The second morning we were in Colorado Springs, we headed up a mountain to Goldfield, an abandoned … gold mine. The town was built in 1895 and within five years, 3500 people lived there. Actually people still live there – one description I read said the population is 49 which I thought was kind of funny since the forty-niners is a nickname for the men who rushed to find gold in California (not Colorado), so it has nothing to do with each other … still I thought it was funny that 49 people are left in this gold-mining town and yes, I know this is a run-on sentence.
Anyhow, the trail through the abandoned mine was beautiful! Unfortunately, it is all to be destroyed because the guess is that there is still gold in them that hills and with new technology, they can find it. So I’m glad we got to go when we did.
Here’s a staggering statistic – $30,000,000 worth of gold came out of the mine by 1911.
Alas … we found no gold, but we did get some beautiful pictures.
The first time I visited the Olympic Training Center, we saw many athletes training which is what you do at a training center. We saw some medalists in the wrestling gym and synchronized swimmers and some hopeful volleyball players. After we took our tour (last time) we walked around and Jacob ran up and down the center walk.
This time the security was tight. If you happened to get left out of one of the buildings (because you were last in line), you had to go back to the beginning and wait for another tour. After the tour was over, you could only walk around a very precise area.
And this time there was just one athlete actually doing athletic stuff. Kind of disappointing. When I asked, I was told it was because it was Saturday afternoon, a couple teams were at tournaments and I guess other athletes trained at night.
But still the description of the technology equipment was interesting. For instance, when a team was going Honduras, they were able to control the climate of the room they practiced in to mimic the climate of Central America. They can also tell if a runner is putting more weight on his right or left leg, by how it hits the track.
The center sits on 35, acres and has 242 dorm rooms. Three hundred thousand meals are served there each year. I can’t remember exactly how much it costs for an athlete to stay there, but I think it is $50,000 a year, Most of the cost is paid by sponsors. An athlete can live there for several years as long as they are active in their sport.
So, yes, I would recommend a visit – but maybe a weekday instead of a weekend … and know that there’s a limit to what you can see and do.
If you’re wondering why Colorado Springs is called Colorado Springs, it’s because of Manitou Springs.
Melting snow and rain from Pikes Peak and surrounding mountains soak into the rocks as the water flows downward.
Which means that there are eight springs in Manitou Springs – which supposedly have great healing powers and each one tasting different from the others.
People line up to get their drinking water from the springs because of its health benefits.
But why? Does it taste any different from any other water?
The town with its narrow hilly streets were packed on this Saturday afternoon. So Roger stopped the car, gave me his empty Pepsi bottle and I ran back to the Wheeler Spring.
A lady was there chatting with a group of people, obviously a tour guide who was finishing up what I can only imagine was a tour of the springs (which I had read were available). I waited patiently and was finally able to get some of the water in the bottle.
Interestingly, it has a touch of carbonation in it – but I didn’t really like it. Nor did Barb.
So I will give it a 2 out of 10 for the water’s uniqueness and I haven’t gotten sick since I tasted it, but I’m not sure I would credit the spring.
I knew about the Navigators and I also had heard that they had a beautiful conference grounds, but I never thought much about it. Then a few years back during the Waldo Fire out in Colorado Springs, their conference grounds at Glen Eyrie was in the news – with the fire getting a little too close for comfort.
So when Roger pointed at a road and said that was where Glen Eyrie was located, I asked if we could drive down and see it.
The place totally lived up to the reputation.
The focal point at Glen Eyrie is the English Tudor-castle. Back in 1871 General William Jackson (the man who founded Colorado Springs) built a large house for his wife Queen and their three daughters. Queen, herself, was credited with opening the first public school in the city.
But then Queen had a heart attack and her doctor told her to move to a lower altitude so she and the girls went back East and then to England. The General visited when he could.
But when Queen died at age 41, the General took his three daughters back to CS, tore down the big house and built the castle in honor of his wife. The Glen Eyrie Castle is on the National Register of Historic places.
Navigators got the property in 1953 – and now host more than a 100 conferences a year. Roger showed us just how close the fire had come – just yards away.
The Carriage House houses a bookstore and small cafe. The cafe sandwiches were extremely good – and everything was made from scratch. My iced tea was brewed and cooled as I waited and every single cucumber on my sandwich was carefully cut. But we weren’t in a hurry and lunch in the courtyard was relaxing and enjoyable.
We didn’t see any rattlesnakes as we were wandering through the park, but we did see a mule deer, and a mountain bluebird and a spotted towhee and a family of pigeons that lived inside one of the formations. We all laughed as we watched them crawl (wait, I don’t think pigeons crawl) out of the split in the rock – they just kept coming.
Anyhow, I think my favorite was the spotted towhee because as I was standing on the path taking pictures, a tiny little girl walked up and stood next to me. Quietly she watched me take pictures for awhile and then she turned to her father, “What’s she looking at, Dad?”
I told her there was a spotted towhee in the tree and her father lifted her up so she could see it. She reacted with quiet reverence. The dad then repeated the name to her and she giggled. Later the father asked me what another bird was – a pigeon/rock dove. (I didn’t even have to ask my brother to identify that one.) I don’t think the man was from the U.S. or maybe he just hadn’t been around a lot of birds, but he was friendly and inquisitive and his daughter was cute as she hopped along next to me waiting to see what other pictures I would take.
We drove from the Visitor’s Center to the trails. Again, we were early, got a parking spot, but the parking area was filling up and already a lot of people were there.
The description of the center says “Imagine the formations against snowcapped mountains and brilliant blue sky.” The day we were there, we really did have to imagine that. The snow might have still been in the ridges and creek beds of the mountains, but not visible enough for us to see many miles away and the “brilliant blue sky” was more like a basement-floor gray. So the formations didn’t show up as well as they might’ve on a sunny day, but the walk was still good. As we continued, more and more people arrived. Then again – it was a Saturday in mid-July. What did we expect?
By the time we got to the Balance Rock, so many people were around taking pictures of other people pretending to hold up the rock, I couldn’t get a good view. But did the best I could without someone’s hand and phone in the shot.
Most people who visit Colorado Springs visit Garden of the Gods. Surprisingly, this is a public city park and is free to all who visit. GOTG is also a National Natural Landmark.
We first headed for the visitor’s center. The center has several exhibits which we quickly walked through, a gift shop and a balcony overlooking the park. A highlight is the dinosaur picture painted on the floor/wall with a 3D perspective – although it is painted on flat surfaces. My brother pulled out his famous red chair and we got our pictures on top of the picture.
Something I didn’t know, but maybe should’ve known is that Katherine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful after visiting the area – Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. (You can read about it all outside the ladies restroom.)
Last time I was at Garden of the Gods was on a hot day in 2006.
This time we went early in the morning (right when the center opened) when the weather was still fairly cool. We were early enough to get a parking lot outside the center – but already the place was filling up and getting crowded.