We stayed in the city of Monument just north of Colorado Springs. We had only been to this area once before in our travels and the weather was so bad the road up Pikes Peak was closed. So we visited the Air Force Academy and then went to a baseball game that was rained out before it started. This trip we took a whole day and covered over 200 miles taking in the sites to our south. We drove to Royal Gorge and walked across the worlds highest suspension bridge. Jo is not too keen on heights but she did great. In June of 2013 a forest fire leveled most of the buildings around the bridge and it was closed for almost a year. They just recently opened a new visitor center. While walking down to the bridge we came upon a female Big Horn Sheep nursing her youngster.
We then drove to the gold mining town of Cripple Creek and had a fantastic lunch at Amanda Mays Cafe. The town is at an elevation of 10,000 feet and the aspens were turning golden on the hills surrounding the town. Most of the town is now made up of casinos but the town's only liquor store was in an old house.
We then drove the road to the top of Pikes Peak. 19 miles of steep grades and sharp hairpin turns. There were signs to be on the look out for Bigfoot as we started on our way up. It was a balmy 45 degrees at the top and with the clear sky's we could see the skyline of Denver over 60 miles away. On the way down they tell you to use your lowest gear and they have a mandatory break check about half way down. On our way down we had a car of young men come up quickly behind us and then pass us. Needless to say they failed the heat test on the breaks and were forced to pull over and park till they cooled off. If we ever visit the peak again we will take the cog railway to the top.
I was able to go birding one day with my friend Ingrid who lives in Texas in the winter and the Colorado Springs area in the summer. We birded while we were in the Rio Grande Valley in February so it was great to be able to get out and bird again here in Colorado. We started the day at the Chico Basin Ranch about 40 miles South East of Colorado Springs. We first visited the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory banding station and then started to bird the area around the station when we almost stepped on a Rattle Snake. I think it was a Prairie Rattler. We were so close I could hear the rattle and my hearing sucks. We drove out into the prairie and saw a Buck Antelope and his large harem right by the road. We found a lot of great birds out on the prairie like the Sage Thrasher below. But the best bird of the day was on our way home when we spotted a Sabine's Gull in the reservoir. A lifer for me.
We did some shopping at the outlet mall while we were here. Saw a couple of movies.and had a couple of great meals at the local brew pubs.
Tomorrow we leave for New Mexico. We will spend 4 nights in Santa Fe before checking in with the Winnebago Adventures Tour group at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. We are also excited that we will be meeting our dear friends Leon and Laura Hoots from Virginia Beach at the Fiesta.