2015 Vacation: Out West Days 1 and 2

Day 1: Saturday, May 9th The guys picked up the Navigator and trailer last night. We were supposed to get a Tahoe, but it was in an accident so we were lent the Navigator instead. It'll work! We loaded our rabbits into the trailer and hauled them down to my moms so she can bunny-sit while we're away. Cleaned it out and called it a night. Of course, packing up in the morning took us longer than we'd planned, but eventually we got on the road and spirits were high. Like last year, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law went with us. 4 adults and 2 kids on a two week road trip!

We were all sure to pack lots of snacks and entertainment. Ben downloaded a couple of audio books and I had my kindle. My smart mom surprised the boys with a box full of wrapped goodies for them to make the long hours more fun. Such a cool idea and much appreciated.

Our first stop was the Moon Marble Company in Bonner Springs, KS. We watched a (long) marble-making demo and had fun exploring the store. Handmade marbles are super pricey so no souvenirs were picked up, but it was still a nice stop. We ate a quick lunch and hopped back on the road.

Kansas gets a bad rap as being boring landscape, but we really enjoyed it. During the last few hours, there was a storm brewing and the clouds were amazing.

[caption id="attachment_1847" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Moody Clouds Moody Clouds[/caption]


After that it wasn't long before we could see the mountains. It seemed like there was always something to look at. About this time, my CO friend, Gen, texted me warning of extreme weather in her area. Unsure of what was waiting for us and exhausted from driving, we decided to stay a little outside of Colorado Springs, in Limon.

[caption id="attachment_1848" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mountains!! Mountains!![/caption]


The wind was fierce and cold and we weren't dressed for it. To make matters more interesting, we ended up booking the wrong hotel. We unpacked everything and stood, dead tired, in the lobby while Tim and Karen's booking went through and they were checked in. The receptionist said that our reservation wasn't showing up. Ben finally looked it up and, oops, we had booked the hotel across the street. Quality Inn and Comfort Inn aren't the same thing! So, we packed up again, drove across the street, unpacked, checked in, finally got to our room and then collapsed!

Day 2: Sunday, May 10th

We woke up to a dusting of snow on the ground, but the wind had died down so we felt optimistic.

It only took about an hour and a half to get into Colorado Springs.Pike's Peak info warned that only 6 of the 19 miles were open and, sure enough, that's what they told us at the front gate. We were disappointed, but decided to forge on ahead. I'm so glad we did. The snow was about a foot thick, but there wasn't any wind and the roads were fine.

[caption id="attachment_1849" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Colorado Springs! Colorado Springs![/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1850" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Trees Heavy With Snow Trees Heavy With Snow[/caption]

We found plenty to take pictures of and even got out and walked a bit. It was stunning.

[caption id="attachment_1851" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mile Marker 6 - as far as we could go! Mile Marker 6 - as far as we could go![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1852" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Playing in the snow. Playing in the snow.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1853" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Loving the snow! Loving the snow![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1854" align="aligncenter" width="300"]It's Bright Out Here! It's Bright Out Here![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1855" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Karen and Luke Karen and Luke[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1856" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Gabe made a friend Gabe made a friend[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1857" align="aligncenter" width="200"]The Chrystal Resevior The Chrystal Reservoir[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1858" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Taking in the View Taking in the View[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1859" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Tim the Photographer Tim the Photographer[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1860" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Valley View Valley View[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_1861" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Another Valley View Another Valley View[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1862" align="aligncenter" width="200"]No sightings while we were there! No sightings while we were there![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1863" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bird Crossing! Bird Crossing![/caption]



Back down at the bottom, we ate a BBQ lunch at Rudy's and then headed over to Manitou Cliff Dwellings.

The cliff dwellings were so much fun to explore. I love that they allow you to climb in and around each dwelling.

[caption id="attachment_1864" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Right this way. Right this way.[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1865" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Ancient Pueblo Ancient Pueblo[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1866" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Homes in the cliff Homes in the cliff[/caption]

Manitou Cliff-Dwellings-Manitou

[caption id="attachment_1868" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Boys Exploring Boys Exploring[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1869" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Karen and the Boys Karen and the Boys[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1870" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The first barred window. The first barred window.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1871" align="aligncenter" width="300"]The View from the Museum The View from the Dwellings[/caption]


It was only a bit chilly and there weren't many people about so we really enjoyed ourselves. The museum wasn't huge, but it had some neat artifacts and info about the lives of the people who had once called Manitou home.

Since we were still doing so well on time, we headed over to the Garden of the Gods. Once in the park, we saw a sign directing vehicles with trailers to a different entrance...but there was no info on where that entrance was located. We ended up being rebels and went in the wrong exit anyway.

I'm so glad we did.

Originally, I was thinking we might make it just in time to see a neat sunset. Instead, we really got to hike and explore. We parked at the balancing rock, got out and took some pictures.

[caption id="attachment_1872" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Balancing Rock Entrance Balancing Rock Entrance[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1873" align="aligncenter" width="199"]Balancing Rock Balancing Rock[/caption]

Then we climbed where everyone else was climbing.

[caption id="attachment_1874" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Entrance View Entrance View[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1875" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Off the beaten path Off the beaten path[/caption]

Then we got adventurous. We went off the beaten path and climbed over the huge boulders. It was just us and the rocks and the sky. And a fox in the distance. It was amazing.

[caption id="attachment_1876" align="aligncenter" width="200"]King of the World King of the World[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1877" align="aligncenter" width="300"]GOG Rock-Jumper-GOG Rock Jumper[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1878" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Tim and the Boys Tim and the Boys[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1879" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Paradise Paradise[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1880" align="aligncenter" width="300"]View from the Top View from the Top[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1881" align="aligncenter" width="240"]GOG Kissing-Rocks-GOG Kissing Rocks[/caption]

Finally someone had to use the bathroom so we came back down to earth. We visited the trading post where we picked up some salt lamps for cheap. We drove through the rest of the park and oohed and aahed.

[caption id="attachment_1882" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Driving through the park Driving through the park[/caption]

Since it was STILL so early we decided to head on out.

We changed course and headed north and it so happened we would be close to Gen. She was flexible so we were able to meet up with her for dinner. It was a rush job at a Wendy's, but it was still SOMETHING, and I finally got to meet her youngest, Tirzah, who was such a doll. I love it when things work out like that!

After dinner, we headed South on I-70. The drive through the mountains was breathtaking. I tried taking pictures as we drove, but they just didn't do it justice. It was getting dark and there was no place to really stop. After winding our way through the mountains, we stopped for the night at Eagle. It was another late night and, needless to say, we crashed hard! What an exhausting day!


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