Colorado; Our Crazy 5 Day Itinerary [Pt 2]
The first 2 days of our trip are in the previous post, Part 1. We checked out Grand Lake and spent a whole day in Estes Park.
Day 3: Saturday November 5, 2016
This day was set aside as our day for Denver, the mile high city. The elevation of the city is actually a mile above sea level, hence the catchy slogan. We wanted to see the Capitol building downtown, check out a museum or gallery and be done in time to go to Mass at the Basilica. A quick Google check that morning, to see what the galleries offered showed us that it was Denver’s Art Week and admission to all galleries and museums was sponsored by various organizations and was free after 5 pm. Sweet! They even had a shuttle bus that would take you between the 12 different museums and galleries. So instead of choosing just one, we now planned to try a little bit of everything; Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens and the Museum of Nature and Science. I made us a few sandwiches, cooked up some KD and packed fruits, snacks and a thermos of tea for the day. We were on a mission, and not veering off course!
Since we needed to be in the city for the late afternoon, we had the rest of the morning to fill up. We asked the concierge and he suggested the quick drive to Morrison to see Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. I had read about it under things to do in Denver in my CAA travel book, but it was portrayed that the touristic “must” was to attend a concert in this amphitheatre, and so I discounted it. What a great suggestion though! We spent over an hour just walking through the open air amphitheater that is literally made into the rock and can sit up to 9,525! When not in use for concerts, the amphitheater is open to sightseers… and joggers. There were tons of bright and tightly clad joggers running up and down the rows. Some crazy people were even running the stairs. Of all the things we got to see that day, Red Rocks was my favorite! I fed Baby and we each ate a sandwich and continued on our way.
Next, was Mass. From the Gallery we walked through the park by the Capitol and to the Basilica. The basilica was beautiful! The fresh and modern white walls, the high dome ceilings and beautifully coloured stained glass windows were really impressive. A priest once explained that churches were built with high ceilings and steeples because vastness helps direct our thoughts and hearts to God. I really feel that when I step into tall, beautiful churches!
Back at the car, we devoured our luke warm KD (warmed by the sun in the car) and went to check out the Botanical Gardens. Earlier in the Art Gallery with the stroller, we got stuck several times having to wait for an elevator or behind slow moving people, so we opted for Baby F in the carrier for optimal agility and efficiency. We saw all we wanted to in 30 minutes so we were quite glad that we hadn’t paid for admission. We were a little disappointed with the fact that in the dark we were missing the outdoor garden. It would have been a nice place to picnic and spend a whole day, oh well. Although we were already tired at this point, we didn’t want to pass up the chance of seeing the Museum of Nature and Science for free. The in and out of the car woke up Baby F at this point, and he remained awake for our whole time at the museum. He loves being carried and watching people go by so he was content even though he should have been sleeping. It was already 9 pm. The nature displays were really well done and would be a great place to go with older kids.
Day 4: Sunday November 6, 2016
On this day, we were checking out of the Denver hotel and heading to Colorado Springs. We had soaked in the hot tub one evening (while Baby slept in the car seat) but hadn’t taken advantage of the pool yet. I had even bought swimming diapers so this was our last chance to try them out. Once our he got used to the water temperature, he was loving it!
On our way, we did a drive by of Garden of the Gods. It had hiking trails, and again could have been a place where you could picnic and spend an entire day. Its another one of the area's touristic favorites. Instead we took the detour to visit the Royal Gorge and Bridge in Canon City, an hour from Colorado Springs.
Before arriving at the ark we followed the road signs to designated picnic areas to be able to enjoy our sandwich lunch and let Baby F stretch his little kegs. And were we ever glad that we did! The view was spectacular! We did not have the bridge in sight, so we must have been a little further on down the river. The view of the canyon and the tiny river flowing in the distance was magnificent!
The suspension bridge over the Arkansas River is one of the highest in the world and has been incorporated into an amusement park. Getting to the bridge requires an tickets that gives you access to the other rides and attractions, but we chose to skip the entrance fee, happy with the view we were able to bask in over lunch. For your own pair of bendy baby sunglasses or retractable selfie stick, check out our online store!
We had the rest of the day to get back to check into the hotel in Colorado Springs, so we decided to check into The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey, an old Benedictine monastery. I was flipping through our travel book for other things to do in the area and became intrigued with Skyline Drive, a scenic razorback ridge-line (built by inmates in 1908!) overlooking, and leading into, Canon City. It worked out that it was on our way to the Winery. Skyline Drive began as a gradual incline but quickly fell away to hundred foot drops, on either side of us! Luckily, as the passenger, I could take in the views while my hunny tightened his grip on the wheel... Good thing the road was a one way! Our selfie there (Baby was sleeping) was at one of the designated pullouts and shows the tiny highway running below us. It was so cool! Then, at the Winery, we had a lovely experience tasting a few of their selections. I fed the munchkin in the car beforehand to be able to be able to part-take in the tasting. We even bought a Pinot Grigio to take with us to be able to reminisce our trip once we were home.
Day 5: Monday November 7, 2016
Best for last! You could say we saved the pinnacle part of this trip for last because with our flight at 10 pm, we were venturing to 14,000 ft at Pikes Peak! We pit stopped at the Cave of the Winds, and like before a Royal Gorge, skipped the entrance fee and enjoyed as much as we could see from the observation deck. Here is where Baby F had a huge sweet potato poop, so the Waterproof Wet Bag saved the day to contain the mess!
The park ranger at the entrance to Pikes National Forest (we couldn't escape this entrance fee...) was very friendly and helpful. She informed us of the minimum amount of fuel required to get up and back down the mountain and also reminded us of the effects that the higher altitude may have on an infant. There would be less oxygen available the higher we went which would make our little one more sleepy and in need of more fluids. And it proved true right away as our little guy fell asleep as we took the first turn on the windy, but well paved road. He did not wake up until we were exiting the forest! I woke him a couple of times to offer a bottle of his chamomile tea to replenish fluids, but he would drift back off to sleep right away.
The cover photo for this post was taken at the first pit stop we took at Crystal Reservoir. It represents our little family, with Pikes Peak visible in the background where we found ourselves about 30 minutes later. Cool huh? This picture is one of our favorites!
The higher we climbed, safely contained in the car, the windier the road got. Some of the inclines gave the impression that the road was leading to the sky. The clouds were literally at eye level! At the top of the mountain was a large parking lot and the end of the Cog's Rail which had stopped to let out its passengers just minutes before. It was so cold up there, but so beautiful! The mountain view and the tiny details of the rocks and lakes below were breath taking and memorizing! Our
And that was that! Our journey home began as we headed back to Denver to be at the airport for the evening. But wait! There was one more adventure to be had! We had passed the U.S Air Force Academy on the way into Colorado Springs and my Hunny decided that this would be our only chance to check it out. At the Welcome Center we watched a video on the life of a first year cadet, and got to see some of them going about their business on campus. Their iconic Cadet Chapel is known as a must see, and pictured below.
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