Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Add that to the ways you've tried to kill me."

  We left Denver this morning in our rented Dodge Charger.  (Special thanks to Sergio from Peru at the Hertz counter who suggested the upgrade.)  We found our way to Manitou Springs where we picked up some Pad Thai to go and headed for Pike's Peak.
   Pike's Peak is the easternmost "fourteener", or mountain higher than 14,000 feet.  It is named after Zebulon Pike who found the mountain in 1806 but never made it to the summit.  Gold was discovered in the area and prompted the "Colorado Gold Rush" in the 1850s.  The slogan of the "59ers" was "Pike's Peak or Bust", which became our motto today as well.
   We found ourselves following a large trailer being towed by a Silverado.  There was a large image of Jesus on the back of the trailer which advised "Follow me", which we did for several  very tediously slow miles.
  The rangers finally convinced the driver that there was no way, Jesus or no Jesus, that the Silverado could tow that mammoth trailer up Pike's Peak.  Gratefully the truck's driver executed an amazing U-turn, almost taking the front end of the Charger with him.
   We wound our way, switch back after switch back, until we found the Half-way Park where we claimed a picnic table and devoured what turned out to be excellent Pad Thai.
  We continued our trip up the Peak.  We realized that with every foot of increased elevation, there was less and less oxygen to be breathed.  We did however, as evidenced by this photo, reach the summit of Pike's Peak!
   The plaque in the previous picture includes the lyrics to "America the Beautiful" which were apparently inspired by the very same view we were enjoying.  The only problem was that the view was literally breath-taking.  Both Ellen and I noted that even posing for pictures made us winded.  

     We spent a few minutes in the gift shop, purchased some post cards and then departed.  It was fairly incredible to view the above scene.  I don't believe that either of us had ever watched a thunderstorm from above the storm.  We then proceeded to drive back down the circuitous route and through the aforementioned thunderstorm which came with a side order of hail.  It was about at this very time that Ellen uttered the inspired quote which entitles this missive.
   The rest of the day has been delightful.  We arrived at our Marriott hotel in Colorado Springs and saw a bunch of people with polo shirts that said "USA Basketball".  Two of them I recognized: Tony Bennet, the coach at UVa and Chaka Smart, the VCU wunderkind who somehow took the Rams to the Final Four (eliminating my beloved Hoyas in the process).  I couldn't think of anything to say except "Georgetown is having a great recruiting year and next time we'll kick your ass" so I decided not to say anything at all.   We asked the young lady at the check in desk for a recommendation for dinner and she told us about The Trinity Brewing Company.  This seemed to be divinely inspired, what with following Jesus earlier in the day, so we went.  The Trinity Brewing Company grows their own organic vegetables and brews their own beers which, according to their brochure, are inspired by Belgian breweries.  This was a very wise dining choice.
   We drove back to the hotel with a short detour through The Garden of the Gods, which is as awe-inspiring as it sounds.
   Tomorrow, it's time to move on down the Santa Fe Trail, through Pueblo, Colorado and ending in Cimmaron, New Mexico.  I will end this with a short video from Pike's Peak Summit:

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