2019 Colorado Adventure – Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

You all know I’m a sucker for a good zoo!!! I heard the one in Colorado Springs wasn’t to be missed…….so, I went…….and I was definitely NOT disappointed!!! The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is located on the side of the Cheyenne Mountain, so it is quite steep and has a winding road through it. They have some wonderful animals…….you’ll see from the photos that I spent the majority of my time with the giraffes – I spent a lot of $$$ purchasing the lettuce to feed them, too! 🙂 I can say that made my day……actually, probably made my YEAR and brought back fond memories of feeding the giraffes and camels near Chittenango, NY and in Kentucky – any time I can get up close and personal with an animal, I’m a happy camper!!! There is also another feature that you have to get into your car to drive to further up the mountain called the Shrine of the Sun – a tribute to Will Rogers, which was pretty amazing, too!

There was a baby!!! aaaawwww…… 🙂

There was a ski lift that carried people up the side of the mountain over the zoo…… I debated for a while and finally decided to just do it…… fear of heights be damned!!! LOL

Getting started made me a little nervous……….

But, once it got going, I really enjoyed it…….

It really wasn’t scary at all!!!

I got to look down at the animals…….like this mountain goat

and the giraffes…….as if seeing them up close wasn’t enough! LOL

I saw the Shrine of the Sun, but didn’t know what it was at the time…….found out later and had to drive up to see it!

When I finished with the zoo, I got a ticket to get in to the Shrine of the Sun and started my drive up the side of the mountain to go see it……the road was a bit nerve-racking, but I got up there and it was really quite special!

That tower way up there is my destination……

this is as far as I could go by car —- had to park here and walk the rest of the way……..at that elevation, I had to stop to catch my breath every few feet!

I’d had enough walking and climbing – my knee had given out, so I have no idea what is down these steps……..didn’t go there! hehehe

If you’re in or near Colorado Springs, do yourself a favor and include the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Shrine of the Sun in your things to do and places to see……you won’t regret it!!!

2019 Colorado Adventure – Manitou Springs

Another great place to visit in Colorado is Manitou Springs! It is near Colorado Springs and so worth the time to go there. That second jeep tour from the tour post was in the afternoon, so I drove to Manitou Springs that morning to check it out. It is a wonderful little cowboy town that I spent some time wandering around and then there is the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, which were totally amazing!!!

I started out with breakfast at Adam’s Mountain Cafe in Manitou Springs – great choice!

Finally a deliciously healthy option……it was so good – the fruit was perfectly ripe and the eggs were fluffy and the multi-grain toast had the best flavor!

It also happened to be the first meal I completely finished!!! LOL (no, I didn’t leave the toast – I ate it with that homemade jam in the little cup)

I made it to downtown Manitou Springs and parked so I could walk around!

Such a pretty town with a mix of history and quaint shops and quirkiness with a beautiful mountain backdrop!

and, some restoration projects……

The town is famous for its healing springs…..like this one that is available for the public to benefit from

I left the downtown area to head towards the Cliff Dwellings and missed a turn……it put me on the famous Ute Pass, which is a winding road through the pass with NO exits……I had to just drive until I got to the end and could get turned around and drive back through it! LOL But, I’m glad I did cause it was STUNNING!!!!

Finally made it to the Cliff Dwellings……the first thing I saw was this tee pee exhibit

This is the Visitor’s Center, museum, and gift shop — I found some incredible gifts (and some things for myself) in the gift shop!

These dwellings are original and authentic, but were not originally located in Manitou Springs – they were constructed and used in the Four Corners area (the spot where Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona meet). There was a risk of them being ruined because they were not being preserved. A group decided to move them where they could be preserved and made available to the public as an educational tool to showcase the heritage. The dwellings are comprised of Anasazi Ruins and were carefully disassembled, moved, and reassembled in their current location embedded into the cliff as it would have been originally – this took several years beginning in 1904 and completed in 1907, when it was opened to the public. It is a 40-room site that provided living space for several families of Anasazi Indians. The word Anasazi comes from the Navajo and loosely translates to mean “enemy ancestors”. They were believed to inhabit the Four Corners region about the time that Christ was born.

Each section would be the home of a family of Anasazi — family would include extended family, as well

This describes just one of the family structures within the complex – one of the ones seen in the close-up above

The museum complex

This structure is for the purpose of grinding corn and other food preparation. There were multiple school tours going on while I was there and they were allowing small groups of children to go in and grind corn and do other tasks.

It was fascinating to see this……I’m so glad I put it on my list of things to do / see in Colorado! What a treat!

I purchased this cross and the dream catcher on the right from the Cliff Dwellings gift shop (the white one I already had) and hung them over my bed! Love them!!!

There was beauty everywhere you looked in Colorado…….and so different from place to place!

2019 Colorado Adventure – Cowboy Jeep Tours

While in Colorado, I booked two cowboy-led jeep tours provided by a company called Adventures Out West…..they were expensive, but amazing – I highly recommend spending the $$$! The tours are in open 4×4 jeeps with awesome guides and small groups, so lots of opportunity for questions, fun, and specialized photos. Also – a lot of the time, we were on roads that you REALLY need an experienced driver and a 4-wheel drive vehicle – trust me!!! Since I was a single, on both tours I got to ride in the front seat, so got great views and experiences!

The first tour covered the foothills – .in addition to Garden of the Gods, which I posted about separately, we drove all along a very narrow dirt road with no shoulder – very scary – and lots of curves, switch backs, and tunnels….the road used to be the Short Line Railroad tracks that wound along the side of the mountain! We also drove thru North Cheyenne Canyon, Helen Hunt Falls (not the actress Helen Hunt – it was named after a local writer), and more…..definitely glad I chose this tour – the weather was perfect and the tour by Adventures Out West was fabulous!!! Here’s just a few of the photos!

This was our jeep — there were five of us on this tour – me and two couples that were traveling together from Tennessee !

Helen Hunt Falls

This is our tour guide – Prairie Dog! He was awesome! He took my photo for me with my phone and then turned the camera for a selfie! LOL

Look down the to the center of the photo – that’s the road we came up on…….shows how far up we traveled – and this was just the foothills! The high country was covered in the next tour!

These tunnels were created for the Short Line Railroad when it was first established in the old west!

The second tour I took with Adventures Out West was the next day and covered the High country! When I booked it, I misread the description – I thought it included going up to Pike’s Peak – my bad – it said Pike’s Peak Region – the tour actually went up Cheyenne Mountain through Pike’s Peak National Forest! So a bit different than I thought, but still awesome!!! We got up Cheyenne Mountain and our guide – a girl named Rambler – pulled off the road, put the Jeep in 4-wheel drive and headed off road…..we traveled down narrow, rough, twisting roads in a steep grade upward! For quite a way, we were following a stage coach route – man, that was not a road I’d want to be on in a stage coach – can we say rough and wash-board run, boys and girls???!!! Then we were on the Short Line Railroad bed – same one we were on yesterday but much higher……then, after a while on that route, she said – now we’re REALLY going off road — we turned onto an old logging road that took off roading to a whole new level!!! We navigated over large ruts, boulders, creeks, and more – even that high clearance Jeep kept scraping bottom……till we reached 10,500 feet elevation where we stopped for a break and then headed back down!!! I think I vibrated and jostled away a good part of me, but it was so much fun!!! And the views were incredible!!! It wasn’t at all scary – just a total blast!!!

We took a different jeep on this one…..but same set up and also just five of us (me and two couples that didn’t know each other) and I got to sit up front, again!

Actual guard rails were few and far between…..there is a slight ridge along the side of the road that they call “Colorado Guard Rails”!

See that ridge along the left side of the road? That’s the Colorado Guard Rail and all that is between you and the steep cliff…..and a sharp curve that prevents you from seeing what’s coming from the other direction!

These roads are a LOT rougher than they look!!! And, the jeep was bobbing and pitching too much to get decent photos of the boulders and huge ruts we maneuvered over in a lot of places along the way!

No way you’d ever make it on these roads without 4-wheel drive and super high clearance!

The top…….10,500 feet elevation! We took a break here and got out to stretch our legs and stop the vibration in our bones! LOL

Someone had been up there target shooting…..and left their target!!! Poor ole bear!

This is Rambler – our tour guide. She was pretty amazing, too!

Me and Rambler!

Bullet holes in the “No Shooting” sign……..hhhmmm

Definitely glad I booked those tours……what a riot going off road like that and seeing views I never would have seen with my rental car…..although, there will be a post later on that tells of a situation I got myself in with my rental that came close!!! LOL

2019 Colorado Adventure – Garden of the Gods

The absolute highlight of my time in Colorado was visiting Garden of the Gods! I was close enough that I could drive through it every day…..and, I did!!! It was part of a tour I took and we spent a lot of time there learning all about it. But, I went back and spent more quiet time there a couple times and at least drove through it every day. It is so awe inspiring! The story we heard on the tour was that in August 1859, two surveyors from Denver City set out to formally locate Colorado City – what is now known as Old Colorado City (see my first Colorado post). While exploring the area, they came upon this area of sandstone rock formations. One of the surveyors suggested it might be a good place for a “beer garden” – the other one countered that it is more fitting as a place for the Gods to assemble and declared it called “Garden of the Gods” and it is still known by that name to this day. The area is all natural formations – no human intervention altered the formations in any way. In 1879, Charles Perkins, president of the Chicago Burlington Quincy Railroad, purchased much of the land – 240 total acres. After his death, his family gave the land to the city of Colorado Springs at his request to be used as a park – with the stipulation that it be known as Garden of the Gods and that it remain free forever to all visitors. In 1909, it was dedicated as a free city park and is registered as a national natural landmark. The formations are sandstone and tower 300 feet in the air!.In the early 1900’s, a Trading Post was added that is still there, today, and is still operated as a trading post……with LOTS of pretty awesome stuff in it! They also have a Visitors Center, but I didn’t stop there, so can’t speak to it…..I understand it is pretty cool and interesting, though!

Keep in mind, these photos in no way will ever do the beauty of Garden of the Gods justice…….it took my breath away and literally brought me to tears! I’m so glad that my hotel was just 5 minutes away and I could spend so much time there at different times of the day to get the full perspective! I have a lot of duplicate photos taken at different times and different days – it will be really hard for me to restrain myself from posting every photo I took…..but, I’ll try to behave and pick the very best…..if that is possible! Here we go:

Cathedral Valley

We saw this guy and I immediately said aloud: “Run, Forrest, Run”!!! Everyone on the tour cracked up and said “YES!!!”

North Gateway Rock and White Rock

North Gateway Rock and White Rock

Kissing Camels (see the top center of the North Gateway Rock)

Balancing Rock (right) and Steamboat Rock – they used to be one rock, but were separated by earthquakes and tremors – if you look close, you can see the bands in the rocks are identical and you can follow an imaginary line from one to the other!

Me with Balancing Rock

I went one evening to try to get sunset photos with the formations……but, it was a bad night for sunsets……this is as close as I got to a sunset photo! boo hoo

Definitely a MUST SEE when going to Colorado!





2019 Colorado Adventure – Old Colorado City

Yes…..I’m finally going to get started posting photos and stories about my trip to Colorado and New Mexico – which I completed the last week in September and first week in October! Better late than never, right?

Colorado and New Mexico were the last two states I had to visit to meet my goal of seeing all 50 states. I decided to do them together in one trip – they border each other and it is a long flight to get out there – might as well make it one good trip! So, I flew into Colorado City, first……I spent five absolutely amazing full days in that area (and two partial days) – Sept 24th – 30th! WOW! I loved it every bit of it! My hotel was in a perfect location — just minutes from Garden of the Gods, Old Colorado City, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Manitou Springs, and more!

I’ll start with Old Colorado City……formerly known as just Colorado City, it used to be one of the first towns founded during the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush of 1859 and was briefly the capital of the Colorado Territory. It is now a historic neighborhood in Colorado Springs. Known for coal and gold mining in it’s heyday, it is now on the National Registry of Historic Places and a very quaint little commercial district with lovely shops and fabulous restaurants – I had several of my meals there, as it was close and had so many options. I also attended Sunday morning church services there at the Pike’s Peak United Methodist Church.

The residents of Old Colorado City embrace and preserve their “Cowboy Town” appeal with signs, murals, and store front appearance.

This is a full view of the famous mural…..close ups follow.

Representative of the wild west……hehehe!

The streets are very welcoming……

This was not the church I attended, but it was so lovely!

This is an original building – the former El Paso Couty Courthouse

As I said, I had several meals in Old Colorado City and had many opportunities to wander around the historic district. I loved it there and made sure I had time to enjoy it whenever I went out to eat!

I had breakfast here twice – they had outdoor seating and really good food!

The second time I was there, I overheard some other guests mention the “amazing” cinnamon rolls……so, of course, I asked about it! The waitress asked if I wanted it to eat in or take out…..I said eat in and she suggested I eat some here and take the rest with me……I soon found out why – it was HUGE!!! The size of a cake big enough to feed a small country! I ate a few bites and did take the rest with me……unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype and I never finished it! But, I can now say I’ve had the World’s Largest Cinnamon Roll!!! hahaha

Even the squirrels were friendly! 🙂

I had dinner one night at Dat’s Italian…….lovely family owned restaurant and delicious spaghetti!

I didn’t realize they automatically put cheese on……luckily, I was able to scrap it to the side and still enjoy the meal!

While wandering around after dinner, I found the original Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory…..who could resist that? I stopped in and almost went into a sugar coma just looking at the displays! I got a chocolate covered apple to take back to the hotel and some homemade dog biscuits to bring back for Megan! (Full disclosure – I went back another evening for another one of those apples)

Another evening, I chose Mother Muffs for dinner……another perfect choice!

Tomato Basil Bisque and a BLT……awesome dinner!

I also had two meals at The Mason Jar……both amazing!

Ribeye, salad, baked potato, and sweet tea…….perfect sweet tea…….between the two meals, I must have gone through a gallon or more of refills! LOL

So….that was Old Colorado City! If you’re ever in or near Colorado Springs, I highly recommend you spend some time in Old Colorado City……it is a great place to just spend some time wandering around, shopping, and the restaurants are fabulous!!!

2019 Advent Daily Photos – Week One

I like to do the special Advent and Lent Photo Challenge lists……here is the topic list for this year’s Advent Challenge:

And, here we go with the photos I took for week one:







(waiting for spring)


The first week of Advent represents HOPE:


December Daily Photos – Week One

For December, I have two challenges going on at the same time…….this one – the regular Photo A Day Challenge……and one for Advent – which will be featured in a separate post. So, here we go…..








Looking forward to next week!