tomorrow, this is one trip we will all remember.
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