Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cascade, CO

Latest chapter in a continuing series of Dorrell's travels.

Like the Bushes and all the other wealthy Houstonians who blow town for cooler climes in the summer, we decided we'd leave the stifling heat and sweltering drought for the Rocky Mountains. My sister-in-law pulled together a packed itinerary (she spent summers here when she was a kid, and with her parents gone wanted to create some new family memories. We all happily obliged).

The 2011 family reunion happened last week in this little hamlet just south of Colorado Springs, which for anybody's money has the most going on within twenty minutes in all directions. There were 15 of us this year; most of our group stayed here (we were the last ones to arrive Thursday just past and stayed in the cabin, here and here, about 300 yards down the hill). Can't say enough good things about the facilities. Well worth the money even in high season.

Once deplaned in Denver and driven south about 90 minutes, we picked up Mom and Mother Baker and headed out for Cripple Creek -- about a 45-minute very scenic drive away -- so they could feed the slots. Had dinner at the Steakhouse inside Bronco Billy's and drove back at dusk.

Friday morning was devoted to the photographer at Garden of the Gods. Flickr stream to follow. This was the trip's highlight for me.

It's a free-admission city park with the finest hiking trails you can imagine. You can also Segway it or Jeep it. Both the history and the geology are amazing and the vistas just stun. We had a buffalo burger and sweet potato tots for lunch before driving about twenty minutes to Manitou Springs to take the Cog Railway to the summit of Pike's Peak.

The ride up made my altitude sickness-influenced Meneire's even worse, but that eventually passed. When we got to the top it was 32 degrees (temps were mid-50's to high 70's while we were in Colorado) and we got hailed on twice in 40 minutes -- first gravel-sized and then peas -- before the wind whipped up to about 50 mph just as we were departing. I found that positively invigorating, being peppered by ice the size of Dippin' Dots on top of a 14,000 feet-high pile of granite.

Friday evening's meal brought us all together at the Craftwood Inn, where most of the family had one of the local game selections (.pdf); I had a halibut/salmon/coconut shrimp sampler. Our celebrations included Mom's 85th birthday and my two nieces' engagement /wedding announcements.

We departed Saturday morning, missing the whitewater rafting and zip line activities at Royal Gorge Bridge and Railroad, the Cave of the Winds, the cliff dwellings, Seven Falls, the Air Force Academy, and everything else. Some of the late departures are having brunch at the Broadmoor this morning.

You'd need a week to do half of all that. Maybe next time.

Can you believe I'm related to these people? Me neither.

The brunette's blog has more and many more pictures here, here, and here.

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