I figured that a day by day recount of our vacation might lose me the ten or so readers that I have left or possibly turn you into brain eating zombies, and I really couldn’t have that on my conscience, so I have what I hope is a better alternative.
I’m going to split the re-cap into 3 sections; adventures that we paid for, adventures that were free and food & lodging, hopefully that will cover everything nicely and yet get y’all in and out in fewer posts time-brains intact.
Without further ado, the adventures we paid for!
First on the list, Pike’s Peak.
Sprog was VERY against this idea and was fighting me every step of the way about this situation, he is HUGELY afraid of heights and no matter what I said or what I explained, he was having none of it. Fortunately for him, he has an evil mother that believes in pushing some of his boundaries for the sake of experience and who knew that a Cog Railway planted firmly (so to speak, teeth in a cog is firmly enough) on the ground would be something he could handle.
Our tour guide informed us that they had never had a fatality on the Cog Railway in their many years of operation and that seemed to quell some of the Sprog’s nerves as well.
Here are some pics from that trip:
At the lower elevations the vegetation is lush and green, and you are treated to a couple of waterfalls, one of which is higher than Niagara.
As you go higher on the mountain, you start to notice this strange white stuff packed along the sides of your windows,
floating about in the sky and the trees become much more sparse.
If that white stuff dies down enough, you might be treated to this sort of view as you pass one of the other trains, on your route to the summit, it happens a few times on the 3 hour round trip.
Here we are at our destination, 14, 110 ft and freezing our asses off! You are only allowed 30-40 min at the top (to help prevent altitude sickness) and they have a lovely gift shop which provides hot coffee, hot chocolate and DONUTS!
Our tour guides were both awesome, they take your tickets on the way up and back which was kitschy and cute, they give a crap ton of nerdy cool info that we used later in our trip and Sprog had a blast. Verdict: highly recommended. See the rest of the photos here
Next up, Whitewater Rafting on the Arkansas River.
This was the showstopper excursion of our trip. We did a raft and rail through Arkansas River Tours and did the Vista Rail upgrade on the train through the Royal Gorge. Because we had Sprog, I was told that we would be on Class II and III rapids in Bighorn Sheep Canyon and we booked a secondary hotel in Salida, so as not to make the 3 hour drive at the buttcrack of dawn on the morning of our rafting.
When we arrived to check in, they were in process of changing the board from 1740 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 1860 cfs and the temp of the water DOWN to 41 degrees. WOOHOO. Holy crap. After deciding on the spot to rent wetsuits for the bargain price of $5 (an AMAZING DEAL) we went outside to meet our guide, Julie. Folks, I can not say enough how awesome Julie was. I LOVE her.
We got all suited up into our gear and then went through the horrifying safety lecture, which includes things like what to do when you get thrown from the boat and can’t find it again, what to do if you come up from the water into the “blue room” (that means you are under the boat), what to do if someone is in the water, what to do with the throwbag, what to do if the boat wraps a rock, how to have a defensive swim posture and so on. OMG SO SCARY. Then she tells us that we are doing III’s and IV’s today and ushers us into the van to be on our way. Sprog’s eyes were very saucer like at that revelation. Haha.
At the put in (where you drop the boat) we see another rafting company all suited up with their little helmets that match their boats and the rest of their gear…and as we load our sunscreen and water bottles, I notice there are no helmets on this raft, no one is pulling helmets from the van, there were helmets at the base, where the eff are the helmets? So I ask Julie, trying to be nonchalant about it, “We don’t need helmets?” She just shrugs and says “Nah” and we start putting the boat in the water. It felt like a Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!” moment and I just tried to feed off of her confidence.
Once in the water, you have so many directions you are trying to remember, proper form you are trying to accomplish (and largely failing, out of shape-who?) and trying to drink in as much of the experience as possible that truly you don’t have time to be afraid. The only time I was the least bit worried, was when we were gabbing away and then suddenly a huge rock was coming straight for me. A few BACKWARD strokes and we were past it, no worse for the wear.
We never once had to execute a turn, we never flipped the boat and no one ever entered the water. The only person who left his seat was Willy and he just fell into me a bit because he shifted his weight at the wrong time.
The van driver takes pics for you during the trip and you can buy your CD at the end.
This is at the Class IV which is called 3 Rocks. The guide tells you the name of all the areas that you are passing through as you go.
Here we all are paddling together
Check out the air we are getting!
During a calmer section, Julie had Sprog do a bull ride, that’s where you sit on the bow of the boat and just hold on to the ropes. She made sure to dunk him in as many waves as she could get him in and give him a good ride for his belated b-day gift. Like I said, she’s awesome. Once the ride was over, we were served a fabulous picnic lunch on the river (steak for Wills, chicken for Sprog and a Veggie spread for me; hummus, avocado, carrots and ranch dip, apples and peanut butter, crackers, red bell peppers, chocolate chip cookies and oranges) it was fabulous and all included! More pictures here
Sprog loved whitewater rafting so much that every time we passed a river after that, he would look at it and say “Ooh, that looks like fun!” or “Ooh, that one looks easy!” or “What do you think mom, about a II?” it was pretty awesome to see that reaction in him; he also wants to buy a kayak.
Tomorrow, Royal Gorge Railway and Rocky Mountain National Park!