|Cheyenne Mountain taken on the last day of our visit|
|There's a big mountain behind that fog!|
|Snow on Jack!|
|View of our snow covered rig and no view of the mountain behind it!|
As our travel date approached we were faced with a undesirable weather forecast. There was a cold front headed through Colorado that would drop down into the Texas Panhandle. We monitored the situation and it seemed to improve so we went ahead with our plans.
|Driving in fog from DFW to Amarillo, Texas|
From DFW to Amarillo, Texas, we drove in heavy fog most of the way. When we reached Childress, Texas, the fog lifted but a downpour began. After a long drive we were looking forward to pulling into the Oasis RV Park in Amarillo and setting up our camp for the night. As usual, unpredictable Mother Nature had different plans for us. Just outside Amarillo a weather warning came on the radio. A tornado, on the ground, had been spotted near Hereford, Texas, and was moving north. The Oasis RV Park was right in its path. Off I-40 we found covered parking large enough to pull our truck and trailer into. We got permission from the building owners to wait out the storm in their garage.
After about an hour long wait we realized that the storm was going to go straight north missing the east side of Amarillo. What's on the east side of Amarillo, you ask? The Big Texan Steak Ranch! We headed to the Ranch and enjoyed a delicious steak meal waiting for the storm to pass over the west side of Amarillo. As we approached the Oasis RV park we saw the damage the storm caused. The west side of Amarillo was flooded and several of the stop lights were not working but thankfully that was the only major damage. We were able to get to our campsite and setup for the night.
|Our view of the Big Texas Steak Ranch from the balcony where we were eating|
The next morning we woke to cooler temperatures and more heavy fog. As we left Amarillo we traveled in fog all the way to the Colorado border. It lifted slightly but came back as we approached Cheyenne Mountain State Park. In fact, the fog was so thick at the park that we could not see Cheyenne Mountain or the lights from NORAD which is stationed on Cheyenne Mountain. Exhausted from another foggy drive we went into the nearby Walmart for some supplies and called it a night.
|It snowed on our little and big trailer during our stay at Cheyenne Mountain|
|Toasty warm inside our trailer|
On day three of our adventure we left our home base of Cheyenne Mountain State Park and ventured into the town of Manitou Springs, Colorado. The Historic Downtown Manitou Springs is an artist’s enclave featuring time-honored art galleries, street performers, creek-side restaurants and boutique stores. There are numerous natural mineral springs dotted throughout Historic Manitou Springs and are still available to the public. The native tribes considered the eruption of bubbles in the mineral water the breath of the Great Spirit “Manitou.” After speaking to an area resident that was filling up her water jugs at one of the springs, we decided to go searching for each spring and sampling the water.
|One of the many springs in Manitou Springs - this one had the best tasting water|
|Old stagecoach outside of restaurant|
|Church with beautiful red door in Manitou Springs|
|What is remaining of another mineral spring in Manitou Springs|
|Fountain Creek runs through the middle of Manitou Springs|
|One of many art installations in Manitou Springs|
|Houses are built into the sides of the mountains|
|Murals painted on side of shop in Manitou Springs|
|More beautiful color in Manitou|
|Old engine belonging to the Cog Railraod|
On the same day we visited the Cave of the Winds. History books might show Colorado’s own Cave of the Winds as being discovered 147 years ago, but the caves are actually millions of years old! As early legends of over a thousand years ago tell, the Jicarilla Apaches told of a cave near Manitou Springs where the Great Spirit of the Wind resided. In 1869, a Colorado settler named Arthur B. Love noticed a thin cleft in the western wall of Williams Canyon. Upon further inspection, he discovered a dramatic limestone archway and cave entrance to what we know as Cave of the Winds Mountain Park. Today, the park offers breath taking views of Williams Canyone from their observation decks, an interesting learning center, gift shop, snack bar and several recreational options. On the day we visited the temperatures were hovering near freezing and we just couldn't bare the thought of going half a mile underground so we opted to just explore the park above ground and vowed to return and explore the cave on a warmer day.
|Williams Canyon view from observation deck at Cave of the Winds Park|
|Another view of Williams Canyon|
Also in the area, we attempted to view Rainbow Falls, however, it was closed for the season for cleaning. The falls have been a long time destination for "taggers" and now the falls are being cleaned of their graffiti and are being returned to a more natural state. From Cave of the Winds back to Manitou Springs we took a different route and were able to get a sneak peek of the falls from the highway.
|Rainbow Falls from the highway|
|Another view of Rainbow Falls|
Remaining in the Manitou area for the day we decided to get a closer look at Pike's Peak. When we got to the pay station we were warned that it was starting to snow on top of the mountain. If the mountain road became too slick park rangers would ask visitors to come back down the mountain. We made it about half way to the top of Pike's Peak when our truck began to slide on the snow covered road and visibility decreased. We decided not to risk our safety and headed back down the mountain.
|Pike's Peak believes!|
|Crystal Reservior on Pke's Peak|
|Bigfoot carved in a tree near Crystal Reservoir|
|View of another alpine lake, 1/2 way to top of Pike's Peak|
|Roads were getting a little slippery but the scenery was beautiful!|
|Frozen aspen leaves|
|Rock formations on Pike's Peak|
|Beautiful colors on Pike's Peak|
On day four of our trip we headed back through Manitou Springs, and on to Highway 24 towards Woodland Park, Colorado. Again we drove through fog until we reached Woodland Park. When the fog lifted we were able to get a beautiful view of snow-covered Pike's Peak to our west.
|Foggy drive to Woodland Park|
|Fog and traffic made driving difficult|
From Woodland Park we drove on to Divide, Colorado, then took Highway 67 to Cripple Creek, Colorado. Before entering the town we stopped at the visitors' center. From the visitors center we were able to see more of the Colorado Rockies and learn a little about the town's history. We spent the afternoon exploring this historic mininig and gambling town. The grand old buildings of Bennett Avenue have been restored to their glory days and now house nine different casinos. Since gambling isn't really our thing we only spent a total of $5.00 at the casinos. More interested in the town's history, we went in search of Cripple Creek's cemetery where the legendary, female, pioneer doctor,Susan Anderson aka "Doc Susy",had been laid to rest.
|View of Pike's Peak from Woodland Park, Colorado|
|One of the Colorado Rockies|
|Snow covered mountain near Cripple Creek, Colorado|
|View of Cripple Creek from the visitors' center|
|Bennett Ave lined with casinos in Cripple Creek|
|Historic hotel in Cripple Creek|
|Old church in Cripple Creek|
|Doc Susy's gravesite|
On the last day of our Colorado-October adventure the fog lifted and the drizzle and snow flurries ended revealing Cheyenne Mountain. It was the first time we had seen all of the mountain the entire trip! When the sun came out so did all the furry and feathered park residents - chipmunk, turkey, hawk, and deer were all seen in our campsite as we packed our trailer to pull back to Amarillo for the night and then on to DFW.
|Two young bucks taking it easy on the hill|
So, this trip was definitely one to remember as Mother Nature threw every type of weather situation at us. Our rig handled the elements beautifully and we had a great time on our Colorado-October adventure!