2019 DC Adventure

In 2017, my friends Cathy and Pat and I were planning a girl trip to DC. We made a list of all the things we each wanted to see or do and soon realized that there is no way we could see/do it all in one trip…..unless it was a very long trip!!! So, we decided to make it an annual trip – we’d take the train down on Monday, stay Tues – Thurs, and take the train back on Friday! Perfect! Enough time to cram in several things and not be gone too long! The first year – 2017 – all three of us went and we did it in May and got a lot of the basic things out of the way. In 2018, sadly, Pat couldn’t make the trip, so Cathy and I went and we were there during peak cherry blossom time – spectacular! This was our third year and all three of us were together, again – in October, this time! All three trips were fun and exciting in their own way and we saw new and different things each time……and repeated a couple things that Cathy and I did in 2018 and really wanted to share with Pat! We found it odd that there were massive amounts of school tours so early in the school year, but still managed to get in and out of the places we wanted to go with little lines or waiting, so that was good! It was a painful trip for me — my knee and back were not willing to cooperate! I think I’d just been doing way too much in the months leading up to it and this was the trip that they decided they’d had enough……so, I missed out on a couple things I wished I could have participated in, but that’s OK — the trip was still fantastic and I really enjoyed the things I did get to see…..and, luckily, there were three of us, so my issues didn’t stop anyone else from going and enjoying what I couldn’t!

October 21-25, 2019 – my birthday week!!!

Our train pulling into the Rochester Amtrak Station — I do love traveling by train! It makes for a VERY long day, but it is an affordable, relaxing and comfortable way to get there! We’re going to look into maybe flying next year — we can take Southwest into BWI Airport and then take the train to Union Station……we’ll see how it goes!

Union Station in DC is an awesome train station……lots to do there and it is huge and beautiful!!!

Once we arrived, we took a taxi to our hotel – we always stay at Hotel Harrington – the location is perfect! It is an older, historic hotel, but they have a “room for 5” which has three beds at a great price and, like I said, you can’t beat the location – right in the middle of everything!

Our first day, we went to the National Museum of American History……lots of cool stuff to see, there!

The D-Day Flag

Glinda’s wand!

Bat Mobile from the first Batman movie!

I had to take this photo because I had just been to Muhammad Ali’s grave site in Kentucky a couple months before this!

Archie and Edith’s chairs from All In The Family!

As we were walking that morning, there was a spot where we could see the Washington Monument to the right……

And, the Capitol Building to the left!!!

We had planned to go to the Capitol Building the next day – had reservations for the tour and everything……but, I got a text while we were at the American History Museum saying that most of the building would be closed to the public until Friday (the day we were leaving) because of the preparations and services for the  Lying in State of Rep Elijah Cummings, who had passed away a couple days prior. So, we decided to cancel and put it on next year’s list…….didn’t want to go and not see things like the Rotunda and other parts that were going to be closed. We’ll do it when we can do it right! 🙂

 That first afternoon we spent at the Holocaust Museum this trip……such an emotional visit…….

This exhibit was Daniel’s Story — the life a a young boy just prior to and during the Holocaust – this was his home before!

His room, before……

And the room his family lived in during…..

And a scene from a concentration camp…..

Makes you think……

It is our duty to speak up…….

By the time we left the Holocaust Museum, it was pouring rain, so we got on the Metro and went back to the hotel to get dry and warmed up……went down for dinner and called it a day!

The building on the corner where we picked up the Metro near our hotel…..Day Two morning – we took the Metro to the National Mall…..

We revisited the FDR Memorial….Cathy and I saw it last year when we were on a Cherry Blossom bus tour, but we were rushed through it and Pat didn’t get to see it, so we definitely wanted to be sure to do it this year, again! It is one of the best memorials on the National Mall – one you don’t want to rush through! It spans each of his Presidencies and all that happened in America during his administrations and even includes First Lady Elinor Roosevelt! It is laid out like a “journey” of several “rooms” that you walk through! A MUST see!!!

Commemorating his Fire Side Chats

The Bread Lines of WWII

The plight of the poor in America at the time……and there were LOTS of his quotes written in the stone throughout the memorial

The creation of jobs in his “New Deal” economic programs – shows examples of various jobs!

His funeral procession

After we left FDR, we strolled around the tidal pond…..so peaceful and beautiful!

This is Pat entering the WWII Memorial – this is another amazing memorial on the National Mall – the newest one! It wasn’t there (or wasn’t done – not sure) the first year we went. Cathy and I spent a lot of time there last year and we wanted to be sure Pat had a chance to see it! Cathy and I were pooped, so we sat and waited while Pat walked through it! Another MUST see!!! Tom Hanks was instrumental in making this happen……and it is so amazing!

While we were waiting, we got to see a mounted policewoman ride by!

Stunning horse!

After lunch, we went to the National Museum of Natural History — Pat wanted to get some dinosaur stuff for her grandson! My knee was shot, so I sat outside while they went in! They made me wish I had gone in when they told me all about it, but I was happy sitting outside on a gorgeous day – soaking up some sun! I sat on the wall along the steps up to the entrance and was joined by a group of 5th graders from south somewhere – I think Tennessee??? Maybe……anyway I had a lovely conversation with a young girl who sat next to me!

I was also joined by several birds who perched around me to enjoy the sun, too!

We passed this guy just up the street a ways! Quite the unique drummer! 🙂

We always like to plan to see a show or two in the evenings – Ford’s Theater (where Lincoln was shot) is a favorite place to go, but there wasn’t anything that interested us playing there, this year. So, we went to the Kennedy Center and saw “Shear Madness” – a great comedy / murder mystery! Here is Pat out on the terrace overlooking the Potomac River where we went to view the sunset before the show! (Both Pat and Cathy are camera shy……I have to get sneaky and steal a photo when I can! hehehe)

One of the workers inside told us we just missed the best of the sunset, but it was still lovely…..we spent quite a bit of time out there before going in to the cafe for a drink and then the show!

The famous Watergate Hotel seen from the terrace at the Kennedy Center

There were several rowing teams finishing up their runs – it was fun watching them!

Rowing on the Potomac!

The steeples in the distance are the National Cathedral in Georgetown — Cathy and I were there last year and had the honor of hearing the reading of Martin Luther King’s last sermon given there before his death – we were there during the MLK Day week! (By the way — his memorial on the National Mall is another MUST see — we saw it the first year we were there and it is awesome!)

Day three morning, we took a bus tour out to Mount Vernon…..

We drove thru Old Towne Alexandria, which was really lovely. We had three hours “on our own” at Mt Vernon with a specific time to go thru the mansion. So we went through the Education Center, first – loved it – lots of history and information. Then we had lunch at the Mt Vernon Inn and had a trio of soups that were INCREDIBLE – a peanut soup with lots of peanuts and chestnuts, a roasted tomato basil bisque, and a butternut squash soup with spiced cream and candies pecans……all three were sooooo good! 

The Educational Center was incredible…….so much I didn’t realize about George and Martha Washington!

This was cool…..and spooky…..it follows you as you walk by……yeah, a little creepy, but cool!

George, Martha, and their children.

He was a tall man, but she wasn’t much taller than I am!!!

Then we went to the mansion, which is a long walk from the rest of the complex and stood in a long line – I was already in a lot of pain (as I said, this was a very painful trip for me), so the standing in line after the long uphill walk did me in and I couldn’t make it thru the house – I got to see it up close and the stunning view of the Potomac from the back porch, but then left my friends and went back to the gate to wait for them and our bus…..they did part of the inside tour and gave up, too – said I didn’t miss much. It was hot and VERY crowded with school tours and the best part was the Educational Center and  seeing the mansion from the outside! So…….we’re glad we went, but wish we knew the mansion part wasn’t necessarily worth it!

Washington’s view of the Potomac from his back porch!

This church was in Old Alexandria and is the church that Washington and his family worshiped in — the tour didn’t stop there, but the guide said it is worth the trip back to go inside. Maybe we’ll put it on the list for another year!

Then since I had hit my brick wall and was at my limit for pain, I went back to the hotel and slept a couple hours while Cathy and Pat went on to the American Indian Smithsonian – they said it was wonderful – wish I had seen it – it is my one big regret from the trip, but there was no way I could have! 😢 Maybe we’ll revisit it another year so that I can see it, too! When they got back, we went down for my birthday dinner (did I say that we were there for my birthday???) and then packed up so we’re ready for our early morning train back home. It was a short, but great trip….we’re already thinking about what will be on our list for next year’s Annual Girl’s DC Trip!!! 😊

This was above the escalator in the Metro……I thought it was cool!

I caught this shot through the windshield of the taxi on our way to Union Station the morning we left – sunrise over the Capitol Building!!!

Well, what-da-ya-know??? I’m finally all caught up on the Adventure posts — that’s the last big adventure of 2019!!! Next week is Christmas and then we’ll be ringing in a new year – a new DECADE! WOW!!!

 

2019 New Mexico Adventure – Part Two

So, the second part of my time in New Mexico was several days spent venturing out on my own – no more guided tours were booked. I went to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Sandia Peak, Old Town Albuquerque, Historic Route 66, and Sante Fe before returning home on October 4th.

When I got to Albuquerque the day I left Farmington, I went to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and then went to the Sandia Peak and rode the tram up to the top – 10,300 ft elevation! Both were really cool and I was really ready to hit the pillow in my hotel that night, for sure!!!

Sandia Peak Tram:

This tram was an enclosed ride up the side of Sandia Peak – up to 10,300 ft elevation! The ride itself wasn’t very comfortable – had to stand in a crowded tram for something like 15-20 minutes, but the views were pretty cool and time at the top was nice. I also had a late lunch at the tram start point with a nice view, so it was a good time!

Watching the tram return while I was at the top!

This is the spot of a bad plane crash a few years back – the plane flew right into the side of the mountain!

Heart shaped rock! 🙂 ❤

My view during dinner……

…..and, my dinner!

I purchased a few things in the gift shop, too……some t-shirts for my niece and nephew……two gorgeous cowgirl angels and a wonderful cross – all for myself:

I’m glad I didn’t have a whole lot planned right in Albuquerque – not impressed with it – very congested city with horrid traffic! It took me over 45 minutes to drive just under 13 miles through rush hour traffic…..not fun! But, after a good night’s sleep, I went to Old Town Albuquerque the next day……that was much nicer – I really enjoyed spending time wandering around there!

My first stop in Old Town Albuquerque was the San Felipe de Nere Church — incredible!!!

And…..there was so much more to see in Old Town Albuquerque:

On my way back to Albuquerque, I drove down Historic Route 66 for a bit and had lunch at the famous Route 66 Diner……that was way cool!!!

Of course, I had a burger, onion rings, and a vanilla milkshake —- and it was DELICIOUS!!!

they have a “selfie” wall……someone at the end table offered to take my photo, instead of just doing a selfie!

but, of course, I still did a selfie……cause, why not???

It was a bit unsettling, though, to have Elvis watching over me while I was taking care of business in the ladies room! hehehe

Woo Hoo —- a pink flamingo!!!

An old preserved ghost sign across from the diner!

After lunch, I drove about an hour to Sante Fe and found the Old Santa Fe Trail through the historic district……LOVED Santa Fe so much!!! But…..I was running low on gas – I paid to bring it back empty because they locked me into a good price for gas and told me that coming back during the balloon festival will guarantee a MUCH higher price, if I wait…..of course, I didn’t know then that I was cutting my trip short, but that’s OK. So, I was trying not to put too much in when I got low…..but, I wasn’t paying much attention and it got VERY low by the time I got to Santa Fe – like almost completely out of the red zone on the gauge empty!!! I started looking for a gas station……none to be found, easily, so I asked my GPS to find one……every one it directed me to was either closed up or not there at all……finally, I couldn’t wait much longer, so the last one the GPS told me to go to was actually a UPS Store, so I went in and told them the story and asked where the closest one was – they said it was close – just a block away!!! YAY!!! I pulled in there and there were NO diesel pumps (remember, the rental car was a VW Passat)!!! UGH!!! By now, the fumes I was riding on were likely fading away!!! I went inside the convenience store and told them my story and they said “oh, boy – you can only find diesel on the main highways!” Rut Ro!!! They directed me to the main highway about 4 blocks down and another 4 blocks over……I finally found a station with diesel fuel and made it in time!!! WHEW!!! Once I had enough gas to ensure my trip back to Albuquerque and to the airport the next morning, I could relax and see a bit of beautiful Santa Fe!!!

I stopped at the stunning Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi

the first Native American Saint

This is a walking garden with several sculptures representing the Stations of the Cross Prayer Garden consisting of fourteen life-size sculptures representing stages during the events in the hours leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. It was very impressive and solemn……

So, that concludes my Colorado and New Mexico trip……if you’re reading this one first, keep scrolling – there are two posts focused on New Mexico and six focused on Colorado!!!

Summary for this trip:

Dates: September 24th – October 4th (11 days – 5 less than originally planned, but it was enough to get to see the best parts)

Flew Buffalo to Denver, Denver to Albuquerque, and Albuquerque to Buffalo

Two rental cars with total miles of 1,478!!!  Almost as far as it is from Albion, NY to Monument Valley (the furthest west I went) – which is 1,733 miles as the crow flies!!! Add that together and I traveled over 3200 miles on this trip!!!

To break down the mileage, I put 584 miles on the Hyundai Santa Fe in Colorado (saw and did more there, but everything was closer – less driving) and I put 894 miles on the VW Passat in New Mexico!

And, the best part is I saw some amazing sites, did some really cool things, and made the most awesome memories!!! Definitely a trip well worth the time and money…….fantastic!!!

2019 New Mexico Adventure – Monument Valley

From Colorado, I traveled to New Mexico. I flew from Denver to Albuquerque, picked up my rental car (a VW Passat), and drove 3 hours to Farmington, NM! I found that everything I wanted to do in New Mexico was at least 3-4 hours from each other, but that’s OK – it is why they offer unlimited miles on rental cars! LOL I stayed in Farmington for two nights while I visited Monument Valley and Four Corners Monument. Monument Valley was another three hours from Farmington, but that was the closest place I could find a hotel that didn’t cost an enormous amount of money! The drive from the airport to the hotel was really nice – all good highway, but pretty much nothing in between – lots of dirt, rock, and buttes with a few oil rigs, a couple tiny villages, several reservations, and several casinos…..all with a lot of nothing in between! LOL But, it was a beautiful, easy drive and my elevation increased from about 5300 ft to about 7500 ft. I settled into the hotel, got some dinner at a local Buffalo Wild Wings, and got some sleep. The tour I booked for Monument Valley was for 8:00 am and, like I said, I had about a three hour drive to get there! So, it was an early night to rest up for an early morning.

I got up super early and made the long drive to Monument Valley is part of a large Navajo territory that spreads across borders of New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado – the bulk of the land is in Utah and Arizona. The actual Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a National Park that sits well within the Navajo Reservation and is protected by the Navajo people. They are very proud of their land and their heritage and are excited to share their cultures and history. Per the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park web site: “The delicate spires and gigantic buttes of this natural wonder at the Arizona-Utah border form the core of the Navajo Tribal Park, spanning an area of 91,696 acres (37,108 hectares) across the two states. The aptly named Monument Valley has been oft featured in popular films, most notably those of Director John Ford, its stoic forms forever immortalized as icons of the American West. The mammoth buttes, like sleeping giants, rise from the wind-swept landscape alongside towering spires of rock like the striated pinnacles of an ancient cathedral. As the sun makes its way across the sky each day, the landscape appears to shift while the clouds overhead chase their shadows across the richly-hued desert terrain. The overall effect is one of haunting beauty hewn of sandstone and shaped by the elements. Quite a drive from Flagstaff, but well worth the scenic trip, Monument Valley is deep within the Navajo Nation Reserve. Here, the Navajo continue to adhere to age-old traditions, living life in the image of their ancestors.”

These first few photos are from inside the Visitors Center at The View Hotel where I met up with the tour guide

The tour was put on by Monument Valley Safari Tours and was an awesome 3.5 hour tour in a 4×4 Jeep with a Navajo guide. There are parts of Monument Valley that are accessible by the public without a tour guide, but they still recommend you use a 4-wheel drive vehicle. These tours, though, take you further in to areas that are restricted unless accompanied by a Navajo guide because they want to ensure the formations and the land are not desecrated in any way. I am so glad I booked the tour because our guide made it amazing and the best views were definitely in the areas that the general public are restricted from. The formations are all natural and not interfered with by humans in any way – if they erode, they remain eroded – they believe that nature must be left to run its course. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Museum!

This was our tour jeep – I think there were 7 of us on this tour

Our guide – Comasheena – was awesome! She shared her love of the Navajo way of life and customs with us and went out of her way to ensure we got the best photos!

These are typical Navajo dwellings of the area called Hogans, currently not usually occupied, but some Navajo do still use them as their homes…..we stopped at one that I will show the interior of later!

Me in the “Mitten” pose in front of the buttes known as…..wait for it…..The Mittens!!!

I believe this one is known as The Three Sisters

There were a lot of wild horses, as well as family owned horses

This is known as John Ford’s Point – that horse is a fake one that people can have their photo taken on! LOL

This butte is known as The Elephant – see his body and his head is on the left side

This is known as The Shells

This is known as The Big Chief……this was NOT carved – it is a natural formation that the Navajo believe to be a tribute to the big chiefs!

More Navajo Hogan (dwelling) replicas

This Hogan is set up to showcase the heritage and crafts of the Navajo people and show a typical interior of these types of dwellings

It was after this point that we went into the areas that were restricted unless with a Navajo guide.

This cave was amazing…..see those tiny people at the base of it? Well, we went down there and it was like entering a cathedral!!! This is used by the Navajo as a place to perform spiritual music – the acoustics are incredible! There is a hole in the ceiling (you can see the sun shining through it onto the back wall) and our guide told us that at night, it is like looking up into heaven!

Again, this is a totally natural formation! God is amazing!!!

This shows the group that arrived before us — they are laying back against the slanted wall so they can look up through the hole in the ceiling while their guide played an authentic Navajo instrument and sang them a song. Our guide did the same thing for us, but this photo shows the whole picture – something I couldn’t get of us while we were in there!

Here we are lying against the slanted wall looking up at the inside of the cave……

It was so huge that it was difficult to get a good photo — but, as we were lying there looking up, the shape of the ceiling looks like an eagle – the opening is his eye and to the left is his beak and to the right is his neck!

On the stones to the left is the drum our guide used to sing her song — it was so beautiful and echoed majestically inside the cave — I wish I could share that with you, but I can’t!

Our guide took panoramic photos of us individually inside the cave with her drum — love this photo so much!!!

Another eyelet formation that looks like an animal

These and many other Petroglyphs are why there are areas that can only be seen with a Navajo guide – they don’t want to risk having anyone destroy them by touching them or defacing them — they are believed to have been created by ancestors centuries ago!

The streaks are known as Desert Varnish – created by sun and water resulting in magnesium oxide!

I think this one was called Big Hogan Arch

Photos and my explanations can’t possibly to the beauty of all in this area justice — simply breathtaking — I was in tears the majority of the tour!!!

Our guide showed us where to stand to see this tree create a slingshot to the heavens!

In the center of this cave is an ancient Anasazi dwelling ruin – the Anasazi people disappeared centuries ago – the Navajo are their descendants. 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. They were well known for their cliff dwellings, like the ones in my post about Manitou Springs, CO, and like these. These are believed to have been inhabited by the Anasazi people when they lived.

This is a zoomed in close up……there were three dwellings, but one crumbled recently and they won’t intervene to restore it because it is believed that nature should be left to do as it must!

The formation close to the center is known as The Dancers — it is a place where the Navajo come at night to dance and hold rituals. The one on the left is known as the totem pole.

I think this might be called Sleeping Dragon — I’m not sure, though!

I left Monument Valley and headed to the Four Corners Monument about an hour away. Here is some of the amazing scenery I witnessed on my way.

San Juan River and bridge

Mexican Hat formation at…….wait for it……Mexican Hat, Utah near the San Juan River!!!

The scene where Forrest Gump stopped his run across the country and turned back was on this road……no idea if this was the spot, but it was here, somewhere, and sure looks like the spot!!! LOL

So, I got to Four Corners Monument…….it is the only spot in the entire USA where four states border each other – New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona! For such a famous and significant spot, it sure was a let down to see! LOL It is out in the middle of nowhere – just this cement area with the four states noted, a couple vendor booths with Navajo crafts for sale, a restroom facility with no running water, and absolutely NOTHING else as far as the eye can see!!! But – it was still cool to say I was there and I put one foot in NM and one in CO to mark being in the last two states I had to visit to say I’ve been to all 50!!! 🙂

and, here I am doing just that!!!

And, so I headed back to the hotel in Farmington……another 4 hour drive! When I got back, I grabbed some dinner and settled in for the night!

This is where my plans changed! My original plan was to leave Farmington and drive about 5 hours south to Roswell, NM and spend a couple days there checking out the alien stuff and spend some time in Carlsbad to see the bats fly out of the caverns and some other things in that area and then head back to Albuquerque for the rest of my trip, being there in time for the International Hot Air Balloon Festival . BUT…..I saw on the news that they were having severe storms, torrential rains, and flash flooding!!! hhhmmm……everything I planned to do was outside stuff! So, I gave it some thought – given the weather in the Roswell / Carlsbad area and the fact that I was really starting to feel like I wanted to get back home, decided to cut my trip short. I called and canceled my reservation in Roswell, changed my reservation in Albuquerque, and changed my return flights. I went straight to Albuquerque from Farmington and spent the three days there that I had planned – just earlier than planned – and left before the balloon festival! I was OK with that! So, my next post will focus on the rest of my time in New Mexico!

2019 Colorado Adventure – The Rest of the Story….

OK….so, here I am back at it……I think I can wrap up the last couple of adventures and miscellaneous photos from Colorado in one post and then move on to New Mexico!

One of our tour guides had recommended a cool place for dinner in downtown Colorado Springs, so I had to put it on my list one evening – it was definitely an experience – fun place and great food! It’s called The Rabbit Hole and it is a subterranean restaurant with an Alice in Wonderland theme!!! There were Alice themed paintings by local artists on the walls – I sat by the Mad Hatter! And….apparently, the story goes that it is underground because it used to be a morgue!!! Eeewww!!! I had the chicken dinner – fried chicken breast over veggie medley with a waffle biscuit and bacon gravy!!! YUM!!! But, I was stuffed before I got half way through it – I wasted more food on this trip because of large portions that I couldn’t finish!!! But, I’m just not used to eating so much! Another great choice and a great meal!

I walked up and down the street trying to find the place and finally went in another store to ask — they directed me to this structure on the sidewalk that looks like a subway entrance……that is the entrance to the restaurant!

This was in the parking lot about a block from the restaurant where I had to park.

I had checked off all the major things I wanted to do/see I had on my list, so I was looking for a day trip to see more of the state and saw that Pueblo was about an hour away. The folks at the cowboy tour place asked me where I’d been and what I’d planned while we were waiting for the others to arrive….I said I was going to Pueblo the next day – one guide said “that’s not something you hear often – what are you going to do there?” I said I didn’t know, but I’ll find out when I get there! LOL – she asked the others, what is there to do in Pueblo and they all just shrugged and shook their heads! But – they offered some alternative ideas….they said a really cool day trip would be to Cripple Creek and Victor – about the same distance as Pueblo in a different direction and also Canon City would be a good alternative, too, if I had time!! So, I decided to scrap Pueblo and check out Cripple Creek and Victor! 

The next morning, I got up and drove first to Monument for breakfast at Rosie’s Diner! It came up on a Google search and was rated high, so I went out of the way to have my breakfast here, before heading to Cripple Creek. Apparently, it is a chain of 50’s style diners that are often featured in movies and TV shows – the food was average, but I can’t resist 50’s themed diners and the experience didn’t disappoint!

The rest of the day was a mix of breathtaking views, quirky old mining towns, and extreme tension and frustration! But, the good made the bad worth it all! 😊 I started out with the OK breakfast and then headed out for about an hour drive to Cripple Creek and Victor to the south. The majority of the trip was on Rt 24, so it was paved and actually had guard rails! LOL A lot of it was a pass that snaked thru the mountain – it was simply breathtaking!!!! I wish I could have pulled over for photos! The rest of it was winding along the side of the mountain taking me up to about 9000 foot elevation and was just as stunning! I got to Cripple Creek and Victor and found two old mining towns – very cool, but nothing much, really, to do and the few things I had on my list I couldn’t find! So, I started to head back and I could NOT find my way back to the highway!!! My GPS kept trying to take me down unpaved roads that looked extremely undesirable, but every time it told me to turn it was down one of those roads or back to the other town – I literally drove the road between the two towns EIGHT times……I couldn’t get out of there…..I seriously felt like I was in the “Hotel California” – you can check out any time you like, but you can NEVER leave!!!! LOL I gave in and tried one of the dirt roads – BIG mistake – it took me down a steep incline with ruts and boulders and limited way to get around it all! The GPS said it was only a mile, so I sucked it up and kept going (did I say I was driving a rented Hyundai Santa Fe?). About 3/4 of a mile in, I came to a sign that said something to the effect of “NO Trespassing – DO NOT Enter” – I thought, “NOW you tell me this???” So, I had to maneuver my way to turn around – a three point turn on a VERY narrow, steep, rocky road (in a mini-van) and climb back up out of the road!!! I got to the top, finally allowed myself to breath, said a few choice sentences that would likely make a sailor blush, and unplugged my GPS and threw it on the passenger seat….then I just kept going in the direction I thought I should go and hoped for the best until I finally made it to a numbered county road and eventually found my way back to Rt 24……but, thru it all, I saw a lot of the countryside and great views and ranches and stuff! So, it all worked out…..but not without a few tears and a very stiff neck and painful hands and shoulders!!! All-in-all, tho, it was a very good day!!! 

This bad boy took a beating and kept on ticking!!! LOL

My last day in Colorado was quiet and relaxing! I attended the Sunday morning service at the Pike’s Peak United Methodist Church in Old Colorado City after breakfast. Then I took a 45 minute drive to Pueblo, CO just to see what was there – it is a city I’ve heard of and it was close, so……well, the tour guides who questioned why I wanted to go there were right – not much there – a nice little city with a River Walk District, so I walked along the Arkansas River for a little bit (I’ve now seen four state-named rivers that I can remember – Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Arkansas – if that is any big deal – LOL)! I also saw a nice little Vietnam Veterans Memorial! Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos along the way, that day! Then, I drove back to Old Colorado City for my last dinner at the Mason Jar and drove thru Garden of the Gods one more time – just cause I could!!! 💜💜💜 I went back to the hotel and ran a load of laundry and got packed up for my morning flight to New Mexico!!! WOW – week in Colorado sure flew by!!! Here are a couple miscellaneous photos that didn’t quite fit in the other posts / stories:

I took this photo from the airplane not far from Denver Airport…..

I call it “Look Out!!! Pac Man is about to eat your house!!!” LOL

And, my parting shot is a sunset view from my hotel room window…….Colorado certainly is God’s Country!!!

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