First on today's list was snowshoeing! Certainly not a planned activity for a trip in the middle of May, but after finding the snowshoes in our cabin last night, we just had to try them. And we had plenty of snow for our snowshoe adventure. Well the adventure was really just around the yard of the cabin, but for us southern girls, it was an adventure. The snowshoes were big and bulky but they did the job. I only fell once and got a great leg workout in the process. It did not take long to realize that snow shoeing was the only safe way to walk outside this morning. After a little sunshine yesterday and more snow fall last night, the ground was all ice. So that was the only safe way to get our luggage back to the car so we packed up and snowshoed our luggage up the hill.
We drove out of Divide, enjoying the scenery around us. The skies had cleared and we could see the snow capped mountain peaks - just beautiful. We continued through Woodland Park and found it to be a very cute town. We had anticipated seeing Woodland Park 2 days
ago, but those hail storms closed the road preventing us from traveling there. We then drove further down to Manitou Springs and turned on the Pikes Peak Highway.
Pikes Peak was one of the main reasons we chose this area to visit, but no one could have predicted this crazy weather. We drove to the toll gate for the highway and the sign indicated that you could only drive half way up due to snow. So we decided to go into the town and check out the train that goes up to Pikes Peak. We had no reservations for this popular attraction but after calling we learned there was still a few spots on the morning ride, so we parked and went to talk to the ticket staff. At the ticket booth we were told the train could only go 2/3 of the way due to snow cover, but they were discounting the tickets accordingly. So we purchased our tickets and boarded the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The ride up the mountain was slow, cold, and beautiful. It was also very high elevation. They even sold cans of oxygen for use in the thin air.
The ride took
us from the dry valley up through the snow covered forest and through the clouds. Then we went above the clouds and the tree line to a wide open view of the area below up. Words nor photos can accurately explain how beautiful it was. That was our stopping point for the day, so after a few pics, we started the descent. They did have a 'rest area' on the way down for those needing a bathroom break. I took that opportunity to walk around in the powdery snow and take a few more pictures.
The tickets had two parts, one stub for going up and one for going down. I guess they get the random stranger trying to board up top for an easy ride back down so you have to have both. Well, after the rest area, they came around to collect the return ticket from every one but I could not locate mine. We were in the middle of the steep decline down Pikes Peak mountain and I had lost my return ticket! I speculated for a moment what they do to people who do not have their return ticket after going half way down -
do they throw them out to fend for themselves in the freezing snow covered mountains? Do they have to hike back down through the feet of ice and snow with only tennis shoes and a light jacket for warmth? Or do they make them clean the rail cars to earn their fare? I was taking no chances - so I tore a stub off my receipt and submitted it along with the other tickets and they never knew the difference.
After arriving back to the train depot, we headed back out of town towards Old Colorado City. We had seen a sign for it 2 days ago and heard it was a cute old historic town with shops and restaurants. We drove through and were greatly disappointed - did not stop anywhere. It was then we decided to just head back towards Denver and our final hotel for the trip. We stopped in Castle Rock for a late lunch at a little Italian restaurant. It was a true made from scratch Italian eatery and everyone enjoyed their food immensely.
We arrived at our hotel to check in which took a bit longer than usual. About the time I
got to the counter I received a text from my credit card company that they suspected fraud on my card. When the hotel registrar asked for my card, I tried to explain that it probably would not work because I had just received that fraud alert. He responded with 'well I can't check you in because your name is on our terrorist list' with the most serious tone and look on his face. It was at that time that the rest of my traveling party walked up and only heard the 'I cannot check you in because your name is on our terrorist list' remark and they just about came unglued. I was laughing, but they were not - at least not yet. For a few days earlier when checking into our hotel, we asked to use the military discount, for one of our party is a military family. They stated that they could not honor the military discount on Saturdays, because the military do not work on weekends. Yes, they actually said that. So being told that military do not work on weekends and that you are on the terrorist list, was enough to set anyone off. But we
all laughed - including the hotel registrar and continued to enjoy the last hours of our trip. I also called my credit card company and cleared everything up.
We rested a bit in the room, ate a small dinner at the hotel, confirmed our shuttle to the airport for tomorrow morning and prepared for our 3am wake up for our early flight back home. I do believe we have all enjoyed this trip. We have laughed a lot, learned to be very flexible, seen areas none of us have seen before, witnessed the most bizarre weather and enjoyed each others company. It is very different traveling with just girls and very enjoyable. We have already discussed doing it again. Ready to plan the next one!
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